Employment & Unemployment

Women continue to lag behind men in earnings and wages. The underlying reasons for these continuing disparities are cultural, social and economic. While unemployment rates for women have declined less for women than for men during the recent economic downturn, women are still apt to have lower-paying jobs, with fewer benefits, and more part-time and interrupted careers. As the jobless rate for men rises, women are increasingly becoming primary breadwinners for their families, often without increased access to child care, elder care and help with domestic chores and other key supports.

Tradeswomen Organizing for Change: 30 Years and Counting

May 25, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird

As the granddaughter of a woman engineer (and also someone who struggles to assemble her Ikea furniture but loves her new toolkit anyway), it was an honor to be surrounded by tradeswomen at the Institute for Women and Work’s panel last Thursday night up at Cornell.  We were gathered to discuss how the economic crisis and recovery efforts in New York impact women, particularly tradeswomen.  For me, though, it was an education in a history I didn’t even know existed: the history of tradeswomen in the U.S. and their fight for recognition and rights.  After 30 years of activism, women still only comprise 3% of the construction labor force.   As one panelist said, “do we really believe that men have 97% of the answers?”  I think not. Although frustration with this slow-moving progress was evident in the room, the Cornell event was more celebratory than anything else. Susan Eisenberg shared slides from her multi-media installation, On Equal Terms.   The theme of the installation: Women in construction—30 years and still organizing.  The most provocative exhibit was the bathroom shack, literally a 6 foot by 6 foot plywood replica of a typical bathroom tradeswoman encounter on the job, complete with documented misogynistic and explicitly sexual graffiti. 


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Women and Money Matters

May 22, 2009 posted by admin


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Enough is Enough—We NEED Fair Pay NOW

April 28, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird Blog for Fair Pay 2009I post this today, in honor of Fair Pay Day, with a sense of both frustration and hope. I’m frustrated that three decades have gone by after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and we still don’t have pay equity. I’m frustrated that what progress we’ve made has been achingly slow and small. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, the wage gap has closed by less than half of one cent per year since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. At the current rate of progress, it will take 50 years to close the wage gap. This is simply intolerable. It is unacceptable that after decades of feminist lobbying, women continue to earn only 78 cents for every man’s dollar. In some occupations, the gap is even wider. Among finance and insurance occupations, women earn 55.2 cents on the dollar and the wage gap among physician surgeons is 63.5%. Even as I write this, I’m struck by Michael Kimmel’s recent comment at a panel I attended , questioning why we discuss women’s wages as a function of men’s wages. Why not make male privilege and the gendered dynamics of the economy more visible by reversing the equation? Men make $1.28 for every woman’s dollar. Despite this frustration, however, I remain optimistic. This optimism springs from an unlikely source: the economic downturn.


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The Impact of the Global Recession

April 17, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar The Gender Policy Group at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs organized a lively panel discussion on “Gender, Jobs and This Recession” on Monday, April 13, 2009. I was invited to speak on the panel along with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Wolfe, Subha Barry and Heidi Brown. Here are the main points that I addressed: The current economic crisis is unprecedented in terms of its global reach and impact; here’s what the current economic crisis looks like within the United States.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that current unemployment stands at 13.2 million.
  • 5.1 million jobs have been lost since December 2007.
  • The subprime lending crisis has particularly hit hard women and people of color because of predatory lending practices. NCRW’s research has shown that African American and Latina women borrowers are most likely to receive sub-prime loans at every income level. Women are 32% more likely than men to receive subprime mortgages.
  • In the financial sector, men’s unemployment in Feb was 6.9% while for women it was 6.6%
  • There have been increased reports of women who were secondary breadwinners in their households having to now become primary wage earner because of layoffs.

At the international level, the picture remains pretty grim as well:


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Keeping Women on the Economic Agenda

Last night I attended a dynamic panel hosted by Legal Momentum on Women’s Economic Equality: The Next Frontier in Women’s Rights.  The brilliant panelists duked it out, discussing the current economic situation, its impact on women, and in what directions we should be heading. 


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Taxes ARE a Woman's Issue: Reframing the Debate

“American women have a major stake in a fair tax system. Women are over half of the population, close to half the work force, and more than half of all taxpayers. Yet we rarely hear about how tax policy affects women from various walks of life. To date, discussion and debate on taxes in the U.S. has lacked a gender lens.”
-from Taxes ARE A Women’s Issue: Reframing the Debate

 

Teaser: 

This book examines the current tax system and highlights the ways in which it disadvantages women, their families, and their communities. The book demonstrates how women benefit from services paid for by taxes – but also how they are adversely affected by the ways in which taxes are currently collected. The information presented is intended to educate, inform, and inspire women to speak out about current tax policy and its impact on their well being and that of their families. The facts point to the strong link between fair taxes and the quality of all our lives.

Cover Image: 

Keeping Women on the Economic Agenda

April 3, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird Last night I attended a dynamic panel hosted by Legal Momentum on Women’s Economic Equality: The Next Frontier in Women’s Rights.  The brilliant panelists duked it out, discussing the current economic situation, its impact on women, and in what directions we should be heading.  Legal Momentum President, Irasema Garza, discussed the frustration that while historic legal victories were secured decades ago, this hasn’t translated into systematic equality for the majority of women in the U.S.  Women continue to be steered away from training opportunities, segregated into low-wage jobs, and are 42% more likely to be poor than men. In the midst of this stalemate came a ray of sunshine: the election of Obama.  With this historic election comes the opportunity to set new goals, reframe old debates, and shift the focus of our advocacy.  In this light, Legal Momentum is calling for a Second Bill of Rights for Women.  The bill must provide pathways to employment for women through job training and education; secure rights and supports to ensure women earn a living wage; ensure that public benefits provide an adequate safety net; and expand legal rights and support services for survivors of domestic violence. Heather Boushey brought her economic expertise from the Center for American Progress and laid out the current stark reality:


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FAST FACT: Changing Things Up—Gender Dynamics at Work and at Home

April 3, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird The Families and Work Institute  recently released a fascinating report on the changing gender dynamics in the home and workplace.  What they found is quite exciting:


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Love in the Time of Layoff: Her Expendable Career

April 1, 2009 posted by Deborah Siegel Deborah Siegel is the author of Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild, creator of the group blog Girl w/Pen and a long-time friend of the Council.  The following was originally posted on Recession Wire as Deborah's latest installment of her weekly column, Love in the Time of Layoff. Those who read this column know that I’ve been writing very personally about how the downturn has affected my relationship. In all honesty, I’m starting to fear that by focusing on what’s happening inside relationships, we may be losing sight of larger contexts—what could and should be happening in the structures that govern our lives. The personal is political, after all! Whoever invented the notion that a wife who earns less than her husband has a career that is, by definition, “expendable”? The ubiquity of this sentence—“she has an expendable career”—was brought home to me once again when I read Diane Clehane’s “Recession Marriage Wars” in yesterday’s Daily Beast. Clehane poignantly shares her frustration that for her, and for many working mothers she knows, “The recession means wives are under pressure from their husbands who tell them a sitter is now a luxury they can’t afford.” These are working mothers, mind you—women who have defined themselves by their careers for most of their lives and who know that being a good mom and having a great career are not mutually exclusive. As someone with big hopes of starting a family, and as a feminist, I’m thinking government-funded or employer-subsidized childcare is sounding like a pretty darn good idea right about now.


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FAST FACT: Don’t Forget About Health in the Economic Storm

March 12, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird This week is http://www.lgbthealth.net/awarenessweek09/ ">National LGBT Health Awareness week.  In honor of this important week, I wanted to share with you a stat I found from the Big Five Research: 50 percent of uninsured women have dependent children and half of them (54 percent) are employed. Even as much of our energy has been focused these past few months on the economy, I think it is vital we don’t forget about the importance of health!  Which is why the Council features both economic security and health as part of our Big Five Campaign.


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