We are proud to introduce you to Women’s Foundation, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Women’s Foundation believes and invests in the collective power of women. Through their work and mission, they have ignited change, created critically important connections, and inspired meaningful action.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Wendy Doyle, President and CEO of Women’s Foundation. Wendy is a woman of vision whose work has impacted and moved the needle on many important issues, both locally and nationally. Read our interview below, and we have no doubt you will feel inspired by the work that has been accomplished.
Q: Though tremendous strides have been made when it comes to expanding opportunity for women and girls, barriers still exist. Many are obvious; others hide in plain sight. What have you identified as the top priorities for your Foundation to address and change?
At Women’s Foundation, we use research to determine where our work for change will make a meaningful difference. One of our most recent research topics focuses on Paid Family Leave. We believe this policy initiative is an important step toward economically empowering women. Closing the gender pay gap is another similar barrier women face in the workplace, who make only around 78 cents for each dollar a man earns for doing the same job. Another barrier for women is that they are underrepresented in leadership positions across the board. Our work for meaningful change aims to end these barriers for women of all ages.
Women's Foundation in front of legislature, discussing an equal pay bill
Q: Meaningful change. This is a wonderful goal and aspiration. How is this defined and measured?
Meaningful change means we are changing the lives of women in Missouri and Kansas. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle are coming together to develop solutions to address issues we've uncovered through our research. Women who are a part of our Appointments Project are becoming civic leaders in their cities and communities. This meaningful change is making the lives of women in Missouri and Kansas a little bit better, giving them the tools to be entrepreneurs, leaders, and more.
Q: How has your Foundation changed and evolved since its founding in 1991?
Our Founders began Women's Foundation to invest in women in the greater Kansas City area. What started as a local philanthropic giving organization has now evolved into an organization that remains philanthropic in nature but also conducts research and develops policy solutions. Over the years we have done research on the barriers women face, have found solutions that can help women overcome these barriers, and have advocated for policy and projects that put these solutions into action. While continuously tackling these barriers, we have grown into a team with wonderful supporters who share our mission of improving the lives of women of all ages.
Q: Empowering women and girls of all ages to be able to do more, achieve more, become more self-reliant has far-reaching impact that goes beyond individual success. It directly impacts local economies, issues on a national stage, and beyond. How has your work impacted your local region, and how have you seen it extending onto a national or even international stage?
We believe that economically self-sufficient women will lead the next chapter of economic growth. By investing in the success of women, we are investing in a stronger economy. In Missouri and Kansas City, our work has encouraged women in Missouri and Kansas to open their own businesses, become civic leaders, and network with other women who can help drive success. We have advocated for and have seen private companies and government agencies adopt family-friendly leave policies that help women overcome the barrier of having to choose between family or work. We are seeing these policies grow on a national level as well. We hope to continue to lead our region in the right direction for women.
Q: If there is one call to action for young women and women, what would it be? And would this be the same if you were addressing a group of young men and men?
I would tell women that although you will be faced with many barriers in your professional and personal lives, don’t forget to invest in yourself. Go for that leadership position, start your own business, ask for higher pay. Women’s Foundation is one of many groups urging you to be the best you can be. For men and young men, I would emphasize encouraging the women in your life to invest in themselves and to not be afraid to follow women leaders.
Q: We love this quotation by Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made... It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” It feels particularly relevant as we learn more about your Appointments Project. Tell us more about this, how it came to be, and what you envision its impact being.
We certainly agree with Justice Ginsburg’s quote - women should not be the exception. And having women civically engaged and leading in our communities is important for policymaking. Our Appointment’s Project addresses this leadership barrier. Our research found that women are underrepresented on boards and commissions, and that many women do not lead because they do not feel they are qualified or that they need to be asked. This project is working to change that. More than 40 women have been appointed to boards and commissions as a result of the Appointments Project since its launch in the spring of 2014. People can learn more at www.Womens-Foundation.org/a-p
Advancing women’s equity and opportunity, promoting success and independence for women and girls is more than just a “women’s issue” - it is a human issue. Together, we can band together, take action-steps, learn more, do more and effect positive change. Thank you to Wendy Doyle and Women’s Foundation for your thoughtful answers and powerful work. We have been inspired!