Research & Action Report, Fall/Winter 2013

A May 2013 speech by Luis A. Aguilar, commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, cited research by Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., associate director and senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and her colleagues Vicki W. Kramer, Ph.D. and Alison M Konrad, Ph.D. The speech, “Merely Cracking the Glass Ceiling is Not Enough: Corporate America Needs More than Just A Few Women in Leadership,” acknowledged that companies benefited from boards with three or more women directors, data from the Critical Mass on Corporate Boards study undertaken at WCW.

Layli Maparyan, Ph.D., WCW executive director, attended a special White House event recognizing the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act this past June. “It was an honor to attend the White House event and I returned to the Centers inspired more deeply than ever to deliver programs that make change for women and girls, their families and communities,” said Maparyan.

In mid-August, Georgia Hall, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the National Institute on Out-Of-School Time (NIOST) at WCW, met with the White House Let’s Move! staff. Along with representatives of several other national organizations, Hall discussed the valuable role of out-of-school time (OST) programs in supporting children’s wellness by improving physical activity and healthy eating during the OST hours.

Momentum for building OST’s role in supporting childhood wellness springs from NIOST’s work, along with colleagues from the YMCA of the USA and University of Massachusetts at Boston, on developing new standards for physical activity and healthy eating in January 2011. The standards were adopted by the National Afterschool Association in April 2011. NIOST is co-founder of the Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition and has received support for its work on childhood obesity prevention from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living and Healthy Eating Research divisions. The BOKS before-school activity program based out of Massachusetts, is undergoing a multi-year evaluation by NIOST researchers, was cited by First Lady Michelle Obama in her remarks at the launch of the Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative in March 2013.

Also in August, Maparyan, traveled again to Washington, D.C. with Barbara Moore Hayes, WCW director of development, and Donna Tambasico, WCW deputy director for communications and external relations, to attend a White House briefing, meet with the White House Council on Women and Girls, and to engage with key partners and constituents. The morning-long briefing and forum, 50 Years Forward: Building Ladders of Opportunity, featured remarks by Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, and discussions with Cecilia Munoz, assistant to the President and director of the Domestic Policy Council, and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the President, director of the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. The audience—who attended area-specific breakout meetings—included advocates, change makers, and researchers who are working to create jobs, enhance educational access, build business through investment, and discuss best practices and ideas for criminal justice strategies, immigration reform, and affordable housing issues.

During this trip, the WCW staff met with Hallie Schneir, associate director of the Office of Public Engagement who manages the White House’s outreach to women and girls across the country, to discuss avenues for sharing the Centers’ work with key policy makers. The WCW staff also had meaningful meetings with colleagues from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the International Center for Research on Women, potential funding agents, and several long-time supporters and new friends. The trip concluded with the 50th anniversary March on Washington, about which Maparyan reported on the Centers’ blog: www.womenchangeworlds.org.

Nancy L. Marshall, Ed.D., WCW associate director and senior research scientist, participated in the Older Women Workers Roundtable organized by the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., in late September 2013. Participants shared their research, perspectives, and ideas to inform policy work about older women workers. Marshall has received funding from the National Institute on Aging and the Benenson Fund to study employment and health among older workers; she published a review, “Health and illness issues facing an aging workforce in the new millennium,” in Sociological Spectrum available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/027321701300202073.

Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D., WCW senior research scientist and economist, has been invited to present on a Washington, D.C. panel, “Over Her Lifetime,” during which experts will discuss career entry and advancement, career choices, and impact of lifetime earnings on retirement security, as part of 50 Years Later: Women, Work and the Work Ahead, a U.S. Department of Labor event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. Originally slated for early October, but postponed due to the government shutdown, the program will be held this winter. 

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