Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Rep. McSally Launches Working Group to Empower Women

July 14, 2016
Press Release

Rep. McSally to Chair Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today launched a Congressional working group to expand opportunity for women. Labeled the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce, the group of Republican lawmakers will take an in-depth look at the root causes for the challenges women face and identify solutions to address them.

“I grew up being told you could be whatever you want to be, but the reality is, today, women still face barriers to achieving their full potential simply because of their gender,” said Congresswoman Martha McSally, who is Chairwoman of the group. “Every woman and girl out there deserves the full opportunity to achieve her dreams. That’s why this working group will listen to women, thought leaders, and experts to examine the root causes holding women back and identify solutions that can actually make a difference. I thank Chairman Messer for partnering on this effort and for his leadership on the Policy Committee to take on this issue. I look forward to working with him and all the members of the working group to help empower women with the opportunity they deserve.”

“Martha is a proven fighter for hardworking people, and I’m glad to see her spearheading this effort to expand opportunity for women,” said Speaker Paul Ryan.

"There is no one better than Martha McSally to take on this task," said Congressman Luke Messer, Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. "Throughout her entire career she has fought to break down barriers and combat discrimination. I believe I speak for everyone in the working group when I say, we, as Republicans, want to open up opportunities for all women, and Martha is an outstanding leader for that effort."

In a post on BlogHer, Rep. McSally today discussed her motivation for starting the working group and the group’s goals and purpose. The full op-ed is below.

For more information about the working group and to follow its actions, visit

Leaning in to empower women
U.S. Representative Martha McSally
July 14, 2016

Our country is based on the ideal of equality for all its citizens. Yet, ask any woman today what obstacles she’s faced in her career or education simply because she’s a woman, and you’d hear a very different story.

It’s been illegal for employers to discriminate based on sex since the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Despite that, women continue to earn less than men. A comparison of median salaries between men and women, and an often cited statistic, shows women earn 21% less than men. There are many factors responsible for this earnings gap. Among them are choosing lower paying career fields, leaving the workforce to care for children or parents, challenges with childcare, and, let’s face it, blatant discrimination.

This earnings gap doesn’t harm just women, but their families, communities, and our economy.

Four out of ten American families look to women as the sole breadwinners. That means when women earn less, families have less to spend on things like clothes, school supplies, groceries, and health care for children and dependent parents.

Multiplied over a full career, a woman earns approximately $430,000 less than a man throughout her lifetime. This affects how much she is able to save or pay into Social Security, making women much more likely to live in poverty as they get older. The National Institute on Retirement Security reports that women are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, a figure that increases with age.

With these facts, there’s no doubting women still face substantial barriers to getting ahead. That’s why we’re taking action.

Today, I am starting a working group along with my Republican colleagues that will take an in-depth look at the root causes for the challenges women face in the workforce. Labeled, the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce, the group will engage in a series of listening sessions around the country, meet with relevant organizations, think tanks, and scholars, and hold hearings and roundtables. The goal of the group is simple: to identify solutions for expanding opportunity and improving outcomes for women.

Too often, this issue is leaned upon simply to cultivate partisan talking points and political ads or simply ignored all together. For the new mother trying to balance work and a home life; the daughter wondering how she’s going to care for an ailing parent; the recent college graduate seeking to get her foot in the door; and the countless women and girls who have big dreams and high goals, this issue is so much more – and it deserves real solutions.

Our working group will focus on four key pillars related to women in the workforce: expanding opportunity; increasing flexibility; removing barriers; and empowering the next generation.

Congresswoman Katharine St. George, a Republican from New York and one of the first proponents of the Equal Rights Act who coined the phrase “equal pay for equal work,” famously said of her work: “I think women are quite capable of holding their own if they're given the opportunity. What I wanted them to have was the opportunity.”

Today, over fifty years later, we still have work to do. After all, this is America, where we pick the best man for the job, even if she’s a woman. It’s time we fulfilled that promise.

U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R) represents Arizona’s Second District in Congress. Before that, she served 26 years in the U.S Air Force and was the first woman to fly in combat and command a fighter squadron in combat. She is passionate about fighting for equal opportunity for women.