Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • Women Chart a New Course Onboard U.S. Navy Submarines

    In 2009, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that for the first time in Navy history, women would be assigned to serve aboard Navy submarines.

    Yesterday, the first contingent of 24 women who completed the Navy’s nuclear submarine program met with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. They were joined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mark Ferguson.

    Women Submariners Visit the White House 5 29 12

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet the U.S. Navy’s first contingent of women submariners to be assigned to the Navy’s operational submarine force, in the Blue Room of the White House, May 28, 2012. The 24 women were accepted into the Navy’s nuclear submarine program after completing an intensive training program and serve on ballistic and guided missile submarines throughout the Navy. Also attending were ADM Mark Ferguson, left, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) May 28, 2012.

    The commitment by the Navy to put women on submarines has gone from idea to reality in just a few short years -- these women are now serving in a variety of important jobs aboard ballistic and guided missile submarines in the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.

  • President Obama Adds Historic Focus on Women’s Rights at G-8 and NATO Summits

    This week, under President Obama’s leadership, the Group of 8 (G-8) and NATO each made history by placing women’s rights squarely on the agenda. Recognizing women as drivers of economic growth and as essential actors for strengthening global peace and security, G-8 and NATO leaders not only put efforts to protect women’s rights and advance women’s participation front and center, but also recognized women as agents of change, and committed their countries to expanding efforts to empower women worldwide.

    President Obama first invited fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David for talks on a wide range of economic, political and security issues. The President then welcomed NATO allies and partners to his hometown of Chicago for the NATO Summit, where leaders took steps to build the NATO-Afghanistan partnership while responsibly ending the war, and ensure that NATO remains the most successful alliance in history.  At each of these events, world leaders also discussed the importance of ensuring protection for women’s rights and the full participation of women in countries experiencing political transition.

    President Obama introduced the topic of women’s rights at the G-8 leader’s dinner on May18th, and in his remarks the next morning described the outcome of that conversation:

    We agreed that both, when it comes to economic development and when it comes to peace and security issues, empowering women to have a seat at the table and get more engaged and more involved in these processes can be extraordinarily fruitful.  And this is something that we will also be introducing during the G20.

  • Join the Conversation: #VetsTownHall

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Work in Progress

    Join the Department of Labor (DOL) for a Women Veterans Twitter Town Hall on Tuesday, May 22 at 12 pm EDT.

    You’ll have the chance to ask questions about resources and services available to women veterans as they return home from active duty. Officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will take part in the discussion, as well as special guests from John 14:2, Inc., Women Veterans Interactive, and Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.

    During the chat, DOL will discuss the department’s efforts to assist servicewomen with the resources necessary to successfully reintegrate back into civilian life. Below are some additional topics that we can cover Tuesday via the hashtag #VetsTownHall:

    Department of Labor (@USDOL):

    • Send the Women’s Bureau questions about the “Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers,” an organizational self-assessment tool for service providers to assist them in serving women veterans. Latifa Lyles, acting director of the Women’s Bureau, will be on Twitter to answer questions about what her agency is doing to assist women veterans experiencing homelessness with community based resources.
    • Turn to Junior Ortiz, DOL’s deputy assistant secretary for veterans’ employment and training. You’ll have the chance to ask him about resources to assist and prepare women veterans to obtain meaningful careers, maximize their employment opportunities, and protect their employment rights.
    • Chat with Pamela Langley, DOL VETS division chief for employment and training programs and a veteran who recently returned from Afghanistan. She’ll join the conversation to answer your questions about where to go for assistance in looking for a new career and how to convert your military experience into civilian jobs.
    • Ask DOL’s Gerri Fiala, deputy assistant secretary for employment and training, questions about the Employment and Training Administration’s veterans’ programs and initiatives, such as the Gold Card, priority of service, and pilot with Microsoft to provide training for veterans.

  • Deputy Secretary Blank Advocates Public Service in Commencement Speech

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from

    This morning, I had the privilege of delivering the commencement address to graduate students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) commencement ceremony.

    I was also deeply honored to receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service during the ceremony for my work as a public servant, including the leadership I provided in my previous job at Commerce, overseeing the nation’s premier statistical agencies, the Census Bureau (during the 2010 Census) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    The commencement speech provided an opportunity to give advice to the graduate students and to encourage them to use their expertise and experience to find solutions to the pressing problems facing our world. UMBC is particularly well-known for its scientific training. Science, technology, engineering and math–STEM fields–are particularly important, and it is STEM-related research that will drive innovation in the years ahead. In fact, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than other jobs, indicating the need for more workers with these skills.STEM jobs are not just for graduates with advanced degrees: about one-third of STEM jobs are available to workers who do not have college degrees, but who have post-high school training and certification.

    But in the U.S., only about 13 percent of college graduates finish school with a STEM degree, compared to 25 percent of college graduates in other countries, like Germany. That’s why the President’s 2013 budget invests $3 billion across the federal government in programs that promote STEM education, a three percent increase. In particular, we need to focus on creating more paths for women and minorities to get STEM degrees. And we need to make sure that we keep the talent already here, by “stapling” green cards to the STEM degrees of foreign students who come to the U.S., get a world-class education, and receive job offers which will help our companies drive innovation.

  • Just Plain Wrong: House Republican Bill Undermines the Violence Against Women Act

    The passage of the Violence Against Women Act nearly two decades ago was an historic moment for America's women and girls. The law gave women new legal protections that help ensure their safety.

    Last month, Democratic and Republican Senators came together to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The bill they approved would address the high rates of domestic violence committed against Native American women, ensure that LGBT victims have access to services, and make college campuses safer places to live and study.

    This is in keeping with the tradition of the Violence Against Women Act, which puts women's safety above partisan politics. Through its bipartisan vote, the Senate not only acted to preserve the original bill -- they improved it, protecting even more women from violence and abuse.

    Read the full post at The Huffington Post

  • STEM Women All-Stars Hit the Road

    Girls in Santa Barbara, CA take a break from learning about oceanography during a visit with Dr. Jane Lubchenco

    Girls in Santa Barbara, CA take a break from learning about oceanography during a visit with Dr. Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Photo Courtesy of NOAA)

    Last week, at the release of the White House Girls in STEM video, some of the Nation’s top women scientists and engineers took a break from their daily responsibilities at the heights of Federal, private, and academic science and technology enterprises to urge girls to open their minds to careers in these fields. Their voices joined a chorus of women across the country who are making it part of their mission to inspire students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

    Over the past few months, students from Santa Barbara, California to Miami, Florida have played hosts to some unusual substitute teachers, as senior women scientists and engineers from the highest levels of the Obama Administration hit the road as part of  the Women in STEM Speakers Bureau roundtable series.

    Designed to spark the interest of middle and high-school girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, the Women in STEM Speakers Bureau was launched by the White House Council on Women and Girls and Office of Science and Technology Policy in September of last year. Over the past seven months, outstanding STEM rolemodels from nine Federal agencies have signed on to participate in the program, inspiring girls and boys alike with their own personal stories and insights.