Category Archives: Working Women

Rotating Night Shift Work and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Two Prospective Cohort Studies in Women

Source: An Pan, Eva S. Schernhammer, Qi Sun, Frank B. Hu, PLoS Medicine, Vol. 8 no. 12, December 2011

From the abstract:
Rotating night shift work disrupts circadian rhythms and has been associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and glucose dysregulation. However, its association with type 2 diabetes remains unclear. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate this association in two cohorts of US women….Our results suggest that an extended period of rotating night shift work is associated with a modestly increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women, which appears to be partly mediated through body weight. Proper screening and intervention strategies in rotating night shift workers are needed for prevention of diabetes.
related:
Shift Work as a Risk Factor for Future Type 2 Diabetes: Evidence, Mechanisms, Implications, and Future Research Directions
Source: Mika Kivimäki, G. David Batty, Christer Hublin, PLoS Medicine, Vol. 8 no. 12, December 2011
– Editorial: Poor Diet in Shift Workers: A New Occupational Health Hazard?
Source: PLoS Medicine Editors, PLoS Medicine, Vol. 8 no. 12, December 2011

The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All The Right Things Really Get Women Ahead?

Source: Nancy M. Carter and Christine Silva, Catalyst, October 2011

From the abstract:
Catalyst’s longitudinal project, The Promise of Future Leadership: A Research Program on Highly Talented Employees in the Pipeline, develops timely reports on the retention and advancement of high potential women and men. The project surveys graduates of leading business schools in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, with the intent of assessing their career values, goals, and expectations, the developmental opportunities afforded them, and their strategies for managing work and family life. The reports highlight the differences in women’s and men’s career experiences and satisfaction; some feature perspectives from global leaders and other experts.

The fourth report,The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead?, tackles persistent myths about the gender gap. Career advancement strategies used by women and men were compared to determine if using the same strategies ultimately leads to the same career outcomes.

Findings revealed that:
– Men benefited more from adopting proactive strategies.
– When women did all the things they have been told will help them get ahead–using the same tactics as men–they still advanced less than their male counterparts and had slower pay growth.

Pregnancy as ‘Disability’ and the Amended Americans with Disabilities Act

Source: Jeannette Cox, Boston College Law Review, forthcoming

From the abstract:
The recent expansion of the ADA’s protected class invites reexamination of the assumption that pregnant workers may not use the ADA to obtain workplace accommodations. The ADA’s scope now includes persons with minor temporary physical limitations comparable to pregnancy’s physical effects. Accordingly, the primary remaining justification for concluding that pregnant workers may not obtain ADA accommodations is that pregnancy is a physically healthy condition rather than a physiological defect.

Drawing on the social model of disability, this article challenges the assumption that medical diagnosis of “defect” must be a prerequisite to disability accommodation eligibility. The social model defines “disability” not as an impairment located within an individual’s body but as the interaction between the individual’s body and her social environment. Within this framework, workers may experience pregnancy, a healthy biological state, as a workplace “disability.” Accordingly, now that workers with temporary physical limitations comparable to pregnancy may receive ADA accommodations, courts should conclude that the ADA’s goal to reshape the workplace to accommodate previously excluded persons extends to pregnancy.

What Moms Choose: The Working Mother Report

Source: Working Mother Research Institute, 2011

From the summary:
From “The Feminine Mystique” to the “Opt-Out Revolution,” every decade has its debate over a mother’s decision to work or stay home. The Working Mother Research Institute has commissioned a new survey examining what women are choosing now when it comes to work and life. And, crucially, why? …We surveyed more than 3,700 women to find out who ends up at home, who goes back to work and all of the push-pull factors that shape those decisions. This report, our second annual, is part of the Working Mother Research Institute’s ongoing mission to help all employers attract and retain women by becoming more family-friendly.

Indeed, our survey found widespread work/life disconnection: Women want one arrangement, but settle for another. Fifty-five percent of career-oriented stay-at-home moms we surveyed, for instance, would prefer to be working now. Equally troubling, 71 percent of mothers surveyed equate work with something done only to pick up a paycheck. Given these realities, the challenge is to get those career-oriented moms back into the talent pool and to better engage the workers who are there out of financial necessity.

Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961-2008

Source: Lynda Laughlin, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P70-128, October 2011

The labor force participation of mothers has increased dramatically over the last 3 decades, and women have become more likely to work continuously over their life cycle. Almost two-thirds of American women (62 percent) with a birth in the last year were in the labor force in 2008.A child’s birth may also require changes in a mother’s work schedule to accommodate the demands of raising young children. This report examines trends in maternity leave and the employment patterns of women who gave birth to
their first child between January 1961 and December 2008.
Related:
Paid-leave benefits lagging for working moms in US
Source: Hope Yen, Associated Press, November 10, 2011

Gender Pay Differences: Progress Made, but Women Remain Overrepresented among Low-Wage Workers

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-10, October 12, 2011

From the summary:
Women represent an increasingly larger share of the total workforce in the United States–constituting nearly half of the total workforce. In addition, an increasing proportion of women in the workforce are more educated. However, research by GAO and others has shown that women’s average pay has been and remains lower than that of men. Questions have been raised about the extent to which less-advantaged women–that is, those who are low wage or less educated–experience lower wages than less-advantaged men. GAO was asked to examine the differences in representation, key characteristics, and pay among women and men (1) with less education and (2) with low wages. GAO defined less-educated workers as those having a high school degree or less and low-wage workers as those earning an hourly wage rate in the bottom quintile–or 20 percent–of wages across the workforce. GAO analyzed data from the Department of Labor’s Current Population Survey (CPS); reviewed other work on similar topics; and interviewed agency officials, representatives of women’s groups, and other researchers.

What Would They Do? Childcare under Parental Leave and Reduced Hours Options

Source: Robert Drago, Industrial Relations, Volume 50, Issue 4, October 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Time diary data are used to simulate the effects of parental leave and reduced hours arrangements on childcare time among parents of infants. Estimates suggest that coupled fathers would apply approximately around 70 percent of working time reductions under leave or reduced hours to childcare. Both coupled and single mothers translate working time reductions into childcare at higher rates. The analysis highlights inequalities across lines of gender, marital status and socio-economic status associated with existing policies, and suggests policy innovations to both raise parental investments in childcare time and reduce levels of inequality.

Retirement on the Edge: Women,Men, and Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession

Source: Cynthia Hess, Jeff Hayes and, Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) /Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security, D500, September 2011

The Great Recession dramatically altered the lives of many Americans, creating pronounced economic stress and uncertainty for both individuals and families. Even after the recession was officially declared over, unemployment levels remained persistently high, while housing values remained notably low. These circumstances led the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) to develop and analyze the IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security, which was administered to 2,746 adults aged 18 and older between September and November 2010. The sample for the survey was stratified to yield approximately equal numbers of white, black, and Hispanic respondents, with results weighted by American Community Survey data to reflect the non-institutional, adult population of the nation. The survey included a select number of questions from earlier surveys, such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s February 2007 American Workers Survey and the National Academy of Social Insurance/Rockefeller Survey of 2009. These questions were worded the same or in similar ways in the current survey to allow for comparison between respondents’ views in 2010 and in the previous studies.

Women and Men Living on the Edge: Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession

Source: Jeffrey Hayes and Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) /Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security, C386, September 2011

The IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security, like several other recent surveys, finds that the effects of the 2007-2009 recession, known as the Great Recession, are both broad and deep. The IWPR/Rockefeller survey shows that more than one and a half years after the recession came to an official end, and the recovery supposedly began, many women and men report that they are still suffering significant hardships. They are having difficulty paying for basics like food (26 million women and 15 million men), health care (46 million women and 34 million men), rent or mortgage (32 million women and 25 million men), transportation (37 million women and 28 million men), utility bills (41 million women and 27 million men), and they have difficulty saving for the future (65 million women and 53 million men). On almost every measure of insecurity and hardship the survey reveals the Great Recession has visited more hardship on women than it has on men.

Pay Transparency

Source: Gowri Ramachandran, Penn State Law Review, forthcoming 2012

From the abstract:
Pay discrimination, like many forms of discrimination, is a particularly sticky problem. In many instances, just as with other forms of discrimination, it is unrealistic to allocate all the blame and burden for its continued existence on a single actor, whether it be an employer or employee. Thus, the traditional civil rights regime in which an individual actor is held liable for the discrimination does a poor job of dealing with this problem. I propose an intervention – pay transparency – that would help prevent, root out, and correct the discrimination in the first place, instead of relying solely on after the fact blame and liability.

Pay transparency – the ability for employees to find out what other employees in their workplace make – is rare outside of public employment, and cultural norms against talking about one’s income may make it frightening to some readers. Yet, unlike many other approaches to reducing seemingly “blameless” discrimination, such as targeting unconscious discrimination, or potentially counterproductive “debiasing” efforts, incentivizing pay transparency can fit very comfortably within our legal framework. By turning pay transparency into an affirmative defense to pay discrimination claims, this preventive measure can be woven neatly into our current approach to civil rights enforcement and notions of individual responsibility.