There’s Something Missing From Most Gender Equity Conversations
Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions — tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.
- Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
- Inclusivity: bringing others along in the journey.
Gender Mainstreaming: One Of The Sharpest Tools We Have To Achieve Intersectional Gender Equity
What enforcement measures or policies do you think public servants should consider so that women & other historically underrepresented groups (people of color & with disabilities) can overcome hurdles to equality?
At the most foundational level, we need to stop viewing public policies as one-off initiatives to “promote” equity. Instead, we need to integrate gender and racial equity into every set of policy proposals and enforcement measures going forward.
How? There’s a tool for that. It’s called gender mainstreaming.
Embed Equity Into The Economy With Gender Mainstreaming
Gender mainstreaming is the best way to embed (not add) equity into the economy. Gender mainstreaming refers to the practice of disaggregating the inputs and outputs of public policy by at least gender and race/ethnicity.
This practice gives us the analytical lens to see people, to understand how our society’s rules and regulations impact different cohorts of the population.
Imagine looking at a pixelated photo. It’s blurry. You’re having difficulty making out the figures in the image. If I ask you to describe the photo, you can’t.
Now imagine looking at the same photo, except this time it’s not pixelated, it’s in high resolution. If I ask you to describe the photo now, you have no problem telling me about it. Gender mainstreaming is the process of bringing that image into resolution.
An Example Of How Gender Mainstreaming Works
Look at what’s happening in the labor market. Unemployment in the country hovers at a steady 5.9%, according to June 2021 numbers. For women in aggregate, it’s 5.5%, whereas for Black women, it’s 8.5%. Hispanic women? 7.9%.
Curiously, men’s aggregate unemployment rate rose to 5.9% in June. That said, men’s labor force participation rate sits at 87.8% compared to women’s much lower labor force participation rate of 75%.
Alright, I’ll stop throwing numbers at you.
The point I want to make is that we can find insights hidden behind everyday economic aggregations.
The key to uncovering these insights is to disaggregate the data, such as what I did above by delineating between gender, race, and ethnicity.
Applying Gender Mainstreaming To Other Domains
We don’t have to limit ourselves to unemployment and labor force participation data. We can extend this disaggregation framework to nearly all types of data: SNAP recipients, the minimum wage workforce, STEM graduates, etc.
What might we find when we break down aggregated data by gender, race, and ethnicity? And how might we use those findings to inform policy creation?
Those are the questions gender mainstreaming answers. It’s not about adding “women’s issues” or “race issues” to the mix. It’s about choosing the high resolution picture over the pixelated one. It is an intuitive and effective means to ensure everyone’s experiences play a role in policy creation, implementation, and evaluation.
Gender mainstreaming is one of the sharpest tools we have to achieve intersectional gender equity and unlock its $2 trillion opportunity in the US.