“Report on the Status of Chicago’s Women and Girls,” released by the Chicago Foundation for Women, identifies the areas where women have achieved (or are close to achieving) gender parity, and highlights circumstances where more resources are needed. The report indicates that women are close to equity in labor force participation, professional/technical jobs, and higher education but that women lag in six important areas. “If Chicago were to match best-in-class standards of gender parity it would grow the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $58 billion by 2025.” The following indicators suggest investment, activities, and policies that would support equity:
- Women in Corporate Leadership – There are now more women than men with bachelor degrees but women are still underrepresented in leadership and managerial roles. Policies that value women are needed such as pay equity, paid maternity (and paternity) leave, and accommodations for pregnant employees.
- Unpaid Care Work – Women spend more time performing unpaid care work than men. Unpaid care work includes looking after older family members, caring for the sick, preparing food, cleaning, and looking after and educating children. The affordability of childcare plays an especially critical role among single, female-headed households. Policies that support better work-life balance such flexible work schedules and affordable childcare are important.
- Teen Pregnancy – The rate of teen pregnancy has dropped over the last decade but progress has stalled. Protecting reproductive choice legislation and improving access to reproductive health care, regardless of insurance, can empower young women to choose the best course of action.
- Political Representation – In 2015 women held more than 30% of state legislative seats. In 2017 the total is 51%. Research indicates the very reason women do not enter politics is so few women hold legislative seats. Encouraging women to run for office makes good fiscal sense; countries where more women are involved in politics see increases in economic growth and development.
- Violence Against Women –Reducing domestic violence requires investments in campaigns that change hearts and minds. Funding programs that stop the normalization of violence changes cultural norms that portray women as objects. Scaling up prevention programs is a critical step in reducing violence against women.
The findings presented are a part of the 100% Project, an “all-in, all-out effort to end gender bias in the Chicago region by 2030 through community conversation, cross-sector collaboration, and policy change.” Read the full report here.
To learn more about the 100% Project visit: https://www.cfw.org/100-percent/.