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.

 

 

Top 5 IWPR Findings of 2015

By Rachel Eichhorn and Rachel Linn

What a year it’s been for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research! In 2015, we released 119 publications, including the seven chapter Status of Women in the States: 2015 report, with an accompanying interactive website. IWPR research was cited more than 2,100 times in media outlets around the country – from a feature in Glamour Magazine to a skit on Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer. Our staff also presented or participated in over 60 meetings and events on key issues affecting women and families.

Below are our top 5 findings of 2015 (plus a bonus!) from our many research reports. Let us know which one you found most interesting or surprising on Twitter or Facebook using #IWPRtop5.

1. The overall best state for women in America is Minnesota. The worst states are Alabama and Mississippi.

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This Spring, IWPR released the highly anticipated Status of Women in the States: 2015 report, ranking and grading the status of women on six topic areas: Political Participation, Employment & Earnings, Work & Family, Poverty & Opportunity, Reproductive Rights, Health & Well-Being, plus data on Violence & Safety.

The site is also the most accessible, comprehensive source of state data on women of color in the U.S. Browse spotlight pages that highlight data on specific groups, such as older women, Millennials, women living in same-sex households, immigrant women, and women in unions.

2. There are five states that will not see equal pay until the next century: Louisiana, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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A viral segment on The Daily Show called “The Future of Gender Wage Equality” summarized this finding perfectly when Kristen Schaal explained how humans will go to Mars before women get pay equity!

3. Women will not achieve political parity in Congress until the year 2117.

Share of Elective Offices Held by Women

In 2015, 20 of 100 members of the U.S. Senate (20 percent) and 84 of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (19.3 percent) are women. These numbers represent an increase since 2004, but the number of seats held by women in the U.S. Congress is still well below women’s share of the overall population.

4. Nearly half of current exempt Millennial women will gain overtime coverage under new U.S. DOL rule.

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In a report co-authored by MomsRising, IWPR found that working women—especially young women, single mothers, women workers of color, and women working in service and administrative support positions—have the most to gain from an increase of the overtime salary threshold to $50,440 proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor in July 2015. The collaboration with MomsRising helped to put a human face on those that would be positively affected by the rule change.

5. Women experience higher poverty rates than men for every demographic group and at all ages.

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The report, Toward Our Children’s Keeper, provides a discussion and analysis of the interim report of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, using data for males and females together as a reference point. The report argues that initiatives addressing the needs of young people of color should address the needs of girls and young women of color, as well as those of boys and young men of color, rather than targeting separate spending and program initiatives solely at boys and young men of color.

BONUS!

In 32 states, one week of additional earnings of union women is sufficient to cover the costs of full-time child care.

union advantage mapThis summer, IWPR released a briefing paper that converted women’s union advantage into childcare costs. Women represented by a union in the United States earn an average of $212 more per week than women in nonunion jobs. Union women earn more in every state, with the size of the union wage advantage varying across states: union women in Wyoming earn $349 per week more than their nonunion counterparts, while union women in the District of Columbia earn $48 more per week than D.C.’s nonunion women. This union wage advantage for women is sufficient to cover at least the weekly cost of full-time child care in a center for an infant.


You still have a chance to make research count for women in 2015. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to IWPR.

Top 5 Findings of 2011

Women with lightbulbsby Caroline Dobuzinskis, with Jocelyn Fischer and Rhiana Gunn-Wright.

In 2011, IWPR released several important findings on relevant topics such as the continuing impact of the recession, increased reliance on Social Security among older Americans, and the value of paid sick days for improving public health. Read the top findings below and continue to follow IWPR or sign up for our e-alerts to stay informed on our latest research on women, families, and communities.

1. During the recovery, men gained more jobs overall than women. Contrary to the image presented by a new, widely-panned sitcom, the recovery is not proving to be easier for female job seekers. Overall, men have regained one out of three jobs lost in the recession, while women regained one of every four jobs they lost. But the last quarter of 2011 saw women making some gains in the job market: men and women had equal job growth in the past three months at 206,000 jobs each.

2. Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and some cannot afford to put food on the table. Last September, IWPR released findings from the IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security showing that only 43 percent of women and 61 percent of men would have the savings to pay for living expenses for a period of two months. In households with more than one person who experienced unemployment for one month or longer in the two years prior to the survey, 27 percent of women and 20 percent of men went hungry because they could not afford food.

3. Americans strongly support Social Security and have grown increasingly reliant on the program in the last decade. A large majority of Americans (74 percent of all women and 69 percent of men in the IWPR/Rockefeller survey) say they  don’t mind paying Social Security taxes for the benefits they will receive when they retire. Between 1999 and 2009, the number of men aged 65 and older relying on Social Security for at least 80 percent of their incomes increased by 48 percent to equal more than a third of all men aged 65 and older in 2009. The increase for comparable women was 26 percent to equal half of older women in 2009.

4. The number of on-campus child care centers has declined and presently can only meet five percent of the child care needs of student parents. There are 3.9 million student parents pursuing postsecondary education in the United States, 57 percent of whom are also low-income adults. Access to affordable, on-campus child care has decreased, partly due to the increase of for-profit postsecondary institutions.

5. Paid sick days would reduce emergency department visits–saving $1 billion in health care costs. Access to paid sick days would eliminate 1.3 million emergency department visits per year and would save $500 million to taxpayers through public health insurance costs because regular doctors’ office visits would substitute for expensive emergency room care. Informed by research from organizations such as the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, paid sick days legislation gained significant momentum across the country last year.

Caroline Dobuzinskis is the Communications Manager at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Jocelyn Fischer is Assistant to the President and Rhiana Gunn-Wright is this year’s Mariam K. Chamberlain fellow.

Top 5 Recent IWPR Findings

By Jennifer Clark

When IWPR posted a “Top 5” list of our most revealing research findings in December, we were so encouraged by the level of interest our readers showed in the post, that we decided to turn it into a regular roundup. Although intending to compile another “Top 5” list, the first four months of 2011 were so action-packed that we couldn’t limit ourselves to just five. From Social Security to employment discrimination, here are the top IWPR findings from 2011 (so far):

1.       Without access to Social Security, 58 percent of women and 48 percent of men above the age of 75 would be living below the poverty line.  If you watch cable news, read reputable newspapers, or even tune in to late night television, you would get the impression that the Social Security system, which helped keep 14 million Americans over the age of 65 out of poverty in 2009, is broken. Social Security does not contribute to the deficit and is forbidden by law to borrow money to pay for benefits.  In fact, Social Security is actually running a surplus—a big one—at $2.6 trillion, an amount that is projected to increase to $4.2 trillion by 2025.

2.       Although many groups advocate for immigrant rights at the local, state, or national levels, very few advocate specifically for the rights of immigrant women. A new IWPR report, Organizations Working with Latina Immigrants: Resources and Strategies for Change, on the challenges facing Latina immigrants in the United States, explores the specific challenges faced by immigrant women—higher poverty rates than their male counterparts and greater risk of sexual, domestic, and workplace violence—and spotlights the organizations that are trying to help.

3.       The gender wage gap has narrowed only 13 percentage points in the last 55 years. With the ratio of women’s to men’s earnings stagnating at 77 percent in recent years, IWPR projected that, if current trends continue, the gender wage gap will finally close in 2056—45 years from now. In terms of how the gender wage gap breaks down by occupation, IWPR also found that women earn less than men in 107 out of 111 occupational categories, including female-dominated professions like teaching and nursing.

4.       Women’s career and life choices do not completely explain  the gender wage gap. IWPR’s new report, Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope—a review of over 500 sex and race discrimination settlements –offers distressing evidence of the factors that keep women’s median earnings lower than men and keep women out of better paid jobs. These include discrimination in hiring, sexual harassment of women trying to work in male-dominated jobs, preventing women from getting the training that is required for promotion (or only requiring that training of women), and paying women less for the same work than men. The report finds that ensuring transparency in hiring, compensation, and promotion decisions is the most effective means for addressing discrimination.

5.       On-campus child care centers meet only five percent of the child care needs of student parents. IWPR’s report, Improving Child Care Access to Promote Postsecondary Success Among Low-Income Parents, explores the challenges facing 3.9 million student-parents, 57 percent of whom are also low-income adults, enrolled in colleges across the U.S. Costly off-campus care centers—in many states the cost exceeds median income—are unrealistic for many, leaving some student parents devoting up to ing 70 hours per  week to jobs and caregiving, leaving little time for classes or studying. Postsecondary education provides a path to firmer economic stability for low-income families, but without child care on campus, the path often seems more like an uphill climb.

6.       Both businesses and employees in San Francisco are generally in support of paid sick days, as the nation’s first paid sick days legislation sees benefits four years after passage. San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (PSLO) went into effect in 2007.  Four years later, IWPR analyzed the effects of the ordinance in the new report, San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers and Employees, which surveyed over 700 employers and nearly 1,200 employees.  Despite claims from opposing groups that this kind of legislation is bad for small businesses, IWPR’s survey found that two-thirds of employers in San Francisco support the law, including over 60 percent of employers in the hotel and food service industry.

Jennifer Clark is the Development Coordinator with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.