Sources for more information:
See: MentorNet.net (May 11, 2005)
For background on the initiative of the National Women’s Law Center and Women’s Prerogative, see:
Also see: WomensPrerogative.org
It must have been frustrating to the signers, as it was to me, to observe that no newspaper of note, no television news broadcast, no radio show, no Sunday morning “talking heads” so much as gave them a nod from their dashboard positions at the head of the U.S. communications industry. Then again, the surprising thing is that we are surprised.
Clearly, more substantive measures are required to gain the attention of the media and the public regarding matters of substance in the search for equality of opportunity in this so-called meritocracy.
Perhaps women in science, engineering, and technology might reconsider the tactic of writing letters and instead start writing a business plan to start up and expand a business effort to provide such women – six thousand strong – with a viable media outlet to publish and broadcast the content, research, and issues that are important to them.
Perhaps, too, women in science, engineering, and technology might reconsider the tactic of asking members of Congress to please, pretty please, pass more legislation that will probably be undone once corporate PAC money is gathered on the other side of the debate.
Instead, perhaps these women – six thousand strong – might consider pooling their collective “mad money” to provide bootstrap working capital to momentum-building women-owned enterprises that could provide those same six thousand voices with broadcast outlets for their very important views:
- A speakers’ bureau to arrange for women from science, engineering, and technology fields to keynote and to speak out at major public forums – and, yes, where these women are actually compensated at competitive rates, just like men, to speak their peace and their experience.
- A news distribution bureau to gather and disseminate writing by these same women, researched by these women, analytical contributions by women of intelligence and of import to the vitality of this economy – and, yes, where these women are actually compensated at competitive rates for their creative work.
- A research bureau to invest in the analysis, quantification, and documentation of the intellectual contributions that women make to this economy, to our society, and to our communities in all of the myriad ways they choose to do so. Alternatively, to quantify, gather, and disseminate the factual evidence of how our failure, as a nation, to address recurrent economic problems (including violence and abuse in the home, abandonment of child support, etc.) wreaks havoc with our society and our economy in the short-term and the long-term.
Six thousand women “investing” a mere $100 each in such a venture capital fund would equal a $600,000 pool that could be leveraged up to millions in loans to women business enterprises. At $500 each, six thousand women could create a pool of $3 MILLION. Double that ($6 MILLION), and we’re beginning to talk about some serious impact on the way women are heard in the public media.
Every single major securities investment firm in the country is focused, today, on how they can market themselves, their products and services to the female Baby Boomer Generation -– the largest wealth-holding segment of the population in history. Fifty-one percent of the 70 million Boomer Generation are women, over 35 M women.
If there were a credible, professional, reliable alternative investment pool designed, developed and supported BY women for the benefit of women, isn’t it likely that a significant share of that total might also consider buying shares in such an undertaking? They would expect, as any rational investor, that that venture demonstrated the ability to produce profitable results at least equal to, if not better than, the alternatives available from those male-dominated securities investment firms.
To those who would prefer the “non-profit, charitable, gift-giving, donor-driven” model, consider the following:
- Joline Godfrey, founder and president of Independent Means, realized the limits of a non-profit firm trying to teach young girls financial self-sufficiency. She converted her non-profit firm to a for-profit corporation in order to “talk the talk AND walk the walk”, to show young women how to make and preserve wealth in America’s competitive marketplace.
- Gale Evans, former CNN executive and prominent author/speaker, state that women need to DO more real business with women-owned businesses if we want those enterprises and women to prevail, financially, in the long-term competitive marketplace.
- Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and former Economic Advisor to the Clinton Administration, bemoaned the fact that too many women viewed their businesses as just “hobby-work” rather than economic contenders capable of vying against the best in the business.
Let us just say, for argument’s sake, that the 6,000 women “win” their case for Title IX to be applied to education grants and projects in science, engineering, and technology – that there is a new and tougher law passed. Will that new law be any more effective – down to the individual business level – than the laws we have already succeeded in passing that were supposed to give women-owned businesses at least a token 5% of public contracts? Ask the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce how well we’re doing at the federal, state and local level in obtaining our “fair share” of public contracts.
Will another law help women who spent thousands of their own dollars in scientific, engineering, and technology education to recover that investment through higher wages or will they still have to go overseas to find the outsourced low-wage jobs that our corporate leaders are exporting?
Will more hearings on Title IX as applied to science, engineering, and technology projects tell us anything that we have not already heard in previous hearings on the subject of equal opportunity for women:
- The Glass Ceiling Commission hearings: 1991 – 1996, U.S. Dept. of Labor
- The Equal Rights Amendment hearings: 1972 – 1982
- Wyden’s hearings on women in science in the Science, Technology, and Space Committee of the Senate Commerce Committee of the U.S. Congress: 2002
- Equal Employment Opportunity Act hearings
- Equal Credit Opportunity Act hearings
How many more hearings do we need to sit through before it dawns on us that something’s amiss here in this great American land of the free, home of the brave? When will we realize that the 14th Amendment to the constitution, as my Republican friends tell me, is all the Equal Rights Amendment we need, if we would just read it:
“Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
There are only two motivators that this U.S. economy understands: incentives and shortages. It’s time that women of conscience learn to manage and control these two motivators with as much skill and focus as their brothers.
If 6,000 talented, competent, concerned, and motivated women can get together to write a letter to their Congressmen, imagine the impact these same women could have if they would work together to build a better business model for our daughters – and, yes, our sons – for the future.
Imagine the power of their economic presence in the marketplace if six thousand women and their colleagues selectively unsubscribed or “shorted” their support of selected market segments where their dollars are most significant.
Imagine the power of their economic presence in the marketplace if they channeled their well-earned funds into a venture to turn the tide of attention toward creating the opportunities women can build their future through science, engineering, and technology.
So, young ladies, what will your choice be? Research and advocacy? Or perhaps something a little different this time?