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Women represent nearly half of the labor force in Massachusetts, yet they are woefully under-represented in board rooms, elected office and private sector management. Many women face challenging choices about advancing their careers or meeting expectations at home.

The Boston Club recently released a report which found that only 13.8% of the directors of Massachusetts’ 100 largest public companies are women. Just 1.5% of all directors at these companies are women of color, and the majority of these companies have no female executive officers. 

In a recent Pew Research study, 51% of working mothers said that being a working mother has made it more difficult to advance their careers. Only sixteen percent of working fathers made the same statement.  The study also found that among parents, women are more likely than men to have experienced career interruptions related to family, and are more likely to report that having to take those breaks has hurt their career.

To improve the outcome for women in the workplace, Governor Patrick has made a commitment for advancing women across the economic spectrum by launching the Women in the Workforce Initiative (watch video below).  This initiative is an important step in recognizing the key role women play in the economic competitiveness of the Commonwealth. It also draws attention to the challenges women face in trying to reach the highest rungs on the corporate ladder or those earning an hourly wage who often lack the flexibility needed to balance work and family.

Governor Patrick has led by example for advancing women in his Administration. His Administration has demonstrated that it is possible to find talented, qualified women to lead in senior positions and that substantial change can be made in a short period of time when the leader of an organization is committed to make change. As of last November, more than half of all managers and 49% of senior managers within the Executive branch were women.

The Governor is taking a two-pronged approach in tackling the issues facing working women in the Commonwealth by:

  • Creating women leadership fellowships
  • Charging a task force with making recommendations on what the state can do as an employer to advance women in the workplace.

Massachusetts already has some of the best family friendly benefits in the country such as alternative work options and paid parental leave—benefits that give women more flexibility in balancing their home life and their career.  Governor Patrick believes we can do more to help women achieve workplace equality and ensure equal access to services and opportunity across the economic spectrum, and wants to challenge the private sector to help women thrive, succeed and lead by taking a cue from his Administration.

Further details on the initiative will be released soon.


Written By:

Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development

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