The White House is trumpeting its newly released report on “Women in America” as “the first comprehensive federal report on women since 1963,” though much of it seems a reiteration of the National Economic Council’s report from just a few months ago. The new report details the gains women have made in education and in the workforce, parrots misleading statistics about women earning 75 cents for each dollar earned by men (without providing context for how personal choices drive that statistic), and laments women’s higher poverty rate.
There are some interesting statistical items (on changing demographics, the decline in the proportion of married women, and the delayed age of childbirth, for instance), but there is very little here that is new or likely to provide policymakers with insights into how to advance women’s wellbeing.
What’s most frustrating about exercises like this is the rhetoric surrounding them, which usually implies that women are a special victim class that needs extra attention from Uncle Sam. Valerie Jarrett, chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, explains: “The Obama Administration has been focused on addressing the challenges faced by women and girls from day one because we know that the success of women and girls is vital to winning the future.”
Of course the success of women and girls is vital to winning the future — but so is the success of “men and boys,” and it seems unlikely that such a report on that topic will be forthcoming.