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
Research Making News ____________________________
Each selection includes a short excerpt, link to the news article, and link to the research cited:
By Nancy Folbre
Economix, a New York Times blog
October 24, 2011
Citing: Women and Men Living on the Edge: Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession by Jeff Hayes, Ph.D. and Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Institute for Women's Policy Research
"Measured in terms of absolute job loss, men bore the brunt of the Great Recession, hence the term "mancession." On the other hand, men have fared better than women in regaining jobs during the slight rebound sometimes called the recovery.
Interesting comparison, but gender differences in economic hardship reach beyond employment statistics.
[....]A recent report issued by the Institute for Women's Policy Research assessed some of the most stressful consequences of a high unemployment rate, based on a nationwide telephone survey conducted last fall in conjunction with the Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security.
The report emphasizes the effects of unemployment on families rather than individuals. More than one-third of respondents reported that they or someone else in their household experienced unemployment during the previous two years. The percentage reached almost one-half for black and Hispanic respondents, and more than half for single mothers.
Unemployment made daily life more difficult for almost everyone touched by it. Still, the gender differences are striking, even among married couples.
Married mothers reported that they were more likely to cut back on household spending than married fathers (80 percent, compared with 66 percent). There was also a noticeable, though not statistically significant, difference between the percentages of married mothers and fathers who reported problems paying their rent or mortgage (31 percent, compared with 26 percent).
[...] Married mothers were [also] more likely than married fathers to report that they had trouble getting or paying for medical care for themselves or family (34 percent, compared with 17 percent) and that they were worried about the possibility that their employer would cut back health care coverage or increase its costs (43 percent, compared with 34 percent). [...]
By Monique Morrissey
October 20, 2011
Citing: Retirement on the Edge: Women, Men, and Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Jeff Hayes, Ph.D., and Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Institute for Women's Policy Research
"The Social Security Administration has just announced that beneficiaries will receive a 3.6% cost-of-living adjustment [COLA] in January. The average retired worker will see a $512 increase in annual benefits--from $14,232 to $14,744--though a portion will be offset by higher Medicare premiums.
[....] But rather than increasing the Social Security COLA to keep up with escalating health costs, most inside-the-beltway discussions these days revolve around adopting a lower COLA as a way to help close Social Security's modest projected shortfall.
[....] This is a terrible idea for two reasons. First, Americans across the political spectrum prefer to restore balance through revenue increases rather than benefit cuts; and second, a COLA cut has the greatest impact on the oldest old, who also tend to be the poorest old.
A recent survey commissioned by the Institute for Women's Policy Research and the Rockefeller Foundation found that 61% of women and 54% of men supported increasing Social Security benefits. This isn't surprising when you consider that benefits are modest and replace a shrinking share of preretirement earnings even without additional cuts. Nor is this an anomaly: Polls have consistently found that Americans oppose benefit cuts and are willing to pay higher taxes to strengthen the program. [...]"
By Bonnie Kavoussi
The Huffington Post
November 4, 2011
Citing: Gender Pay Differences: Progress Made, But Women Remain Overrepresented Among Low-Wage Workers by the United States Government Accountability Office
"Though the share of women participating in the low-wage workforce has declined in the past three decades, it's remained relatively stagnant for the last five years.
Women composed about half of the workforce in 2010, but they constituted 59 percent of the low-wage workforce, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office. Women's representation in the low-wage workforce has declined steadily from 73 percent since 1980, but it has largely stagnated at approximately 59 percent since 2005. [...]
[....] Women's high level of concentration in the low-wage workforce has dragged down their average earnings and made it more difficult to narrow the wage gap between men and women. Still, the American workforce is making some progress in closing the gap; in 2000, less educated women earned 19 cents less for every dollar that men made, in 2010 that pay difference shrunk to 14 cents less for every dollar that men made, according to the GAO report.
[....] To an extent, less educated women continue to make less money than less educated men because they often end up working in lower-paying sectors. Health care, social assistance, and retail, which pay an average of $14 per hour, drew the largest number of less educated women, while many less educated men earned more [than] $19 per hour on average while working in construction, transportation, or utilities, according to the GAO report. Manufacturing, the most popular occupation among less educated men, paid about $17 per hour on average. [...]"
By David Crary, Associated Press
October 25, 2011
Citing: All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families by the Movement Advancement Project, the Family Equality Council and the Center for American Progress.
"According to her dads, life is good for Carrigan Starling-Littlefield, a spunky 5-year-old being raised by two gay men in South Carolina, which doesn't recognize their out-of-state marriage.
[....] Carrigan is among a growing multitude of American children-possibly more than 1.2 million of them-being raised by gay and lesbian parents, often without all the legal protections afforded to mom-and-dad households.
Increasingly, the welfare of these children will be a core part of gay-rights strategies, as evidenced by a comprehensive report being released Tuesday. Compiled by an alliance of advocacy and child-welfare groups, it summarizes how laws and social stigma create distinctive challenges for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families.
[....] Among the barriers and inequities they face, as detailed in the report:
-Many government safety net programs use definitions of family tied to marital status which may exclude same-sex partners.
-Because of lack of legal recognition for their unions, gay and lesbian parents can face heavier tax burdens, higher costs for health insurance, and diminished financial protections in the event of death or disability.
-When same-sex parents separate, one parent may lose custody or visitation rights, even in cases where he or she had been a child's primary caregiver.
Overshadowing all these problems is pervasive social stigma, according to the report."
To read the full article, click here. To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the Movement Advancement Project, visit their website. To learn more about the Family Equality Council, visit their website. To learn more about the Center for American Progress, visit their website.
By Doug Lederman
Inside Higher Ed
October 20, 2011
Citing: STEM by Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Michelle Melton, Center on Education and the Workforce.
"For several years now, science advocates and economists have been locked in a debate over whether the United States is producing too few scientists and engineers to sustain the country's historical technological edge and satisfy the demands of employers. With a new report today, Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce hopes to bridge the divide -- by arguing, essentially, that the country needs more people with scientific competencies than it does actual scientists per se.
[....] The country is still producing lots of workers with what the report calls "STEM competencies," including investigative and problem solving tendencies, the authors state. But those skills are increasingly in demand in other non-STEM fields such as health care management and professional and business services, and because those fields typically pay more and often offer some rewards that core science and engineering jobs may not-such as social or entrepreneurial interests, or a chance to manage other people-workers with STEM skills are increasingly being "diverted" to non-STEM jobs.
[....] 'It's not a bad thing that 'STEM competencies are gaining more and more currency in the labor market,' Carnevale notes. It becomes a problem only if colleges and other would-be producers aren't developing enough to meet the demand of the growing number of employers seeking those 'foundational' skills and traits.'
[....] The real gap is at the sub-baccalaureate level [...] where American higher education tends not to focus its attention."
By Anna North
October 13, 2011
Citing: The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead? by Nancy M. Carter and Christine Silva, Catalyst
"Here's the bad news: Female professionals can do all sorts of proactive things and still lag behind men in terms of career advancement. The good news: one strategy has been shown to help - and that would be tooting your own horn.
[...] Research by the international nonprofit Catalyst [...] found that men who were more active in networking, seeking high-profile assignments, and the like were more likely to move forward in their careers than men who didn't use such techniques. But the same wasn't true of women - "doing all the right things" didn't necessarily get them the corner office.
[....] This is depressing news no matter how you slice it, but the study authors did find one technique that was exceptionally effective for women. Silva and Carter write [in the Harvard Business Review] that "the women who did more to make their achievements known advanced further, were more satisfied with their careers, and had greater compensation growth."
[....] This is significant, since women sometimes find themselves in a double bind, expected to be aggressive to get ahead, yet punished for their aggression. Catalyst's research shows that, at least for the women they studied, being aggressive in terms of publicizing their own accomplishments had more benefits than risks."
Research Reports ____________________________
Each selection includes a short excerpt from the research and a link to the report:
Sarah Towne, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and Barbara Gault, Ph.D.
Institute for Women's Policy Research
"Paid sick days for working parents can enhance children's school success. Parents face a difficult choice if their children get sick when they lack paid sick days: staying home with the child and missing pay (and possibly facing discipline at work); sending the child to school sick, which compromises their school performance and spreads illness to others; leaving the child at home alone, putting the child at risk; leaving the child with an older sibling who in turn must stay home from school; or trusting the child to a temporary caregiver. Each of these scenarios has potential costs for schools or for child well-being. The negative effects of inadequate sick days coverage disproportionately affect people of color and low-income adults in Denver, because they are less likely than other Denver residents to be able to earn paid sick days. This paper by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) addresses how children's school success can be improved when working parents have access to paid sick days by reviewing published research, Denver Public Schools data, and information provided in interviews and surveys of Denver Public Schools personnel."
Kevin Miller, Ph.D and Claudia Williams
Institute for Women's Policy Research
"Voters in Denver will consider a referendum on the 2011 ballot regarding the issue of requiring employers to provide paid sick days. Using the parameters of the proposed law and publicly available data, this paper estimates the anticipated costs and some of the anticipated benefits of the law for employers providing new leave, as well as some of the benefits for employees. Employees of businesses with ten or more employees are estimated to use an average of 2.5 days annually out of a maximum of 9 that may be accrued, while employees at smaller businesses are estimated to use an average of 2.1 days annually out of a maximum of 5 accrued. The anticipated cost of the law for employers due to lost productivity and increased wages is equivalent to a 20 cent-per-hour increase in wages for employees receiving new leave. The anticipated savings for employers, notably a reduction in costly employee turnover, are expected to have a wage equivalent of a savings of 22 cents per hour. Annually, businesses in Denver are expected to expend $22.8 million in providing new paid sick days for employees. Providing new paid sick days is expected to yield benefits of $24.2 million annually, for a net savings for Denver employers of $1.4 million annually."
Institute for Women's Policy Research
"The job gap between women and men has been growing. In September 2011, men gained 99,000 jobs, but women gained only 4,000. In the last year, from September 2010 to September 2011, of the 1.5 million jobs added to payrolls, 318,000 or 21 percent were filled by women and 1,172,000 or 79 percent were filled by men. [....] Men are recovering at more than twice the speed of women, but the jobs recovery is slow for both men and women. [....] The gap between women's and men's employment in September is currently 1.6 million.[....]Why are men doing somewhat better than women at this point in the recession? One reason is that women are a disproportionate share of state and local government; those levels of government are shedding jobs now, and women are losing a disproportionate share of those jobs. For example, from September 2010 to September 2011, the number of government jobs at all levels fell by 289,000 and 172,000 (60 percent) of these had been held by women. These large government job losses erode the gains made in other industries where women also hold many jobs.
The proposed American Jobs Act (AJA) would help to spur economic growth. It includes important provisions for women and a deficit reduction proposal that requires higher income people to pay more taxes. By calling for the extension of unemployment insurance benefits, the prevention of up to 280,000 teacher layoffs, the renovation of 35,000 schools, investment in transportation infrastructure, and the creation of subsidized employment programs and job training opportunities that could connect many low-income women to work, the AJA would create jobs, and alleviate economic hardship."
Economic and Social Science Research Council
"The main aim of the 'Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry' project is to improve understanding of the links between the sex industry and migration in the UK. This is predominantly addressed in current public debates in terms of trafficking and exploitation. Interviews with 100 migrant women, men and transgender people working in all of the main jobs available within the sex industry, and from the most relevant areas of origin (South America, Eastern Europe, EU and South East Asia), suggest that although some migrants are subject to coercion and exploitation, a majority are not. The research reveals a great variety of experiences and trajectories within the sex industry, influenced by a number of key factors [including] social-economic background; family history; educational aspirations and achievements; immigration status and policy; professional and language skills; gender and sexuality; and individual emotional history. The research underlines that the current emphasis on trafficking and exploitation obscures the variety of migrants' trajectories into the UK sex industry and risks concealing their individual and shared vulnerabilities and strengths, an understanding of which could form the basis of more effective social interventions."
Maya M. Rockeymoore and Meizhu Lui
The Commission to Modernize Social Security
"[....] Comprised of experts from or representing African American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latino, and Native American communities, the Commission [to Modernize Social Security] was given the task of identifying proposals to extend Social Security's long-term solvency while also modernizing the program to ensure the program continues to achieve its goal of increasing economic security for all. Building upon what currently works in the program, the group developed a reform plan that would make Social Security fully solvent for more than 75 years while also strengthening benefits for vulnerable groups such as the disabled, students, and the very old. [....] This report represents the outcome of the Commission's deliberations. It analyzes how communities of color interact with the Social Security program and outlines the rationale and approaches for making Social Security stronger for future generations."
Karen Schulman and Helen Blank
National Women's Law CenterOctober 2011
"Child care helps children, families, and communities prosper. [....] Yet many families, especially in today's economy, have great difficulty paying for child care. The average fee for full-time care ranges from $3,600 to $18,200 annually, depending on where the family lives, the type of care, and the age of the child. Child care assistance can help families with the high cost of care, particularly low-income families who are struggling to meet their basic expenses and stay employed in a challenging time. Despite the importance of child care assistance, families in thirty-seven states were worse off in February 2011 than in February 2010 under one or more of the child care assistance policies covered in this report and families in only eleven states were better off under one or more of these policies. The policies covered are critical ones-income eligibility limits to qualify for child care assistance, waiting lists for child care assistance, copayments required of parents receiving child care assistance, reimbursement rates for child care providers serving families receiving child care assistance, and eligibility for child care assistance for parents searching for a job."
To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the National Women's Law Center, visit their website.
The Working Mother Research Institute
"From Betty Friedan's 1963 The Feminine Mystique to the "Mommy Wars" and the "Opt-Out Revolution," every decade has its debate over a mother's decision to work or stay home with children. The Working Mother Research Institute has commissioned a new survey examining what women are choosing now when it comes to work and life. [....] [The Research Institute] surveyed more than 3,700 women to find out who ends up at home, who goes back to work and all of the push-pull factors that shape those decisions. This report, our second annual, is part of the Working Mother Research Institute's ongoing mission to help all employers attract and retain women by becoming more family-friendly."