February 8, 2020
“We are valuable, and we have valuables…”
Designers from across the globe are catching on to something that has frustrated me for some time; on average, men’s pockets are 3 inches deeper than women’s pockets—that is when our clothes have pockets at all. And because women hold as many valuables as men (i.e. phones, wallets, business cards…), we struggle with where to carry things!
Women deserve deep pockets, both figuratively and literally. In researching this topic for the blog, I found that one can garner a sense of GENDER INEQUALITY … BY UNDERSTANDING THE HISTORY OF POCKET INEQUALITY.
Verve: She Said published an article by Chanju Mwanzan entitled The Bewildering and Sexist History of Women’s Pockets, describing how the inequality of pockets can be traced back to at least the middle ages. Mwanzan described “Both men and women in the middle ages lugged around little pouches that were slung from a rope, allowing them to carry any essentials around with them. Then came the 17th century idea of sewing these pouches right into your clothes, enabling the wearer to conceal the items they were carrying and keep them close to their bodies. The pocket was born. However, unlike men’s pockets which were easily accessible and sewn right into the linings of their coats, women still had to rely on having separate pockets that sat underneath their petticoats. As more tight-fitting dresses came into fashion in the late 1700s, the pocket for women basically disappeared. It wasn’t until the 20th century when women began to fight for their place in society that pockets came back—think Suffragette suits that had no less than six pockets. Sadly, the pendulum swung back in the 1950s as men returned from war and women’s roles shifted to raising a family and looking feminine. The days of Rosie the Riveter were over—and the style of women’s dresses meant that women needed to carry a purse to hold the many needs of their family.”
Over the course of the past 50 years women made some progress in the pocket department but it was slow. Julie Sygiel, an entrepreneur and strategy consultant states, “I’m on a quest to deepen women’s pockets by launching the Pockets Project, focused on bringing attention to pocket inequality and designing a line of dresses with deep pockets.” Many other designers including Sarah Greisdorf (Holdette) who launched the Leslie Suit with eight pockets(!) are also changing their designs—creating equity in pocket design between men and women.
The metaphor may be obvious, but it is worth it to delve a bit deeper. While there is some disagreement on the origin of the term “deep pockets,” today it generally understood to mean that a person or institution has substantial wealth. (Merriam-Webster). And based on pay scales around the globe, it is much more often men rather than women who possess these “deep pockets.” On average, women in the United States own a mere 32 cents to every dollar owned by men. According to Inequaltity.org, the global trend towards extreme wealth and income concentration has dramatically strengthened the economic and political power of the overwhelmingly male individuals at the top.
This is more than pay inequity—although that certainly exists. In 2018, a woman working full time, on average, earned 81.6 cents for every dollar a man working full time earned. Additionally, women’s median annual earnings were $9,766 less than men’s, according to the most recent available data from the US Census Bureau (August 2020). And Black women in the United States who work full time are typically paid just 62 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. According to a 2020 study published by Oxfam International “Our economic system was built by rich and powerful men, who continue to make the rules and reap the lion’s share of the benefit. Worldwide men own 50% more wealth than women,” the report notes.
A large percentage of the individuals served by The Fedcap Group are women of color living in poverty. They are working hard to make their place in a world where the odds are stacked against them. But they continue to fight. And The Fedcap Group is fighting alongside them. We are deeply committed to developing solutions to combat not just pay inequity but wealth and opportunity inequity. In our collaboration with Civic Hall Technology Center and merger with Apex Technical Institute, we are strategically positioning our company to help women develop the skills required to succeed in the competitive, technology driven marketplace. We are building the capacity to measure a set of key performance indicators that track our success at ensuring that everyone served by The Fedcap Group leaves having established a savings account and taken courses to become financially literate. And much more.
Our goal is to fundamentally change the future of women’s access to opportunity and wealth—building a community where they have “deep pockets” both in fashion and in life.