Since 2013, poll after poll after poll has shown that women are looking for results on the issues that matter most to them: the economic security issues like ending gender discrimination in pay, paid sick days, or paid family or medical leave. In other words, the issues that keep women and their families making ends meet.
For almost two years, American Women has been listening to women from across the country as they talk about their daily struggles, what keeps them up at night and what policy solutions they believe can make a real difference in their lives.
Here is what we know:
- The top concern for women is making enough money for their families’ bills and expenses.
- Gender discrimination in pay was the #1 workplace concern for working women.
- Men report more access to paid sick days and paid leave than women.
- 40% of working women believe they are paid less than men in their workplace.
- Across party lines, women—Democrats and Republicans alike–support fighting for economic security issues like equal pay for equal work, a higher minimum wage, paid sick days and paid family leave.
- But almost one year to Election Day, a stark contrast has already developed between Democrats and Republicans regarding their plans to help women and families get ahead.
During the Democratic presidential debate, paid family leave was mentioned three times by candidates. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Secretary Hillary Clinton and former Governor Martin O’Malley all discussed pay equity and making sure women were not disadvantaged for taking time for their families. In the September Republican debate? Paid family and medical leave, equal pay for equal work, or fair scheduling were not even mentioned.
Not one of the 15 Republican candidates has discussed the fact that women are two-thirds of minimum wage earners and the primary or co-breadwinners in 40% of families. Neither Donald Trump nor Ben Carson has addressed bringing more transparency to pay. Women and their families are still waiting to hear from Jeb Bush on his plan to make childcare affordable. Even Marco Rubio’s proposal for paid family leave would likely only help those at the very top and leave working families behind.
As the election cycle continues, we’ll be watching and listening to these important conversations. We’ll be listening in tonight’s debate to hear whether or not – and how – the Republican candidates address these issues. Will the Democrats’ emphasis on these issues push the GOP candidates to take a position? Will the dialogue over work-family balance started by likely-Speaker Paul Ryan heighten the saliency of this issue to Republican candidates or voters? Progress on these issues will require substantive political debate. Maybe that debate will start tonight.
Kate Black is the Executive Director at American Women, an affiliated organization of EMILY’s List. American Women works to amplify women’s voices across the country. In this role, she leads the organization’s strategic vision, research, and outreach with allies and partners. Since launching in September 2013, American Women has worked to establish itself as the research hub on economic security issues for women and families.
As Research Director at EMILY’s List, Kate has conducted first-of-its kind research to measure the impact of having women in federal office. Prior to joining EMILY’s List in 2011, Kate worked as Research Director of Gragert Jones Research, a political consulting firm where she assisted congressional campaigns with their research needs. During the 2010 cycle, she worked as a member of the rapid response team at the Democratic National Committee and coordinated research and communications at the Service Employees International Union. In 2007 and 2008, she served as a member of the Research Department on the Hillary Clinton for President campaign.
Kate currently serves as Policy Director for the DC chapter of the Younger Women’s Task Force. She also works to train women on salary negotiation with AAUW. Kate received her Master’s degree in Women’s Studies with a focus on Economics from George Washington University in Washington, DC and her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.