Category Archives: Working Women

Failing its Families

Source: Human Rights Watch, 2011

From the abstract:
This report is based on interviews with 64 parents across the country. It documents the health and financial impact on American workers of having little or no paid family leave after childbirth or adoption, employer reticence to offer breastfeeding support or flexible schedules, and workplace discrimination against new parents, especially mothers. Parents said that having scarce or no paid leave contributed to delaying babies’ immunizations, postpartum depression and other health problems, and caused mothers to give up breastfeeding early. Many who took unpaid leave went into debt and some were forced to seek public assistance. Some women said employer bias against working mothers derailed their careers. Same-sex parents were often denied even unpaid leave.
See also:
Press release

Out of the Smoke and the Flame: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and its Legacy

Source: New Labor Forum, Vol. 20 no. 1, Winter 2011

March of this year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. For an amnesiac culture like our own, this is one of those rare moments that endure in the public memory – our readers hardly have to be reminded of it. So we are instead publishing four articles that commemorate that tragedy by examining its various legacies.

Articles include:
– Why No Fire This Time?: From the Mass Strike to no Strike
By Stephen Pimpare
Exploring the limits of resistance since the days of the Triangle Fire.

– From the Triangle Fire to the BP Explosion: A Short History of the Century-Long Movement for Safety and Health
By Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner
Is the glass half empty or half full?

– Feminism and the Labor Movement: A Century of Collaboration and Conflict
By Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck
Is the feminization of the labor movement an indicator of its decline or a harbinger of its renewal?

Women in the labor force, 1970-2009

Source: United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 05, 2011

In 2009, 59.2 percent of women were in the labor force: of 122 million women in the United States, 72 million were classified as either employed or unemployed. The percentage of women in the labor force has been relatively stable over the past several years.
See also:
Women in the Labor Force: A Databook (2010 Edition)

Addressing Gender Issues Among Staff in Community Corrections

Source: Kelli D. Stevens, Corrections Today, Vol. 72 no. 5, October 2010

Gender-responsiveness research in the criminal justice field has increased during the past decade as professionals learn more about differences between male and female offenders: their unique pathways to crime, their varying needs and gender-specific strategies to reduce crime. Gender responsiveness is also relevant to female professionals in community corrections because organizations need to recognize and address the needs of women in the workplace. While community corrections organizations are actively addressing the needs of female offenders, they are still struggling to meet the needs of female professionals working in the field.

Symposium – Redefining Work: Implications Of The Four-Day Work Week

Source: Connecticut Law Review, Volume 42 Number 4, May 2010

From the Editor:
On October 30, 2009, Connecticut Law Review hosted a Symposium, Redefining Work: Implications of the Four-Day Work Week. Scholars from across the United States, Canada, and England gathered to explore the benefits of and challenges posed by a four-day work week. The Symposium proved to be both timely and thought-provoking, especially in light of the United States’ recent economic downturn and soaring unemployment rate. This Issue collects the papers presented by twelve of the participants at the Symposium.

Articles include:
– Four-Day Work Weeks: Current Research And Practice
By: Rex L. Facer Ii & Lori L. Wadsworth

– How And Why Flexible Work Weeks Came About
By: Riva Poor

– The Four-Day Work Week: Old Lessons, New Questions
By: Robert C. Bird

– Incenting Flexibility: The Relationship Between Public Law And Voluntary Action In Enhancing Work/Life Balance
By: Rachel Arnow-Richman

– The Four-Day Work Week: But What About Ms. Coke, Ms. Upton, And Ms. Blankenship?
By: Shirley Lung

– Unpaid Furloughs And Four-Day Work Weeks: Employer Sympathy Or A Call For Collective Employee Action?
By: Michael Z. Green

– A Purpose For Every Time? The Timing And Length Of The Work Week And The Implications For Worker Well-Being
By: Lonnie Golden

– Feminism And Workplace Flexibility
By: Vicki Schultz

– What A Difference A Day Makes, Or Does It? Work/Family Balance And The Four-Day Work Week
By: Michelle A. Travis

– Sprawl, Family Rhythms, And The Four-Day Work Week
By: Katharine B. Silbaugh

– Dilemmas Of Value In Post-Industrial Economies: Retrieving Clock Time Through The Four-Day Work Week?
By: Emily Grabham

– Female Infertility In The Workplace: Understanding The Scope Of The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
By: Jeanne Hayes

Gender, Labor and Progressive Coalitions Working the Vote: Grass Roots Mobilizations for Registration & Early Voting in the 2008 Election

Source: Laura R. Woliver, Annie Boiter-Jolley, University of South Carolina, August 31, 2010

From the abstract:
Women’s movement organizations were central to the increased voter turnout in the 2008 United States elections. Based on fieldwork in Washington, D.C., we analyze the GOTV (Get Out the Vote) strategies of gendered interests in the 2008 election. Our work adds to the literature on social movements and political action, the strengths and weaknesses of coalitions, the official, overt and formal as well as from within efforts to incorporate gendered interests and agendas into political parties and institutions.

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.