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October 28, 2021

We are thrilled to help promote This Way UP a website and campaign to identify Vermont women-owned businesses and women leaders, just launched by the Vermont Women’s Fund.

By going to This Way UP, women business owners and leaders can take a 10-minute online survey that identifies their business, and in real-time measures their overall impact on the state’s economy. Eye-catching infographics are constantly updated and an interactive data map tracks where businesses are located. The survey questions will also shed light on some of the challenges and barriers that women may or may not face when starting or growing their businesses.

ALL who feel comfortable with the title of “women-owned business” are invited to participate, regardless of pronouns or gender identity.  This includes those who are not officially “incorporated”, haven't hired employees, or are doing independent gigs on the side.

Engage in This Way UP to:

Be Represented
Once business owners take the survey, they're added to the #ThisWayUp report - a constantly evolving interactive database that tracks the number of women-owned businesses in the state. As a resource, it is secure, transparent, and the insights from the report are available to the public.

Get on the Map
Any business owner who enters their information will see their business added to our map of women-owned businesses around the state, creating a resource where others can find these businesses.

Join the Movement
#ThisWayUp will shine a light on stories of women making their own money their way. Help spread the word and help to create a future of representation and equity.

How does it Help Vermont?
#ThisWayUp is about representing the diversity of women owners across our state. It will give voice and visibility to the women powering the economies of our communities, no matter how small, no matter where they might be. A diverse workforce strengthens our economy, and increases opportunity for all.

Calling all women-owned businesses in VT - there is power in your numbers. Head to ThisWayUpVT.com to show up, speak up, and shake up - take the survey and get your business counted!

Graphic link to This Way Up website

October 19, 2021

A newly-released video from UVM’s Larner College of Medicine’s Gender Equity Education Series captures VCW Executive Director Cary Brown's presentation, "Essential at Work and Home, Women and Covid-19" from September 13th.

Setting the context for Essential at Work and Home: Women and Covid-19, Cary incorporates women’s unpaid labor and caregiving roles, and addresses the pandemic's impact to women’s workforce participation, including the most recent state data available.  The talk closes with policy solutions for recovery.

October 12, 2021

Julie Scriber pictured with quote In her 20-year career with the Vermont State Police, Julie Scribner encountered an “astonishingly low” number of women with young children on the force.

“When I came on the job, I was a single mom. My kids were turning 5 and 10. This is not the kind of job that’s conducive to single parenthood,” Julie says.

Julie’s ex-husband took the kids when she was at the police academy and the kids lived with her mom for a time when Julie was working a lot of overnight shifts.

“I couldn’t have done this job without support from family,” Julie said. “But not everybody has that safety net.”

Law enforcement is a male-dominated profession and of the women that Julie did serve alongside during her tenure, very few had children.

“The child care issue is really problematic. When you have to work night shifts, you’re not going to find child care that goes until 2 or 3 in the morning. And if you do, you can’t afford to pay for it,” she said.

While women make up just 13 percent of the Vermont State Police force, that is almost double the national average for state law enforcement agencies.

“The best police department in the world would be one that represents the community that it serves. In Vermont, that would be roughly 50/50 women and men,” Julie said.

Julie, who retired in September 2021, played an instrumental role in Vermont State Police becoming the first state law enforcement agency in the country to sign onto the 30 x 30 Pledge, a national initiative to advance women in policing with a goal to have 30 percent of police recruit classes be composed of women by 2030.

Julie believes women need to see themselves represented in advertisements and recruiting efforts. She also believes culture change is needed to make law enforcement more welcoming to women. A positive example of this Julie witnessed was when the department purchased a portable Mamava lactation pod when a pregnant officer expressed concerns about being able to breastfeed after returning from maternity leave. 

“In order to be welcoming for women – and for all people – law enforcement needs to be proactive and not wait for situations to come up. We need to be asking ourselves how we can create a more inclusive work environment and culture,” Julie said.

Return to #MakeWorkWorkForUs homepage.

September 29, 2021

(Montpelier) - Pandemic-related disruptions in school and child care; inequitable divisions of household labor; increases in depression, anxiety, and substance use; and economic concerns greatly impacted Vermonters in the last year, according to a just-released survey about the impacts of COVID-19 on American households. Survey respondents had clear recommendations for policies and resources that would improve their overall well-being: economic relief via stimulus payments, extended unemployment benefits, increased access to child care; increased access to mental health supports; and greater access to technology.

Conducted between October 2020 and February 2021 by a team of researchers from University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, and Indiana University, survey questions covered employment, business operations, household finances, labor productivity, child care and education, mental and physical health, and substance use.

“The survey results reinforce what we know: the pandemic has exacerbated existing gender and economic inequality,” said Jessica Nordhaus, Director of Change The Story VT, an initiative of the Vermont Commission on Women, Vermont Women’s Fund and Vermont Works for Women, who helped distribute the survey in Vermont. “Responding to these needs improves the lives, livelihood, and well-being of women, their families and our economy. In our current joint campaign with Let’s Grow Kids -- #MakeWorkWorkForUs -- we are sharing Vermonters’ stories about the need for affordable, quality child care, paid family and medical leave, pay equity, and health care.”

Policy Recommendations

Researchers asked respondents what policies or resources would be most helpful to manage the impacts of COVID-19. One-time stimulus payments and greater access to mental health services were the top recommendations cited overall by Vermonters. Vermont respondents were significantly more likely than national respondents to indicate the need for greater access to technological support. The policy recommendations differed significantly when factoring income:

 a Survey Analysis.” School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA, USA.    Page 53.

Financial Health

The findings below are likely to underestimate the magnitude of socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Vermont households, as survey respondents’ average income is higher than the Vermont Census average income. Because of their higher income level, households in the survey have likely had access to more financial resources than most Vermonters.

  • 20% of respondents stated they are financially dependent on their partner and 8% said they have relied on family or community members for financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 52% of respondents stated that their income has remained roughly the same during the pandemic, while 34% saw decreases in overall income. Roughly 13% of respondents saw an increase in overall income.
  • 40% of respondents saw household savings remain the same, while 31% of respondents reported reduced savings.
  • 32% of respondents reported an increase in household spending to meet essential needs, while 25% of respondents reported a decrease, the remainder of respondents (42%) indicated no change in their household spending.

Work, Productivity and Disruptions in Child Care and Education

Overall, 79% of survey respondents with children attributed disruptions in school and child care to varying levels of productivity loss in their jobs, and 55% of respondents with kindergarten-age children reported their productivity being extremely affected by disruptions in child care. Survey respondents with school age children were more likely to specify help with child care as a policy solution. “We saw this play out in both state and national employment statistics where women’s workforce participation fell back to 1980’s levels,” said Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women, Cary Brown. “A generation’s worth of progress has been undone. Nationally, women left the workforce at four times the rate of men, including 1.5 million moms of school-aged children nationwide.”

“Even before COVID, 3 out of 5 of Vermont’s youngest children didn’t have access to the child care they needed. The pandemic made the child care crisis -- and its profound impacts on our children, families, workforce and economy -- impossible to ignore,” said Let’s Grow Kids CEO Aly Richards.

The impacts of pandemic disruptions on children's academic progress and emotional development were strong areas of concern for parents. More than 50% of parents with elementary-school aged children or older reported being quite-to-extremely concerned about their academic progress, and the majority of parents were concerned with children's social-emotional development.

Household Division of Labor

Women in relationships with men consistently reported they did more household labor than their partners. Men also indicated women did more, illustrating both existing gender inequity and the exacerbating effects of the pandemic on homelife. This included spending more time cleaning, doing laundry, managing children’s schedules, and supervising remote learning. Women in relationships with women reported sharing household labor more evenly.

Mental Health and Substance Use

Study findings also indicated high rates of mental health concerns caused by stress. One in four respondents reported experiencing an anxiety or panic attack in the last four weeks of completing the survey. One in three respondents reported moderate or severe anxiety and depression. The 18- to 24-year-old age group reported the highest levels of mental health challenges, with half reporting panic attacks and nearly 40% reporting moderate or severe anxiety and depression. Divorced respondents reported the highest levels of moderate or severe anxiety and depression, at 41%.

Survey data clearly show the incidence of mental health concerns were inversely proportional to income. Twenty-one percent of respondents from households making less than $30,000/year reported severe anxiety and depression, with each successive income bracket reporting lower anxiety and depression scores.

Researchers reported that 41% of Vermont respondents, compared to 38% of all survey respondents nationwide, had increased alcohol usage since the beginning of the pandemic, and 48% of Vermont respondents reported increased cannabis usage.

“We're very appreciative of the over 500 Vermonters who shared their experiences. We also thank lead researcher Marta Vicarelli from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Policy and her team for inviting us to help distribute their national survey in our state, and for preparing a Vermont-specific analysis for us,” said Meg Smith, director of the Vermont Women’s Fund, a Change The Story VT partner.

Read the full survey report Impacts of COVID-19 on Vermont Households: a Survey Analysis. (Vicarelli, Marta, Meredith Canada, Yu Ya Htut Tin, Anna Gishin, Madeline Leue, Elizabeth Murphy, Aryen Shrestha, Yash Tyagi. 2021. “Impacts of COVID-19 on Vermont Households: a Survey Analysis.” School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA, USA)

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Launched by the Vermont Commission on Women, Vermont Works for Women, the Vermont Women’s Fund, Change The Story VT, and Let’s Grow Kids, #MakeWorkWorkForUs is a joint campaign to focus on solutions to support people of all genders – particularly women – to fully participate in the workforce.

September 14, 2021

(Montpelier, VT) - The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), state government’s independent non-partisan commission advancing rights and opportunities for Vermont women and girls, begins work this fall under a new leadership structure, broadening from one to three Chairs.  Lisa Senecal was re-elected to the position and is joined by fellow Commissioners Kiah Morris and Kellie B. Campbell.

The change was supported by Commissioners as a way to share decision making and leadership responsibilities. “The need for our work on so many fronts, health and safety, economic security, racial and gender equity, leadership, public life and education, has only become more apparent and urgent over this last year,” said Senecal. “We’re excited, energized and ready to move forward in this new collaborative approach.”

Senecal was appointed by Governor Scott in 2017 and elected VCW Chair in 2019. She is a communications professional whose current energies are dedicated to pro-democracy, and gender and racial equity efforts. An experienced entrepreneur with a background in media relations and marketing, her successful ventures include an award-winning children's entertainment company and a digital media consultancy. She has provided crisis communications, media relations, and digital media strategy for dozens of companies and organizations, gubernatorial and U.S. Senatorial campaigns, and statewide policy initiatives. Senecal writes and speaks with an emphasis on issues of equity, equality, opportunity, and safety for women. Her perspectives and writing appear in a range of media, including as writer and co-host of Lincoln Project Television’s “We’re Speaking,” on NPR's Morning Edition and PBS News Hour, as well as in The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News, and USA Today. She also writes a monthly column for her local newspaper, the Stowe Reporter. In addition to serving as Chair of VCW and serving on the board of The Clarina Howard Nichols Center, Senecal works with businesses, investors, and campaigns to identify and remedy business and cultural practices that increase risk of sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination.

Morris was appointed to VCW by the Speaker of the House in 2020. She served in the general assembly as a State Representative from 2014-2016 and 2016-2018 and is the first African-American and person of color elected from Bennington County and the second African-American woman to be elected to the legislature in Vermont history. Her story of success and struggle has been covered internationally over four dozen media outlets including CNN, The Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill, Essence Magazine, Canadian Broadcasting Company, PBS, BBC Radio and Vice Media.  Morris is an award-winning, in-demand trainer, speaker, and presenter, providing consultative services, workshops and presentations on issues of diversity, equity and leadership for organizations across the globe. Morris currently serves as the Movement Politics Director for Rights and Democracy Vermont, co-creating and building the movement-centered governing infrastructure that shifts power into the hands of the people — especially marginalized community members — at every level of government.  She serves as Co-Chair of the Just Transitions Sub-Committee, part of the State of Vermont Climate Council.  She is a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador for Oxfam America and is on the advisory councils for Emerge Vermont and Black Lives Matter Vermont.  Morris also holds an accomplished artistic career as an actress of stage, film, and television, spoken word performance, and as a singer, dancer and arts manager. As an arts advocate with a passion for community-based art, she has produced numerous special events, concerts, and art exhibits during her career. Her work focuses on amplification of voices of the oppressed, issues of human rights and social justice. She is also the author of a recently published book of poetry, Life Lessons and Lyrical Translations of My Soul, and is filming a documentary on race in Vermont titled Colorlines in the Green Mountains with Long Shot Productions.

Campbell was appointed to VCW by the Senate Committee on Committees in 2018.  She’s the Chief Information Officer for the Vermont State College system, transitioning to this role from having served as the Chief Technology Officer at Vermont Tech.  She has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, a graduate degree in Business Management and Administration, and is a Doctor of Education, focused in Higher Education Administration. Campbell’s volunteer time reflects her commitment to advancing women.  Campbell has served as chair of VCW’s Education and Human Development committee. She also serves on the Executive Board for Vermont Women in Higher Education, a statewide organization providing opportunities for professional development, engaging in an inclusive community of women, and recognizing the successes of women in higher education. She is also a recent member of The Boston Club, one of the largest communities of women executives and professional leaders in the Northeast and focused on the advancement of women to top leadership roles across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. 

The three co-chairs work together to plan and run monthly meetings of the full commission.  They also establish subcommittees of the Commission to work on specific issues of interest.  Commission meetings are open to the public, and more information is available at women.vermont.gov.

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The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) is an independent non-partisan state commission working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls. Sixteen volunteer commissioners and representatives from organizations concerned with women's issues guide VCW's public education, coalition building, and advocacy efforts.

 

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