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April 2010 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 2010

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. “Why Aren’t There More Women in STEM?”
2. “White House Launches Push for Workplace Flexibility”

Research Reports
1. The Gender Wage Gap: 2009
2. Social Security: Vital to Retirement Security for 35 Million Women and Men
3. Who Are Social Security Beneficiaries?
4.Women and Social Security: Benefit Types and Eligibility
5. Our Working Nation: How Working Women are Reshaping America's Families and Economy and What it Means for Policymakers
6. Advancing the Economic Security of Unmarried Women: Overview of Laws and Legislation in the 111th Congress
7. VA Has Taken Steps to Make Services Available to Women Veterans, But Needs to Revise Key Policies and Improve Oversight Processes

Research Making News

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

1. “Why Aren’t There More Women in STEM?”

By Valerie Strauss
The Answer Sheet (A Washington Post Blog)
March 23, 2010

Citing: Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics by Catherine Hill, Ph.D., Christianne Corbett and Andresse St. Rose, Ed.D of AAUW

“[…] A new report says that despite gains by women, social and environmental factors still play a big role in maintaining a gender gap in the science and engineering fields.

[…] It concludes that the stereotype that boys are better than girls in math and science still negatively affects the performance of girls in these fields.
Gender differences in self-confidence in STEM subjects starts in middle school and increases thereafter, with girls being less confident in their math and science abilities.
But when teachers and parents tell girls that their intelligence can expand with experience and learning, the report says, they do better on math tests and are more likely to say they want to continue to study math in the future.

Workplace bias is another factor, according to the report. Colleges and universities still don’t do enough to create environments in which women faculty feel comfortable; research shows that that women are less satisfied with the academic workplace and are more likely to leave earlier than their male counterparts
.

[…] Workplace projections for 2018 by the Labor Department show that nine of the 10 fastest-growing occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree will require significant scientific or mathematical training. Some of the largest increases will be in engineering- and computer-related fields in which women now hold one-quarter or fewer of the jobs.

To read the full article, click here.  To download a free copy of the report click here and to learn more about AAUW, visit their website.

2. “White House Launches Push for Workplace Flexibility””

By Dan Froomkin
Huffington Post
March 31, 2010

Citing: Worklife Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility by the White House Council of Economic Advisors

“[…] At the White House on Wednesday, Michelle and Barack Obama held a summit meeting to discuss, as the president put it, "what we can do -- as business leaders and advocates, as employees and as government officials -- to modernize our workplaces to meet the needs of our workforce and our families."

As part of his push, Obama cited a new White House report which concludes that flexible workplace rules could increase productivity.


But he also cast the need for more humane workplaces in moral terms.

‘[U]ltimately, it reflects our priorities as a society -- our belief that no matter what each of us does for a living, caring for our loved ones and raising the next generation is the single most important job that we have. I think it's time we started making that job a little easier for folks,’ he said.

The invited guests split into working groups to share stories of best practices currently in use. Several companies reported great success in giving their employees more flexibility.

[…] Advocates of greater workplace flexibility consistently said their biggest obstacle is managers who can't let go of the need to exercise authority over employees -- in person. ‘Sometimes flexibility requires sharing control,’ said Peter Berg, a Michigan State University professor who tracks workplace issue. ‘Sometimes there's a sense [among managers] that we don't necessarily want to share control.’

[…] Michelle Clements, HR chief for outdoor outfitter REI, said ‘the greatest obstacles are leaders who don't embrace it, don't support it, and employees live in fear.’

[…] Linda Meric, of the 9to5 advocacy group, was one of the few to make the point that government has a role in establishing some minimum standards for such things as paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave. […]”

To read the full article, click here.  To download a free copy of the report click here and to learn more about Council of Economic Advisors, visit their website.

Research Reports

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

1. The Gender Wage Gap: 2009

Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Ariane Hegewisch, Hannah Liepmann, and Claudia Williams
Updated March 2010

“During 2009 the gender wage gap narrowed only slightly. The median weekly earnings of female full-time workers were $657, compared with male median weekly earnings of $819. Based on these data, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly earnings was 80.2, slightly higher than in 2008 but still below the historical high of 81.0 in 2005. During recessions the gender wage gap typically narrows slightly because bonus and overtime payments, which on average account for a larger share of male than female earnings, are cut back. In real terms, women’s median weekly earnings increased by 3.3 percent compared with 2008, while men’s median weekly earnings increased by 3.0 percent. This increase is at least partly due to the disproportionate concentration of job losses among lower paid and more junior employees; it reflects changes in the composition of those in employment more than increases in the earnings of individual men and women.”

To download a free PDF of the fact sheet, click here. To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, visit our website.

2. Social Security: Vital to Retirement Security for 35 Million Women and Men

Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Jeff Hayes, Ph.D., Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., and Sunhwa Lee, Ph.D.
March 2010

“This Briefing Paper examines major sources of income for older Americans—earnings, Social Security, pensions and assets—by gender and marital status. It shows that after age 65, Social Security is the most common and the largest source of income for both women and men. More than 85 percent of women and men 65 and older receive income from Social Security. During the retirement years, however, women face greater financial insecurity than men. Women tend to marry men who are older than themselves and they live longer than men. As a result, women are much more likely than men to be widowed and to live alone, making them highly vulnerable to economic insecurity. Having less access to other sources of income, women rely on Social Security even more than men do.”

To access a free PDF of the briefing paper, click here.  To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, visit our website.

3. Who Are Social Security Beneficiaries?

Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Ashley English and Sunhwa Lee, Ph.D
March 2010

“Social Security – formally called Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) – is a social insurance program that provides benefits to workers and their families upon retirement, disability, or death. Workers earn eligibility for benefits by contributing to the system through payroll taxes. At the end of 2008, Social Security provided monthly benefits to 50.9 million beneficiaries, including both workers and their family members, totaling $615.4 billion. […] The majority of Social Security beneficiaries are retired workers and their family members (about 35.2 million), accounting for 69 percent of all beneficiaries as of December 2008. Disabled workers and their families (9.3 million) and survivors of deceased workers (6.5 million) together make up 31 percent of all beneficiaries. […] Of all beneficiaries, 8 percent are children, 40 percent are adult males, and 52 percent are adult females.”

To access a free PDF of the factsheet, click here.  To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, visit our website.

4. Women and Social Security: Benefit Types and Eligibility

Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Ashley English and Sunhwa Lee, Ph.D.
March 2010

“Social Security provides monthly benefits to qualified retired and disabled workers, their family members, and survivors of deceased workers. At the end of 2008, Social Security provided monthly benefits to 50.9 million beneficiaries, including both workers and their family members, totaling $615.4 billion. Workers can earn eligibility for Social Security by contributing to the system through payroll taxes or self-employment taxes. The current payroll tax rate is 6.2 percent for employees, which is matched by employers at an equal rate of 6.2 percent. Self-employed workers pay a combined rate of 12.4 percent. There is a maximum yearly amount of earnings subject to Social Security taxes (often called the “earnings cap”)–currently $106,800 for 2010–which varies from year to year according to wage increases; the benefit is also calculated up to this maximum amount.”

To access a free PDF of the briefing paper, click here.  To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, visit our website.

5. Our Working Nation: How Working Women are Reshaping America’s Families and Economy and What it Means for Policymakers

Center for American Progress
Heather Boushey and Ann O’Leary
March 2010

“When we look back over the 20th century and try to understand what’s happened to American workers and their families, the movement of women out of the home and into paid employment stands out as one of the most important transformations. Women are now half of all workers on U.S payrolls, two-thirds of mothers are bringing home at least a quarter of the family’s earnings, and 4 in 10 mothers are either the sole breadwinner (a single, working mother) or are bringing home as much or more than their spouse (see Figure 1). This increase in women’s workforce participation and contribution to the family income has been dramatic across all racial and class lines, but is particularly striking among low-income women who are now primary breadwinners in two-thirds of their families. The movement of women into employment has transformed how we work and live. Yet government, business, educational, and other social institutions all around us are not keeping pace.”

To access a free PDF of the report, click here.  To learn more about the Center for American Progress, visit their website.

6. Advancing the Economic Security of Unmarried Women: Overview of Laws and Legislation in the 111th Congress

Center for American Progress and Women’s Voices Women Vote
Liz Weiss and Page Gardner
March 2010

“Today nearly half of women are unmarried—a transformational societal change from 1960 when only one-third of women were unmarried. And today virtually every woman will spend at least part of her adult life as the sole supporter of herself or her family. With so many women living on their own, it is crucial that lawmakers take seriously unmarried women’s economic security needs. Unfortunately, the economic circumstances of unmarried women are troubling. They face greater economic insecurity compared to the general population or their married counterparts by almost any measure. They must confront disproportionate unemployment, poverty, and lack of health insurance, as well as other hardships. Despite being just under half of the female population, they represent 63 percent of unemployed women, 60 percent of women without health insurance, and three-quarters of women in poverty.”

To access a free PDF of the report, click here.  To learn more about the Center for American Progress, visit their website. To learn more about Women’s Voices, Women Vote,  visit their website.

7. VA Has Taken Steps to Make Services Available to Women Veterans, But Needs to Revise Key Policies and Improve Oversight Processes

U.S. Government Accountability Office
February 2010

“The VA facilities GAO visited provided basic gender-specific and outpatient mental health services to women veterans on site, and some facilities also provided specialized services for women. Seventeen of the 19 medical facilities GAO visited offered basic gender-specific services including pelvic examinations and cervical cancer screening on site, and 15 offered access to one or more female providers for gender-specific care. The availability of specialized gender-specific services—such as treatment of reproductive cancers—and mental health services for women varied by service and facility. While some VAMCs offered a broad array of specialized gender-specific care on site, smaller CBOCs referred women to other VA or non-VA facilities for many or most of these services. Nationally, 9 VAMCs have residential mental health programs that are for women only or have dedicated cohorts for women. However, information about all of these programs was not available on VA’s external Web sites.”

To access a free PDF of the report, click here.  To learn more about the U.S. Government Accountability Office, visit their website.

 

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