Working women see a generational shift
October 16, 2009: Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., President of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, offers insight into what is happening to women in the workforce and how that is affecting society as a whole.
Weighing in on ‘women’s work’
October 15, 2009: A Woman’s Nation: With four out of 10 American mothers now fulfilling the role of primary breadwinner, NBC takes a closer look at how women in the workplace are redefining everything else. NBC’S Rehema Ellis reports.
Fifteen years ago Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation to address domestic violence and other forms of violence against women. Called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), this legislation has done a great deal to increase awareness of violence against women, hold perpetrators accountable, and create new programs and services to help victims find paths to safety. Yet violence continues to haunt the lives of many women in this country and around the world, threatening their physical well-being and destroying their hopes for the future. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women in the United States will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Approximately 1.3 million women each year experience physical assault by an intimate partner. These numbers may be on the rise, as violence against women tends to increase during recessions, while resources for victims diminish. Far too many women are still being hurt and live in danger.
During October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we need to recognize the significant gains made possible by VAWA in the past fifteen years, and to remember how much more work needs to be done before the women of our country and our world â- mothers, sisters, friends, daughters–can live in safety.
Dr. Cynthia Hess, IWPR Study Director
Dr. Hess wrote an article entitled “Taking Stalking Seriously” which will be published in the December edition of the Domestic Violence Report.
IWPR (and the rest of the world) has been tracking data from the online databases for the Current Employment Survey (CES) showing that women are currently 49.9 percent of workers on payrolls for August. These figures are seasonally adjusted and leave out self employed, household workers, agriculture, and the military. Folks are breathlessly awaiting data for the month when women might actually constitute 50 percent or more of the employed labor force.
This would be a significant milestone, even if this shift is due to men losing more jobs than women in this recession. Part of the reason for womenâs commanding presence in the workforce is that women have been increasing their education and labor force participation for several decades, but barriers such as occupational segregation and the gender wage gap still persist.
Hopefully this milestone encourages policymakers to sit up and take note of the needs of the workforce. Policies affecting women such as equal pay, workplace flexibility, paid sick leave, subsidized child care, and so on are growing in importance and need to be strengthened. Policies in the United States are behind what many other countries are doing for families and for women in the labor market. It is critical at this point, given the trend in data seen here, for the United States to reassess our outdated policies to meet the realities of todayâs workers. Strengthening family policy will strengthen the workplace, with benefits for families, communities, and society.
Elisabeth Crum, Communications Associate