Category Archives: Working Women

Employment Protections for Workers Who Are Pregnant or Nursing

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, 2015

Workers in all states and territories are protected by federal employment laws, including the laws described below the map. States may also pass laws that give specific protections and rights to workers, but they may not reduce or limit the protections provided by federal laws. The map shows which U.S. States have laws, statutes and/or interpretative case law that specifically prohibit pregnancy discrimination and/or that mandate support of nursing mothers expressing milk in the workplace.

The Motherhood Wage Penalty and its Determinants: A Public–Private Comparison

Source: Chloé Duvivier, Mathieu Narcy, Labour: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, Vol. 29 Issue 4, December 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We investigate whether public and private sector employees bear a different wage penalty for having children. According to our estimates, the total motherhood wage penalty is much larger in the private than in the public sector. Nevertheless, in both sectors, we find no unexplained penalty once we control for potential determinants of the family pay gap, namely, a reduced labour supply of mothers, child‐related career interruptions, less access to management positions, and adjustments in working conditions. Finally, only child‐related career interruptions play a different role in explaining the motherhood wage penalty in each sector.

Public Sector Unions Promote Economic Security and Equality for Women

Source: Andrea Johnson, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, National Women’s Law Center, November 2015

From the blog post:
At a time when women make up two-thirds of the low-wage workforce and the gender wage gap refuses to die, public sector unions are a beacon of hope for working women. As our new analysis, “Public Sector Unions Promote Economic Security and Equality for Women,” reveals, public sector unions provide much-needed economic security and equality for working women.

Women make up a majority of the public sector workforce, which includes nurses, first responders, teachers, and many other employees whose work is crucial to the health, safety, and prosperity of our communities. Women also make up a majority of union-represented public sector workers. We show that these union-represented women have higher wages and increased participation in employer-based health insurance plans, compared to their non-union-represented counterparts. These women also experience greater equality in wages and health benefits with their male counterparts.

Can We Finish the Revolution? Gender, Work-Family Ideals, and Institutional Constraint

Source: David S. Pedulla, Sarah Thébaud, American Sociological Review, Vol. 80 no. 1, February 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Why has progress toward gender equality in the workplace and at home stalled in recent decades? A growing body of scholarship suggests that persistently gendered workplace norms and policies limit men’s and women’s ability to create gender egalitarian relationships at home. In this article, we build on and extend prior research by examining the extent to which institutional constraints, including workplace policies, affect young, unmarried men’s and women’s preferences for their future work-family arrangements. We also examine how these effects vary across education levels. Drawing on original survey-experimental data, we ask respondents how they would like to structure their future relationships while experimentally manipulating the degree of institutional constraint under which they state their preferences. Two clear patterns emerge. First, as constraints are removed and men and women can opt for an egalitarian relationship, the majority choose this option, regardless of gender or education level. Second, women’s relationship structure preferences are more responsive than men’s to the removal of institutional constraints through supportive work-family policy interventions. These findings shed light on important questions about the role of institutions in shaping work-family preferences, underscoring the notion that seemingly gender-traditional work-family decisions are largely contingent on the constraints of current workplaces.
Do Women Still Care? Cohort Changes in US Women’s Care for the Ill or Disabled
Source: Eliza K. Pavalko, Joseph D. Wolfe, Social Forces, Advance Access, First published online: October 20, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Increases in women’s labor-force participation and the time families spend at work have reduced the time families have available to care for one another. Recent evidence suggests that responses to these challenges vary for different types of care. While time spent on housework has declined, time devoted to care of children has increased. This paper examines cohort changes in another form of unpaid work, care for ill or disabled friends or family members, and assesses the influence of employment, attitudes, and need for care on age and cohort trends in carework. Using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys, we estimate age and cohort differences in carework among women born between 1922 and 1952. We find a decline in overall levels of carework among more recent birth cohorts of women. However, we do not find cohort changes in the probability that women will provide more intense levels of care, defined as nine or more hours of care per week. The amount of illness and disability among family members partially reduces differences between cohorts, but women’s employment and attitudes about work and family do little to clarify changing patterns of care. Overall, our findings suggest that, even after the large-scale social changes of the twentieth century, women will continue to provide carework when necessary. Thus, the real concern for families is not whether ill or disabled members will have care, but rather, whether their careworkers receive the institutional support required to successfully balance paid and unpaid work.

Sexual harassment in the workplace: Despite being illegal, costly, and an affront to dignity, sexual harassment is pervasive and challenging to eliminate

Source: Joni Hersch, IZA World of Labor, October 2015

From the summary:
Workplace sexual harassment is internationally condemned as sex discrimination and a violation of human rights, and more than 75 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting it. Sexual harassment in the workplace increases absenteeism and turnover and lowers workplace productivity and job satisfaction. Yet it remains pervasive and underreported, and neither legislation nor market incentives have been able to eliminate it. Strong workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment, workplace training, and a complaints process that protects workers from retaliation seem to offer the most promise in reducing sexual harassment.

Domestic violence and the workplace: A bargaining guide

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), CUPE Equality, September 2015

From the summary:
Domestic violence reaches into the workplace, with serious consequences.

Domestic violence is any form of violence between intimate partners. The violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse, including financial control, stalking and harassment.

This document is for local union officers, bargaining committee members and other activists who want to prevent domestic violence at work and support members who face domestic violence.

It covers:
The definition of domestic violence and how it’s a workplace issue.
How the union can negotiate protections regarding domestic violence related to the workplace.
Examples of collective agreement language.
A checklist for workplace policy and collective agreement language.

To Fight Inequality, Support Women’s Work

Source: Judith Warner, Center for American Progress, September 29, 2015

From the summary:
…The dual awareness that women’s work serves as an income equalizer among households and that family-friendly policies, by extension, are essential tools in fighting income inequality has been slow to take root on this side of the Atlantic. In recent years, it instead has been fashionable in the United States to point to studies showing that women’s work has actually worsened income inequality. That conversation has focused on “assortative mating”—the practice of people marrying others like them, in this case, others with a similar education level—to argue that the widespread movement of women into the workplace since the 1970s has brought high-earning men and women together into even more high-earning households in an entirely new way.

This report will argue that this line of reasoning is misleading and—worse—pernicious: It is the latest in a set of destructive attitudes that have kept the United States from moving forward with the rest of the industrialized world in adopting policies that support women’s employment….

The Historical Roots of American Domestic Worker Organizing Run Deep

Source: Jake Blumgart, In These Times, Working in These Times blog, September 21, 2015

Domestic workers and their advocates have been making an increasing number of headlines since 2010, when New York became the first state to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Guaranteeing overtime and time off, such legislation has spread to four other states and is being fought for in many more. But organizing around domestic work has been ongoing since at least the 1930s, an often forgotten corner of the labor movement. …