Category Archives: Working Women

Is There a Woman’s Way of Organizing? Gender, Unions, and Effective Organizing

Source: Cornell University, 2010

From the summary:
As traditional industries decline, people are hiring into “informal and low-wage sectors” where turnover is high, legal protections are scarce, unions are rare, and workers tend to be immigrant women of color. Organizing such jobs is especially hard, because many people work in their homes or their employer’s home, with no central workplace, and worry about their status in the U.S. Researchers used ideas from other Berger-Marks reports as the jumping-off point for a series of focus groups and roundtable discussions in 2008 and 2009, where workers and organizers, most of them women, talked about how they mobilized diverse and fragmented workforces, and the experiences of women in unions. The Berger-Marks Foundation funded the project.

Violence Against Women Act: History and Federal Funding

Source: Garrine P. Laney, Congressional Research Service, RL30871, February 26, 2010

From the summary:
The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (VAWA 2005) (P.L. 109-162) was enacted on January 5, 2006. Among other things, VAWA 2005 reauthorized existing VAWA programs and created many new programs. The act encourages collaboration among law enforcement, judicial personnel, and public and private service providers to victims of domestic and sexual violence; increases public awareness of domestic violence; addresses the special needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence, including the elderly, disabled, children, youth, and individuals of ethnic and racial communities; authorizes long-term and transitional housing for victims; makes some provisions gender-neutral; and requires studies and reports on the effectiveness of approaches used for certain grants in combating violence.

Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility

Source: Council of Economic Advisers, March 2010

From a summary:
Focuses on the economics of flexible workplace policies. The first section highlights the need for such policies, including that (1) women comprise almost 50% of the workforce, and in nearly 50% of households, all adults are working; (2) nearly 20% of workers served as the primary caregiver to someone over 50 during 2008; and (3) there is an increased percentage of workers pursuing advanced education while working full time. The second section of the report details the flexibility that currently exists in the workplace. Specifically, more than 50% of employers indicate that they allow employees to change their start or stop times, even if only occasionally. However, workers with lower skills have less access to flexible workplace practices than do higher-skilled workers. Phased transitions have also become more popular, with most employers offering some sort of gradual return-to-work programs after major life events, such as adoptions or childbirth. Although flexible scheduling and phased transitions appear to be at least somewhat common, remote working (such as telecommuting) is much less common, with only about 15% of workers reporting that they work from home once a week. The final section of the report details some of economic benefits of workplace flexibility. For example, flexible workplace policies can improve worker health and productivity and reduce turnover and absenteeism. However, the costs and benefits of workplace flexibility differ across organizations and industries.
See also:
White House Announces Forum on Workplace Flexibility
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Press release, March 23, 2010

Diversifying The American Workplace

Source: NPR, 2010

Stories include:
Diversity Efforts Uneven In U.S. Companies
The Promise Of Diversity Is Yet To Be Fulfilled
Introspection After Allegations Of Discrimination
In-House Resource Groups Can Help And Harm
Defining Diversity: Beyond Race And Gender
Gay In The Office: The Last Frontier Of Workplace Equality
‘Mad Men’ Haven’t Changed Much Since The 1960s
Should ‘The Office’ Be Used In HR Training?

Free Riding on Families: Why the American Workplace Needs to Change and How to Do It

Source: Phoebe Taubman, American Constitution Society, Issue Brief, December 2009

From the summary:
ACS is pleased to distribute “Free Riding on Families: Why the American Workplace Needs to Change and How to Do It,” an Issue Brief by Phoebe Taubman, an Equal Justice Works Fellow with A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center, based in New York City. Today’s fast-paced economy relies on many different resources, including electricity, fuel, technology, and the labor of our workers, among many others. Ms. Taubman argues, though, that there is one critical resource whose value we do not fully recognize, and without which our economy would founder: the unpaid work of caring for our families. Whether it is the education and care of the next generation or the comfort and care of the elderly, this work produces extensive benefits for society and we could not go on without it. Ms. Taubman, employing a variety of statistics, discusses the staggering costs imposed on unpaid caregivers, most of whom are women, and on their families, companies, and society as a whole. She contends that, “[f]or a country whose politicians tout family values, the United States has done little to confront these costs and support the critical work that families provide.”

Have Women Really Taken Over The Workforce?

Source: Nicole Allen, Atlantic – Business, January 12, 2010

Heralding the triumph of women in the workforce last week, the Economist reported that women not only make up the majority of professional workers in many countries, but also that they earn nearly 60 percent of university degrees in America and Europe. Reinforcing the case for the Great Recession being a Great “Mancession,” the article cites an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent for women but 11.2 percent for men.


The cover, brandishing Rosie the Riveter and the headline: “We Did It!,” would suggest some kind of victorious finality. But the article admits several big concessions to the majority-female-workforce victory, most notably the pay gap. The average full-time female worker in Britain or the U.S. earns 80 percent as much as her male equivalent, though this gap shrinks if the woman is not a mother. Gender parity in the upper ranks looks equally bleak, with a tiny percentage of women in the boardrooms and C-Suites of Fortune 500 companies.

Survey: Why Don’t More Women Rise to the Top?

Source: Orit Gadiesh and Julie Coffman, HarvardBusiness.org, The Conversation, January 7, 2010

“The quest for gender parity in the workforce might be the least understood obstacle facing business now. To read recent press accounts, the battle for gender equality in the workplace has been all but won. [. . .] But these statistics mask a problem that companies have made little progress toward solving over the past decade: Women continue to drop out of the workforce in increasing numbers and many don’t seem to find their way back — even when they want to.”

Female Power

Source: Economist, Vol. 394 no. 8663, January 2, 2009
(subscription required)

Across the rich world more women are working than ever before. Coping with this change will be one of the great challenges of the coming decades.

The economic empowerment of women across the rich world is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past 50 years. It is remarkable because of the extent of the change: millions of people who were once dependent on men have taken control of their own economic fates. It is remarkable also because it has produced so little friction: a change that affects the most intimate aspects of people’s identities has been widely welcomed by men as well as women. Dramatic social change seldom takes such a benign form.

Yet even benign change can come with a sting in its tail. Social arrangements have not caught up with economic changes. Many children have paid a price for the rise of the two-income household. Many women–and indeed many men–feel that they are caught in an ever-tightening tangle of commitments. If the empowerment of women was one of the great changes of the past 50 years, dealing with its social consequences will be one of the great challenges of the next 50.

We did it!

Source: Economist, Vol. 394 no. 8663, January 2, 2009
(subscription required)

The rich world’s quiet revolution: women are gradually taking over the workplace.

At a time when the world is short of causes for celebration, here is a candidate: within the next few months women will cross the 50% threshold and become the majority of the American workforce. Women already make up the majority of university graduates in the OECD countries and the majority of professional workers in several rich countries, including the United States. Women run many of the world’s great companies, from PepsiCo in America to Areva in France.