Council on Women and Girls Blog
- Posted byon February 1, 2013 at 5:26 PM EST
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Technology Inclusion Summit, hosted by Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Level Playing Field Institute. It was an amazing gathering of private and public partners who are united in their efforts to expand opportunities for training, education and jobs in technology.
President Obama has always believed that technology is an essential part of growing our economy, creating jobs and remaining globally competitive. The President continues to be committed to encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit in our country, starting with setting a goal of 1 million Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) graduates over the next decade. This effort also means that we need to collectively act to knock down any barriers that stand in the way.
Last August, during the Tech Inclusion Roundtable, participants came up with some great private-sector initiatives to help drive innovation across every community. Whether it was pioneering new educational tools for students of all ages, bringing technical training to underrepresented communities, or mobilizing tech company CEOs to establish mentoring programs for young people, every one of these initiatives and ideas has the potential to shape America’s future.
- Posted byon February 1, 2013 at 1:33 PM EST
Today is National Freedom Day, commemorating President Lincoln’s signing of the joint resolution that led to the Constitution’s 13th Amendment banning slavery in the United States. It is a day when freedom for all Americans is celebrated. Yet, almost 150 years later, while one form of slavery has been abolished in our country, another has quietly flourished around the world.
From forced labor to sex trafficking to child soldiers, modern slavery entails the use of force, fraud, or coercion of another for the purposes of exploitation. An estimated 20 million men, women and children around the world, including thousands in the United States, are living in bondage, confirming that the fight to end slavery is far from over. Today we reflect on what we’ve accomplished and recommit ourselves to what President Obama called “one of the great human rights causes of our time.”
USAID has been committed to combating human trafficking for over a decade, programming more than $180 million in nearly 70 countries since 2001. Our efforts are part of a larger government-wide approach that has involved nearly every federal department and agency. Today, we are expanding our commitment, answering President Obama’s call to end this barbaric human rights offense.
A year ago at the White House, we launched a new Counter-Trafficking in Persons Policy (C-TIP), focusing on concrete, measurable principles and objectives that include increasing institutional accountability within USAID and leveraging innovation, 21st century technology, and partnerships to combat trafficking.
- Posted byon January 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM EST
We recently had the privilege at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to welcome our fellow Americans to a series of open house events here at our headquarters in Washington, D.C. This was part of a larger effort by Federal agencies to host activities for members of the public visiting our nation’s capital ahead of the Presidential Inauguration. Along with showcasing the important work of our own employees, the open house events also allowed us to solicit new ideas from leaders and citizens across the nation on important issues that face our country.
One of my favorite events here at OPM was our “Women in Public Service” roundtable which featured Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Director of Policy and Special Projects for the First Lady Jocelyn Frye, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at DOI Rhea Suh, and Girl Scouts Chief Executive Officer Anna Maria Chávez. The panel event tackled how we might encourage and sustain more women taking leadership tracks within public service – whether that means government service, elected office, the non-profit world, or volunteering with their communities.
At the beginning of the President’s term, women made up 29 percent of the Federal government’s senior executive service positions. That is now up to 34 percent. That’s a tremendous improvement and a great start, but we’ve got more work to do. That’s why it was so thrilling to hear this panel and our public guests discuss how we reduce the barriers women still often face within their tracks to positions of leadership.
We were also glad to help job-seekers navigate the Federal hiring process with our find and apply workshop and our Veterans employment training. A tour of our Innovation Lab, and a short session with our facilitators let us showcase the efforts we’re making to spur innovations that get better, more efficient government. And discussions on disability employment and Hispanic employment issues brought together leaders from the public and private sectors to share ideas about what we can continue to do and what we can do better to boost recruitment among these two underrepresented groups. Apart from discussing our work and gathering great ideas, the dialogue with participants at each event reinforced the continued importance of our efforts to look beyond the Washington Beltway for best practices which can serve the American public.
Liz Montoya is the Chief of Staff at the Office of Personnel Management
Codeathons Expand to Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston in Support of the White House Equal Futures App ChallengePosted byon January 14, 2013 at 4:46 PM EST
Back in September of 2011, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama issued a call to action to countries around the world to “break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls.” As part of America’s answer to this call, the White House launched the Equal Futures App Challenge – to create apps that inspire girls and young women to become leaders in our democracy.
Following on the first-ever White House Codeathon this past December, tech companies, non-profits and youth and education organizations across the country joined together to support this challenge by hosting a series of codeathons that took place simultaneously in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston earlier this month.
Altogether, around 125 seasoned technologists and girls of all ages spent the day brainstorming and building apps to submit to the challenge. And we were excited to join all three of the codeathons via video conference and see so many eager and inspired coders ready to tackle such an important issue.
As a result of these codeathons, teams are hard at work designing and developing their way to new apps that inspire girls to run for office and serve as leaders in their communities and our government.
- Posted byon December 21, 2012 at 1:01 PM EST
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from energy.gov
This past Wednesday, the Energy Department livestreamed a conversation between Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), two leaders and champions of renewable energy innovation. The topic at hand – the future of the U.S. wind industry – was driven by questions from a live audience and participants online using Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and email to ask Energy about wind technology, policy, and careers.
The last question of this important discussion asked how we can ensure that women and minorities are involved in wind energy jobs. As the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has reported, there is a large interest and achievement gap in many STEM jobs in United States, resulting in serious underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM.
Senator Mark Udall spoke about the need to invest in community college, land grant, and state University STEM programs, which are training students to be part of the future and current clean energy economy. “This is happening, this is our future,” Senator Mark Udall said. “It’s so important for America to invest in its people, its human capital.”
- Posted byon November 27, 2012 at 8:00 AM EST
(Picture drawn by Abigail Dabu, Age 14)
“…I would like to run for some political office when I grow up. Why? Because there are so many changes that need to be made regarding important issues that are not happening. And we need more women making decisions in our country!” -- Meera Kota, Age 15
“This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.” -- President Barack Obama, September 21, 2011
Building on President Obama’s challenge at the UN General Assembly in September 2011, the United States will be working with countries around the world as part of a new international effort – the Equal Futures Partnership – to politically and economically empower women in each of our countries.
Among the United States’ commitments through this partnership are new efforts to promote civic education and public leadership for girls, including the launch of an Equal Futures App Challenge earlier this year: to create an app that promotes civic education and/or inspires girls to serve as leaders in our democracy.
Today we are pleased to announce that the following leaders have signed on to act as judges:
· Representative Barbara Ballard
· Anna Maria Chavez, CEO, Girl Scouts
· Geena Davis, Academy Award-Winning Actor; Founder, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
· Jack Dorsey, Creator and Co-Founder, Twitter; Founder and CEO, Square
· Tiffany Dufu, President, the White House Project
· Jocelyn Goldfein, Director of Engineering, Facebook
· Mayor Elizabeth Kautz
· Senator Lisa Murkowski
· Andrew Shue, Co-Founder, dosomething.org; Co-Founder, cafemom.com
· Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
· Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO, Girls Inc.
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