Posts Tagged ‘women’
Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Today, Equal Pay Day, marks the day when women workers close the 2014 pay gap, and that wage gap is huge. Women, on average, earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men’s wages and that adds up to more than $10,800 a year and more than $400,000 over a career.
A new report finds that wage gap is even wider for mothers, especially single mothers and mothers of color, most of whom are essential breadwinners and caregivers for their families.
The report, An Unlevel Playing Field: America’s Gender-Based Wage Gap, Binds of Discrimination and a Path Forward, by the National Partnership for Women & Families, finds mothers who work full-time, year-round in the United States are paid just 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers who work full-time, year-round. Single mothers are paid just 58 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. And African American and Latina mothers suffer the biggest disparities, being paid just 54 cents and 49 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers.
National Partnership President Debra L. Ness said:
“At a time when women’s wages are essential to families and our economy, the persistence of the gender-based wage gap is doing real and lasting damage to women, families, communities and to our nation. It defies common sense that lawmakers are not doing more to stop gender discrimination in wages.”
In 2009, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which overturned a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that denied many pay discrimination victims their day in court. But since then, Republican lawmakers have blocked votes on the Paycheck Fairness Act.
That legislation would strengthen penalties that courts may impose for equal pay violations and prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage practices. The bill also would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job performance—not gender.
The bill was reintroduced last month by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who said:
“Equal pay is not just a problem for women, but for families, who are trying to pay their bills, trying to get ahead, trying to achieve the American Dream and are getting a smaller paycheck than they have earned for their hard work.”
Last April, President Obama signed two executive orders on equal pay, one that banned retaliation against employees of federal contractors for discussing their wages and another that instructed the U.S. Department of Labor to create new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation. While these actions will help federal contractor employees, congressional action is needed to end gender-based pay discrimination for all workers.
Here are some other facts on unequal pay and the wage gap between men and women.
- If the pay trends of the past five decades remain the same, it will take nearly another five decades—until 2058—for women to reach pay equity with men.
- If women and men received equal pay, the poverty rate for all working women and their families would be cut in half from 8.1% to 3.9%.
- The gender wage gap among union members is half the size of the wage gap among nonunion workers.
- Union women working full-time earn, on average, 90.6% of what their male peers earn.
- The wage gap for union members fell 2.6 cents between 2012 and 2013 but was virtually unchanged for nonunion workers.
- Paying women the same wage as their male peers would have added an additional $448 billion to the economy in 2012 or roughly 3% of the country’s GDP.
- 62% of women who work in the private sector report that discussing pay at work is strongly discouraged or prohibited, making it harder for women to discover if they are missing out on wages they deserve.
- Requiring employers to disclose employee pay rankings would allow women to know if they are being paid the same wage as comparable workers.
This article was originally printed on AFL-CIO on April 14, 2015. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journaland managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.
Thursday, March 26th, 2015
The United States is one of just three countries in the world that doesn’t require paid maternity leave. Just 12 percent of people who work in the private sector are offered paid family leave. That’s one of many major hurdles women, particularly mothers, face in the workplace.
But women make up half of the labor force. So what can be done to change that picture so that they aren’t so often stuck between a rock and a hard place? Two new websites have one answer: transparency.
Ursula Mead is a self-described working mom and “data geek.” “I come from an area where data can really help you make good decisions and help you understand situations,” she explained.
So with InHerSight, a website that allows people to anonymously rate their workplaces on a variety of metrics such as paid maternity leave, flexible work, and women’s representation and opportunities, she’s decided to apply data to the problems facing women in the workforce. To her, it feels like a faster and more effective way to tackle them. “Some of the other solutions that are out there just weren’t resonating with me,” she said. “I don’t have time for a Lean In circle.” She noted that mentorship doesn’t address issues on a large enough scale, company initiatives are unaccountable to the employees themselves, and policy changes, while important, are “just slow.”
For Sarah Seltzer and Meredith Clark, the decision to start Having It Some, a Tumblr that collects anonymous submissions on companies’ paid family leave policies, came from watching friends struggle with parenting and work. “In the last two years, I’ve been hearing more and more horror stories from friends about companies that didn’t have any maternity leave or having to craft their own or getting job offers rescinded when they told their future bosses they were pregnant,” Seltzer said. “I started becoming really curious as to what companies offer new moms.”
Seltzer and Clark feel that it’s an important conversation to have, and sooner rather than later, but that many people aren’t thinking about it. “We talk about navigating salary negotiations or vacation benefits, but it doesn’t feel like there’s as much of a discussion around the importance of trying to figure out what you might be getting into where family leave is concerned,” Clark said. “We’re encouraging people to really start advocating and asking those questions as early as possible.”
That’s because Seltzer says she’s seen many friends’ careers derailed by workplaces that couldn’t accommodate their needs. “I think some women are changing their career options based on things like how family-friendly their workplace is rather than just what the best fit for them might be,” she said. “If there was more transparency, at least it would help people make informed decisions.” She also noted that being able to compare a particular company to the others tagged in the same industry can be useful. “That can actually give you leverage,” she said, to get a company to consider more generous benefits if peers are already doing the same.
Mead hopes InHerSight will give women a way to pick the right workplaces for their needs. Part of the mission is to “help women find what they’re looking for and improve what they get” at work, she said. She thinks women themselves are best able to articulate what they need as well as what’s actually happening inside a given company. “I’m giving them that platform,” she said.
She also thinks it will be useful to employers. “I think it’s in companies’ interests to figure out what they need to do to attract and retain that top female talent,” she said. “Companies could use this as a starting point for an action plan for themselves.” The website can certainly point out when a company’s policies are simply lacking. But it can get more nuanced metrics around those it already has about how comfortable female employees feel using them. Some companies have even told Mead they want to send the site to their employees to gather ratings. “They’re essentially saying that they are going to own these numbers and they want to be held accountable for them,” she noted.
Seltzer and Clark they also think that companies can respond to their anonymous data. “One person emailed me saying she works at a new company and they’re going to use one of the entries on our site to help model their policy because they think it’s good,” Seltzer noted.
Both websites recognize that men are increasingly interested in figuring work/life balance out as well. “I would love for men to open up their company handbooks,” Clark said. She noted that male friends have looked at their companies’ policies and realized that “things were written very clearly for new mothers or adoptive parents,” not necessarily new dads.
Mead agrees that men are also concerned about the things that her site’s ratings measure and that men are free to rate their companies as well. But she also noted that change shouldn’t happen just because men take up the cause. “I don’t want these things to just magically fall into place when men need them too,” she said. “That shouldn’t have to be the case.”
Both sites are new and will be most effective if they reach a larger scale. Mead says she is focused right now on getting more ratings, and while the site has thousands, she wants to take it to the hundreds of thousands. More data will mean deeper insights, such as being able to benchmark a company profile against others in the same industry or of the same size. She and her team are also working on rolling out new tools, such as seeing how the ratings on each metric vary for a given company. If a company gets a bunch of fives and ones on a given aspect, that may show something different than everyone giving threes, like perhaps using a policy “depends on your manager or your department or experiences across the company are varying widely,” she said.
Having It Some is also looking for more submissions, but has about 40 at the moment. “We have some good variety,” Seltzer noted.
The work both sites are trying to do is urgent. The United States used to beat other developed countries in our share of working women, but we’ve recentlybeen falling behind because of our lack of family-friendly policies. Meanwhile, women face discrimination or even termination for talking about their pregnancies or asking for changes to company policy. “We shouldn’t be working in an environment where a woman feels uncomfortable asking about a parental leave policy in a job interview,” Clark noted. Armed with data from these websites, women may have more options.
This article originally appeared in thinkprogress.org on March 26, 2015. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media.
Sunday, December 28th, 2014
Even when women have the same experience, tenure, and jobs as men, they have a much lower chance of being promoted, according to a new study.
Authors Astrid Kunze and Amalia R. Miller examined private sector employment data from Norway, known as a generally women-friendly country, between 1987 and 1997. They found that even when controlling for industry, occupation, age, education, experience, tenure, and whether workers are full or part time, women are 2.9 percentage points less likely to get a promotion than men. On top of that, they found that “[f]or men, fatherhood is associated with a greater chance of promotion,” but for women, “children have a negative effect on promotion rates and that effect is even more negative if they are younger.”
Chances of promotion aren’t much better even if women stick it out with one company. Women experience internal promotion rates that are 34 to 47 percent lower than for men. It also doesn’t matter whether they’re entry-level or at the top of their company: at every level, women are less likely to be promoted to the next rung by the following year.
Given how low their chances are of advancing, it may not be surprising that women are huddled toward the bottom of the hierarchy. The authors found that the lowest rank is over 80 percent female, while men make up more than 90 percent of the employees in the top three highest ranks. This problem is persistent. “Across all years in our data, women are never more than 6 percent of the top three ranks, on average, even as their overall share of the average workplace increases from 25 to 33 percent,” the authors write. Meanwhile, female bosses are rare: more than a quarter of the workers they looked at don’t have any women leaders, while just 1 percent has all female bosses. Here in the U.S., women make up less than 15 percent of executive officers.
The lack of mobility to higher ranking jobs also impacts the gender wage gap. In their data set, women make 76 percent of men’s pay (in the U.S., that ratio is currently a similar 78 percent). But within each job rank, women make between 88 to 98 percent of what men do, and taking job rank into consideration decreases the gap by 59 percent.
Since the data for the study was collected, Norway and some other countries have implemented a gender quotas for women on boards, seeking in part to increase women’s representation in firms generally by promoting women in leadership. That may be a smart way to address it, as the study found that the more female bosses there are, the more likely it is for women below them to get promoted, while men aren’t impacted. Increasing the share of bosses that are women by .24 percent would decrease the gender gap in promotions by more than 40 percent. This “suggests that one reason for women’s slow progress to the top of corporate hierarchies is the historical male domination of those ranks,” the authors conclude.
This blog originally appear in thinkprogress.org on December 22, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the author: Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media.
Monday, May 26th, 2014
Walmart’s habit of making pregnant women choose between their paychecks and their health by denying them light duty got the retail giant enough bad publicity to spur a change in policy. The new policy leaves Walmart a whole lot of wiggle room to continue putting pregnant women in difficult positions, but it’s an improvement. However, Elizabeth Stoker wonders why Walmartisn’t giving pregnant women the same moral standing
it gives veterans, who the company is making a big push to hire:
There’s no material reason veterans make better candidates for employment at Wal-Mart than any other candidate, especially for the low-skilled labor being performed on the floor of retail shops. And yet Wal-Mart’s commitment to veterans doesn’t seem entirely out of line, as veterans are seen as people with a different moral standing than others: They have contributed something of value, and therefore are valued.Wal-Mart notably doesn’t categorize pregnant women in that same class of morally valuable person. Benefits and accommodations in work are not offered to pregnant women insofar as they are pregnant, but only insofar as they are disabled in a medical sense by the effects of pregnancy. In other words, pregnancy has simply been subsumed under the preexisting criteria of disability rather than granted its own category of consideration. […]
After all, pregnant women are at the final analysis socially valuable and morally distinct as a category of person. They ensure the ongoing life of society, and do so at personal cost: sometimes great, sometimes minor. If Wal-Mart is willing to recognize the moral significance of veterans in those terms, why not pregnant women?
The answer to the question is “because there isn’t as much public pressure and Walmart doesn’t do anything for workers without public pressure.” Besides, all it’s actually doing for veterans is hiring some of them to crappy Walmart jobs and giving some money to veterans’ programs to make itself look good. There’s no reason to believe veterans won’t be treated as badly as any other Walmart worker.Whatever your reasoning, though, pregnant women deserve stronger workplace protections than they currently have. It shouldn’t take bad publicity to get businesses to offer women light duty when they have a doctor’s note saying they need it, and policies offering accommodation shouldn’t have as much wiggle room as Walmart’s does. For that matter, women shouldn’t have to depend on having a decent boss to be able to keep working safely through pregnancy. That should be a matter of the law. Instead, pregnant women now face discrimination and Republicans are predictably standing in the way of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would strengthen protections for all pregnant women, not just the ones whose employers have gotten bad press.
This article was originally printed on the Daily Kos on May 23, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is the labor editor at the Daily Kos.
Monday, May 12th, 2014
If you’re still looking for a last minute gift for Mother’s Day? Get her a place in Minnesota so she’ll have an opportunity to enjoy a dignified retirement.
It’s no secret that American women are twice as likely to retire into poverty largely due to gender inequality. Working mothers tend to earn less and take on more family obligations than their male counterparts, leaving them more vulnerable to elder poverty.
Minnesota lawmakers are closer to evening the playing field for working mothers through the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act of 2014. This bold legislative package includes provisions to close the gender pay gap, expand family leave and sick leave, and study and create new private sector retirement savings models for workers.
Congratulate Minnesota working mothers by sharing this on Facebook. Click the image below.
Although the bill still requires the signature of Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota workers are already celebrating.
“By moving the dial on issues like closing the gender pay gap, strengthening workplace protections, and working to provide options for retirement security for those currently without access, this bill will help strengthen families throughout Minnesota,” said SEIU Local 284 Executive Director Carol Nieters.
“Our members clearly understand that women should not pay a price simply because of their gender,” said Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26. “There is much work to be done, but passing the Women’s Economic Security Act will be a great victory for all workers in our state.”
If signed into law, the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act could also be a national model for other states and Congress for how to solve the retirement security crisis for women.
That being said, it’s ok if you don’t want to move your mom to Minnesota this Mother’s Day. But in that case you might want to consider urging your state lawmakers to introduce their own version of the bill.
This article was originally printed in SEIU on May 9, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
Author: Keiana Greene-Page
Friday, September 20th, 2013
Women will not receive the same median annual pay as men until 2058, if current earnings patterns continue without change, announced the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) this week.
“Progress in closing the gender wage gap has stalled during the most recent decade. The wage gap is still at the same level as it was in 2002,” said Heidi Hartmann, president of IWPR. “If the five-decade trend is projected forward, it will take almost another five decades—until 2058—for women to reach pay equity. The majority of today’s working women will be well past the ends of their working lives.”
IWPR released a new fact sheet that tracks the pay gap from 1960 to today and analyzes changes during the past year by gender, race and ethnicity.
“While there is no silver bullet for closing the gender wage gap,” said Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at IWPR and author of the fact sheet, “strengthened enforcement of our EEO laws, a higher minimum wage and work–family benefits would go a significant way toward ensuring that working women are able to support their families.”
This article was originally printed on AFL-CIO on September 20, 2013. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Jackie Tortora is the blog editor and social media manager at the AFL-CIO.
Monday, July 29th, 2013
Imagine the pilot episode of a revival of the 1970’s situation comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” It is July 2013. After a painful break-up with her fiancé, 30-year-old Mary Richards relocates to Des Moines, Iowa, to start a new life.
Mary interviews for a secretarial position at a local television station with Executive Producer Lou Grant. Lou is an overweight, balding, married father of three grown daughters. Lou offers Mary an associate producer position, reporting directly to him. Lou’s wife Edie is threatened by the presence of an attractive, young woman in the workplace. Edie demands that Mary be fired immediately. Lou admits that he is attracted to Mary, even though their workplace relationship has been strictly professional. Lou fires Mary. He replaces her with Rhoda. In Iowa in 2013, Mary has no legal recourse.
This month, the Iowa Supreme Court reaffirmed its controversial December 2012 decision holding that a fifty-something Fort Dodge, Iowa dentist acted legally when he fired his 32-year-old dental assistant for being too attractive. Although the dental assistant had shown no interest in her married boss, both the dentist and his wife feared that he would be powerless to resist her charms. In a decision insulting to both major genders, the Court reasoned that the firing did not constitute gender discrimination because it was not “because of sex.” Instead, the Court reasoned, it was motivated by the dentist’s feelings of attraction for a specific person (I suppose you could call it “because of sexy”).
The latest version of the case, Melissa Nelson v. James H. Knight, DDS, P.C. can be read in full here.
Here is the official photo of the Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court. See if you can spot what they all have in common.
Melissa Nelson was only 20 when she was hired by Dr. James H. Knight as a dental assistant. For ten years, she was an exemplary employee. She regarded her boss as a “father figure.” Dr. Knight, on the other hand, found himself growing increasingly attracted to his young assistant. In 2009, Dr. Knight’s wife insisted that her husband’s unilateral attraction to Ms. Nelson was a threat to their marriage. Dr. Knight and his wife consulted with the senior pastor of their church, who blessed the decision to terminate Ms. Nelson. Ms. Nelson sued for gender discrimination. The trial court and the Supreme Court of the State of Iowa agreed with the Knights — and their pastor–and held that firing Ms. Nelson for being a potential threat to Dr. Knight’s marriage did not constitute illegal gender discrimination.
The Court’s original decision in late 2012 was greeted with outrage and ridicule. In June 2013, the court withdrew its opinion and agreed to reconsider the matter, giving rise to the hope that they had seen the light and would permit the case to go to trial. Those hopes were dashed when the Court reaffirmed its position that there is a difference between an employment decision based on personal feelings towards an individual and a decision based on gender itself. “In the former case, the decision is driven entirely by individual feelings and emotions regarding a specific person,” stated the opinion’s author, Justice Edward M. Mansfield (he’s the one in the back row, far left). “Such a decision is not gender-based, nor is it based on factors that might be a proxy for gender.”
Wait a minute, argued Ms. Nelson’s attorneys and reasonable people everywhere. Of course it was “because of sex.” If she were not female, she wouldn’t be in danger of involuntarily attracting the unwanted attention of her heterosexual male boss. If it is illegal to sexually harass an employee, why should an employer escape liability for firing an employee out of fear that he was just about to harass her. Under this logic, even an employee who spurns the sexual advances of her supervisor is vulnerable to dismissal under a fabricated “my wife made me fire you to save our marriage” defense.
But back to Mary Richards. In the eponymous spin-off series “Lou Grant,” Lou found a job as a newspaper editor for the fictitious Los Angeles Tribune. What if he re-hired Mary? Could Edie get her fired again in California? Not likely.
The Iowa Supreme Court was interpreting Iowa law and federal law from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The Court relied heavily on 8th Circuit precedent holding that sexual favoritism is, in essence, a private matter between the parties that doesn’t warrant regulation as gender discrimination. California state law takes a broader view of the impact of sexual favoritism on the workplace environment. Our Supreme Court has recognized that sexual favoritism is not merely a private matter. Instead, favoritism can create an atmosphere demeaning to women, giving rise to claims of a hostile work environment by both men and women. California courts are, therefore, likely to view conduct such as Dr. Knight’s in the broader context, and find a termination under similar circumstances in California to be discriminatory.
And besides. Why would Lou even listen to Edie? They got divorced after the third season of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and Edie promptly remarried. You can watch the wedding here.
Article originally appeared on CELA Voice on July 25, 2013. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Curt Surls has been practicing in Los Angeles, specializing in employment law, for almost 25 years. Mr. Surls is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and has worked for the State of California as counsel to the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations. CELA VOICE is a project of the California Employment Lawyers Association. Our goal is nothing short of changing the discussion about issues of importance to California employees. Our method is simple. We will amplify the voice of worker advocates on issues that are vital to our economy, our way of life, even our health. The contributors to the CELA VOICE bring a unique perspective to understanding what is working and, too often, what isn’t working in California workplaces.
Monday, July 22nd, 2013
More than four in 10 private-sector workers and 80% of low-wage workers do not have paid sick days. This means people, especially women who are more likely to work in low-wage jobs, constantly have to choose between their health and a paycheck.
A post in Jezebel, brought to you by the AFL-CIO, explains why the lack of paid sick days causes a ripple effect on our health and communities:
In fact, more than 80% of low-wage workers don’t receive a single paid sick day all year. This contributes to the creation of a sickness loop: contagious kids go to school because mom can’t stay home with them; expensive emergency room trips are made that could’ve been prevented; employees show up to work and spread viruses to their customers and co-workers.
When young women can’t stay home to get their sleep and soup on, they venture out into the world where they touch handrails with contaminated hands and sneeze on things. This is the sick, sad world Daria warned us about.
The National Partnership for Women & Families reports that adults without paid sick days are 1.5 times more likely to come to work sick with a contagious illness like the flu:
For example, more than three in four food service and hotel workers (78%) don’t have a single paid sick day—and workers in child care centers and nursing homes overwhelmingly lack paid sick days. This threat to public health is clear.
Last week, House Democrats released a women’s economic policy agenda that including expanding paid sick and family leave.
Originally posted on AFL-CIO NOW on July 22, 2013. Reprinted with permission
About the Author: Jackie Tortora is the blog editor and social media manager at the AFL-CIO.
Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s refusal to allow a paid sick leave bill to come to a vote—though it has the support of a strong majority of the city council—resurfaced in the news this week when feminist icon Gloria Steinem said she would withdraw her support from Quinn if Quinn continues to block the bill.
“Making life fairer for all women seems more important than breaking a barrier for one woman,” Ms. Steinem said, adding that the bill would ensure that working mothers could better take care of sick children without fear of losing their jobs.
While it’s unlikely that Gloria Steinem’s endorsement or lack thereof is going to move many votes, it underscores a potential weakness for Quinn: She’s getting more credit as a progressive candidate than her positions would merit, in part because, as Steinem points out, she would be the first woman elected mayor of New York City. And she’s a married lesbian to boot. Drawing attention to the disconnect between how her individual role is perceived and the policies she embraces may not be super helpful among voters, though since the policies are geared to get her business support, it may be a worthwhile tradeoff as far as she’s concerned.
Quinn continues to block the vote while claiming that paid sick leave is “a worthy and admirable goal, one I would like to make available for all.” Her reasoning, of course, is the standard line pushed by crappy employers that it would cost jobs. However, job creation did not suffer in San Francisco following the implementation of that city’s paid sick leave law in 2007. And paid sick leave continues to be a public health issue; as Katie J.M. Baker points out, “a recent CDC study identified infected food workers as a source of between 53 and 82% of norovirus outbreaks.”
The arguments against paid sick leave just don’t hold up. Quinn is blocking a bill that would benefit not just the more than 1.5 million New Yorkers who currently lack paid sick leave, but has widespread public support and would save tens of millions of dollars in health care costs each year, resulting from fewer emergency room visits. It’s costing her high-profile support in her mayoral run, and it should cost her more.
This post was originally posted on the Daily Kos on February 22, 2013. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006. Labor editor since 2011.
Thursday, January 24th, 2013
Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data on union membership for 2012. We did some number-crunching which shows that while unions are really important to women, their membership is dropping.
What’s going on with women and unions?
- Between 2011 and 2012 the number of union members dropped by 398,000. Women were less than half (46 percent) of union members in 2011 – but they accounted for 72 percent of the decline.
- Men are more likely than women to be members of unions. The gap between men’s and women’s union membership has narrowed over time. Last year it grew, for the first time since 2008, by 25 percent. Women’s rate of union membership (11.2 percent) was 1.2 percentage points lower than men’s (12.4 percent) in 2011. In 2012, women’s rate (10.5 percent) was 1.5 percentage points lower than men’s (12.0 percent).
Why does this matter?
- Union membership is critical for women’s wage equality. Among union members, the typical full-time woman worker has weekly earnings that are 88 percent of the typical man’s. Among workers not represented by unions, this figure is 81 percent.
Why is it happening?
- It’s likely that women’s concentration in public sector jobs (women comprised 57 percent of the public sector workforce in 2012) was a key factor in this union membership decline.
- The rate of union membership in the public sector workforce in 2012 was more than five times higher than in the private sector (35.9 percent as compared to 6.6 percent). Public sector workers comprise just over half (51 percent) of union members in 2011, but they accounted for 59 percent of the declines in union membership between 2011 and 2012.
A few wonky data details: BLS data on union membership include all employed wage and salary workers 16 and older. Figures are 2011 and 2012 annual averages. Data are not available broken down by gender and sector. Data on the wage gap for union members differ slightly from the often-used measure of median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers. Using this figure, the typical woman makes 77 percent of what the typical man makes.
This post was originally posted at NWLC. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Katherine Gallagher Robbins is a Senior Policy Analyst for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center where she examines how tax and budget policies influence the financial stability and security of low-income women and families. Before joining the Center in 2010, Ms. Gallagher Robbins worked as an organizer for the California Public Interest Research Group at the University of California, San Diego. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a graduate of the College of William and Mary.