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October 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.

October 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. “U.N. Study Finds More Women in Politics "
2. “Shorter Radiation for Cancer of the Breast "
3.“Study Looks at 'Who's Playing College Sports?'”

Research Reports
1. Valuing Good Health in Milwaukee: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
2. Grandparents: A Critical Child Care Safety Net
3. Parental Leave Policies in 21 Countries: Assessing Generosity and Gender Equality
4. State Child Care Assistance Policies 2008: Too Little Progress for Children and Families
5. Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions. 1974 to 2004

Research Making News _____________________________

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

1. “U.N. Study Finds More Women in Politics”

The New York Times
By Neil Macfarquhar
September 19, 2008

Citing: Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009 by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Unifem).

Women have entered politics in greater numbers than ever in the past decade, accounting for 18.4 percent of parliament members worldwide, according to a study released Thursday [September 18] by the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

The proportion of women has increased by seven percentage points since 1995. Much of the increase was driven by women realizing that they needed to attain power rather than just lobby for change, said women who spoke at a ceremony for the study’s release.

[...] If the rate of change holds constant, it will take until 2045 for women to reach parity in the developing world, which the study by Unifem, as the development fund is known, defined as holding 40 percent to 60 percent of elected parliamentary seats. The report also examined how women were affected by economics, the courts and crime, among other issues.”

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

To view Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009, click here:

2. “Shorter Radiation for Cancer of the Breast”

The New York Times
By Denise Grady
September 23, 2008

Citing: “Long-Term Results of a Randomized Trial of Accelerated Hypofractionated Whole Breast Irradiation Following Breast Conserving Surgery in Women with Node-negative Breast Cancer” by Timothy Whelan, M.D. of the Juravinski Cancer Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Three weeks of radiation treatment work just as well as the usual course of five weeks or more for women with early-stage breast cancers, Canadian researchers have reported, after monitoring a large group of patients for 12 years.

The results, presented Monday [September 22] at a conference in Boston [at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology], provide some of the strongest evidence yet that radiation schedules can safely be shortened to make life easier for patients and to let clinics reduce their waiting lists and treat more women without buying more machines.

Experts say the new findings, from a respected study, could change the standard of care in the United States. The typical schedule now involves five to seven weeks of daily treatments, and most women would welcome a chance to get it over with faster—especially those who work, have small children or live far from the clinic.

[...] The study included 1,234 women who started treatment at one of eight hospitals from 1993 to 1996. Half of the women received the standard regimen of 25 treatments in 35 days (five treatments a week for five weeks). The other half had 16 treatments in 22 days. The shorter course used slightly higher daily doses of radiation, but the total cumulative dose was slightly lower.”

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

To view the news release on “Long-Term Results of a Randomized Trial of Accelerated Hypofractionated Whole Breast Irradiation Following Breast Conserving Surgery in Women with Node-negative Breast Cancer,” click here:

To view slides from Timothy Whelan’s presentation at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, click here:

3. “Study Looks at ‘Who’s Playing College Sports?’”

The Washington Post
By Melissa Murphy of The Associated Press
September 24, 2008

Citing: Who’s Playing College Sports? Money, Race and Gender by John Cheslock of the University of Arizona for the Women's Sports Foundation.

College sports spending at Division I schools has increased 7 percent annually since the mid-1990s, an amount that has limited the expansion opportunities for sports other than football and basketball.

The findings were detailed in the report ‘Who's Playing College Sports? Money, Race and Gender’ by professor John Cheslock of the University of Arizona and released by the Women's Sports Foundation on Wednesday.

The report indicated the 7 percent annual growth from 1995 to 2005 increased spending by $8.2 million per school over that period, with football outlays increasing by approximately $2.5 million per team and women's sports other than basketball rising by only $135,000 per team.

[...] The report also indicated data from the NCAA and Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act shows men's participation increased 6 percent in all divisions between 1995 and 2005 and women's participation increased 20 percent.

Cheslock argued that universities have responded to Title IX by increasing women's participation in sports rather than decreasing men's participation.

He noted that from 1992 to 2001, the period when Title IX was most vigorously enforced, women's participation increased annually by 4.5 percent and men's participation increased by 0.3 percent in all divisions. From 2001 to 2005, the increases were 2.5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

‘You see increases in participation growth for women but you don't see substantial changes for men,’ Cheslock said. ‘That's why I claim the evidence suggests that most schools have responded to the increased enforcement of Title IX by stepping up their women's participation rather than drastically reducing their men's participation.’

[...] '(Title IX) has become sort of an easy whipping boy,’ Snyder said. ‘It's a lot easier to blame Title IX than it is to tell your football and men's basketball coach to do a little cost control.

‘We would be much better served if we could figure out for the wrestlers and baseball players and men's gymnastics to work together with women to apply greater pressure on the system so that we don't have escalating costs like we do at this 7 percent annual rate, which is completely unsustainable.’

The greatest gains in racial diversity occurred in the years following the passage of Title IX in 1972, according to the report. Nearly 68 percent of black female athletes participate in basketball and track and field, with those numbers unchanged from 1999 to 2006.

Snyder suggests encouraging grass roots participation in a variety of sports and adding sports that already include diverse groups.

The Women's Sports Foundation also recommended better enforcement of Title IX by the Office of Civil Rights and rescinding of the March 2005 clarification policy that puts the burden of proving interest in sports on female students.”

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

To view Who’s Playing College Sports? Money, Race and Gender, click here:


Research Reports _________________________________

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

1. Valuing Good Health in Milwaukee: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days

Vicky Lovell
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
September 2008

“Policy makers across the country are increasingly interested in ensuring the adequacy of paid sick days policies. In addition to concerns about workers’ ability to respond to their own health needs, there is growing recognition that, with so many dual-earner and single-parent families, family members’ health needs can be addressed only by workers taking time from their scheduled hours on the job. Paid sick days policies also allow workers with contagious diseases to avoid unnecessary contact with co-workers and customers and, thus, are a fundamental public health measure. Paid sick days protect workers from being fired when they are too sick to work and offer substantial savings to employers by reducing turnover and minimizing absenteeism.

Milwaukee voters will have an opportunity to enact a minimum paid sick days standard on November 4, 2008. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has estimated the costs and benefits of the Milwaukee paid sick days referendum, using government-collected data, peer-reviewed research literature, and a thoroughly vetted methodology.

Key Findings:

Nearly half of Milwaukee workers will benefit directly

  • 122,230 Milwaukeeans lack paid sick days—47 percent of the private-sector workforce.
  • 77,510 Milwaukee workers will receive new paid sick days under the ordinance—29 percent of the private-sector workforce.

Benefits will substantially outweigh costs

  • Milwaukee employers will pay $23 million annually for wages, payroll taxes and payroll-based employment benefits, and administrative expenses.
  • Savings to employers will total $38 million annually, largely from reduced costs of turnover.
  • The cost per worker per week for covered workers will be $5.69, and savings will be $9.80, for net savings of $4.10 per worker per week.
  • Use of paid sick days by victims of domestic violence will cost $450,000 per year.

Improved public health will save millions of dollars

  • Paid sick days reduce the spread of serious contagious diseases such as the flu and norovirus.
  • Workers will save $1 million annually in health-care expenditures just from lower flu contagion at work.
  • Getting timely medical care will save money and speed recovery.”

To view the full report, click here:

2. Grandparents: A Critical Child Care Safety Net

National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA)
September 2008

“In the last 40 years, grandparents have increasingly played a larger role in the daily lives of their grandchildren. A steady increase in women, particularly mothers with young children, in the workforce over the last several decades, may be part of the reason.

About 6 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren who live with them. This report is not about those grandparents, but rather, grandparents who are providing child care for their grandchildren on a regular basis every week. Both point to a strong intergenerational approach to support families, but the focus of this report is on grandparents providing child care.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 11.3 million children under age 5 with working mothers. Of those children, about 3.3 million (30 percent) are in the care of their grandparents for some period of time every week. Many older children often are cared for by their grandparents before and after school, while their parents are still at work—12 percent or 4.7 million children between the ages of 5 and 14, are regularly in the care of their grandparents.”

“[This report] compiles the results of a nationwide survey of grandparents about child care. Through the survey, NACCRRA sought to gain a better understanding of grandparents' involvement in the care of their grandchildren and their individual perceptions and beliefs regarding child care and found that nearly 60 percent of grandparents are either providing care for their grandchildren or have in the past. Not only are they providing regular child care, but they are providing, back up care, sick care, before and after school care, as well as summer care.

Additionally, the survey found that grandparents believe affordable child care is a necessity, not a choice. They overwhelmingly support public policies that will both strengthen the quality of child care and make it more affordable for working families.

The survey shows that grandparents know how important child care is—both for children and their early childhood development and for parents, who need a safe place where their children can learn while they work or attend school. Efforts to engage parents in advocating for stronger child care policies should also include grandparents, who are natural advocates for their grandchildren and who strongly support strengthening child care policy.”

To view the full report, click here:

3. Parental Leave Policies in 21 Countries: Assessing Generosity and Gender Equality

Rebecca Ray, Janet C. Gornick, and John Schmitt
Center for Economic and Policy Research
September 2008

“The governments of every high-income economy in the world take measures to support parents in their efforts to care for newborn children. These policies reflect the national interest in promoting the health and well-being of infants and young children as well as society's recognition that the first months and years of a child's life require substantial and sustained attention from parents.

This report reviews the national policies of 21 high-income economies, as of June 2008. We focus on two key aspects of parental leave policies: the level of support provided to parents; and the degree to which leave policies promote an egalitarian distribution between mothers and fathers of the time devoted to child care. The review of the generosity of leave policies updates earlier international comparisons of parental leave policies, but our focus on gender equality, including documenting and quantifying this aspect of existing policies, is among the first attempts to do so.

Governments generally provide two kinds of support for parents of infants and young children: protected job leave and financial support. All 21 countries analyzed here protect at least one parent's job for a period of weeks, months, or years around the birth of a child. This job protection allows parents to take time to care for their infant or young child secure in the knowledge that they will be able to return to the same (or a comparable) job at the end of the leave period. Most of the countries (though not the United States) also provide direct financial support for parents during at least part of the protected leave.

[...The report also] looks first at the duration and benefit levels of national parental leave policies operating across 21 rich countries and, then, at how those policies address the issue of gender equality. The paper concludes with a discussion of best practices culled from the 21 national experiences. The United States, which has arguably the least generous parental leave policies among the countries studied here, does reasonably well with respect to promoting gender equality.”

To view the main report, click here:

To view the supporting report, A Detailed Look at Parental Leave Policies in 21 OECD Countries, click here:

4. State Child Care Assistance Policies 2008: Too Little Progress for Children and Families

Karen Schulman and Helen Blank
National Women’s Law Center
September 2008

“An annual review and analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of child care policies in 50 states and the District of Columbia reveals that despite modest progress in some areas, states continue to fall far short of providing low-income parents the support they need to obtain good-quality child care.

The analysis, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2008: Too Little Progress for Children and Families[...] compares child care assistance policies in 2008 to 2007 and 2001 in four policy areas: income eligibility, waiting lists for assistance, copayment requirements and reimbursement rates for providers. NWLC used 2001 as a basis for comparison because it was just after the peak of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding for child care in 2000 and just prior to the peak of Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding in 2002. The analysis closely examines these policy areas because they determine the quantity and caliber of choices parents have for child care, how many low-income families who need child care assistance qualify and whether they actually receive it, and how affordable child care is for families receiving assistance.

[...] Reimbursement Rates: Between February 2007 and February 2008, some states made improvements in their child care assistance policies in one or more areas, but the large majority of states made little progress, and some states slid backwards.

[...] In the three other policy areas, some states made small steps forward during the past year, but in most cases states are behind where they were in 2001. 

Income Eligibility: [...] In the majority of communities across the country, a family needs an income equal to at least 200 percent of poverty to meet its basic needs, such as housing and food and other necessities. Between 2007 and 2008, two-thirds of the states increased their income eligibility limits sufficiently to keep pace or surpass inflation.  However, between 2001 and 2008, only about half the states increased their income eligibility limits sufficiently to keep pace with or surpass inflation.  And in approximately one-quarter of the states a family with an income slightly above 150 percent of poverty ($26,400 a year for a family of three in 2008) could not qualify.

Waiting Lists: States do not guarantee that families who qualify for child care assistance will receive it.  In 2008, two-thirds of the states avoided placing families on waiting lists. The remaining one-third of the states had at least some families applying for assistance who were placed on waiting lists or who were turned away. This was an improvement over 2001, when a greater number of states had waiting lists, but a static situation since 2007.

Copayments: [...] Despite improvements in some states, copayments remained high in many states in 2008.  In one-third of the states, a family at 100 percent of poverty was required to pay more in copayments as a percentage of its income in 2008 than the nationwide average amount spent on child care among families who pay for care—6.4 percent of income.

From 2007 to 2008, copayments for families at 100 percent of poverty increased as a percentage of income in six states, remained the same in thirty-eight states, and decreased in seven states.  For families at 150 percent of poverty, copayments declined in eight states, remained the same in 31 states, and increased in five states.  In six states, a family at 150 percent of poverty was not eligible for child care assistance in either 2007 or 2008, and in one state, a family at this income level was not eligible in 2007.”

To view the full report, click here:

5. Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions, 1974 to 2004

Stanley K. Henshaw and Kathryn Kost
Guttmacher Institute
August/September 2008

“Abortion statistics for 1973 are known to be incomplete, as legal abortion services had just been introduced and not all abortion providers could be identified. Our analysis [therefore focuses] on the 31-year period from 1974 through 2004. In the analysis of trends for population subgroups, we examine estimates at five-year intervals,
beginning in 1974.

There are several ways to measure trends in characteristics of abortion patients, and each measure provides a different analytic tool for assessing changes in abortion behaviors. This analysis examines four measures: frequency, or percentage, of all abortions by population subgroup in a given year; abortion rates; total abortion rates; and abortion ratios.

[...W]e give the percentage change in the numbers, rates and ratios for two time periods to examine changes in the years following legalization of abortion (1974–1989) and in a more recent time period (1989–2004).

At the end of this report are tables with state-level measures of abortion, including number and rate of abortions by state in which the abortion occurred, rate by state of the woman’s residence, the number of providers in each state, proportion of counties in each state without a provider and proportion of women in each state living in a county without a provider. These measures are provided for each year from 1973 to 2005, if available.”


  • Overall rates of abortion in the United States peaked soon after the procedure was legalized in 1973, remained fairly constant through the 1980s, and have declined steadily since then. However, the overall rate masks large differences and varying patterns across time for demographic subgroups.
  • A substantial drop in the abortion rates of teenagers and women aged 20–24 accounts for much of the overall decline from 1989 to 2004. During this period, the abortion rate of women in their 30s changed little, while the rate of women aged 40 or older increased.
  • The majority of abortions (57%) are obtained by women in their 20s. Minors account for fewer than 7% of all abortions.
  • Abortion is far more common among unmarried women than married women, although rates for both groups have dropped significantly in the past 15 years.
  • Abortion rates for all racial and ethnic groups have declined recently. The rates now range from 11 per 1,000 for non-Hispanic white women to 28 per 1,000 for Hispanic women and 50 per 1,000 for black women. The widely varying rates reflect differing patterns of contraceptive use, pregnancy and childbearing.
  • Black women account for 37% of abortions, non-Hispanic white women for 34%, Hispanic women 22% and women of other races 8%.
  • Most abortions occur before nine weeks’ gestation, and the proportion of very early abortions (<7 weeks) has increased substantially since 1994. The proportion of abortions performed after 12 weeks of pregnancy has changed little, and fewer than 0.2% take place after 24 weeks.
  • In 2004, 60% of women having abortions already had children, up from 50% in 1989.
  • Although 47% of abortions are obtained by women who have had a prior abortion, the proportion of second and subsequent abortions has recently begun to fall. There is no evidence that abortion is being used as a primary method of birth control.
  • Further research on abortion in the United States should focus on the circumstances facing women in the groups with the highest rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion.”

To view the full report, click here:




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