On Thursday, the National Economic Council (NEC) released its study on Jobs and Economic Security for America's Women. Its arrival just shy of the November congressional elections -- in which, ironically, women politicians are actually poised to lose seats in the Senate for the first time in roughly 30 years -- isn't coincidental, either. Highlighting the Obama administration's efforts to level out the employment playing field, including closing the gender pay gap, providing more jobs for single mothers and extending financing to female small business owners, the report is also meant to woo women voters.
Since the recession has hit male-dominated industries much harder than so-called "pink collar" industries (teaching, healthcare, etc.), women have a much larger economic stake in the elections than they have in previous cycles. As the NEC report notes, "since women are nearly 50 percent of the workforce, the recessions' economic impacts on women are even more consequential for the economy than they would have been in the recessions of the last century." Also, as of 2008, working mothers comprised 62 percent of the primary breadwinners in dual income households. In response, the White House is pushing for initiatives such as improved flex work options, greater financial support for low income single mothers and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
When Molly and I discussed America's pervasive gender wage gap on Stuff Mom Never Told You, President Obama had just signed his first major piece of legislation: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. More than a year later, women are only bringing home 77 cents to every dollar men earn, but the legislation still set the tone for the current administration's pro-women agenda. The NEC report also highlights the inequality of minority and older women in particular. Despite these persistent discrepencies, even calling attention to them is a step in the right direction. In a Thursday press conference call, White House senior administration officials closed out their comments on the NEC report by commenting that women's role in workforce is a no-brainer to Obama. After all, not only did Forbes name his wife the most powerful woman in the world, the President is also raising two daughters and living with his mother-in-law. The report, they said, should offer women "a sense of reassurance of how important these issues are to him."