Category Archives: Working Women

Profiling the U.S. Sick Leave Landscape: Presenteeism among Females

Source: Philip Susser and Nicolas R. Ziebarth, Health Services Research, Early View, March 7, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objective: To profile the sick leave landscape in the United States.

Principal Findings: Sixty-five percent of full-time employees have sick pay coverage. Coverage rates are below 20 percent for employees with hourly wages below $10, part-time employees, and employees in the hospitality and leisure industry.

Conclusion: Each week, up to 3 million U.S. employees go to work sick. Females, low-income earners, and those aged 25 to 34 years have a significantly elevated risk of presenteeism behavior.

A Plan is Emerging to Fight “Rape on the Night Shift”

Source: Christina Jewett, Frontline and Reveal, March 9, 2016

Female janitors working alone at night have been particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and reluctant to report it. Now, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said at a rally outside the Capitol today, it’s time for change. Gonzalez, a San Diego Democrat, announced at the rally that her office is working on a bill that would increase protections for female janitors. Gonzalez said she was moved to tears by the documentary “Rape on the Night Shift,” a collaboration between Reveal, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, KQED, FRONTLINE and Univision. It inspired her to improve conditions for women who are subject to abuse while cleaning buildings alone at night….. The investigation found rampant sexual violence against female janitors who work alone at night in empty offices and businesses. Janitors across the country said one simple solution would be having them work together in teams….

Race to the Bottom: How Low-Road Subcontracting Affects Working Conditions in California’s Property Services Industry

Source: Sara Hinkley, Annette Bernhardt and Sarah Thomason, University of California – Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education, March 8, 2016

From the press release:
The increased subcontracting of work for janitors and security guards in California over the past 30 years has led to lower wages, fewer benefits, higher rates of part-time work, inferior working conditions and illegal labor practices for those employees, according to a study released today by UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education.

The report, “Race to the Bottom: How Low-Road Subcontracting Affects Working Conditions in California’s Property Services Industry,” says the share of janitors in California hired by contractors more than doubled from 1980 to 2014, and the share of subcontracted security guards rose by 50 percent as office buildings, retailers, high-tech companies, residential developments and other industries moved to cut costs by outsourcing cleanup as well as security. ….
….The report — the first to cover these services over a 30-year period — includes these key findings about janitorial and security service jobs in California:
– From 2012 to 2014 contracted janitors earned 20 percent less than non-contracted janitors ($10.31 an hour compared to $12.85 an hour), and contracted security workers made 18 percent less than their non-contracted counterparts ($11.91 an hour compared to $14.48 an hour).
– Some 45 percent of contracted janitors and 32 percent of contracted security guards had no health insurance coverage in 2012-2014.
– Fifty-three percent of contracted janitors and 36 percent of contracted security guards live with families that fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and 48 percent of workers in both categories have at least one family member receiving public assistance. Annual costs to California taxpayers averaged $228 million between 2009 and 2014.
– Seventy-five percent of contracted janitors were born outside of the United States; Latinos make up 82 percent of the contracted janitorial workforce compared to 37 percent of the overall workforce. Meanwhile, black security guards account for 23 percent of contracted employees in that field, but just 6 percent of the overall workforce.
– Women hold 45 percent of the janitorial jobs; women janitors are at risk of sexual harassment and violence in what are often isolated workplaces…..

The Socialist Roots of International Women’s Day

Source: Lindsay Beyerstein, In These Times, Working In These Times blog, March 8, 2016

Today, as the world marks the 99th annual International Women’s Day, it’s clear that the occasion enjoys an aura of mainstream respectability. IWD is an official holiday in 15 countries. But the radical roots of the IWD have been largely forgotten…. International Women’s Day was born during a time of great social upheaval, as women and workers began to organize and assert their rights, often in concert. In 1908, 15,000 women marched in New York to demand shorter hours, better working conditions, and the right to vote. The famous slogan “Bread and Roses” made its debut at this protest. It was a poetic answer to a basic question: What are we fighting for? Bread represents survival and roses represent quality of life and human dignity. The slogan has been associated with the overlap between women’s rights and workers’ rights ever since…..

International Women’s Day

Source: IWD, 2016

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since in the early 1900’s – a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. International Women’s Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day. Many organizations declare an annual IWD theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely with relevance than others….

…The International Women’s Day website has been operating for over 15 years as a shared global digital hub dedicated to everything IWD, and has supported many gender-focused initiatives for companies around the world like EY, Accenture, HSBC, Cisco, Deloitte, Allianz, MetLife, Scotiabank, African Development Bank, BP, Avanade, EBRD, PwC, E.ON, Western Union and more….

International Women’s Day 2016 campaign resources
Across the world, useful resources from reputable sources inform and support the pursuit of gender parity. Below is a selection of impressive and meaningful resources to guide your own focus on working to achieve gender parity – and to help run your own #PledgeForParity campaign.
Further gender parity resources:
EY’s The time for gender parity is now survey documents the economic imperative of gender parity and outlines three accelerators to help achieve it

EY’s Women. Fast forward on is a digital hub with resources and guidance for women in the workforce, women in leadership, women entrepreneurs and women athletes

McKinsey & Company report Unlocking the full potential of women at work features 60 companies that show how women have fuelled the US economy and its largest corporations

McKinsey & Company study, in partnership with LeanIn Women in the workplace discusses the state of women in America

EY’s Women in the public sector report reveals women are woefully under-represented in the public sector but a significant part of the workforce

EY study: Global generations is a survey of workers in eight countries about what they want from their jobs

Who Values Diversity? Comparing the Effect of Manager Gender Across the Public, Private, and Nonprofit Sectors

Source: Morgen Johansen, Ling Zhu, American Review of Public Administration, Published online before print February 26, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Researchers have focused on the role of managerial gender on attitudes toward diversity issues mainly in either the public or private sector, but there is little research that compares managerial attitudes on diversity across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. This article identifies important distinctions among the sectors that may influence gender differences in managerial priority placed on diversity. Using a national survey of nearly 1,000 top-level managers in public, private, and nonprofit hospitals in the United States, we analyze how managerial gender combined with cross-sector differences shape managerial priority on diversity. We find female managers place a higher priority on diversity than their male counterparts in nonprofit and private organizations compared with managers in public organizations. The differing effects of managerial gender on the priority placed on diversity are shaped by the organizational contexts of the three sectors. This research provides systematic evidence of sector differences in the patterns of managerial priorities regarding diversity.

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
(subscription required)

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.