How To Vote For Gender Equity In The 2022 Elections
Updated: May 17
This is a special edition of Brave Souls®. Instead of our usual Q&A, I’m going to share with you a teaser of my biannual gender equity voting guide: How to Vote for Gender Equity in the 2022 Elections.
One of the many lessons we’ve learned over the past few years is how almost everything is an economic issue. Roe v. Wade, supply chains, remote work, the Ever Given. All of us are, in some way, impacted by these issues because all these issues, in some way, impact the economy.
Think of it this way: we’re all swimming in the same pool. The pool is the economy. Some of us are swimming in the deep end, some of us are swimming in the shallow end. Some of us are on floaties, some of us are in lifejackets.
And while our experience of the pool differs, at the end of the day we all share the same water.
Gender equity is an economic issue. Even if you don’t think it impacts you, it does. It’s in the water, we’re all swimming in it.
The goal of the voting guide is to show you how gender equity flows through the pool that is our economy.
Scroll down for a sneak peek of the 15 policy issues that you’ll find inside the guide, How to Vote for Gender Equity in the 2022 Elections. If you want to download the complete report, you can do that here.
Applying The Gender Lens To The 2022 Elections
1. Social Security
Between 2034 and 2094, Social Security will experience a $13.2 trillion cash shortfall, and we need a plan to keep the benefits flowing. Policymakers have put forth a slate full of ideas to overcome Social Security’s $13.2 trillion shortfall. But why haven’t they considered closing the gender pay gap? Doing so could cut the Social Security $13.2 shortfall by 35%, or $4.7 trillion.
Sixty percent of men reported their mental health suffered more during COVID-19 than during the 2008 recession. Yet nearly 70% of men said they rarely talk about COVID-19’s impact on their mental health. We live in a country where men represent 79% of all suicides and teenage boys are three times more likely to die from suicide than teenage girls. We must do better for our boys and men. It’s beyond time to mainstream mental health into the healthcare conversation.
3. Higher Education
Women are 57% of undergraduates yet hold 67% of all student debt, meaning our country has a 10-point gap between female educational attainment rates and women’s share of student loan debt. Everyone is left behind when women shoulder an unequal share of debt—which takes them 1.9 years longer to pay off than men due to the gender pay gap. We need a plan to ensure students of all genders reap the benefits of a college degree equitably, should they choose to pursue one.
4. The Middle Class
The share of middle-class Americans has fallen by nine points since 1971. Meanwhile, the share of breadwinning moms has increased by 166% since the 1970s. Today women are the breadwinners in 40% of US households with children. As automation and the future of work sweep across America, we must not forget about the women and the millions of children who depend on them for their economic security.
We currently have an 18-point gap in the AI talent base, and only 14% of the cloud computing workforce is female. What’s the plan to close the talent gap and create an equitable future for today’s and tomorrow’s generations?
5. Criminal Justice
While America’s overall incarceration rate is falling, the pace of female incarceration in our country has been double that of male incarceration since the 1980s. US women represent 5% of the world’s population yet 33% of the world’s female prisons.
Women, especially mothers and women of color, face greater challenges in posting bail due to the gender pay gap. Instead of spending between $63 billion and $75 billion each year to maintain our vast prison system, could we invest our tax dollars in a more productive, equitable, and viable flywheel?
In October 2021, the Biden Administration raised the refugee cap to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022, representing a 733% increase from the previous cap. When we gender mainstream the opportunity of immigration, we can begin to form policies that best support how and where to resettle refugees. What resources do women need to thrive? What about men?
One study found that for every one euro spent on refugees, Europe’s economy will grow by approximately 1.84 euros within five years. Imagine the economic impact an investment in refugee resettlement would have in the Land of Opportunity.
7. International Trade
Import taxes have been around since the first Congress signed The Tariff Act of 1789 into law. Since then, gender bias has seeped into the tariff code, leading women to carry a larger burden of these taxes. For instance, while men’s apparel receives an average 11.9% import tax, women’s apparel receives an average 15.1% import tax. Not only do women have less money coming into their wallets (the gender pay gap), they also have more money going out.
8. Wall Street
Women constitute 56.5% of the entire financial services labor base yet only 19% of its c-suite roles and only 8.1% of named executive officers in the space. We need to increase gender equity in finance so that all genders can bring their unique competencies and talents to the table. This isn’t about venerating one gender over the other. It’s about fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities, especially when it comes to high-stakes financial agreements.
9. Strengthening Democracy and Election Integrity
The 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, primarily applied to white women. Black women—as well as Latinas, Native American women, and Asian women—remained largely disenfranchised for another 45 years until the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Many people remain disenfranchised to this day.
In Milwaukee, for instance, 180 polling locations shrunk to five during the April 2020 elections. If we want to strengthen the foundation of our democracy, then we must support the full enfranchisement of the population.
10. LGBTQ+ Rights
Even though lesbians have a 9% wage premium on earnings compared to heterosexual women, they still make less than heterosexual men. And, married lesbian couples have a median household income of $80,755, while married heterosexual couples have an $85,581 median household income.
Eliminating this inequity would reduce the poverty rate for lesbian couples from 7.9% to 5.4%. Ensuring the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community is paramount, especially considering that a record 7.1% of Americans across all generational cohorts identify as LGBTQ+ (a percentage that has doubled since 2012).
11. Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship
Despite 2021’s banner year that brought in a record $330 billion of venture capital funding, only 2% of those funds (the lowest share since 2016) went to female-founded teams. Bias against women in the entrepreneurial ecosystem exists despite what the data tell us: gender diversity among venture capital partners, individual founders, and founder teams improves financial performance for everyone. Entrepreneurship has long been a linchpin of the US economy. We must create the requisite conditions for entrepreneurship to thrive if we want to stay competitive in the future.
12. GDP and Economic Growth
Elected officials rely on GDP to inform policy decisions, and that’s a problem. Because while GDP does well to capture the performance of a manufacturing economy, it does not accurately account for the performance of a digital economy. Worse, as an aggregate across all sectors and demographics of the labor force, GDP fails to consider how the economy is working for different genders, races, ethnicities, and ages. The Fourth Industrial Revolution isn’t only changing the way we work, it’s changing how we measure our work.
13. Binding Arbitration
The use of binding arbitration in employee agreements has grown precipitously in the past 28 years. Today, nearly 40% of US employees (about 60 million) are covered by it, and 80 of the 100 largest employers require it. We should applaud Congress for passing The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act to end binding arbitration in sexual misconduct cases. Now Congress must go a step further and obviate binding arbitration for all forms of workplace inequity.
14. Climate Change
A changing climate not only destroys communities and economies, it also creates climate refugees, nearly 80% of whom are women. Analysts predict that climate change will threaten those living in poverty the most—and 70% of America’s poor are women and children. For the 16 million US women living in poverty, climate change poses a direct threat to personal and economic security.
15. Foreign Policy
The more gender equitable a country, the less likely it is to engage in war and resort to violence. States that invest in women enjoy lower poverty rates, higher incomes, and larger tax bases. The US needs a foreign policy strategy that recognizes the contributions of women and understands how an investment in women is an investment in our global economy and security.
When we cast our ballots in November 2022 (and in all elections going forward), let’s remember that gender mainstreaming is a win for our economy, for our democracy, and for future generations of Americans.
Download a complete copy of the voting guide to dive deeper into each of these 15 topics and learn what policy solutions are available to address them in the most gender-equitable manner.
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© 2022 Katica Roy™, Inc.