Shoshana Weissmann spoke to college women and professionals in Washington, DC about how women are being held back because of over-regulation.
After hearing the sad story about a florist in Louisiana who was not able to make ends meet simply because she could not get a license to practice as a florist in the state, Shoshana set out to find out more about licensing and why it was holding people back.
As she learned more, she started to notice a disturbing trend – state and local licensing laws often affect the industries that are predominantly women. From hair stylists to teachers or nurses, nail artists, and florists, whether intentional or not, state and local licensing laws are hurting women.
“We always want people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, but we need to give them bootstraps.”
She then pointed out how this over-regulation affects military spouses as well. A strong majority of our military is male, therefore, most military spouses are women. These women are expected to move frequently because of their spouses’ service. But, if they work in an industry that requires a license, most licenses are only accepted in a specific state. Therefore, when they move to a new state, they have to go through that state’s licensing process to start working again. This puts them at a disadvantage to support their families.
But, Shoshana was quick to point out that national licensing is not a good solution to this problem. In her work at R Street Institute, a policy think tank in DC, she shared that fighting state and local over-regulation is much easier than national over-regulation.
Shoshana encouraged the women in the room to ask questions and get involved when they see something that doesn’t make sense to them. She said she used to believe that our elected officials understood what they were doing so there was no reason to question it, because there must be some greater reason for their policies that she couldn’t see. But after digging into this issue more and more, she started to see that wasn’t really the case. She shared that in this case licensing and regulations are simply government’s way of protecting the established industry.
As a social media specialist, Shoshana has learned that platforms such as Twitter can be very helpful in influencing over-regulation and licensing reform at the state and local levels. By leveraging these tools accessible to everyone, she has ensured her voice is heard and has made progress with states around the country, sometimes shaming companies and local governments which ultimately stops them from creating even more regulation that would in turn harm women.
Shoshana Weissmann is the digital media specialist at the R Street Institute, managing the institute’s social media and email marketing. She also works on occupational licensing reform and other policy issues. Before working at the R Street Institute, she worked at Opportunity Lives and America Rising PAC. Shoshana has been featured in MavPAC’s “Future 40” list, Red Alert Politics’ “30 Under 30” list, and in 2012, was the youngest person on the District of Columbia Republican Committee’s “35 Under 35” list.
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