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I would like to take a moment to share why we partnered with the Young Women’s Preparatory Network 12 years ago, and draw attention to our annual raffle that benefits YWPN. We have amazing prizes this year including executive coaching and the crafting of a board resume. Those prizes alone are valued at over $1500 each! Raffle tickets are just $25 for 10 so some lucky folks are going to get amazing prizes!
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. Today, 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.
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. The pandemic has been especially hard on working women. A recent Bloomberg article notes that a decade’s worth of progress has been wiped away in a matter of months.
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.
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 limitations?
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 YWPN network also instills a sense of sisterhood in their 4,700+ 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 and YWPN alum are graduating college at 8x the national rate for economically disadvantaged children. So, the network is working 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.
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 and YWPN is doing just that.
We have moved our usual raffle to Rally Up this year. We have some wonderful items and of course the proceeds go to benefit YWPN. The link to the raffle items can he found here.
I would ask each of you to consider corporate sponsorship of TXWSW. Benefits include attendance at our flagship events and recognition for your firm. And most importantly, you help us support the life-changing work of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network. To learn more about YWPN, you can find a short video here.To learn more and sponsorship, you may find our sponsor information here. Additionally, we would be happy to create a custom sponsorship for you. Please contact Bianca King at firstname.lastname@example.org