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
2. Bayer Facts of Science Education XV: A View from the Gatekeepers -STEM Department Chairs at America's Top 200 Research Universities on Female and Underrepresented Minority Undergraduate STEM Students
Research Making News ____________________________
Each selection includes a short excerpt, link to the news article, and link to the research cited:
1. "'Mancession' Fades As More Men Than Women Find Jobs"
By Deborah L. Jacobs
December 6, 2011
Citing: Slow Job Growth in November for Both Women and Men by the Institute for Women's Policy Research
"Women are not getting their fair share of jobs in the latest economic recovery, the Institute for Women's Policy Research reports. Their analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data for November showed a widening job gap between men and women getting back into the workforce.
While men suffered more severe job losses during the recession - the so-called "mancession"- they are making a stronger comeback. Men have recovered 32% of the total jobs lost between December 2007 and the present; women, on the other hand, have regained only 20% during the same period.
'After a long march into the labor force during the 20th century, women's participation in the workplace is now at the lowest it's been since 1993,' says Heidi Hartmann, President of IWPR and a labor economist. Just last month, more than 300,000 women dropped out of the workforce.
[...] Layoffs in state and local government, where women are strongly represented, could be one factor. It's also possible that, in this tough economy, old-fashioned perceptions of men as breadwinners causes hiring managers to pick a man when they must choose between two equally qualified candidates. And the high cost of child care has always played a role in the decision of some women to stop working, at least temporarily."
2. "Marriage Economy: 'I Couldn't Afford to Get Divorced'"
By Shankar Vedantam
December 20, 2011
Citing: Long-Term Unemployed Survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and NPR
"Lindsay Reynolds lives in Waterloo, Wis. Even before the recent economic downturn, Reynolds and her husband struggled to make ends meet. They quarreled, especially over money.
[...] 'I couldn't afford to get divorced. It wasn't an option because I didn't have the money,' [she says].
[...] Her experience perfectly illustrates new research that finds the bad economy has had two effects on many marriages.
The NPR-Kaiser Family Foundation survey found the nation's high unemployment rate has caused rifts within many families: More than a fifth of all Americans who have been out of work for a year or more report that relationships with intimate partners have changed for the worse. More than a third say their economic situation has negatively affected their partners' health and well-being.
Simultaneously a new paper [in the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis]shows that as unemployment rises, the divorce rate goes down.
[...] The combination of these two forces - more unhappy marriages and more unhappy couples trapped in marriages - is cause for serious worry. [...] Multiple studies have found that the marital distress that comes from money problems and feeling trapped is strongly associated with an increased risk of domestic violence.
[...] There is no conclusive evidence that the current economic downturn has produced an increase in domestic violence, but the numbers are staggering: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that as many as 1 in 4 women nationwide say they've been physically hurt by their husbands or boyfriends. [...]"
To read the full article, click here. To download a free PDF of the report, click here. To learn more about NPR, visit their website. To learn more about the Kaiser Family Foundation, visit their website.
3. "Immigrant Entrepreneurs Take the Lead"
By Margaret Summers
December 19, 2011
Citing: Our American Immigrant Entrepreneurs: The Women by Susan C. Pearce, Elizabeth J. Clifford, and Reena Tandon, Immigration Policy Center
"Rubina Chaudhary started her business on a dare.
[...] Today, Chaudhary has 50 full- and part-time staff; 78 percent are U.S. citizens and 35 percent are women. Her husband is her partner in the firm, which earns $6.5 million annually.
Chaudhary is part of a wave of immigrant women who started small businesses in the United States between 2000 and 2010, according to "Our American Immigrant Entrepreneurs: The Women," published this month by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center, an arm of the American Immigration Council, an advocacy organization.
The report finds more immigrant women are at the helm of small businesses than American-born counterparts. The two groups had roughly equal ownership rates in 2000, with each claiming about 5 percent of overall business ownership, according to statistics in the report. By 2010 the rate for immigrant women had grown to 9 percent, while American-born female counterparts trailed at 6.5 percent.
Forty percent of all immigrant business owners were women by 2010 [...] and 20 percent of all female business owners were foreign-born.
[...] Although immigrant women are making business strides, the authors point out particular barriers they face and push for policies and incentives to ease the way.
[...] Along with bureaucratic hurdles, immigrant women small business owners--like other female entrepreneurs--face difficulties obtaining startup capital. Only 3 percent of U.S. startup capital was invested in women-owned businesses, the report notes.
Immigrant women interviewed in the report cited racial, ethnic and gender stereotypes as stumbling blocks. [...] Immigrant women also lack the 'social capital' of business connections and networks that male entrepreneurs draw on for funding. They also often lack 'cultural capital,' as ethnic associations do not always offer support. [...]"
4. "There Really Is No Difference Between Women and Men's Math Abilities"
By Alasdair Wilkins
December 12, 2011
Citing: Debunking Myths about Gender and Mathematics Performance by Jonathan M. Kane, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Janet E. Mertz, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.
"[...] Researchers Jane Mertz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jonathan Kane of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater have performed the most comprehensive exploration yet of math performance. They took in data from 86 different countries, many of which had not previously kept reliable records of math performance and so their addition allowed for much stronger cross-cultural analysis. So what did they find?
First, in many countries, there's no gender gap at all both at the average and very high levels of performance. Some countries, including the United States, do show a gender gap, but that gap has decreased substantially over the last few decades, and some test scores suggest American girls have already caught up to their male counterparts.
[...] All of these findings argue strongly that the apparent gender gaps are really just disparities in education and cultural expectations, not evidence of some deeper biological mechanism.
[...] Mertz and Kane were also able to debunk a couple other hypotheses about math performance, specifically the 'single-gender classroom hypothesis' and 'Muslim culture hypothesis' [...].
[...] The authors say that, upon close examination of the data, girls in these single-gender classrooms still scored quite poorly. The boys in these countries, such as Bahrain and Oman, had scored even worse, but Kane suggests that's because many attend religious schools with little emphasis on mathematics.
[...] Indeed, Mertz and Kane were able to demonstrate pretty much the exact opposite of those hypotheses: as a general rule, high gender equality doesn't just remove the gender gap, it also improves test scores overall. In particular, countries where women have high participation in the labor force, and command salaries comparable to those of their male counterparts, generally have the highest math scores overall. [...]"
5. "Life Choices Dwarf Pollutants in Breast Cancer Risk, Report Finds"
By Melissa Healy
Los Angeles Times
December 7, 2011
Citing: Breast Cancer and the Environment: A Life Approach by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
"There's an environmental link to breast cancer - but chemicals in the air and water may be the least of women's worries.
A comprehensive study [...] finds that substances to which women voluntarily expose themselves every day - fattening foods, alcohol, cigarettes, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement drugs - are far clearer drivers of risk than industrial chemicals such as bisphenol A and phthalates and a long list of feared additives and environmental pollutants.
[...] The report cites mounting evidence that obesity and body fatness - and particularly weight gain at menopause and after - raise a woman's risk of developing invasive breast cancer, as well as a welter of research linking breast cancer to a woman's alcohol consumption, from young adulthood through after menopause, when invasive breast tumors are most likely to appear.
It also notes that numerous studies find exercising drives down a woman's risk of breast cancer, and that women who use oral contraceptives or hormone replacements containing estrogen and progestin for several years are more likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not.
But after conducting an exhaustive review of suspect chemicals used in industrial, agricultural and consumer-goods manufacture, the panel was far more circumspect.
Though established links do exist for many industrial chemicals [...] risk of any significance appears limited to small numbers of women whose jobs expose them to significant quantities of the chemicals, the report says.
As for other chemicals in wide circulation that are the subject of intense scrutiny and activism - including parabens in cosmetics, growth in livestock, phthalates in plastics and bisphenol A in food and drug packaging - evidence of danger is too scant to recommend avoidance, the panel said."
6. "Recession Pushes Dads into Bigger Child-Care Role"
By Brad Plumer
Wonkblog (a blog of the Washington Post)
December 6, 2011
Citing: Who's Minding the Kid? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010 by the United States Census Bureau
"A new report from the Census Bureau finds that the number of dads who look after the kids has been steadily rising in the past decade: 'Among fathers with a wife in the workforce, 32 percent were a regular source of care for their children under age 15, up from 26 percent in 2002.'
Lynda Laughlin, a family researcher at the Census Bureau, attributed the change to the fact that rising unemployment in the aftermath of the financial crash seems to have kept more fathers at home, able to look after their kids - not to mention reduced the amount of money families have to spend on outside child care.
[...] In households with working mothers and pre-school age children, the Census reports, most care is given by family members - 30 percent by grandparents, 29 percent by fathers, and 12 percent from 'a sibling or other relative.' In a different vein, 10 percent of kids aged 5 to 11 looked after themselves, while 30 percent of children aged 12 to 14 were so-called latchkey kids. [...]"
Research Reports ____________________________
Each selection includes a short excerpt from the research and a link to the report:
1. The Gender Wage Gap in New York State and Its Solutions
Ariane Hegewisch, Jeff Hayes, Ph.D., Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Jocelyn Fischer, Claudia Williams, and Justine Augeri
Institute for Women's Policy Research
"In 2010, based on the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the median annual earnings of women working year-round, full-time were $41,570, or $8,658 less than those of men. The gender earnings ratio in New York was 82.8 percent, for a gender wage gap of 17.2 percent. This gender wage gap has pernicious consequences for women and their families. 14.8 percent of women in New York State had incomes at or below the official poverty threshold (for families of their size and composition). This poverty rate for women in New York is approximately the same as that for women in the United States as a whole, with 28 states having less female poverty than New York State. This high female poverty rate for New York is surprising in light of the fact that, in terms of median earnings for women, New York State ranks 7th in the country, and women in New York State are more likely to be highly educated, to work in managerial and professional occupations, and to own businesses."
2. Bayer Facts of Science Education XV: A View from the Gatekeepers-STEM Department Chairs at America's Top 200 Research Universities on Female and Underrepresented Minority Undergraduate STEM Students
International Communications Research for the Bayer Corporation
"The 15th in the Bayer Facts series, this survey is the fifth to explore issues of diversity and underrepresentation. It also is a direct outgrowth of last year's research. That survey found four-in-10 or 40 percent of the country's female and underrepresented minority (URM) chemists and chemical engineers working in their field today were discouraged from pursuing their STEM career at some point in their lives. U.S. colleges were cited as the leading place in the American education system where this discouragement happened and college professors as the individuals most likely responsible. Does such inappropriate discouragement still occur today in American colleges and universities? To answer this question [...] the 2011 survey asks those in charge - faculty who chair STEM departments at the nation's 200 top research universities and those colleges that produce the highest proportion of female, African-American, Hispanic and American Indian STEM graduates."
3. Developing Human Capital: Meeting the Growing Global Need for a Skilled and Educated Workforce
Janet Bray, Association for Career and Technical Education, Ron Painter, the National Association of Workforce Boards, and Mitch Rosin, M.A., M.S., McGraw-Hill Research Foundation
"[This paper] discusses the underlying trends shaping the current global job market; the impact of those trends on the education community; the obstacles that can prevent open dialogue and close cooperation; how important it is that the U.S. and other developed nations focus more resources on career and technical education; and what business and education can do to help each other move forward and begin working more closely together. [...] The answers, as well as any actions or initiatives arising from those answers, will depend upon the local economic, education and other factors informing different regions. [...] Our goal is to discuss the broad goals and promising practices we see as the U.S. contends with global commerce and global efforts to develop talent in competitor countries. [...] The U.S. and other developed nations need to devote more resources to career and technical education-and not just for young people still in school-but even more critically for adults who face barriers to employment due to a lack of formal education, English language or other skills."
To download a free PDF of the research brief, click here. To learn more about the Association for Career and Technical Education, visit their website. To learn more about the National Association of Workforce Boards, visit their website. To learn more about the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation, visit their website.
4. New Trends in Same-Sex Sexual Contact for American Adolescents
Nanette K. Gartrell, Henry M.W. Bos, and Naomi G. Goldberg
National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS)
"In March 2011, the results of the NSFG [U.S. National Survey of Family Growth] Cycle 7 data collection (2006-2008) were released by the National Center for Health Statistics, with a public report that twice as many women reported same-sex contact in their lifetimes as men [...]. Because the Cycle 7 data collection corresponded more closely with the time that we were collecting the data on the NLLFS [National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study] adolescents (2006-2009), we thought it would be interesting to repeat the comparative analyses we conducted for our article, using the 2006-2008 NSFG [...] data [...]. [...] The[se] findings suggest that the Cycle 7 NSFG data on adolescent sexual behavior more closely matches that of the NLLFS adolescents than the Cycle 6 data, which were collected during an earlier time period. [...] However, the 7th cycle girls were found to be significantly older at first heterosexual contact and less likely to have been heterosexually active or pregnant; the 7th cycle girls were also significantly more likely to have used emergency contraception and to have had same-sex contact than 6th cycle girls. In the time interval between the 6th and the 7th cycles, the percentage of girls who had had sex with boys dropped notably, and the percentage of girls who had had sex with other girls increased from 5% to 10%. These findings emphasize the importance of studying sexual behavior not only from the perspective of person-context interrelatedness, but also with a consideration of temporal-cultural factors."
5. Women in the U.S. Military: Growing Share, Distinctive Profile
Eileen Patten and Kim Parker
Pew Research Center
"The women who serve in today's military differ from the men who serve in a number of ways. Compared with their male counterparts, a greater share of military women are black and a smaller share are married. Also, women veterans of the post-9/11 era are less likely than men to have served in combat and more likely to be critical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other ways, however, military women are not different from military men: they are just as likely to be officers; they joined the armed services for similar reasons; and post-9/11 veterans of both sexes have experienced a similar mix of struggles and rewards upon returning to civilian life. The report [...] draws on data from two surveys of military veterans: a Pew Research Center survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,853 veterans conducted July 28-Sept. 4, 2011, and the July 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS) Veterans Supplement (n=9,739 veterans). The CPS data provides information about the overall female veteran population (n=636). The Pew Research survey data provides insight into the experiences of post-9/11 female veterans (n=135), including the mix of benefits and burdens they see resulting from their service."