Did you know that women make up nearly 50 percent of the American workforce, and in almost two thirds of American families women are the primary or co-breadwinner. But even in 2010, women only earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, and women are still underrepresented in the highest levels of management.
Here are just a few of the important steps the Obama Administration has taken to help support women throughout their education and careers:
Train and educate women for quality jobs. The President has focused on opportunities for training and educating all Americans for the jobs of the future. For example, women, who make up the vast majority of nurses and about half of all medical school enrollees, will benefit from the $320 million in healthcare workforce development grants in the Affordable Care Act.
Promote economic expansion and job growth for women. Under the Recovery Act, nearly 12,000 SBA loans have been made to women-owned small businesses, helping to get much needed capital into the hands of women entrepreneurs.
Support working women at home and in their jobs. Through the Recovery Act’s Make Work Pay tax credit, 74 million American women had an average of $600 more in their pocketbooks in 2009. In addition, the President proposed nearly doubling the Child and Dependant Care Tax Credit for middle class Americans. The President is committed to equal pay for women; in fact the first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Support women in retirement and between jobs. From July 2008 to August 2010, 6.9 million women and their families were helped by the extension of unemployment insurance. Social Security plays a vital role for retired women who make up 58 percent of all beneficiaries, and President Obama is committed to strengthening and protecting it.
Women are a growing share of our workforce, our entrepreneurs, and our innovators. As the majority of college graduates and nearly 50 percent of the workforce, women are in the position to drive our 21st century economy. Women are an increasing share of breadwinners for their families. In almost two thirds of American families, women are either the primary or co-breadwinner.
The fact is that women also face a number of longer-term challenges to workforce participation including the wage gap and female underrepresentation in higher levels of management. Further, specific groups of women including single mothers, retirees and minorities face additional challenges.
The NEC report outlines the economic landscape for women today and details many of the ways the Obama Administration is committed to strengthening America’s economy and providing opportunities for women across the country. The Administration has implemented and proposed policies that form a comprehensive plan to support women at all stages of their education and careers. For example, we have a number of polices that focus on training and educating women to prepare them with the tools and education to compete in the workforce. In addition, women owned businesses have benefitted from the Obama Administration policies including tax credits through the Small Business Jobs Bill, the HIRE Act, the Recovery Act and the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund.
For these reasons and many others, I am proud of this Administration’s efforts on behalf of women. As you may know, the first bill signed by President Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Shortly thereafter the President and this Administration appointed 2 women to the Supreme Court, strengthened Title IX and Equal Pay enforcement, and increased funding to help victims of domestic violence. In my role as Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, we have strived to make sure that all of the President’s major initiatives have helped women – from the Recovery Act, to the Affordable Care Act, and Wall Street Reform.
We understand that times are tough and there are many challenges ahead. But, we also know that together we can make a better future for the next generation of women.
Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls