Category Archives: Working Women

His and Her Earnings Following Parenthood in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom

Source: Kelly Musick, Megan Doherty Bea, Pilar Gonalons-Pons, American Sociological Review, Volume: 85 issue: 4, August 2020
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From the abstract:
This article advances a couple-level framework to examine how parenthood shapes within-family gender inequality by education in three countries that vary in their normative and policy context: the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. We trace mothers’ share of couple earnings and variation by her education in the 10-year window around first birth, using long-running harmonized panel surveys from the 1990s and 2000s (N = 4,117 couples and 28,488 couple-years) and an event study methodology that leverages within-couple variation in earnings pre- and post-birth. Our results show steep declines in her share of couple earnings following first birth across the three countries that persist over several years of follow-up. Declines are smallest in the United States, due to U.S. mothers’ higher employment and longer work hours. Declines are also smaller among female partners without a college degree in the United States, where mothers have less work-family support and fewer options to manage work and family on one income. Results shed light on how parenthood plays into gender inequality within couples, and how country context shapes couple dynamics and inequality across households.

2020 Progress Update: Me Too Workplace Reforms

Source: Andrea Johnson, Ramya Sekaran, Sasha Gombar, National Women’s Law Center, September 2020

This report provides an overview of the state legislative progress that has been made in advancing workplace harassment reforms since #MeToo went viral. It also highlights some of the stories of how survivors have led the push for these important reforms.

This new report finds that we are closing in on workplace harassment law reform in #20Statesby2020, with a remarkable 19 states enacting new workplace protections since #MeToo went viral in October 2017. The report also finds, however, that states have been slow to adopt some of the reforms that promise to make the biggest difference for those most marginalized by harassment and for preventing harassment.

Some major trends include:
• 15 states limited or prohibited employers from requiring employees to sign nondisclosure agreements as a condition of employment or as part of a settlement agreement.
• 11 states and New York City implemented or strengthened anti-harassment training requirements for certain employers.
• 7 states enacted measures to require or encourage employer anti-harassment policies.
• 7 states limited employers’ use of forced arbitration, though several of these laws are being challenged in court.
• 6 states expanded workplace harassment protections to include independent contractors, interns, and/or volunteers for the first time.
• 5 states and New York City extended their statute of limitations for filing a harassment or discrimination claim.

Black Women Best: The Framework We Need for an Equitable Economy

Source: Kendra Bozarth, Grace Western, and Janelle Jones, Roosevelt Institute, Issue Brief, September 2020

From the summary:
This brief explains how centering Black women in US politics and policymaking in the short and long term will bolster immediate recovery efforts, build durable and equitable institutions, and strengthen collective prosperity.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Gender, Power and Leadership in Troubled Times

Source: Emilia Belknap, Laura Shaw, Meryl Kenny, Political Insight, Volume 11 Issue 2, June 2020

…Why do gender inequalities in political leadership persist? And (why) does it matter? We examine these questions in the context of two recent and pivotal leadership contests: the 2020 UK Labour leadership election and the US Democratic presidential primary. We ask whether these contests represent a case of ‘two steps forward, one step back’ for women, evaluating both the opportunities for, and obstacles to, women’s political leadership. We then evaluate why gender (in)equality at the top matters, assessing the gendered dynamics of political leadership, and evaluating the implications for women’s political participation. We conclude by reflecting on the future prospects for women’s political leadership in troubled times….

“When Do You Plan on Having a Baby?” and Other Questions Not to Ask

Source: Melissa Torres, Employee Benefit Plan Review, Vol. 74, No. 5, July-August 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Employers interviewing women of child-bearing age may be tempted to ask about plans for having a baby, but doing so poses risks. While an employer might be concerned about staffing coverage, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against a woman based on her potential or capacity to become pregnant. Taking adverse action against a pregnant employee because of her pregnancy is equally unlawful.

Nonetheless, an article in The New York Times not too long ago bore the striking headline: “Pregnancy Discrimination Is Rampant Inside America’s Biggest Companies.” The article indicated that, notwithstanding the law, many pregnant women were either passed over for promotions or fired when they complained.

Yet another Times headline focused on the failure of employers to provide light duty to pregnant women: “Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination.”

Occupational Skill Mismatch: Differences by Gender and Cohort

Source: John T. Addison, Liwen Chen, Orgul D. Ozturk, ILR Review, Volume 73 Issue 3, May 2020
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From the abstract:
The authors deploy a measure of occupational mismatch based on the discrepancy between the portfolio of skills required by an occupation and the array of abilities possessed by the worker for learning those skills. Using data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) and the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79 and NLSY97), they report distinct gender differences in match quality and changes in match quality over the course of careers. They also show that a substantial portion of the gender wage gap stems from match quality differences among the college educated. College-educated females show a significantly greater likelihood of mismatch than do males. Moreover, individuals with children and those in more flexible occupations tend to experience a larger degree of mismatch. Cohort effects are also evident in the data: College-educated males of the younger cohort (NLSY97) are worse off in terms of match quality compared to the older cohort (NLSY79), even as the younger cohort of women is doing better on average.

Female leaders and board performance in member‐serving nonprofit organizations

Source: Lauren Dula, Jill Nicholson‐Crotty, Beth Gazley, Volume 30, Issue 4, Summer 2020
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From the abstract:
Despite an active stream of “good governance” research, there is not yet much nonprofit scholarship examining how the gender composition of a board or its leadership relates to board performance. This article helps to fill this gap, focusing on the governance practices of US‐based nonprofits serving a domestic or international membership. A structural equation model finds that the presence of female leaders relates to the performance of nonprofit boards both directly and indirectly through these leaders’ presumed influence on board characteristics and operation. This research advances the field by empirically testing a longstanding theory that board performance is both multidimensional and contingent on the market and labor environment, organizational capacity and other characteristics—in this case, gender dynamics. We find there are some positive relationships between female board leadership and clearly defined measures of board performance. These findings also suggest that a strategy to balance a board’s gender may serve many nonprofits, but gender representation works in tandem with other board characteristics.

Why Retirement, Social Security, and Age Discrimination Policies Need to Consider the Intersectional Experiences of Older Women

Source: Ian Burn, Patrick Button, Theodore F Figinski, Joanne Song McLaughlin, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 30, Issue 3, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Population aging makes retirement security a critical issue. Unfortunately, retirement security is deteriorating over time, and there is a significant amount of income inequality in retirement (Poterba, 2014). Recent cuts to Social Security (e.g., the increase in the full retirement age [FRA], which is the age at which workers can retire with full benefits) partly drive the erosion in retirement security, and similar cuts may be forthcoming. Extending work lives into older ages is thus increasingly important to improve retirement security (Button, 2020; Maestas, 2010, 2018).

However, retirement security is significantly worse for older women, compared to older men, as older women face higher rates of poverty, especially at older ages. Figure 1 shows that poverty rates for older men are relatively consistent by age, ranging from 7.1% to 8.1%. For women, poverty rates start at 8.4% for ages 65 to 69 (compared to 7.1% for men) and rise to 13.5% for ages 80 and older (compared to 8.1% for men). This disparity in poverty rates may be increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current recession, as early evidence suggests that women ages 65 and older faced larger increases in unemployment rates compared to men and younger women (Bui, Button, & Picciotti, 2020).

In this report, we document trends and policies that contribute to the increased poverty faced by older women. We hope our examples of how older women face different experiences make a clear case for considering the impacts on older women, specifically, when setting policy.

A Female Policy Premium? Agency Context and Women’s Leadership in the U.S. Federal Bureaucracy

Source: Rachel Augustine Potter, Craig Volden, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Advance Articles, August 5, 2020
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From the abstract:
Although there are descriptive and substantive benefits associated with women serving in leadership posts in the bureaucracy, we ask whether there is a policy benefit associated with women’s leadership. Simply put, is there a policy premium to having women as bureaucratic leaders? We focus on agency rulemaking, a policymaking activity conducted by nearly all federal agencies. Across three presidential administrations, we find no evidence of an across-the-board premium associated with women’s leadership. However, our results are consistent with a conditional policy premium—wherein women leaders are particularly effective in advancing ambitious rules and in shepherding rules through to finalization—in agencies that have a working environment that is supportive of women and, to some extent, in agencies that focus on women’s issues. One key implication is that, rather than working to tear down “glass walls,” reformers would be better served by improving the workplace climate for women within agencies.

The Gender Wage Gap: 2019 Earnings Differences by Race and Ethnicity

Source: Ariane Hegewisch, Zohal Barsi, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Fact Sheet, C489, March 10, 2020

From the summary:

The gender wage gap in weekly earnings for full-time workers in the United States narrowed marginally between 2018 and 2019. In 2019, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 81.5 percent, an increase of 0.4 percent since 2018, when the ratio was 81.1 percent, leaving a wage gap of 18.5 percent, compared with 18.9 percent in 2018 (Figure 1). Women’s median weekly earnings for full-time work were $821 in 2019 compared with $1,007 for men. Adjusting for inflation, women’s median earnings increased by 2.2 percent compared with 2018; men’s earnings increased by 1.7 percent.

Another measure of the wage gap, the ratio of women’s and men’s median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers, was 81.6 percent in 2018 (data for 2019 are not yet available). An earnings ratio of 81.6 percent means that the gender wage gap for full-time, year-round workers is 18.4 percent.

Unlike the gender earnings ratio for full-time year-round workers, the ratio for weekly earnings excludes self-employed workers, does not include earnings from annual bonuses, and includes workers who work only part of the year. Both earnings ratios are for full-time workers only. When all workers with earnings are included, the gap in earnings is much larger because women are more likely than men to work part-time or take time out of paid work to manage childrearing and other caregiving work. Over a 15 year period women workers’ earnings were just 49 percent—less than half—of men’s earnings, a wage gap of 51 percent in 2001-2015.