TUCSON – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today chaired a hearing in Tucson on examining the barriers women face in the workforce. The hearing is the second of the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce, which Rep. McSally launched in July.

“Today’s hearing is part of long-term effort to take a serious look at the issues holding women back and find solutions,” said Rep. McSally, who is the Chairwoman of the Working Group. “Being able to contribute to their communities, meeting the needs of their families, having the opportunity to pursue their dreams – these are issues that actually matter to women, and I’m going to continue to work to help empower women and girls to achieve their full potential.”

Local witnesses testified today about the specific challenges women face including access to childcare, housing needs, lack of flexibility, engrained gender perceptions, and gender discrimination. Congresswoman Mimi Walters (CA-45), another member of the working group, also took part in the hearing.

“Women occupy and will continue to occupy half of the formal workforce and take on at least half, if not more, of the unpaid work in the home,” testified T. VanHook, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Tucson. “They are contributing to the national economy while serving as the primary caregivers of their families, in many cases sandwiched between generations, running between jobs, juggling responsibilities, and balancing family budgets on a shoestring.”

“As a business school professor these past 17 years I have had opportunities to teach in my classes about gender equality and the dangers of sexist behaviors and to both men and women students and to work with and mentor a number of my female students on their careers,” said Dr. Joseph Broschak, Executive Director for the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, Associate Professor of Management and Organizations and a McClelland Fellow at the University of Arizona.  “I’ve found there is a thirst for mentorship given there are often relatively few women faculty to whom women students can turn and relatively few men who are willing to be mentors.”

“I was told when I joined the military-I wanted to be an MP (military police)-that women weren’t allowed to be MPs,” said Tanya Gustavsson, Administrative Assistant at Diamond Ventures and a former correctional officer for the Department of Justice. “At that time you were told what to do. You did not speak as a woman. And unfortunately that is still going on today.”

“On many measures, American women’s progress in recent decades has been remarkable: Women are increasingly assuming positions of power in business, government, academia, and the non-profit sector. Yet talk with any group of American women and you will hear a more complicated picture,” said Ashley B. Carter, Grassroots Director of the Independent Women’s Forum. “Statistics show that millions of women cannot find jobs or are working part-time when they would prefer full-time. Others are working full-time, but wish they could afford to stay home with their young children, scale back, or at least have more flexibility than their current job provides.”