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April 2009 RNR

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Below is the newest installation of Research News Reporter (RNR) Online. Previous editions can be viewed in the Archives.

April 2009

IWPR’s Research News Reporter is distributed to highlight informative, innovative, and sometimes controversial research related to women and their families.

Research Making News
1 . “New Study Shows Significant and Surprising Changes Among Men and Women at Work and at Home”
2. “Study Finds Women Players Outdo Men in Classroom”
3. “Fridges and Washing Machines Liberated Women, Study Suggests”
4. “Iraqi Surveys Start to Unveil the Mental Scars of War, Especially Among Women”

Research Reports
1.  Flexible Working Policies: A Comparative Review
2.  Black Girls in New York City: Untold Strength and Resilience
3.  Valuing Good Health in Illinois:  The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
4.  2008 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners of the FP500
5.  The Impact of Laws Requiring Parental Involvement for Abortion:  A Literature Review
6.  “Unemployment Insurance Reforms Important to Women Can Mean More Funding For States”

Research Making News

Each selection includes a short excerpt, link to the news article, and link to the research cited:

1. “New Study Shows Significant and Surprising Changes Among Men and Women at Work and at Home”

PR Newswire
March 26, 2009

Citing: Times Are Changing: Gender and Generation at Work and at Home, a report by Ellen Galinsky, Kerstin Aumann, and James T. Bond of the Families and Work Institute.

“For the first time, young women want just as much to advance to jobs with more responsibility as young men. Moreover, being a mother does not significantly change young women's career ambitions.

The gradual increase of women in the labor force over the past half century, combined with various work life trends and economic pressures, has resulted in a shrinking gap between how men and women view their careers, family roles, and the fit between their lives on and off the job. From the desire to take on greater responsibility at work, to how men and women share responsibilities at home, the differences between the genders are in many cases narrowing according to a newly released report entitled ‘Times Are Changing: Gender and Generation at Work and At Home,’ which examines the evolution of work-related gender roles over the past three decades.


The report was produced by the Families and Work Institute (www.familiesandwork.org) and funded by IBM. It is the first report issued based on data from FWI's 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW), the only study of its kind to provide 30+ year comparisons (from 1977 to 2008), of life on and off the job. The report is also supplemented by other public data to provide as broad and current a picture as possible.


‘Our findings are striking and surprising,’ said Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of Families and Work Institute and lead author of the study. ‘There are many firsts in this study -- the first time that younger men and women feel the same about job advancement and the first time that there is no statistically significant difference between men and women in their views of appropriate gender roles.’

‘The results of this study highlight the need to understand what motivates different generations and ensure your programs meet their needs," according to Ron Glover, Vice President, Diversity & Workforce Programs, IBM. ‘IBM has conducted Work/Life Surveys since 1986 and we have seen a steady increase in work/life challenges for men. Work/Life difficulty is no longer a women's issue -- it's a people issue.’ […]”

To read the full article, click here.

To access a free PDF of the full report, click here.  To learn more about the Families and Work Institute, visit their website.

2. “Study Finds Women Players Outdo Men in Classroom”

Washington Post
By Dave Skretta, The Associated Press
March 25, 2009

Citing:  “Keeping Score When It Counts:  Graduation Rates and Academic Progress Rates for 2009 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament Teams,” a report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

“The women's NCAA tournament has been played in the shadow of the men's event for years. When it comes to academics, however, the women own the spotlight.


Four teams in the women's round of 16 had perfect graduation rates, while five of the remaining men's teams graduated 50 percent or fewer of their players, according to a study released Wednesday.


The report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found that top-seeded Connecticut, Ohio State, Stanford and Vanderbilt gave diplomas to 100 percent of their women's players during a six-year period. Seven other teams still alive had higher graduation success rates than the two top men's teams.

‘The fact that there were so many women's teams that were higher than the top men's team was a little startling,’ said Richard Lapchick, who heads the institute at the University of Central Florida.


The report accompanies an annual study that examined Graduation Success Rates and the Academic Progress Rates for men's and women's NCAA tournament teams. The graduation rates were reviewed over four freshman classes beginning in 1998-99; the APR uses four-year data beginning in 2003-04.

[…] ‘No matter how many teams we examine, overall women's basketball student-athletes succeed academically better than their male counterparts,’ Lapchick said.


[…] The report also noted a tremendous disparity in the graduation rate of black and white basketball players, although the gap has closed from a year ago.


Four women's teams and eight men's teams had graduation rates for black players that were at least 20 percent lower than their rates for white players.


‘No matter whether we look at women's or men's college basketball,’ Lapchick said, ‘the gap between the graduation rates of white and African-American basketball student-athletes is too big.’


Erik Christianson, a spokesman for the NCAA, cautioned that those numbers can be misleading because of the small sample. […]”

To access a free PDF summarizing the report, click here.  To read more about studies on graduation rates from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, visit their website.

3.“Fridges and Washing Machines Liberated Women, Study Suggests”

Science Daily
March 13, 2009

Citing:  Household Technology: Was it the Engine of Liberation?, by Emanuela Cardia of the Universite de Montreal.

“The advent of modern appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators had a profound impact on 20th Century society, according to a new Université de Montréal study. Plug-in conveniences transformed women's lives and enabled them to enter the workforce, says Professor Emanuela Cardia, from the Department of Economics.


Within a short time-span, household technology became accessible to the majority.  In the late 1910s, a refrigerator sold for $1,600 and 26 years later such appliances could be purchased for $170.  Access to electric stoves, washing machines and vacuum cleaners was also generalized.

‘These innovations changed the lives of women,’ says Professor Cardia. ‘Although it wasn't a revolution per se, the arrival of this technology in households had an important impact on the workforce and the economy.’


Professor Cardia based her research on more than 3,000 censuses conducted between 1940 and 1950, from thousands of American households, across urban and rural areas. ‘We calculated that women who loaded their stove with coal saved 30 minutes everyday with an electric stove,’ says Cardia. ‘The result is that women flooded the workforce. In 1900, five percent of married women had jobs. In 1980, that number jumped to 51 percent.’


In 1913, the vacuum cleaner became available, in 1916 it was the washing machine, in 1918 it was the refrigerator, in 1947 the freezer, and in 1973 the microwave was on the market. All of these technologies had an impact on home life, but none had a stronger impact than running water.

[…] While there have been several studies on the industrial revolution and different aspects of technology, says Cardia, very few investigations have focused on the household revolution. ‘Yet, women play a very important role in the economy whether they hold a job or work at home.’ [...]”

To read the complete article, click here.

To access a free PDF of the full report, click here.

4.“Iraqi Surveys Start to Unveil the Mental Scars of War, Especially Among Women”

New York Times
By Alissa J. Rubin (with Anwar J. Ali contributing)
March 7, 2009

Citing:  Iraq Mental Health Survey, a collaborative report by the Iraqi Government and the World Health Organization, and In Her Own Words: Iraqi Women Talk About Their Greatest Concerns and Challenges, a collaborative report by Oxfam International and Al-Amal Association.

“Only when the guns fall silent does the extent of damage wrought by conflict become visible.

So in Iraq, as security improves, only now are the full effects of the violence on the Iraqi people emerging.

Two studies being released this weekend, one on mental health and the other on the status of women, paint a sobering portrait of the enormous difficulties that lie ahead as the country tries to recover from years of war and state-sponsored terrorism under Saddam Hussein and the more recent sectarian and ethnic strife that followed the American invasion.


In the mental health study, released Saturday, the Iraqi government and the World Health Organization surveyed 4,332 Iraqis over 18 years old nationwide and found that 17 percent suffered from mental disorders of some kind, with depression, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety among the most common.

[…] The study found that women were particularly vulnerable to mental illness. Among men, 14 percent suffered from mental health problems while 19 percent of women did. A higher proportion of women than men were found to suffer from severe depression, phobias and anxiety.

[…] The higher levels of stress and mental illness among women, common in many postconflict societies, may be even higher in Iraq because of the long period of war, according to a study to be released Sunday by the nonprofit research group Oxfam and Amal, an Iraqi nonprofit group that concentrates on issues of concern to women.


Despite the recent increase in stability in Iraq, many women have seen their circumstances worsen over the past two years, according to the study, which surveyed 1,700 women in five provinces and was completed last May. […]”


To read the full article, click here.

To access a free PDF of the Iraq Mental Health Survey, click here.  To access a free PDF of Oxfam International and Al-Amal Association’s survey report on women’s status, In Her Own Words, click here.

Research Reports

Each selection includes a short excerpt from the research and a link to the report:

1. Flexible Working Policies: A Comparative Review

Ariane Hegewisch
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Commissioned by Equality and Human Rights Commission
April 2009

“In December 2008, the Equality and Human Rights Commission commissioned the Institute for Women’s Policy Research to examine the impact of the UK ‘Right to Request, and Duty to Consider, Flexible Working’ on gender equality and the access to quality flexible working for both men and women. It was asked specifically to compare this with the impact of flexible working statutes in other countries. Of particular interest are the experiences of countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands where flexible working rights are open to all employees and are not, as in the UK, targeted at employees with childcare or care-giving responsibilities. The review further assesses employers’ experience with flexible working laws and reviews policies and best practice initiatives aimed at encouraging the transformation of work.”

To access a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, click here.

2. Black Girls in New York City: Untold Strength & Resilience

Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D.
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Commissioned by the Black Women for Black Girls Giving Circle of the Twenty-First Century Foundation
March 2009

“In 1947, Ralph Ellison eloquently described the plight of living life as an invisible man in America. Today, more than 60 years later, in many respects, it is the Black girl who wears the cloak of invisibility. Even though we see her everywhere—as the video vixen at the periphery of hip hop culture, or the loud, neck-rolling mean girl in public spaces, do we know her? Do we really know her? Are we aware of her special concerns, her distinct challenges, and the intricacies of her unique experience as she attempts to traverse a society that commonly marginalizes her worth, ignores her struggles, and consistently fails to address her distinct concerns through social or policy action? For far too many of us, the answer is no. This report, commissioned by the Black Women for Black Girls Giving Circle of The Twenty-First Century Foundation, the Sister Fund, and the New York City Mission Society begins the long overdue process of seeking to answer these questions. It does so through providing an in-depth examination into the lives of Black girls, with a special emphasis on those living within
the city of New York. The report provides an overview of existing literature as well as an analysis of original data collected through focus groups and written surveys. Together, these approaches allow us the opportunity to assess the broader landscape traversed by Black girls, while also making clear, their first-hand perspectives—in their own voices—as they share their perspectives regarding navigating a culture that simultaneously places them on the outside of both race and gender privilege as it relates to the American experience.  Included below are highlights of the study’s key findings, as well as a set of recommendations that attempt to spell out what can be done to truly address, in an impactful way, the lives and life chances of black girls in New York and beyond.”

To access a free PDF of the full report, click here.  To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, click here.

3. Valuing Good Health in Illinois:  The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days

Vicky Lovell, Ph.D.
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
March 2009

“Policymakers across the country are increasingly interested in ensuring the adequacy of paid sick days policies.  In addition to concerns about workers’ ability to respond to their own health needs, there is growing recognition that, with so many dual-earner and single-parent families, family members’ health needs can be addressed only by workers taking time from their scheduled hours on the job.  Paid sick days policies also allow workers with contagious diseases to avoid unnecessary contact with co-workers and customers and, thus, are a fundamental public health measure.  Paid sick days protect workers from being fired when they are too sick to work and offer substantial savings to employers by reducing turnover and minimizing absenteeism.
Illinois lawmakers are now considering the Healthy Workplace Act. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has estimated the costs and benefits of the Healthy Workplace Act, using government-collected data, peer-reviewed research literature, and a thoroughly vetted methodology.”

To access a free PDF of the full report, click here.  To learn more about paid sick days initiatives, visit the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

4. 2008 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners of the FP500

Laura Jenner and Rhonda Ferguson
Catalyst
March 2009

“In the 2008 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners of the FP500, Catalyst tracks the progress that corporate Canada has made in this area over time, including an account of the number of women corporate officers at the top 500 companies in Canada as ranked by the Financial Post 500 (FP500), data on top-earning women corporate officers at these companies, and data comparisons by industry. […] This reportis the sixth in a biannual series that assesses the status of women in corporate leadership of the largest companies in Canada.”

To access a free PDF of the full report, click here.  To read a short summary of the methods and findings, click here.

5. The Impact of Laws Requiring Parental Involvement for Abortion:  A Literature Review

Amanda Dennis, Stanley K. Henshaw, Theodore J. Joyce, Lawrence B. Finer, and Kelly Blanchard
Guttmacher Institute
March 2009

“In this literature review, we summarize the results of studies that have evaluated the impact of parental involvement laws on a multitude of outcomes, including sexual and reproductive behaviors of minors (sexual activity, contraceptive use, abortion rate and ratio, second trimester abortion rate, birthrate and pregnancy rate), the number of female-headed households and the health of infants and children. […] We have considered abortion restrictions as the predictor variable and the outcomes assessed as the dependent variables.  The aim of this paper, beyond synthesis of the available literature, is to critically review the methodology used in current research and the outcomes addressed in order to highlight effective research designs and identify the data needed to accurately assess the impact of these restrictions in the future.”

To access a free PDF of the full report, click here.

6. “Unemployment Insurance Reforms Important to Women Can Mean More Funding For States”

National Women’s Law Center
March 2009

“Both women and men are losing jobs at a devastating rate in this recession, but women – who
already have lower wages than men, higher rates of poverty, and are more likely to be supporting
children on their own – are especially vulnerable. Unemployment insurance (UI) provides
temporary income support to workers who lose their jobs – but many states’ eligibility rules
disqualify a majority of workers, especially women. Fortunately, the recently signed American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) encourages and helps states to address such coverage
gaps. The Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act (UIMA), incorporated in the ARRA,
provides substantial financial incentives to states to enact reforms to their UI systems. These
reforms can alleviate hardship for women and families and boost state economies – if states act
quickly to implement the reforms needed to qualify for all available funding.”

To access a free PDF of this policy brief, click here.

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