Heidi Hartmann

Founder and President
Institute for Women's Policy Research
Purpose Prize Fellow 2006

Informing the policy debates on the impact of Social Security reforms on women

When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita slammed into the Gulf Coast region last year, Dr. Heidi Hartmann, 61, who has long championed research and education as a means to achieve social change, fought back with her tool of choice, an accurate, timely and readable Briefing Paper on the impact of the hurricanes on women in the Gulf Coast. The only report that addressed women’s unique circumstances, it recognized that women – more likely than men to be poor, elderly, or raising children on their own – should have their specific needs addressed in the redevelopment process. Hartmann uses research to inform policy debates, working with Congress and legislatures across the country to support public policies that benefit women, particularly low-income and minority women, helping them achieve dignity and economic independence. Since founding the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in 1987, Hartmann has devoted considerable attention to older women, who live longer than men but earn less. In 2005, Dr. Hartmann launched the Institute’s Women and Social Security Project to focus on reforms that will reduce older women’s poverty and modernize the system to reflect the working – and caregiving – lives of women in the 21st century. Through email and a dedicated website, the project reaches thousands of journalists, policy makers, researchers, advocates, and voters.