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May/June 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.

May/June 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. “Fidelity Study Finds Women Shaping the Future of Philanthropy”
2. “New Study Ponders the Effect of Professors’ Gender on Students’ Success in Science”
3. “Study: Female Lawyers Leave Firms Primarily to Seek Flexible Situations”
4. “Study: Gender Pay Gap Shrinks Among Gov’t Workers”
5. "Women Professors Not Being Promoted as Rapidly as Men"
6. “Study Shows Benefits of All Girl Schools”
7. “Women Earn Less Than Men a Year Out of College”

Research Reports
1. Parents As Child Care Providers: A Menu of Parental Leave Models
2. Innovative Workplace Flexibility Options for Hourly Workers
3. Scheduling in Hourly Jobs: Promising Practices for the Twenty-First Century Economy
4. Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries
5. Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives:  What Change Agents Need to Know
6. “The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation”
7. “The Gender Wage Gap: 2008”
8. An Estimate of Program Costs Under Oregon Senate Bill 966, The Family Leave Benefits Insurance Act
9. “Single Mothers in the Era of Welfare Reform”
10. The Cliff Effect Experience: Voices of Women on the Path to Economic Independence
11. The Impact of State Mandatory Counseling and Waiting Period Laws on Abortion: A Literature Review

Research Making News

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

1. “Fidelity Study Finds Women Shaping the Future of Philanthropy”

On Philanthropy
By Susan Carey Dempsey
May 22, 2009

Citing:  Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund Gender Differences in Charitable Giving 2009.

“At a time when the behavior of donors is being scrutinized to discern its implications for philanthropy in the wake of recession, this week's new report on giving and gender from Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (www.charitablegift.org) shows women playing a more prominent role than had previously been known.

‘We’ve had anecdotal evidence that women were doing the behind the scenes activity,’ said Sarah C. Libbey, President of the Gift Fund, ‘although it was being done in the husband’s name.’  The study, which looked at the giving behaviors and attitudes of more than 1,000 adults who donated at least $1,000 in 2007 and a subset that gave over $5,000 that year, reveals key insights about high-income women and their giving tendencies.

Nearly half the women surveyed, she continued in a recent interview, said they determine for the household how much to give as well as where to give. ‘That was stronger than expected,’ said Libbey.  ‘I thought men still controlled the tax and financial planning for their families.’

[…] In the survey, a substantial majority of men (92%) name their spouses as an influence on how much to give to charity or where to direct the funds.  While 84% of women name their spouse as an influence, they are more likely than men to engage a larger circle of influencers in their giving including extended family (24%), friends (23%), and co-workers (17%).

[…] High-income women, in particular, appear to be very innovative in their approach to charitable giving.  As noted earlier, they are more likely to seek guidance from a financial professional regarding charitable giving.  Perhaps as a result, high-income women make use of innovative giving vehicles such as appreciated securities, donor-advised funds, charitable remainder trusts, and private foundations.

High-income women are more likely to allocate a higher percentage of their charitable donations to health and science causes. Finally, high-income women emerged as more likely than other donors to increase their giving during challenging economic times because they perceive a greater need. […]”

To read the full article and more of the findings, click here. To access a PDF of the executive summary of the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund report, click here.

2. “New Study Ponders the Effect of Professors’ Gender on Students’ Success in Science”

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By David Glenn
May 18, 2009

Citing:  Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap, by Scott E. Carrell, Marianne E. Page, and James E. West.

Female students — or, more specifically, female Air Force cadets — are more likely to succeed in introductory-level science courses if those courses are taught by female professors, according to a study by a trio of economists.

The researchers examined the academic records of every student who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy from 2000 to 2008 — more than 9,000 students in all. They found that women, and especially those with high mathematics-SAT scores, performed significantly better in introductory science courses if the courses were taught by women. Over all, the study found, ‘having a female professor reduces the gender gap in course grades by approximately two-thirds.’


[…] The study estimates that female students with strong math skills were 26 percentage points more likely to graduate with a science major if all of their intro-level science professors were women than if all of their intro-level science professors were men.

And was there a reverse effect? Did male students abandon science if their intro-level science courses were taught by women? Apparently not. For male students of all abilities, the study did not find any significant professor-gender effects.

[…] The paper’s authors are Scott E. Carrell, an assistant professor of economics at the University of California at Davis; Marianne E. Page, a professor of economics at Davis; and James E. West, a professor of economics at the Air Force Academy. The paper, which was released last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has not yet been peer-reviewed for publication.”

To read the full article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, click here. To access a PDF of the report Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap, click here.

3. “New Study: Female Lawyers Leave Firms Primarily to Seek Flexible Situations”

New Jersey Law Journal
By Charles Toutant
May 15, 2009

Citing:  Legal Talent at the Crossroads: Why New Jersey Women Lawyers Leave Their Law Firms and Why They Choose to Stay, a report of the New Jersey State Employment & Training Commission Council on Gender Parity in Labor and Education and Rutgers University’s Center for Women and Work.

“Women lawyers in New Jersey are more likely to quit if their law firm does not have flexible work arrangements, and they are gravitating toward firms that do, says a new survey of women lawyers across New Jersey.
[…] ‘In the past, so many studies have shown that women were leaving law firms, or the legal profession altogether, but this study provides a new perspective -- that women are taking action by seeking and finding better work/life balance at firms that provide flexibility and a positive environment,’ says Dianne Mills McKay, chair of the employment and training council.

Such job-switching can be costly for law firms, the report says, citing studies that put the replacement cost of an attorney at $200,000 to $500,000. Because many lawyers leave before their firms make a profit on them, retention of attorneys for an extra two or three years can greatly benefit profitability, the report said.

Firms that do retain women lawyers experience better recruiting, greater productivity, improved client service and reduced expenses from turnover, says study co-author Terri Boyer, executive director of Rutgers' Center for Women and Work.

The study, focusing mostly on women in private practice, said 41 percent of the respondents felt an unsupportive work environment was the top reason for leaving a job.

[…] Poor promotion opportunity was the second main reason for leaving, cited by 40 percent. Thirty-four percent said they did not expect to make partner, another 34 percent said they did not know whether they would make partner and 32 percent predicted they would make partner. Also cited was uncertainty about the length of the partnership path.

[…] Firms can reap economic advantages from creating an atmosphere friendly to women, says Boyer.
‘Employers that follow best practices that provide effective work/life programs benefit from better recruiting, greater productivity, improved client service and reduced expenses associated with turnover,’ Boyer says. […]”

To read the full article from The New Jersey Law Review, click here. To access a PDF of the report Legal Talent at the Crossroads, click here.

4. “Study: Gender Pay Gap Shrinks Among Gov’t Workers”

Forbes.com
By Sam Hananel, AP
April 28, 2009

Citing:  Converging Characteristics of Men and Women in the Federal Workforce Help Explain the Narrowing Pay Gap, a GAO report.

“Women working in the federal government still earn less than their male counterparts, but the pay gap is shrinking.

The difference between average annual salary for men and women in the federal work force declined from 19 cents to 11 cents on the dollar between 1998 and 2007, according to a draft report from the Government Accountability Office.

[…] All but 7 cents of the gap can be accounted for by differences in measurable factors, such as differences in education levels and the type of jobs men and women had, the report said. The gap narrowed the more men and women shared characteristics, including the jobs held, levels of experience and education.

[…] New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the Joint Economic Committee, said the report shows the need for federal legislation to address the remaining pay gap.

‘As families continue to struggle during this economic crisis, they should not also be robbed by discrimination against women in the labor market,’ Maloney said.

[…] Maloney and other congressional Democrats have been trying for years to pass pay equity legislation that would treat gender discrimination involving pay in the same [way] as race, disability and age discrimination. […]

To read the full article at Forbes.com, click here. To download a PDF of the GAO report released at the Joint Economic Committee hearing on April 28, click here.

5. “Women Professors Not Being Promoted as Rapidly as Men”

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
By Lydia Lum
April 27, 2009

Citing:  Standing Still: The Associate Professor Survey, a report by the Modern Language Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession.

“Troubling inequities remain in career advancement between male and female college professors in English and foreign languages, according to a report being released today by the Modern Language Association.

Men are promoted more rapidly than women to full professor – regardless of women’s marital status or whether they have children – concludes the report, titled “Standing Still,” by MLA’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. It also concludes that women raising children do not necessarily take longer to gain such a promotion than childless women.

[…] Dr. Kathleen Woodward, the report’s lead author and a University of Washington professor of English, says it is not uncommon for working mothers to “push right on through, incredibly efficiently” with their responsibilities. Consequently, whatever stigma working mothers face for spending less time on campus than non-parents do is overshadowed by their accomplishments and productivity, she says.

[…] The MLA report issues recommendations to schools everywhere for closing the gender gap in promotion. For instance, the report suggests creation of more mentoring programs for associate professors and leadership training aimed at newly tenured women faculty.

The report also calls for schools to clearly establish paths for promotion in alignment with institutional values. ‘If a university emphasizes diversity in its mission statement, and a faculty member mentors students of color, that should be counted more heavily than it is now in promotion decisions,’ Woodward says. […]”

To read the full article by Lydia Lum, click here. To access a free PDF of the full report Standing Still, click here.

6. “Study Shows Benefits of All Girl Schools”

Richmond Times-Dispatch
Gary Fountain, Columnist
April 26, 2009

Citing: Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Co-educational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College by Linda J. Sax, principal investigator.

“[…] There are the characterizations of all-girls schools as outmoded, old-fashioned, and—because they do not admit boys—unlike the real world. How can you prepare girls for adult life if there are no boys around, we are asked? What evidence of substance is there that proves the relevance and value of single-sex education?

We now have some answers to questions like these and solid evidence of the effectiveness of girls schools.

A new statistical study, commissioned by the National Coalition of Girls Schools (NCGS), was released a few weeks ago: "Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Co-educational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College." The work of Linda J. Sax at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, this study offers statistical proof of the advantages that graduates from all-girls schools have when they enter college.


Sax and her colleagues studied the responses to an extensive questionnaire assessing the backgrounds, behaviors, attitudes, and aspirations of 6,552 graduates from 225 all-girls high schools with those of 14,684 of their peers in 1,169 co-educational high schools.

[…] Self-perception and self-confidence are significant indicators of success in college and in life. We also know that girls tend to lose self-confidence in their adolescent years. Sax's study shows girls schools reversing this trend. Most important, this study shows all-girls-school graduates rating themselves as more successful and engaged in areas in which male students have historically excelled -- mathematics, computers, engineering, and politics.

[…] Of course, no one kind of school is right for every student. However, the statistical analysis of this study suggests that parents who are looking for the most effective education for their daughters would be wise to explore girls schools. Something different and significantly positive for girls is going on there. That, now, is a fact.”

To read the full article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, click here. To access a PDF of the report by Linda J. Sax, click here.

7. “Women Earn Less Than Men a Year Out of College”

Salon
By Tracy Clark-Flory
April 23, 2009

Citing:  American Association of University Women data on gender wage gap.

“What better time to release a new study that debunks pay gap denials than the day before Equal Pay Day? Today, the American Association of University Women released a study finding that just a year after graduating from college, women earn just 80 percent of what men make. Ten years down the line, women make 69 percent of what men earn. This flies in the face of the popular argument that women earn less simply because of their lifestyle choices […].

[…] The AAUW study set out to answer a very simple question: ‘If a woman and a man make the same choices, will they receive the same pay?  The answer is no. A year after college graduation -- when work experience and parenthood are the least likely to be factors -- that pay gap already shows up among men and women working full time. The typical retort from pay gap deniers might be: ‘That's because women tend to study softer subjects that lead to lower-paying jobs.’  This is actually true.  Yet the pay gap persists even when looking at men and women who studied the same subjects as undergrads.  ‘In education, women earn 95 percent as much as their male colleagues earn, while in math, women earn 76 percent as much as men earn,’ reports Reuters.

As you might expect, that pay gap only grows with time -- but not because women are taking time off for parenting or are simply less motivated earners. ‘Even as the study accounted for such factors as the number of hours worked, occupations or parenthood, the gap persisted,’ reports Reuters. […]”

To read the full article from Salon, click here. To learn more about the American Association of University Women data on wage gap, click here.


Research Reports

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

1. Parents as Child Care Providers:  A Menu of Parental Leave Models

Vicky Lovell, Ph.D., and Allison Suppan Helmuth
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
May 2009

“Public policy efforts to strengthen the early care and education system in the US could benefit by placing greater emphasis on the role that working parents can play.  One policy advance that would reduce pressure on the early child care market is to expand support for employees caring for their newborns at home.  In the United States, many workers have a job-protected right to 12 weeks of parental leave, but some cannot afford to
forego income during that period, and fewer than 60 percent1 of private-sector workers are eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Offering paid parental leave to employees allows parents to spend crucial time bonding with their children after birth or adoption, while boosting productivity and reducing turnover and employee training costs. […]”

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

2. Innovative Workplace Flexibility Options for Hourly Workers

Corporate Voices for Working Families
Researched and Written by WFD Consulting
May 2009

“The purpose of this project was to create broader awareness of the positive business and employee impacts of flexibility for lower wage hourly and nonexempt workers and to provide practical tools and information about the conditions and practices that make flexibility possible and profitable. […] Based on research in five organizations, this report provides documented successful flexibility practice, its business impact and the practical lessons learned from corporate experience with flexibility for lower wage hourly and nonexempt workers.  The report presents five case studies of flexibility best practices, quantitative survey findings about flexibility use and impacts, and practical flexibility implementation guides for managers and employees with concrete tips and tools.”

To access a PDF of the full report, click here.  To learn more about Corporate Voices for Working families, visit their website.

3. Scheduling in Hourly Jobs: Promising Practices for the Twenty-First Century Economy

Susan J. Lambert and Julia R. Henly
The Mobility Agenda
May 2009

“Common scheduling practices in hourly jobs create challenges for workers, employers, and communities alike. Hourly workers increasingly experience fluctuating and reduced work hours and unpredictable work schedules that can compromise their job performance and their ability to earn an adequate living. Local communities suffer when residents’ jobs are unstable and their earnings unpredictable. Several targets for intervention—ranging from improving employer scheduling practices to enacting new legislation—could enhance the quality of jobs for hourly workers and, in turn, the quality of life in families and local communities.”

To access a PDF of the full report, click here.  To learn more about The Mobility Agenda, visit their website.

4. Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries

Jody Heymann, Hye Jin Rho, John Schmitt, and Alison Earle
Center for Economic Policy Research
May 2009

“This report reviews the paid-sick-day and paid-sick-leave policies in 22 countries and analyzes the effects of these policies on the rights and benefits for workers with illnesses. Policies covering short-term illnesses are complicated and differ widely across the countries we examine. To simplify our presentation of national laws, we concentrate on how national paid-sick-day and paid-sick-leave policies affect workers in two distinct situations. We first look at a worker suffering from the flu and who must miss five days at work and then at a worker with a more serious illness, such as cancer, who must undergo a treatment that requires a fifty-day absence from work. Examining these two important examples of health problems that would require time off from work allows us to assess the adequacy of coverage for a range of health issues a worker might face.”

To access a PDF of the full report, click here.  To learn more about the Center for Economic Policy Research, click here.

5. Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know

Jeanine Prime and Corinne A. Moss-Racusin
Catalyst
May 2009

“The gender gap in leadership that is so common in many organizations represents a significant missed opportunity for business. […] The notion that women are good for business is one that more and more companies are acting on.  Yet despite their best efforts to tap women, many organizations have fallen short of their goals.  Even among those companies that have implemented slews of programs to attract, develop, and retain women employees, gender gaps in hiring, promotion, and retention rates often persist—with men faring better than women on all counts. Why have so many programs missed the mark? One reason is that too many gender initiatives focus solely on changing women—from the way they network to the way they lead. Another reason is that too many organizations look to women alone to change the organizational practices that maintain the status quo. […] If organizations want to minimize gender disparities, they need to enable women and men to make behavioral changes. And perhaps most important, organizations must enlist both women and men to work together as allies in changing the organizational norms and structures that perpetuate gender gaps. […] Engaging men is crucial to moving forward. But just what are the best ways to reach men? Based on in-depth interviews and surveys of senior male managers in business, this study begins to explore this question […].” 

To access a PDF of the full report, click here.  To learn more about Catalyst, click here.

6. “The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation”

Ariane Hegewisch and Claudia Williams
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
April 2009

“During the last several decades women’s participation in the workforce has steadily increased, with women now accounting for almost half of all workers. Yet while women have almost reached parity with men in terms of their share of the workforce, they are not near parity in their earnings. In 2008 median weekly earnings for women working full-time are $638, 79.9 percent of median weekly earnings for men working full-time, at $798.  Median weekly earnings for men are higher than those for women in almost every occupation. Of the over 500 individual occupational categories for which there are sufficient data to calculate a wage ratio, in only five occupations do women earn as much as or more than men. […]”

To access a PDF of the complete fact sheet, click here.  To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, click here.

7. “The Gender Wage Gap: 2008”

Institute for Women’s Policy Research
April 2009

“The ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly earnings for full-time workers was 79.9 in 2008, the third consecutive decline since the historical high of 81.0 in 2005. Another measure of the earnings gap, the ratio of women’s and men’s median annual earnings, was 77.8 for full-time, year-round workers in 2007 (data for 2008 are not yet available), up from 76.9 in 2006. (This means the gender wage gap for full-time year-round workers is now 22.2 percent.) This is the highest earnings ratio ever for full-time year-round workers, surpassing the previous high of 77.0 in 2005. […]”

To access a PDF of the complete fact sheet, click here.  To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, click here.

8. An Estimate of Program Costs Under Oregon Senate Bill 966, The Family Leave Benefits Insurance Act

Vicky Lovell
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
April 2009

“Children First for Oregon requested that the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analyze the Family Leave Benefits Insurance Act in order to provide lawmakers and policy advocates with information about the likely costs and use of a universal paid family leave insurance program in Oregon. This document presents that estimate. […] The estimated annual benefit payments presented here for the Family Leave Benefits Insurance Act may be considered an estimate of benefits costs for a mature program several years after program implementation. Though we utilized an estimated take-up of rate of 80 percent, it is unrealistic to assume that initial knowledge of the program and its procedures will be widespread enough to result in a take-up rate of 80 percent. Costs within the first few years will likely be substantially lower than the costs presented here. […]”

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

9. “Single Mothers in the Era of Welfare Reform”

By Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Center for Law and Social Policy and Mark H. Greenberg, Center for American Progress
April, 2009

“[…]This chapter examines the policy changes of the 1990s and since along with the subsequent employment and earnings outcomes for single mothers. It considers how the policy changes affected both employment levels and job quality and discusses implications for next steps for federal and state policies. These policy changes triggered an increase in the supply of low-skilled workers, but they did little, if anything, to improve the quality of the jobs that the workers eventually found. […]”

To access a free PDF of the full chapter, click here.  To learn more about the Center for Law and Social Policy, click here.  To learn more about the Center for American Progress, click here.

10. The Cliff Effect Experience: Voices of Women on the Path to Economic Independence

Crittenton Women’s Union
April 2009

“[…] Crittenton Women’s Union (CWU) conducted an independent study in Boston, Mass. in 2008 to explore cliff effects. Our research goal was to provide real life context for the dramatic numbers shown by prior economic research indicating that families’
net monthly resources—their after-tax income from earnings plus the value of work supports, minus basic living costs—decrease alarmingly when their increased income conflicts with the eligibility requirements of work supports. CWU studied how low-income women who are either on the verge of losing work supports or who have recently experienced a loss of work supports manage the cliff effect circumstance and what this means for their well-being. The group of women we interviewed was drawn from a larger survey sample and was chosen because each had previously experienced a cliff effect or was about to experience a cliff effect. […]”

To access a free PDF of the report, click here.  To learn more about Crittenton Women’s Union, click here.

11. The Impact of State Mandatory Counseling and Waiting Period Laws on Abortion: A Literature Review

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

“Proponents of mandatory counseling and waiting period laws argue that the state has a duty to ensure that before a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy she has been given ample time, after having been given information about her pregnancy and abortion, to weigh her options. Those opposed to these laws argue that such statutes are unneeded because physicians are required to obtain informed consent before all procedures (including abortion), that the laws impose an unnecessary burden on women who are seeking abortions and that women are able to make informed decisions about terminating a pregnancy without the imposition of a state-mandated waiting period. […] What impacts do mandatory counseling and waiting periods have on the financial and emotional states of women seeking abortions? Do they force women to have abortions
at a later stage in pregnancy or block access to abortion services? Does mandatory counseling dissuade women from having an abortion? Are women traveling out of their home state for abortions when counseling and waiting period laws are enforced in their state of residence? Furthermore, what impacts do these laws have on abortion providers? […]”

To access a PDF of the full report, click here.  To learn more about Guttmacher Institute, click here.

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