Raimondo reinstates R.I. Commission on Women to tackle gender equality

Commission to pursue gender pay equity, encourage more women to seek governmental positions

Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The new Rhode Island Commission on Women, comprising 26 businesswomen, community leaders and government officials, met for the first time Tuesday. Gov. Gina Raimondo reinstated the commission last month to address women’s issues after it dissolved in 2010 due to funding reductions.

“It was great to get strong Rhode Island women together,” said Rep. Joy Hearn, D-Barrington and East Providence, a member of the commission. At the meeting, “we set the important context for the work ahead,” she added.

The commission was originally founded in 1970 but lost its funding under former Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri in 2010. Obtaining funding through public means for a relatively low-cost and popular initiative such as the Commission on Women would not have been that difficult, Scott MacKay, political analyst for Rhode Island Public Radio, told The Herald.

This time, funding for the commission will come from its members’ fundraising and a private 501(c)(3) organization, protecting the commission from a budgetary cut similar to that of 2010, wrote Ashley O’Shea, deputy director of communications for the governor, in an email to The Herald.

Raimondo, the state’s first female governor, announced the commission’s restoration March 31, the last day of Women’s History Month, and charged it with “promoting equity, strengthening our economy and showing the leaders of tomorrow they can do anything they set their mind to,” according to a press release.

More specific goals include encouraging more women to seek jobs in government, developing and supporting programs and services for women, compiling information on policies relating to women and collaborating with concerned groups on these issues, O’Shea wrote.

The governor appointed 12 members to the commission, primarily from the private sector. Each of the chambers of the General Assembly appointed three members, while state agencies appointed eight.

Hearn and Rep. Doreen Costa, R-Exeter and North Kingstown, emphasized increased gender pay equity, one of Raimondo’s campaign promises, as a major goal of the commission. Its first task will be to create an equal pay certification status, “which will be awarded to Rhode Island businesses that show a commitment to equal pay practices,” O’Shea wrote.

“Ensuring paycheck fairness will boost our local businesses by putting money directly in the pockets of working families, whether it’s to buy an extra bag of groceries or new school supplies,” Raimondo said in a statement given to The Herald by O’Shea. “Pay equity attracts first-rate employees and promotes a more productive workforce.”

Pay equity in the public sector is far more achievable than in the private sector, MacKay said. Public employees, like teachers, could be given pay equity through state laws, while progress among private sector employees is much harder to monitor and enforce, especially for non-unionized workers, MacKay said.

Hearn acknowledged the obstacles the commission’s plans could face but emphasized that the commission includes many people with the power to drive change on the issue. O’Shea also wrote that the governor’s 12 commission appointees were picked for their diverse perspectives and community connections, hopefully helping the commission “move the needle on important topics like equal pay.”

Costa also suggested the group may discuss other women’s issues, like domestic violence and sex trafficking, at future meetings.

“It was a good group, and we’ll see where it goes from here,” Hearn said.

The commission will meet once a month, and its mandate is to present reports to the governor for her consideration and potential implementation, though the timing, frequency and specifics of the reports are yet to be determined.

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article misstated that each of the chambers of the General Assembly appointed two members while state agencies appointed ten. In fact, the chambers each appointed three members while state agencies appointed eight. The Herald regrets the error.

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  1. In general, women don’t just live longer than men (that longevity gap has more than doubled since 1900) and enjoy better health than men, who on average die sooner and at a higher rate of the 12 leading causes of death. They as a group also control most of the consumer spending — consumer spending is about 70% of all economic activity in the US — and most of the nation’s wealth. Soon they will control even more.

    “Over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history. Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. Many Boomer women will experience a double inheritance windfall, from both parents and husband.” -

    The typical wife is younger than her husband by 2.5 years and she outlives him by five. Thus she enjoys her and her husband’s wealth 7.5 years longer than the husband, who much more often than she created their wealth alone.

    To put these statements in the proper gender perspective, reverse the sexes in them:

    In general, men don’t just live longer than women (that longevity gap has more than doubled since 1900) and enjoy better health than women, who on average die sooner and at a higher rate of the 12 leading causes of death. They as a group also control most of the consumer spending and most of the nation’s wealth. Soon they will control even more.

    Just by themselves, the statements would signify enough unfair male power, privilege, and advantage that feminists would explode out onto the streets in visceral, thunderous protest.

    Pay equity:

    No doubt most pay-equity advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or who’d move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace old workers with young ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here are two telling examples showing that some of America’s most sophisticated women choose to earn less than their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” (See also “Female Docs See Fewer Patients, Earn $55,000 Less Than Men”

    “…[O]nly 35 percent of women who have earned MBAs after getting a bachelor’s degree from a top school are working full time.” It “is not surprising that women are not showing up more often in corporations’ top ranks.”

    “A study of students graduating from Carnegie Mellon found that 57% of males negotiated for a higher starting salary than had been offered, compared to just 7% of females. As a result, starting salaries of men were 7.6% (almost $4,000) higher than those of women.”


    “The Doctrinaire Institute for Women’s Policy Research: A Comprehensive Look at Gender Equality”


    Over the past four decades, the media, which are supposed to objectively reflect all views, have overwhelmingly reflected ideological feminists’ views on gender issues and the male-female dynamic. (For a detailed look at the reasons, see Warren Farrell’s Why Men Earn More, a book so shocking that I suspect most pay-equity feminists refuse to read it.) The effect of this long-running lack of objectivity is, I think, to create in our collective mind an entrenched and immutable perception that no other view is possible and that gender issues and the male-female dynamic as portrayed by these feminists are not foolhardy concepts but widely accepted fact that is completely beyond dispute.

    Thus, the ordinary woman — even the woman who is staunchly not a feminist — can hardly be blamed for believing she is taken advantage of by men and must endure oppressions such as poorer treatment by male doctors and less pay than her employer’s men who perform the exact same work.

    Many if not most women are subjected to these oppression stories virtually very day of the year in the still-unobjective media. (Both the liberal and conservative media can be unobjective, but on matters of gender, I believe the lack of objectivity and balance regarding gender issues appears mostly in the liberal media, if only because that’s where anti-male feminists feel more welcome.) The stories are convincingly told by intelligent, sophisticated members of such groups as the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), which says in the very first sentence of its position statement on equal pay:

    “American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.”

    If such educated, sophisticated groups as the NWLC — and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the subject of the following commentary — believe women are unfairly paid less, it must be true. Why would they lie?

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