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Unlocking the Full Potential of Our Economy by Investing in Women and Girls

Eleven years ago today, the United States joined nations around the world in establishing the International Day of the Girl to acknowledge the struggles facing young girls and strengthen their commitment to expanding resources and opportunities to help girls and women succeed and thrive. Today, First Lady Jill Biden hosted an event to honor 15 girls in the U.S. who are leading change by tackling issues impacting their communities. The Biden Administration is committed to empowering women and girls, unlocking opportunity, and delivering equity and dignity to all Americans.

At today’s White House ceremony, inventor Gitanjali Rao was recognized for her patent-pending device to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) nominated her earlier this year as a young female entrepreneur spearheading change in her community by tackling critical issues with innovation.

At the Department of Commerce, Secretary Raimondo is championing equitable access to education, equal pay, and access to jobs and job training so that when girls grow up, they can choose their path and lead the workforce of the future. Recruiting, training, and retaining a large, skilled, diverse workforce is critical to the U.S. economy.

Specifically, Commerce is working to build investments in STEM and entrepreneurship, invest in a care economy and an Internet for all, and train both the U.S. and global workforce.

Women in Construction

Last year, Secretary Raimondo announced the Million Women in Construction initiative, which aims to build a new inclusive American workforce by bringing more women into the construction industry. As part of the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and CHIPS and Science Act, the Department of Commerce is investing more than $100 billion to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing and bring high-speed internet to every American. These projects are expected to create up to 200,000 construction jobs. However, there are currently not enough trained tradespeople to meet the demand. And while women account for more than half of the U.S. population, they make up less than 10 percent of trade jobs.

Global Empowerment

As part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), Commerce launched the IPEF Upskilling Initiativeprimarily for women and girlsin support of the objectives of IPEF to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth while advancing greater competitiveness in the region. 

The International Trade Administration’s Women’s Global Trade Empowerment program serves women entrepreneurs who wish to boldly grow their business into new markets and facilitate the necessary skills to build an export strategy and develop valuable business connections.

Advancing Women’s Entrepreneurship

Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) initiative was created to focus on the fast-expanding minority women entrepreneur population as a revenue generator for families, communities, and the nation. Minority women are the fastest-growing population of entrepreneurs. While many women are making tremendous strides in business, they still face obstacles as entrepreneurs. MBDA advocates for women’s economic empowerment by supporting efforts to advance women’s equality and promote women’s economic advancement programming. The vision of EWOC is to ensure women worldwide reach their economic potential.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Women's Entrepreneurship initiative is a community-focused program that uplifts women and taps their potential to increase equity, job creation, and economic prosperity through their ideas, insights, and innovations. This program offers advice from women who have made it, and resources to help women protect their IP, fund their ideas, and expand their network of mentors and advisors.  


The U.S. Census Bureau provides critical data on women including earnings, education, fields of occupation, the number of women in the U.S. workforce, and the percentage of women in STEM-related areas.

Economic Development

With equity as the leading investment priority, the Commerce Department’s U.S. Economic and Development Administration is committed to extending the promise of American prosperity through funding opportunities to historically underrepresented groups. This includes investing in initiatives designed to generate new economic opportunities for women in the United States.

Building Investments in STEM

Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. Secretary Raimondo has called on colleges and universities to triple the number of graduates in semiconductor-related fields, including engineering. The U.S. science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce is crucial to America’s innovative capacity and global competitiveness. Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are committed to increasing girls and women in STEM-related fields.

Care Economy

The country needs more workers – including women – to deliver on the President’s bold agenda and unlock the full potential of our economy. And equipping families with access to affordable, accessible, reliable, and high-quality childcare is core to getting more women into the workforce and making America competitive. Secretary Raimondo has called for sweeping investments in the care economy to tackle our country’s caregiving crisis head-on, including investing in a care infrastructure and supporting the care workforce.

Investing in Broadband

High-quality, affordable broadband is necessary for education, jobs, and healthcare. However, millions and millions of Americans, including minorities and women, don’t have broadband access. The Commerce Department is making strong investments in the nation’s broadband infrastructure. A highly trained, diverse workforce that can do their jobs will be essential to connecting everyone in America to high-speed internet. Through the Internet for All initiative, Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is administering funding to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories to deploy affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service to everyone in America. 

The Biden-Harris Administration also announced today a series of new actions that build on the Administration’s investment in young people and expand opportunities for women and girls at home and abroad. Click here for the full fact sheet.

For more information on the International Day of the Girl, see President Biden’s 2023 national proclamation.

This blog is part of a series by the Commerce Department’s Office of Public Affairs and Office of Public Engagement which highlights events and initiatives that inform the public about the Department’s important work and priorities as outlined in the Department’s 2022–2026 Strategic Plan.