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Career Mentor Newsletter November

by Jillian Scannell

Career Mentor Newsletter November

By: Jasma Stein, Career Mentor Network Coordinator

The quarterly Career Mentor Newsletter offers resources, tools, and updates about Vermont Works for Women to mentors in our Career Mentor Network. This quarter’s newsletter highlights two challenges facing women economic success in Vermont—childcare and the female entrepreneurship gap—and shares some information on what’s being done at the state and local level to tackle these barriers. We’re also introducing “CMN Success Stories” featuring quotes from mentees and mentors in the program.

Gender Equity and Childcare

Affordable, accessible childcare is a significant barrier to women’s participation in the workforce across the Unites States. In Vermont, the impact of childcare on working women is no different and proves a longstanding challenge to gender equity.

In 2016, Change the Story reported, “Women are significantly more likely than men to live in poverty or economic insecurity – in large part because of the disproportionate rates at which they have primary responsibility for the care of minor children.” Again in 2019, Change the Story came back finding, “Women were 4 times more likely than men to cite family and/or personal obligations as reasons for working part-time—and 7 times more likely to cite childcare problems.”

During the pandemic, disruptions to childcare had an adverse effect on women’s workforce participation in Vermont. The payroll processing company Gusto reported in 2022 that Vermont ranked among the top states in the country where disruptions to childcare and in-person schooling during Omicron pushed women to leave their jobs. In the single month of January 2022, 40% of Vermont households saw disruptions in childcare and women were 4% more likely than men to have left their jobs. This has cost to women.

Nearly two years later, women are returning to the workforce in promising numbers. Yet, childcare remains a key concern to gender pay parity and women’s professional advancement


What’s being done at the state level?

Act 76 – Child Care for Working Families Act
On June 20, 2023, Vermont legislature enacted the Child Care for Working Families Act, approving $125 million in annual investment to support childcare across the state.

The Equal Pay Compact, Vermont Commission on Women
A voluntary online pledge for Vermont employers to indicate in good faith their commitment to closing the gender pay gap, agreeing to “implement tangible action steps to improve gender equity in their workplace.” VCW offers several strategies related childcare, including:

  • Offer onsite or subsidized child care
  • Offer childcare referral or back up childcare services
  • Allow parents to bring young babies to work
  • Provide a comfortable and convenient private location or workstation for breastfeeding and pumping
  • Offer paid family leave
  • Support employees who use sick and safe days to care for family members
  • Create programs that enable employee flexibility and schedule control, such as flex time, job sharing, and telecommuting


Gender Equity and Entrepreneurship

The Career Mentor Network has experienced an increasing number of participants reaching out for support around starting or scaling their small businesses — echoing national trends. Gusto reports nearly half of start-ups in 2021 were formed by women, a 29% increase from 2019. At the same time, women are entering this sector at a disadvantage. Below are a few common barriers cited as challenges to female entrepreneurship:

  • Funding: Women in entrepreneurship face a funding disparity. Only 2.3% of venture capital goes to women entrepreneurs, leading to unequal financial backing and capital investments to work with. Only 2% of women-owned startups generate $1 million in funding, while men are 3.5 times more likely to meet this figure.
  • Gendered Bias: Gender stereotypes, discrimination, and sexism, and lack of investor or customer support hinder women-run business.
  • Government support: Women in entrepreneurship often lack access to government programs, including business incubators, accelerators, and grants.
  • Female role models: The underrepresented number of women in entrepreneurship mean women lack access to female role models who can provide industry-specific guidance.


What’s being done at the state level?

The Equal Pay Compact, Vermont Commission on Women
A voluntary online pledge for Vermont employers to indicate in good faith their commitment to closing the gender pay gap, agreeing to “implement tangible action steps to improve gender equity in their workplace. VCW offers several strategies related to female entrepreneurship, including:

  • Seek gender diversity among investment partners
  • Showcase successful women entrepreneurs
  • Design incubators and co-working spaces to support entrepreneurs with families
  • Support programs that provide education and resources to women starting businesses


What’s being done at the local level?

Female Founders Speaker Series, VCET
Since 2016, the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) has offered a speaker series designed to amplify the stories of female identifying entrepreneurs. Held at Vermont Hotel in Burlington, each series features a selection of speakers centered around a specific industry or topic. Examples include, “Restaurateurs,” “Forestry and Wood Products,” “Building a Global Brand in Vermont,” and “Energy.” Check out their full list of past speakers and learn how to attend future events.

Vermont Womenpreneurs
A VT organization dedicated to creating a platform for female entrepreneurs to convene, connect, collaborate, and celebrate their work. Vermont Homepreneurs offers events, workshops, and digital content around empowering women’s entrepreneurship.


Career Mentor Network Success Stories

“What I think is so great about this program is that whether you’re a mentor or mentee, everyone gets something out of this experience. My mentee was motivated and gave me hope for our future generations. She needed little support as she’s doing so much right. I simply provided her with the encouragement she needed to feel more confident in her decisions. As mentors, it’s important to understand that those who need mentorship can be in all phases of life, and we’re here to meet them where they’re at.” – Mentor, 2023


“I sought out a mentor from VWW because I was looking to transition away from my small non-profit and needed some advice from a woman in the community and career workforce. I was struggling as an early career professional to navigate the next step. My mentor was extraordinarily kind and quick in discerning what were my main problems to focus on, as well as asking me outright how best she could be of help. I felt right away that I could trust her, and voluntarily asked for homework. She helped me to develop a purpose statement to help achieve not just my near-term goals but make hard decisions moving forward.” – Mentee, 2023