Being a few feet away from the President of the United States of America is both an exhilarating and humbling feeling. The charisma and comfortable nature of President Obama could be felt as soon as he entered the building, and the feeling remained as he answered questions from the moderator and crowd.
The Working Women Town Hall was moderated by Lisa Stone, SheKnows Media’s Chief Community Officer and Co-Founder of BlogHer, and focused on three key issues – fair pay, childcare tax credits and education. President Obama did a great job of explaining his view on each. He used a nice mix of personal stories and statistics that came off as natural conversation (no teleprompter or notes during the Q&A).
Throughout the hour he said many things that resonated with me, but here’s one of my favorite quotes regarding fair pay.
Too often the conversations about fair pay are held under the guise that women are the only ones impacted. That is not the case at all. Everyone benefits. When women are compensated fairly, they can better help in providing for their families. Not only does the woman benefit, but her children, spouse AND community benefit.
That being said, I also believe a large part of narrowing the pay gap comes through better education to change cultural norms. Let’s educate our girls and women on the benefits of knowing their worth, and then give them the tools to fight for that worth. Negotiation is not a bad word and fear should not be a reason to avoid it. And let’s make sure our boys and men understand that a woman negotiating should be the norm, not an exception that labels her angry or arrogant.
I look at it this way, every dollar I don’t ask for is one less dollar to invest in my girls’ college fund, so I must be okay asking for my dollars, :-).
On Tax Credits and Education
I appreciated hearing his views on childcare tax credits and higher education. On face value they both sound like great benefits to many American citizens. I know firsthand the costs of quality childcare and right now I can’t see the downside to offering two years of community college to students that maintain good grades. However, I also know that I don’t have enough information to make an educated decision. So, I’ve created a list of topics to research.
Full disclaimer. When I started this post, I was going to share my questions and then include answers based on unbiased reports. However, I do not have the brainpower right now to sift through the endless amount of biased/angry/crazy articles and statistics online to come up with an educated answer. It is VERY hard to find straight answers and the process reminded me why I swear by NPR.
So, instead here are the questions and when I get answers I’ll share them:
- Exactly, who is considered the 1% in the USA? There’s a lot of talk about this group, but I don’t know the minimum income of this group. According to the NY Times, it looks like a household income of around $383,000, but I’m still verifying this.
- Is cost the only reason the Fairness Paycheck Act continues to fail? Are there other fundamental issues?
- Is cost the issue with offering free community college, early childhood education programs, childcare tax breaks?
- For the Affordable Care Act, we have positive numbers for the citizens it has helped. However, do we have an idea of how many people can no longer afford insurance? I see personal stories sprinkled in various media outlets, but I wonder if this is the norm or an exception.
If you have unbiased resources for these questions, please share!
Overall, it was a great experience and I love that it was held at one of Charlotte’s most family-friendly places, Imaginon. Isn’t it cool how Imaginon had the books set up to feature family in the background? And yes, that’s his signature :-).
I am so incredibly thankful and grateful to have had this opportunity.
Plus, I get to say the POTUS shook my hand!!!
I’ll close with another of my favorite quotes of the day, “The most important office in a democracy is office of citizen.” ~Barack Obama