Category Archives: Working Women

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.

I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions

Source: Amy Caiazza, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2007

This report is designed to remedy women’s lower levels of representation in leadership by promoting women’s activism within unions across the country at the local, state, regional, and national levels. Women’s increased activism can lead to higher levels of leadership as they gain the skills, confidence, and networks to embrace positions of authority and break down obstacles to their advancement in union work.

Organizing at the Margins: Women Shape the Labor Movement

Source: WorkingUSA, Vol. 11 no. 4, December 2008
(subscription required)

This issue contains the following articles:
Eileen Boris, Premilla Nadasen

Jessica M. Smith

Michelle Kaminski, Elaine K. Yakura

Jessica Wilkerson

Pamela Stewart

Maternity Leave In The Ninth Month of Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes Among Working Women

Source: Sylvia Guendelman, Michelle Pearl, Steve Graham, Alan Hubbard, Nap Hosang, Martin Kharrazi, Women’s Health Issues, Vol. 19 no. 1, January 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The health effects of antenatal maternity leave have been scarcely evaluated. In California, women are eligible for paid benefits up to 4 weeks before delivery. We explored whether leave at ≥36 weeks gestation increases gestation and birthweight, and reduces primary cesarean deliveries among full-time working women.

Maternity leave in late pregnancy shows promise for reducing cesarean deliveries and prolonging gestation in occupationally strained women.
Related article:
Juggling Work and Breastfeeding: Effects of Maternity Leave and Occupational Characteristics
Source: Sylvia Guendelman, Jessica Lang Kosa, Michelle Pearl, Steve Graham, Julia Goodman and Martin Kharrazi, Pediatrics, Vol. 123 no. 1, January 2009

Unions and Upward Mobility for Women Workers

Source: John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research, December 2008

In 2007, women made up 45 percent of union members. If the share of women in unions continues to grow at the same rate as it has over the last 25 years, women will be the majority of the unionized workforce by 2020.

This paper uses the most recent data available to examine the impact of unionization on the pay and benefits of women in the paid workforce. The data suggest that even after controlling for systematic differences between union and non-union workers, union representation substantially improves the pay and benefits that women receive.

On average, unionization raised women’s wages by 11.2 percent – about $2.00 per hour – compared to non-union women with similar characteristics. Among women workers, those in unions were about 19 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and about 25 percentage points more likely to have an employer-provided pension.

For the average woman, joining a union has a much larger effect on her probability of having health insurance (an 18.8 percentage-point increase) than finishing a four-year college degree would (an 8.4 percentage-point increase, compared to a woman with similar characteristics who has only a high school diploma). Similarly, unionization raises the probability of a woman having a pension by 24.7 percentage points, compared to only a 13.1 percent increase for completing a four-year college degree (relative to a high school degree).

For the average woman, a four-year college degree boosts wages by 52.6 percent, relative to a woman with similar characteristics who has only a high school degree. The comparably estimated union wage premium is 11.2 percent – over 20 percent of the full four-year college effect.

Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women

Source: Lisa Codispoti, Brigette Courtot and Jen Swedish, National Women’s Law Center, September 2008

The new report by the National Women’s Law Center, Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women, was released in September 2008. Many Americans are unfamiliar with the harsh realities of the individual health insurance market because they receive health insurance through an employer. However, as a number of prominent health care reform proposals consider expanding the role of the individual market, it is important to understand how this system fails women.

Women’s Earnings: Federal Agencies Should Better Monitor Their Performance in Enforcing Anti-Discrimination Laws

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-799, August 11, 2008

In 2003, GAO found that women, on average, earned 80 percent of what men earned in 2000 and workplace discrimination may be one contributing factor. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (Labor) enforce several laws intended to prevent gender pay discrimination. GAO examined (1) how EEOC enforces laws addressing gender pay disparities among private sector employers and provides outreach and what is known about its performance, and (2) how Labor enforces laws addressing gender pay disparities among federal contractors and provides outreach and what is known about its performance. GAO analyzed relevant laws, regulations, monitoring reports, and agency enforcement data and conducted interviews at the agencies’ central offices and two field offices experienced in gender pay cases.

OAH Hosts National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites

OAH Hosts National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites
Source: National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, Organization of American Historians

The OAH serves as an online host to the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites (NCWHS) web site. NCWHS supports and promotes the preservation and interpretation of sites and locales that bear witness to women’s participation in American life. The Collaborative makes women’s contributions to history visible so that all women’s experiences and potential are fully valued.

Women Working, 1870-1930

Source: Harvard University Library, Open Collections Program

Women Working, 1800 – 1930 focuses on women’s role in the United States economy and provides access to digitized historical, manuscript, and image resources selected from Harvard University’s library and museum collections. The collection features approximately 500,000 digitized pages and images including:
• 7,500 pages of manuscripts
• 3,500 books and pamphlets
• 1,200 photographs

The Unpaid Care Work-Paid Work Connection

Source: Rania Antonopoulos, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, Working Paper no. 541, July 2008

From the summary:
In order to provide a coherent perspective of gender differences in the world of work, the many intersections of paid and unpaid work must be brought to light. It is well documented that gender-based wage differentials and occupational segregation continue to characterize the division of labor among men and women in paid work; yet unpaid work in social reproduction, subsistence production, family businesses, and the community is often ignored. When it is taken into account, it is usually done in a very limited manner, equating unpaid work with the traditional roles women play in raising children and performing maintenance chores. Beyond the obvious gender inequalities characterizing the latter, unpaid work constitutes an integral part of any functioning economy, and as such is linked to economic growth, government policy, migration, and many development issues. This paper concludes that the “world of work” cannot be treated in complete disregard to unpaid forms of labor, and gender equality must be understood through the lens of the paid-unpaid work continuum.