Read the Political Tango of Rishi and his wife Seema.
My wife Seema works in the Silicon Valley networking industry, and has experienced first-hand the challenges that confront women in the workplace every day. Institutional barriers still plague our workplaces, impacting women and many underrepresented gender identities.
In Congress, I will be an advocate for women’s rights and economic security. I am deeply disturbed by the fact that the United States is currently ranked 49th in the world in terms of gender equality. I will address gender bias, income inequality, work-life balance, and unequal growth opportunities. I will work to promote, create, and fund opportunities for girls and young women of Silicon Valley to explore and pursue successful, high-paying, and fulfilling careers. I understand how the additional burden of working from home, virtual schooling and household chores are creating stress in women’s personal and professional lives. Here are a few areas of priority:
- We have to bridge the gender wage gap: Although it’s illegal to pay women less than men for the same work through the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women are still earning 82 cents to the dollar. This gets worse when we look at this data for women of color – Latina women are paid just 54 cents to the dollar. Additionally, women who work part time to raise their children earn 39% less than men. Equal pay is crucial to advancing women’s economic and career goals. One study found that closing the gender wage gap would cut poverty among women by more than half and add $500 billion dollars to the economy. Closing the gap is clearly beneficial to the US as a whole, and it is up to us to do everything in our power to bring about economic equality.
- Expansion of paid leave and benefits to new parents: We need federal programs that offer tax breaks for workplaces that offer childcare for their employees and flexible scheduling options - this will incentivize many companies to offer generous paid leave and benefits to their employees. Paid leave programs have been shown to help close the gender pay gap by increasing women’s attachment to the workforce and raising their long-term earnings. I support New York City's Pregnant Workers Fairness Acts, which require employers to accommodate the needs of pregnant women. I will help pass a federal version of these acts to help all American women.
- Expanding the public school system to include preschool is also crucial to resolving economic disparities: currently, only 55% of toddlers attend preschool because, with an average price of $10,000/year, it’s simply too expensive for many parents. These two missed years of schooling leads to a lifetime of under-education and lower quality of life – students who don’t attend preschool are less likely to attend college and have lower-paying jobs. These students then can’t afford preschool for their kids, and the cycle continues.
- Transparency to salaries, mandatory disclosures of payroll, including third party audits: Employers are not afraid to violate the lax laws designed to discourage pay secrecy and impose harsh punishments for workers that discuss their pay. This creates an environment that perpetuates wage disparities across gender and race. We need laws that require employees to disclose payrolls, which – when combined with increasing use of third-party audits – will allow the public to easily access data about inequalities within a company, forcing that company to do more to close any income disparities between their employees. Thus, this is a crucial step towards resolving the gender pay gap.
- The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a step in the right direction that will ensure true equity, including gender pay parity that is protected by law and that civil and constitutional rights are fully extended regardless of biological sex or gender identity.