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November 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.

November 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.“Growth of Minority Women-Owned Firms Outpaces All Others”
2. “Study Finds Culture a Factor in Female Math Achievement”
3. “Study: 8 out of 10 Americans Stressed because of Economy”

Research Reports
1. The Challenge to Act: How Progressive Women Activists Reframe American Democracy
2. A Prescription for Good Asthma Care for Children: Paid Sick Days for Milwaukee Parents
3. Job Growth Strong with Paid Sick Days
4. Paid Sick Days Initiative Would Support Victims of Domestic Violence
5. Health Care and the 2008 Elections: Women’s Health Policy
6. Unions and Upward Mobility for Young Workers
7. Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women

Research Making News _____________________________

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

1. “Growth of Minority Women-Owned Firms Outpaces All Others”

The Washington Post
By Sharon McLoone
October 14, 2008

Citing: 2007 Minority Businesses by Gender by the Minority Business Development Agency.

The number of minority women-owned businesses grew twice as fast as the number of businesses created by male minority entrepreneurs and non-minority men and women, according to a new study released this morning by the Minority Business Development Agency.

The MBDA, a branch of the Commerce Department, released its findings after spending months drilling into data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2002 Survey of Business Owners and the 1997 Survey of Minority-Owned Business Enterprises.

Between 1997 and 2002, the growth in the number of minority female-owned firms was 57 percent, compared to 31 percent for minority male-owned firms.
The firms that the agency reviewed were at least 51 percent owned by a minority woman.

Minority women-owned businesses span many industries, but most were concentrated in health care and social services; dry cleaning and personal care services; retail; administrative, support and waste management and remediation services; and professional, scientific and technical services.

Despite their recent rapid expansion, minority women-owned businesses still lag behind minority male-owned firms in gross receipts[...] Of all minority groups studied in this report, only Asian male entrepreneurs have reached parity with their non-minority counterparts based on population in terms of number of businesses, gross receipts and employees.

To view the full article, visit The Washington Post online.

To view 2007 Minority Businesses by Gender, click here:

2. “Study Finds Culture a Factor in Female Math Achievement”

The Boston Globe
By Carolyn Y. Johnson
October 10, 2008

Citing: “Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving” by Titu Andreescu of the University of Texas, Dallas; Joseph A. Gallian of the University of Minnesota, Duluth; Jonathan M. Kane of the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater; and Janet E. Mertz of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.

“It's been nearly four years since Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard University, made his controversial comments about the source of the gender gap in math and science careers. Still, the ripple effect continues—most recently in a study made public today on the world's top female math competitors.

The study, to be published in next month's Notices of the American Mathematical Society, identifies women of extraordinary math ability by sifting through the winners of the world's most elite math competitions. It found that small nations that nurtured female mathematicians often produced more top competitors than far larger and wealthier nations.

The message: Cultural or environmental factors, not intellect, are what really limit women's math achievements.

[...] The study found that in cultures where math talent is fostered, female ‘mathletes’ make up 12 percent to 24 percent of the children identified as having extreme math talent. In other environments, women are underrepresented 30-fold, the researchers found.

To view the full article, visit The Boston Globe online.

To view “Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving,” click here

3. “Study: 8 out of 10 Americans Stressed because of Economy”
By Madison Park
October 7, 2008

Citing: 2007 Stress in America Report by the American Psychological Association.

As many as 80 percent of Americans are stressed about their personal finances and the economy, according to the annual survey conducted by the American Psychological Association.

Women are more worried than men, in terms of their personal finances, the economy, work, housing costs and job stability, according to the survey.

‘The declining state of the nation's economy is taking a physical and emotional toll on people nationwide, and it is women who are bearing the brunt of financial stress,’ according to the survey.”

To view the full article, visit

To download the 2007 Stress in American Report, click here:

Research Reports _________________________________

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

1. The Challenge to Act: How Progressive Women Activists Reframe American Democracy

Amy Caiazza, Cynthia Hess, Casey Clevenger, and Angela Carlberg
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
October 2008

“[This report] explores the experiences and words of progressive women activists across the country, who reframe democ­racy to be more inclusive and to inspire a wide range of Americans. These women provide forward-looking and truly progressive visions for public life.

These visions are shaped by seven, interrelated values:

  • Community, where people from all walks of life gather to define and pursue the common good
  • Family, which offers life-giving relationships and shared care-giving
  • Equality, which gives us all the opportunity to pursue our own chosen goals and paths
  • Power, which ensures that public life includes and responds to diverse voices
  • Compassion, which is a sensitivity to the emotions and experiences of others that requires us to eliminate injustice and respect the complexity of others’ life choices
  • Balance, which allows us to negotiate the multifaceted nature of our lives without sacrificing our most cherished goals and ideals
  • Practice, which enables us to bring our values to life through action

If those seeking progressive change would explicitly connect their visions to their values, our society might be able to achieve the most noble—and yet unrealized—goal of democracy: to empower us all to shape politics and policy for the shared well-being of ourselves and others.

[...] The analysis in this report is based on a series of over 120 in-depth interviews with women activists involved in progressive movements for change. These women live and work all over the country. They come from every major racial and ethnic group; over half are women of color. They are Christian and Jewish, Muslim and Hindu, Buddhist and Unitarian. Some are atheist. They are rich and they are poor; they are national leaders and grassroots activists.”

To view the full report, click here

2. A Prescription for Good Asthma Care for Children: Paid Sick Days for Milwaukee Parents

Vicky Lovell
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
October 2008

“Asthma treatment is a priority for Wisconsin's public health system, according to the Wisconsin Turning Point Transformation Team. The most common chronic health problem for children, asthma sent nearly 3,800 Wisconsin children to the emergency room in 2005, and more than 700 were hospitalized, at a cost of close to $4 million.

[...] Having job flexibility—in particular, paid time off—can make it possible for parents to attend to their children's asthma. Parents who do not have scheduling flexibility cannot consistently comply with recommended health care visits. Children whose treatment routines are disrupted because of parents' inflexible work schedules cannot receive the high-quality care from asthma specialists that can keep them healthy and prevent serious asthma flare-ups.

[...] Providing quality care for children with asthma is important to families, but taxpayers have a stake as well. Two-thirds of the cost of children’s asthma hospitalizations in Milwaukee are paid by Medicaid or Wisconsin BadgerCare or are uninsured.

The Wisconsin Turning Point Transformation Team noted that 'Wisconsin’s public health system is... a partnership between government, the people, and the partners in the public, private, nonprofit and voluntary sectors to protect the health of everyone.' Milwaukee's paid sick days referendum can bring employers together with parents to improve treatment for children with asthma.”

To view the full study, click here:

3. Job Growth Strong with Paid Sick Days

Vicky Lovell
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
October 2008
“Job growth has been strong in San Francisco compared with other Bay Area counties following implementation of a new paid sick days standard in San Francisco on February 5, 2007, according to data from the California Employment Development Department.

[...] Despite an economic slowdown affecting employment in all counties in the Bay Area in 2007, San Francisco maintained a competitive job growth rate that exceeds the average growth rate of nearby counties. In the 12-month period following the effective date of the new policy, employment in San Francisco expanded by 1.1 percent, the same rate as Marin and San Mateo counties and substantially above the rate of employment change in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties (-0.5, -0.5, and 0.5 percent, respectively).

[...] The strength of San Francisco’s job market since implementation of the paid sick days policy suggests that, like minimum and living wages, adoption of this minimum labor standard does not adversely affect job growth.”

To view the full study, click here:

4. Paid Sick Days Initiative Would Support Victims of Domestic Violence

Vicky Lovell
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
October 2008

“Milwaukee’s paid sick days referendum would allow workers to take time from their scheduled hours on the job to recover from illness. It would also guarantee more than 260,000 Milwaukeeans the ability to access services for domestic violence and sexual assault, without the risk of losing wages or a job. While a relatively small number of Milwaukee workers will likely need paid time off for these purposes, this job-protected paid time off could be critical to building family safety and security.

[...] Milwaukee’s paid sick days referendum would allow workers to earn paid sick time at the rate of one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours of paid work. Once workers have been employed for 90 days, accrued leave could be used for a worker’s own health-care needs, to care for a family member’s health, or to seek medical care, victim services, or counseling, or move or take legal action, related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. Workers in firms with 10 or more employees could take up to 72 hours of earned paid sick time in a year; those in smaller firms could use up to 40 hours annually.

  • The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that wages, payroll-based taxes, and administrative costs for Milwaukeeans using their paid sick time for domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking would total $450,000 per year.
  • Employers would experience substantial benefits from universal paid sick days in reduced turnover costs and improved productivity.”

To view the full study, click here:

5. Health Care and the 2008 Elections: Women’s Health Policy
The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital
October 2008

“Women consistently cite health care as one of the top issues they want the Presidential candidates to address, reflecting their experiences with the health care system as patients, mothers, and caregivers for frail and disabled family members. Women’s priorities for health care reform cut across many critical topics, including health insurance coverage and affordability, the cornerstones of the candidates’ health proposals, as well as long-term care, delivery system issues, and reproductive health. This brief discusses each of these issue areas from a women’s perspective and summarizes the presidential candidates’ stated positions on these topics.

[...] How do health care costs and coverage affect women’s access to care?

Senator McCain proposes providing tax credits to help individuals purchase insurance in the individual insurance market and reforming the tax code to include the value of employer sponsored health insurance plans as part of workers’ taxable income. The McCain proposal would create a federally-supported “Guaranteed Access Plan” to assist people who are denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

The campaign has no stated official position on the benefits that are often limited in the individual market, including maternity care, mental health, and contraceptives.

Senator Obama would expand public program coverage of low-income families, particularly Medicaid and SCHIP, and broaden access to employer-sponsored coverage.  For uninsured women who still would not qualify for Medicaid, Senator Obama’s proposal would provide subsidies for families to purchase coverage and provide a choice of plans through a health insurance exchange with a structure and benefits that would be similar to that offered to federal employees.

[...] How is women’s health affected by the health care delivery system?

Senator McCain would promote public health initiatives that would include changing behavior, incentives to encourage screenings, and payment mechanisms that would reward outcomes and patient compliance. He also supports more federal research on chronic disease. He supports the rapid deployment of information systems and technology that will allow doctors to practice across state lines and argues that the market will respond to system demands and provide the health information technology infrastructure.

Senator Obama would expand funding to improve the primary care provider and public health practitioner workforce and would also establish community outreach programs to improve health care access in underserved areas. He supports legislation to encourage research examining gender and health disparities. He maintains that the broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems will generate large savings in the health care system which will help fund his coverage expansion proposals.

[...] How do federal policies affect women’s access to reproductive health services?

Senator McCain supports overturning the Roe v. Wade decision and allowing states to decide on abortion legality. He maintains that government should empower and strengthen pro-life organizations and efforts and supports the ban on the use of federal funds for abortion. He also supports a complete federal ban on certain abortions (so-called ‘partial birth’ abortions).

Senator Obama supports upholding Roe v.Wade and opposed the ban on use of federal funds for abortion. He contends that state-level bans on certain abortions (so-called ‘partial birth’ bans) should include exceptions for the pregnant woman’s health. He supports requiring insurance companies to cover prescription contraceptives and would increase funding for the federal Title X program. He also supports comprehensive sex education that teaches about abstinence as well as contraception.”

To view the full brief, click here:

6. Unions and Upward Mobility for Young Workers

John Schmitt
Center for Economic and Policy Research
October 2008

“Young workers—those ages 18 to 29—have been the hardest hit by the stagnant wage growth over the last three decades. After adjusting for inflation, the wage of the typical 18 to 29 year old worker was about 10 percent lower in 2007 than it had been in 1979.

This paper examines the impact of unionization on the pay and benefits of young workers. The most recent data suggest that even after controlling for differences between union and non-union workers—including such factors as age and education level—unionization substantially improves the pay and benefits received by young workers.

On average, unionization raised young workers’ wages 12.4 percent—or about $1.75 per hour—relative to young workers with similar characteristics who were not in unions.

The union impact on health insurance and pension coverage was even larger. Young workers who were in unions were about 17 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and about 24 percentage points more likely to have a pension plan than similar non-union workers.

The benefits of unionization were also high for young workers in typically low-wage occupations. Young workers in unions in otherwise low-wage occupations earned, on average, 10.2 percent more than their non-union counterparts. Unionized young workers in low-wage occupations were also 27 percentage points more likely than comparable non-union workers to have employer-provided health insurance, and 26 percentage points more likely to have a pension plan.

The findings demonstrate that young workers who are able to bargain collectively earn more and are more likely to have benefits associated with good jobs. The data, therefore, suggest that better protection of workers’ right to unionize would have a substantial positive impact on the pay and benefits of young workers.”

To view the full report, click here:

7. Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women

National Women’s Law Center
September 2008

“[...] NWLC found that the individual insurance market is a very difficult place for women to buy health coverage. Insurance companies can refuse to sell women coverage altogether due to a history of any health problems, or charge women higher premiums based on factors such as their gender, age and health status. This coverage is often very costly and limited in scope—and it often fails to meet women’s needs.

In short, too many women face too many obstacles obtaining comprehensive, affordable health coverage in the individual market—simply because they are women.

  • Women often face higher premiums than men. Under a practice known as gender rating, insurance companies are permitted in most states to charge men and women different premiums. NWLC research determined that this costly practice often results in wide variations in rates charged to women and men for the same coverage; these arbitrary differences harm women’s ability to get the health care they need.
  • It is difficult and costly for women to find health insurance that covers maternity care. The vast majority of individual market health insurance policies that NWLC found do not cover maternity care at all. A limited number of insurers sell separate maternity coverage for an additional fee known as a ‘rider,’ but this supplemental coverage is often expensive and limited in scope. Moreover, insurers that sell maternity riders typically offer just a single ‘one size fits all’ rider option. Typically, a woman has no option to select a more or less comprehensive rider policy—her only option is to purchase the limited rider or go without maternity coverage altogether.
  • Insurance companies can reject applicants for health coverage for a variety of reasons that are particularly relevant to women. For example, it is still legal in nine states and DC for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence. Insurers can also reject women for coverage simply for having previously had a Cesarean section (C-section).
  • While both women and men face additional challenges in the individual insurance market, these problems compound the affordability challenges women already face. Insurance companies also engage in premium rating practices that, while not unique to women, compound the affordability issues caused by gender rating. These include setting premiums based on age and health status.

Based on NWLC research, this report reviews the challenges that women face in the individual insurance market and explores various ways states have addressed these challenges. Finally, the Report provides the following recommendations for reform to address these challenges:

  1. Because the individual insurance market is so deeply flawed, adequate alternatives must be developed to eliminate or substantially reduce the need for people to resort to its use. This can be done by making employer-sponsored coverage easier to obtain and afford, or by creating purchasing pools that are large enough to accommodate everyone who needs coverage.
  2. In the short term, until adequate alternatives to the individual market exist, there must be strong regulation of insurers offering health coverage through the individual market. To ensure that comprehensive health coverage is easier to obtain and afford, these regulations must end the unfair practices of gender rating, rejecting applicants due to health history, excluding pre-existing conditions, and rating based on age and health history.
  3. All health insurance policies should cover vital reproductive health services such as maternity care.”

To view the full report, click here:

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