Category Archives: Working Women

Out of the Shadows: Shedding Light on the Working Conditions of Immigrant Women in Tucson

Source: Nina Rabin, Tiana O’Konek, Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 14-27, September 3, 2014

From the abstract:
This report on the working conditions of immigrant women in Tucson, Arizona, is based on one year of field research, between April 2012 and March 2013. Researchers collected ninety surveys from low-wage immigrant women workers and conducted twenty-nine interviews of workers, government officials, and community leaders. The survey respondents capture a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. The women labored in a range of workplaces, including private homes, residential care facilities, hotels, offices, restaurants, factories, and retail stores.

This report identifies five concerns repeatedly described by the women surveyed and interviewed: they are underpaid, overworked, unsafe, abused, and exploited. Section I of the report describes why these findings are hardly surprising. After describing methodology and findings in Sections II through IV, the final section of this report offers three types of reforms to address the concerns identified. First, the data reveal the need to expand the coverage of employment laws, so that the workers described in this report are no longer excluded from many of the existing legal protections from workplace abuse. Second, this research illustrates the need to enforce existing laws, as many of the incidents described in this report are currently illegal, yet the law on the books is not enforced on the ground. Finally, the surveys and interviews document the need to improve the laws on the books, so that the legal system itself does not perpetuate poverty and exploitation of low-income and immigrant workers.

Empirically Measuring the Impact of Photo ID Over Time and Its Impact on Women

Source: Michael J. Pitts, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-29, August 12, 2014

From the abstract:
This article is part of a series of studies related to the impact of Indiana’s photo identification law during the two presidential election cycles at which it has been implemented — 2008 and 2012. This article tracks the number of provisional ballots cast and not counted because of a lack of voter identification at Indiana’s 2012 general election. Importantly, this article also addresses an argument against photo identification laws that has became more prominent in recent years — the idea that photo identification laws disparately disfranchise female voters. This article addresses that argument by tracking the gender of those persons who cast provisional ballots due to a lack of valid photo identification — something that does not seem to have been previously done anywhere in the literature. While the research presented here allows for several conclusions, the most important of those conclusions are as follows. First, Indiana’s photo identification law has a relatively small (in relation to the total number of ballots cast) overall actual disfranchising impact on the electorate. Second, Indiana’s photo identification law’s actual disfranchising impact seems to be headed in a downward direction when one compares data from the 2012 general election to the 2008 general election. Third, Indiana’s photo identification law appears to have a disparate impact on women.

Missing the Mark: How FMLA’s Bonding Leave Fails Mothers

Source: Rona Kaufman Kitchen, Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-10, September 9, 2014

From the abstract:
In the two decades since it was adopted, the Family and Medical Leave Act (hereinafter “FMLA” or “the Act”) has been consistently criticized for its failure to achieve its stated goal of enabling workers “to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families.” Since it was signed into law in 1993, legal scholars and women’s rights groups, while applauding the accomplishments of the Act, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the status of family and medical leave law in the United States. It has been argued that the FMLA should be expanded to cover more workers, for more reasons, for longer periods of time, and to provide for income replacement and a right to return to work on a part-time basis.

I echo the calls for more comprehensive job-protected leave. However, in this article, I focus exclusively on how FMLA’s bonding leave fails mothers. Specifically, FMLA bonding leave poses several primary and subsidiary problems for mothers, mother-infant bonding, and attachment. First, the FMLA poses accessibility problems through its stringent coverage limitations, eligibility requirements, and lack of income replacement. Due to these accessibility issues, the FMLA excludes most mothers from accessing its job-protected bonding leave, frustrating the primary congressional intention behind the bonding leave provision. Second, the FMLA poses subsidiary applicability problems due to the length, inflexibility, and vulnerability of the leave. The inflexible twelve-week bonding leave entitlement is therefore substantively lacking. It falls short of providing an environment that would facilitate healthy parent-infant bonding as intended by the Act. As a result of these primary and subsidiary dilemmas, FMLA’s bonding leave fails to address the bonding and attachment needs of mothers and infants.

The Glass Ceiling and the Paper Floor: Gender Differences Among Top Earners, 1981–2012

Source: Fatih Guvenen, Greg Kaplan, Jae Song, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20560, October 2014
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From the abstract:
We analyze changes in the gender structure at the top of the earnings distribution in the United States over the last 30 years using a 10% sample of individual earnings histories from the Social Security Administration. Despite making large inroads, females still constitute a small proportion of the top percentiles: the glass ceiling, albeit a thinner one, remains. We measure the contribution of changes in labor force participation, changes in the persistence of top earnings, and changes in industry and age composition to the change in the gender composition of top earners. A large proportion of the increased share of females among top earners is accounted for by the mending of, what we refer to as, the paper floor – the phenomenon whereby female top earners were much more likely than male top earners to drop out of the top percentiles. We also provide new evidence at the top of the earnings distribution for both genders: the rising share of top earnings accruing to workers in the Finance and Insurance industry, the relative transitory status of top earners, the emergence of top earnings gender gaps over the life cycle, and gender differences among lifetime top earners.

Evaluating Workplace Mandates with Flows versus Stocks: An Application to California Paid Family Leave

Source: Mark Curtis, Barry T. Hirsch, Mary Schroeder, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Research Paper Series No. 14-10, August 1, 2014

From the abstract:
Employer mandates and other labor demand/supply shocks typically have small effects on wages and employment. These effects should be more discernible using data on employment transitions and wages among new hires rather than incumbents. The Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) dataset provides county by quarter by demographic group data on the number and earnings of new hires, separations, and recalls (i.e., extended leaves). We use the QWI to examine the labor market effects of California’s paid family leave (CPFL) policy. Implemented in July 2004, it was the first such policy mandated in the U.S. The analysis compares outcomes for young women in California to those for other workers in California and to workers throughout the U.S. Relative earnings for young female new hires were largely unaffected by CPFL. We find strong evidence that separations (of at least three months) and hiring of young women increased substantively. Many young women who separated later returned to the same firm. CPFL appears to have led not only to increased time with children, but also to a decline in job lock, enhanced mobility, and increased worker flows following universal paid family leave.

Do Female Executives Make a Difference? The Impact of Female Leadership on Gender Gaps and Firm Performance

Source: Luca Flabbi, Mario Macis, Andrea Moro, Fabiano Schivardi, CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10228, November 2014
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From the abstract:
We analyze a matched employer-employee panel data set and find that female leadership has a positive effect on female wages at the top of the distribution, and a negative one at the bottom. Moreover, performance in firms with female leadership increases with the share of female workers. This evidence is consistent with a model where female executives are better equipped at interpreting signals of productivity from female workers. This suggests substantial costs of under-representation of women at the top: for example, if women became CEOs of firms with at least 20% female employment, sales per worker would increase 6.7%.

Guide to International Labour Standards 2014

Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), International Training Centre, SBN 978-92-9049-690-8, Second Edition, 2014

From the summary:
This guide provides summaries of the contents of ILO Conventions and Recommendations by subject matter. Includes: Freedom of association, collective bargaining and industrial relations — Forced labour — Elimination of child labour and the protection of children and young persons — Equality of opportunity and treatment — Tripartite consultation — Labour administration and inspection — Employment policy and promotion — Vocational guidance and training — Employment security — Wages — Working time — Occupational safety and health — Social security — Maternity protection — Social policy — Migrant workers — HIV and AIDS — Seafarers — Fishers — Docworkers — Indigenous and tribal peoples — Specific categories of workers.

Out of the Shadows: Shedding Light on the Working Conditions of Immigrant Women in Tucson

Source: Tiana O’Konek and Nina Rabin, Bacon Immigration Law & Policy Program, James E. Rogers College of Law and the Southwest Institute for Research on Women, September 2014

From the abstract:
Over the past seven years, the Bacon Immigration Law & Policy Program has worked closely with low-wage immigrant women workers through a legal clinic, the Workers’ Rights Clinic. This report is an attempt to document, in broad strokes, the recurring hardships facing immigrant women workers that the Workers’ Rights Clinic witnesses. This report is based on one year of field research, between April 2012 and March 2013. Researchers collected ninety surveys from low-wage immigrant women workers and conducted twenty-nine interviews of workers, government officials, and community leaders. We offer it to inform city and state stakeholders – workers, advocates, employers, government officials, and the general public – about the conditions of this vulnerable population. As detailed in the report’s final section, we also identify concrete steps the city and state could take to address the recurring abuses and exploitation we document.
Executive summary in English
Executive summary in Spanish
Full report in Spanish

WIC: Supporting the Health and Nutrition of Pregnant Women, Infants and Children

Source: Tadeo Melean, LegisBrief, Vol. 22 no. 33, September 2014
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The WIC program provides food, health care referrals and breastfeeding support to low-income pregnant and postpartum women. The program is up for renewal in 2015, and among the topics of consideration are the low national participation rate, the federal requirement that all WIC agencies implement an EBT system, and the effect of increasing food prices on program funding.