Policies to Lessen Income Inequality – Heather McCulloch, MS; Diana Elliott, PhD

Women’s ability to earn, save, and invest plays a critical role in the well being of their families, the strength of their communities, and the economic prosperity of our nation. Yet, women—and especially women of color—continue to face significant barriers to reaching their full economic potential.

In recent years, a robust national discussion about the causes of and solutions to inequality in America typically focuses on income. But for women, a focus on income alone is insufficient because the women’s wealth gap is far greater than the income gap, particularly for women of color. It is well known that women earn only 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, but less understood is the fact that they own only 32 cents. The wealth gap is a chasm for Black and Latina women who own less than a penny on the dollar compared to white men and pennies compared to white women.[1]

The CWWG initiative is drawing public attention to the issue of the women’s wealth gap and mobilizing stakeholders to advance policy and practical solutions – programs, products and services – that build wealth for low-income women. The initiative targets solutions to women who are most negatively affected by the gap including women of color, undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ and other economically vulnerable women. It includes a national network of about 350 nonprofit, philanthropic, private and public sector leaders who are working together to raise public awareness about the issue and mobilize key stakeholders to take action.

This talk by Heather McCulloch, founder and director of the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap initiative, will explore the women’s wealth gap—what it is, why it matters, and what can be done about it.  It will delve into public policies and private sector practices that have stymied women’s capacity to save, invest and preserve financial assets, with a particular focus how our nation’s long history of de jure and de facto racial and gender discrimination has disparately impacted women of color. And it answer three key questions: What public policies and programs can help close the gap? What private sector practices, products and services could expand wealth-building opportunities for women? And what steps can conference participants take to advance solutions.

[1] Mariko Chang, Women and Wealth: Insights for Grantmakers, Asset Funders Network, 2015, https://www.mariko-chang.com/AFN_Women_and_Wealth_Brief_2015.pdf