Hilda Solis

“The key [to overcoming poverty] is education and training”

– US Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis

Earlier, I wrote a recap of the Made Visible panel that occurred on March 18, 2012 at NYU. In the write-up, I asked the question if we were willingly neglecting two of America’s greatest Human Resources: Women and Children.

The interesting paradox in this discussion is that while women-led households have a median income of $32,021 and there are glaring instances of discrimination in health care, politics, education and overall quality of life; there is a strong beacon of hope for women who have access to education and training:

“Business school women of the Class of 2011 reported sizable increases over their pre-degree salaries of 45%, outpacing the average increase of 39% for men, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. Overall, 84% of the women in the Class of 2011 were employed at the time of graduation, and nine out of 10 said they got the type of job they wanted.” (John  Byrne, Poets and Quants)

And what about women who are currently in the workforce?

  • Percentage of women in the U.S. labor force: 46.3%
  • Percentage of women in management, professional and related occupations: 50.6%
  • Percentage of female Fortune 500 corporate officers: 15.4%
  • Percentage of female Fortune 500 board seats: 14.8%
  • Percentage of female Fortune 500 top earners: 6.7%
  • Percentage of female Fortune 500 CEOs: 2.4%

Statistics courtesy of: http://www.womenonbusiness.com/new-us-women-in-business-statistics-released-by-catalyst/

Women are making positive strides in business and education but there is one last frontier to tackle: Politics.

  • Women hold only 17% of the seats in Congress. (Source)
  • Only 22% of all statewide elective executive office positions are currently held by women. (Source)
  • State Legislatures are only 24% women. (Source)
  • Only 6 out of 50 states have a female governor. (Source)
  • The United States trails behind much of the world—ranking 90th in the number of women in our national legislature. (*Note: The U.S. is listed as 73rd, but after accounting for tied rankings of other countries, the ranking for the U.S. is 90th. Source)
  • On average, male cabinet appointees outnumber women cabinet appointees in our states by a ratio of 2 to 1.  (Source)
  • 50% less women than men consider of running for office. Of those, 30% less actually run, with only a fraction seeking higher office. (Lawless, Jennifer and Richard L Fox. It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office. New York: Cambridge UP, 2005.)
  • Women constituted 54% of voters in the 2008 elections, but only 24% of state legislators. (Source)
  • Women of color represent only 4% of Congress and 23% of women Members of Congress. (Source)


Could an increase in female politicians be the missing piece for equality in America? I would like to think so.


Why? Because while education and career advancement impact women on a micro-economic level, macroscopic change can come from women with political power. When more women are in political office then women become the chief decision makers for the nation and this is a powerful position to be in. Interest groups that have political backing seem to get the most attention, the most dollars and the most Federal support. Perhaps it’s time for more women politicians to emerge and for a collective support of these efforts. We can’t keep up politics as usual.


Do you have any suggestions on how to bridge the inequality gap between women and men? The rich and the poor?