I personally would like to thank everyone that joined us last Thursday for our 10th Annual State of the Markets event. I also want to thank Bianca King, Rianna Carter and Brianna Letzelter, and our amazing volunteers for all their efforts in putting this event together, and our wonderful speakers for sharing their time and expertise with us all.
We had almost 30 sponsors for this event alone. I especially want to thank our major sponsors, Akin Gump, Carlson Capital, Haynes & Boone the Orix Foundation and Satori Capital. We are grateful for your generous support!
You may notice a new addition to our homepage. We have created the Limitless jewelry line to both inspire women and help us in our philanthropy mission of supporting the Young Women’s Preparatory network. Why Limitless? Today, we may take for granted that women are allowed in the workplace – yes, allowed, but it was not that long ago that women had to fight for their right to earn a living. In 2019, there are still about 155 countries have at least one law that limits a woman’s economic opportunities and 18 countries allow husbands to dictate whether women can work at all. So, while we may have come a long way, baby, there is still much work to be done.
In this country, it was Alexander Hamilton that brought women (and children) into the workforce en masse during the industrial revolution. He wrote that cheap labor in the form of women and children represented the biggest area of opportunity for economic growth, and of course women could stop working in the mill once they were married. After the Civil War, with over 600,000 men dead and injured, women were forced to enter the labor force simply to fill factories and feed their families. This marked the first time female labor leaders called for legislation to improve the conditions for working women. The Great Depression marked a setback for women in the workforce. When unemployment rose to 25%, male-dominated unions revived the argument that only men were entitled to jobs.World War II permanently shifted the role of women in the workforce. With men going off to war, over six million new women entered the labor force and for the first time they had access to roles that were previously only held by men. After the war, many women were forced to relinquish their jobs to returning veterans, so women were channeled into so called “feminine” occupations including retail sales, nursing, and teaching.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, was the single most important moment for women in the workforce. And amazingly enough, the bill was almost put through without including reference to gender because giving women equal rights was considered controversial.
Even with legislation and 72 million women in the American workforce today, things are far from copacetic. Despite the fact that women are earning more degrees and advanced degrees than men, the gender pay gap stands around 19.5% on average nationwide and we have a dearth of women in senior roles and on boards of directors despite evidence that companies with more diversity outperform.
These statistics certainly point to the fact gender discrimination is part of the fabric of our society and the question is why? Where does it start and how do we fix it?
I believe gender inequality starts in the home with how we raise our children. A recent Washington Post article notes that children are apparently “gender detectives, distinguishing between the sexes from as early as 18 months and using that information to guide their behavior, for example by choosing strongly stereotyped toys. And family research shows that men’s attitudes about marital roles, not women’s, are ultimately internalized by both their daughters and their sons. This finding is a testament to kids’ ability to identify implicit power, to parse whose beliefs are more important and therefore worth adopting as their own.” To continue from the article: “what kids make of their father sitting on his phone reading Facebook while their mother scrambles to prepare them for the day? It’s not hard to predict which parent’s personhood those offspring will conclude is more valuable.” So from the get go, we are teaching our children to undervalue women.
It is not only the dynamic between men and women that children observe, it is the messages that we give our girls growing up. From a recent New York Times article titled The Bad News on ‘Good’ Girls notes that: “men have been raised to embrace risk-taking and aggression. Girls are taught to protect themselves from predation, and they internalize the message that they are inherently vulnerable; boys move through the world not nearly as encumbered and certainly not seeing their own bodies as sources of weakness or objects for others’ desires. The negative messages that girls are exposed to over and over again from an early age persuade them that they aren’t good enough and many girls to give up before they even get started. Is it any wonder that girls’ confidence plummets in puberty making her more likely to accept those limitations?
I believe that Serena Williams said it best in a recent Vogue interview when speaking about her daughter: “Women are sometimes taught to not dream as big as men. I’m so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are no limits.”
So why do we need to care about this at all? Today, mothers are the primary or sole breadwinners in 40% of households with children under 18 compared with 11% in 1960.The gender pay gap means that more children in the US are going without. So, this is not just a social issue or a ‘men are better than women’ issue, this is an economic issue that affects us all. Placing limits on 51% of the population limits economic growth at a time that we can least afford it. A recent Harvard Business Review article notes that when more women join the workforce, wages rise – including for men. As a society, we need to stop raising our girls with limits; we need to stop putting them in boxes, and instead encourage them to dream big and thrive for all our sakes.
This is the reason that TXWSW has chosen the Young Women’s Preparatory Network as its philanthropy partner. YWPN has from 6th to 12th grade to help economically disadvantaged students explore a world without limits. They accomplish this through a rigorous curriculum focused on STEM education and a college-bound program that starts in sixth grade. The students recite a daily affirmation that builds self-esteem, a sense of purpose and determination to sustain them through the long hours of hard work necessary to pursue their dreams of college and a career. The YWPN network also instills a sense of sisterhood in their 4,600+ students reminding the girls that they aren’t alone on their path to a better future for themselves and their families. The schools teach that drive, hard work and resilience are the keys to success in life and the results they have achieved are nothing less than phenomenal. Today, 100% of YWPN seniors are accepted at a four-year university. 68% of YWPN girls are first-generation college graduates, and YWPN alum are graduating college at 8x the national rate for economically disadvantaged children. So, the network is working. YWPN students are exceeding academic expectations and proving all students, regardless of their background or socio-economic status, can excel if given the right opportunity. In other words, YWPN is producing truly limitless young women.
Ten years ago, when we partnered with YWPN, they were just opening their second school and had several hundred students. Today, there are 8 schools in the network with over 4,600 students, but the need is great, and more schools are in the pipeline, so they need and deserve our support. What YWPN offers our girls is the opportunity to work hard and break the cycle of poverty for herself and her family, and that is something I hope we can all get behind. With 21% of all children in the US living in poverty, I believe that the way to break the cycle and improve the future for everyone is to focus on raising strong, resilient, and limitless girls.
Proceeds from the purchase of the Limitless charm go directly to the Young Women’s Preparatory Network. Designed for us by one of the nation’s preeminent jewelry manufacturers, this beautiful, inspirational charm comes in both silver and 14 carat gold and can be worn every day on a bracelet or necklace. Please help us support these deserving students while providing inspration to all the wonderful women in your life.
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