Republican Policy Committee holds hearing to discuss barriers working women face, solutions to expand opportunities
WASHINGTON (Sept. 22, 2016) —The House Republican Policy Committee (RPC) Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce held its first hearing today to discuss barriers women face in the workforce and solutions to expand opportunities and options.
As head of the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce, Rep. Martha McSally (AZ-02) chaired the hearing titled “Women in the Workforce: Examining Barriers to Getting Ahead.”
“Women have made great strides and have achieved so much in this country, but the fact remains that so many women and girls still face barriers to achieving their full potential,” McSally said. “Many women today are struggling to balance the competing demands from their workplace, and their families. They are expected to do it all, and they are exhausted.”
Women make up nearly half of the workforce, but continue to experience pay and other disparities. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and women are 80 percent more likely than men to live in poverty at 65. And yet, four out of ten American families look to women as their sole breadwinner.
The House Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06), established the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce in July to investigate these challenges and empower working women.
“As the husband of a working professional and father of two young girls, I am concerned about the challenges women face in the workforce,” Messer said. “But more regulation and one-size-fits-all government programs are not the answer. Our goal is to listen to working women about their needs, learn from experts and innovators, and then champion policy ideas that empower women not restrict their options.”
Panelists at the hearing included women leaders in the business and nonprofit sectors, including Samantha Tassone, President of GrowthFuel; Romina Boccia, fiscal and economic expert at The Heritage Foundation; T. VanHook, Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity Tucson; and Andrew G. Biggs, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
“Women occupy and will continue to occupy half of the formal workforce… They are contributing to the national economy while serving as the primary caregivers of their families, in many cases sandwiched between generations, running between jobs, juggling responsibilities, and balancing family budgets on a shoestring,” T. VanHook said in her testimony.
As CEO of Habitat for Humanity Tucson, she added that access to safe, affordable housing is a barrier that impacts many women and families, as wages fail to keep up with housing costs.
Samantha Tassone with GrowthFuel discussed other barriers women face and the need for more workplace flexibility.
“Too many women are underemployed or not employed at all in the workforce, and struggle with obstacles of re-entry from childcare and elder care… Some settle for part-time work, while others who take this path need flex schedules,” Samantha Tassone said in her testimony.
Several panelists urged Congress to roll back, not add, regulations that box women into a corner and hinder innovation.
“A strong economy that enables individuals to use their skills and aptitudes to earn a living, and that allows entrepreneurs and investors to create jobs and enhance productivity through innovation, is an economy that works for all Americans, including women,” Romina Boccia said in her testimony.
The Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce plans to hold a series of similar hearings in the coming months. These hearings will provide a forum to discuss key pillars related to women in the workforce including expanding opportunity, increasing flexibility, removing barriers, and empowering the next generation.
The hearing was streamed live on YouTube and can be viewed here.