Category Archives: Working Women

Separate and Not Equal? Gender Segregation in the Labor Market and the Gender Wage Gap

Source: Ariane Hegewisch, Hannah Liepmann, Jeffrey Hayes, and Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Briefing Paper, IWPR C377, September 2010

Occupational gender segregation is a strong feature of the US labor market. While some occupations have become increasingly integrated over time, others remain highly dominated by either men or women. Our analysis of trends in overall gender segregation shows that, after a considerable move towards more integrated occupations in the 1970s and 1980s, progress has completely stalled since the mid 1990s. Occupational segregation is a concern to policy makers for two reasons: it is inefficient economically, preventing able people from moving into occupations where they could perform well and that would satisfy them more than the ones open to them. And occupational segregation is a major cause for the persistent wage gap. Our analysis confirms that average earnings tend to be lower the higher the percentage of female workers in an occupation, and that this relation- ship is strongest for the most highly skilled occupations, such as medicine or law. Yet this is also a strong feature of jobs requiring little formal education and experience, increasing the likelihood of very low earnings for women working in female-dominated, low-skilled occupations such as childcare.

Poverty Among Women and Families, 2000-2009: Great Recession Brings Highest Rate in 15 Years

Source: National Women’s Law Center, September 2010

From the summary:
The latest Census Bureau data show a significant and alarming increase in poverty and extreme poverty among women, men and children in the United States in 2009. Poverty among women rose to 13.9 percent, up from 13.0 percent in 2008 — the highest rate in 15 years and the largest single-year increase since 1980. More than 16.4 million women were living in poverty in 2009, the largest number since the Census began collecting this data in 1966. Poverty among children also reached a 15-year high, rising from 19.0 percent in 2008 to 20.7 percent in 2009. These increases mirror the rise in the overall poverty rate from 13.2 percent to 14.3 percent in 2009, also the largest single-year increase since 1980.

The Gender Wage Gap: 2009

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Fact Sheet, IWPR #C350 Updated September 2010

The ratio of women’s and men’s median annual earnings, was 77.0 for full-time, year-round workers in 2009, essentially unchanged from 77.1 in 2008. (This means the gender wage gap for full-time year-round workers is now 22.9 percent.) This is below the peak of 77.8 percent in 2007.

An alternative measure of the wage gap, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly earnings for full-time workers – was 80.2 in 2009, which is essentially flat since the historical high of 81.0 in 2005.

Women and the Economy 2010: 25 Years of Progress But Challenges Remain

Source: U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, August 2010

Twenty-five years ago, America was recovering from the double-dip recession of the 1980s, and women’s role in the labor force was beginning a multi-decade-long period of expansion. Today, as our nation’s economy continues down the road to recovery from the Great Recession, women are poised to be the engine of future economic growth. Women comprise half of all U.S. workers, and well over half of all American women are in the labor force. Women’s educational attainment outstrips that of men, and women’s share of union membership is growing rapidly. Families are increasingly dependent on working wives’ incomes in order to make ends meet.

Despite a quarter-century of progress, however, challenges remain. While the pay gap has narrowed over the last 25 years, the average full-time working woman earns only 80 cents for every dollar earned by the average full-time working man. Certain industries remain heavily gender-segregated. In addition, millions of women are struggling to juggle work outside the home with family care-giving responsibilities.

This report, which includes annual data from 1984 through 2009, provides a comprehensive overview of women’s economic progress over the last twenty-five years and highlights the additional work left to be done. The role of women in the American economy is of indisputable importance. The future of the American economy depends on women’s work, both inside and outside the home.

Asian Pacific American Women Workers and Unions

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2010

From the Berger-Marks summary:
Study shows advantage for Asian Pacific American women

Being a member of a union adds about $2 an hour to an Asian Pacific American woman’s paycheck, compared with her nonunion counterpart. That’s the big news from a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

It jibes with another CEPR study, “Unions and Upward Mobility for Immigrant Workers,” that found a big union advantage in pay and benefits for all immigrant workers.

One of every eight Asian Pacific American women–12.8 percent– is a union member or is represented by a union at her workplace. More than two out of three are immigrants and about half (46.6 percent) work in the public sector.

Realizing Health Reform’s Potential: Women and the Affordable Care Act of 2010

Source: Sara R. Collins, Sheila D. Rustgi, and Michelle M. Doty, Commonwealth Fund, Volume 93, July 30, 2010

From the summary:
This issue brief analyzes how, over the next decade, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is likely to stabilize and reverse women’s growing exposure to health care costs. Up to 15 million women who now are uninsured could gain subsidized coverage under the law. In addition, 14.5 million insured women will benefit from provisions that improve coverage or reduce premiums. Women who have coverage through the individual insurance market and are charged higher premiums than men, who have been unable to secure coverage for the cost of pregnancy, or who have a preexisting health condition excluded from their benefits will ultimately find themselves on a level playing field with men, enjoying a full range of comprehensive benefits.

Representation of Women Faculty at Public Research Universities: Do Unions Matter?

Source: Ann Mari May, Elizabeth A. Moorhouse, and Jennifer A. Petersen, Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Vol. 63, No. 4, July 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The authors investigate the impact of unionization on the representation of women faculty at public Carnegie Doctoral/Research-Extensive institutions in the United States from 1993-94 through 2004-05. Using institutional-level data from the American Association of University Professors and controlling for institutional characteristics that influence the gender composition of faculty, the authors find that significant differences exist in the proportion of women faculty in total and by rank in unionized versus non-unionized settings. Specifically, unionized public research universities have a higher proportion of women faculty overall and more women at the ranks of associate and full professor than do non-unionized schools. The authors suggest that this issue is better understood using a segmented labor market approach since previous studies conducted on the subject may have obscured differences by rank. This study reflects the historical priorities of the faculty union in formalizing tenure and promotion procedures, especially important for women faculty.

Women in Law Enforcement, 1987-2008

Source: Lynn Langton, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime Data Brief, NCJ 230521, June 2012

During the 1990s and 2000s, the percent of sworn law enforcement officers who were women increased only slightly in federal, state, and local agencies.

By 2007 nearly 4,000 state police, 19,400 sheriffs’, and 55,300 local police officers were women. In 2008, across 62 reporting federal law enforcement agencies there were about 90,000 sworn officers, of whom approximately 18,200 (20%) were women. These 2007 and 2008 numbers suggest a combined total of almost 100,000 female sworn officers nationwide in federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Stepping Up, Stepping Back: Women Activists ‘Talk Union’ Across Generations

Source: Berger-Marks Foundation, 2010

In March 2010, the Berger-Marks Foundation invited 30 women activists to New Orleans for a candid conversation across generations about how unions can attract young workers, especially women, and support them in key leadership roles.

Out of frank discussions over two days comes this report, “Stepping Up, Stepping Back: Women Activists ‘Talk Union’ Across Generations” by Linda Foley, Foundation president. In it, problems are faced openly and solutions are suggested. Its content comes from work done in small groups, which separated into three age clusters, and plenary sessions. As Foundation trustees, we took notes as silent observers. We hope that unions will find this report useful and that it will contribute to academic research on intergenerational activism
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Women’s Lower Wages Worsen Their Circumstances in a Difficult Economy

Source: National Women’s Law Center, April 2010

American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. This gap in earnings translates into $10,622 less per year in female median earnings, leaving women and their families shortchanged. The wage gap is even more substantial when race and gender are considered together, with African-American women making only 61 cents, and Latinas only 52 cents, for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act as well as other civil rights laws has helped to narrow the wage gap over time, it is critical for women and their families that the significant disparities in pay that remain be addressed.