Breaking through the 16-17% plateau: empowering tomorrow’s Democratic women leaders
This week, I had the opportunity to attend the “Building a Pipeline to Women’s Leadership” Conference in Manhattan, led by the National Council for Research on Women. Academic and private sector leaders came together to discuss the uneven progress women are making in education and our career trajectories--and what action we can take to enable more women to take on leadership roles.
Within the academic and the private sectors, women have reached a “16-17% plateau” when it comes to executive positions. The problem is not that our young girls and women aren’t undereducated or unmotivated, in fact, as Barnard College President Debora Spar noted, “boys are now affirmative action cases” when it comes to the college admissions process. The pipeline for women’s leadership “is no longer jammed for any good reasons.” The obstacles women faced in the ’60s and ’70s (educational disparity, discriminatory hiring practices) are nearly gone. So how do we keep women in the pipeline and expand our numbers in leadership?
As Columbia Law Professor Susan Sturm stated, the first step in breaking the plateau is fostering resiliency within younger women -- teaching our girls that when the going gets tough, we must keep going. (Admittedly, I have to remind myself of this daily recently given the full-on assault against women currently being waged by the House GOP).
At EMILY’s List, we’re tackling this plateau in the public arena (women currently make up only 16.6% of Congress), by working to elect a new generation of Democratic pro-choice women to office. We must ensure that women’s voices are heard across the board, as Sen. Barbara Mikulski puts it, “on the macro issues and the macaroni issues.”
As a reader of the EMILY’s List blog, you are already a member of a truly resilient community. As Bristol-Meyers Squib Senior Vice President Annalisa Jenkins said: “Convening communities of women is a very powerful tool in strengthening resilience and growing leadership.” We need more people like you. Have you asked your mom, sister, friends, neighbors to join EMILY’s List? Have you asked them to Stand up and Serve?
Thank you for being a part of this community of resilient women and men. Together, we are standing up to Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans outright war against women and families. Together, we are supporting the next generation of pro-choice Democratic women leaders. Together, we will shatter the 16-17% plateau in Congress.
Laura Cederberg is Research Director at EMILY’s List
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