A Call To Action

A Call To Action

These remarks were given by Tiffany Bluemle, Director, Change The Story at The Vermont Women’s Fund Annual Benefit on October 4, 2017.

Two and a half years ago, in honor of its 20 anniversary, the Women’s Fund threw caution to the wind, linked arms with Vermont Works for Women and The Commission on Women, and declared that 32 years was too long to wait to close the gender wage gap. With the support and advice of community partners, Change The Story has since then produced four reports that paint a picture of what women earn, what they do for a living, and where they are and aren’t leaders. They can be downloaded from our website, there are some hard copies available at the back of the room.

Suffice to say, what we found paints a picture that makes our point undeniably, absolutely, crystalline clear: we are not done with this work.

And it is so important – not just because so many women struggle to make ends meet, and not just because Vermont faces a huge labor shortage. I think of the talent that we will never enjoy.

I’ve often wondered what the world would look like if women headed half the world’s Universities, were half the world’s entrepreneurs, or half of its lawmakers. Or how differently we might define and address issues like affordable housing, incarceration, and climate change.

And we cannot simply wait for the change. A month ago, I was preparing a talk for Champlain College’s incoming freshman class and was curious to learn how much had changed since they’d come into the world.

  • In 1999, 3 states were governed by women. Today – it’s how many? 4.
  • In 1999, the poverty rate for young women was 12% — it’s now 5 points higher.
  • In 1999, the wage gap weighed in at 16%. Today, it’s … still 16%.

Data is useful but it won’t change the story. We will. You and I, educators and parents and employers who are struggling to find workers – if we are deliberate, if we are aligned, and if we persist even when our efforts fail to produce immediate results – we can move the needle so much faster together.


There are so many ways. Because tonight is focused on women entrepreneurs, here are a few things we can do to support their growth, visibility, and vitality.

  • Use your purchasing power as an individual or a business – make a point of buying from firms owned by women.
  • If you have the means to invest – put some of your money into woman-owned startups.
  • If you organize conferences or workshops for business audiences, ensure that women are featured as speakers or panelists.
  • If you’re an established business leader, identify opportunities for you to connect women entrepreneurs to people who might be able to help – with funding or technical assistance or cheerleading.
  • If you’ve enjoyed success as an entrepreneur, share the stories of project that failed or stalled or never produced what you’d hoped it would. It helps to know that the people we admire are human and may have stumbled, too.
  • Offer financial or technical support to organizations that support women business owners – local resources like Mercy Connections or the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship.

One of the most arresting moments in Dream, Girl is a clip in which a young girl says: “I hope this is the generation (for which things) change Because I think that it’s time for change.”

Yes, it is time. And it will happen because of you and because of young, inspiring women like Komal Minhas. THANK YOU.

Senator Leahy’s 21st Annual Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference

 You are invited to Senator Leahy’s 21st Annual Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference! It’s free and open to men and women!

The 2017 conference includes a keynote address by Mary Alice McKenzie and workshops hosted by Vermont presenters. This year’s conference will also highlight the work of Change The Story VT through workshops and group discussions.

Visit Senator Leahy’s website for more info.

Conference Agenda
Detailed Workshop Information 
Speakers Bios


Registration is free. Please register by Friday, September 8th at noon to reserve your spot!

Free continental breakfast and lunch will be provided to all registered attendees. Child care must be pre-arranged; please indicate when you register if you will require child care services. Child care availabilty is limited, so please email Heather at hgonyaw@vtsbdc.org for availability.

Information for attendees with disabilities: Arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and associated amendments. Arrangements for accommodation should be requested two weeks in advance by calling Senator Leahy’s office at (802) 229-0569 or emailing Katie_Alexander@leahy.senate.gov.

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Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap

“The Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative is a national forum where advocates, organizers, researchers, practitioners, and funders are coming together to close the gap by building wealth for low-income women and women of color.”

[x_button shape=”square” size=”regular” float=”none” href=”http://womenswealthgap.org/” title=”Learn about Women’s Wealth Gap.org” target=”blank” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Learn about Women’s Wealth Gap.org[/x_button]

2017 Status Report: Vermont Women and Leadership

2017 Status Report: Vermont Women and Leadership

This is the fourth in a series of reports published by Change The Story on topics related to women’s economic status. This report focuses specifically on women’s leadership in political, civic, and professional spheres, and the way in which leadership is related to economic security. We focused on leadership roles that can be identified and counted, including elected or appointed public servants at the state and municipal levels, leaders of critical community institutions, and leaders of organizations in the private and non-profit sectors. That said, it is important that we acknowledge the myriad other ways in which Vermont women and men serve as leaders, many of them unrecognized by traditional measures but nonetheless critically important. Most of the data in this report is either new or not regularly collected or published. All of it is specific to Vermont and is vitally important – not just in terms of what it reflects about women, but because of its implications for the state as a whole.

Download the full report.

Download the companion slide deck.

Among our findings:

  • By some measures Vermont is a national pacesetter in its share of women in public leadership.
    • Women are 39.4% of those serving in Vermont’s General Assembly, 60% of the state’s Supreme Court Justices, 43% of Executive Cabinet members and 50% of its public university and college presidents.
  • However, Vermont’s progress in achieving gender parity in leadership arenas has been uneven, slow-going or in some cases nonexistent.
    • Just one of Vermont’s six statewide officials is a woman, trailing the national average by 7 percentage points. Indeed, of the 296 individuals ever elected to statewide office, only 11 have been women.
    • Vermont and Mississippi are the only two states that have never sent a woman to Congress.
    • While women’s participation in Vermont’s General Assembly is the second highest in the country, the pace of change has essentially leveled off since 1993; in 24 years, women’s share of legislative seats has increased by just four percentage points.
  • When only 8% of Vermont’s highest grossing companies and 3 of its 15 hospitals are led by women, we can be certain that we are not making full use of all our state’s talent.
State of Working Vermont 2016

State of Working Vermont 2016

By: Public Assets Institute 

State of Working Vermont 2016

While Washington and the rest of the nation sort out the meaning of a Donald Trump presidency, new leaders in Montpelier have an opportunity to address the needs of low- and moderate-income Vermonters for whom a secure middle-class life seems unaffordable and out of reach. A higher minimum wage, access to high-quality child care, an expanded public education system including at least two years of college, and a program to help workers save for retirement can address the affordability problem for Vermonters struggling to make ends meet.

Those are among the findings in the 2016 State of Working Vermont report published by Public Assets Institute in Montpelier.

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Someday: the long fight for a female president

Someday: the long fight for a female president

A short film about the women who claimed a place in American politics.

Source: Vox

“In 1788, Thomas Jefferson wrote that American women shouldn’t “wrinkle their foreheads with politics.” A century and a half later, when Hillary Clinton was born, that attitude still prevailed.

That year, 1947, the US had zero female senators, zero female governors. The Supreme Court, and the Oval Office of course, had only ever seen men. It was only really in the past 40 years that women learned they could lead and men learned they could be led by women.

That revolution in American culture is still ongoing, but the idea that women are naturally unfit for government is now so alien to younger generations that many feel uncomfortable even considering the gender of a political candidate. The realities, however, lag behind the attitudes. Women make up only about 20 percent of the US House and the US Senate, and about 25 percent of state government.”

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