By Jacki Zehner
Last Friday, President Obama hosted a White House Forum on Women and the Economy. The forum addressed the important role that women play in the economy. There are pages of facts in our resources section organized by category if you want to take a look.
As part this forum the White House Council on Women and Girls released a new report entitled, “Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward, The Key to an Economy Built to Last.” This report examines the Administrations persistence to ensure women have support through all stages of life. The Executive Summary itself is bold, compelling, and empirically sound! Could this serve as a wake call to as the economic power and possibility of women? He certainly has the women’s vote in this country and this is why.
The report states, “Today, more than ever before, women are playing a central role in the American economy. Women now make up nearly 50% of our workforce, are a growing number of breadwinners in their families, and are the majority of students in our colleges and graduate schools. American women own 30% of small businesses, which generate $1.2 trillion a year in sales. Since 1962, women’s participation in the labor market has risen by 20 percentage points while the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has more than quadrupled. And according to a report by McKinsey, if the United States raised female labor participation rates to the average participation rate of the top 10 states, our economy would add 5.1 million women workers, the equivalent of a 3-4% increase in GDP.”
With women owning 30% of small businesses, controlling 80% of consumer discretionary spending, and accounting for 67% of college graduates (70% of the 2012 valedictorians) it is right for the administration to have this focus. More surprising is how this did not come to be prior to 2009. The shocking contrast is between these measurements of presence and impact ( current and potential) and the lack of representation in leadership positions in this country across all sectors.
As a father of two young girls President Obama said, “Every decision I make is all about making sure [my daughters] and all our daughter and all our sons grow up in a country that gives them the chance to be anything they set their minds to; a country where more doors are open to them than were ever open to us.” As the mother of a son and daughter, I could not agree more.
Though I do have some issues with our President on the economic front, his stand for women and girls is notable.
You can see President Obama’s full address here.
Jacki Zehner is a former mortgage bond trader and the first female trader to be named partner at Goldman Sachs, She left GS in 2002 to pursue her passion for helping empower women to roles of leadership and economic sustainability.