Clinton To Make Gender Issues Key to Presidential Bid

Hillary Clinton gives the keynote speech at a conference in Santa Clara, Feb 24, 2015. Hillary Clinton gives the keynote speech at a conference in Santa Clara, Feb 24, 2015. Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images



Ending years of speculation, Hillary Clinton has confirmed that she will run for president in 2016.


Like Republican candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, the former Secretary of State announced the news online. In a YouTube video posted on her website, Clinton lays out her priorities for the coming election season.


“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton says in the video. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion, so you can do more than just get by. You can get ahead, and stay ahead, because when families are strong, America is strong.”


As Clinton takes another shot at becoming the country’s first female president, it is already clear that this time around, she plans to put women’s issues front and center in an attempt to appeal to female voters. Among the many Americans profiled in the video, the majority are women, from working mothers to expectant ones, signaling that Clinton plans to make issues of gender inequality, which she has been working on since stepping down as Secretary of State in 2013, key to her campaign.


In recent years, Clinton has been an outspoken advocate of the need to close the gender gap that still exists in the US workforce. That gap is particularly wide in the tech industry, where women make up a small fraction of the staff at leading businesses like Facebook and Google. Now, as a presidential candidate and the likely Democratic nominee, Clinton is uniquely poised to push this conversation, which has been slowly building in Silicon Valley, into the spotlight on a national and global stage.


Over the last year, speaking on behalf of The Clinton Foundation, Clinton has frequently decried the gender wage gap in the United States, in which women earn on average 78.3 cents less than their male counterparts. Clinton has also been actively promoting the need for more women in tech, noting in a recent conversation with tech journalist Kara Swisher that the number of women graduating with computer science degrees has actually dropped since the 1980s from 38 percent to just 18 percent. “We’re going backwards in a field that’s supposed to be all about going forward,” Clinton said.


She has also openly supported policies like free preschool programs and guaranteed paid parental leave, which would make it easier to be a working mom. “Those are not just nice luxuries for women,” Clinton argued on stage at The Clinton Global Initiative in September. “They would fundamentally free up women to be in the workforce if they had the skills and desire to do so.”


Mining the Data


Along with her daughter Chelsea, meanwhile, Clinton has been heavily involved in several data-mining projects that aim to highlight where the gender gaps are widest both in the US and around the world. Through the No Ceilings project, the Clinton Foundation has aggregated 850,000 data points that have been collected since 1995 related to the status of women around the world.


In an interview with WIRED last month, Chelsea Clinton said that this data “enables us to make the most powerful case ultimately for why investing in women and girls isn’t just the morally right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.”


“The evidence really shows that where countries have invested in women and girls, societies are safer, and a rising tide really lifts all boats,” she said.


The former first lady has also been working with the United Nations Foundation on a data collection project called Data2X, which will gather even more information on the status of women and girls where it doesn’t already exist. “I’m not sure we have the best data we need in our own country. What’s really behind the stagnation in wages and in workforce participation? We have some very educated guesses, but I’m not sure we really know,” Clinton said at the Clinton Global Initiative. “We need to do much more to understand.”


During her primary run against President Barack Obama back in 2008, Clinton was notably close-lipped about issues related to gender. This time around, it seems all that will change. And whether she ultimately wins or loses, the attention her campaign will likely bring to these issues—and the discussions her rivals will also have to engage with—is already a win for women everywhere.



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