Jennifer Klein, advisor on women’s issues to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, discussed how these issues are at stake in the current presidential race in a campus conversation Thursday night.
Yale Students for Hillary, Yale College Democrats and the Women’s Center co-hosted the Thursday event, which was titled “Women’s Issues in the 2016 Election.” During the talk, Klein, who served as deputy and senior advisor in the Office of Global Women’s Issues during Clinton’s time as secretary of state, told a crowd of 30 students how and why Clinton’s stances on gender equality — at both domestic and international levels — make her a better fit for the presidency.
The decision to collectively host Klein was due to the three groups’ mutual aim of holding a discussion on women’s issues in the election, said Rita Wang ’19, political-action coordinator for Yale Women’s Center.
“Klein is one of [Clinton’s] closest advisors domestically and internationally,” said Will McGrew ’18, vice president of Yale Students for Hillary. “We want to make the case on why [Clinton] is an important candidate for issues related to women and try to get Yalies involved.”
Klein said Clinton has espoused the values of “respect, dignity and opportunity and inclusion for all” in her policies as first lady and secretary of state, and would continue to do if elected president. She added that while Clinton’s status as a woman gives her firsthand experience with problems facing women, especially in the workplace and politics, no voter should vote for Clinton simply because of her gender.
Wage inequality across genders stems from outright discrimination, women’s obligations as caregivers and occupational segregation, the phenomenon wherein jobs historically held by women pay less and thus contributes strongly to women earning less than men overall, Klein said. She added that while the first two could be addressed through anti-discrimination laws and paid maternity leave, occupational segregation requires more extensive reform, such as raising wages in jobs traditionally held by women, such as child care and home care workers.
Klein noted that women entering jobs outside those traditional areas doesn’t solve the problem of wage inequality.
“As more women enter a field, wages depress [in that field],” Klein pointed out. “Women who ask for raises are seen as aggressive rather than advocating for themselves, which men are seen as doing.”
The policy-heavy event also discussed sex trafficking. Klein, answering a question from the audience, said any solution to the problem will require intervention on both domestic and international scales, adding that Clinton has addressed sex trafficking in her political career.
Klein mentioned intersectional issues in her conversation as well. According to Klein, Clinton said that equal pay alone would not solve the equality problem. Paid maternity leave combined with equal pay would be necessary, said Klein. Klein also highlighted inequalities among minimum wage workers, noting how two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and how the tip minimum wage disproportionately harms women of color.
“We should eliminate the tipped minimum wage,” Klein said.
Klein continued to note that improving child care was a central point in women’s issues during this election. Klein said that employers should guarantee up to 12 weeks paid family and medical leave, and no family should spend “more than 10 percent of their income on quality child care.” Additionally, politicians should improve the quality of early child care by “raising pay for education providers,” and by making preschool mandatory at age four nationwide, she said.
Klein called some of the comments made by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about Clinton, such as “she doesn’t have the stamina” and “she doesn’t look presidential,” sexist. She added that she is surprised that someone could make this type of public remark while still remaining in the presidential race.
“The event went really well. A lot of our members came out but a lot of students we hadn’t seen at our events came out as well,” said Makayla Haussler ’19, communications director of the Yale College Democrats. “We want to build a coalition of students who work together to elect Hillary.”