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July 2008 RNR

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

July 2008

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. “Minorities, Women Highly Satisfied by Military Work"
2. “'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Hits Women Much More"
3.“Research Finds Wide Disparities in Health Care by Race and Region ”
4. "Progress Has Been Made in the Fight Against AIDS, but Not Enough, U.N. Report Says"

Research Reports
1. The Economic Status of Women in New York State
2. Women of Color in Accounting: Women of Color in Professional Services Series
3. Work-Life Policies for the Twenty-First Century Economy
4. The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology
5. Why Are Women Still Not Running for Public Office?

Research Making News _____________________________

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

“Minorities, Women Highly Satisfied by Military Work”

By Sarah Kliff
June 12, 2008

Citing: Ethnic and Gender Satisfaction in the Military by Jennifer Hickes Lundquist, University of Massachusetts, published in American Sociological Review, June 2008; and Department of Defense FY07 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military by the U.S. Department of Defense Institution

Any list of the best places to work is sure to include cool favorites like Google. [But] the U.S. military? The sacrifices and risks required of its members seem to make it an unlikely pick. But new research suggests that it may well belong on such a list, particularly for minorities and women. The members of those two demographics in the military consistently rate their jobs as more satisfying than white males do, according to new research in this month's American Sociological Review [.…] The study of over 30,000 active duty personnel suggests that the armed forces' social hierarchy—explicitly based on rank—overrides many of the racial or gender biases in civil society, which tend to act as barriers for women and minorities in career advancement.

‘Whites are far and away the least satisfied [in the military],’ says Jennifer Hickes Lundquist, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts and the study author. ‘Black females tend to be the most satisfied. It's a direct opposite and complete reversal of what we know about civilian job satisfaction.’

[…] ‘It's not that the military environment treats white males less fairly; it's simply that, compared to their peers in civilian society, white males lose many of the advantages that they had,’ Lundquist says. ‘There's a relative deprivation when you compare to satisfaction of peers outside of the military.’

The same leveling effect among ethnic minorities also occurred across genders, although that was a bit more challenging to explain. A third of the women in the military say they have been sexually harassed, according to a recent Pentagon survey, and women in male-dominated specialties consistently rank their job satisfaction lower than those largely occupied by women. But female job satisfaction ratings seemed largely unaffected by these factors. Among each ethnicity that Lundquist studied, the women consistently had higher levels of job satisfaction than the males. Lundquist's thinking is that the mechanisms in place to ensure racial equality are trickling over to gender equality.”

To view the full article, visit Newsweek online.

To view Ethnic and Gender Satisfaction in the Military, click here:

To view the Department of Defense FY07 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, click here:

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Hits Women Much More”

The Washington Post
By Thom Shanker
June 23, 2008

Citing:  Statistics on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ gathered by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The Army and Air Force discharged a disproportionate number of women in 2007 under the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military, according to Pentagon statistics gathered by an advocacy group.

While women make up 14 percent of Army personnel, 46 percent of those discharged under the policy last year were women. And while 20 percent of Air Force personnel are women, 49 percent of its discharges under the policy last year were women.

By comparison for 2006, about 35 percent of the Army’s discharges and 36 percent of the Air Force’s were women, according to the statistics.

The information was gathered under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a policy advocacy organization.

‘Women make up 15 percent of the armed forces, so to find they represent nearly 50 percent of Army and Air Force discharges under “don’t ask, don’t tell” is shocking,’ said Aubrey Sarvis, the organization’s executive director. ‘Women in particular have been caught in the crosshairs of this counterproductive law.’

The organization compiled gender statistics on the discharges, but conducted no formal set of interviews and thus could offer no verifiable reason for the increase in women separated from the military under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

For the full article, visit The Washington Post online.

To view the statistics collected by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, click here:

“Research Finds Wide Disparities in Health Care by Race and Region”

By Kevin Sack
The New York Times
June 5, 2008

Citing:  Disparities in Health and Health Care among Medicare Beneficiaries by Elliot S. Fisher, David C. Goodman, and Amitabh Chandra, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Race and place of residence can have a staggering impact on the course and quality of the medical treatment a patient receives, according to new research showing that blacks with diabetes or vascular disease are nearly five times more likely than whites to have a leg amputated and that women in Mississippi are far less likely to have mammograms than those in Maine.

The study, by researchers at Dartmouth, examined Medicare claims for evidence of racial and geographic disparities and found that on a variety of quality indices, blacks typically were less likely to receive recommended care than whites within a given region. But the most striking disparities were found from place to place.

For instance, the widest racial gaps in mammogram rates within a state were in California and Illinois, with a difference of 12 percentage points between the white rate and the black rate. But the country’s lowest rate for blacks—48 percent in California—was 24 percentage points below the highest rate—72 percent in Massachusetts. The statistics were for women ages 65 to 69 who received screening in 2004 or 2005.

For the full article, visit The New York Times online.

To view Disparities in Health and Health Care among Medicare Beneficiaries, click here:

“Progress Has Been Made in Fight against AIDS, but Not Enough, U.N. Report Says”

The New York Times
By Celia W. Dugger
June 3, 2008

Citing:  Towards Universal Access: Scaling Up Priority HIV/AIDS Interventions in the Health Sector, a 2008 Progress Report by the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and UNICEF. 

“As new infections continue to far outstrip efforts to treat the sick, the United Nations released a progress report on Monday that highlighted both the notable gains in combating the AIDS epidemic and the daunting scale of what remains to be done.

[…] In 2007 alone, the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy rose by 54 percent. Still, that is less than a third of those believed to need the treatment.

There was also significant headway in providing antiretroviral treatments to help prevent women from infecting their babies with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, during pregnancy and childbirth. About a third of H.I.V.-positive pregnant women got the treatments last year, compared with 10 percent in 2004, with the greatest gains in West and Central Africa, the report found.

[…] But even as health systems geared up to prevent mothers from passing on the disease to their children, the needs of the mothers themselves were neglected. Only 12 percent of H.I.V.-positive pregnant women were assessed for whether they needed treatment themselves. When mothers die of AIDS and their children are orphaned, the opportunities and even survival of the babies who were saved from infection are undermined.

To view the full article, visit The New York Times online.

To view Towards Universal Access: Scaling up Priority HIV/AIDS Interventions in the Health Sector, click here:


Research Reports _________________________________

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

The Economic Status of Women in New York State

Erica Williams
Institute for Women’s Policy Research in partnership with
the New York Women’s Foundation
June 2008

“New York State is a resource-rich environment that holds a great deal of opportunity for financial success at the individual level. At the same time, the state economy generates inequality and disparities in the economic security of its residents. Gender, race, disability status, sexual orientation, immigration status, and a host of other factors all play a part in the economic well-being of the state’s population. While many of New York State’s women have witnessed real improvements in their economic and social status, multiple barriers to economic opportunity for women remain embedded in the state’s social and economic fabric, particularly for women of color.

This report on the Economic Status of Women in New York State examines how women in the state fare on eight indicators of women’s economic status, in comparison with women in other states and women nationally. It highlights where New York State’s women have seen economic progress and where their conditions have stagnated and examines differences among the state’s women by race and ethnicity. The report also provides additional, in-focus information on women’s occupational, educational, and earnings opportunities, and details a number of recommendations for policy and practice to improve women’s lives and to promote a more productive economy.

To view the full report, click here:


Women of Color in Accounting: Women of Color in Professional Services Series

Katherine Giscombe
June 2008

“This report continues Catalyst’s investigation of the experiences of women of color in professional services firms, which are characterized by a client-service focus and firmly entrenched ‘old boys’’ networks. For the first time, Catalyst is able to benchmark the experiences of women of color against other demographic groups in the workforce. This examination lets us understand better the ‘intersectionality’ that women of color experience: that is, how a person’s different attributes and characteristics interact with one another and inform personal and professional identities, experiences, and expectations about privilege and disadvantage in the workplace.

“ [The report found] women of color had more in common with men of color than with white women in their attitudes regarding exclusivity of the work environment and their perceptions that practices intended to support inclusion were not as effective as they could be. There were a few areas in which women of color and white women had similar experiences and perceptions, such as perceiving some level of social exclusion from the ‘old boys’’ network and a lack of support from firms for their family responsibilities.

Most importantly, women of color experienced ‘intersectionality’ in that they faced many barriers to a greater extent than did white women or men of color. Many of these barriers relate to difficulty in navigating a client-based environment, and include lack of similar role models, stereotyping, a greater level of exclusion from networks, and difficulty in accessing high-visibility assignments and business development opportunities.”

To view the full report, click here:


Work-Life Policies for the Twenty-First Century Economy

Heather Boushey, Layla Moughari, Sarah Sattelmeyer, and Margy Waller
The Mobility Agenda
June 2008

“[…] In recent years, policymakers have begun considering new options for allowing workers to meet the often-conflicting demands of work and other life obligations. These proposals include a variety of options for time off from work—both paid and unpaid—and more flexibility in the workplace. In this report, we review the evidence regarding work-life conflicts, the economic case for policy initiatives, and evidence of effectiveness of the policy options. We provide a clear explanation of these policy options and make recommendations for decision-makers.”

“[…] One-third of working women work shifts that differ from those worked by a spouse or partner. Between 1979 and 2004, the combined annual hours of work among families with children rose by 18 percent, the equivalent of every family putting in an additional 13.5 weeks of full-time work per year.

Today, in 70 percent of households, all adults work, resulting in an increasing number without a stay-at-home parent or primary caretaker [.…] Nearly half of all employees report conflicts between jobs and other responsibilities, more so than a generation ago, and many workers do not have access to opportunities to balance work-life responsibilities, such as paid sick days, family and medical leave, or flexibility in the workplace. Today, workers need to be able to make use of a variety of work-life policies.”

“As stakeholders and policymakers generate and consider new work-life policies, they should:

  • Ensure participation is at workers’ discretion
  • Adopt a menu of policy options that fit different employee and employer situations
  • Acknowledge employer concerns about costs
  • Improve the labor market and strengthen communities by creating basic labor standards that benefit everyone, not just senior or higher-paid workers”

To view the full report, click here:


The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Carolyn Buck Luce, Lisa J. Servon, Laura Sherbin, Peggy Shiller, Eytan Sosnovich, and Karen Sumberg
Harvard Business Review
May 2008

“Forty-one percent of highly qualified scientists, engineers, and technologists on the lower rungs of corporate career ladders are female. But more than half (52%) drop out. Why? To better understand the scope and shape of female talent, the Athena Factor research project studied the career trajectories of women with SET credentials in the private sector. It found 5 powerful ‘antigens’ in corporate cultures. Women in SET are marginalized by hostile macho cultures. Being the sole woman on a team or at a site can create isolation. Many women report mysterious career paths: fully 40% feel stalled. Systems of risk and reward in SET cultures can disadvantage women, who tend to be risk averse. Finally, SET jobs include extreme work pressures: they are unusually time intensive. Moreover, female attrition rates spike 10 years into a career. Women experience a perfect storm in their mid- to late thirties: They hit serious career hurdles precisely when family pressures intensify. Companies that step in with targeted support before this ‘fight or flight moment’ may be able to lower the female attrition rate significantly. This study features 13 company initiatives that address this female brain drain. Some, for example, are designed to break down female isolation; others create on-ramps for women who want to return to work. These initiatives are likely to be ‘game changers’: They will allow many more women to stay on track in SET careers.”

To purchase the full report, click here:;jsessionid=1J2EKYJT42ZGOAKRGWDSELQBKE0YIISW?id=10094&referral=3060&cm_mmc=npv-_-AthenaRep-_-Mnet-_-NYT&_requestid=142043

To read the article “Stopping the Exodus of Women in Science” about the report’s findings by its authors, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Carolyn Buck Luce, and Lisa J. Servon, published in the Harvard Business Review, June 2008, click here:;jsessionid=5ZZVDTCTX2RJ2AKRGWDSELQBKE0YIISW?ml_action=get-article&articleID=F0806A&ml_issueid=null&ml_subscriber=true&pageNumber=1&_requestid=140243


Why Are Women Still Not Running for Public Office?

Richard L. Fox and Jennifer L. Lawless
Loyola Marymount University and Brown University
The Brookings Institution
May 2008

“Extensive research shows that when women run for office, they perform just as well as men. Yet women remain severely under-represented in our political institutions. In this report, we argue that the fundamental reason for women’s under-representation is that they do not run for office. There is a substantial gender gap in political ambition; men tend to have it, and women don’t.

Our results are based on the Citizen Political Ambition Panel Study, a research project we have been conducting over the course of the last seven years. In 2001, we surveyed more than 3,700 lawyers, business leaders and executives, educators, and political activists about whether they ever considered running for office. We re-surveyed more than 2,000 of these individuals in 2008. Because we surveyed well-matched pools of men and women who work in professions that most typically precede a political candidacy, we can provide the first comprehensive investigation of the process by which women and men decide to enter the electoral arena. We can also determine the extent to which political ambition has changed over time.

We offer clear and compelling evidence that women, even in the highest tiers of professional accomplishment, are substantially less likely than men to demonstrate ambition to seek elected office. These results hold regardless of age, partisan affiliation, income and profession. In addition, despite the historic events of the last seven years—such as the war in Iraq, frustration with the political process, and the emergence of a more diverse group of political candidates and leaders—overall levels of political ambition for women and men have remained fairly constant. In 2008, men continue to enjoy more comfort, confidence and freedom than women when thinking about running for office.

We link this persistent gender gap in political ambition to several factors. Women are less likely than men to be willing to endure the rigors of a political campaign. They are less likely than men to be recruited to run for office. They are less likely than men to have the freedom to reconcile work and family obligations with a political career. They are less likely than men to think they are ‘qualified’ to run for office. And they are less likely than men to perceive a fair political environment.

In the end, this report documents how far from gender parity we remain, as well as the barriers and obstacles we must still overcome in order to achieve it. But our results also offer guidance to organizations and individuals seeking to increase the number of women in elected positions. Recruiting women candidates, disseminating information about the electoral environment and working with women to quell their anxiety about campaigning can help narrow the gender gap in political ambition and increase women’s numeric representation.”

To view the full report, click here:


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