According to TIME magazine's Jay Newton-Small, the only adults left in Washington are women. The article details a bipartisan coalition that worked diligently behind the scenes to end the government shutdown. It included Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Maryland's own Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D). Why then, when you turned on your television, did you only see the men of Congress; Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), or House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)? They took most of the time in front of cameras, they were the talking heads on the weekly broadcasts, and in the end, they were the ones who took the credit for ending the shutdown that took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy. Yet, behind the scenes and on a daily basis, it was the women in Washington who worked tirelessly to end the shutdown and put a end to its deleterious economic impact.
The role that women have played in the American economy has always been vital and important. This is especially true in the African-American community, where the median income is $24,000 less than whites.† Among all groups, the number of women in the workforce has continued to increase over the years, in part because of the fact that in these economic times, it is almost impossible to operate as a one-income family. We have been called upon, not only to bolster the household income, but also to manage household budgets that are often stretched to the limit by the demands of raising our families. We have done so while also improving our skills and knowledge in the workforce so that we can become members of our local, state and national governments, and assume the roles of doctors, lawyers and judges, like Maryland's First Lady or Speaker Pro Tem of the Maryland House of Delegates. While we are making these achievements, we are not only helping to support our households, but also adding to the economic growth of this country.
There is still a lot to be done, and we need to continue the progress and not be discouraged. The role that women play, not just in the American economy, but in economies around the world, is critical. Christine Lagard now heads the International Monetary Fund and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany plays a vital and important role in European economic decisions. I know there are many other women making economic decisions on the world stage as well as in their households. I encourage all women to continue in those roles and any other positions they chose.
† U.S. Census
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.