Women and Technology. For the past two years the Task Force, under the
leadership of Assemblywoman Millman, has focused on issues related to achieving equality for women in the
workplace. This year the Task Force, along with the Committees on Governmental Operations and on Labor,
the Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education and the Legislative Commission
on Science and Technology, sponsored three Roundtables on Women and Technology: in Utica on March
20, 2003; Albany on April 15, 2003; and New York City on October 9, 2003. The round tables brought
together experts from educational institutions, computer and technology industries, policy organizations and
the not-for-profit sector to discuss the gender gap in science and technology and how to increase women’s
participation in these fields.
Research has shown that although women and girls have made encouraging and impressive gains in
science fields, especially at the high school and college level, women still receive a relatively small
percentage of computer and engineering degrees, are still under-represented in the technology workforce,
and still earn less than men in these fields. With future economic growth in the state coming from areas such
as biotechnology, new media, computer software and hardware development, New York will need a
technology-savvy workforce with the participation of all its citizens, and the continued under-representation of
women in these fields risks continued disparity in income between men and women.
Participation in the round tables has been phenomenal, and we have learned a tremendous amount about the
innovative, creative programs in many different sectors to encourage girls and women to enter and persist in
science and technology fields. The Task Force, along with the other Committees and Commissions involved,
is exploring legislation to encourage further development in this area.
Equal Pay. Every Spring advocates for equal pay mark Equal Pay Day,
representing the day when women’s wages catch up to men’s wages for the previous year. Women earn only
76 cents for every dollar earned by men. Equal Pay Day this year fell on April 15th, and as noted above, the Task
Force along with four other legislative committees and commissions sponsored a round table on Women and Technology, subtitled
"Promoting Equal Pay and Gender Equity" and featuring a presentation on equal pay issues. In addition,
the Assembly passed a seven-bill pay equity legislative package and a legislative resolution urging Congress
to pass federal pay equity legislation.
Nontraditional Employment. Part of the strategy for achieving equal pay is to break
down the stereotypes that classify certain jobs as "women’s work" or "men’s work" and
act as barriers to women entering nontraditional but well-paying careers in areas such as computers,
engineering and the skilled trades. Assemblywoman Millman has sponsored legislation to encourage
women’s participation in nontraditional fields, defined as occupations in which individuals from one gender
make up 25% or less of the total numbers of workers in that occupation. The Nontraditional Occupation Act
(A.4999; Millman) would establish a grant program to promote the
recruitment, placement and retention of individuals in occupations where they are currently under-represented.
A.5068; Millman (passed Assembly) addresses the pay gap for
women transitioning from welfare to work by requiring social services districts to emphasize training for
employment in sustainable wage jobs, and to promote nontraditional work opportunities for individuals
participating in public assistance programs.
Women-owned Businesses. In 2002, there were almost half a million
women-owned businesses in New York, accounting for 28% of all privately held firms in the state.
Women-owned firms in New York generated nearly $59.5 billion in sales annually. State contracts can be an
important developmental opportunity for small businesses, and it is crucial that the state improve its outreach
to emerging woman and minority-owned businesses.
Article 15-A of the Executive Law, establishing the state’s program to assist minority and women-owned
businesses in securing state contracts, was due to expire in December of 2003. In light of the pending
expiration of the law, a number of Assembly entities including the Task Force on Women’s Issues, the
Committee on Governmental Operations, the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions,
the Committee on Small Business, the Black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Legislative Caucus and the
Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force held a roundtable in New York City on May 30, 2003, which was well
attended by trade groups, business organizations, and minority and women business owners, who
shared their experiences and suggestions for the reform of the law.
Assemblywoman Joan Millman (right) with Carol Linn, Coordinator of Special Projects and Policy
Analysis, Brooklyn Public Library, and Dr. Susan Merritt, Dean of the School of Computer Science
and Information Systems, Pace University, at the New York City round table on Women and Technology,
The Task Force considered four bills this past year related to the expiration of Article 15-A and aimed at
improving the state’s outreach efforts:
A.7233-a; Destito; co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Millman
extends the provisions of Article 15-A until 2018, and adds the Urban Development Corporation and its
subsidiaries to the list of state agencies that must comply with the article’s provisions. This bill was
passed by both houses and signed into law by the governor.
A.9057; Towns; co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Millman
requires enhanced monitoring and reporting on the progress of small and minority and women-owned
businesses in securing state service and construction contracts. This bill was passed by both houses
and signed into law by the governor.
A.6750-a; Millman would require the State Comptroller to
conduct an audit and review of the Article 15-A program, as well as a disparity study of the availability and
utilization of minority and women-owned firms. The Assembly passed this bill, but the Senate did not.
A.6749; Millman would establish a permanent funding stream
for the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development within the Department of Economic
The Task Force plans to continue to monitor this area, advocate for zealous implementation of the Article
15-A program by state agencies and authorities, and look for ways to further assist women-owned businesses.
Cell Phone Program. In conjunction with Women’s History Month in March
2003, Assemblywoman Millman collected over 300 used cell phones for victims of domestic violence. The
phones were presented to Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes for distribution to women in need.
"Tragically, domestic violence still affects thousands of women," said Assemblywoman Millman.
"The phones will provide 300 women with a measure of safety they did not previously have."
The Task Force would like to thank all of you who participated in our round tables and other activities and
provided input and support for our legislation. We look forward to continuing to work on women’s issues during
the coming legislative session, and encourage you to contact us with your ideas and concerns.
Assemblywoman Joan Millman (center) joins Assembly Members RoAnn Destito and William Scarborough
moderating the Albany Roundtable on Women and Technology, April, 2003.