House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered opening remarks this afternoon introducing the GlobalWIN panel on Women in Leadership. Panelists included Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Global Vice Chair of Public Policy at Ernst & Young Beth Brooke, Chief Operating Officer of the Executive Leadership Council Brickson Diamond, and Catalyst President & CEO Ilene H. Lang. Below are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:
"Thank you, Melika, for that kind introduction.
"And thank you to my friend, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, not only for your work with GlobalWIN, inspiring women to seize opportunities, but also for your steady leadership of the Democratic Party during a time of great national challenges.
"Congress needs more women like you not only to serve in its ranks but to shape the direction of policy for our country, taking into account women's experiences and the new realities of an economy where women are half the workforce but still hold relatively few of the positions of leadership and decision-making.
"The data we have from Catalyst, which I know the panel will speak about shortly, reveals an America where women have begun to form the majority in management and professional occupations but still lag far behind in executive positions, in board memberships, and among the top income earners.
"But I've seen much change during my time in Congress -- change that gives me great hope that the next few years will see this gap narrow. Over the course of my congressional career, I have had the privilege of fighting for measures to combat violence against women, to uphold a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, and to achieve equal pay for equal work.
While we still have much to do on these fronts, when I entered congress, there were only 19 women serving in the house and two in the senate.
"That was the 97th Congress. Today, in the 113th Congress, Debbie is one of 82 women in the House, and there are now 20 women serving in the Senate. This is historic, but it is still far below women's share of the population and does not adequately represent women's increasing influence in our economy and society. I expect as the next few elections occur, the number of women serving in both chambers will continue to rise and I remain committed to seeing that happen.
"When I came to the House, there was not a single woman in the leadership of either party in either chamber. For the past several years, I've had the privilege of serving alongside America's first female Speaker of the House and rising stars like Debbie. I also have the privilege every day of working with women who are some of the finest congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, including my Chief of Staff, Communications Director, Press Secretary, Deputy Floor Director, and Deputy Member Services Director.
"They are paving the way for a new generation of women who are daring to stand up, roll up their sleeves, and demand their rightful place around the table of leadership in America's Caucus rooms and in its boardrooms.
"One of those pioneering women in the boardroom is the moderator of our panel today, Ilene Lang. As the President and CEO of Catalyst, Ilene leads an organization that since 1962 has focused on ways to empower women in the workplace. She previously served as the founding CEO of Altavista and Vice President of the Desktop Business Group at Lotus.
"I thank you all again for the opportunity to be a part of today's discussion, and please join me in welcoming Ilene Lang."