Equal Pay Act 55th Anniversary

June 10, 2018, marks the 55th anniversary of passage of the Equal Pay Act. On that day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the act that, in his words, “prohibits the arbitrary discrimination against women in the payment of wages.”

John F Kennedy Celebrating Equal Pay Law
President Kennedy hands out pens at the White House signing of the Equal Pay Act on June 10, 1963. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

What is the Equal Pay Act?

Here’s how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) summarizes the Equal Pay Act (EPA):

The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. It is job content, not job titles, that determines whether jobs are substantially equal. Specifically, the EPA provides that employers may not pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions.

The EPA also stipulates that when employers are required to correct a discriminatory difference in pay, they cannot reduce a higher-earner’s wages; instead, they must increase the lower-earner’s wages. Further, the EPA makes it illegal to retaliate against anyone for opposing practices that discriminate based on wages, filing a charge of discrimination, or participating in any way in an EPA investigation.

What have we gained since the Equal Pay Act?

When the EPA was passed, women earned 58.9 percent of what men earned, and the percentage was on a downward trend. Over the past fifty-five years, the gender pay gap has narrowed. In 2016, female full-time, year-round workers earned 80.5 percent of what men earned.

Earlier this year, a federal appeals court ruled that the EPA prohibits employers from paying women less than men based on women’s salary histories, which may help close the gender pay gap even further.

What progress do we still have to make on pay equality?

Despite these advances, there is still far to go. Even though the EPA makes it illegal to pay women less than men, according to IWPR research, women won’t reach parity until 2059 if trends over the past 30 years continue. The wait will be even longer for women of color: Black women won’t have equal pay until 2124, and Hispanic women won’t have equal pay until 2233.

What’s more, while the EPA focuses on eliminating pay inequality within “substantially equal” jobs, the profound gender segregation of the US labor market means that women and men tend to work in different occupations–and the jobs men tend to do pay much more. IWPR analyses of women in low-wage and middle-skill jobs has shown that many female-dominated jobs require similar skills and education to male-dominated jobs, yet pay much less. Research has found that more than half of the gender wage gap is due to this occupational and industry segregation.

As IWPR’s Ariane Hegewisch has said, “Perhaps the most important first step” in tackling gender inequality in these lower-wage jobs “is deciding that women’s work is valuable, and critical to the economy.” Concrete steps toward this recognition could include raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing paid sick days and family leave, ensuring fair scheduling, tackling wage theft and the underpayment of overtime rates, and increasing public subsidies for child care and elder care.

How have states and cities strengthened pay equality?

Under the EPA, the onus of proving wage discrimination rests on the worker. State and local efforts have sought to reverse this burden by requiring employers to prove that differences in pay are based on factors other than gender, such as legislation recently passed in New Jersey. Other local actions have focused on improving pay transparency, such as legislation in Washington, and banning employers from asking about salary history in the hiring process, such as legislation and executive orders in Massachusetts, New York City, and Chicagoamong others.

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IWPR has been researching the gender wage gap and occupational segregation since its founding in 1987. Since then, the Institute has changed the conversation on women’s pay and provided policymakers, journalists, and advocates the data they need to better inform the debate on women’s economic status.

Want to learn even more about the gender wage gap? Head to IWPR’s “Pay Equity & Discrimination” page. Also be sure to check out IWPR’s Status of Women in the States’ “Employment & Earnings” page to see how your state measures up on women’s pay.

Why We Should Invest in Single Mothers’ Higher Education

Why We Should Invest in Single Mothers’ Higher Education

By Rachel Karp

The number of single mothers in college has grown tremendously over the past decade. In the 2011-12 academic year alone, nearly 1.3 million single mothers were enrolled in two- and four-year institutions. But only 8 percent of single mothers who enroll in college graduate with a degree.

In a recently-released analysis, IWPR found that the economic returns to single mothers’ investment in a college education are enormous—for them and for society. Single mother graduates of two- and four-year colleges have lower poverty rates and higher annual and lifetime earnings than single mothers who do not attain college degrees. This means huge earnings gains for them and their families, as well as for society at large through increased tax contributions and reduced receipt of public benefits.

For Single Mothers:

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College Cuts Poverty

With each additional level of education, single mothers’ likelihood of living in poverty declines by an average of 32 percent. IWPR estimates that for single mothers who were enrolled in the 2011-12 academic year, over 21,000 would have left poverty after earning an associate degree and over 10,500 would have left poverty after earning a bachelor’s degree.

College Increases Earnings

Single mothers with associate degrees who work full-time, year-round earn $8,000 more than those with only high school degrees. Single mothers with bachelor’s degrees who work the same amount earn $18,500, or 62 percent, more.

These increases add up: over a lifetime, single mother graduates with associate degrees who work full-time, year-round earn nearly $329,500 more, and single mother graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn over $610,300 more, than those with only a high school diploma.

These increased lifetime earnings lead to substantial returns to single mother graduates from their own investments in two- and four-year degree programs. For every dollar a single mother graduate spends on an associate degree, her family gets back $16.45 in increased earnings; for a bachelor’s degree, each dollar invested brings her family a return of $8.50.

According to student mothers interviewed by IWPR, the desire to ensure their families’ future success played a key role in their decisions to attend college. One single mother student said:

I wanted to get a bachelor’s degree and be stable and be able to provide my son with a better home, with a better future…. I couldn’t do that with just a high school diploma.”

Another said:

I just wanted to get out of that cycle [of poverty], and I knew that I had to be a positive role model for my children so that they wouldn’t fall into that cycle and they know that, okay, it’s great that you graduate from high school, but there’s more work to be done.

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For Society:

Reduced Poverty Saves on Public Benefit Spending

The benefits of degree attainment extend beyond single mothers and their families. Each single mother graduate saves society over $1,800 in public benefit spending for herself and her family over a four-year period compared with those who do not have college degrees. For single mothers enrolled in the 2011-12 academic year, IWPR estimates this totaled $309 million over four years following degree attainment.

Higher Earnings Increase Tax Contributions

On average, each single mother with an associate degree contributes over $36,200 more in taxes over her lifetime than a single mother with only a high school diploma, and each single mother with a bachelor’s degree contributes over $84,200 more. For single mother graduates enrolled in the 2011-12 academic year, their total lifetime tax contributions are estimated at $7.8 billion more than if they had only earned high school degrees.

Investments that Help Single Mothers Graduate Pay Off

photo-1494451930944-8998635c2123Investment in services that would help single mothers graduate—such as child care, case management, and financial aid—would be more than compensated for by these increases in taxes and reductions in public benefit spending.  Investment in these services for a single mother pursuing a bachelor’s degree would cost an estimated $55,800 for the time that she was enrolled in college—much less than the $86,000 she would contribute in taxes and public benefit savings over her lifetime. An investment in these services for a single mother who graduates with an associate degree would cost an estimated $37,600, which would be offset by the $38,100 that she would contribute.

Without sufficient supports in place, single mothers face a range of obstacles to achieving college success. For many, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. One single mother shared how hard it was to find time to complete schoolwork and care for her family:

11 o’clock is when I start doing my homework until like four in the morning and then I have to wake up again at six in the morning.”

Another described the challenge of balancing school, family, and finances for both:

It’s just like Jenga: you take one piece out and it all falls down.”

Lack of access to child care often makes the tower tumble:

I felt like if I don’t have child care, I’m not going to be able to obtain my degree and I’m going to stay poor and I’m going to be living in the projects the rest of my life.

Investing in services that can help single student mothers persist in college can improve their college completion, benefit them and their families, and contribute to a stronger economy. As IWPR Vice President and Executive Director Barbara Gault has said, “Short-term investments in single mothers’ college success pay off enormously, and across multiple generations, after they graduate.”

Read even more about why we should invest in single mothers’ higher education in IWPR’s full analysis.

Research News Roundup – May 2018

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS

Single Moms in College Spend 9 Hours a Day on Housework

By Adam Harris |  | 5.11.2018

Every year around this time—when commencement season and Mother’s Day collide—moms across the country are praised for their grit and resolve. It’s a tough job for just about anyone. But for 2.1 million single mothers, according to the latest federal data, the normal difficulties are compounded by the stresses of going to college. For these moms, there may not be enough hours in the day to do all the tasks they have to do at home while still going to college. A new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank and advocacy group for advancing women’s status, breaks down the data on the amount of time single mothers in college are spending on their obligations outside of the classroom compared with women students without children. The analysis, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, is instructive—and eye-opening.

Citing: Time Demands of Single Mother College Students and the Role of Child Care in their Postsecondary Success by Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, Barbara Gault, and Joo Yeoun Suh at Institute for Women’s Policy Research and Mary Ann DeMario of Monroe Community College, May 2018

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Women earn more than men in these two (yes, two) industries

By Quentin Fottrell |  | 4.10.2018

The good news on Equal Pay Day: In a country where women earn 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, some women do actually out-earn their male peers. The bad news: It only happens in two industries. There are only two occupations where women’s median earnings are slightly higher than men’s, while there are 107 occupations in which women’s median earnings were 95% or less than men’s for the same jobs. Women working as “dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers” and “wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products” slightly out-earned men. Overall, women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations. That’s according to new research released this week by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit think tank. Last year, the median gender pay gap was 81.8%, reflecting median weekly earnings of $770 for all female full-time workers and $941 per week for men.

Citing: The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2017 and by Race and Ethnicity by Ariane Hegewisch and Emma Williams-Baron at Institute for Women’s Policy Research, April 2018

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Cory Booker’s new big idea: guaranteeing jobs for everyone who wants one

By Dylan Matthew |  | 4.20.2018

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has a big idea: give 15 local areas federal money so they can guarantee all their residents a job. The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act, announced by Booker on Friday, would establish a three-year pilot program in which the Department of Labor would select up to 15 local areas (defined in the bill as any political subdivision of a state, like a city or a county, or a group of cities and counties) and offer that area funding so that every adult living there is guaranteed a job paying at least $15 an hour (or the prevailing wage for the job in question, whichever’s higher) and offering paid family/sick leave and health benefits.

Citing: The Federal Job Guarantee—A Policy to Achieve Permanent Full Employment by Mark Paul, William Darity, Jr., and Darrick Hamilton at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 2018

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In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America

By Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui |  | 4.7.2018

Before the first hearings on the morning docket, the line starts to clog the lobby of the John Marshall Courthouse. No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. “Put it in your car,” the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby. This courthouse handles every eviction in Richmond, a city with one of the highest eviction rates in the country, according to new data covering dozens of states and compiled by a team led by the Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond. Two years ago, Mr. Desmond turned eviction into a national topic of conversation with “Evicted,” a book that chronicled how poor families who lost their homes in Milwaukee sank ever deeper into poverty.

Citing: The Eviction Lab database by Matthew Desmond

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The hidden crisis on college campuses: Many students don’t have enough to eat

By Caitlin Dewey |  | 4.3.2018

Caleb Torres lost seven pounds his freshman year of college — and not because he didn’t like the food in the dining hall. A first-generation college student, barely covering tuition, Torres ran out of grocery money halfway through the year and began skipping meals as a result. He’d stretch a can of SpaghettiOs over an entire day. Or he’d scout George Washington University campus for events that promised free lunch or snacks. Torres told no one what he was going through, least of all his single mom. “She had enough things to worry about,” he said. Now a senior and living off-campus, in a housing situation that supplies most of his meals,Torres is finally talking about his experience with the hunger problem on America’s college campuses: a quiet, insidious epidemic that researchers say threatens millions of students every year.

Citing: Still Hungry and Homeless in College by Sara Goldrick-Rab, Jeb Richardson, Joel Schneider, Anthony Hernandez, and Clare Cady at Wisconsin Hope Lab, April 2018

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104 Countries Block Women From Certain Jobs (and Other Legal Barriers)

By Josh Zumbrun |  | 3.29.2018

In more than half the world’s economies, policy makers have yet to take an obvious step to close the difference between men’s and women’s earnings: allowing women to work the same jobs as men. “I don’t understand why, in 2018, there’s 104 countries that have job restrictions on women,” said Sarah Iqbal, the program manager for the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law project, which produces an annual report on the legal environment for women in 189 economies. In 18 economies husbands can legally prevent their wives from working at all. And in many nations, women are barred from taking jobs in many high-wage sectors, including manufacturing, contributing to very different economic outcomes for men and women.

Citing: Women, Business and the Law 2018 at The World Bank Group, April 2018

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NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

Paying for Parental Leave with Future Social Security Benefits

By Melissa M. Favreault and Richard W. Johnson | Urban Institute | April 2018

A recent proposal would allow new parents to trade future Social Security benefits for a few months of paid leave. Projections from the Dynamic Simulation of Income Model (DYNASIM) show that providing a progressive, 12-week leave benefit averaging about half pay without raising taxes would require raising the Social Security full retirement age for leave program participants about 25 weeks. This increase would permanently reduce participants’ monthly Social Security retirement benefits about 3 percent. The proposed program would raise Social Security’s annual costs, net of benefit offsets, about 1 percent, worsening the program’s financing shortfall.

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Low-Income Working Families: Rising Inequality Despite Economic Recovery

By Beth Jarosz and Mark Mather | The Working Poor Families Project | April 2018

While the U.S. economy has shown signs of recovery since the Great Recession, inequality among America’s 33 million working families has increased. The unemployment rate has fallen from a post-recession high of 9.6 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017—the lowest level since 2000. However, gains at the lower end of the income spectrum have been slower than those at the top. The number of working families with income below 200 percent of the poverty level—termed low-income—fell slightly between 2015 and 2016 (from 10.3 million to 9.9 million). But despite recent improvements, there are more low-income working families today than there were at the onset of the recession in 2007 (9.5 million). Today, three in 10 working families in the United States may not have enough money to meet basic needs.

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The Changing Profile of Unmarried Parents

By Gretchen Livingston | Pew Research Center | April 2018

One-in-four parents living with a child in the United States today are unmarried. Driven by declines in marriage overall, as well as increases in births outside of marriage, this marks a dramatic change from a half-century ago, when fewer than one-in-ten parents living with their children were unmarried (7%). At the same time, the profile of unmarried parents has shifted markedly, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Solo mothers – those who are raising at least one child with no spouse or partner in the home – no longer dominate the ranks of unmarried parents as they once did. In 1968, 88% of unmarried parents fell into this category. By 1997 that share had dropped to 68%, and in 2017 the share of unmarried parents who were solo mothers declined to 53%. These declines in solo mothers have been entirely offset by increases in cohabiting parents: Now 35% of all unmarried parents are living with a partner. Meanwhile, the share of unmarried parents who are solo fathers has held steady at 12%.

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The State of the Gender Pay Gap in 2018

PayScale | April 2018

In the last couple of years, workers and legislators have taken some big steps to push organizations to rectify the gender pay gap. For example, salary history bans have expanded across the U.S., with the goal of making sure organizations do not perpetuate the gender pay gap. The UK passed a law in 2017 which forces companies with more than 250 employees in the region to report on pay disparity between their male and female employees. In France, companies with more than 50 employees are now required to install software directly connected to their payroll systems to monitor unjustified pay gap; if a company fails to erase a pay gap detected by the software over three years, they could face a penalty. In the U.S., female employees from Google sued their previous employer for gender-based pay disparity. More recently, Starbucks claims it has achieved pay equity in the U.S.

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Sexual Harassment at Work in the Era of #MeToo

By Nikki Graf | Pew Research Center | April 2018

Recent allegations against prominent men in entertainment, politics, the media and other industries have sparked increased attention to the issue of sexual harassment and assault, in turn raising questions about the treatment of the accused and the accusers and what lies ahead for men and women in the workplace. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that, when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, more Americans think men getting away with it and female accusers not being believed are major problems than say the same about employers firing men before finding out all the facts or women making false accusations. And while these attitudes differ somewhat by gender, they vary most dramatically between Democrats and Republicans.

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Five Facts to Know for #MomsEqualPay Day

Wednesday, May 30, is Moms Equal Pay Day 2018, which symbolizes the day that mothers have to work until they earn as much as fathers earned last year. According to the American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau, moms earn 71 cents compared to dads’ dollar. Want to know even more about how the pay gap affects moms and their families? Here are five facts to inform your conversations on Moms Equal Pay Day:

1. Moms’ earnings are critical to the economic security of American families.

In the United States, half of households with children under 18 have a breadwinner mother, defined as either a single mother who heads a household regardless of income, or a married mother who makes at least 40 percent of a couple’s income. Women’s earnings are especially crucial to the economic security of women of color and their families: eight out of 10 (80.6 percent) Black mothers are breadwinners.

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2. With equal pay, working married mothers would earn, on average, an additional $6,329 each year, and working single mothers would earn $7,315 more each year.

There are 16.8 million working married mothers in the United States, and they and their families would have had an additional $106.2 billion if they were paid the same as comparable men. The families of the country’s one million working single mothers would have gained a total of $52 billion, cutting the persistently high poverty rates among single mothers by nearly half.

3. Equal pay would lift 2.5 million children with working mothers out of poverty.

Nearly 26 million children in the United States would benefit from their mothers’ increased earnings with equal pay. Of the 5.6 million children whose families live in poverty, 2.5 million would be brought out of poverty if women received equal pay, cutting the poverty rate for children with a working mother by nearly half.

4. A national paid leave policy could help young working mothers, a group least likely to have access to leave.

About half (50.5 percent) of young mothers (age 18-34) are not eligible for unpaid, job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a lower eligibility rate than non-mothers. Research indicates that paid leave helps women stay in the labor force and reduces turnover for employers: first-time mothers who utilized paid leave were 26 percent less likely to quit their jobs and were 18 percent more likely to work for the same employer after the birth of their first child.

5. Single mothers in college face intense time demands and financial challenges to completing a degree.

Women with bachelor’s degrees who earn postsecondary credentials have much higher lifetime earnings than those with less education. Although the number of single mothers in college has doubled in the last decade, just under one in three complete their degree due to financial and time challenges. New research suggests that access to on-campus child care may triple graduation rates among single moms.

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Make sure to join the conversation about the pay gap facing mothers on May 30 at 2pm EST as part of the #MomsEqualPay Day Twitter Storm organized by MomsRising and other organizations.

Follow IWPR on Moms Equal Pay Day, and every day, at @IWPResearch on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

5 Resources for Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day 2018 is Tuesday, April 10. This day symbolizes how far into the new year women had to work to earn as much as men earned in the previous year. In 2016, women working full-time, year-round made only 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 19.5 percent.

We hope these 5 resources on the gender wage gap will help inform your conversations about the gender wage gap on Equal Pay Day.. Join the conversation online with #EqualPayDay and follow us at @IWPResearch.

  1. Five Ways to Win an Argument about the Gender Wage Gap

The 80.5 percent wage gap statistic is not misleading. It is actually a moderate estimate of gender pay inequality. IWPR’s fact sheet provides research-backed responses to five common misconceptions about the gender wage gap statistics.

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  1. The Gender Wage Gap: 2017 Earnings Differences by Race and Ethnicity

The last decade saw the slowest progress on closing the gender wage gap in nearly 40 years, according to IWPR’s recently updated fact sheet. IWPR also found that, with median weekly earnings of $941, men earned $171 more per week than women, who earned $770.

  1. Projections for when the wage gap will close: for women of color and for each state

Women will have to wait another four decades—or much longer—for equal pay.

If current trends continue, it will take 41 years—or until 2059—for women to finally reach pay parity with men. For many women of color, the rate of progress is even slower. Hispanic women will have to wait until 2233—216 years from now—and Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay.

The pace of progress also depends on where you live. The wage gap is projected to close first in Florida, with women achieving pay parity with men in 2038. In four states—North Dakota, Utah, Louisiana, and Wyoming—the wage gap will close in the 22nd century at current rates of progress.

  1. The Impact of Equal Pay on Poverty and the Economy

Equal pay would cut poverty among working women by half and add $513 billion in wage and salary income to the U.S. economy. IWPR’s briefing paper also analyzes the impact on children with working mothers, finding that equal pay would cut the poverty rate for children with a working mother by half.

Bonus: our state analysis explores the impact of equal pay on poverty and state economies.

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  1. The Economic Status of Women in the States: 2018

How does your state measure up? IWPR’s new state grades on the economic status of women show stagnant or declining progress in most states. Compared with 2015, the last time the state scores were calculated, 11 states received a lower grade on IWPR’s Employment & Earnings Index, which measures states on women’s earnings, the gender wage gap, women’s labor force participation, and women’s representation in professional and managerial occupations.

See your state’s report card at statusofwomendata.org.

Bonus: The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2017 and by Race and Ethnicity

There are 4.2 million women who work in occupations with poverty-level wages, more than eight times as many as the 0.5 million men who do, according to a new analysis of the gender wage gap by occupation released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) in advance of Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 10.

Find more resources on Pay Equity & Discrimination at IWPR.org.

Years of Supporting Women Through Research

Years of Supporting Women Through Research

By Allison Lewis

This Women’s History Month, IWPR is reflecting on its 30 years of researching the issues, such as paid leave and equal pay, that shape women’s lives.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which guarantees job protected, but not paid, leave. In August 1989, IWPR released its first report, Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans in the States of the Lack of Family and Medical Leave. IWPR’s research showed that, by not recognizing the need for work-life balance in all families, established policies not only failed to support workers and their families, but were costly to taxpayers. Now nearly a quarter century later, the Family and Medical Leave Act has become a cornerstone of U.S. employment law and human resource policy.

IWPR’s research shifted the terms of the policy debate—from focusing almost exclusively on the costs to businesses of providing family and medical leave to the costs to families and the overall economy of not providing leave. IWPR’s paid leave simulation model, which is the only economic model developed specifically to estimate the costs and benefits of implementing a paid family and medical leave system, continues to inform policymakers in cities and states around the country looking to expand access to paid leave for their workers. You can read more about IWPR’s continuing research on paid leave by visiting our Family & Medical Leave page.

This year’s Equal Pay Day is on April 10th. IWPR is proud to continue producing forward-thinking data that connect the impact of policies and people’s pocketbooks. IWPR’s research finds that equal pay would cut poverty among working women by half and add more than half a trillion dollars in additional wage and salary income to the U.S. economy.

Women simply can’t afford to wait 40 years for pay equity— women of color can’t wait up to 232 years as IWPR projections indicate. The movement for equal pay remains a constant focus in IWPR’s research, and with your help we will continue to provide accurate data to lawmakers, activists—and you!

We are living in a watershed moment that holds the opportunity for women to achieve significant gains in leadership at work and in society. Honor the future changemakers this Women’s History Month by supporting the research that will spark action. Donate to IWPR today!


For other ways to donate to IWPR please visit our website.

Contributions to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research are fully tax-deductible.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.

www.womenandgoodjobs.org   |   www.statusofwomendata.org

Leading Economists Comment on the AEA’s Draft Code of Professional Conduct

(On January 17, 2018, Peter L. Rousseau, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Economic Association asked AEA member for comments on the code of professional conduct as drafted by an AEA Ad Hoc Committee. The draft Code of Professional Conduct is available here:
https://www.aeaweb.org/resources/member-docs/draft-code-of-conduct 

The ad hoc committee’s interim report is available here: https://www.aeaweb.org/resources/member-docs/code-of-conduct-interim-report

The comment period closed on March 15; 211 comments were received)

Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Michael Reich, University of California Berkeley, and Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic and Policy Research offered the following comment:
The Draft Code of Professional Conduct is seriously incomplete. It offers no method for the AEA to update the code or ensure that it is being followed. Nor does it make any provision to have allegations of noncompliance investigated and resolved by appropriate enforcement actions. To say that “the AEA strives to promote these principles through its activities” is a lovely statement of intent, but a thorough review of AEA activities is called for to assess whether the AEA is in fact creating an environment for “the perfect freedom of economic expression.” And then the review must be followed up with specific actions.

We note that the Interim Report of the Ad Hoc Committee to Consider a Code of Professional Conduct notes the many problems in the profession that were reported to them and suggests a number of steps that could be taken to ensure that the profession and the AEA do in fact work to improve the climate in the profession.

We suggest the AEA accept the additional proposals contained in the report and establish a standing committee on the Code of Conduct and task it with:  1) assessing how well the AEA and the profession generally are living up to the code of conduct, 2) monitoring and encouraging progress, and 3) making annual reports, containing recommendations for further action when needed, to the AEA and the membership for how further improvements can be made.  These annual reports should be widely shared with department chairs and deans, large employers of economists, and relevant public agencies. Finally, the committee should be charged with 4) investigating complaints of violations of the Code of Ethics, sanctioning violators, and otherwise enforcing the code of conduct throughout the profession.

While the Ad Hoc Committee explained its choice of a parsimonious code, it also noted a more complete code would require more time, a committee devoted to the effort, and resources to solicit feedback from the members. We suggest that the committee be provided with an adequate budget and staffing to carry out a comprehensive, ongoing effort to expand the code of ethics to deal with issues such as harassment, particularly harassment that occurs at AEA sponsored events, and to reform the culture of discourse and hostile treatment of diverse ideas and diverse people within the field.

Neither the draft code of conduct nor the Interim Report notes the importance of creating an environment where diverse ideas as well as diverse economists are welcomed. For example, in discussing the diversity of the Executive Committee and Officers, the Interim Report suggests that the range of departments, colleges, and careers be considered as dimensions of diversity.  Diversity of schools of thought within economics is also important and should be included and indeed welcomed. For another example, when discussing best practices for addressing bias, the interim report fails to mention bias against economic ideas that are outside the mainstream.  Finally, in addition to considering and spreading best practices for avoiding bias, the committee should be charged with reviewing and assessing best practices for enforcement methods among those used by other professional associations.

At the same time, Mr. Rousseau announced that the AEA decided to create a website/message board designed to provide additional information and transparency to the job market for new PhDs. This is planned to be operational in time for the 2018-19 job market cycle.

These action was taken by the AEA in response to a petition signed by more than 1100 economists (initiated by Michael Reich and Heidi Hartmann) asking the AEA to produce job market information that would surpass what is currently offered by the EJMR (Economic Job Market Rumors), which powerful research by Alice Wu shows is misogynistic as well as racist in the language used to describe job market candidates.

For more on the EJMR controversy and the overwhelming response that also led to the draft code of conduct, please check out the Bloomberg Benchmark episode on the topic that interviews IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann.