Women’s History, Women’s Present - United Ways of California

Women’s History, Women’s Present

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Read time: 3 minutes

At United Ways of California, we honor and celebrate times like Women’s History Month to promote a sense of belonging among our staff, to recognize and honor the significant contributions of historically marginalized or underrepresented voices that have often been silenced or overlooked, and to educate ourselves about the history of injustice in our country.

In March and year-round, it is important to celebrate women’s often-overlooked accomplishments and contributions while also acknowledging inequities that continue to affect women in California today.

Acknowledging Inequities

Over the last century, women in America have secured the right to vote. They have fought for the freedom to work and advance professionally. They have climbed corporate ladders to become CEOs, have won over voters to hold elected office, have cured diseases, have built companies and fueled movements, have put men (and women!) into space, have been appointed to judicial seats as powerful as the U.S. Supreme Court, and so much more.

Yet, women in the U.S. still only make $0.82 for every dollar men make, according to Pew Research Center, with Black and Latina women experiencing an even wider gap. Women are still underrepresented in management roles, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. And when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, women were the most impacted, in large part due to higher employment in more contact-heavy jobs, greater childcare burden, and being more likely to hold part-time or temporary jobs that were often cut first during the pandemic.

According to our recent Real Cost Measure study, 7 in 10 single mothers in California – over 576,000 households – do not earn enough to meet basic needs, and families with young children face high costs of childcare and limited opportunities to work or pursue education due to caregiving responsibilities that often default to family members, particularly women.

It is critical to understand these disparities in order to better support programs and policies that address the inequities. For example, a 2018 study from UC Irvine found that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) increases female employment, employment of single mothers, and women’s earnings in the workforce long-term – on top of reducing poverty overall. United Ways across California advocate for expansion of the federal and state EITC as well as other tax credits like the Young Child Tax Credit that help reduce the financial burden currently placed on women and others. Our tax work also increases awareness of these credits as well as supports Californians in claiming eligible credits and filing their taxes for free. Additionally, 211 connects people with resources in their communities – from childcare to food to housing to education – supporting Californians not just in times of crisis, but at any point in their lives.

It is also important to acknowledge that women are often put in the role of caregivers for a variety of family situations. For those caring for relatives’ children, our California Kinship Navigator connects kinship families and service providers with critical resources, information, and support so that the whole family can thrive. United Way and our 211 network are also partnering with organizations to connect caregivers – including those caring for an elderly family member – to resources relevant to them.

Celebrating Women’s History

Women’s History Month traces its origins to California. According to the National Women’s History Museum, Women’s History Week – which became Women’s History Month in 1987 – began in Santa Rosa, California.

Women’s History Month is just one of the occasions where we can bring awareness and highlight the contributions of women. As a part of our commitment to equity, United Ways of California is gathering and sharing resources that might be helpful to our staff, network, and partners. Want a place to start for your individual or collective learning this month as well? This Women’s History Month guide is available to you as a resource.

This month, United Ways of California staff are learning about women’s history and sharing stories of women who have inspired them.

We are also proud to celebrate our network’s female CEOs: 16 California United Way CEOs – more than half – are women!

Join us in celebrating the contributions of women to our world and workplaces – this month and year-round.

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