The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. is contributing $600,000 over the next two years to a project aimed at making sure women have equal access to leadership roles at all levels of American society.

The Horsham, Pa.-based firm announced that it is making the contribution as the presenting sponsor of Vision 2020, a national initiative launched today by Drexel University College of Medicine's Institute for Women's Health and Leadership. Penn Mutual's sponsorship of Vision 2020 is not its first effort to encourage equality for women. Through its WORTH program, the firm encourages women to take charge of their financial futures.

Vision 2020's goal is to complete the work of the suffragists and bring greater equality for women. Although American women have made momentous strides since 1920, when the 19th Amendment giving them the right to vote was ratified, they continue to face substantial roadblocks. Although 59% of all post-high school degrees go to women and 60% of all wives with MBAs out-earn their husbands, women hold far fewer leadership positions than men and as a result have considerably less influence on many key areas of American life. While women represent 51% of the U.S. population, they occupy fewer than 18% of the seats in Congress. Despite the fact that they hold 43% of the nation's wealth and constitute nearly 45% of the American labor force, women lead only 3% of the Fortune 500 companies and roughly 3% of the Fortune 1000.

Vision 2020 will focus on setting measurable objectives to advance equality for women by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Two women from each state and the District of Columbia will be chosen to participate in the project.

Vision 2020's advisory board includes Penn Mutual's Eileen McDonnell, executive vice president and chief marketing officer; journalists Anna Quindlen and Cokie Roberts; philanthropist Doris Buffett; college presidents emerita Johnnetta Cole (Spelman) and Mary Patterson McPherson (Bryn Mawr); ABA president Carolyn Lamm; CEOs Lynn Elsenhans (Sunoco) and Janet Dillione (Siemens IT division); JAMA editor-in-chief Dr. Catherine DeAngelis; Olympic gold-medalist Dawn Staley; and others.