Women’s Health Matters to the U.S. Economy

Access to affordable health care is a topic on everyone’s minds. For women, the stakes are high as the national conversation on the United States healthcare system and its future continues to wind its way through Congress. Not only is this National Women’s Health Week, but the month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We already know how important the status of women’s health and well-being are to families and to the economy – we just need to remind our policymakers and toughen our stance with facts.

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Women are the co- or sole breadwinners in half of American families with children. We’ve seen improvements in women’s mortality rates from chronic diseases, but we’ve lost ground on worsening suicide rates and mental health.

Poor health can pose obstacles to financial stability, educational attainment, and employment, while good health allows women to thrive. Women’s status related to health and wellness also varies considerably by race and ethnicity. Black women are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease, and nearly three times as likely to die from breast cancer, as Asian/Pacific Islander women, the group with the lowest rates. White women have the highest lung cancer mortality rate and are three times more likely to die from lung cancer than Hispanic women, the group with the lowest rate.

Paid family and medical leave programs, which can help women take time to recover from pregnancy or serious illness, offer economic, social, and health benefits to workers, families, employers, and society. IWPR’s research has found that a paid leave policy could be offered nationwide at modest cost.

Given the current political climate and debate over the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and proposed revision, AHCA (American Health Care Act), it’s important to remember that approximately 5 million women of childbearing age (19 to 44 years old) gained coverage from 2010 to 2015 and more than 90 percent of American women and girls now have health insurance.

In order for women and our economy to thrive, we need unassailable facts and solutions. To do this, IWPR needs your support.

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 facts.

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.

Access to Child Care Can Improve Student Parent Graduation Rates

Access to Child Care Can Improve Student Parent Graduation Rates

By Barbara Gault and Lindsey Reichlin Cruse

Few studies systematically explore the link between access to child care and college completion among student parents. Existing research and program data, however, suggest that child care plays an important role in helping student parents stay in school and acquire the degree or credential that may open the door to better paying jobs.

Here is what we know about child care access and student parent success in college:

Students who used the on-campus child care center at Monroe Community College in New York were nearly three times as likely to graduate or transfer to a four-year college than student parents who did not use the center.

In 2013, the Office of Institutional Research at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY, studied outcomes among its student parent population, finding that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the students who used campus child care returned to school the following fall, compared with just half (51 percent) of student parents who did not use the center, excluding those who graduated. Students who used the center were also nearly three times more likely to graduate or transfer to a four-year college within three years of enrollment (41 percent of students using campus child care, compared with 15 percent who did not use the center).

Student parents receiving child care support from federally-funded CCAMPIS programs appear to graduate at much higher rates than student parents overall, according to data from several campus programs.

The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) provides funding, on a competitive basis, to some institutions to provide child care access to low-income student parents. The program serves roughly 90 campuses, and outcome data for CCAMPIS students, while limited and without comparison groups, suggest an association between participating in a CCAMPIS program and improved college success, with substantially higher graduation rates than seen among student parents overall.

For example, among 77 students who participated in the University of Wisconsin-Madison CCAMPIS program from 2005-2011, 83 percent graduated. CCAMPIS participant graduation rates were nearly identical to the 2010 rate among all undergraduate students (85 percent), which is notable: in the United States overall, nonparents are more than twice as likely as parents to graduate (68 percent, compared with 33 percent).

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More than 2 in 5 women community college students who live with young children say they are likely or very likely to withdraw from college to care for dependents.

Data from the 2016 Community College Survey of Student Engagement show that, among students living with young children, nearly three-quarters of women (71 percent) and half of men reported spending over 20 hours a week caring for dependents. These care demands are likely to lead student parents to drop out: 43 percent of women and 37 percent of men living with children say they are likely or very likely to withdraw from college to care for dependents. Previous research suggests that time spent working beyond 20 hours per week substantially decreases college completion rates. While it has not previously been studied, time spent caring for children is likely to have a similar effect, especially when combined with work. (Three states—Arizona, Kentucky, and Washington— require student parents to work at least 20 hours per week to be eligible for Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) child care subsidies.)

Nearly 3 in 5 mothers in Mississippi who had paused or dropped out of school said that having more stable and affordable child care would have helped them stay in college.

IWPR’s survey of 544 women community college students in Mississippi—31 percent of whom were raising dependent children—found that the lack of access to affordable child care threatened their college progress. Among mothers who had taken time off from school or dropped out, nearly three in five (59 percent) reported that having more stable or affordable child care would have helped them stay in college. Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents with children under age 11 said they could not get the quality child care they wanted because it was too expensive—a sentiment that was particularly strong among younger, lower-income, and African-American parents.

“Family commitments” are a top reason that students who leave college would find it difficult to return.

In a 2009 Public Agenda survey of 614 adults (ages 22 -30) who had done at least some college course work, two-thirds said that providing child care would help other students like them complete college successfully, as did over three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents who had not completed their postsecondary education program. In addition, “family commitments” was the second most common reason that returning to college would be difficult for those who had left without graduating.

Creative strategies to increase child care access would contribute to increasing college attendance and completion.

While it stands to reason that better access to child care would encourage parents to return to college and help them stay enrolled, we need more evidence on the strategies that allow states, colleges, and communities to provide these supports affordably and effectively. Parenting responsibilities are emerging as a much bigger factor in students’ ability to access and complete college than anyone might have thought—and better child care access would contribute to increasing college attendance and completion.


To view more of IWPR’s research, visit IWPR.org

Supporting Survivors in Business and Entrepreneurship

Supporting Survivors in Business and Entrepreneurship

By Sarah Gonzalez Bocinski and Alona Del Rosario

Women-Owned Businesses in the United States

In United States in 2012, 35.8 percent of businesses were women-owned compared with 53.7 percent that were men-owned, the remaining 10.5 percent or jointly or publicly owned. While the proportion of businesses owned by women has steadily increased, the proportion of women-owned businesses has remained stagnant at four percent. Approximately 90 percent (89.5 percent) of women-owned businesses are sole proprietorships, with women of color having even higher rates of ownership of non-employer firms.

Economic Empowerment Spotlight

A 2016 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor survey found women-owned firms that generate an income reported average annual earnings of $63,590. While only a fraction of women business owners report earnings, those earnings exceed the 2015 median annual income for full-time working women of $39,900. Further, women who are established business owners report higher levels of well-being than women who are not entrepreneurs.

Many women-owned businesses are concentrated in industries that tend to employ more women than men. For example, 61 percent of health care and education firms are women-owned, but women own only 35 percent of businesses in professional, scientific, and technical services; 32 percent in finance, insurance, and real estate; 25 percent in manufacturing; and 14 percent in transportation and warehousing, all traditionally male-dominated industries.

Women’s entrepreneurship also varies greatly from state to state. The District of Columbia, Maryland, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Georgia have the highest shares of women-owned businesses, while South Dakota, Idaho, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota have the lowest. For more information on women’s business ownership in your state go to IWPR’s Status of Women in the States website.

Obstacles for Women Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs may encounter significant obstacles to developing successful businesses. Research indicates that women have less access than men to business counseling and training, fewer opportunities to build networks and work with mentors, and less access to capital. Historically marginalized and underserved populations face the additional challenges of racial discrimination and stereotyping in the labor market.

Women’s entrepreneurship has grown in recent years. From 1987 to 2013, women-led small businesses grew from 4.1 to 8.6 million in the United States according to a 2014 Majority Report of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. While women-owned businesses have been growing quickly, women of color, Black and Latina women in particular, represent the fastest growing segments of the small business community. Since 1997, the number and share of firms owned by women of color has nearly doubled, from 17 percent of women-owned firms in 1997 to 32 percent in 2014, with African American women-owned businesses having increased by an estimated 296 percent.

Supporting Entrepreneurial Survivors

Like many women entrepreneurs, survivors of sexual and domestic violence often face many misconceptions about their strength, ability, and resilience. When it comes to the day-to-day reality of living with and/or managing a relationship with an abusive partner, however, many advocates suggest that survivors employ the same skills exhibited by the most successful CEOs–calculated risk taking, thoughtful action, tough-mindedness, the ability to read people, problem solving, and determination.

Survivors may face additional obstacles to starting a business as a result of years of economic abuse. Abusive tactics that damage credit, deplete resources, and prevent completing education and training put survivors at a disadvantage by limiting their personal and social capital. These challenges can be exacerbated by additional obstacles, such as the immediate and long-term effects of trauma, legal issues, and ongoing threats of violence.

Growing interest in entrepreneurship as a pathway to economic security and independence has led some domestic violence programs to develop trauma-informed business development programs that provide an array of supports such as small grants or loans, training and education, business planning, networking and mentorship, while providing supportive counseling and advocacy. Alternatively, some programs may build partnerships with business development agencies can help provide survivors with guidance and support. Whatever the approach, being mindful of survivors’ safety needs, addressing impacts of abuse and trauma, and taking steps to mitigate the risks, must be priorities.


This project was supported by Grant No. 2014-TA-AX-K433 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Equal Pay Day: What You Need to Know about the Gender Wage Gap in 2017

Equal Pay Day: What You Need to Know about the Gender Wage Gap in 2017

Equal Pay Day 2017 is Tuesday, April 4, marking how far into the year that women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Women make up almost half of the workforce, are the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families with children, and are graduating from college at higher rates than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2015, women working full-time, year-round made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent.

Why?

Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. In middle-skill occupations, workers in jobs mainly done by women earn only 66 percent of workers in jobs mainly done by men. Outright discrimination in pay, hiring, or promotions continues to be a significant feature for women in the workplace.

According to IWPR’s research, if change continues at the same slow pace as it has for the past fifty years, it will take 42 years—or until 2059—for women to finally reach pay parity. For women of color, the rate of change is even slower:

  • Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248
  • Black women will wait until 2124for equal pay

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IWPR’s Status of Women in the States project tracks the gender wage gap across states, by race/ethnicity and by age. In 13 states, progress on closing the gender wage gap is so slow that a woman born in 2017 will not see equal pay during her working life. If current trends continue, women living in North Dakota, Utah, Louisiana, and Wyoming will not see equal pay until the next century.

Reasons for the gender wage gap are multi-faceted. IWPR’s research shows that, jobs predominantly done by women pay less on average than jobs predominantly done by men, even despite similar skill requirements. 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.

Women have made tremendous strides during the last few decades by moving into jobs and occupations previously done almost exclusively by men, yet during the last two decades there has been very little further progress in the gender integration of work. In some industries and occupations, like construction, there has been no progress in forty years. This persistent occupational segregation is a primary contributor to the lack of significant progress in closing the wage gap.

Persistent pay inequality can have far-reaching economic consequences. According to an analysis of federal data, equal pay would cut poverty among working women and their families by more than half.

Have you ever found yourself discussing equal pay with a wage gap skeptic? Find more research-backed, fact-based information from IWPR:

  • The 80% wage gap statistic is not misleading. Indeed, it is actually a moderate estimate of gender pay inequality. Read and share IWPR’s fact sheet, “Five Ways to Win an Argument about the Gender Wage Gap.”
  • Women tend to work in female-dominated fields, while men tend to work in higher paying male-dominated fields. Why do we value jobs traditionally done by women so much less than those traditionally done by men when they often require comparable skill and effort? Read the Q&A with IWPR Program Director on Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch.
  • Why should we take the gender wage gap seriously? If women were simply paid the same as men who are the same age, had the same level of education, worked the same number of hours, and had the same urban or rural status, poverty among working women would fall by more than half, according to a new analysis IWPR prepared for the Lean In Foundation’s 20 Percent Counts campaign. Learn more at leanin.org/equalpay.

To view more of IWPR’s research, visit IWPR.org

March IWPR Research News Roundup

March IWPR Research News Roundup

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS


Here’s How Long It Will Take for Each State to Give Women Equal Pay

By Annalyn Kurtz| | 3.22.17

“Florida may be the first state to close the gender wage gap. Women in Wyoming, however, may have to wait until year 2153 until they make as much as their male counterparts. That’s according to projections released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on Wednesday. Julie Anderson, a senior research associate with IWPR, used Census data to measure how wages for full-time, year-round working men and women have changed in each state since 1959. Then she used these historical trends to predict how much longer it will take to close the pay gap between the sexes. The answer, to say the least, is depressing.”

Citing: Projected Year the Wage Gap Will Close by State by Julie Anderson, Jessica Milli, and Melanie Kruvelis, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

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The Pay Gap Could Vanish For All Women – Sometime in the 23rd Century

By Jon Swartz and Charisse Jones | | 3.13.17

“Despite strides in the 1980s and 1990s, the pay gap between the sexes hasn’t budged in more than a decade. That’s even with growing research and outcry that’s prompted some companies to review — and vow to fix — broad discrepancies in their own workforces. The numbers are glaring: Women make up half the U.S. college-educated workforce but those with full-time jobs were on average paid 80 cents for every dollar earned by men in nearly every occupation for which there was sufficient earnings data in 2015, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The gap is especially pronounced when comparing median weekly earnings and far deeper for women of color.”

Citing: The Gender Wage Gap 2016: Earnings Differences by Race and Ethnicity by Ariane Hegewisch and Emma Williams-Baron, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

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New Research Identifies a ‘Sea of Despair’ Among White, Working-Class Americans

By Joel Achenbach and Dan Keating| | 3.23.17

“Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists.”

Citing: Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, Princeton University

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Women in Cybersecurity Face an Uphill Battle. Mentorship Could Help.

By Jonathan Vanian |  | 3.14.17

“Overall, the analysis paints a grim picture of how women are represented in the cybersecurity field, as females account for just 11 percent of all cybersecurity professionals, earn less than their male counterparts across the board, and generally feel under-appreciated by their employers. The disparity remains at the executive level too, the research shows, with men being nine times more likely to be in a managerial position, and four times more likely to be in executive management.”

Citing: The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity, by International Information System Security Certification Consortium, The Center for Cyber Safety and Education, and the Executive Women’s Forum

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Women in Finance are Punished Much More than Men for Violating the Rules

By Oliver Staley |  | 3.14.17

“By now, it’s well established that women are paid less than men, and receive fewer opportunities for advancement. Now, a study shows there’s also a gender gap when it comes to discipline. Male financial advisors are three times more likely to be involved in misconduct than women, but women are 50% more likely to lose their jobs as a result, according to a new paper by business professors at Stanford and the universities of Chicago and Minnesota. Women, who are less likely to be repeat offenders, also have a harder time finding new jobs after they’re fired.”

Citing: When Harry Fired Sally: The Double Standard in Punishing Misconduct, by Mark Egan, University of Minnesota; Gregor Matvos, University of Chicago; Amit Seru, Stanford University

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Trump’s Child Care Plan Is Gift to the Rich, Report Says

By Heather Long |  | 2.28.17

“The heart of Trump’s [child care] plan is to significantly expand the tax deduction that families can take for child care expenses for kids under 13. Anyone making less than $250,000 ($500,000 if married) could deduct the average cost of child care in their state. (The average would be based on the age of their child, since it usually costs more to care for infants and toddlers). That sounds great, but families have to pay income taxes to Uncle Sam in order to take advantage of the deduction. Many working class families pay nothing in federal income taxes because they earn too little in income to owe anything.”

Citing: Who Benefits from President Trump’s Child Care Proposals?, Lily L. Batchelder, Elaine Maag, Chye-Ching Huang, and Emily Horton, Tax Policy Center

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NEW RESEARCH REPORTS


Does Quebec’s Subsidized Child Care Policy Give Boys and Girls an Equal Start?

By Michael J. Kottelenberg and Steven F. Lehrer | NBER | March 2017

Although an increasing body of research promotes the development of universal early education and care programs, little is known about the extent to which these programs affect gender gaps in academic achievement and other developmental outcomes. Analyzing the introduction of universal highly-subsidized child care in Quebec, we first demonstrate that there are no statistically significant gender differences in the average effect of access to universal child care on child outcomes. However, we find substantial heterogeneity in policy impacts on the variance of developmental and behavioral scores across genders. Additionally, our analysis reveals significant evidence of differential parenting practices by gender in response to the introduction of the policy. The analysis is suggestive that the availability of subsidized child care changed home environments disproportionately, and may be responsible for the growing gender gaps in behavioral outcomes observed after child care is subsidized.

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The State of American Wages 2016

By Elise Gould | Economic Policy Institute | March 2017

Rising wage inequality has been a defining feature of the American economy for nearly four decades. In 2016, with an improving economy, most workers at all income and educational levels finally began to see an increase in wages. But large gaps in equality by gender, race, and wage level remain, and some of these gaps are increasing.

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Hungry and Homeless in College: Results from a National Study of Basic Needs Insecurity in Higher Education

By Sara Goldrick-Rab, Jed Richardson, and Anthony Hernandez | Wisconsin HOPE Lab | March 2017

Food and housing insecurity among the nation’s community college students threatens their health and wellbeing, along with their academic achievements. Addressing these basic needs is critical to ensuring that more students not only start college, but also have the opportunity to complete degrees. This report presents findings from the largest survey ever conducted of basic needs insecurity among college students. In 2015, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab published the research report Hungry to Learn, a study based on a survey of approximately 4,000 students at ten community colleges in seven states. This study includes more than 33,000 students at 70 community colleges in 24 states. While this is not a nationally representative sample of students or colleges, it is far greater in size and diversity than prior samples, and provides information to shed new light on critical issues warranting further research.

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From Day One: An Agenda for Advancing Women Leaders in Africa

By Joyce Banda | Wilson Center | March 2017

All across the globe, leadership programs designed and led by civil society, governments, and the international community seek to imbue leadership skills in women and girls. The potential impact of these programs, however, is undermined by the extremely gendered political, cultural and social practices of society. Aspiring and existing women leaders face their own unique challenges, such as lacking appropriate training and financing, violence, and issues including media coverage and fake news. More than 60% of Africa’s population lives in rural areas where these challenges, especially to young girls, are the most pronounced. In order to ensure women in Africa have the same opportunities as men to become leaders, African leaders and the international community must address the unique challenges facing women and girls to become the leaders they were born to be.

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Investing in Workforce Program Innovation: A Formative Evaluation of Five Workforce Organizations’ Experiences during the Human Capital Innovation Fund Initiative

By Ranita Jain, Amanda Newman, and Marcela Montes | Aspen Institute | March 2017

In local labor markets across the country, workforce organizations are striving to help unemployed and under-employed individuals prepare for, connect to, and advance in employment. To support this work, the Capital One Foundation established its Human Capital Innovation Fund (HCIF), which between 2012 and 2016 invested in building the capacity of five workforce organizations to pursue new strategies. These organizations are DC Central Kitchen in Washington, DC, the Greater New Orleans Foundation in New Orleans, LA, and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, The Door, and JobsFirstNYC in New York, NY. In this report, the researchers describe the five organizations’ experiences planning, implementing, and adapting new strategies. It offers insights into the complex work of developing and maintaining relationships that cross institutions.

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Towards a Better Future for Women and Work: Voices of Women and Men

By Douglas J. Besharov, Richard V. Burkhauser, Bouglas M. Call, et al. | Gallup and the International Labour Organization| February 2017

Gallup and the International Labour Organization surveyed the world’s women and men to better understand their perceptions about women and work. Universally, the study found that the top challenge that men and women identify for working women is maintaining the balance between work and family. But this is not the only challenge these women face — and struggles aren’t the same everywhere. Women in developed economies, for example, also frequently mention unequal pay, while women in developing economies are more likely to cite unfair treatment and abuse in the workplace.

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To view more of IWPR’s research, visit IWPR.org

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.

equal pay timeline

  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.”


To view more of IWPR’s research, visit IWPR.org