IWPR's Research News Reporter is distributed to highlight informative, innovative, and sometimes controversial research related to women and their families.
Research Making the News
Each selection includes a short excerpt, link to the news article, and link to the research cited:
By Sarah Damaske
The Huffington Post
November 10, 2011
Citing: Is the Recovery Starting for Women? Slow Job Growth in October for Both Men and Women by the Institute for Women's Policy Research
"The New York Times and other media outlets popularly dubbed the recession of 2007-2009 a "man-cession," vividly painting a picture of the unemployed men hit hard by economic woes. Yet new data published by the Institute for Women's Policy Research suggests that the years that have followed have led to a reversal of fortunes. Young women age 18-34 were twice as likely as young men to report a bout of unemployment in the last two years. They are also recovering jobs slower than men are.
The large imbalance in unemployment rates between men and women may be attributable to their participation in different parts of the labor market. Women are much more likely than men to work in low-wage jobs in the service industry, which has been one of the few areas of job growth in the last few years.
[....] Women employed in the service sector face what economist Jacob Hacker calls "the rising specter of workplace inequality," and, more often than not, find themselves facing repeated bouts of unemployment. The women I met found that since their employers expected high employee turnover, there was little incentive to provide workers benefits or even a basic level of respect for the work they did.
[....] Since the 1970s, women have made remarkable strides in the labor market, but these changes have been incomplete, leaving many working-class women on the margins of the labor market, facing high levels of unemployment. Over the last thirty years, low-income families experienced a dramatic decline in income -- an average of a 29 percent decrease--and women's increasingly unstable employment only worsens this situation. [....]"
By Gwen Sharp
November 29, 2011
Citing: Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961-2008 by Lynda Laughlin, Ph.D., U.S. Census Bureau
"The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a report on employment and parental leave for first-time mothers. [....] And while a few decades ago the norm was for women to quit work upon getting pregnant, from 2006 to 2008, 56.1% of women worked full time during their pregnancy, leaving work only as the due date approaches. However, this varies widely by educational level, largely because women with the lowest levels of education are less likely to be working [...].
[....] During the 2006-2008 reporting period, for the first time a majority -- but a bare one, at 50.8% -- of first-time mothers in the labor force used paid leave (maternity leave, sick days, etc.). Not surprisingly, access to paid leave also varied greatly by educational level, and that gap has widened significantly over time. [...So] nearly half of first-time mothers in the U.S. still do not have paid leave from their jobs. [....]"
By Laura Smith-Spark
November 10, 2011
Citing: Karamatuna: An Investigation into Sex Trafficking of Iraqi Women and Girls by the Alexandra Micha, Iman Abou-Atta, Marie-Charlotte Macaud, and Sarah Barnes, Social Change Through Education in the Middle East
"[....] Entitled Karamatuna, or Our Dignity, the study highlights the plight of girls as young as 10 or 12 who have been trafficked from post-war Iraq into countries including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for sexual exploitation.
Other victims trafficked within Iraq end up in nightclubs or brothels, often in Baghdad, the report says. Some of those brothels "have been established purely to meet the demand created by United States service personnel," it adds.
[....] Although hard data is hard to come by, the group's research suggests many were trafficked by criminal gangs nationally or internationally, or sold into forced marriage by their own families. [....] Professional trafficking gangs also target young women after they flee home to escape forced marriage, abuse or violence, the report says.
[....] In a finding that may surprise some people, many of the traffickers within Iraq are women, the study says. While some of those have themselves been victims of sexual exploitation, Abou-Atta says, others are in it for the easy money. Other traffickers are taxi drivers who lure girls with false offers of help and then take them to brothels, or young men recruited by gangs who trick vulnerable young girls into eloping and then sell them into sexual servitude.
[....] While anti-trafficking and prostitution laws exist in many countries in the region, the will to enforce them appears weak -- and they fail to offer much protection for the victims. In a move in the right direction, Syria strengthened its anti-trafficking laws last year, the study says, and toughened the penalties against men involved in trafficking. However, women who have been forced into prostitution continue to face sanctions too. [....]"
By Derek Thompson
November 8, 2011
Citing: The Old Prosper Relative to the Young: The Rising Age Gap in Economic Well-Being by Richard Fry, D'Vera Cohen, Gretchen Livingston, and Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center.
"[....] A Pew analysis of Census data released yesterday makes a strong case that it's the youngest generation that faced the worst of the economy -- and that's even before the recession started.
[....] The big loud statistic from the study is that household wealth for young families has fallen by 70 percent since 1984, while net worth for families with older heads-of-household is up 48 percent. As a result, the wealth gap between young and old families has quadrupled from 10X to 47X in the last 30 years.
[....] But much of this change has nothing to do with counting breadwinners per household. Something in the economy dragged down income for new entrants. In households headed by adults younger than 35, Pew reported, the typical adjusted annual income has grown by 27% -- four times slower than for older households.
[....] Real wages for the typical guy have declined by 28 percent since 1969 and for men without a high school degree, they've fallen by a whopping 66 percent. [....] It gets even bleaker for young men. The unemployment rate for males between 25 and 34 years old with high-school diplomas is 14.4% [...].The share of this group of young men living with their parents has increased to nearly 19 percent in the last few years, a 50-year record.
[....] But it's terribly misleading to look at graphs like these and conclude that women are somehow winning anything. We're all losing. For a while, women were just losing less dramatically. Still, female unemployment has been over 8% for two years, and if men came out worse in the sharp downturn, women are recovering more slowly in the aftermath. The local government recession has struck at industries like teaching that are female-dominant, while men have made some gains in industries like mining. [....] It is, very simply, a tough time to be young. [....]"
To read the full article, click here. To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the Pew Research Center, visit their website.
By Ellen Galinsky and Ken Matos
The Huffington Post
November 7, 2011
Citing: Workplace Flexibility in the United States: A Status Report by Kenneth Matos and Ellen Galinsky, Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management.
"[....] According to a new report from the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), Workplace Flexibility in the United States: A Status Report, women's responsibilities at work and men's responsibilities at home have increased, resulting in high feelings of work family conflict among both men and women employees.
Managing a paid job, as well as personal and family responsibilities, has resulted in a "time famine" and appears to impact a wide array of employees. The data from this and other FWI reports for the Department of Labor show that a two-thirds to three-quarters majority of wage and salary employees feel they do not have enough time to be with their children, their spouses/partners, and to spend on themselves.
[....For example,] some employers may worry that allowing employees to work flexibly will create a lax work environment. On the contrary, FWI's research shows that employees who are offered the flexibility to adjust their work schedules on short-notice, rarely do so -- 70% of employees with this option use it once a month or less.
[....] Many employers don't see why they should offer flexibility to hourly employees or manual laborers. [The] data show that flexibility provides real benefits to employers of low-wage employees, such as reduced likelihood of seeking a new job and improved employee engagement. [....]
Though a majority of employees have workplaces that officially support the use of flexibility, the percentage of both male and female employees who believe that using flexibility could jeopardize their careers remains sizable across the various organizational and employee groups examined [...] (27%-49%). [...]."
To read the full article, click here. To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the Families and Work Institute, visit their website. To learn more about the Society for Human Resource Management, visit their website.
By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo
The Christian Science Monitor
November 7, 2011
Citing: Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School by Catherine Hill, Ph.D. and Holly Kearl, M.A., American Association of University Women
"Nearly half of students in Grades 7 to 12 experience sexual harassment during the school year, according to a report out Monday - the first national study of the subject in a decade.
[....] Fifty-six percent of girls in the nationally representative survey about the 2010-11 school year said they were sexually harassed, compared with 40 percent of boys.
Among the findings of "Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School," published by AAUW:
* 30 percent experienced sexual harassment by text message, e-mail, Facebook, or other electronic means. [....]
* 13 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys were touched in an unwelcome sexual way. [....]
Students said they were eager to have anonymous ways to report such behavior, as well as structured discussions of sexual harassment and enforcement of rules against it.
[....] If schools neglect severe or pervasive sexual harassment, they could be held liable under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. But as the report points out, sexual harassment can cause problems for students long before it prompts legal action.
For instance, among students who experienced sexual harassment:
* 32 percent said that afterward they did not want to go to school (and for 10 percent, this lasted quite awhile). [....]
* 30 percent found it difficult to study. [....]
* 4 percent switched schools. [....]"
By Timothy R. Homan
November 4, 2011
Citing: The Global Gender Gap Report: 2011 by Ricardo Hausmann, Harvard University, Laura D. Tyson, University of California, Berkeley, and Saadia Zahidi, World Economic Forum.
"[....] Iceland claimed the No. 1 position for the third year in a row, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden, in the 2011 Global Gender Gap Index released today by the World Economic Forum. Of the countries surveyed, 55 percent narrowed the gender gap, compared with 59 percent the previous year, while 85 percent improved gender-equality ratios since the first survey in 2006.
[....] The survey measures the difference between men's and women's economic participation and opportunities, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. While differences in health and education are disappearing, women still lag behind in economic participation, which includes salaried and skilled jobs, and political representation, according to the report.
[....] The review looks at how countries divide resources and opportunities for men and women, regardless of the level of resources available.
[....]The Philippines came in eighth, followed by Lesotho, an African country, in ninth place. It was the only sub-Saharan country found to have no gap in education and health.
[....] The U.S. rose to No. 17 -- climbing two positions -- in part because women now make up almost half of the labor force and the income gap narrowed. It was followed by Canada in 18th place. [....]"
To read the full article, click here. To read the report online, click here. To learn more about the World Economic Forum, visit their website.
Research Reports ____________________________
Each selection includes a short excerpt from the research and a link to the report:
Claudia Williams, Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Youngmin Yi
Institute for Women's Policy Research
"This report focuses on the potential impact of paid sick days on the health of employees and their families and presents the following findings: Paid sick days are associated with better self-reported general health among workers; workers with paid sick days are less likely to delay medical care for themselves or for family members; access to paid sick days is associated with lower usage of hospital emergency departments, a finding that holds true for those workers and families with private health insurance, those with public health insurance (e.g. Medicaid or SCHIP), and those with no health insurance; and 1.3 million hospital emergency department visits could be prevented in the United States each year by providing paid sick days to workers who currently lack access, reducing medical costs by $1.1 billion annually, with over $500 million in savings for public health insurance programs.
The analyses mainly rely upon a sample of 19,634 private sector employees between the ages of 18 and 64 years (inclusive) drawn from the 2008 and 2009 administrations of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. [....] The results suggest that paid sick days may improve self-reported health status, reduce delays in obtaining needed medical treatment, and reduce preventable emergency department visits."
Rachel K. Jones
"Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) are primarily intended to prevent pregnancy. But they also offer a number of additional and immediate health benefits, particularly for women who experience menstrual-related disorders. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), OCPs help relieve or reduce the symptoms of severe menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea), which is experienced by up to 40% of all adult women and can lead to absences from work and school. [....] Other noncontraceptive uses include prevention of menstrual-related migraines, and treatment of pelvic pain that accompanies endometriosis and of bleeding due to uterine fibroids. [....] To date, little is known about the extent to which women use OCPs for purposes other than pregnancy prevention. To help fill this gap, we use national data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to examine how frequently women use the pill for noncontraceptive reasons. This information will provide a broader understanding of how women balance the different reasons for method use and the extent to which they overlap, and how the uses vary among women of different ages and by sexual activity."
Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, James R. Stone, et al.
Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce, the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium
"The best pathway to the middle class is through a postsecondary education, but not everyone goes directly from high school to college. Are those who enter the workforce directly from high school doomed to work minimum wage jobs? In Career Clusters, we examine which sectors of the labor market afford individuals the best route to a middle class income. Using forecasts, we identify the most promising clusters for job seekers with a high school diploma or less, middle skills such as a certificate or Associate's degree, and those with Bachelor's degrees or better.
Here are several key highlights from the report: While jobs for workers with high school diplomas are in decline, they still exist. Jobs for middle skill workers (jobs for workers with some college, a certificate, or an Associate's degree) will make up 29 percent of the workforce by 2018. Manufacturing will continue to decline in total employment, but retiring Baby Boomers will create 2 million job openings. The gender gap in wages varies greatly from cluster to cluster. For example, the gap in Architecture and Construction is $2,000; in Health Science, it is $69,000."
To download a free PDF of the research brief, click here. To learn more about the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, visit their website. To learn more about the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, visit their website. To learn more about the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, visit their website.
Elizabeth Wildsmith, Ph.D., Nicole R. Steward-Streng, M.A., and Jennifer Manlove, Ph.D.
"Having children outside of marriage-nonmarital childbearing-has been on the rise across several decades in the United States. In 2009, 41 percent of all births (about 1.7 million) occurred outside of marriage, compared with 28 percent of all births in 1990 and just 11 percent of all births in 1970. Preliminary data suggest that this percentage has remained stable in 2010. [....] This Research Brief draws from multiple published reports using data through 2009, as well as from Child Trends' original analyses of data from a nationally representative survey of children born in 2001, to provide up-to-date information about nonmarital childbearing; to describe the women who have children outside of marriage; and to examine how these patterns have changed over time. As nonmarital childbearing has become more commonplace, the makeup of women having children outside of marriage has changed, often in ways that challenge public perceptions. For example, an increasing percentage of women who have a birth outside of marriage live with the father of the baby in a cohabiting union and are over the age of twenty. Moreover, the percentage of women having a birth outside of marriage has increased faster among white and Hispanic women than among black women."
Elizabeth Kneebone, Carey Naudeau, and Alan Berube
The Brookings Institution
"[....] Very poor neighborhoods face a whole host of challenges that come from concentrated disadvantage- from higher crime rates and poorer health outcomes to lower-quality educational opportunities and weaker job networks. A poor person or family in a very poor neighborhood must then deal not only with the challenges of individual poverty, but also with the added burdens that stem from the place in which they live. This "double burden" affects not only the families and individuals bearing it, but also complicates the jobs of policymakers and service providers working to promote connections to opportunity and to alleviate poverty.After decades of growth in the number of high-poverty neighborhoods and increasing concentrations of the poor in such areas, the booming economy of the 1990s led to a significant de-concentration of American poverty. Shortly after the onset of the 2000s, however, that progress seemed to erode as the economy slowed, though until recently researchers have lacked the necessary data to fully assess the changes in the spatial organization of the poor over the last decade.[....] This paper uses data from the decennial census and American Community Survey to update previous analyses and assess the extent to which concentrations of poverty have changed within the United States in the 2000s. We first analyze the trends for the nation as whole, as well as metropolitan and non-metropolitan communities, but focus primarily on changes in concentrated poverty within and across the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, which are home to two-thirds of the nation's residents and over 60 percent of the country's poor population."
To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the Brookings Institution, visit their website.
Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
Migration Policy InstituteNovember 2011
"In this report, we profile first- and second-generation young adults ages 16 to 26 as they pass through differing stages of life, from adolescence to early and full adulthood. [....] We find that these 11.3 million young immigrant-origin adults are far from a monolithic group: they differ widely in their language, age of arrival, citizenship status, gender, and race and ethnicity - all factors that have a profound effect on their educational and workforce outcomes. This diverse population is notable for its substantial generational progress in terms of high school graduation, college enrollment, and ability to earn family-sustaining wages, in some cases making strides that equal or better those of third-generation/higher whites. However, we find that some of these young adults, particularly second-generation Hispanics, are not graduating from college at the same rate or on the same timeline because of family, work, or economic reasons. [....] The study examines the size and composition of the first and second generations and seeks to gauge whether they are on track to complete postsecondary education and obtain jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. [....]"