Category Archives: Working Women

Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Source: Suzanne Hultin, LegisBrief, Vol . 26, No. 17, May 2018

The recent wave of sexual harassment allegations against media, sports moguls, politicians and people of power over the past year has prompted many state legislatures to address how they are protecting their state’s workers. Many state legislatures are looking to go beyond federal regulations to prevent workplace sexual harassment.

Low-Wage Jobs Held Primarily By Women Will Grow the Most Over the Next Decade

Source: National Women’s Law Center, Fact Sheet, August 13, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that personal care aides, combined food preparation and serving workers (including fast food workers), registered nurses, home health aides, and software applications developers will be the five occupations with the most job growth between 2016 and 2026. Among these five occupations, all except software applications developers are female-dominated, with workforces that are at least 60 percent women—and personal care aides, home health aides, and combined food preparation and serving workers have median wages of less than $11.50 per hour. Women of color—especially Black women—are particularly overrepresented in these three low-wage, high-growth jobs, which often also lack benefits and pose particular challenges for women with caregiving responsibilities. View our fact sheet to learn more.

Women and Men in the Low-Wage Workforce, State by State

Source: National Women’s Law Center, July 20, 2018

Nationwide, women are nearly two-thirds of the nearly 24 million workers in low-wage jobs that typically pay $11.50 per hour or less—and women outnumber men in the low-wage workforce in every state and the District of Columbia. In all but one state (Nevada), women make up at least 60 percent of the low-wage workforce, and women are more than two-thirds of the low-wage workforce in 29 states. View our interactive map to compare women’s and men’s representation in the low-wage workforce in your state.

Women and the Minimum Wage, State by State

Source: National Women’s Law Center, August 23, 2018

Women represent more than six in ten minimum wage workers in the U.S., and close to three-quarters of minimum wage workers in some states. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 per hour, but in most states, the minimum wage still leaves a full-time worker with two children near or below the poverty level. See our interactive map to view the share of minimum wage workers in your state who are women.

How HR and Judges Made It Almost Impossible for Victims of Sexual Harassment to Win in Court

Source: Lauren B. Edelman, Harvard Business Review, August 22, 2018

…. Programs, policies, and training alone do not stop sexual harassment and abuse. My book Working Law — based on surveys of organizations, interviews with HR professionals, and content analyses of both human resources journals and federal court opinions — shows that sexual harassment policies and procedures can comfortably coexist in organizational cultures where women are regularly subjected to demeaning commentary, unwanted physical contact, and even threats or sexual assault. In other words, someone can be sexually harassed without recourse in an organization with plenty of rules on the books. ….

…. But one factor that’s often left out of this conversation is the role the courts have played in shielding companies from legal liability. When a case does manage to reach the legal system, courts will often side with a company due to the mere presence of an official policy, regardless of whether the policy is actually effective in addressing harassment or abuse. I call these policies “symbolic structures,” and they often do more to protect employers from lawsuits than they do to protect employees from harassment. ….

The Effects of Sexism on American Women: The Role of Norms vs. Discrimination

Source: Kerwin Kofi Charles, Jonathan Guryan, Jessica Pan, University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2018-56, July 12, 2018

From the abstract:
We study how reported sexism in the population affects American women. Fixed effects and TSLS estimates show that higher prevailing sexism where she was born (background sexism) and where she currently lives (residential sexism) both lower a woman’s wages, labor force participation and ages of marriage and childbearing. We argue that background sexism affects outcomes through the influence of previously internalized norms, and that estimated associations regarding specific percentiles and male versus female sexism suggest that residential sexism affects labor market outcomes through prejudice-based discrimination by men, and non-labor market outcomes through the influence of current norms of other women.

Whether a Husband Identifies as a Breadwinner Depends on Whether He Respects His Wife’s Career — Not on How Much She Earns

Source: Erin Reid, Harvard Business Review, August 15, 2018

…. My research suggests that while some men fall back on the classic identity of a breadwinner, others respond to this tension by adopting the modern identity of what I call a “breadsharer.” Research on dual-career couples often focuses on how spouses balance their earnings or work hours, but my research showed that these groups of men differed most fundamentally in how they perceived the social status of their wives’ work — its worth and prestige in society. This perception in turn shaped how men described the financial value of their wives’ work. In other words, wages are far more than just dollars: As sociologist Viviana Zelizer has eloquently detailed, money is imbued with meaning, and this meaning shapes how we regard and treat that money. My research reveals how men’s evaluations of the prestige and social worth of their wives’ work shaped how they positioned their wives’ earnings — namely in ways that diminished or that elevated their financial value. ….

Related:
Straying from breadwinning: Status and money in men’s interpretations of their wives’ work arrangements
Erin M. Reid, gender, Work & Organization, Online First, published: 28 June 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The male breadwinner identity is culturally associated with career success for men, particularly in the professions, but today, few married men’s lives easily map onto this identity. This study analyses interviews with 42 married men employed in US offices of a consulting firm to examine first, how men construct their identities as spouses in relation to their wives’ work arrangements and second, how men navigate straying from the male breadwinner identity. While some men interpreted their wives’ work in ways that supported personal claims on the breadwinner identity, others did so in ways that supported a more egalitarian identity, labelled here breadsharer. These groups differed in how they interpreted the social status and financial value of their wives’ work, as well as in how they approached their own careers. Breadsharers were aware they strayed from the expected breadwinner identity and crafted alternative claims on status. These findings advance theory on gender, work, family and masculinity.

Pay Equity: What You Don’t Do Can Hurt You

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 35 Issue 16, August 6, 2018
(subscription required)

$2.66 million. That’s the amount of money the University of Denver has agreed to pay to settle claims it paid full female professors in its law school less than their male counterparts.

Despite warnings that pay equity was high on the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s priority list, the institution of higher education allegedly paid female full professors in its Sturm College of Law an average of $20,000 less per year than male full professors for substantially equal work under similar working conditions. The salary disparity wasn’t confined to just a portion of the female full professors. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the salaries of all seven female full professors in the school were below the average salary paid to men.

Second Circuit Decision in Sexual Harassment Case Shows Heightened Risk for Health Care Employers

Source: Frank C. Morris, Jr., Jonathan K. Hoerner, and Katherine Smith, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 1, Summer 2018
(subscription required)

Health care employers should be aware that a recent holding from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit may indicate that courts and juries are beginning to weigh in on the dramatic sexual harassment developments, such as the #MeToo and #Time’sUp movements addressing workplace harassment, by holding employers to heightened standards, including as to “last chance” agreements. In MacCluskey v. University of Connecticut Health Center ( MacCluskey), the Second Circuit upheld a jury verdict awarding plaintiff Mindy MacCluskey $125,000 in damages after finding that she was subject to a hostile work environment where she was repeatedly sexually harassed by a coworker, dentist Michael Young, who was subject to a last-chance agreement from 10 years earlier. The bottom line in the MacCluskey holding is that it is not enough for employers to merely maintain a policy prohibiting sexual harassment, they must also take reasonable care to enforce the policy.

Intentional Invisibility: Professional Women and the Navigation of Workplace Constraints

Source: Swethaa Ballakrishnen, Priya Fielding-Singh, Devon Magliozzi, Sociological Perspectives, First Published June 25, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Drawing on an in-depth case study at a large nonprofit organization, we find, in line with previous scholarship, that women professionals continue to face biased expectations at work and at home. We leverage data from interviews and participant observation to identify a new strategy that women use to navigate professional constraints created by the second shift and workplace double binds: “intentional invisibility.” Intentional invisibility refers to a set of risk-averse, conflict-avoidant strategies that women professionals in our study employ to feel authentic, manage competing expectations in the office, and balance work and familial responsibilities. We find women across the organization reporting intentionally remaining behind the scenes in attempts to avoid backlash and maintain a professional status quo. While intentional invisibility allows women to successfully navigate gender unequal professional and personal landscapes, it could simultaneously present an additional challenge to career advancement.

Related:
Why some women prefer ‘intentional invisibility’ at work
Source: Melissa De Witte, Futurity, July 30, 2018