Making the workplace work for women

Why do we remain so economically disadvantaged?

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Despite playing a greater role in the American economy today than at any time since World War II, women continue to get the shaft on the job (any and all jobs), according to “Womenomics 101,” a comprehensive piece by Joshua Holland on AlterNet.

Some of the issues Holland explores include the 20 percent pay gap between men and women, which remains four decades after the equal wage law; the lack of mandated paid maternity leave (of 168 countries studied the U.S. is one of only five without mandated pay); and how having children lowers women’s wages on average by 7.5 percent. But rather than recounting Holland’s list of rage, let’s focus on some of the encouraging suggestions for change that he puts forward.

Citing various think tanks, such as the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Center for Policy Alternatives, Holland argues that “we need expanded parental leave, universal pre- and after-school programs, more flexible work hours and time off to take care of sick kids and elderly parents.” CEPR analyst Heather Boushey suggests addressing the wage gap with tax credits for women, and Holland points out a series of bills like “the ‘Fair Pay Act’ and the ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ that have been floated — and defeated — in recent years, which would have enforced the fair pay laws that are already on the books.” Holland urges that this kind of legislation be revived, and some 28 states are currently considering equal wage bills.

He also contends that “family-friendly policies are also good for business.” He cites economist Gene Sperling’s book “The Pro-Growth Progressive,” which investigates companies that have implemented paid parental leave, and finds that such policies resulted in a 2.5 percent increase in profits. Simple stuff: If you treat your employees like human beings they’ll be happier and more productive.

Finally, Holland looks at legislation like a California program adopted in 2002 that “replaces slightly more than half of lost wages for six weeks for ‘any individual who is unable to work due to the need to care for an ill parent, child, spouse, or domestic partner, or for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child.’” Legislators in 21 states, who have grown impatient with the inaction of the federal government, are looking to adopt similar legislation.

Although Holland’s research makes clear that women at all levels experience economic discrimination, his reporting mostly focuses on a white-collar workforce. Nonetheless, his critique is commendable, and as he notes, when all of these factors are taken in at once, “you get a picture that puts the lie to the right’s claim on ‘family values.’”

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>