Affordable child care; Financial independence: Creating solutions that help the family
As a member of the Michigan Women’s Commission, I am honored to be able to work with a variety of women leaders across our state to address contemporary issues that Michigan women identify as the most influential in their lives. The problems emanate from economic security issues, which apply to women, men and families.
Affordable child care. The first problem identified by Michigan women is access to affordable child care. For many families, childcare is more expensive than the wages parents receive when they need it. Typically, a low-wage-earning partner is the person who stays at home if the cost of childcare is higher than the parent’s wages. In most cases, women earn less because of the gender pay gap – Michigan women earn $ 0.73 for every $ 1 a man does in the same job. Inevitably, the family decides that the lower wage earner must leave the worker. Unfortunately, this is a woman in almost every case.
Leaving the workforce puts a woman in a position to reduce financial independence. She is now financially dependent on her partner, giving her fewer options when the relationship ends or becomes abusive. His ability to advance in his career is hampered by hitting the pause button, so that he probably cannot achieve the highest level of advancement in his career. If he tries to re-enter the workforce, he is pushed back over time and is often forced to sit below the level he achieved before leaving the workforce.
Although it affects more women than men, it is also a family financial security problem. The high cost of child care means that families who choose to have parents at home to take care of their children do not have a double income to run their family expenses. In today’s world, it is difficult to support a family with a single income and most families need multiple wage earners to make ends meet.
To reduce child care costs for Michigan families, Governor Whitmer introduced the Michigan Tri-Share Child Care Program a year ago. Northern Michigan is one of the first pilot sites.
The Tri-Share Child Care Program is a public / private partnership that shares the cost of childcare equally between a participating employer, employee and the state of Michigan. The United Way in northwestern Michigan is serving Grand Travers, Lilanau, Benji, Antrim, Charleveix, Emmett, Kalkaska, Manisti, Misauki and Wexford counties, a first pilot site for this innovative program. Based on the pilot’s success, the program has expanded to 59 counties in its first year and now includes 49 employers (small businesses through the enterprise) caring for 40 children. More Northern Michigan employers should participate. This is a great employment opportunity to help attract and retain talent.
Financial freedom. A related priority identified by Michigan women is financial independence. Financial security is crucial for family security. The Michigan Women’s Commission works to promote gender pay equality and better female representation on corporate executive teams and boards. The Michigan legislature has a history of not passing bills aimed at resolving pay equity issues. Although these laws should be passed, there is much that government leaders can do. Women should not wait for government relief, but should position themselves according to their ability for financial freedom.
For example, women should pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). STEM fields are areas where jobs are high and the demand for staff continues to grow Family, encourage your daughters to follow the path of STEM education, which begins in elementary school. Women, consider job retraining programs to learn skills in technology. STEM careers provide year-round income stability compared to Northern Michigan tourism. STEM fields were often male-dominated, yet there are significant opportunities for women to advance in technology-related careers.
The next meeting of the Women’s Commission will be held in Travers City in August. The commission was originally founded by TC’s own First Lady, Helen Milicon. It’s great that we’ve had the opportunity to host the upcoming meeting and focus on the success of our region through tri-shares, and the efforts that local business leaders are making to build and build a high-tech industry in Travers City are providing opportunities for more STEM careers. For women (and men) in our region.
Katie Harbath is the Chief Marketing Officer of Aanalytics, a leading data platform company that provides insights as a service. Prior to Aanalytics, she held the position of CEO of Naveego where she was the only female CEO of a large data company in North America until 2021 when the business was acquired.