Field Notes: Women in Poverty

International Women’s Day kicks off a month of worldwide discussion so we’re digging into female poverty in the United States and investing with a gender lens.

With a global discussion about women’s rights and poverty occurring this month, here is a nice roundup about what is happening for poor women in the United States from the Nonprofit Quarterly’s Rick Cohen. In PolicyMic, Sanders Deionne says that minimum wage work is a major women’s issue:

Minimum wage earners are our mothers, sisters, wives, friends, neighbors and more. Some might feel their jobs are too replaceable for them to earn higher wages (which is not true), but always remember we benefit everyday from their work in ways often taken for granted. Therefore, the least we can do is support women and give them the respect they deserve by standing by the living wage.

You also might want to check out this analysis by Laura D’Andrea Tyson looking statistics for female low-wage workers.

Back in one of the In Case You Missed It issues in January, we featured this Shriver Report on women in poverty. In her response to the report, The New York Times’ Stephanie Coontz pushes back on poverty being solely an issue for women:

Millions of men face working conditions that traditionally characterized women’s lives: low wages, minimal benefits, part-time or temporary jobs, and periods of joblessness. Poverty is becoming defeminized because the working conditions of many men are becoming more feminized. Whether they realize it or not, men now have a direct stake in policies that advance gender equity. Most of the wage gap between women and men is no longer a result of blatant male favoritism in pay and promotion. Much of it stems from general wage inequality in society at large.


Thinking toward the future, Lauren Frohlich of the National Women’s Law Center takes a close look at rising trends in female-dominated low-wage jobs:










Social entrepreneur Jackie VanderBrug’s piece in the Harvard Business Review discusses investing with a gender lens and that shows in many countries, including in the United States and Europe, women entrepreneurs are in the process of creating millions of jobs. You also might want to check out her TED talk on gender lens investing.


On the business side of things, Corrie Driebusch of the Wall Street Journal found that more and more companies are seeking to have more gender-diverse boards, and Pioneers Post’s Suzanne Biegel wrote on the female perspective in social finance.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on gender lens here in the comments or on Twitter at @HeronFDN.

Click here for more quick reads featuring interesting articles on philanthropy and impact investing.

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