BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Stimulate What For Who?

Posted by egehl on February 25, 2009

One word: stimulus.  Sick of it already?  It’s echoing in everyone’s head these days and will most certainly be one of the “top over-used words” of 2009 when the press does their annual end of the year tally.

cashmoneychaosNow that President Obama has signed the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, otherwise known as the economic stimulus package, what next? $790 billion surely is a hefty price tag and for anyone not working on the Congressional Finance and Appropriations Committees the 1,000 page bill feels very intangible.

Even policy wonks are having a hard time wrapping their heads around this unprecedented policy, as it’s cumbersome to gauge exactly how it will impact everyday citizens. But it’s important that we do understand and drill down on this looming federal decision because the sum of money is too large and the stakes are too high if it isn’t implemented well.

So how do women fit into the equation? The economic stimulus package has many provisions that will impact the financial well being of women and their families.  The bill includes funding for a variety of social programs, many of which support low and moderate income women, which are vital to their ability to lead financially stable lives. Specifically, the act has considerable outlays of funds for early childhood development and Head Start, food assistance including food stamps, child care, public housing, higher education financing in Pell Grants, school construction, and health care through increased Medicaid for the uninsured.

During the Congressional debate, the Obama Administration conducted an analysis of how many of the jobs being created by the stimulus package will go to women.  The analysis showed that of the approximately 3.5 million jobs created by the package, some 1.5 million or an estimated 42%, are expected to go to women.  Keep in mind the word “expected”.

I hope that the Obama Administration and federal agencies through Recovery.gov will conduct further analysis and critique over how these funds are being spent and what impact they will have on women being able to secure well paying jobs.  It’s concerning that a significant portion of the jobs that women will gain are in areas that pay lower than average wages whereas wages in construction jobs where men dominate are paid above average. And since a large portion of the stimulus related jobs are geared towards building infrastructure men will have the upper hand in getting a bulk of the better paying opportunities.

Research is showing that women are outpacing men in the workplace so it’s essential that state governments take this into consideration as they begin to receive federal dollars and authorize job creation programs.  State governments have the responsibility to keep women in mind as they implement their “ready to go” stimulus projects and funnel the money down to the local level to businesses, nonprofits and local governments.  We must hold our state governments accountable for how they appropriate these dollars because a lot rests in their hands.

It’s easy to get lost in a piece of legislation this large so it’s incumbent upon all of us to keep abreast of what’s happening at the state and local level so that decisions are made through a lens of gender equality and opportunity.

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3 Responses to “Stimulate What For Who?”

  1. jpflaste said

    There is a lot of information being thrown around about the kind of jobs the stimulus money is going to create and often the emphasis on “green” jobs. However, it’s very difficult to find information describing what these green jobs are beyond working with alternative energy. What about creating jobs by making other industries and tasks more green and cost and energy efficient?

  2. Tom Awtry said

    Very well authored and understood!

    I favor President Obama’s Stimulus plan, as you can see by my recent posting:

    http://ourcountryspresident.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/the-voice-of-wall-street-speaks/

    And sure hope it works for all Americans, everywhere!

  3. gansie said

    thanks for the link, tom.

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