Category Archives: Working Women

Is Technology Widening the Gender Gap? Automation and the Future of Female Employment

Source: Mariya Brussevich, Era Dabla-Norris, Salma Khalid, IMF Working Paper No. 19/91, May 2019

From the abstract:
Using individual level data on task composition at work for 30 advanced and emerging economies, we find that women, on average, perform more routine tasks than men/tasks that are more prone to automation. To quantify the impact on jobs, we relate data on task composition at work to occupation level estimates of probability of automation, controlling for a rich set of individual characteristics (e.g., education, age, literacy and numeracy skills). Our results indicate that female workers are at a significantly higher risk for displacement by automation than male workers, with 11 percent of the female workforce at high risk of being automated given the current state of technology, albeit with significant cross-country heterogeneity. The probability of automation is lower for younger cohorts of women, and for those in managerial positions.

INSIGHT: ‘You Look Mahvelous!’ Avoiding Appearance-Based Discrimination at Work

Source: Linda B. Dwoskin, Melissa Bergman Squire, Bloomberg Law, June 28, 2019

Employers that allow gender-based stereotypes to affect employment decisions or, in some jurisdictions, impose gender-based grooming codes risk violating anti-discrimination laws. Dechert attorneys discuss appearance-based discrimination framed as race or sex discrimination and provides practical advice for employers to avoid liability.

More Single Mothers Means More Need For Protection

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 13, June 26, 2019
(subscription required)

You have several open customer service positions and receive a recommendation for a candidate through your employee referral program. When describing the potential candidate’s work experience, the referring employee also mentions the individual is a single mother. Afterwards, a member of the hiring team says he doesn’t want to bother interviewing the potential candidate because “single mothers are always a problem.”

Attitudes like this can put your organization at risk. Depending on the jurisdiction, single parents may be protected by statutes prohibiting discrimination based on marital status, parental status or caregiving responsibilities. Sex-based discrimination protections may also come into play….

Has Higher Education Solved the Problem? Examining the Gender Wage Gap of Recent College Graduates Entering the Workplace

Source: Xueqing Fan, Michael Sturman, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published June 19, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While there has been extensive historical evidence demonstrating the gender wage gap, gains made by women in terms of higher education may be reducing the gap among those recently entering the workforce. Education is a major determinant of wage, and women are often outpacing men now in terms of educational achievement. Thus, the question remains of whether these gains in education have reduced or even eliminated gender wage inequality. This study examines the gender wage difference among new graduates with the same education level using the most recent data from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort. Despite the hope that greater representation of women with higher degrees would reduce or eliminate the gender wage gap for new entrants to the labor market, our results show that newly graduated men with an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree still earn significantly higher wages than newly graduated women with a same degree. Thus, in what we argue is a highly conservative test for the presence of the gender wage gap, the evidence strongly suggests that the wage gap is a continued and pervasive problem in the modern workplace.

Why do employers keep providing the same ineffective sexual harassment training?

Source: Rebecca Grant, Quartz, June 19, 2019

….Training isn’t the only place most sexual harassment programs fall short. Lilia Cortina, a professor of psychology, women’s studies, & management at the University of Michigan, has found that many organizations flounder in how they handle complaints. Cortina’s research reveals that companies’ formal grievance systems fail for four reasons: they are rarely used; people who file complaints regularly face retaliation; retaliation has negative long-term career and health consequences; and formal complaints rarely lead to the removal of the harasser. Filing a complaint can do more harm than good, if it does anything at all.

Given that current efforts to address workplace sexual harassment are clearly not working, what does an effective program look like? Cortina said the starting point has to be a commitment from leadership to meaningful cultural change, rather than checking a box or looking for a quick fix….

…..When harassment is identified, it’s important that discipline is consistent and does not give the appearance of undue favor. For example, the EEOC found that companies that successfully created a culture of non-harassment “acknowledged and owned” complaints, instead of attempting to bury them, and were willing to hold high-ranking and highly-valued employees accountable. In addition, studies show that harassment thrives in workplaces where there’s a stark power imbalance between men and women, so hiring and promoting more women, and compensating them equitably, can undermine the root causes.

There may always be people who abuse their power and act badly in opportunistic situations, but that doesn’t mean organizations are powerless to stop them…..

The Problem With HR

Source: Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic, July 2019

For 30 years, we’ve trusted human-resources departments to prevent and address workplace sexual harassment. How’s that working out?

…The experience left me with a question: If HR is such a vital component of American business, its tentacles reaching deeply into many spheres of employees’ work lives, how did it miss the kind of sexual harassment at the center of the #MeToo movement? And given that it did, why are companies still putting so much faith in HR? I returned to these questions many times over the course of the following year, interviewing workplace experts, lawyers, management consultants, and workers in the field.

Finally, I realized I had it all wrong. The simple and unpalatable truth is that HR isn’t bad at dealing with sexual harassment. HR is actually very good at it…..

…..But the real reason many workers don’t love human resources is that while the department often presents itself as functioning like a union—the open door for worker complaints, the updates on valuable new benefits—it is not a union. In a strong job market, HR is the soul of generosity, making employees feel valued and significant. But should the economy change, or should management decide to go in another direction, HR can just as quickly become assassin as friend…..

….If employers judged HR departments by their ability to prevent sexual harassment, most would have gotten a failing grade long ago. What HR is actually responsible for—one of the central ways the department “adds value” to a company—is serving as the first line of defense against a sexual-harassment lawsuit. These two goals are clearly aligned, but if the past year has taught us anything, it’s that you can achieve the latter without doing much of anything at all about the former…..

How American Women Are Amplifying Their Political Power

Source: Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, June 25, 2019

Alicia Garza’s phone never stops ringing. The Black Lives Matter co-founder now leads Supermajority, a women’s political-training organization, along with a roster of female organizers including Cecile Richards, the former Planned Parenthood Federation of America president. The two have dedicated their efforts to building women’s political power in the U.S., a mandate that means near-constant communication with interested folks across the country. ….

Related:
Breaking Barriers: Women Defining Leadership
Source: Aspen Ideas Festival, Session, 2019

In every field — business, politics, science, tech, and sport — women are breaking barriers in unprecedented numbers. Women CEOs frequently outpace their male counterparts in delivering profits, women are at the forefront of scientific research (CRISPR, anyone?), and women coaches exceed expectations for leading teams … of men. As more women have taken up posts in DC than in any time in our history, are women experiencing a “moment,” or have the pressures for gender equality and compensation finally achieved results? Remarkable leaders from diverse backgrounds share their views on what it means to break barriers.

Why Women Now
Source: Aspen Ideas Festival, Session, 2019

In the post #MeToo era, the potential to shift women’s political, economic, and philanthropic power is profound. How will this activism be harnessed to fundamentally change our nation’s course? What is the agenda for women going into the 2020 elections? Can a broader consensus in support of women’s issues be mobilized? Fundamental concepts of diversity and inclusion are being crafted in whole new ways by corporate leaders who are responding to cultural pressures and market opportunities. Where will this momentum for an inclusive and diverse agenda lead and who will lead it?

19th Amendment: A century of pioneering women in US politics

Source: Kelly-Leigh Cooper, BBC, June 3, 2019

One hundred years ago – on 4 June 1919 – Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the US constitution guaranteeing the right of American women to vote.

The amendment was the product of decades of campaigning and slow progress since the first convention for women’s rights was held in Seneca Falls in 1848.

In the years since, women had been thrown in jail for voting illegally, organised pickets across the country and chained themselves to the White House demanding representation.

Rights were granted in a handful of, mostly western, states over the years but resistance remained. This amendment, officially ratified in 1920, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex on a national level.

In 2019 the US has more women in national politics than ever before, but still falls well short of equality. These are the pioneers who have made history in the century since…..

Gender Differences in Politician Persistence

Source: Melanie Wasserman, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Anderson School of Management, November 2018, Posted: May 9, 2019

From the abstract:
Why are women underrepresented in politics? This paper documents gender differences in the career paths of novice politicians by studying the persistence of candidates after they win or lose elections. I track the political trajectories of over 11,000 candidates in local California elections and use a regression discontinuity approach. Losing an election causes 50 percent more attrition among female than male candidates: an electoral loss causes men to be 16 percentage points less likely to run again within the next four years, whereas the drop for women is 25 percentage points. Yet the gender gap in persistence depends on the setting: I find no evidence of a gap among candidates for high female representation offices or among more experienced candidates. These results are inconsistent with behavioral explanations of women’s differential attrition. Instead, the results suggest that in low information environments, voters may penalize novice female politicians, which deters women from running again. I discuss the implications of the results for the gender gap in officeholding.