The White House is out with a new report that it hopes will woo women with the argument that President Obama’s policies have helped ease the impact of the recession for them.
Conventional wisdom says that men have been hit harder in this economic downturn because they dominated harder-hit fields like manufacturing and construction. But the administration argues in the report that women were more affected in the past two years than they would have been in the past because they now make up nearly 50 percent of the work force. In addition, women face long-term problems like the wage gap and underrepresentation in higher levels of management, which the administration has been trying to tackle.
“In our country, in this day and time, it is ridiculous that women still only make 77 cents on the dollar, and at higher levels of management the disparity is even greater,” said senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today. As evidence of Obama’s commitment to closing the gap, she pointed to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- the first bill the president signed in office -- which makes it easier for women to sue for wage discrimination.
Other initiatives highlighted in the administration’s report include 12,000 small-business loans awarded to women-owned businesses; the August legislation that provided assistance to keep teachers, mostly women, in the classroom despite funding shortfalls; and work to improve community-college training and coordination with the private sector for jobs.
While women have typically been an important voting bloc for Democrats, there is some concern about getting them to the polls on November 2, as there are with other Democratic base voters. The administration hopes this report will serve as a tool to motivate them to get to the polls by arguing that many of the pro-women policies contained in legislation like the health care bill will disappear under a Republican Congress.
This article appears in the October 21, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.