Registration Opens for Vt. Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/3/2017 12:19:25 AM
Modified: 9/3/2017 12:19:27 AM

Randolph — Registration is open for the 21st annual Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference, scheduled for Sept. 16 at Vermont Technical College in Randolph.

This year, the conference is working with Change The Story VT — an initiative of the Vermont Women’s Fund, the Vermont Commission on Women and Vermont Works for Women — that is focused on improving women’s economic well-being.

This topic is especially poignant this year, said longtime conference presenter U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who with his wife, Marcelle, participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., earlier this year.

“Amid the sea of pink hats that dominated the crowd, one message resonated: We cannot turn back the clock,” Leahy said in a news release. “In 2017, women are still fighting for fairness and equality related to health care access, pay equity, corporate leadership and workplace accommodation.”

To highlight these issues, the conference will examine research that Change The Story has done over the past two years on the economic status of women in Vermont. Some of the findings were positive, including that more Vermont women hold bachelor’s degrees and participate in the workforce than the national averages.

However, other data showed that progress is uneven and stalled in some areas. The gender wage gap in Vermont is still the same as it was in 1999, and about half of women working full time in Vermont are in fields where the average annual salary is below $35,000, compared with just 13 percent of men.

“These findings are a surprise to many who have read our reports, and have inspired a number of new conversations about the stake we all have in fast-tracking changes for women, what it will take, and the role that each of us can play,” Tiffany Bluemle, director of Change The Story, said in an email.

In order to facilitate those conversations, Bluemle said, the conference will be focused on sharing individual stories that highlight the research findings.

“We will be bringing to light stories that are connected to the data in our reports and what they reflect about the lives of individual women and the systems and assumptions that shape their experience,” she said.

Improving women’s economic standing affects everyone, Bluemle said.

“Women’s economic security is important to individual women. It is important to their families. And it is important to Vermont’s economic future, as the data shows that we are leaving vital talent on the table.”

The event is free and includes breakfast, lunch and child care for registered attendees. Register before Friday at noon at www.leahy.senate.gov/issues/womens-economic-opportunity-conference or by calling 802-728-9101.




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