header image

The Policy Agenda

Women as Leaders

Increasingly, girls are growing up to believe that they are capable of achieving anything — but barriers and glass ceilings undoubtedly remain.


The Women2Women Policy Agenda calls for greater efforts to educate girls for success and overcome the obstacles that prevent women from equal representation and full participation in the fields of science and technology, business and entrepreneurship, and government.

i-icon-dark Learn More

Women as Champions of Leadership Roles for Girls and Women

Increasingly, girls are growing up to believe that they are capable of achieving anything — but barriers and glass ceilings undoubtedly remain. The Women2Women Policy Agenda calls for greater efforts to educate girls for success and overcome the obstacles that prevent women from equal representation and full participation in the fields of science and technology, business and entrepreneurship, and government.

There’s actually less gender diversity in Silicon Valley now than there was in decades past. Women’s representation in the computing and information technology workforce peaked in the mid-1980s, and now it’s down to a little more than 20%. The share of women partners in venture-capital firms was 10% in 1999, but last year it was down to 6%. In fact, one researcher found that 77% of venture-capital firms have never had a woman partner. Teenage girls use computers and the Internet just as much as teenage boys, but they’re five times less likely to consider a technology-related career. Given how important technology is in our society and our world, this gender imbalance is completely unacceptable.

Women Entrepreneurship and business ownership 4.8% Total receip

Business in general also tilts against women. This is a problem for the broader economy, since research has consistently demonstrated that businesses work better when they include a critical mass of women. Finance is a particularly difficult sector for women in everything from hiring to family leave policies. It’s not unheard of for the male-female ratio to be 50 to 1 on trading floors and investment banks. In the field of entrepreneurship and business ownership, the most recent survey data reveals that of the nation’s 30 million businesses in 2012, more than a third were women-owned. But those women-owned firms tended to be smaller than those owned by men, and accounted for only 4.8 percent of total receipts.

Only 44 women have been elected to senate

Both houses of Congress are still 80 percent male, even though more than half of the country’s population is female. Shockingly, there have been only 44 women elected to the Senate in the entire history of the United States. This is a problem for the country’s governance. Research and international experience confirm that bringing a sufficient number of women to a legislature changes its tenor; women are better listeners and problem solvers, and are more willing to work with opposing parties and to compromise. Women legislators are also more likely than their male colleagues to prioritize issues dealing with the special needs of women, children, and families.

Women are underrepresented in technology, business, and politics because they lack access to money, mentors, and support networks. And in all fields, women lack confidence in their abilities; one study found that nearly two-thirds of men are confident that they can start businesses compared to less than half of women with similar levels of education and experience.

invest in education in less-developed countries

It’s important for our success as a nation to level the playing field for women. The Women2Women Policy Agenda calls for changing expectations by educating girls for leadership and success. Bringing girls together with high-achieving women improves perceptions of female leaders and weakens stereotypes about gender roles. Teaching leadership skills to girls at an early age empowers them to be better communicators and decision-makers, and makes it more likely that they successfully handle the challenges of relationships, finances, and work. In addition, investing in girls’ education in less-developed countries brings huge returns in the form of improved health for mothers and children, reducing population growth, delaying child marriage, and empowering women in the home and the workplace.

In the field of politics, the Women2Women Conversations Tour is itself a means for the women who attend to get educated, engaged, and motivated. The motivating idea behind the Tour is that the women who participate will get directly involved in politics by voting, taking part in local and national campaigns, advocating for specific causes and legislation, and even running for office themselves. And by having women share their strategies and form connections, the Women2Women Tour pushes back against the barriers that keep women underrepresented in politics and other critical sectors of American life.

Women for Security

Women want their families and loved ones to be safe. They understand that the security of our citizens and our credibility as a defender of world order depend on the strength and preparedness of our military as well as our government’s efforts to defend against terrorism.


They believe that we should honor and respect the services and sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform, do all we can to keep them from harm on the field of battle, and ensure that they receive every possible medical, educational, and vocational opportunity upon their return to civilian life. The Women2Women Policy Agenda supports policies in these areas:

i-icon-dark Learn More

Women as Advocates for National Security

Women want their families and loved ones to be safe. They understand that the security of our citizens and our credibility as a defender of world order depend on the strength and preparedness of our military as well as our government’s efforts to defend against terrorism. They believe that we should honor and respect the services and sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform, do all we can to keep them from harm on the field of battle, and ensure that they receive every possible medical, educational, and vocational opportunity upon their return to civilian life. The Women2Women Policy Agenda supports policies in these areas:

lovedonestobesafe

National Security Preparedness

Better analysis and information sharing about terrorist threats between federal and local law enforcement members, as provided for by Main Street Rep. Martha McSally’s H.R. 3503, the Department of Homeland Security Support to Fusion Centers Act. H.R. 3503 passed the House on November 2, 2015 and is awaiting action by the Senate.

More rigorous screening of refugees and immigrants from regions where terrorist networks operate, as provided for in H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which received the support of all of Main Street’s Congresswomen. H.R. 4038 passed the House on November 28, 2015 and is awaiting action by the Senate.

Prevention of foreign terrorists from entering the United States via visa waiver countries through passage of H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, cosponsored by Main Street Rep. Susan Brooks. H.R. 158 passed the house on December 8, 2015 and is awaiting action by the Senate.

Intensified efforts to prevent cybersecurity attacks and avert the catastrophic physical consequences of a successful cyber-attack, as championed by Main Street Rep. Susan Brooks in her capacity as Chair of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.

Greater Opportunities for Women in the Armed Services 

Development of gender-neutral occupational standards for more military specialties, which would allow decisions on assignments to be based on objective analysis. Provisions toward this end were included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which was supported by all of Main Street’s Congresswomen.

Better VA Services for Women 

Women are the fastest growing demographic group among veterans, but the Veterans Administration has been slow to take gender-based differences into account in its provision of services. Insufficient services for women veterans is particularly glaring in the lack of OB-GYN services at VA hospitals and the insufficiency of effective mental health care; new government research shows that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of their civilian counterparts, with young veterans at the highest risk. H.R. 1356, the Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act, cosponsored by Main Street Reps. Susan Brooks, Barbara Comstock, Lynn Jenkins, and Martha McSally, and Elise Stefanik, would ensure that all VA facilities are able to meet the gender-specific health care needs of all veterans. H.R. 1356 has been introduced in the House and is awaiting a hearing and floor vote.

Women for Opportunity

As mothers, women want their children to have a good start in life and to face as few barriers to success as possible. Perhaps this makes them particularly empathetic when they consider the obstacles that other mothers’ children face.


The Women2Women Policy Agenda supports efforts to provide for greater opportunity and social mobility, particularly for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and difficult circumstances. These efforts include the following policy areas:

i-icon-dark Learn More

Women as Advocates for Greater Opportunity and Social Mobility

As mothers, women want their children to have a good start in life and to face as few barriers to success as possible. Perhaps this makes them particularly empathetic when they consider the obstacles that other mothers’ children face. The Women2Women Policy Agenda supports efforts to provide for greater opportunity and social mobility, particularly for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and difficult circumstances. These efforts include the following policy areas:

Early Childhood Education

Greater investment in early childhood education and development, along the lines of universal pre-K and programs put in place by several Republican governors.

College Education and Student Loans

Expanded use of 529 college-savings plans that allow families to save while their children grow and then use the funds to pay for college expenses without being taxed, as proposed in H.R. 529 introduced by Main Street Rep. Lynn Jenkins. H.R. 529 passed the House on February 25, 2015, and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Reinstatement of year-round Pell Grants to allow students who’ve exhausted their annual grant allotments to receive additional funding for summer courses, as proposed in H.R. 3180, the Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act by Main Street Rep. Elise Stefanik. H.R. 3180 has been introduced in the House and awaits a hearing and floor vote.

Anti-Poverty Efforts

Greater use of Social Impact Partnerships, in which a philanthropic or other private-sector investor provides up-front funding for a program designed to achieve an improved social outcome; legislation cosponsored by Main Street Rep. Susan Brooks – H.R. 1336 the Social Impact Partnership Act – would encourage government and the private sector to work together to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable Americans and use evidence-based policies to determine the success of the projects and the savings to taxpayers. H.R. 1336 has been introduced in the House and awaits a hearing and floor vote.

Reform of federal anti-poverty programs by transforming them into block grants to states; the public and private agencies that administer benefits would be evaluated and rewarded based on their aggregate success of getting people educated, into work and out of welfare.

Implementation of H.R. 855, the New Market Tax Credit Extension Act (cosponsored by Main Street Rep. Susan Brooks), and other measures to create enterprise zones in disadvantaged areas, supplemented by job training programs and other services to improve the quality and mobility of the local workforce. H.R. 855 has been introduced in the House and awaits a hearing and floor vote.

Human Trafficking and Sentencing Reform 

Passage of legislation to combat human trafficking legislation, building on H.R. 398, the Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act, sponsored by Main Street Rep. Renee Ellmers, to train health care workers to recognize the signs of trafficking and allow them to intervene more quickly. H.R. 398 was passed by the House on January 28, 2015, and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Reform of criminal justice laws, through legislation such as S. 2123 the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which seeks to remove the obstacles that make it difficult for people convicted of crimes to regain economic independence after they have served their sentences. S. 2123 has been introduced in the Senate and awaits a hearing and floor vote.

Women as Caregivers

Despite progress toward gender equality in recent decades, women still bear a heavier burden than men when it comes to balancing work and care of children.


And two-thirds of those who care for the ill, the aged, and the disabled are women. The Women2Women Policy Agenda supports policies in the following areas:

i-icon-dark Learn More

Women as Caregivers

Despite progress toward gender equality in recent decades, women still bear a heavier burden than men when it comes to balancing work and care of children. And two-thirds of those who care for the ill, the aged, and the disabled are women. The Women2Women Policy Agenda supports policies in the following areas:

Workplace Flexibility

Family leave proposals, similar to those previously offered by Main Street Sen. Susan Collins, to offer a non-refundable tax credit for employers who offer paid family leave to employees who are new parents, those who care for sick family members, and families of members of the military.

H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act, which, when last introduced and passed by the House in 2013, was cosponsored by Main Street Reps. Susan Brooks, Renee Ellmers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Lynn Jenkins, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers; the legislation would allow private-sector workers to receive comp time instead of overtime and allow them to better balance the demands of work and family.

Mental Health

Better care and treatment of the mentally ill, in keeping with H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Crisis Act, cosponsored by Main Street Reps. Susan Brooks, Barbara Comstock, Renee Ellmers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Martha McSally, Elise Stefanik, and Mimi Walters. The bill overhauls our national mental health system to emphasize evidence-based care, addresses the shortage of inpatient beds for psychiatric patients, provides faster intervention for people with schizophrenia, and creates a grant program for school-based services to children with emotional disturbances. It also reauthorizes suicide-prevention programs and improves coordination between government agencies that serve the mentally ill. H.R. 2646 has been introduced in the House and awaits a hearing and floor vote.

Substance Abuse

Better approaches toward fighting drug addiction, including H.R. 2805, the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act proposed by Main Street Rep. Susan Brooks to enable health officials to prevent prescription drug abuse, support law enforcement efforts to get heroin off the streets, allow more first responders access to life-saving naloxone, and raise public awareness regarding prescription opioid and heroin abuse. H.R. 2085 has been introduced in the House and awaits a hearing and floor vote.

Expanded treatment options for patients battling heroin and opioid addiction, as provided for by H.R. 4076, the TREAT Act, cosponsored by Main Street Rep. Elise Stefanik; similar legislation has also been supported by Sens. Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito. H.R. 4076 has been introduced in the House and awaits a hearing and floor vote.

Support for H.R. 3865, the Cradle Act, cosponsored by Main Street Rep. Barbara Comstock, to provide care centers for babies exposed to opioids and other drugs in the womb. H.R. 3965 has been introduced in the House and awaits a hearing and floor vote.

Cures

As part of H.R. 6, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s 21st Century Cures Act, greater investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to accelerate the discovery of medical cures, particularly with regard to cancers and diseases that disproportionately afflict children; legislation cosponsored by Main Street Reps. Susan Brooks, Barbara Comstock, Renee Ellmers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Elise Stefanik, and Mimi Walters. H.R. 6 was passed by the House on July 10, 2015 and has been introduced in the Senate.

Opportunity for Disabled Persons

Greater incentives to allow people with disabilities to pursue further education, hold meaningful employment at full-time jobs, and contribute to the costs of their support, building on H.R. 647, the ABLE Act, sponsored by Main Street Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The ABLE Act was signed into law on December 19, 2014 as part of H.R. 5771.