Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2015 White House Correspondents Dinner

Saturday night the White House Correspondents' Association hosted their annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, attended by journalists from news sources across the country. Viewers and attendees alike each year look forward to the "performance" piece of the event, which has evolved to play out in many cases as a comedic roast. This year's roast was hosted by Cecily Strong, comedian and cast member on Saturday Night Live. As in the rest of the political sphere, the WHCD and performance are male dominated. Until 1930, women weren't even allowed to attend the dinner. The first female solo performer was not until 1992 when Paula Poundstone presented. With the opportunity to host this year's event, the expectations and pressures were high for Strong- and she more than came through, the nailed it! Nothing was off limits for Strong, whose jokes touched on everything from race relations, women's equality, international relations, journalism, political scandal, the 2016 presidential election and much more. Here are a few of our favorite jokes from the night:

  • "Feels right to have a woman follow President Obama, doesn't it?"
  • "It feels so weird to be up here. And, OK, I promise, since I'm only a comedian, I'm not going to try and tell you politicians how to do politics or whatever. That's not my job. That would be like you guys telling me what to do with my body. I mean, can you even imagine? Crazy."
  • “Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m gonna go easy on you people. I’m gonna go easy on you people because my brain is smaller.”
  • “This year a representative from Hobby Lobby said they didn’t want to pay for employees’ health care if it covered things like contraceptives — which is weird because all I asked him is, ‘What aisle is the yarn in?'"
  • Strong asked all journalists in the room raise their right arm and repeat, "I solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary’s appearance because that is not journalism.” 
Thanks Cecily for a great roast and using this opportunity to address gender inequality! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Ultimate Glass Ceiling

Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has officially announced her bid for the 2016 Presidential Election, making the next 16 months an exciting prospect for women's politics enthusiasts. Clinton was quickly named a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination by a number of news sources, stirring national chatter over the possibility of finally electing the first female president. Now entering her third week of diligent campaigning, Hillary has already articulated many of her focus issues, making women's issues one of her primary concerns.

This has been well-recieved by other powerful women across the nation, namely, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the famous book "Lean In," published in 2013. In a recent interview with Bloomberg Television, Sandberg noted "I am very supportive of Hillary Clinton. Like I've said before, I'd like to see her as president. And I'd like to see more women presidents all over the world." Sandberg also previously supported Clinton's 2008 campaign, as she donated the maximum $4,600 to Clinton's efforts.

This is a real-life demonstration of the necessary support system among women leaders. Just as it is important for the lowest-level female business managers to support each other in order to advance, it is also imperative that even well-known, national leaders do the same. With more and more endorsements like this one, we might just witness the shattering of the highest glass ceiling for women in America.

To see Hillary Clinton's campaign announcement video:


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Working Towards Pay Equality

MWPC endorsed candidate Deborah Goldberg has just announced plans for a new committee on wage equality. In the press release Goldberg is quoted as having said, "Pay equity is not a partisan issue, nor solely a women's issue. It is a family issue, and it affects the economic health and well-being of our entire state". We couldn't have said it any better, Treasurer Goldberg! She has said the committee will focus on supporting government agencies and private businesses by providing the tools, strategies and best practices they will need in order to address wage inequality. 

What Goldberg is addressing in her new committee is an issue that deserves greater recognition than it has received thus far. Women are getting paid less than men for the exact same work. There are excuses and explanations for this left and right, but as long as the reality is ignored the wage gap will continue to exist. The unfortunate reality is all in the facts:
  • Women are paid 78 cents for every dollar that a man is paid.
  • For women of color, the statistics are even worse. African American women are paid 64 cents for every dollar that a white man is paid. The greatest disparity in pay is between Latina women and white men, where Latina women earn a mere 54 cents for every dollar a man makes. 
  • Women who get A's in college are paid the same as men who got C's.

The result over time is the hardest hitting fact of them all. For white women, the wage gap adds up to an average difference of $10,000 per year. Imagine what an additional $10,000 per year could do for working class families with children. For women of color who work full time, the money they are losing annually could pay for 118 weeks worth of food. For Latina women, with the money they are losing each year they could pay for 154 weeks worth of food or 5,743 gallons of gas to get to and from work. These disparities matter. The disparities are affecting children and families across America. The disparities are affecting the economic health of America. President Obama said it best, "When women succeed, America succeeds".

Facts and statistics from the following sources:

Friday, March 6, 2015

International Women's Day Celebration

International Women's Day, traditionally celebrated on March 8th each year, marks the economic, political and social achievements of women around the globe. Since 1911, when the first IWD celebration was held, thousands of events have been hosted to honor the brave, motivated women throughout our history who led women's rights change, as well as those who are currently working to achieve full equality today. It is a day full of inspiration and appreciation. 

This year, Simmons College hosted the 18th Annual Boston-Area International Women's Day Celebration. Speakers included Sheila Dallas Katzman, Chair of the UN-CSW Cities for CEDAW/New York City, Lydia Edwards, Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow of the Greater Boston Legal Services, and Anjali Sakaria, Legislative Director for the Office of Senate Chair, MA Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. These powerful women framed the event around this year's theme: Making Women's Rights Real. Today, the conversation centered on workplace rights for women in every aspect from paid sick leave, to maternity leave and equal pay. 

Here are a few of our favorite quotes from the twitter-sphere that used the hashtag #BOSIWD:

"Women will have equality in the workforce when men have equality in the home."
"Sick leave is a low wage issue, and a low wage issue is an issue for women."
- Anjali Sakaria

"We must fight for the work that makes all work possible." 
"You have feminist solidarity with your coworkers, but do you have solidarity with your nanny?"
-Lydia Edwards on domestic workers' rights

To learn more about International Women's Day visit:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Women In Power: The Impact of Critical Mass

A week ago, Harvard University's Institute of Politics held a JFK forum on Women in Power: The Impact of Critical Mass, moderated by TIME magazine's highly accomplished Washington correspondent Jay Newton-Small. The panelists, including Jeanne Shaheen, US Senator from New Hampshire, Fernande R.V. Duffy, Associate Justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and Amy W. Schulman, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School, gathered to discuss the impacts of women in leadership roles across all sectors.

The discussion was framed around the topic of "critical mass," which moderator Newton-Small defined as the tipping point between male and female representation in any forum; in order to make a measurable impact on outcomes, women need at least 20% - 30% representation, and more critically, in senior positions that allow them to influence change . She noted that women do not often achieve critical mass, whether in Congress, on executive boards, in corporate meeting rooms or on supreme courts. All three panelists agreed that reaching a point of critical mass within their respective sectors is integral to enacting change on a national level.

One of the most interesting topics brought up throughout the discussion was the difference between women's roles in the private sector vs the public sector, i.e.. women's roles in the "corporate world" vs the federal government. Women currently represent 20% of Congress and 35% of federal courts, but in corporations, women have been consistently stuck at 17%. Amy Schulman speaks from a business perspective on the different dynamics of women's leadership in the corporation world:

"In the corporate world, if you are seen as the emblem of a point of view, thats actually going to hinder your ultimate chances for advancement…I think that dynamic of critical mass is what allows for authenticity because instead as being seen as that epiphenomenon, you are actually free to express your range of views that you may have and it is harder to marginalize you." 

Jeanne Shaheen also shared many of her experiences as one of 20 females in the Senate, starting with her efforts to re-open the government during its shutdown in 2013. An informal bipartisan group, primarily comprised of women, met on its own to find a compromise to the shutdown issue. This was a great example of the power of critical mass for women; what little did get done during that Congressional session was done by women.

"It was our efforts that pressured the leadership on both sides of the aisle to come to some agreement...It was that relationship that the women in the Senate had; that we trusted each other, we knew each other and we were able to say, 'we can find a way out of this, we can find a compromise.'" 

To listen to the full forum discussion and audience questions visit:“critical-mass”

Pictured below: MWPC Intern, Kaitlyn Maloney, at the JFK Forum with NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen.