Category Archives: Working Women

Women at Risk: Why Many Women Are Forgoing Needed Health Care

Source: Sheila D. Rustgi, Michelle M. Doty, and Sara R. Collins, Commonwealth Fund, Issue Brief, May 2009

From the press release:
Women are more likely than men to feel the pinch of rising health costs and eroding health benefits, with about half (52%) of working-age women reporting problems accessing needed care because of costs, compared to 39 percent of men, a new Commonwealth Fund study finds. Women who are insured but have inadequate coverage are especially vulnerable: 69 percent of underinsured women have problems accessing care because of costs, compared to half (49%) of underinsured men.

The study, Women at Risk: Why Many Women Are Forgoing Needed Health Care, by Commonwealth Fund researchers Sheila Rustgi, Michelle Doty, and Sara Collins finds that overall, seven of 10 working-age women, or an estimated 64 million women, have no health insurance coverage or inadequate coverage, medical bill or debt problems, or problems accessing needed health care because of cost.
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No Paid Leave for New Moms

Source: Elise Gould, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, May 6, 2009

This Mother’s Day we reflect on the critical but often overlooked issue of maternity leave. Among peer countries with comparable per capita income (i.e., those in the G7), the United States provides the fewest mandated maternity leave benefits in both length of leave and amount of paid time off.

The PDA’s Causation Effect: Observations of an Unreasonable Woman

Source: Michelle A. Travis, Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Forthcoming

From the abstract:
While many scholars rightfully have critiqued the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) as falling short of achieving the ultimate goal of equal employment opportunities for women, this Article reveals one of the PDA’s most important successes. By recognizing pregnant women as a given in the workplace, the PDA launched a quiet revolution in the way that judges make causal attributions for adverse employment outcomes. Specifically, the PDA provided judges with the conceptual tools that were needed to help shift causal attributions to an employer, rather than attributing a pregnant woman’s struggles in the workplace to her own decision to become a mother. Because our notions of responsibility follow our notions of causation, this shift in causal attribution enabled judges to more easily identify employers as legally responsible for the misfit between the conventional workplace and working women’s lives. While this causal attribution shift has been incomplete, it at least laid the foundation for ongoing conversations about how the law might achieve even deeper structural and organizational transformations in the workplace looking forward. By revealing the PDA’s causation transformation story, this Article seeks to shore up that foundation for future efforts at designing workplaces more fully around a caregiving worker norm.

The Gender Pay Gap

Source: American Association of University Women, April 22, 2009

From the press release:
To commemorate Equal Pay Day, April 28, 2009, AAUW has released a new state-by-state earnings comparison by gender that shows that the wage gap is stubbornly in place despite the overall positive effect a college degree has on women workers. Observing Equal Pay Day reminds the nation of the gross inequities facing women, who must work from January 2008 through April 2009 to earn what their male counterparts received in 2008 alone.
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Map data explained
Map data table

Quick Facts – Recent Updates

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women’s Bureau, April 2009

The Women’s Bureau was created by law in 1920 to formulate standards and policies to promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.

The following publications have recently been updated:
Women in Nursing
20 Leading Occupations of Employed Women 2008
Women in the Labor Force in 2008

Labor Pain: Tough Times Predicted for Women

Source: Elissa Elan, Nation’s Restaurant News, Vol. 43 no. 10, March 16, 2009

Recession-driven layoffs and corporate belt tightening are hampering efforts to win women and minorities workplace parity, according to those who have championed such movements in the restaurant industry.

As corporate engines sputter and budgets shrink, so too do hiring and development initiatives that promote diversity, observers say. And for women, who already hold a majority of foodservice jobs but are underrepresented in management positions, that’s bad news.

Gender (in)Equality in the Labour Market

Source: Stephen Glenn, Simone Melis, Louisa Withers, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), 2009

From the press release:
A new report released by the ITUC for March 8, International Women’s Day, has revealed that the pay gap between men and women worldwide may be much higher than official government figures. The report, “Gender (in)Equality in the Labour Market”, is based on survey results of some 300,000 women and men in 20 countries. It puts the global pay gap at up to 22%, rather than the 16.5% figure taken from official government figures and released by the ITUC on March 8 last year.

The report also confirms previous findings that union membership, and particularly the inclusion of women in collective bargaining agreements, leads to much better incomes for both women and men, as well as better pay for women relative to their male co-workers
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video on maternity protection

Working Hard for the Money: Women and Labor Trends in America: 1970-2007

Source: Kristin Smith, Carsey Institute, Reports on Rural America, Vol. 1 no. 5, 2008

Rural married women, mothers and not, are clocking in at work more often today than even their urban counterparts, and since 2000, more married than single women are in the workforce in rural areas, a first. In 2006, 70 percent of married women with children under age 6 in rural areas worked for pay compared with 64 percent in urban areas. This report documents the changing nature of women and work nationally, and in rural and urban areas, concentrating on five big changes: 1) the increase in women’s employment; 2) the recent “opting out” phenomenon; 3) the rise in women’s earnings and declines in the earnings gap; 4) the rise in the working poor; and 5) the decline in the traditional family structure of a husband as breadwinner with a stay-at-home wife.

Public Policies and Women’s Employment after Childbearing

Source: Wen-Jui Han, Christopher Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, Elizabeth Washbrook, IZA Discussion Papers, DP3937, January 2009

This paper examines how the public policy environment in the United States affects work by new mothers following childbirth. We examine four types of policies that vary across states and affect the budget constraint in different ways. The policy environment has important effects, particularly for less advantaged mothers. There is a potential conflict between policies aiming to increase maternal employment and those maximizing the choices available to families with young children. However, this tradeoff is not absolute since some choice increasing policies (generous child care subsidies and state parental leave laws) foster both choice and higher levels of employment.

Addressing Family Responsibilities Discrimination

Source: Stephanie Bornstein and Julie Weber, Work-family Information for State Legislators, Issue 16, 2008

Workplace discrimination against mothers and others based on their family caregiving responsibilities is a rapidly growing problem. Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) responded by issuing new enforcement guidance on caregiver discrimination. State policymakers are beginning to respond, too.