We are profoundly disappointed and saddened by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade – a decision we believe takes the agency away from women to decide when—and whether—to have children, while affecting their education and career opportunities.
Let there be no doubt: By stripping women of their reproductive rights, gender equity is further jeopardized. As we learned from the pandemic, women left the workforce at much higher rates than men to care for children. According to the National Women’s Law Center, there are 650,000 fewer women in the workforce now compared to pre-pandemic years. Without immediate action, we may be on the precipice of the greatest disempowering and denial of agency to women in a half a century.
We also wholeheartedly agree with women’s rights activist and feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who said in a recent interview on NPR that this decision “affects all women, but not all women equally.” Women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, women of color, and women from rural states and communities who are already facing greater challenges simply because of their sex, will face even greater physical, emotional, and financial burdens because of today’s decision.
This spring, CEO of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership Susan MacKenty Brady and Simmons University President Lynn Perry Wooten participated in one of Gloria Steinem’s Talking Circles. “We talked about the complexity of the multiple roles women contend with that are unique to our gender,” Lynn said. Susan added, “I left Gloria’s home inspired and empowered, as well as determined that our Institute will continue to speak clearly and unapologetically about the need to stand up for the inalienable rights of women – especially women already facing greater odds to the choice not only on reproduction, but also on career, and career advancement.”
As an institute for inclusive leadership at a historically women-centered university, we believe it is also our duty at a time like this to speak about the role corporate leaders must play. We are urging corporate leaders of goodwill on both sides of this issue to come together on one clear front: To compel immediate action from elected officials to reduce the cost of childcare, close gender-based pay gaps, and reform the national paid leave policy — all policies that this Supreme Court decision renders ever more urgent to address.
Please join the Institute in donating to the Ms. Foundation for Women, which works to advance equity and justice for all. Now more than ever, it is past time for the already uncounted “tax” of being a woman in America to be addressed without any delay. If we don’t act now, tens of millions more women will find it ever harder to arrive, never mind thrive, as equal members of their workplace and their communities.
Susan MacKenty Brady
Bao Nhia Moua
Elisa van Dam
On behalf of The Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership