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The recovery of women is about the recovery of the nation. It's about the recovery of all. Welcome to Political. I'm Ron Suslow for the last year. Nearly every aspect of our lives has been touched in some way by the covid-19 pandemic. From social distancing to illness to housing insecurity and job losses, the coronavirus has impacted nearly every person, but especially women.


And I wanted to understand why women and women of color in particular are seeing such disproportionately high unemployment.


What can this secession, as it's being called? Show us about the underlying issues facing women in the workforce. And more broadly, what does that mean for the health of the economy at large?


And how will it impact our prospects for a full and roaring recovery? So today I've asked Victoria DeFrancesco Soto to help us understand the shape of this crisis and what we need to do to respond. Victoria is Assistant Dean at the University of Texas at Austin, LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. She was named one of the top 12 scholars in the country by a diverse magazine. Victoria's social scientific areas of expertize include campaigns and elections, immigration, Latinos, women, racial and ethnic minority politics, as well as political psychology.


Underlying all of her research interests is the applicability of high quality, rigorous research to on the ground policy realities. Victoria, I'm so happy you're here for this conversation today.


Thank you for inviting me to unpack this very important issue that we're facing today.


So I know this is just one of the many issues you spend your time thinking about, but I thought we'd start with a little bit of background on one of the key aspects of our current covid induced economic recession, which is that it's impacting women more acutely. So can you speak to why there's a bigger burden on women in general to frame up this conversation?




So let me start with the fact that traditionally recessions affect men in the workplace.


But what we saw with the covid recession was something that we've never seen before, a disproportionate impact on women, because what the shutdowns did is that they affected the service industry. They affected leisure and hospitality places where people congregate. Right. And so as a result of the shutdowns and social distancing, all of that had to stop literally overnight. And we know that women are over indexed in the hospitality, the leisure, the service sector industry that two thirds of women.


So that very sudden impact hit women the hardest. So that is the base for what we have now come to know as the session. And then in addition to that, what we saw was women losing their jobs. They just they don't have a job anymore because the restaurants are closed, the casinos are closed.


But what started to happen month by month by month was that women who had not lost their jobs started to leave the workforce by their own volition because they couldn't make it work. These are women with children. These are women maybe with caretaker responsibilities for older parents. So what we saw here was a loss of employment as a result of, you know, jobs just disappearing, but also women having to make the hard choice of, you know, do I do I stay in this job but not attend to my kids while they're own online school?


Or do I make the sacrifice for my family?


Right. So can you help us understand that in the context of the entire economy suffering as a result of it?


We need to understand that over the last couple of decades, women have increasingly gained a foothold in in the workplace. Right. So women now when when I look out into my classrooms and when I'm teaching, the majority of students are female. So we've seen this this increase in women gaining in terms of education, in terms of slowly but steadily closing the the wage gap and, you know, rising in terms of the corporate ladder.


So we had gotten to a point where we're making important gains and this very serious setback as a result of that, she says, it took us back to where run right now we are where we were in 1988.


So just over the course of one year, we have seen the clock turn back 30 years in terms of our labor force participation, just overall participation of women in the workforce.




Wow. Yeah, OK, one of the dimensions to this that you've written a lot about is child care. Typically we think about child care is only one component. Of the conversation around work or worse, it's an afterthought, but it's actually much more central to this problem. So can you help us understand the child care challenges that families were facing before covid and how they've changed during the pandemic? So there is a situation that was really bad before the pandemic and the pandemic just was disastrous, it went from bad to worse.


We know that seven out of 10 moms work.


So that means that the role of child care is very important in child care, also including, you know, K through fourth, fifth grade right before your you're leaving your kid alone.


So child care disappeared overnight for, you know, most of these working women. We know that during the pandemic, about 50 percent of child care centers closed. So we had this very anemic system going in to the pandemic. And let me let me describe what was anemic about it. First of all, it was the affordability aspect. It costs as much to send an infant to daycare as it does to send a kid to college. Right.


And for college to at least have 18 years to set aside money and have it in the 529. You don't have that for infants. So it is exorbitantly expensive. And you can see where this is very much of a burden for lower as families. Right.


You mentioned you've used cIass. I just want to define that for our listeners, you mean. Sure, sure.


The social science nurdin socio economic status. The second piece is the accessibility. And this one really hits everyone because there's just a dearth of high quality child care. You know, I was on a waiting list for child care when when my children were born.


Most women have to be on waiting lists. Luckily, I have the resources to figure it out.


I bring in family, we make it work. I have flexibility. But the other compounding factor for women who may not have those resources is also that you don't have childcare available beyond eight to six. So what do you do with women who are working overnight shifts?


What do you do with families who have to work on the weekends? So this was going into the pandemic. And so we are in a very in a very bad place. But being the optimist that I am, I think that this uncovering of the state of child care in America is refocusing our attention to say we've got to get this right.


How have these changes to child care impacted essential workers? You know, as as we were cheering them on with our pots and pans, can you talk about what this looked like in everyday life for essential workers as the country was rallying behind them?


Their lived experience was was a whole lot different for so many of these folks who are on the front lines, had families that they had to care for if they were small children. They were facing the the fact that many of their child care centers had been closed. If they had older children, they were facing the reality that school had gone completely online.


So they were lucky our frontline workers were not the ones who were impacted by the job loss. Right.


So they were the lucky ones are frontline workers, did not lose their jobs, but they were forced to make some really tough decisions about how to care for their family and then how to balance that out. So for those who are able to balance that out, I do want to bring up the fact of the stress and the psychological weight that is put on our front line workers. That is put on all of these folks who are trying to multitask with very few resources.


So I think this is going to be one of the the medium to long term effects of I'm just going to say it. I think there's going to be PTSD from the stress of managing all of all of these stressors. So you've talked a bit about the different challenges faced by women, childcare specifically across income levels, but I want to talk about the December unemployment numbers. It was six point seven percent overall, but black women 20 and over were at eight point four percent.


Latino women 20 and over were at nine point one percent. And white women 20 and over were at five point seven percent. And so I want to get your take on the compounding challenges for women across racial divides in the economy and also what those compounding differences look like at a lower socioeconomic status level versus higher socioeconomic status level in the workplace.


And I really appreciate you disaggregating the unemployment numbers because, you know, every month at the beginning of the month, we hear the jobs numbers, we hear the unemployment numbers, and we either go, oh, my God, that's so bad, or, oh, my gosh, that's getting better. But in December, as you well pointed out, while at first sight it may seem like we're on the path to recovery, things or things are getting better when you disaggregate it by race.


And then in particular, that intersection of race and gender, things are still in a very bad place for women of color. Women of color, again, are overrepresented in the service sector, in the sectors that saw the greatest job loss at the very top of the pandemic.


These are women that we know that within households of color. What was the latest statistic? I saw something like over half have lost an income within these households of color. So it is very important, I think always. But in particular, where when we're in this crisis moment to do the numbers and disaggregate out, because numbers should be the the foundation for helping us figure out how we chart a path to recovery. So when we're thinking about how do we get back to not just to our pre pandemic levels, but to improve upon where we were and see a more equitable society where there's economic opportunity for all, we need to take a good, hard look at these numbers where black and Latinos and Native American women are still feeling a lot of pain and recognizing that a lot of their jobs aren't going to be coming back and lower.


These women have experienced changes in the workplace that actually compound in different ways than women who've experienced changes in the workplace at a higher level. You know, you talked a little bit about how actually it's become it's become a little bit easier for women in hierarchs jobs to work more remotely when they have jobs than where that's where that's possible as well. But jobs at the lower end of the spectrum don't have that option. And so can you talk about how maybe this might be an exacerbating effect of the pandemic?


Right. So for our lower six women, we know, you know, there's a lot of data out there. I know the White Women Vote survey done in November of twenty twenty showed that even before the pandemic, over half of women of color were worried that they wouldn't be able to pay rent, that they wouldn't have enough money to cover their expenses. So that was before the pandemic.


And so what happens is once we're in the pandemic, they are losing their jobs and then they're seeing that they don't have, you know, that there may not be the opportunity to get those jobs back, whereas while higher SS women are also feeling the pain of covid in terms of trying to to to manage family demands and work demands all at once without the normal supports that we have, we don't see that economic hit so that the economic piece remains stable for hire X women.


So while our as our lower six women who are already in a precarious position are going to further spiral down, and my real worry is what do we do for these women that their jobs will no longer be there when the economy, quote unquote, bounces back? So you wrote about the Pricket models in Washington, D.C. and in San Antonio. Can you explain those models for our listeners and why they're so effective? Right.


So pre-K models and select cities offer children the opportunity to go to kindergarten, to pre-K four and in some cases pre-K three free of charge, just like you would go to kindergarten or first grade or second grade or whatever.


In Washington, D.C., we had the first ever universal pre-K program. So it doesn't matter what you earn as long as you live within the city limits of Washington, D.C., you can send your kid to to pre-K for free, just as you would k through 12.


San Antonio had a little bit of a different model based on a initiative.


They had a ballot initiative where there was, I think, a one eighth of a cent something to that effect raise in taxes and sales taxes. There was the opportunity to fund the the neediest kids, those of lower SES to go to pre-K for and then also providing extra resources to different programs to expand out their current resources.


So, you know, I think what San Antonio did is it realized it didn't have the political capital or the financial capital to do a full universal pre-K, but it was able to figure out what they could do to help the neediest. I think that, you know, let's be honest, many of our political landscapes are mixed or they lean a little bit more conservative. So there isn't that political capital to do a universal pre-K system. That doesn't mean you can't do it.


I think it's figuring out what the right formula is.


So let's start talking about the bigger picture that we're going to have to deal with these formulas in. And I think we probably ought to start with the fourth industrial revolution. Right. So first of all, what is that? What do you mean by the fourth industrial revolution? What is it? How will it impact the state of workers and female workers in particular? We'll start there.


The fourth industrial revolution is about technology driven change. It's about revolutionizing our lives. Just as you know, the industrial revolution, you know, a century or so ago.


So it's the magnitude of change that's going to impact our lives. And in going back to how this is going to impact women, our society, our economy, let's start with the fact that two thirds, vast majority of women are in the service sector. So they were the ones that were the worst hit by the pandemic. But the thing is, their jobs are already on the chopping block, going in to the recession and looking at that fourth industrial revolution about a decade or a decade or two out, we knew that these were the jobs that were going to disappear.


I mean, just think about your experience going into a restaurant or when you go to the airport and you and you buy a sandwich and and a lot of it is self-service now. So these these service jobs will be disappearing. What the Kovik pandemic did is it essentially precipitated the job loss, the jobs that were going to just be sloughed off in the next 10, 15 years just kind of went in one fell swoop. Economists have predicted that about 30 to 40 percent of these jobs that were lost in this past year are just not going to come back.


So as we're looking at the fourth industrial revolution and instead of going, oh, man, we lost these jobs, this is really bad. We need to take this moment and say, OK, we've lost these jobs. We see an increase in automation, more technological advancements. How can we pair up women who are in the service sector jobs and also lower SES men and propel them forward to thrive? So you mentioned the the estimate, about 40 percent of jobs lost to covid might not come back.


How well have we prepared workers in general for these changes and and women in particular, so not well enough?


I think there have been some important steps that have been taken that we need to build upon. One example is preparing women and preparing the workforce in general in in the occupations that are going to be most in need. A lot of these are in the medical profession, in health care. And what we've seen is this rise of an institutionalization of the stackable degrees. So you go and you become a dental hygienist and from there, maybe you do office management and you stack these degrees.


And this is really where I want to give props to the community college system. I think that as we move forward, we need to really put the community college system back into the center and understand the essential educational services that they provide to folks, because not everyone is going to go to college.


Some people don't want to go to college. Some people, for whatever reason, can't go to college. So how can we best support them? And within this community college, Malibran is what's termed the wraparound services model, where you provide the students who are going child care services, whether that's moms or dads, they got to leave their kids somewhere because how are they going to learn to better themselves? Also, financial skills, models, emotional well-being models, family centered models, because it's about the whole person thriving, not just that one individual.




Right. And it sounds like it leads to a much more practical general value in the workplace as opposed to high degrees of specialization. Is that accurate?


It's specialization in areas that are needed most. OK, so like I said, in the health care professions, we really see a need there. Another area that is is being looked at right now, in particular for women, is in the trades is apprenticeships. So baby boomers are the ones who traditionally fill our apprenticeship. Jobs are welders, are plumbers. They're aging out. And so these are positions where you can make sixty seventy thousand dollars, a good middle class earning, middle class living.


And so women do not tend to migrate to these jobs. So what we've seen are a couple of programs that directly target women and indirectly targeting women. They're able to come into these trades. There's a lot to be done here, right, in terms of the socialization of bringing women into this male dominated trade. But I think that this is another area that is really ripe for growth is in the apprenticeships as well as the stackable degrees.


So can you give us a better sense of what the jobs are that are at risk of being automated? I think you mentioned this, but women currently fill 58 percent of the jobs that economists think are at risk for becoming automated. But what what are those jobs? Because I'd like to know whether there's specific categories of soon to be automated jobs that are more likely to be filled by women. And and how should we be thinking about preparing women and girls for more sustainable and stable jobs in light?


Yeah. So, again, the service sector going back to the service sector, your your restaurants, your servers, for example, also in terms of cleaning, a lot of cleaning can be automated as well.


So thinking about these jobs and when we we look at these women providing them a menu of options from which to choose. And I think that we should look at this in terms of a multi-year lifecycle model. So I think that we need to think about our little girls who are coming up in our little boys as well, and what are the skills that we need to provide them so that they can thrive in the fourth industrial revolution in the in the white paper I did for the YWCA, we talked quite a bit about the STEM pipeline.


And we know that while women may start off in math and enjoying math and driving in math, by the time they get to college, we see a pretty steep drop off rate in terms of STEM. So in thinking about how we prepare our future leaders, our future, the future of work, quite literally, we need to think about those guardrails and getting them into the STEM field, because in this technological future that we're looking at, we need that.


I was just going to ask why you think we see that drop off so sharply at the college level.


So I think that there are.


A couple of factors, I think one of them is stereotype threat, and there's been, you know, a lot of research done on stereotype threat that people are affected, their performance is affected by the stereotypes that exist about them. So the stereotype that women aren't good at math, even though someone is innately good at math, when you sit down in the testing room, you've got that stereotype threat in the back of your mind and that can suppress your results.


We say we see the same thing with racial stereotype threat, one of the reasons why racial and ethnic minorities don't perform as well on standardized tests. So that's one piece of it. The other piece is the lack of mentorship of not seeing people who look like you as women. You see the number of of professors of leaders in the STEM field. While it is improving and we are seeing more gender parity, it is still very male heavy. So I think those are two of the biggies in addition to the lack of guardrails as as they're coming up in their middle school and high school years.


OK, I interrupted your answer about preparing. So that was STEM, which was one of your points. What was where were you going next?


So the other piece to look at is once women are in in high school, providing them the chance to pick what they want to do because, you know, there is the college pipeline option.


And so we need to fortify that. But we also need to provide on ramps to women who at this point in their life, are not ready to go on to college. So whether that is through the stackable degree route or through the apprenticeship route. So getting them at that pivot point in high school and leading them into a trajectory. So I think we should not view college or no college as the only two options. Are there going to college or you're going into the workforce?


We need to be more intentional. And the options that we provide, all of our high school graduates are all of our graduates. And then I also want us to not forget about mid career women, the women who had been working in the service industry or in factories for the last 20, 30 years because of automation. Their jobs are no longer around. So we also need an intentional workforce program for them as well.


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Speaking of the workforce, I want to come back to this for a moment, because there were underlying issues that women in the workplace faced before the pandemic, and these have been exacerbated by the disruption it's brought to so many aspects of our lives. Can you can you speak to where we were before and what covid has laid bare in this specific domain, as in every other domain? It has laid bare the skeletal infrastructure that the United States has for supporting its workforce, in particular its female workforce, but a workforce is made up of men and women in a kind of modern day workforce is only as strong as its weakest component.


And so the fact that we aren't supporting our female workforce I think lays bare a fundamental problem with the American economy. And I mean, let's just look at the comparisons between our OECD counterparts, all of these metrics in terms of starting from maternity leave, paid maternity leave to the availability of pre-K, three pre-K for robust child care options run. We're near the bottom of the barrel in every indicator. So, you know, there is a reason why things came crashing down because they were so weak to begin with.


You know, I can't help but think about the Tucker Carlson episode recently and and maternity flight suits, what are some of the changes that need to take place in workplaces as we think about the future of work and in a way that includes women?


So I think we should look at it depending on who we're talking about, so I'm going to I'm going to provide a very rough cut. Keep in mind that within those rough cuts, we can further build that out. But I think when we're talking about professional higher SES women, there's a particular set of needs as compared to lower SES women. And let me start with the higher women women. These are the women who didn't lose their jobs. For the most part, their employers said, OK, work from home will make it work.


But these are the women who have been juggling multiple responsibilities at once. They've been plate spinners and the pandemic just put undue burden on them.


And what has come out and what I've been talking to multiple stakeholders about is the rethinking of the workplace workplace to best support and accommodate women. And I'll give you the example of it of a dear friend of mine who works at a very prestigious agency who has a daughter that's the same age as mine, seven years old.


And I remember how happy she was when she finally convinced her, her superior, to let her work from home every other Friday.


It was like a coup was like, oh, my God, I'm so happy. I can't believe this because there was so much resistance. This was maybe two or three years back.


And now it's it's like, yeah, why aren't we doing this before? And so I think that for women in the workplace and the higher SES and the professional workforce is is institutionalizing and entrenching the flexibility that allows them to thrive and to not have that that constant plate spinning to be able to balance things out a little bit more on their schedule. And I do see that shift. I do see employers, H.R. folks saying, yeah, this does make sense.


We've seen it work this past year. So let's entrench this.


Looking at lower SES women, you know, economically vulnerable women, I think we need to think of a separate set of resources for them because the flexibility, flexibility of workplace isn't as applicable because they are still going into work, whether it's, you know, going into to restaurants or factories or, you know, which is not an option.


You can't you can't do that via Zoom.


Yeah, right. So for them, it's what are the childcare structures that are going to help them? What are the childcare structures that are affordable? Because these are the women that are already the most economically vulnerable. They're the ones who have already lost so much income over that over this past year. So how can we provide them and their families? Because we're talking about families here. When we talk about women, we're talking about kids and we're talking about families.


We're talking about communities. We're talking about our nation.


Yeah. What can we do for them and their families? Right.


OK, so we're talking about families. We're talking about nations. How should we be thinking about all of these issues?


You know, the female future of work and child care as interconnected? And how will our decisions about how to address them or fail to address them impact the economic recovery we're also eager to see?


So I want to start off by stating the fact that the recovery of women is about the recovery of the nation. It's about the recovery of all. And I think, you know, one way to look at child care and and strengthening future of work supports for women and for men is about a return on investment. And so the return on investment is manifold. We start off with when you invest in high quality, affordable child care, the parents are better able to work.


They're not going. And look, there's a ton of data out there not going to throw the data at you. I encourage folks to check out the white paper. I did check out the work of folks who cite all the numbers. But the bottom line is that when you have this reliable child care, people aren't going to miss work. They're not going to be spread thin. They're going to be more effective and efficient members of the economy. So there's that the just the parents are are are doing what they've been employed to do and doing it.


Well, the second piece is children, when they are in these high quality child care environments, are able to, you know, score better on pretty much every metric of development, reading, writing, emotional health, emotional development. And so what? Happens when you have a child that, you know, is developing strongly and all of these areas, they turn out to be an adult that is is thriving and all of these areas. So there's the benefit to the family, the benefit to the child, and then looking at the benefit to the communities.


We also know from research that when you have greater support of children in these higher quality child care programs, you have less crime and communities you have, you know, the money that is saved in terms of having the parents, the children, the communities all developing and all thriving affects everyone.


Right. It's it's I was going to say is it's the tide that lives all boats. But, you know, it just it helps everyone involved. Yeah.


Is is this what you mean when you talk about the dual generational approach?


So the dual gen approach also referred to as the wraparound services approach is where you provide the job training for the parents and then you're also providing the child care for the parents.


So it's related in that we we can't divorce the children's welfare from the parents welfare. We need to view them as a whole. And I think that that is at the core of this all is not siloing of our parents and our children, but understanding that family units go together and they really are the basis of our economy.


Yeah, they really are. But, you know, that seems obvious to anyone who thinks about the health of an individual family. Right. And how well they're doing in life. But for some reason, those differences become sort of it becomes sterilized when you see it in policy research or policy proposals. It's kids or parents. And and we don't tend to look at them as a whole. Why is that?


As someone who who is a political psychologist, I would say that framing is probably a piece of this that I think is is policymakers and and advocates need to do a better job of linking the two. I think that we usually think of education and welfare and health as is a soft policy.


And we think of the economy and finances, numbers and numbers and manufacturing as hard policy.


And you know that they live in different spheres. But it, I think, is incumbent upon us, you, me, your listeners, to start linking the two because they go together. It's so obvious that they do.


So what needs to happen from a broad policy standpoint and if there are specific things you want to dig in to feel free?


So the issue about child care I'm going to focus in on child care is it's one of these issues where Republicans, Democrats actually agree. They agree that it's broken.


I this is a huge problem. Something needs to be done. The differences. Democrats tend to support programmatic supports in the form of Head Start, for example, more more grants, whereas Republicans tend to focus more on the child tax credits and those individual level supports family level supports.


What we just saw in the American rescue plan I thought was very interesting. And bodes well for people meeting in the middle. All right. Democrats didn't get everything they wanted, but neither did Republicans.


But I do think we made a positive impact on the issue of child care and ultimately the economy, which is there providing the child care tax credits. But they are making them available to folks beforehand if they need the cash now, because very low income folks can't just sit there and wait till they get their their refund.


Right. You know, they live paycheck to paycheck. Right. So if you just go with the pure child care tax credit model, you're putting families in a crunch for a number of months.


And what does that do? You can just kind of see where that spirals out. They go to payday lending and that it just looks bad. But if they can request it earlier on, then that is more direct support that they can get to, you know, tide them over. So I think that the rescue plan idea is an important one. I think it's a phenomenal first step. But we do need to, as a nation, think about how we're going to extend out our pre-K, three hour pre-K, four programs, because it's very patchwork at the moment.


And we know that ultimately it's a return on investment. We're educating our women are women are thriving in the workplace, yet they get to a place where they can't really get any further because they don't have that accessibility to the support system they need.


So how can we be thinking about the money spent on childcare and workforce reforms as investments? You talked about this a bit, but what specific returns should we expect if if we're if we're using that as the frame?


So let me start with the future of work. First in the future of work for both men and women, essentially the folks whose jobs are going to disappear in the near future. And I would also include people who are in those low wage jobs but who want to better themselves and who want to find a way to increase their income through those stackable degrees and the apprenticeships. Let's support them by providing the infrastructure to do so in terms of child care, in terms of a financial and in life skills.


And the return on investment here is that they're going to be active members of the labor force. They're going to help our economy grow instead of losing their job and ending up, you know, regrettably on unemployment or on disability and not being able to contribute because there is no place for them, because we haven't provided them the toolkit to take that next step.


And these are not small numbers of workers we're talking about. Now, they off the top of my head, Ron, with women, I know the stats for women better, but probably close to 40 percent or so.


Yeah. OK, so we want to engage individuals, and I think that the the non numeric piece of this is people want to be engaged in the workforce, they want to be productive members of society. They want to work. The problem is that a lot of times there's a mismatch between, you know, what the labor force provides and the skill sets individuals have. So what we need to focus on is better matching that in order to see that return on investment so that there is not as much of a pull on the social safety net and that the social safety net can serve folks who, you know, who do not have an avenue and then let those people just propel our economy forward.


Do you see that as an opportunity for agreement or at least compromise when when when we're thinking about more conservative lawmakers who have a general allergic reaction to the government spending money? When you when we talk about lessening the poor on these social programs, how do you think about that in a in a legislative context?


So the challenge is the agreement of the up front investment to the future of work training.


And I think it just it has to be framed. Right. It has to be negotiated correctly.


And that letting maybe more conservative folks know that the poor on the social safety net will diminish in the short to medium term if an upfront investment in the future of work can be made now, for example. Now, President Biden, when he was vice president under President Obama, spearheaded with the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act. Yes, I think that's what the acronym YOA was. Yeah, I know my alphabet soups in here.


So what we did is it laid a good framework for job training and future of work. It was kind of ignored during the last couple of years. So I'm going to be really interested to see how the Biden administration retakes Iowa and engages in Iowa and maybe combines it with infrastructure, because we know that this is a problem, that while it it you know, it over indexes with people of color, that white folks are also hurting here as well because of, you know, the fourth industrial revolution.


Their jobs are going to be taken away. So let's take something like the Green Revolution or green jobs. Right. There's some resistance among among conservative folks.


But I think that if you couch this in the terms of this is a future of work investment, we're going to be retraining folks and this is going to diminish the pool of folks who may otherwise not not end up with jobs. So some fancy footwork that our political leaders are going to have to do.


I know it's easier said than done, but I do see glimmers of hope.


Well, first, we have to get Republicans interested in legislating to begin with, because right now they're not interested in policy at all. But that is a different conversation more immediately. Victoria, what are some things that people can do on their own in their own workplaces? What are some action items for our listeners who who who want to see these kinds of changes?


You know, they're not they don't have a whole lot of control right now over what Congress does. So let's try to personalize this a little bit.


And I appreciate that, Ron, because I think it is important to not lose sight of our own agency when when we look at D.C., it looks so, so big and remote and obscure.


But, you know, I think let me start from the very, very individual level, which is talk to your H.R. people or talk to your supervisor or talk to your team, because the silver lining to the covid pandemic is that folks are now open to new models. We've been forced to do things in a very different way. So I think that this is the time we get together with our teams. We say let's institutionalize working remotely for X number of days.


Let's institutionalize a mental health day. Let's institutionalize family support networks. Let's take this opportunity right now to have those conversations and to push for action.


So I think at the individual level, it's the first one so good. The second is all politics is local. I really want folks to engage with their local lawmakers and their state lawmakers, because as we were just discussing earlier, Ron San Antonio, D.C., you know, we've seen in Kansas. The pre-K initiatives have have come from city and state initiatives.


So while D.C. sorts itself out, we can look to our local leaders and have a bit more direct engagement with them. So I think that we need to fight this fight on multiple fronts to ensure that our American families have what they need to thrive in it, not just coming out of the recovery, but for a long term is in that individual workspace, in that local level. Talk to your council member, Dr. Alderman. Talk to your state senator or state representative.


And then don't lose sight of engaging DC because we need to keep bugging them.


Yeah, I. I totally agree. But I do think it's really useful to remind people of the immediate vectors to change that they have in their own local governments because they're so often overlooked. Most people, you know, they can name the president, they might be able to name their representative. They can never name their local their local officials. And actually, that's where so much of the governing that matters really gets done. And it's an opportunity to create change far faster than you would imagine.


So I appreciate you bringing that up. Sorry, what else? I was going to say.


Amen. OK, OK, so what potential post covid changes are you most excited to see play out.


I sound like a broken record, but I am most excited to see a strengthening of the child care system. And I think that to your point, Ryan, about the the the most immediate vectors of change are at the local level.


What we do know is that with the rescue plan and discovered relief in general, there's a lot of money coming to states, a lot of money coming to localities. So I'm excited to see how we can leverage that money and target it to the most immediate needs of of child care, you know, of supporting these families that have not been able to make it work because of covid and closures of schools and also supporting the kids who, you know, have been remote learning but not remote learning.


Well, so I think that that's what I'm most excited about, is seeing how this money, which is a substantial bit of money, can be harnessed and put to use at the local level.


So, Victoria, what is one question you don't get asked often or maybe you've never been asked before that you wish you had, that actually has an important answer. So I'm such a talker that even if I'm not, you know, I I think we touched on this, but I'll come back to it because I think it is so important in terms of supporting the workforce, in terms of supporting women and children.


Is that lack of maternity leave where, again, we have the dubious honor of being one of the worst in the in the advanced world. And what I would like to put forward to folks who don't have kids and or who had kids, but we're not working at the time. It's to maybe think of it in terms of dollars and cents that it you know, the money that is spent on early, you know, on infant care is exorbitant. Right.


It's in the tens of thousands of dollars if we're able to provide families, moms, dads that ability to stay home with their child.


Then that's money that otherwise we'd have to fund helped fund for, you know, infant care and special daycare programs. I want us to think about it as an investment that we're investing in. You know, in a woman, a man, you know, dads sometimes stay on the kids. We have put so much time and effort into training this team member and then they have a baby and we don't have support. And a lot of times what ends up happening is they leave.


So let's think more holistically about the economic structure and how families factor into it.


I really like that. And I also I really appreciate your framing of thinking about these things as investments, because that's if you're looking for if there are any remaining Republican lawmakers in Congress. This feels like something it's a winning argument, you know, a winning opportunity for compromise. Well, you know, we'll see what happens. But before I let you go, where can people find you on the Internet or on the airwaves from?


They can find me on MSNBC and Telemundo as well is on Twitter at D-R.


VDS Victoria, thank you so much for being here. Such a pleasure, Ron. Thank you to everyone at home or on the go for listening. If you have any questions or advice for us, you can reach us. As always, a podcast at Politico Dotcom. If you enjoy the show and you find this work meaningful, you can also help us by helping new people find us, by reading and reviewing the show wherever you get your podcasts and make sure you're following us on Twitter and Instagram at Political Ajibade.


I'm Ron Stessel. I'll see you in the next episode.