Category Archives: Working Women

Black Women in the Labor Force

Source: Joan Farrelly-Harrigan, U.S. Department of Labor Blog, February 26, 2016

As Black History Month comes to a close and Women’s History Month begins, it’s a good time to take a look at the progress we’ve made toward equality in the workplace for black women and the challenges they still face.

We’ve undoubtedly made substantial progress over the past few decades. Black women earn more than ever and continue to be more likely than other women to participate in the labor force. In 2015, six in 10 black women were employed or actively looking for work.

However, we still face significant challenges, including a stark wage gap. The latest data on annual earnings shows that black women earn nearly 20 percent less than white, non-Hispanic women and 40 percent less than white, non-Hispanic men. This wage disparity has a detrimental effect on black women and the families they support. Black women are raising families, often alone, or at least as a primary breadwinner. In fact, four in 10 black families with children were headed by a single working mother in 2014….


Status of Women in the South

Source: Julie Anderson, Elyse Shaw, Chandra Childers, Jessica Milli and Asha DuMonthie, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, February 2016

From the summary:
IWPR’s The Status of Women in the South is the first report to provide a comprehensive portrait of the status of women, particularly the status of women of color, in the southern states, grading each state on six different topic areas related to women’s economic, political, health, and social status.
For purposes of the report, the South is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia , and the District of Columbia.

The Status of Women in the South report is part of the Status of Women in the States project, a tool for leaders and the public to access information at the state and national level since 1996. It is the most accessible, comprehensive source of state-level data on women of color in the United States.

Chapters include:
Political Participation
Employment & Earnings
Work & Family
Poverty & Opportunity
Reproductive Rights
Health & Well-Being
Violence & Safety

Executive Summary

The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations

Source: Francine D. Blau, Lawrence M. Kahn, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w21913, January 2016
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From the abstract:
Using PSID microdata over the 1980-2010, we provide new empirical evidence on the extent of and trends in the gender wage gap, which declined considerably over this period. By 2010, conventional human capital variables taken together explained little of the gender wage gap, while gender differences in occupation and industry continued to be important. Moreover, the gender pay gap declined much more slowly at the top of the wage distribution that at the middle or the bottom and by 2010 was noticeably higher at the top. We then survey the literature to identify what has been learned about the explanations for the gap. We conclude that many of the traditional explanations continue to have salience. Although human capital factors are now relatively unimportant in the aggregate, women’s work force interruptions and shorter hours remain significant in high skilled occupations, possibly due to compensating differentials. Gender differences in occupations and industries, as well as differences in gender roles and the gender division of labor remain important, and research based on experimental evidence strongly suggests that discrimination cannot be discounted. Psychological attributes or noncognitive skills comprise one of the newer explanations for gender differences in outcomes. Our effort to assess the quantitative evidence on the importance of these factors suggests that they account for a small to moderate portion of the gender pay gap, considerably smaller than say occupation and industry effects, though they appear to modestly contribute to these differences.

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, Vol. 94 no. 3), March 2016
(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.

Union Revitalization: How Women and Men Officers See the Relationship Between Union Size and Union Tolerance for Sexual Harassment

Source: Steven Mellor, Lisa M. Kath, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 28 Issue 1, March 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Larger memberships resulting from union mergers and consolidations have heightened the issue of union responsiveness to economic and noneconomic needs of members. In this study, we focused on a gender-moderated relationship between union size and perceived union tolerance for sexual harassment, in which low perceived tolerance (a desirable outcome) was anticipated as a noneconomic need relevant to union women. Data were collected from women and men officers (N = 120) in various unions. Officers were viewed as well-positioned informants on tolerance in relation to union policies and practices. As hypothesized, the data confirmed that women in larger unions rated tolerance significantly higher (an undesirable outcome) than women in smaller unions. No such tolerance variation was found for men in relation to smaller and larger unions. Implications for union revitalization and future research on union size are discussed.

Impact of Work-Life Imbalance on Health of Women

Source: Sarang Shankar Bhola – Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil Institute of Management Studies & Research, and Jyoti Nigade – Shivaji University – Department of Commerce & Management, January 4, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Work-life balance is effective management of juggling act between paid work and other activities that are important to people. In case of working woman it is a state of equilibrium in which the demands of both, her job and personal life is equal. But when they can’t maintain this equilibrium what should be the consequences? Present research paper focus on health related consequences, since it is intended to find out whether work-life imbalance affects health of working women, and if yes then to what extent they suffer from. 691 working women were taken as samples which consists 379 from service industry, 176 professionals and 136 entrepreneurs. Schedule consist of 17 variables depicting physical health, 13 variables deals with psychological health and 7 variables deals with reproductive health problems. Samples were asked to opine on suffering with respective health problem measured on dichotomous scale and the extent of suffering from such health problem using five point likert type scales. The null hypothesis i.e. Women working as employee/professional/entrepreneur suffer from medical problems is accepted since majority of medical problems considered in this study are not suffered by majority of samples included in this study. Binomial test is used to test hypothesis. Researcher found that work-life imbalance takes a toll on the health of working women since they are suffered from different physical (exhaustion, frequent headache, server back pain, acidity, eye sight disorders and hair loss), psychological problems (emotional strain, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and becoming sluggish) and reproductive health problems (irregular periods and miscarriage) due to their work.

Parental Leave Legislation and Women’s Work: A Story of Unequal Opportunities

Source: Sari Pekkala Kerr, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 35 Issue 1, Winter 2016
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From the abstract:
U.S. federal and state family leave legislation requires employers to provide job-protected parental leave for new mothers covered under the legislation. In most cases the leave is unpaid, and rarely longer than 12 weeks in duration. This study evaluates disparities in parental leave eligibility, access, and usage across the family income distribution in the United States. It also describes the links between leave-taking and women’s labor market careers. The focus is especially on low-income families, as their leave coverage and ability to afford taking unpaid leave is particularly poor. This study shows that the introduction of both state and federal legislation increased overall leave coverage, leave provision, and leave-taking. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leads to an increased probability of leave-taking by nearly 20 percentage points and increased average leave length by almost five weeks across all states. The new policies did not, however, reduce gaps between low- and high-income families’ eligibility, leave-taking, or leave length. In addition, the FMLA effects on leave-taking were very similar across states with and without prior leave legislation, and the FMLA did not disproportionately increase leave-taking for women who worked in firms and jobs covered by the new legislation, as these women were already relatively well covered by other parental leave arrangements…..

Women’s earnings compared to men’s earnings in 2014

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Economics Daily, November 30, 2015

In 2014, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings of $719. Women’s median earnings were 83 percent of those of male full-time wage and salary workers ($871). Median weekly earnings for women were highest between the ages of 35 and 64. In 2014, there was little or no difference in the earnings of 35- to 44-year-olds ($781), 45- to 54-year-olds ($780), and 55- to 64-year-olds ($780). For men, earnings peaked between the ages of 45 and 64, with 45- to 54-year-olds ($1,011) and 55- to 64-year-olds ($1,021) having similar earnings. Young women and men ages 16 to 24 had the lowest earnings ($451 and $493, respectively).

The Impact of Affirmative Action on the Employment of Minorities and Women: A Longitudinal Analysis Using Three Decades of EEO-1 Filings

Source: Fidan Ana Kurtulus, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, Article first published online: November 26, 2015

From the abstract:
What role has affirmative action played in the growth of minority and female employment in U.S. firms? This paper presents a longitudinal analysis of this question by exploiting rich variation across firms in the timing of federal contracting to identify affirmative action effects over the course of three decades spanning 1973 to 2003. It constitutes the first study to comprehensively document the long-term and dynamic effects of affirmative action in federal contracting on employment composition within firms in the United States. I use a new panel of over 100,000 large private-sector firms from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including both firms that obtain federal contracts and are therefore mandated to implement affirmative action and firms that are noncontractors, across all industries and regions. The paper’s key results indicate that the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action in federal contracting over 1973 to 2003 were black and Native American women and men. Dynamic event study analysis of workforce composition around the time of contracting reveal that a large part of the effect of affirmative action on increasing protected group shares occurred within the first four years of gaining a contract, and that these increased shares persisted even after a firm was no longer a federal contractor. The paper also uncovers important results on how the impact of affirmative action evolved over 1973 to 2003, in particular that the fastest growth in the employment shares of minorities and women at federal contractors relative to noncontracting firms occurred during the 1970s and early 1980s, decelerating substantially in ensuing years.