California First Lady Maria Shriver, who leads the California Women’s Conference, is launching a multifaceted project in partnership with the Center for American Progress and USC Annenberg's Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. TIME magazine will also be involved in research and reporting, as well as co-presenting discussions and roundtables around the country.
The project, A Woman’s Nation, will take a new, empirical look at American women who for the first time in our nation’s history make up fully half of all workers and are becoming the primary breadwinners in more families than ever before.
CCLP’s senior fellow Cinny Kennard and communication professor Stacy Smith will assist with research development and also participate in the presentation of roundtables and interviews with icons of the women’s movement and other prominent leaders.
"The project is timely and needed to reveal the status of American women in the 21st century," Smith said. "The research also will uncover those institutions, cultural practices, and policies that are still in need of shapeshifting and transformation to meet the needs of and facilitate change in the lives of girls and women in the U.S. We are delighted to have this opportunity to partner with Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress on this important endeavor."
The project will include the Shriver Report, which will combine the work of economists and academics to address the consequences of women’s more prominent economic status in the institutions that matter most in American life, including government, business, faith, education, and health. The report will also include data from research and on-the-ground reporting around the country, looking especially at the interplay between women and men in our society today.
"We will take a hard look at how women are doing in the United States today and consider the central question of the role government, business, and faith organizations, as well as individual women and men should play in supporting women’s role now in the workforce and the U.S. economy," said John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. "We look forward to teaming up with Maria Shriver on this important work."
The last expansive government project centered on women was conducted under the presidency of John F. Kennedy, who appointed Eleanor Roosevelt in 1961 to chair a commission to report on the status of women. A Woman’s Nation will report its findings to the nation, Congress, and President Obama, who recently signed an executive order to establish a council to coordinate the federal government's efforts to address the needs of women and girls.
"Examining ways to improve the lives of women in this country is a noble cause, and I congratulate Maria Shriver and CAP on launching this new venture," said White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. "As a true leader in this area, Maria brings the perspective of a professional journalist, a working mother, and a caretaking daughter. Maria’s contributions to better understanding American women today are invaluable, and we look forward to the results of this work."
"As a reporter by trade, I look forward to working with CAP and our other partners to take a factual look at the consequences of today’s economic realties," Shriver said. "The world has changed dramatically since my uncle launched his commission in 1961, and the fact is we need a new portrait of the American woman so we can better understand what she needs to be successful in this complicated world. The truth is, we are now what I like to call, ‘A Woman’s Nation’."
The report will be co-edited by CAP Senior Economist Heather Boushey, a widely respected expert on women and the economy, and Ann O'Leary, CAP senior fellow and executive director of the Berkeley Center for Health, Economic and Family Security at the University of California Berkeley School of Law.
"Over the past generation, a seismic change has occurred in the family role and work life of American women," Boushey said. "Most married-couple families now have two earners, and, compared to a generation ago, many more families today are headed by a single working parent. But our institutions and culture have not fully adapted to this reality. A Woman’s Nation will take a hard look at this."
A Woman’s Nation will include roundtables, a national poll, and interviews with icons of the women’s movement and other prominent leaders. The preliminary report will be released in the fall, to be followed by a book.