Honoring Women’s History Month With Facts That Matter

Honoring Women’s History Month With Facts That Matter

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Facts matter, that is why the Institute for Women’s Policy Research works to continually produce high quality research on women and families around the country and around the world – this is what we do, we give you the factsWomen’s History Month celebrates women’s contributions and raises awareness that for centuries women have been undervalued. That is why what we do is so important. We assist the trailblazers, be that your local representative, investigative reporter, your community organization or women’s group, or the hundreds of thousands of women who want to make their voices heard and show their struggles are real.

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A recent report released by IWPR with OXFAM discusses women in large, low-wage, growing, female-dominated occupations and discusses public policy choices that could increase pay, improve women’s lives, and address the undervaluation of women’s jobs, like child care.

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Another report addresses the undervaluing of women’s jobs in manufacturing, information technology, and transportation where women are often trapped in lower paying, female dominated jobs. With more specific training, however, they can enter good middle-skilled jobs, often in the same work places, that require similar skills, but are male-dominated. Many of these occupations have high projected job openings. Placing women in these middle-skilled occupations can help women seeking to improve their earnings, and employers looking to fill the vacancies. You can learn more about these middle-skilled jobs by visiting our website and interactive jobs database www.womenandgoodjobs.org.

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Job training for occupations like those mentioned above can be hard for many women to complete due to the often limited availability of supportive services in the workforce development systemA new IWPR report series assesses the current knowledge about existing services and shows the importance of supportive services for low-income individuals. Common barriers to completing employment training (including lack of access to child care, transportation, and stable housing) are discussed, and solutions for improving access to these important supports are offered.

With your help we have been able to systematically disseminate compellingly presented studies that are are crucial to women’s progress.

  • Paid family leave helps women stay employed and strengthens their ability to increase their pay to help support their families.
  • Closing the gender wage gap could take another 45 years, until 2059, for men and women to reach parity if the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960—and longer for women of color. Our work explores solutions that raise women’s pay such as making overtime pay more available.
  • Our Student Parent Success Initiative focuses on supporting student parents in postsecondary education. The project involves research, tool-building, technical assistance, public education, and networking with advocates, policymakers, and practitioners invested in the success of student parents.

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This Women’s History Month, as we look forward, our desire to better the lives of women and families cannot continue without your help. Please consider making a donation to IWPR to help us achieve our mission to advance women’s status through social science research, policy analysis, and public education.

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Read our blog post, An Economy without Women? 5 Facts to Knowhighlighting what the economy might look like without women and the crucial role women play in the economy every day.

 

An Economy without Women? 5 Facts to Know

An Economy without Women? 5 Facts to Know

5 Facts about Women and the Economy in Advance of the ‘Day without Women’

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, organizers of the “Day Without Women” are set to participate in a general strike with the intention of minimizing economic activity by women. It’s uncertain as to how large the strike will be or who will participate.

Just how much do women contribute to the economy? Nearly 75 million women over the age of 18 work in the United States. Taken together, working adult women earn $2.8 trillion in a single year, not counting the value of their unpaid work at home.

Here are five other things you need to know about women and the economy in advance of International Women’s Day.

  1. Hispanic Women Will Wait 232 Years for Equal Pay, If Current Trends Continue.

IWPR analysis has found that women overall will not see equal pay until 2059, but projections by race and ethnicity find that women of color have much longer to wait until pay equity. The exceptionally slow pace of progress for Hispanic women is nearly two centuries behind when White women should expect to see equal pay with White men (2056). Black women are not projected see equal pay until 2124.

>> Read IWPR’s Resources on Pay Equity & Discrimination, including Five Ways to Win an Argument about the Gender Wage Gap, our fact sheet that clarifies the most common myths about gender wage gap statistics.

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  1. Equal pay would cut poverty by more than half for working women and grow the U.S. economy.

Persistent earnings inequality for working women translates into lower lifetime pay for women, less income for families, and higher rates of poverty across the United States. In each state in the country, women experience lower earnings and higher poverty rates than men. The economic impact of this persistent pay inequality is far-reaching: if women in the United States received equal pay with comparable men, poverty for working women would be reduced by half and the U.S. economy would have added $482 billion (equivalent to 2.8 percent of 2014 GDP) to its economy.

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  1. Job Segregation keeps 1 in 4 working women in traditional care, serving, and cleaning roles with lowest pay.

Undervalued and Underpaid in America, a recent study by IWPR and Oxfam America finds that workers in growing, low-wage, female-dominated jobs—who are disproportionately women of color—earn less than men working in similar jobs. For instance, maids and housekeepers, who earn $9.94 per hour, are 90 percent female, while janitors, who are mostly men, earn 22 percent more, at $12.13 per hour.

“Millions of women work in jobs that are seen as “women’s work” and are in fact done disproportionately by women, such as teaching young children, cleaning, serving and caring for elders — essential jobs that, despite requiring physical skill, emotional labor and often, postsecondary education, offer workers low wages and scant benefits.” – IWPR’s Barbara Gault and Oxfam America’s Mary Babic wrote in an op-ed on the findings for PBS NewsHour, “The Economy Undervalues Women’s Work and That Needs to Change.”

>>Read: IWPR Program Director on Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch answered some frequently asked questions on the wage gap for Oxfam America’s blog, “Why DO women earn less than men? And other vexing questions.” (A great resource for how to respond to common questions from a wage gap skeptic!)

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  1. Women account for only 1 in 3 workers in good, growing, middle-skill occupations.

Improving women’s access to good middle-skill jobs can help close the wage gap and improve women’s economic security, while also filling reported skills shortages. IWPR’s analysis of more than 400 occupations finds that many women work in jobs that already have a similar skill profile to better paying, male-dominated jobs in manufacturing, information technology, and transportation—jobs that employers report are facing skills shortages.

For example, library assistants—8 in 10 of whom are women—get paid almost $24,000 less per year than IT support specialists, nearly 3 in 4 of whom are men. Based on the analysis, these two occupations share many similar characteristics, and with some additional training and education, library assistants could become IT support specialists, improving their own earnings and filling growing demand for IT workers.

>>Read: IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann and JP Morgan Chase’s Chauncy Lennon delve into what the findings mean for closing the gender and skills gap in an op-ed for U.S. News & World Report.

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

A research series from IWPR and IMPAQ International finds that a national paid leave policy would benefit working women, younger workers, and workers of color and, depending on the policy alternative enacted, cost less than half of one percent of payroll. About half (50.5 percent) of young mothers are not eligible for unpaid, job-protected leave under FMLA. Yet, 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.

Another IWPR report finds a growing body of research suggesting that paid family leave increases labor market attachment, economic security, and the health and welfare of families and children, and has the potential to help businesses thrive, reduce spending on public benefits programs, and promote economic growth and competitiveness. Paid leave is a win-win-win:  good for the employee, good for the employer, and good for the economy.

“As Congress and the new President search for a real fiscal stimulus with long-term payoffs, they should look no further than fighting for equal pay for women and investing in paid family leave and quality, affordable child care.” – IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York wrote in an op-ed for TIME, “Pay Women More If You Want a Stronger Economy.”

New Survey of Job Training Participants Indicates Supportive Services are Critical to Completing a Program

New Survey of Job Training Participants Indicates Supportive Services are Critical to Completing a Program

IWPR recently released findings from a survey of nearly 2,000 job training participants. Below are some insights from the participants captured in the survey. Read the full report, Supports that Matter in Workforce Development Programs: A National Client Survey on Access to Services at iwpr.org and read the press release with key findings, “Groundbreaking Survey Finds Access to Services Like Child Care and Transportation Can Impact Success in Job Training Programs.”

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Over half of participant respondents said their program helped them gain access to computers or other technology, and about half of respondents said their program helped them with peer support. Respondents had varied reasons for entering job training programs, one participant answered:

 “I decided to enroll in job training because I wanted a better experience for life. I also wanted to see myself as a successful woman, without depending on anybody.”

Another said:

“[I wanted to enroll in job training] to show my child that if I can do anything, she can do anything. Plus, I want to prove to myself [that] I can do it.”

But many respondents face challenges during job training that may affect their success in the program. The most common challenges reported were difficulty paying bills and transportation problems.

Those who received supportive services report having better completion rates and stronger intentions of completion. Some pointed to greater financial stability, as one respondent noted:

 “All the assistance I received from this program has been incredibly important in keeping me in my program. Without it, I have to make decisions like whether to pay for rent or food or pay for school fees.”

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Others noted the importance of additional resources like peer support. One respondent said:

“The support that [the program] has given me is far more than I can give back. They are very important to me because they have stood by me and pushed me to better myself and shown me that I can do much more than I could have ever thought.”

And another respondent explained:

“When you are down and out the support from the other members and instructors means the world to you. It did to me and I thank God every day that I had a chance to go to the program and get the emotional support from these wonderful women.”

By continuing to build and strengthen partnerships, organizations can improve access to supportive services among job training participants. Other possible strategies for ensuring that participants’ needs are met include striving to increase supports that represent participants’ greatest unmet needs, including the experiences and viewpoints of program leaders in making the case for increased public funding for supportive services, and encouraging the use of funds from underutilized sources such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training for supportive services. If possible, programs should increase their support for child care through referrals or other means, and pilot new models for supporting the child care needs of mothers and fathers in training. Community colleges can work to develop partnerships with social service and other community-based organizations to strengthen their students’ access to supportive services.

To read the full report, visit iwpr.org.

 

A Time to Honor, Reflect, and Inspire Change

A Time to Honor, Reflect, and Inspire Change

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Black History Month provides this country the opportunity to shine light on ignored history and neglected truths, as well as to inspire us throughout the year to fight for progress. We draw that inspiration from the acts of great Americans who fought for noble ideas and the most basic right of human dignity. The struggle is constant and we all have a part to play.

As a leading think tank in the United States addressing policy through an intersectional and gendered lens, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) marshals social science research and brings it to bear on the inequalities women face every day. Since IWPR’s founding, our research has explored the differences experienced by women across different races and ethnicities. Black women in the workforce face greater pay inequality than their White counterparts, but are the fastest growing group starting their own businessesThey vote at higher rates than any other group, but have the lowest representation in elected office.

The Pacific West is the most broadly diverse region in the country, according to a new measure of regional demographic diversity developed by IWPR. The new measure scores each region based on the number of women from each racial and ethnic group, rather than on the concentration of the non-White population as a whole.

As The Atlantic’s CityLab notes in its coverage of the findings, “Only when lawmakers gain a detailed understanding of who the most vulnerable women are and what specific problems they face can they create an environment where all women thrive.”

IWPR President Heidi Hartmann told CityLab:

“We need to understand that diversity is a nuanced concept, with tremendous variation, so that we can target policy solutions and make sure no group slips through the cracks.”

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Consider making a donation to IWPR today to help us continue to produce quality research from all backgrounds. Our research is used daily by the media, policy makers, and the general public to draw attention to the needs of women and craft solutions.

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108 years is too long to wait for pay equalityDonate now.

February Research News Roundup

February Research News Roundup

RESEARCH IN THE NEWS

Boston Comes Together to Help Immigrants Find Jobs

By Johnny Magdaleno|  | 2.6.17

“JVS Boston is just one of several programs, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), that braid federal and local resources into an effective salve for people in need. From Cincinnati to Seattle, these efforts provide “key unmet needs” to job seekers like Feona, according to IWPR researchers.”

Citing: Programs to Support Job Training Success: Innovations to Address Unmet Needs, by Julie Anderson, M.A., Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Institute for Women’s Policy Research

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A Surprising Group is Taking Over College Campuses

By Jillian Berman| | 1.30.17

“The number of college students with kids of their own grew by more than 1 million, or 30%, between 2004 and 2012, according to a report released Monday by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on women’s economic issues. Parents are flocking to college campuses as a college degree becomes increasingly necessary to secure a good job in today’s labor market. But at the same time that this group of student parents is growing, the resources colleges provide to them are shrinking. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of campuses with child care declined in 36 states.”

Citing: College Students with Children: National and Regional Profiles, by Elizabeth Noll, Ph.D., Lindsey Reichlin, M.A., and Barbara Gault, Ph.D., Institute for Women’s Policy Research

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The Number of US Women Taking Maternity Leave Isn’t Increasing, and Trump Won’t Fix That

By Sarah Frostenson | | 1.26.17

“…A Department of Labor and IWPR research brief found that if a national family leave plan was implemented, the number of workers opting to take paid family and medical leave would only increase by 6 to 11 percent annually, depending on the model implemented.[IWPR President Heidi] Hartmann said the brief didn’t project a larger percentage of workers taking paid family and medical leave because workers are more likely to store up paid leave instead of taking it. But she maintains that a federally mandated program remains the best way to ensure paid leave for low-income women and women working in businesses that cannot afford to provide paid leave on their own.”

Citing Estimating Usage and Costs of Alternative Policies to Provide Sick Days in the United States, by IMPAQ International and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

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Why Young Girls Don’t Think They Are Smart Enough

By Andrei Cimpian and Sarah-Jane Leslie| | 1.26.16

“By the age of 6, young girls are less likely than boys to view their own gender as brilliant. In our research, published today in the journal Science, we’ve found that girls as young as 6 start to believe that specific activities are “not for them” simply because they think they’re not smart enough. Our research suggests that American children are picking up on cultural stereotypes about brilliance at an early age. Unfortunately, these stereotypes suggest that girls aren’t as smart as boys.”

Citing: Gender Stereotypes About Intellectual Ability Emerge Early and Influence Children’s Interests, by Lin Bian, Sarah-Jane Leslie, and Andrei Cimpian

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U.S. Abortion Rate Falls to Lowest Level Since Roe v. Wade

By Sarah McCammon| | 1.17.17

“The abortion rate in the United States fell to its lowest level since the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion nationwide, a new report finds. The report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports legalized abortion, puts the rate at 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (ages 15-44) in 2014. That’s the lowest recorded rate since the Roe decision in 1973. The abortion rate has been declining for decades — down from a peak of 29.3 in 1980 and 1981.”

Citing: Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2014, by Rachel K. Jones and Jenna Jerman, Guttmacher Institute

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Even in Liberal Boston, There’s a Gender Wage Gap

By Katie Johnston| | 1.5.17

“Working women in Greater Boston make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men — a gender wage gap that echoes the national average — according to a report released Thursday by the Boston Women’s Workforce Council. The report, which collected anonymous wage data from 112,600 workers at 69 companies, is the first in the nation to analyze the gender pay gap using employer data, according to the study authors. Previously, wage gaps have been calculated using employee-reported salaries, which are considered less accurate.”

Citing: Boston Women’s Workforce Council Report 2016, by Boston Women’s Workforce Council

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NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

Report to the New Leadership and the American People on Social Insurance and Inequality

By Benjamin W. Veghte, Elliot Schreur, Alexandra L. Bradley, et al. | National Academy of Social Insurance | January 2017

The Academy engaged the expertise of over 80 of its Members and partners in government, law, advocacy, and academia to develop informed analyses of the current challenges facing social insurance, as well opportunities for improvements. This Report provides accurate, non-biased, non-partisan analyses of social insurance from a variety of perspectives to inform the new leadership and the American people about the importance of this infrastructure, the crucial issues at stake in social insurance policy, and the possibility – and, in many cases, necessity – for reforms.

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Maternity and Family Leave Policy

By Maya Rossin-Slater | National Bureau of Economic Research| January 2017

Maternity and family leave policies enable mothers to take time off work to prepare for and recover from childbirth and to care for their new children. While there is substantial variation in the details of these policies around the world, the existing research yields the following general conclusions. First, despite important barriers to the take-up of leave, both the implementation of new programs and extensions of existing ones increase leave-taking rates among new parents. Second, leave entitlements less than one year in length can improve job continuity for women and increase their employment rates several years after childbirth; longer leaves can negatively influence women’s earnings, employment, and career advancement. Third, extensions in existing paid leave policies have no impact on measures of child well-being, but the introduction of short paid and unpaid leave programs can improve children’s short- and long-term outcomes. Fourth, while more research is needed, the current evidence shows minimal impacts of existing U.S. state-level programs on employer-level outcomes such as employee productivity, morale, profitability, turnover rates, or the total wage bill.

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Access to Contraception in 2016 and What It Means to Women

By Emily M. Johnston, Brigette Courtot, and Genevieve M. Kenney | Urban Institute | January 2017

Understanding women’s access to contraception in 2016 is particularly important given the uncertainty of policies affecting access to reproductive health services in the future. This brief provides estimates of self-reported access to contraception among women at risk of unintended pregnancy and perceptions of the role of birth control in women’s lives. Most women are using contraception, the full cost of which is usually covered by health insurance or another program. Yet, some women report barriers to contraception access, many of which are related to cost. The majority of women agree that birth control has a positive effect on women’s lives.

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Bridging the Divide: How Business Ownership Can Help Close the Racial Wealth Gap

By Joyce Klein | The Aspen Institute | January 2017

Latinos and African Americans holder relatively low levels of business assets, contributing to their lower levels of wealth overall. Yet there are trends in the right direction: rates of business creation among these entrepreneurs are increasing, and now exceed those of whites. Particularly among African Americans, higher levels of college attainment combined with expanded contracting opportunities are enabling movement into more lucrative markets and sectors…The white paper outlines short- and long-term recommendations to address the racial wealth gap through business ownership strategies. In the short-term, continuing and expanding efforts to increase access to capital, skills, networks, and markets will be needed to realize the promise that business ownership holds for addressing the racial wealth gap. In the long-term, universal policies to narrow the racial wealth gap — such as those aimed at raising the quality of education, building savings, and increasing financial inclusion — will be critical.

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Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements

By Alexandre Mas and Amanda Pallais | Washington Center for Equitable Growth | January 2017

We use a field experiment to study how workers value alternative work arrangements. During the application process to staff a national call center, we randomly offered applicants choices between traditional M-F 9 am – 5 pm office positions and alternatives. These alternatives include flexible scheduling, working from home, and positions that give the employer discretion over scheduling. We randomly varied the wage difference between the traditional option and the alternative, allowing us to estimate the entire distribution of willingness to pay (WTP) for these alternatives. We validate our results using a nationally-representative survey. The great majority of workers are not willing to pay for flexible scheduling relative to a traditional schedule: either the ability to choose the days and times of work or the number of hours they work. However, the average worker is willing to give up 20% of wages to avoid a schedule set by an employer on a week’s notice. This largely represents workers’ aversion to evening and weekend work, not scheduling unpredictability. Traditional M-F 9 am – 5 pm schedules are preferred by most jobseekers. Despite the fact that the average worker isn’t willing to pay for scheduling flexibility, a tail of workers with high WTP allows for sizable compensating differentials. Of the worker- friendly options we test, workers are willing to pay the most (8% of wages) for the option of working from home. Women, particularly those with young children, have higher WTP for work from home and to avoid employer scheduling discretion. They are slightly more likely to be in jobs with these amenities, but the differences are not large enough to explain any wage gaps.

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Preparing for the Elder Boom: A Framework for State Solutions

By Josephine Kalipeni| Caring Across Generations | January 2017

With Millennials becoming parents and Baby Boomers getting older, the need for care across all generations of our families is growing. Many people can no longer rely on just family to provide the care they need. One of the most important steps we can take – and must take – in creating a family-centered caregiving system built for the 21st century is to address, head-on, the question of how we better provide long-term services and supports (LTSS) for our aging population and people with disabilities. Supporting care at any age and every stage of life will mean that we must invest now in eldercare, childcare, and paid leave for all. This paper reflects Caring Across Generations’ recommendations for the first of these critical components of a new, inclusive, interdependent vision for Universal Family Care.

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Aging in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities for Americans

By Amanda Sonnega | Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan | January 2017

Our nation’s leading resource for data on aging in America—the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a panel study of people over age 50 in the United States—is now in its 25th year. As the Baby Boom generation retires at the astounding rate of 10,000 people per day, this public asset is more important than ever. By 2030, when the last of the Boomers turns 65, the population aged 65 and older will have increased to 20 percent from 15 percent in 2015. This dramatic change in our population means that there will be more retirees drawing benefits and fewer workers to help pay for programs like Social Security and Medicare. The HRS was created to help address these challenges by providing information about the lives of retired people and people approaching retirement ages.

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IWPR January Research News Roundup

IWPR January Research News Roundup

1. In Florida, Women Are Poorer Today Than 12 Years Ago

By Brenda Medina | Miami Herald | 12.28.16

“In Florida, women are poorer and have less access to healthcare and development opportunities than most states in the country, according to a recent poverty report. The number of women 18 and older in Florida living below the poverty line is 15.4 percent (compared to men, which is 12.2 percent), according to the study, ‘The Status of Women in Florida by County: Poverty & Opportunity,’ by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. In 2004, the percentage of women below the poverty line was 12.6.”

Citing The Status of Women in Florida by County: Poverty & Opportunity, by Julie Anderson, M.A. and Cynthia Hess, Ph.D, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

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2. What Keeps Women Out of Career Programs — and What Will Make Them Stay

By Johnny Magdaleno | NextCity | 12.19.16

“If you’re a mother of two and working a part-time job, finding the time to train for a better-paying, more demanding career can seem near impossible. But career training programs throughout the country are beginning to understand that offering support services that help women and families, like child care and emergency cash assistance, will help them graduate more people. That’s according to a new study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which interviewed 168 workforce program administrators in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Most of these participants said issues like child care, financial restraints and even mental health issues contribute to keeping students from getting certificates.”

Citing: Supportive Services in Workforce Development Programs: Administrator Perspectives on Availability and Unmet Needs, by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Emma Williams-Baron, Barbara Gault, Ph.D., and Ariane Hegewisch, M.Phil., Institute for Women’s Policy Research

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3. Study Reveals Women Will Be Hurt Most by the Rise of Automation

By James Farrell | Silicon Angle | 1.4.17

“Women stand to fare far worse than men in the transition to an automated future, according to a new World Economic Forum report. The report stands in stark contrast to recent proclamations by government and industry that automation will be a net positive for most people. The White House recently issued a report on automation telling us all to remain sangfroid. Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk painted an even rosier picture of a leisurely post-automation life. Not least, those actually building the bots to replace humans have also offered a rather positive outlook.”

Citing: Gender Parity and Human Capital, by The World Economic Forum

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4. This Is Exactly How Much Money You’re Losing If You Have Young Kids

By Emily Peck | The Huffington Post | 12.28.16

“Having a child under the age of 5 is hard enough, but in the United States, parenting comes with the added bonus of near-financial ruin. If we don’t do something about this, the economic consequences for the country are not going to be pretty. Parents of young kids see their income fall by an average of 14 percent compared to those without children, according to a study released last week by liberal think-tank Demos, which looked at 2015 Census data. In two-parent households, that amounts to a loss of $14,850. For single mothers, it’s worse: $16,610.”

Citing: The Parent Trap: The Economic Insecurity of Families with Young Children, by Amy Traub, Robert Hiltonsmith, and Tamara Draut, Demos

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5. White House Report Focuses on Challenges Faced by Women and Girls of Color

By Gabrielle Levy | U.S. News and World Report | 12.16.16

“[The White House Council on Women and Girls] released its third annual report – “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color” – detailing the unique challenges women and girls of color face in school and in the workforce, part of a targeted effort to address the structural disadvantages that keep them persistently behind their white and male peers. The report, and the multi-year initiative, focused on five objectives: reducing teen pregnancy; encouraging success in school; making science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – education more inclusive; opening avenues to economic prosperity; and reducing the risk factors for vulnerable girls.”

Citing: Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color: 2016 Updated Report, by The White House Council on Women and Girls

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6. Abortion Is Found to Have Little Effect on Women’s Mental Health

By Pam Belluck | New York Times | 12.14.16

“It’s an idea that has long been used as an argument against abortion — that terminating a pregnancy causes women to experience emotional and psychological trauma. Some states require women seeking abortions to be counseled that they might develop mental health problems. Now a new study, considered to be the most rigorous to look at the question in the United States, undermines that claim. Researchers followed nearly 1,000 women who sought abortions nationwide for five years and found that those who had the procedure did not experience more depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or dissatisfaction with life than those who were denied it.”

Citing: Women’s Mental Health and Well-being 5 Years After Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion: A Prospective, Longitudinal Cohort Study, by M. Antonia Biggs, PhD; Ushma D. Upadhyay, PhD, MPH; Charles E. McCulloch, PhD; et al, JAMA Psychiatry

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In addition, we’ve added some of the latest research coming out on mothers, access to child care, and the safety net.

NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

More Than a Million Millennials are Becoming Moms Each Year

By Gretchen Livingston | Pew Research Center | January 2017

All told, Millennial women (those born from 1981 to 1997) accounted for about eight-in-ten (82 percent) U.S. births in 2015. At the same time, Millennials make up 31 percent of the adult U.S. population, and just over a third (34 percent) of the U.S. workforce. While they now account for the vast majority of annual U.S. births, Millennial women are waiting longer to become parents than prior generations did. Among Millennial women ages 18 to 33 in 2014, for instance, 42 percent were moms. But when women from Generation X – those born between 1965 and 1980 – were in the same age range, 49 percent were already moms, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data. (The rising age at first birth is hardly limited to the Millennial generation. It has been a trend since at least 1970. Many factors may contribute, including a shift away from marriage, increasing educational attainment and the movement of women into the labor force.)

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State(s) of Head Start

By W. Steven Barnett Ph.D. and Allison H. Friedman-Krauss, Ph.D | National Institute for Early Education Research | December 2016

State(s) of Head Start is the first report to describe and analyze in detail Head Start enrollment, funding, quality, and duration, state-by-state. The report focuses on the 2014-2015 program year but also provides longitudinal data beginning with the 2006-2007 program year. Despite the fact that Head Start is a federally funded, national program, the report reveals that access to Head Start programs, funding per child, teacher education, quality of teaching, and duration of services all vary widely by state. This report’s findings underscore the need for greater coordination between Head Start and state and local government agencies to build high-quality early learning programs with widespread reach and adequate funding. The authors call for an independent bipartisan national commission to study the issues raised in this report and develop an action plan to ensure every eligible child in every state has an equal opportunity to benefit from Head Start.

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A Closer Look at Latino Access to Child Care Subsidies

By Christina Walker and Stephanie Schmit | Center for Law and Social Policy | December 2016

A recent CLASP analysis found that access to child care subsidies is sharply limited for all eligible children, but even more so for particular racial and ethnic groups and in particular states.  A striking finding is that eligible Latino children have very limited access to CCDBG-funded child care assistance. While 13 percent of all eligible children (ages 0-13, regardless of race/ethnicity) and 21 percent of eligible Black children receive child care assistance through CCDBG, only 8 percent of eligible Latino children get help. Access is even lower in many states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee (see Appendix).This brief looks more deeply into the data on Latino children and offers potential policy solutions to improve access to child care assistance. CLASP’s “Disparate Access” work is intended to promote understanding of racial and ethnic differences in access to child care and early education and explore and uncover the reasons for such differences. This report is a companion piece to CLASP’s original report, Disparate Access: Head Start and CCDBG Data by Race and Ethnicity.

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A New Safety Net for an Era of Unstable Earnings

By Andrew Stettner, Michael Cassidy and George Wentworth | The Century Foundation | December 2016

Economic insecurity has been a hallmark of working families’ lives in the twenty-first century. Memories of the Great Recession—when unemployment reached its highest level in generations—are still fresh in the American consciousness. Workers who are laid off experience longer durations of unemployment than in previous economic eras, and even when they find work, they struggle to get back to their prior wage. Americans from all walks of life feel they can no longer count on steady forty-hour-per-week jobs. Workers in low-wage service industries can have their schedule changed on a weekly or even daily basis. There is rising national awareness of the independent workforce of freelancers and the contingent workforce of on-call and on-demand workers, including an increasing number working in the so-called “gig economy.” While these workers may gain flexibility, it comes at the price of economic stability.

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Breadwinning Mothers Are Increasingly the U.S. Norm

By Sarah Jane Glynn | Center for American Progress | December 2016

The Center for American Progress first described the role of working mothers as breadwinners in 2009 with The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, in a chapter titled “The New Breadwinners.”1 Authored by former CAP economist Heather Boushey, “The New Breadwinners” was among the first pieces of research to quantify the ways that women’s labor force participation has increased since the 1960s and what that means for families’ incomes. This report updates Boushey’s original analysis of breadwinning and co-breadwinning mothers and a 2014 follow-up report from CAP—“Breadwinning Mothers, Then and Now”—using the most recent data available. While this newest report revises the original analysis, it also provides new analyses looking at differences in breadwinning and co-breadwinning based on race and place. Specifically, it dives deeper into differences between black and white mothers in the frequency with which they combine paid employment with family caregiving and the different ways that they contribute to their families’ bottom lines. Most notably, the report highlights differences in the rates of breadwinning and co-breadwinning among different racial and ethnic groups. It also explores how rates of breadwinning differ across the United States, looking at differences between states and between rural and metropolitan areas.

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Year in Review: IWPR’s Top 10 Findings of 2016

It has been a busy, surprising couple of months at IWPR, but our research continues to inform public dialogue and tangible policy change. Just last week, DC passed one of the most progressive paid leave laws in the country – a hard-fought win for local and national paid leave organizers. IWPR’s paid leave simulation model analyzed a previous version of the bill and found that providing paid leave in DC is affordable policy with economic, social, and health benefits. Read IWPR’s testimony before the DC City Council and IWPR President Heidi Hartmann’s letter in The Washington Post and blog on Huffington Post for more on why paid leave in DC and beyond would be more affordable than opponents warn.

Below are our Top 10 findings from the year and a sampling of the impact of our research so far. The work continues in 2017!

#1. Hispanic Women Will Wait 232 Years for Equal Pay, If Current Trends Continue.

In advance of Latinas Equal Pay Day on November 1, IWPR released projections for equal pay by race and ethnicity. The exceptionally slow pace of progress for Hispanic women is nearly two centuries behind when White women should expect to see equal pay with White men (2056). Black women are not projected see equal pay until 2124. Previous IWPR analysis found that women overall will not see equal pay until 2059. Read coverage of IWPR’s findings on trends in earnings for women of color in Glamour , ThinkProgress , Huffington Post, and TIME.

#2. Equal pay would cut poverty by more than half for working women in 28 states and the nation overall.

California’s working women would have earned $51.8 billion more dollars with equal pay, an earnings increase that, by itself, is greater than the entire economy of South Dakota ($45.9 billion).

IWPR President Heidi Hartmann and Program Director Ariane Hegewisch contributed expert commentary to the The New York Times’ Room for Debate and  PBS NewsHour, respectively, on what Massachusetts’ new equal pay law means for future efforts to close the gender wage gap.

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#3. Job Segregation keeps 1 in 4 working women in traditional care, serving, and cleaning roles with lowest pay.

Undervalued and Underpaid in America, a recent study by IWPR and Oxfam America finds that workers in growing, low-wage, female-dominated jobs—who are disproportionately women of color—earn less than men working in similar jobs. For instance, maids and housekeepers, who earn $9.94 per hour, are 90 percent female, while janitors, who are mostly men, earn 22 percent more, at $12.13 per hour. Read the coverage in MarketWatch, Fortune, and New York Magazine.

  • IWPR’s Barbara Gault and Oxfam’s Mary Babic wrote an op-ed on the findings for PBS NewsHour, “The Economy Undervalues Women’s Work and That Needs to Change.”
  • IWPR Program Director on Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch answered some frequently asked questions on the wage gap for Oxfam America’s blog, “Why DO women earn less than men? And other vexing questions.” (A great resource for how to respond to common questions from a wage gap skeptic!)

#4. Women account for only 1 in 3 workers in good, growing, middle-skill occupations.

IWPR’s Pathways to Equity initiative and new interactive website, womenandgoodjobs.org, aim to show how improving women’s access to good middle-skill jobs can help close the wage gap and improve women’s economic security, while also filling skills shortages in manufacturing, information technology, and transportation (where women average only 11 percent of the incumbents of growing, middle skilled jobs). The analysis finds that many women work in jobs that already have a similar skill profile to better paying, male-dominated jobs—jobs that employers report are facing skills shortages. IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann and JP Morgan Chase’s Chauncy Lennon delve into what the findings mean for closing the gender and skills gap in an op-ed for U.S. News & World Report. Read more about the findings in MarketWatch, BloombergBusiness, IndustryWeek, Vox, The New York Times, and Pacific Standard.

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#5. Supportive services, such as child care, are key to success for parents in college or job training programs, but lack of funding means child care is out of reach for many.

Impact on Higher Education: In 36 states around the country, availability of on-campus child care actually declined in the last decade. IWPR’s state-by-state and national analysis finds that many states have rules, such as work requirements, that make it difficult for students to get child care subsidies. IWPR’s findings were featured in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Slate, New York Magazine, MarketWatch, The Hechinger Report, and NPR, since the briefing paper’s release in September. Watch a Chronicle for Higher Education video interview with IWPR’s Barbara Gault on the challenges facing low-income female students.

Impact on Workforce Development Programs: New IWPR survey results reveal that 97 percent of job training administrators, including those based at community colleges, say that supportive services—such as child care, housing, emergency cash, and transportation assistance—are key to helping participants complete job or skills training programs, but programs lack funding to offer enough services to meet demand. As one administrator responded, “Supportive services are critical. All of the training and job placement efforts in the world aren’t going to be effective if the trainee can’t get to/from work, doesn’t have child care resources, or can’t overcome other barriers to getting and keeping the job.”

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  • Read more insights from the administrators on IWPR’s blog and read coverage of the findings in NextCity.org, “What Keeps Women Out of Career Programs — and What Will Make Them Stay.”
  • The survey revealed that nearly one in three (32 percent) administrators said domestic violence services are some of the greatest unmet needs for women participants. IWPR’s Job Training Success and Economic Security for Survivors Project teams hosted a webinar on promoting job training success among survivors. On IWPR’s blog, read an interview with Erika Yingling of YWCA of Greater Cincinnati on how workforce development programs can support survivors of violence.

#6. Native American women saw the largest declines in wages over the last decade, with their earnings falling more than three times as much as women overall.

Black and Hispanic women also saw wages decline around three times as much as women overall in the last decade. As half of American families with young children have a breadwinner mother, women’s earnings are important for families. An IWPR analysis of breadwinner mothers by race/ethnicity found that the majority of Black, Native American, and Hispanic breadwinner moms are single and raising a family on their own, while the majority of White and Asian/Pacific Islander breadwinner mothers are married. See coverage of the findings in New York Magazine, Slate, and Ebony, and watch the HuffPost Live chat (with nearly 23,000 views) with IWPR’s Julie Anderson. (Read the series of quick figures to get state-level data on each.)

#7. At the current rate, women inventors will not reach parity in patenting until 2092.

Only 8 percent of patents have a woman as the primary inventor. See coverage of IWPR’s briefing paper and full report on the gender gap in patenting in Fast Company, Bloomberg, The Nation, The Atlantic, and The Hill.

“In the years ahead, we will need to tap the brainpower of top innovators around the world to meet persistent and emerging challenges, such as climate change, cyber security, the need to modernize public benefits access, and much more. Diversity in innovation is essential to social progress.” – Barbara Gault, Ph.D., Vice President and Executive Director of IWPR

#8. Paid sick days improves public health and benefits employers and the economy.

IWPR’s new briefing paper brings together rich body of evidence on the economic, health, and social benefits of paid sick leave. In the last few months, IWPR’s research on paid sick days has informed public debate in Arizona, Chicago, and Michigan.

#9. The Pacific West is the most broadly diverse region in the country, according to a new measure of regional demographic diversity developed by IWPR.

The new measure scores each region based on the number of women from each racial and ethnic group, rather than on the concentration of the non-White population as a whole.

As The Atlantic’s CityLab notes in its coverage of the findings,

Only when lawmakers gain a detailed understanding of who the most vulnerable women are and what specific problems they face can they create an environment where all women thrive.

IWPR President Heidi Hartmann told CityLab, “We need to understand that diversity is a nuanced concept, with tremendous variation, so that we can target policy solutions and make sure no group slips through the cracks.”

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#10. 1 in 6 high school girls experienced sexual dating violence in 2015.

IWPR’s new chartbook, “High School Girls and Violence 2015,” highlights the alarming prevalence of violence against teenage girls, with differences by race and ethnicity. Hispanic teen girls are twice as likely as their male counterparts to experience sexual violence and Black teen girls are 1.5 times as likely. Another briefing paper, “Intersections of Domestic Violence and Economic Security,” reviews available social science and policy research on the economic impact of domestic violence.

“The barriers to economic security facing survivors of intimate partner violence are two-fold. Survivors face a high likelihood of economic abuse from within their intimate relationships, and research finds that higher health care costs, lack of paid sick and safe leave, and limited access to help with legal fees create challenges to achieving, safe, healthy and economically secure lives.” – Sarah Gonzalez Bocinski, Director of IWPR’s Economic Security for Survivors Project.