Category Archives: Working Women

Stalking In The Workplace

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 6, March 18, 2019
(subscription required)

An employee reports that a co-worker is making her uncomfortable. Despite repeatedly telling him she is not interested in any type of relationship with him, he regularly leaves presents on her desk. When you ask him about his behavior, he says they are just small things and he gives them to her only because he is sure they are something she will like. If you find yourself in a similar situation, your alarm bells should go off. Giving of unwanted presents is a characteristic often found in stalking situations….

Scaling Down Inequality: Rating Scales, Gender Bias, and the Architecture of Evaluation

Source: Lauren A. Rivera, András Tilcsik, American Sociological Review, Early View, March 12, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Quantitative performance ratings are ubiquitous in modern organizations—from businesses to universities—yet there is substantial evidence of bias against women in such ratings. This study examines how gender inequalities in evaluations depend on the design of the tools used to judge merit. Exploiting a quasi-natural experiment at a large North American university, we found that the number of scale points used in faculty teaching evaluations—whether instructors were rated on a scale of 6 versus a scale of 10—significantly affected the size of the gender gap in evaluations in the most male-dominated fields. A survey experiment, which presented all participants with an identical lecture transcript but randomly varied instructor gender and the number of scale points, replicated this finding and suggested that the number of scale points affects the extent to which gender stereotypes of brilliance are expressed in quantitative ratings. These results highlight how seemingly minor technical aspects of performance ratings can have a major effect on the evaluation of men and women. Our findings thus contribute to a growing body of work on organizational practices that reduce workplace inequalities and the sociological literature on how rating systems—rather than being neutral instruments—shape the distribution of rewards in organizations.

#MeToo whistleblowing is upending century-old legal precedent demanding loyalty to the boss

Source: Elizabeth C. Tippett, The Conversation, March 5, 2019

…. While researching a book on the duty of loyalty, I realized that the #MeToo movement isn’t merely a rift in the ordinary order of workplace relationships in the United States. It is part a larger legal and cultural shift that has been in the works for decades.

The duty of loyalty is the idea that you “cannot bite the hand that feeds you and insist on staying for future banquets,” as an American labor arbitrator wrote in 1972.

It’s a bedrock principle that courts apply to employment disputes, even if you didn’t sign a contract promising to keep an employer’s secrets.

The duty of loyalty is why employers can demand that you sign a confidentiality agreement at the start of employment. It’s why workers can’t download their employer’s trade secrets on a thumb drive and use it in their new job. And why companies are able to persuade judges to enforce noncompete agreements. ….

Forced Arbitration Clauses in the #MeToo Era

Source: National Women’s Law Center, Fact Sheet, February 2019

People from all walks of life – from hotel housekeepers to famous actresses – are stepping forward to confront sexual harassment and violence. Yet too often, forced arbitration clauses buried in everyday contracts help companies cover up sexual harassment and violence. These forced arbitration clauses prevent survivors from fighting back. Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of many employment contracts and strip away our right to challenge wrongdoing in court. In private arbitration, companies often choose and pay the arbitrator. There is no judge, no jury, no public record, and no meaningful chance to appeal the arbitrator’s decision – even if the arbitrator gets the facts wrong or ignores the law.

The Gender Disparity in Climbing Local Government’s Ladder

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, January 28, 2019

Women are less likely than men to aspire for and occupy top jobs. They’re also less optimistic about their chances of moving up at all.

…. Late last year, National Research Center, Inc., released data it had collected over the last five years from 20,000 local government workers in more than 40 jurisdictions. Its survey reveals some gender disparities: 39 percent of men rated their opportunities for promotion as excellent or good, compared to only 29 percent of women. And 49 percent of men rated their opportunities for career growth as excellent or good, compared to just 43 percent of women. ….

Uneven Patterns of Inequality: An Audit Analysis of Hiring-Related Practices by Gendered and Classed Contexts

Source: Jill E Yavorsky, Social Forces, Advance Articles, Published: January 18, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Despite women’s uneven entrances into male-dominated occupations, limited scholarship has examined whether and how employers in different occupational classes unevenly discriminate against women during early hiring practices. This article argues that intersecting gendered and classed features of occupations simultaneously shape hiring-related practices and generate uneven patterns of inequality. Using data derived from comparative white-collar (N = 3,044 résumés) and working-class (N = 3,258 résumés) correspondence audits and content-coded analyses of more than 3,000 job advertisements, the author analyzes early hiring practices among employers across two gendered occupational dimensions: (1) sex composition (male- or female-dominated jobs) and (2) gender stereotyping (masculinized or feminized jobs, based on the attributes that employers emphasize in job advertisements). Broadly, findings suggest a polarization of early sorting mechanisms in which discrimination against female applicants is concentrated in male-dominated and masculinized working-class jobs, whereas discrimination against male applicants at early job-access points is more widespread, occurring in female-dominated and feminized jobs in both white-collar and working-class contexts. Interestingly, discrimination further compounds for male and female applicants—depending on the classed context—when these occupational dimensions align in the same gendered direction (e.g., male-dominated jobs that also have masculinized job advertisements). These findings have implications for the study of gender and work inequality and indicate the importance of a multidimensional approach to hiring-related inequality.

Treading Water: The Current Challenges of Women’s Work

Source: Shilpa Phadke and Diana Boesch, Center for American Progress, January 18, 2019

…. This column reviews how women’s work is segmented and undervalued; how workers at the margins—such as domestic workers, farm laborers, part-time workers, and gig economy workers—face persistent barriers and inequality; and how policymakers must prioritize centering workers’ voices and holistic needs and experiences as they craft meaningful economic policy. While this column does not detail the myriad ways in which women often struggle to maintain their economic security to the detriment of their health, it is important to emphasize that women do not live their lives in silos, and access to a range of programs and policies, such as comprehensive reproductive health services, as well as access to affordable education and skills-based learning, are critical to women’s economic success. ….

Working Women versus Employers: An Insider’s View

Source: Anne Ladky, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
(subscription required)

In her book, Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide, Lane Windham compellingly illuminates the context of organizing in that decade and dispels long-held myths. She makes clear that it was not a lack of organizing that resulted in the decline in unionization in the following decade but the aggressive refusal of companies to tolerate union organizing activity—or any campaigns that they perceived could lead to unionization—aided by government failures. The experiences of those of us in what has been called the working women’s movement bear out her arguments.

I am not a historian—my comments are aimed at connecting what I was experiencing as an organizer with Windham’s narrative. I was organizing in the 1970s around women’s employment issues as a member of the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and then as a member of Women Employed (WE). I joined the staff of Women Employed in 1977, became its executive director in 1985, and served in that position for thirty-two years. WE, whose founding is noted in the book’s second chapter, is now a forty-five-year-old organization whose mission is to break down barriers to women’s economic advancement and promote workplace fairness. It has a staff of twenty; it is locally based with national policy reach. The organization has opened hundreds of occupations to women, helped outlaw and reduce sexual harassment, did some of the very first work on family-friendly workplace policies, made affirmative action a dramatically effective tool for women’s advancement, and much more. Today, its priorities are to change workplace policies and practices that affect low-paid working women, expand work-family policies, and enable more low-income women to enter and succeed in higher education. While the organization’s priorities have changed to address evolving barriers facing low-paid female workers, the organization’s mission is unchanged since its founding in 1973….

Related:
Tangled Up in Race: Working-Class Politics and the Ongoing Economic Divide
Source: Dan Graff, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
(subscription required)

The title of Lane Windham’s impressive new exploration of union organizing in the 1970s, Knocking on Labor’s Door, immediately calls to mind Bob Dylan’s hit single “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Whether the allusion is intended or not, the song’s release date resonates, since 1973 — marked by the oil crisis and stagflation — is widely considered among historians to be the year of reckoning for the New Deal order, the US labor movement, and the heyday of American liberalism. But where Dylan’s song is a dirge, with its mournful narrator accepting “the long black cloud” announcing death, Windham’s monograph exudes an opposite tone. By uncovering stories of worker-activists who organized with a purpose and a passion reminiscent of the 1930s, Windham rejects the notion of the 1970s as “the last days of the working class” (3)….

Labor Feminism Meets Institutional Sexism
Source: Katherine Turk, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
(subscription required)

Lane Windham’s Knocking on Labor’s Door offers important contributions to labor and working-class history and to the emerging literature on American capitalism. Most important, the book reminds us that the 1970s did not mark a gloomy descent into neoliberalism; rather, those years were shot through with electrifying possibilities.

My comments will reflect on how Knocking on Labor’s Door handles the identity politics of sex and class. The book offers striking insights into the political economy of the 1970s; in particular, it sheds new light on employers’ efforts to protect their profits as they navigated a globalizing landscape. But in blaming those employers when union campaigns led by women and men of color fell short, Windham downplays other factors — especially the roadblocks thrown up by wage-earning white men. Laboring women had to aim their campaigns for equity at their employers as well as at their union “brothers.” Aware of the distinct yet related challenges they faced everywhere they worked, many women experimented with and blended new and well-established forms of activism. The formal labor movement thus offers too narrow a lens to capture the range of outcomes that working people — women in particular — imagined and pursued as they fought the baked-in inequities that shaped workplaces and unions alike…..

I Hear You Knockin’. . . . But You Can’t Come In
Source: Alex Lichtenstein, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
(subscription required)

Knocking on Labor’s Door is an impressive achievement. By combing through National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) records and revisiting some crucial but forgotten labor struggles from the 1970s, Lane Windham seeks to refute pessimists like Jefferson Cowie, who regard that decade as ringing the death knell of an empowered American working class. Specifically, Windham wants to call our attention to the energized struggles of African American, women, and immigrant workers. Newly emboldened by the previous decade’s rights revolutions, these members of the working class sought to join and reinvigorate the flagging American labor movement that had previously done much to exclude them. They indeed were “knocking at labor’s door.”

But did that door open? With all due respect to Windham’s ability to uncover the dynamics of previously ignored or overlooked struggles of this era, I want to provoke discussion by laying out an alternative narrative, based as much as possible on the compelling evidence of labor ferment she herself has unearthed and brought to life in the pages of this book.

Here is my alternative narrative:…

Author’s Response
Source: Lane Windham, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
(subscription required)

I am grateful to Anne Ladky, Dan Graff, Katherine Turk, and Alex Lichtenstein for their carefully considered and provocative analyses of Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide. In writing the book, I aimed to open up a fresh discussion of the workers’ movement in the pivotal 1970s and also to offer new approaches for understanding working people’s struggles today. These accomplished scholars and activists clearly have embraced both undertakings. I would like to also thank the Newberry Library for hosting this forum and the journal Labor for allowing us to further our dialogue here….

Women in State Legislatures for 2019

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, November 27, 2018

NOTE: This is preliminary post-election information, which is subject to change due to recounts, resignations, appointments and special elections.

Approximately 2,090 women will serve in the 50 state legislatures in 2019. Women will make up 28.3 percent of all state legislators nationwide.

This represents a significant increase from the 2018 session’s ratio of 25.3 percent, and the most women elected at one time.

Information about women in legislative leadership for 2019 coming soon.