San Diego by 2025!

Using San Diego County as a model of progress

McKinsey reports it will take 100 years for women to reach equal representation just in leadership. Yet workplace gender equity can increase San Diego’s productivity by $23 billion in 10 years.

Gender equity will drive San Diego’s economic future. We need a plan.

STEP ONE: Establish benchmarks and metrics for San Diego

The Kim Center is partnering with the University of San Diego Center for Women’s Leadership to produce San Diego County’s first-ever benchmark study on the state of workplace gender equity, resulting in the “Grow With Gender Equity” Report.

Using statistical research, surveys, and interviews, we will examine key beliefs and behaviors in companies and employees across for-profit industries and personal backgrounds.

STEP TWO: Design a community-specific action plan with key local leaders.

Based on the results of the study, the “Grow With Gender Equity” Playbook will outline guidelines and metrics for businesses, organizations, and government entities to achieve success.

STEP THREE: Create the Gender Equity Collaborative (GEC) certification, America’s first standardized metrics for workplace gender equity.

Its role is similar to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal, which helps customers purchase paper made from sustainable sources.

The GEC certification will inform the public about which organizations are truly making gender equity progress. It will also demystify the path toward progress for companies and organizations .

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Where Are We Now?

We conducted an informal focus group to examine what cultural aspects are influencing workplace behaviors that obstruct women’s success.

18 female and 12 male professionals from the for-profit sector responded to our request for interviews, ranging in age from 26 to 75. All had received at least some college education. The ethnic mix was 67% Caucasian, 23% Latino or Latino mix, and 10% East Asian.

We learned that it’s important to be on the lookout for misconceptions and unexamined beliefs about women, from both men and women, that still permeate our workplace cultures and influence behavior that obstructs women’s ability to succeed.

This highlights the need for honest dialogue among women and men, and the importance of asking the right questions.

Each person was asked 25 questions developed specifically for this project, ranging in topics from their current caregiving situations to their awareness of gender equity issues in the workplace.

TOPIC #2: Caregiving and Work/Life Balance
A primary caregiver is someone carries the full or larger share of responsibilities within a family for caring for children, elderly parents, disabled partners, etc.


  1. Did you ever have to decide for one person in your family to be a primary caregiver?
  2. What should the decision be based on?
  3. Do you feel you can balance work and family/caregiving/life?

In most cases, the primary caregivers were women, or responsibilities were said to be shared between parents. Female primary caregivers had given up their jobs because their income had been lower than their husbands’ and less than childcare costs. However, when both partners worked full-time, only women said they were also the primary caregiver.

Katherine described her life as a new mom, working full-time but still doing most of the childcare, as “brutal. I was traveling a lot, schlepping breastmilk through the TSA and they’re making comments, I’m in the (office) bathroom cleaning out the pump and everything. It didn’t even occur to me that there was another option. I just should be sleeping three hours and traveling and working 10 hours a day, and then come home and deal with kids every day. You’re just a total machine.”

A significantly higher percentage of men said they had work/life balance than women, who mostly said that either work wins or balance is a struggle.

Jake pointed out his ability to compartmentalize work from home. “It seems lots of women feel like they can’t or shouldn’t do this.”

If their partner was male, women also often expressed feeling burdened by having to tell their husbands how to participate “equally” in household duties.

Katherine: “I think women are socialized to constantly have this list running in our heads: make baby food, grocery shopping, piano lesson, class trip money every Wednesday… My husband honestly doesn’t think about it all. It’s not that he won’t help but I have to ask. He doesn’t keep that list in his head. And it’s so emotionally taxing to remember all these things.”

Penelope: “When he was working more than I was, he could depend on me to do everything. But now that I’m working more, that dependence does not go in the opposite direction. It takes far more fine tuning and asking, prompting, requesting, reminding.”