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December 2005

work-life reports:

It's the labor market, stupid:
Debunking the "opt out" myth

New report on flexible working rights in Europe finds cost, inconvenience to employers is small

Two new reports on older workers

Notable news and commentary on work-life issues

values vote:

New poll finds women voters value affordable health care

younger women:

MADRE tribute to young women activists

Winter 2005 newsletter from the Younger Women's Task Force

elsewhere on the web:

Selected news and commentary on women, family, culture and reproductive health & rights

past editions of mmo noteworthy ...
work-life reports:

It's the labor market, stupid:
Debunking the "opt out" myth

A new analysis by Heather Boushey for the Center for Economic Policy Research finds women's employment data "provides no evidence" to support rumors an "opt out" revolution is underway. In fact, when Boushey study data from 2004, she discovered "the impact of having children in the home on women's labor force participation (the 'child penalty') fell compared to prior years," and concludes any recent declines in mothers' rates of employment is consistent with labor force participation trends of women workers overall. As Boushey reports,

The data stand in opposition to the media frenzy on this topic. In spite of the personal anecdotes highlighted in various news stories, women are not increasingly dropping out of the labor force because of their kids. The main reasons for declining labor force participation rates among women over the last four years appears to be the weakness of the labor market.

Boushey also notes that thirty-something married, middle- and upper middle-class mothers with advanced degrees -- who've been the focus of news reports and commentaries on mothers abandoning elite professions to stay home with the kids -- represent just 3.2 percent of U.S. mothers. "The real story of how 'American mothers' are balancing work and family cannot be found in the trends of such a small and extremely advantaged group," Boushey writes. "This group of mothers is advantaged compared to other prime-age mothers in terms of not only educational attainment and earnings potential, but they are more likely to be married (91.2 percent versus 78.3 percent of all mothers aged 25 to 44) and are highly likely to have a spouse who also has very high earnings potential. Further, they are more likely to be in the kinds of jobs that provide the benefits and workplace flexibility that makes work/family balance not entirely an oxymoron."

However, Boushey did find that while highly educated, married mothers in their thirties were more likely to be employed than mothers in other educational groups, if they were not in the paid workforce, they did have young children at home. " In short, the overwhelming majority of thirty-something women with advanced degrees do not opt out if they have kids," she explains, "but if they do opt out, they have kids. This is less the case for other women, making this group truly exceptional."

Boushey found that the child penalty, which is measured as the difference between the labor force participation rates of women with children at home and those without, fell overall from a 20.7 percentage point difference in 1984 to 8.2 percentage points in 2004.

Center for Economic Policy Research

Are Women Opting Out? Debunking the Myth
Heather Boushey, Center for Economic Policy Research, Nov.05
16 pages, in .pdf

Opt-Out Hype
Heather Boushey, TomPaine.com, 7.dec.05

Also from CEPR:

Impact of Proposed Minimum-Wage Increase on Low-income Families
Heather Boushey and John Schmitt,
Center for Economic Policy Research, dec.05
"Increasing the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over the next 26 months as proposed in the 'The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005,' would raise the annual earnings of the average full-time, full-year, minimum-wage worker2 by $1,520 per year."

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New report on flexible working rights in Europe finds cost, inconvenience to employers is small

A study of the uptake of new labor laws in Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. giving workers the right to request reduced hour or flexible scheduled finds the number of employee requests have been manageable, that most request were acceptable to employers, and that costs were not a major problem of implementation. The report by Ariane Hegewisch for the Center for Work Life Law at UC Hasting College of the Law, notes American companies can learn from Europe:
The European experience suggests that employers have little to fear from employee rights to flexible working. The floodgates have not opened and the new individual rights to reduced hours and flexible working, designed as they are to take account of business factors, have not caused problems for the vast majority of employers. Rather than forcing a sea change, the laws have strengthened the existing trend among employers to offer flexible working arrangements. The laws are no magic wand to overcome hostility towards new work arrangements, stereotyping and differential treatment of people on flexible schedules or the lack of imagination of how things could be done differently. But these laws are helping employers in Europe to push the boundaries of work organization and to establish new ways of doing things which benefit both employers and society.

In particular, the CWLL study found employers were not flooded with requests for shorter hours (most received less than five), and allowing all employees to apply for flexibility, rather than just parents, makes better business sense. The report also found both men and women wanted flexibility, but women were more likely overall to request flexible or reduced hours, while men were more likely to request flex-time or other arrangements that would not affect their income. The author also notes that men's requests were more likely to be denied than women's, and "Such a differential response potentially constitutes sex discrimination and has been challenged as such in the courts."

Center for Work Life Law

Employers and European Flexible Working Rights:
When the Floodgates Were Opened

Issue Brief by Ariane Hegewisch for the Center for Work Life Law, Fall 2005
7 pages, in .pdf

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Two new reports on older workers

According to two new reports released by The Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility and Families and Work Institute, today's older workers will usher in new patterns of working and retirement

In a December 12 press release, Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of Families and Work Institute remarked, “In 2006, Boomers will begin turning 60 years-old, and they will likely change what we know about aging and retirement in America. For example, we know that Baby Boomers are more likely to be work-centric than other generations and the majority of older workers do not want to reduce their job responsibilities, but rather want to keep the same level of responsibilities in the future.”

The first report, Context Matters: Insights about Older Workers from the National Study of the Changing Workforce, found that older workers are more likely to continue working when they have more control over their work hours, workplace flexibility, job autonomy and learning opportunities.

The second report reveals the differences between older men and women in the workforce. For instance, the report found that older women earn only 55 cents for every dollar that men earn from all hours worked at all jobs. When comparing hourly rates of pay at main jobs (with salaries converted to hourly rates), older women earn 69 cents for every dollar older men earn.

Other key findings from The Diverse Employment Experiences of Men and Women Older Workers include:

  • On average, the family income of older women in the workforce was $64,444 in 2002 compared to the $80,839 family income of older men.
  • Older men (80 percent) are more likely than women (62 percent) to be married or living with a partner, providing them with a potential source of social support.
  • Older men employees are more likely than women to indicate that they are “very satisfied” with their family life (58 vs. 49 percent). Furthermore, older men have better mental health on average than older women, with 40 percent of men versus 26 percent of women experiencing good mental health.

Families and Work Institute

Context Matters: Insights about Older Workers
from the National Study of the Changing Workforce

James T. Bond, Ellen Galinski, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Michael Smyer, dec.05
14 pages, in .pdf

The Diverse Employment Experiences of Men and Women Older Workers
James T. Bond, Ellen Galinski, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Michael Smyer, dec.05
19 pages, in .pdf

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Notable news and commentary on work-life issues

Conversations with Experts:
Ruth Milkman -- The California Paid Leave Program

Network News, Sloan Work and Family Research Network, nov.2005
"Although California's program is weak relative to most other countries' paid leave provisions, it's the only state in the U.S. that offers any type of paid leave. For other states, just the fact that it exists in California proves that it is possible – even in America!" 5 pages, in .pdf

The Price of Motherhood
Steven E. Landsburg, Slate, 9.dec.05
"Ready to have a baby? You'll earn 10 percent more if you wait a year." Description of the methodology of an economic analysis showing a woman who has her first child at 24 will have lower earnings than a woman who becomes a first-time mother at 25.

Those Who Step Out of Careers Face Tough Re-entry
Sheryl Nance-Nash, Women's eNews, 16.dec.05
More women than men take time off from work, leaving women particularly susceptible to the turbulent process of re-entering the work force. To retain such workers, a recent study recommends companies improve flex-time and retraining programs.

Women's struggles, men's aspirations
combine to redefine "stay-at-home dad"

Penelope Trunk, Boston Globe/BostonWorks, 11.dec.05
"As more men call themselves stay-at-home dads, they redefine for both men and women what it means to stay home with kids. Men have learned a lot from watching women struggle with home life. The superwoman syndrome of the 1980s squashed the desire to juggle committed parenting with a 60-hour workweek, and the Rolling Stones' lyrics about valium as 'mother's little helper' do not fall on deaf ears; raising kids is hard."

Many undergraduates face a grueling path
in juggling studies with jobs and family duties

By Maggie Jackson, Boston Globe/BostonWorks, 18.dec.05
"Welcome to campus life in 2005. For some, it's still a carefree time to party or think deeply. But for a growing number of Americans, college is a frantic juggle of jobs and studies and even family responsibilities. Squeezed by financial pressures, half of full-time college students age 16 to 24 were employed in 2003, up from 34 percent in 1970. Currently, more than one-quarter of all undergrads are parents."

Farewell to the Working Class
Austin Kelley, The Nation, 15.dec.05
"Celebrations of leisure like Carl Honoré's In Praise of Slowness, John de Graaf's Take Back Your Time and Pat Kane's The Play Ethic have suggested that in the industrialized West we need a less hectic, more deliberate working life. In the past year two new guides to the lazy life, Tom Hodgkinson's How to Be Idle and Corinne Maier's Bonjour Laziness: Jumping Off the Corporate Ladder, have gone further, calling for a regime of revolutionary leisure in which the workforce stops being... well, a workforce." Review and commentary.

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values vote:

New poll finds women voters value affordable health care

Americans for Health Care, a project of SEIU and EMILY’s List, recently released results of a joint national survey conducted by Lake Research Partners which suggest health care is an extremely powerful issue for women voters and will play a critical role in the 2006 elections. Researchers also found that 86 percent of women voters agreed (72 percent strongly) that "real family values means valuing families by having affordable health care and jobs that pay well enough to actually let families spend time together."

Other highlights of the findings include:

  • 61 percent of women say the issue of health care will be the most important or one of the most important issues in making their footing decision for Congress in 2006, in part because 78 percent were worried they or their family might not be able to afford the health care services they need.
  • 90 percent of women agree (78 percent strongly) that everyone has a right to affordable quality health care.
  • 86 percent of women and 80 percent of men favor requiring profitable companies with over 500 employees to either provide health insurance for their employees or pay a percentage of their payroll into a health-care fund.
  • A strong majority of men and women (71 and 66 percent, respectively) favor "expanding access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans even if it means raising taxes."
  • 56 percent of women and 78 percent of men want to hear candidates speak to the immorality of so many families without access to affordable tear while Congress gives tax breaks to oil companies -- particularly when this message comes from a female candidate.

Detailed results of the poll show that women voters were also very concerned about education and the War in Iraq. Findings were based on a poll of 1,000 voters (300 men, 700 women) conducted in November 2005.

Americans for Health Care

EMILY's List

Service Employees International Union

Summary findings of the National Survey on Health Care
SEIU/Americans for Health Care/EMILY's List, 8.dec.05
8 pages, in .pdf

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younger women:
MADRE tribute to young women activists

In a holiday season when so much is wrong in the world and women's and human rights are under assault, MADRE's new online photo gallery of young women working for social justice brings special comfort and joy. Launched on December 10, Human Rights Day, Fighting for Our Future: A Tribute to Young Women Inspiring Change in the Spirit of Nora Astorga features photos and short biographies of over two dozen young women working to improve conditions for women and children in communities around the globe. A reproduction of the gallery will be displayed at the United Nations during March 2006 -- international women’s month.

MADRE is an international women's human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women’s groups worldwide. The groups program's and projects are guided by the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. MADRE provides resources and training to enable sister organizations to meet these goals by addressing immediate needs in their communities and developing long-term solutions to the crises they face. Since 1983, MADRE has delivered over 21 million dollars worth of support to community-based women's groups in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans, Asia, and the United States.


Fighting for Our Future:
A Tribute to Young Women Inspiring Change

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Winter 2005 newsletter from
the Younger Women's Task Force

The Younger Women's Task Force of the National Council of Women's Organizations recently published its Winter 2005 newsletter reporting on activities of YWTF regional chapters, what's at stake for younger women in changes to the Supreme Court, and the Task Force's collaboration on the "The Real Hot 100," a project combating stereotypes of younger women in the media.

In 2005, 135 younger women from 42 different states responded to a call to “mobilize and organize younger women across the country, thereby defining our own women’s movement.” At that first national Meet-Up, YWTF members drafted the Younger Women’s Issues Agenda and launched YWTF’s first eleven regional chapters across the country. Today, YWTF has 1,200 members and is organizing younger women in over 30 states.

Younger Women's Task Force

Younger Women's Task Force Newsletter, Winter 2005
9 pages, in .pdf

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elsewhere on the web:

Selected news and commentary on women, family, culture and reproductive health & rights

The stay-at-home mystique
Rebecca Traister, Salon, 6.dec.05
A new magazine, Total 180, is targeted at moms who have "opted out." But its pages are full of despairing screams, no sex, and women who are "let out" weekly by husbands.

The latest motherhood advice is not about raising children:
The only acceptable stay-at-home moms are yummy

Anne Kingston, Canada.com, 19.nov.05
"There's little doubt that added to the stresses of being a mother in 2005 is having to measure up as a "fashion icon" and "sex symbol." Then there's also the indignity of having the back-breaking work and self-sacrifice involved in motherhood minimized as a "lifestyle" choice designed for self-fulfillment."

Holiday Toys Sell Girls on Primping and Passivity
Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett, Women's eNews, 23.nov.05
Toy buyers beware this holiday shopping season. Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett say pink-and-blue aisles and gender-coded departments are stocked high with gender bias that sends a message to girls to be passive.

Babies Not On Board
John Freeman, AlterNet, 8.dec.05
My dream girlfriend wouldn't give me the one thing I longed for most: fatherhood. But is it worth giving up everything else?

Child-Support Collection Cutbacks Are Shameful
Cindy Elmore, Women's eNews, 11.nov.05
With $95 billion in unpaid child support last year, Cindy Elmore deplores the recent federal cuts in aid for custodial parents. Busy single parents, she says, deserve a national child-support enforcement system to save them precious time and money.

Why Women Snap
Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet, 14.dec.05
A new TV series ignores the reality that cold-hearted women who are out for themselves are only a tiny fraction of those doing time for murder.

Men's Place
Annalee Newitz, AlterNet, 29.nov.05
Norwegian scientists have discovered that male-dominated societies are doomed to extinction. What does this mean for feminism?

New Prenatal Tests Raise Hopes and Fears
Molly M. Ginty, Women's eNews, 29.nov.05
Recently developed prenatal tests can detect genetic abnormalities and peg gender earlier than ever before. But some health advocates are concerned these tests could increase the number of selective abortions and even lead to "designer babies."

Abortion: Trouble in Numbers?
Jennifer Baumgardner, Nerve.com, 21.nov.05
Even among pro-choice activists, why does having more than one abortion imply a woman has been 'careless'?

The Pro-Life Continuum
David Morris, AlterNet, 19.dec.05
From sperm to zygote to fetus to baby, isn't it time we brought some precision to the language of the reproductive rights debate?

A History of (Pro-Life) Violence
Steve Almond, AlterNet, 1.dec.05
Not all anti-abortionists kill people. But all share a histrionic view of themselves as heroic rescuers aligned against Godless fornicators.

States Say No To Sex-Ed Dough
Brian H. Kehrl, AlterNet, 3.dec.05
Maine has become the latest state to reject federal funding for sex education programs that teach only abstinence.

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December 2005

previously in mmo noteworthy ...

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