Investing With a Gender Lens
In philanthropy and the private sector, there is a growing movement to direct financial and human resources into supporting women and girls, expanding their leadership opportunities, and challenging the traditional roles and expectations of both women and men.
|LEAP (Leadership, Education & Athletics in Partnership) offers girls-only robotics courses as part of its "Learning to Code" program. Photo credit: LEAP.|
Investing in women and girls is not only a matter of social justice. It's good for the economy.
More than a half-century since the passage of the Equal Pay Act, men still earn more money than women for the same work. The largest disparities affect minority women.
The wage gap compounds over a lifetime, limiting resources a woman can spend on her family and in her community. It also contributes to the high number of households headed by single women struggling to meet basic cost of living expenses.
Both business and philanthropic organizations are increasingly recognizing that investing in women and girls, and working to eliminate the wage gap and other gender-specific barriers, creates a ripple effect that benefits families, neighborhoods, and surrounding communities.
The Pay Gap:
- In New Haven women earn 88 cents for every dollar earned by men; in Connecticut, women make 78 cents for every dollar earned by men1,2.
- African American women earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by men. Latinas earn 54 cents for every dollar earned by men3.
- Over a lifetime, the wage gap amounts to a loss in wages for a woman of $700,000 for a high school graduate and $1.2 million for a college graduate4.
- In New Haven, households headed by single mothers have the lowest median annual income ($22,660) of all family household types5.
- Nationally 32% of of households headed by single women live in poverty6.
- In New Haven, 4 in 10 household headed by single women with children under 18 are under the poverty threshold7.
- In 2011, girls in New Haven in the 3rd – 8th grade outperformed boys on nearly every section of the Connecticut Mastery Test8.
- Women in New Haven who do not have a High School Diploma are 62 percent more likely than men without a High School diploma to be poor9.
Philanthropy Sharpens its Focus
Philanthropic commitment to gender-specific programming has grown in recent decades. These investments not only help women and girls overcome barriers that are specific to their gender, but also work to transform the larger economic, political, educational, and institutional systems that devalue women.Between 1990 and 2006, U.S. foundation giving to benefit women and girls (including giving internationally) grew from $412 million to $2.1 billion, a five-fold increase that surpassed the rate of growth for all foundation giving10.
New Haven-based All Our Kin is an example of an organization that addresses several interrelated barriers affecting women and families. It provides training and business consultation services to help women become licensed child-care providers, operate successful businesses, and raise their incomes. Through this work it is also addressing the shortage of affordable quality child care for very young children so mothers can enter or stay in the workforce while having their child cared for in a safe environment.
A UCONN study of All Our Kin's Tool Kit Licensing Program found that nearly 60% of participants reported earning at least $5,000 more the first year after becoming licensed. The same study also found that every $1 spent on the licensing program returned approximately $15 -$20 to society in gross regional product13.
The New Haven Mental Health Outreach for Mothers Partnership, or MOMS, is another innovative example of gender-specific programming. In a pioneering partnership with Stop & Shop, MOMS makes mental health services more accessible to women by putting "hubs" in grocery stores. The "hubs" provide a confidential setting where women receive connections to mental health, basic needs, job skills, and other services aimed at reducing the causes of stress in women's lives.
Gender Equity is Good for Business
Just as philanthropy is seeing a multiplier effect - a net gain that is far in excess of the original investment -from investing in women and girls, companies that take gender equity seriously have been found to run better, be more responsive to the market, and increase profits.
What the Community Foundation is Doing
Recent Grantees Include:
Architecture Resource Center – support for the Design Technology Camp (DTC), a four-week program that will offer architecture, design, STEM, and leadership activities to disadvantaged girls and young women
Believe in Me Empowerment Corp. - to support the implementation of a gender responsive expressive healing program for a minimum of 48 women in recovery which will serve as an outlet to express thoughts and feelings that result from past traumas
Boys & Girls Club of New Haven - to support ASCEND, a college readiness and career awareness project targeting up to 25 girl club members, ages 9-17, and to support Emerging Young Leaders, a mentorship program for girls
Bridges - To support effective case management and educational services for young, pregnant women and their partners through the delivery of information on the physical, biological, social, emotional, and financial impacts of pregnancy on young women. The program will include childbirth classes and education on the prevention of unplanned pregnancies.
Christian Community Action - support for the advocacy efforts of Mothers for Justice, a coalition of New Haven women, at the state and federal levels to change the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program so that more families are able to become self-sufficient.
Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence -to support the Trafficking in Persons Council's replication study which seeks to develop sustainable anti-trafficking efforts with the input of those working on the ground.
Connecticut Women's Consortium - to support the training of 25 staff of community, behavioral health, and educational organizations to implement Girls Circles, a gender-specific, evidence-based, support group for girls ages 9-18 that fosters growth and development and is designed to build self-esteem, promote resiliency, empowerment, identity, and healthy relationships.
Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund - to support the continuation and enhancement of the Bilingual Community Advocacy project and Advocacy Fellowship program in the Greater New Haven area, particularly to 170-200 under-served Latina populations
Engineering Science University Magnet School - to support a STEM Saturdays program for 4th and 5th grade girls in New Haven public schools, led by ESUMS female students and designed to provide girls with the opportunity to discover science, technology, engineering, and math through interdisciplinary projects
Girl Scouts of Connecticut – to increase participation of low income girls by providing transportation and removing other barriers
Higher Heights Youth Empowerment Programs, Inc - to support the HIGHER Women mentoring program's financial literacy programming for 15- 20 high school girls and their mothers
Literacy Center of Milford – to support the Adult Women's ESL program and Mother's Advanced Class, serving immigrant women
New Reach - to support the integration of Gender Responsive Trauma Informed Care (GRTIC) into New Reach's shelter programs so that its shelters and shelter services reflect an in depth understanding of the realities of the lives of the women (and their dependent children) under New Reach's care
New Haven Farms - to support the Women's Community Health Ambassador (CHA) program in training 6 women graduates of the New Haven Farms Farm-based Wellness Program, providing summer work positions, and cultivating a network of women in the Fair Haven community who are building a culture of advocacy around their health and wellness goals
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England - support to address rates of teen pregnancy
St. Martin De Porres Academy - to support a newly established co-curricular program that centers on developing leadership skills and self-confidence in St. Martin de Porres' female students
Spanish Community of Wallingford - to support the hiring of 3 Hispanic teenage girls to assist in the planning and execution of two youth leadership and one STEM program with a total of 80 participants.
Women's Business Development Council- to support entrepreneurial training for women
Women and Family Life Center - to support the provision of small workshops and one-on-one financial consultations to approximately 80 low-to-moderate-income women to empower them with the tools to achieve financial stability/sustainability.
2. Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. Research Brief. 2014.
13. Hill, Shannon. The Economic Impact of the All Our Kin Family Child Care Tool Kit Licensing Program A Report on the Findings of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis. Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, 2011: 7.
© The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven,