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cover4by Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson, TX 30th District

We are in new and exciting times for the progress of women in our society.  Women sit at the helms of some of the most iconic companies, and lead our nation at the highest levels of government. The overwhelming favorite to win the 2016 presidential election is a woman.

However, there is so much that needs to be done to address the lack of equality for women in the workforce at all levels. Women are shattering the so-called “glass ceiling” in corporate America; yet there are still more meaningful corporate hurdles that confront them.

A recently published study showed that only 60 percent of U.S firms had more than two women on their corporate executive committees, the entity that makes decisions for the board and establishes company policy. The report, which has been cited in the Harvard Business Review, indicated that women comprise only 17-percent of the executive committees at the 100 biggest corporations in America.  Two- thirds of women on executive committees come from departments such as human and public relations, the report stated.

The issue of inequality for women in the American workforce is not limited to women in the upper levels of corporate America.  Working women in the lower financial brackets are also faced with unequal pay and opportunity. Today, one in every five working mothers find themselves in low-paying jobs.  In addition to paying the mortgage, rent, food and transportation, their incomes are battered by the high cost of childcare.

Many women find themselves in employment environments that require long hours. For many, it becomes a vicious cycle.  Giving more hours to the work environment takes away from  quality time that women can devote to parenting.

In our state, 30-percent of households are headed by women and 53-percent of all households below the poverty level are headed by women, according the Dallas Women’s Foundation. The issue is complicated by the fact that in Texas, one in every four women, many of them heads of households, have no health insurance. An accident leads to  absence from work which can lead to economic disaster for a family. Something must be done to improve the conditions that women face.

Roslyn Thompson, President of the Dallas Women’s Foundation, rightly says that when our society invests in women, “there is a powerful ripple effect that benefits her family and the community.  Simply put, increasing women’s economic security makes financially secure families and communities, and that makes for a stronger Texas economy.”

As a society, we must do more to protect women and their families.  Changes on the federal level must be accompanied by changes made by those that run corporations and small businesses.  We must continue to fight for equal pay and equal opportunity for women.  Our society will never reach its full potential if it neglects to provide equal opportunities for half of its citizens.