Equal Pay is 41 Years Away: Why Gender Parity Must Be Accelerated

Last week, on March 8, the world celebrated International Women’s Day – “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marked a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

Many people and organizations took to social media to celebrate women. For example, Forbes, BBC, and Boeing shared how women are changing the face of sports, science, and technology. Women in positions of power shared business and life advice. The data visualization community created graphics highlighting women’s progress and disparities. And I shared my story of how local female leaders have positively impacted my life.

But the day was not without drama and backlash. People continue to claim that inequalities like the wage gap do not exist. Some felt threatened and inquired about International Men’s Day (by the way, it’s November 19). Others reportedly did not celebrate the day, citing that it is a communist and socialist holiday.

Clearly, more work must be done and we are far from achieving gender parity.

Women continue to earn less than men. “In 2015, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men” (IWPR, 2018). According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research,

“If change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take 41 years—or until 2059—for women to finally reach pay parity. For women of color, the rate of change is even slower: Hispanic women will have to wait until 2233 and Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay” (IWPR, 2017).

Let me rephrase this. A baby girl born today in 2018 will not experience pay parity until she is 41 years old. If that baby is Hispanic or Black, she would need to live to 215 and 106 years old, respectively, to experience pay parity. That is ridiculous. When are we going to start valuing women as human beings and equal contributors to society?

Malala quote

As if that is not infuriating enough, the wage gap just touches the surface of work needed to achieve gender parity. Across the world, women and girls are experiencing disparities at unacceptable and alarming rates:

  • Women make up half of the population but 70% of the 1 billion poorest people in the world are female (Global Citizen, 2012)
  • One in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence (WHO, 2017)
  • Globally, women make up only 18.9% of the world’s legislators (USAID, 2015)

This is not a global phenomenon solely impacting developing countries. Here in the United States:

  • Over 600 women are sexually assaulted every day (NOW)
  • Employers are not required to offer paid maternal leave, making the US the only country in the developing world not offering this benefit (Washington Post, 2018)
  • Only 27 of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and only two are women of color (Fortune, 2017)

And one of my personal frustrations – women in state prisons or local jails continue to be deprived of the basic and requisite hygiene products for menstruation. I mean, really? It’s 2018 and we are still dehumanizing women for a bodily function that literally gave the people creating the asinine policies life, once again sending the message to women that their health is not valued or prioritized.


So why invest in women?

From a strictly financial perspective, closing the gender and wage gap could add an estimated $12-28 trillion (11-26%) to the global annual GDP by 2025 (McKinsey & Company, 2015). Furthermore, “when 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases on average by 3%” (USAID, 2015).

From a social justice perspective, investing in women often has a multiplicative impact, also advancing her family and community. Women reinvest more of their incomes back into their families than men (90% vs. 30-40%). Other studies suggest that communities are more inclusive when the percentage of women holding political leadership positions is over 30%.

Well, this all sounds daunting. What can we do to impact change? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Encourage inclusivity
  • Question who is and who is not participating and represented
  • Challenge gender stereotypes
  • Examine the language you are using to describe and communicate with women
  • Support female-owned businesses and hire women for positions of power
  • Pay employees equally for their position and skill set, not their gender
  • Adopt flexible work arrangements
  • Highlight women’s achievements and give credit accordingly
  • Mentor women and girls

How did you celebrate International Women’s Day? What are you doing to accelerate gender parity?

International Women’s Day: Celebrating Local Female Leaders

Today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day (#IWD2018) – “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

This is an exciting time to identify as a woman. In 2016, a female presidential candidate earned the Democratic Party nomination for the first time and ran a strong campaign that resulted in more popular votes than her opponent. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have brought critical attention to and recognition of sexual assault and harassment. And women are launching campaigns and running for political office in record numbers, with support from organizations such as She Should Run and VoteRunLead.

A search of #InternationalWomensDay and #IWD2018 on social media provides insight into incredible female leaders across the world who have or are currently facing adversity, challenging stereotypes, and breaking down barriers. Many are iconic names such Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, and Gloria Steinem. Organizations like Forbes, BBC, and Boeing are highlighting how women are changing the face of sports, science, and technology.

But for every well-known female leader, there are hundreds of women changing lives in their local communities who often remain unrecognized. I met some of these amazing women in El Salvador as part of a study abroad program focused on understanding how the civil war impacted women and children in the country. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to meet with grassroots women’s organizations and female political leaders, and share meals with women living in rural communities. These women changed the trajectory of my life.

Some of the groups we met with included:

  • Pro-Busqúeda: a non-profit organization that investigates cases of and searches for children who were disappeared during the conflict
  • COMADRES: a human rights organization that offers assistance to the victims and families of those imprisoned, murdered, or disappeared during the civil war
  • AMUSAMECO: a weekly group for women in San Salvador that provides social and emotional support while also teaching a profitable skill such as paper quilling and card making


Cards made by members of AMUSAMECO

Across the organizations, women shared their experiences with poverty, violence, lack of employment opportunities, and the machismo tradition. The testimonies shared of physical and sexual violence were unfathomable. I learned of abuses I did not know existed and cannot comprehend. Those images will forever remain etched in my brain. I heard about husbands, brothers, and children being disappeared and/or killed. It was excruciatingly heartbreaking and I feel humbled that the women shared their stories.


Monumento a la Memoria y la Verdad (Monument to Memory and Truth)

When I reflect on this experience, I am continually reminded of the resilience, gratitude, and sense of community that these women demonstrated. They truly embody the spirit behind International Women’s Day – to celebrate “the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.” Despite having experienced unimaginable violence and loss, the women persisted.

For example, during El Salvador’s civil war (1980-1991), 90,000 people were killed and thousands of children disappeared. Many children were trafficked and sent for adoption in other countries. Pro-Busqúeda has investigated over 800 cases of disappeared children and, as of 2014, had solved 300. The strength and tenacity of the women and families involved with Pro-Busqúeda demonstrate the transformative power of advocacy and activism.

By challenging the status quo, these women have changed the trajectories of their families. They have formed grassroots organizations, learned new trades, leaned on each other for support, and challenged the machismo culture in their homes and the community. One woman shared how she climbed out of her window when her husband forbade her from leaving the home so that she could attend the AMUSAMECO support group. These women are paving the way for future generations with every small shift in cultural and gender norms.

“The fight for justice does not end with the truth, but requires a reparation to the victims.”

Not only are the women changing their lives, they have changed mine as well. The impact this experience had on my life was so profound that it is difficult to put into words. Hearing these women’s stories was one of the key reasons that I pursued social work and public health. This experience taught me the impact that communities have on health and wellbeing. I understood the effect systems and cultural norms can have on advancing or curbing opportunities. I also saw the role resilience and social supports play in overcoming adversity. Moreover, I witnessed the impact of personal stories on shifting norms and policies, which is a testament to the power of lived experience, advocacy, and activism. These women are the strongest and most tenacious change agents I have ever met.

The women involved with Pro-Búsqueda, COMADRES, and AMUSAMECO are just one example of the many women around the world who are challenging the status quo and accelerating gender parity. There are so many others whose stories remain untold. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I encourage you to recognize the women in your lives and communities that are working to #PressforProgress. We are all stronger when we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s successes.

Tech Chat – Twitter Bonus: Storytime!

Note: This is bonus content to accompany the four-part tech chat series about Twitter for evaluators. The first post explained the components and language of Twitter. The second post walked you through how to create your profile. The third post reviewed more advanced tips and tricks for engaging others and managing your content. The fourth post tied it all together with strategies for networking on Twitter.

There is so much wisdom I would like to share about Twitter but I felt like writing four blog posts was probably the upper limit for readers to enjoy the subject. In case you are still interested, here is some bonus content. In this post, I share one example of how Twitter has advanced my career and provide suggestions for non-evaluation accounts to follow.

Bonus 1: Storytime!

In case you need some more convincing, let me tell you a story. This is just one example of how Twitter has helped me advance my career. Four years ago I began tweeting more seriously to build my professional identity. Prior to that, I had a Twitter account for the sole purpose of representing my organization at events when needed. But I knew I needed to get my name out there and look for new opportunities so I took the plunge.

I started following people I admire like Ann Emery, Stephanie Evergreen, Rakesh Mohan, and Chris Lysy (just to name a few). After tweeting and retweeting for a while, some of these people began following me too! Not surprisingly, as a true #dataviz and #eval nerd, I got really excited when they actually retweeted or mentioned me.

Cartoon Brain Trust

Then during the 2015 American Evaluation Association Conference, Chris Lysy tweeted that he was cartooning in the hallway and looking for people to join him. So I did! Chris drew comics about the conference that we suggested and we talked about his creative process. It was awesome! And better yet, I met someone in person who I had only previously engaged with online.

Since that time I have even presented with Chris on a panel at the Eastern Evaluation Research Society Conference about communicating findings to stakeholders. Without Twitter, I would never have been inducted into the cartoon brain trust nor had the chance to present with Chris.

Bonus 2: Accounts to follow

Consistent with the #Eval17 theme of Learning to Action, which includes learning from fields outside of evaluation, I asked fellow evaluators on Twitter what non-evaluation accounts they suggest to follow. Here’s what they said (thanks Allison Titcomb, Chelsea Heatherington, Corey NewhouseDana Wanzer, Deven Wisner, Noesis Consulting):

Data Visualization



  • Center for Effective Philanthropy: @CEPData

Social Justice

Happy tweeting! How is your Twitter experience so far?What other non-evaluation accounts do you suggest evaluators follow?

Tech Chat – Twitter Part 4: Networking like a boss

Note: This is the final post in a four-part tech chat series about Twitter for evaluators. The first post explained the components and language of Twitter. The second post walked you through how to create your profile. The third post reviewed more advanced tips and tricks for engaging others and managing your content. This fourth post ties it all together with strategies for networking on Twitter.

Now that you’ve set up your Twitter profile and explored the basic and advanced functions of the social media platform you may still be asking yourself, “how can Twitter help advance my career?” I’m here to help you!

As mentioned in the first post of this series, there are a number of benefits of using Twitter professionally:

  • Network with other professionals
  • Raise awareness of an issue
  • Showcase your skills
  • Reach new audiences outside of evaluation
  • Disseminate evaluation findings
  • Crowdsource ideas with other professionals outside your immediate network
  • Keep up with the latest trends in the field
  • Find new collaborators and clients
  • Follow the work of your favorite companies and colleagues
  • Learn about training opportunities and conferences

Alright, I’ll admit that all sounds super easy on paper but it not always that simple in practice. Below are a few ways to help you engage with others online.

Identify a purpose

While it’s tempting to jump on Twitter and start retweeting and liking every post you see, it’s important to think about the purpose of your Twitter profile, which is to create (or advertise) your professional identity and brand. Choose a few topics to follow initially and stay away from contentious topics while you build your following. Although there’s nothing like a dramatic tweet war to draw quick attention to a profile, this is likely not the type of attention you are looking for as you launch. And remember that people only see the actual words you type, not your intention so choose your tweets carefully!

When thinking about what to post, consider these four formats to start:

  • Ask a question
  • Comment on a tweet
  • Provide a call to action
  • Share information

Be authentic

Another thing that goes along with identifying your purpose is being authentic. Building a professional identity on Twitter is all about what makes you unique. Honor and embrace what you bring to the table rather than trying to impersonate others. People value authenticity. Don’t believe me? Check out Brene Brown’s work.

“As you start building your ‘brand’ on Twitter, think about why people are following or talking to you. Are you an expert in a particular industry? Are you opinionated? Funny? Do you share great news articles or interesting photos? The bottom line: Be authentic and true to your values and you’ll quickly become a valuable member of the Twitter community.” (Mashable)

Locate power users

Find out who the power users and main influencers are in your field and follow them. Get a feel for the types of content they share and who they are following. Check out the resources that are being shared. Then, as described above, retweet a post that inspired you, ask the author of a newly released report a question, or retweet a post with a key quote as the comment. If you’re feeling really brave, send that power user a direct message (DM) and begin a conversation.

Follow your dream organizations

I have a whole list of organizations where I would love to work someday. I also have a list of CEOs that I find inspiring and would love to meet. I make sure to follow these accounts so I can keep up with the work they are doing and learn about potential job opportunities. This helps me to be prepared if I run into a representative from the organization at a conference or event. If you follow the accounts, you will be better able to comment on a new report or initiative the organization just released or launched. There’s really no better way to impress a recruiter than to know what they represent!

Participate in Twitter Chats

A Twitter Chat is a live conversation that takes place on Twitter at a certain time on a specific topic using a common hashtag. This is an opportunity to meet and engage with others who are interested in similar topics. Once you become a regular attendee, you will have a new network of virtual colleagues.

Macro social workers meet weekly for a Twitter Chat (#MacroSW) about systems and policy change. You can view the chat archives from past discussions here.

The Science Communication Journal Club (#SciCommJC) group hosts monthly Twitter Chats. Follow them on Twitter (@scicomm_jc) for more information.

  • Click here to find out about other Twitter Chat topics
  • Click here to learn more about hosting a Twitter Chat

Engage in conference discussions

If being a professional conference attendee was a job, I would like to sign up right now. There are few things I enjoy more than learning and learning from others. Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough time or funding to attend all of the events I would like to. Twitter to the rescue!

By following the conference hashtag, you are able to keep up with the conversation and presentations. I’ve done this and even had someone attending respond on Twitter to ask me what I wanted to learn about! It’s amazing how much you can learn from a Twitter feed. If you want to learn more, you can always follow-up with a certain presenter or look up the resources posted online.

Recent conference hashtags include:

  • American Evaluation Association: #Eval17
  • American Public Health Association: #APHA2017
  • Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management: #APPAM2017
  • Tableau Conference: #Data17

Upcoming conference hashtags include:

  • American Society for Public Administration (March 9-13, 2018): #ASPA2018
  • Eastern Evaluation Research Society (April 29-May 1, 2018): #EERS18
  • Research and Eval Conference on Self-Sufficiency (May 30-June 1, 2018): #RECS2018

Once you have mastered these techniques, you will be on your way to networking like a boss on Twitter. Remember to tweet to share content (visuals, reports, links, etc.), ask questions, comment on other posts, and reach out to new colleagues.

I would love to hear from you! What strategies do you use when networking on Twitter?

Tech Chat – Twitter Part 3: Advanced tips and tricks

Note: This is the third post in a four-part tech chat series about Twitter for evaluators. The first post explained the components and language of Twitter. This second post walked you through how to create your profile. This third post reviews more advanced tips and tricks for engaging others and managing your content. The fourth post will share strategies for networking on Twitter.

Congratulations! If you are reading this third post you have likely already made your Twitter account and are ready to take your relationship with the social media platform and its users to the next level. In addition to providing bonus resources at the end, this post will review how to:

  • Schedule posts
  • Select hashtags
  • Create lists
  • Manage email notifications
  • Pin posts to your profile
  • Analyze tweets

Schedule Posts

Twitter provides a wealth of information both in terms of work-related content and pop culture. You literally have access to over 500 million tweets each day. So it’s no surprise that users can easily get sucked down the black hole of keeping up with posts. Unless you’re in charge of social media and communications for your job, your boss is probably not going to appreciate you spending all your time using the platform at work.

I use Buffer to schedule tweets in advance, which helps me stay focused at work while continuing to engage users online. The free version of Buffer allows users to connect one account per social media platform and schedule up to 10 posts per account at one time. Buffer also lets users chose their posting schedule (the times that posts go out each day) so you can optimize your impact. Additionally, Buffer provides analytics on each tweet sent using the platform. This lets users see the number of retweets, likes, mentions, clicks, and reach, which is helpful to understand the types of content your followers are engaging with the most.

Other scheduling programs include:

Optimize your posting times

Remember how I just said Buffer lets users optimize impact by choosing when to post tweets? Find out when your followers are most active through Tweriod. Once you know when your followers are the most active online, you can schedule your posts during these times. This increases the likelihood that your followers will see what you post. Seeing your tweets is the first step to engaging with the content.

Select Hashtags

In the first post, I defined the term hashtag and discussed how these are keywords included in your tweet that begin with the # symbol. Tweets with hashtags are twice as likely to be retweeted so they’re a great and easy way to engage followers. When posting, you may already know what hashtags you want to use. For example, if tweeting about evaluation you might use #eval and when tweeting about data visualization you might use #dataviz. I often tweet about ending homelessness and use #endhomelessness.

Using the same hashtags repeatedly is great because it helps build a following within a certain content area. Sometimes, however, you might want to increase your marketing and reach a new audience. To do this, I have most often used the website hashtagify. Hashtagify lets users “instantly identify top hashtags and influencers to maximize your success on social media.” Through their dashboard, users can view the top related hashtags, top accounts, popularity trends, and recent tweets. Hashtagify costs $14-$254 per month depending on how much you would like to track. However, you can view the hashtag dashboard to understand current trends without making an account.

(Note: Hashtagify is currently not accepting new accounts while they undergo a website upgrade but new users can get on their waitlist.)

There are many other hashtag tracking programs that vary in price, including:

Create lists

Twitter lists are a great way to organize tweets by content area. For example, my lists include those for evaluation, data visualization, housing and homelessness, and policy. There are two types of lists: private and public. Private Twitter lists are only visible to you and users do not get notified if you add them to your lists. Public lists are visible to others and users receive a notification when they are added to someone’s list. Users can also subscribe to your public lists, which means they can follow the conversation without having to follow each individual account.

Visit Twitter to learn more about how to create lists.

Manage email notifications Twitter Email Notifications

One thing that really annoys me in life is a cluttered inbox. I’m that person who likes to have five emails in my inbox and gets very worried about people who have 2000. I have all sorts of filters set up in my email account to automatically file emails into folders. So I definitely do not want to receive an email every single time I receive a notification on Twitter.

To manage email notifications, go to “settings and privacy” then “email notifications.” I check Twitter at least once a day so I currently do not receive any emails. If you rarely check Twitter, you might want to choose to receive certain email notifications so you know when someone has mentioned you or sent you a direct message.

Pin posts to your profile

Have an event coming up that you want to advertise or just released a new blog post or evaluation report? Pin this information to your profile! Twitter allows users to pin one post to the top of your profile. This means that this tweet will show up at the top of your twitter feed as the first thing your followers see. Pinning a post to your page is very easy. Click on the downward arrow to the right of your tweet and then select “pin to your profile page.”

Analyze tweets

As an evaluator, I’m always curious how my tweets are performing in terms of retweets, likes, mentions, followers, profile visits, and engagement rate. Twitter Analytics lets you view data about the past 28 days for free. Users can also use tools like the aforementioned Buffer and Hootsuite to post tweets and view analytics.

Twitter Analytics
Example analytics from Twitter

Bonus: Additional resources

  • Twitter keyboard shortcuts
    Short on time? Twitter has keyboard shortcuts to help you optimize your use of the social media platform.

Twitter Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Advanced search
    Looking for specific content on Twitter? Use the advanced search function. The easiest way to do this is to go to the advanced search homepage, which lets users apply filters such as time period, hashtags, keywords, location, and users.

Twitter Advanced Search

  • Unfollow people quickly
    Have a lot of followers that are no longer relevant to your work or are inactive users? Get help cleaning up your account quickly by using ManageFlitter (Free – $49/month).

I want to hear from you! What other tools are you using to engage others and manage your Twitter content?