Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gender Budgeting - How Can We Leverage the Principles in Other Work

So what is gender budgeting? It's a way to review budgets to check on unintentional impact on gender. For example when governments make plans for new projects or agendas, they should not only consider impact on deliberate groups (e.g., the poor) but also be reviewed to see if there is an impact (negative or positive) on gender.
For the US the new article refers to defense contracts, obviously the goal is to get appropriately priced contracts to complete the work (I'll leave my own personal comments on this example out of it!!), however when you look at the amount of money spent on the contracts, and consider how many women are on the board of those companies that get the contracts, or how many women actually get paid to complete the work, etc. you realize that there are virtually no women receiving benefit from that work.

A specific example they give is from the UK:

The Women's Budget Group (WBG), an organization that brings together
feminist economists, researchers and policy experts to consult with the U.K.
Ministry of Finance, gives us one example in their analysis of the U.K.'s New
Deal programs to reduce unemployment. They found that only 8 percent of funding
for these programs goes to single parents, of whom 95% are female. Yet 57% of
funds go to young people, of whom only 27% are female.

Another example I know of, though it might not be true gender budgeting is that of child support in a bankrupt situation. Years ago when the debt collectors lined up to take money from someone going under, the big companies like credit card companies stood in line ahead of a parent who was owed child support. It was in Hilary Clinton's book, Living History, that I read that she'd worked with others on changing that policy, it had been easy for credit card companies to collectively move themselves to the head of the queue, but for the unrepresented parent depending on child support there was no avenue to move up the list. This policy would have had a serious impact on women, as they're probably the significant receivers of child support, but when the policy was designed it wasn't considered.

How can the premise of gender budgeting be considered achieving my goal of increasing the number of women working in technology to build experiences aimed at women like me? It could be related to reviewing marketing data with a gender pivots, however have we really identified the power and influence of women and how they show up in market data? As people who are trying to identify new markets we are probably more receptive to gender budgeting if identifies new opportunities. As for hiring practices, rewards, promotions some types of analysis are already done related to ensuring appropriate gender review (they are at major corporations).

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