AIMING HIGH FOR WOMEN’S ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Let's Aim High

Women must be full and equal participants in our economy. For Massachusetts to reach its full potential, women must have equal career opportunities, equal pay, and workplaces free from discrimination and harassment. Women who work hard every day and contribute to our collective well-being should earn enough and have the additional support they need to provide for themselves and for their families. Women should be represented in leadership positions in business throughout our economy to ensure their full and fair participation at every level.

Though we have made much progress toward treating women and men equally in the workplace, we still have a long way to go. Women – particularly women of color - continue to face additional barriers to economic success and opportunity. We must continue breaking those barriers down and put structures in place to allow women to flourish along with men.

As your Governor, I will work hard to fight for women on all fronts, including combatting domestic violence, cracking down on human trafficking, addressing the problem of sexual assaults generally and on college campuses, and supporting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. I will also pursue an economic agenda to increase opportunities and support for women in the workplace, including the following initiatives:

  • Equal pay I will take bold action to make Massachusetts a leader in closing the wage gap. In Massachusetts, women earn just 83 cents on the dollar compared to men[1]. This wage gap is even more significant for women of color. In 2016, a broad coalition of activists, business leaders and elected officials helped Massachusetts pass one of the strongest pay equity laws in the country, but there is still more we can and should do. As Governor, I will do the following to close wage gap:
    • Eliminate Wage Gap for State EmployeesI will eliminate the gender wage gap for all state employees. I will subject our achievement of that outcome to outside, independent verification. And I will challenge every employer in Massachusetts to do the same.
    • Require Equal Pay Law Compliance by Government Vendors - I will require businesses and social service providers that provide goods and services to government to submit summary data demonstrating compliance with the equal pay law in a manner that will not compromise the privacy of individual salary information.
    • Statewide Salary Negotiation Trainings for WomenI will expand on the good work being done by Mayor Marty Walsh in Boston to give women across our entire state access to salary negotiation trainings that have proved successful in helping women secure the pay they deserve.
    • Increase Women’s Employment in Higher-Paying OccupationsI will build on efforts to encourage and assist women in gaining employment in higher-paying occupations as a strategy to reduce the wage gap. Women are disproportionately represented in traditionally lower-paying fields like child care, grade school education and lower-paying health care jobs, and they are under-represented in higher-paying fields like engineering, technology and construction and trade jobs.

  • Raise the minimum wage. I support the effort to raise the Massachusetts minimum wage to $15 and to eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.More than half of minimum wage earners are women even though men represent a larger share of the total workforce; fully two-thirds of tipped wage workers are women [2].

  • Paid family and medical leave. I support the effort to establish a statewide paid family and medical leave benefit. No worker, male or female, should have to worry about being able to pay the rent or feed their family when they need to take time off work to care for a new child or a family member suffering a medical emergency. Yet 87% of workers in New England lack access to paid family and medical leave. Lack of access to paid leave disproportionately affects women: employed women are estimated to take 56% of all leaves in Massachusetts, 61% of leaves to care for an ill family member, and 68% of leaves for the birth or adoption of a child[3]. Additionally, the absence of gender parity in paid family and medical leave policies reinforces the stereotype that caretaking is a “woman’s role”, contributing to an ongoing cycle of inequality in the workplace.

  • Early education and child care. I will ensure that every single family in Massachusetts has access to affordable, high-quality child care and preschool by the end of my first term. Massachusetts is the most expensive state in the nation for child care and preschool. Thousands of families are on a waiting list to get state support to afford child care and preschool, and tens of thousands more aren’t even eligible for state support. Consequently, too many families can’t afford child care and preschool for their children. Not only is this a bad result for the children who miss out on getting the solid start they need to be successful in school and in their careers, it is a bad result for women who often are the ones who leave their jobs to care for their children, foregoing their careers and income. The thing we can do, above all else, to have the biggest return on investment for women and their families is ensure everyone has access to affordable, high-quality childcare and preschool. See our separate policy proposal on early education and child care here. It is also worth noting that investing in high-quality child care and preschool must include increasing salaries for child care and preschool providers, which will improve economic conditions for a workforce that is predominantly composed of women.

  • Sexual and reproductive healthcare. I strongly support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions, which affords women economic independence, empowerment and opportunities. There is strong research evidence that shows access to contraception increases women’s educational attainment, workforce participation, and earning power, in addition to multiple physical and mental health benefits[4]. Increased contraceptive access has been a critical component of the Affordable Care Act. At a time when President Trump and congressional Republicans are threatening the ACA’s protections, it is up to states like Massachusetts to stand up for women and their access to sexual and reproductive health care. As Governor, I will fight for the following:
    • Co-pay Free Contraceptive CoverageI will require insurers to provide contraceptive coverage without co-pays or other out-of-pocket costs.
    • Planned Parenthood FundingI will ensure Planned Parenthood and other free-standing health centers that provide access to reproductive health and family planning services are adequately funded.
    • Comprehensive Sex EducationI will require that all public schools in Massachusetts provide comprehensive sex education. It is critical that girls and young women get the information they will need to take control of their own reproductive health, family planning and career opportunities.

  • Board representation and women-owned businesses. I will demand representation of women and minorities on boards of companies and organizations that do business with state government, and I will increase the amount of business state government does with women and minority-owned businesses. Women will only have full, fair and equal participation in our workforce when there are more women in leadership positions. Aside from being good for women, diversity in representation in executive leadership roles and on corporate boards is good for businesses which benefit from diverse perspectives in leadership.[5]As Governor, I will use the purchasing power of state and local governments to require those who do business with government to meet minimum diversity thresholds on their boards. Specifically, I will build on Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s proxy voting initiative through the state pension fund by requiring that at least 30% of board members on boards of large corporations and non-profits that do business with government are women and minorities. In addition, I will pursue strategies to increase state government contracts with women and minority-owned businesses, including providing additional training and other support to women and minority-owned businesses interested in bidding for state contracts.

  • College affordability and student debt relief. I will take on the problem of the crushing burden of student debt, which disproportionately affects women, by making public universities and colleges affordable for everyone and supporting efforts to provide relief to those burdened with outstanding student debt. The crushing burden of student debt disproportionately affects women. Women represent 56% of college and university enrollments but hold 64% of student debt. Women take on 14% more student debt than men at the outset and also pay it back more slowly, in part due to persistent wage gaps.[6] We must do everything we can to improve college affordability: addressing tuition and fees at Massachusetts public colleges and universities; working to improve student debt refinancing options; and advocating for the protection of important federal grant programs such as Pell grants.

  • Gender-neutral disability insurance. I will put an end to gender discrimination in pricing disability insurance benefits. Social Security disability benefits are gender neutral. Workers compensation disability benefits are gender neutral. Individually-purchased disability insurance should be treated the same way. Yet in Massachusetts women are typically charged between 25% and 75% more than men of similar age and occupation.[7] Massachusetts law prohibits gender discrimination in pricing nearly all other types of insurance, and it is well past time to stop discriminatory pricing of disability insurance that unfairly cost women more money.

Sources

1. National Women’s Law Center, “The Wage Gap, State by State,” March 2017.
2. Economic Policy Institute, “How raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 will benefit women,” May 2017. 3. “It’s About Time: Costs and Coverage of Paid Family and Medical Leave in Massachusetts,” Randy Albelda and Alan Clayton-Matthews, Center for Social Policy, Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, May 2016.
4. Adam Sonfield, Kinsey Hasstedt, Megan L. Kavanaugh and Ragnar Anderson, “The Social and Economic Benefits of Women’s Ability To Determine Whether and When to Have Children,” March 2013.
5. Credit Suisse Research Institute, “The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change,” September 2016.
6. AAUW, “Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans,” May 2017.
7. Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, FY15 Annual Report.