Google Update: Gender Pay Gaps and Disparities

Google’s pay gaps and disparities have been in the news since employees took matters into their own hands. In 2015, employees informally began collecting their salary data, which was published in 2017. The survey revealed significant gender and race pay disparities. Bryce Covert of the New York Times writes that after denying for years that it had a gender pay gap and refusing to make its pay data public, Google was embarrassed by its employees into instituting an annual pay equity analysis. In March 2019, Google announced the results of this year’s analysis. Covert reports, “It gave most of the raises to adjust for unequal practices to men.” This was a surprise to many. In 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) found that Google had “systematic” disparities, which were described as “quite extreme.” Women at Google cried foul about the new pay analysis and protested that it left out important information:

  • The annual pay review compared only people within the same job categories.
  • Women are “hired into lower-tier and lower-paid positions while men start in higher-level jobs with higher pay brackets.”

In other words, the analysis was not comparing whether women and men were hired in the appropriate job categories. It is a flawed and incomplete analysis. Covert notes that Google continues to refuse to release all of its pay data publicly or to the DOL for analysis, making it difficult to know the real situation with its pay gap. In 2016, President Barack Obama proposed a rule that would require all companies with one hundred or more employees to collect and report pay by race and gender. When President Donald Trump took over the White House, however, he stopped this rule from going into effect. In March 2019, a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration had failed to prove its argument that the rule created an undue burden on companies. She ordered the government to move forward with implementing the rule and cleared the way for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to start requiring companies to collect and report their pay data. Google, along with all other employers with more than one hundred employees is now required to fully disclose pay data, and the public will get to see it. Transparency is important if the stubborn pay gap is ever going to be closed. American women who work full time make 20 percent less than men. Some experiences with pay transparency are instructive and encouraging:

  • A study in Denmark found that requiring pay transparency reduced the gender wage gap.
  • A review of British workplace surveys found that pay transparency raised the wages of all employees.
  • Studies in the United States found that pay gaps are smaller in public sector and unionized workplaces where pay scales are available to anyone.

On another front, in November 2018, after twenty thousand Google employees walked off the job to protest sexual harassment policies and practices, Google agreed to stop requiring forced arbitration in sexual harassment and assault cases. Daisuke Wakabayashi of the New York Times writes that in March 2019, Google did away with all forced arbitration agreements and is now dropping the requirement in employment contracts for all employees—including temporary and contract workers. This is a huge victory for the Google employees who banded together to organize the 2018 walkout. But, alas, Google still has a culture that protects high-ranking executives credibly accused of sexual harassment and rewards them with big payouts. Wakabayashi reports that most recently, a shareholder lawsuit revealed that the board of directors of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, agreed to pay as much as $45 million to a top Google executive accused of groping a subordinate. In October 2018, a $90 million payout to a different executive accused of sexual harassment sparked the 2018 walkout. Between federal court rulings requiring pay transparency, employee activism, and shareholder lawsuits, Google may yet be dragged kicking and screaming into becoming an equitable and ethical organization. Let’s not forget though that this is just the tip of the corporate iceberg. These are baby steps—but in the right direction.   Photo courtesy of]]>

Five Reasons Why It Is Time for Universal Day Care

Did you know that we almost got affordable, high-quality universal day care in the United States in 1971? Katha Pollitt writes in the New York Times that bipartisan legislation, the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971, was passed by both houses of Congress—and vetoed by President Richard Nixon. Nixon’s veto resulted from pressure by the Christian right to resist “communal approaches to child rearing” that would undermine “the family centered approach.” In 1971, the women’s liberation movement was gaining steam and beginning to threaten established gender roles. Nixon was able to prevent a veto override by appealing to an existing hostility toward women working and being mothers and to a fear of communism in our Cold War culture. But as Pollitt notes, times have changed. Most mothers of small children now work (and some always did), and the fear of communism has been replaced by the growing popularity of mixed economy, social democratic welfare states successfully modeled in Western Europe. Pollitt argues that it is time to put affordable, high-quality universal day care at the top of the Democratic Party agenda ahead of proposals for free public education, health care for all, and a living wage. She notes that while these are all important causes, if we cannot afford them all and must choose, universal day care would help the most people and do more to change society for the better. She explains that “only about a third of Americans age 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher” (though more would probably try for a degree if it were affordable). By comparison, 86 percent of American women are mothers by the age of 44 and are struggling with access and the cost of day care. Pollitt notes that the lack of stable and affordable day care in the United States creates a crisis for families and has a huge impact on women’s employment:

  • Women who want and need to work and who have partners are often the ones who quit to stay home when day care is not stable or affordable. This lack of stable and affordable day care is a primary reason that women’s workforce participation has stalled and even decreased.
  • When unstable day care arrangements fall apart and women miss work, they can be legally fired. Being fired is economically devastating for their families and especially dire for single mothers.
  • The decision for women to quit working because of day care costs has more implications for a woman’s future than just a lost paycheck: she will have less Social Security in her old age; she will have fewer promotions during her working life, even if she returns to work when the children are older; her skills may become outdated; she will lose professional contacts while she stays home; when a woman stays home, previously egalitarian couples often revert to traditional gender roles, which are maintained even when she goes back to work.
Pollitt argues that now is the time for bold policy agendas, and universal day care should top the list because “It’s good for workers and employers, for communities and families and children.” Specifically, it would do the following:
  1. Create lots of jobs
  2. Alow lots of people to go to work
  3. Raise incomes
  4. Relieve stress and unhappiness
  5. Give children a good start in life
It does seem that now is the time for universal day care. Actually, it is past the time when we should have both affordable, high-quality universal day care and paid family leave in the United States. Caitlyn Collins reminds us that the United States is “the only country in the industrialized world without federally mandated paid maternity leave.” The levels of stress that American families experience is an urgent political issue that requires a political solution. How many people do you know who would benefit? Let us hear from you.   Photo courtesy of (iStock standard license).]]>

#MeToo Wins for Low-Wage Workers

Low-wage workers, particularly those who are not fluent in English, are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment by supervisors. Jeremy C. Fox, of the Boston Globe, writes about four women who were harassed by the same supervisor at the Atlantic Capes Fisheries in Fall River, Massachusetts, where they worked as shellfish packers. More than five years after the harassment began, with the help of the nonprofit Boston-based workers’ rights organization Justice at Work and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the four workers were awarded a settlement by US District Court Judge Patti B. Saris. Fox explains that the women were subjected to sexual harassment that “left lasting emotional scars” and affected their marriages. Even though each woman complained to human resources about the harassment while it was occurring, managers did nothing to help them. Fox notes that this case is a sign that the #MeToo movement can extend beyond Hollywood and the executive boardroom into factories. A representative of the EEOC, which filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of the four women, said this case is significant because it shows employees that, “the agency will take them seriously if they come forward.” One of the four women interviewed by Fox explained that she feels a kinship to all the other women and men who “stood up to say, ‘me too.’” I feel proud of them and of myself. . . . I had the courage to lift my voice.” We should all say thank you to these brave women for being our role models.   Photo courtesy of (iStock standard license).]]>

The Truth about 2020 and Suffrage for Black and White Women

Lies versus truth. I keep learning about lies I was taught in school and in my family that whitewashed history to hide the truth of what my country and ancestors did to other people. One thing I have learned from my own life is that if we do not face the truth of what happened in the past, the lie lives within us as a society, family, and individual and becomes toxic. It poisons both our relationship to ourselves and others and prevents growth and healing. For example, while I was growing up as a white person, I was never told these truths in school or at home:

  • Europeans invaded North and South America and enslaved, brutalized, murdered, and stole land from the indigenous people already there. I heard only tales of brave European pioneers.
  • Africans were kidnapped, brutalized, enslaved, and transported to the Americas to provide free labor to enrich European settlers. I heard only that slavery was in the past and had nothing do with us as present-day white people. I did not learn to see the present-day institutions that continue to uphold structural racism today.
  • My grandfather beat my grandmother and his children in brutal rage attacks. He died when I was a baby, and while I was growing up, I heard only that he was a hero to be admired.
In each of these cases, I was told a story that made white people (my grandfather included) sound benevolent and admirable—which was not the truth or the whole story. Neither my schoolbooks nor my family ever mentioned the suffrage movement at all or the passage of the nineteenth amendment. I was well into my twenties when I learned that women had been able to vote for only a few decades. When I learned about the suffrage movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I heard the names of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, both middle-class white women, but I had no idea that black women were also fighting for both the abolition of slavery and the vote and were largely sidelined and marginalized by white middle-class women leaders like Stanton and Anthony. And I had no idea, as explained by Brent Staples of the New York Times, that, in the end, the white middle-class women who had often started out as abolitionists sold out the black women and men also trying to get the right to vote. Staples notes that in order to get the vote, white women, “compromising with white supremacy,” decoupled gender and race and promoted suffrage for only white women—leaving African American women and men shut out of the polls for decades, especially in the Jim Crow South. I am only now learning the names of some amazing African American women who were at the forefront of a struggle for human rights that included the right to vote for African Americans. These women were left almost completely out of History of Woman Suffrage, written by Stanton and Anthony, but here are some of their names:
  • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper insisted that white women in the suffrage movement treat black women as equals and deal with their racism. She was ahead of her time in describing intersectionality.
  • Harriet Forten Purvis and Margaretta Forten, sisters, were central players in the staging of the Fifth National Woman’s Rights Convention in 1854.
  • Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin was a leader in the Massachusetts suffrage movement.
  • Sarah Parker Remond was a popular speaker on the abolitionist speaker circuit who successfully sued two men in Boston in 1853 for ejecting her from an opera because of her race.
  • Charlotte Rollin was the first black South Carolinian to speak at a national suffrage convention.
  • Ida B. Wells was an influential black activist in the suffrage movement and a successful businesswoman.
  • And many more, including Fannie Barrier Williams, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Susie W. Fountain, and Coralie Franklin Cook to name a few.
I urge you to read about these amazing women. In the meantime, 2020 is going to be celebrated as the one hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage. We need to face the truth that not all women in the United States got the right to vote in 1920. Even a statue commissioned by the City of New York to honor women’s suffrage for the one hundredth anniversary includes only two figures—two white women—Stanton and Anthony. We continue to make black women invisible, and many people of color in this country continue to struggle to get access to the voting booth because of voter suppression efforts aimed at people of color. Let’s tell the truth about 1920—some women did get the right to vote but not everyone. And in the process, white women turned their backs on black women. We need to face this truth, among others, if we are ever going to heal our relationships across the racial divide in this country.   Photo courtesy of 4C~commonswiki on Wikipedia Commons (CC0)]]>

Women Return to Ranching in the West

The numbers of women operating as proprietors of family farms and ranches in the West is steadily increasing. Amy Chozick of the New York Times reports that as of 2012, 14 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States had a female proprietor, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. This number is expected to increase as over half of farms and ranches are expected to change hands in the next twenty years. Chozick notes that this is a return to the land for women because “hundreds of years before John Wayne and Gary Cooper gave us the Hollywood version of the American West, with men as the brute, weather-beaten stewards of the land, female ranchers roamed the frontier.” In fact, she points out, indigenous women and the women of tribes like the Navajo and Cheyenne, along with Spanish-Mexican rancheras, tamed the vast fields, hunted with dogs, and raised livestock. Chozick reminds us that European settlers were the ones who brought with them notions of gendered roles that resulted in farms and ranches being owned and inherited only by men. Women are now reclaiming their connection to the land and bringing with them not only physical strength but also new ideas about business practices, animal husbandry, and concerns for the environment. Chozick explains that women are forging new paths in sustainable ranching and humane and ecological livestock management. Many women ranchers also report preferring to run their ranches with all or predominantly female workers, according to Chozick. For example,

  • Caitlyn Taussig of Kremmling, Colorado, runs her family ranch with a “cadre of cowgirls” that includes her mother and sister. She notes that women “treat each other differently. There’s less ego.”
  • Kelsey Ducheneaux of South Dakota raises sustainable beef on land the Lakota Nation has worked for generations. She notes that for Native Americans, the notion of women working the family ranch is a return to the natural order as a matriarchal society.
  • Amy Eller works her family ranch with three generations of Eller women. She notes, “There was just something different, spiritual even, about women working the land together.”
Women now get the opportunity to redefine the role and image of ranchers away from the rugged, individualistic males to collaborative, capable females who are concerned about the environmental impact of farming, and it is inspiring. We know that notions of gender roles die hard, but successful role models like the ones in this story help open pathways for all of us. Photo courtesy of Justin Clark on U]]>

How Women Pay A Price for #MeToo

I remember the 1990s when the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas Senate confirmation hearings brought the issue of workplace sexual harassment into the light of day and gave the name sexual harassment to a set of behaviors that were previously undiscussable. Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted behaviors of a sexual nature perpetrated by a powerful person (like a boss) against a less powerful person (like an employee) as an abuse of power. In what was the precursor to the #MeToo movement, after Anita Hill’s testimony about Thomas’s behavior toward her as her boss, women began to speak out, name their abusers, and win big lawsuits against the companies that failed to protect them. Men complained that they had to “walk on eggshells” around the office to ensure they were not wrongfully accused of sexual harassment by female colleagues, especially younger female colleagues. They argued that the best way to protect themselves was to stop mentoring younger women altogether. This was BS, of course—but now it is happening again. Katrin Bennhold of the New York Times reports that many high-powered men at the recent World Economics Forum in Davos, Switzerland acknowledged concern about the #MeToo movement which, she explains, “has empowered women to speak up about harassment in the workplace.” As was true in the 1990s, these senior men are deciding to reduce their risk by minimizing contact with female employees, thereby depriving women of mentorship, sponsorship, and valuable exposure to influential networks. Two online surveys conducted in 2018 on the effects of #MeToo in the workplace found the following:

  • Almost half of male managers were uncomfortable engaging in one or more common work activities with women, such as working one-on-one or socializing.
  • One in six male managers was uncomfortable mentoring a female colleague.
  • Men reported being afraid of “saying or doing the wrong thing.”
  • Research by Sylvia Ann Hewlett found that two-thirds of male executives hesitate to hold one-on-one meetings with junior women.
Bennhold cites Pat Milligan, a researcher on female leadership at Mercer, as noting that “if we allow this to happen, it will set us back decades. Women have to be sponsored by leaders, and leaders are still mostly men.” We learned some things in the 1990s about how to reduce the risk men felt when working with women and how men can create respectful work relationships with women, thereby ensuring that they will not be accused of sexual harassment. Here are some examples:
  • Education on preventing sexual harassment and assault is important to help men know what is and is not appropriate workplace behavior. This education is especially effective in male-only group settings. Bennhold cites Marc Pritchard of Procter & Gamble as explaining, “Men also need ‘safe spaces’ to air their confusion and concerns about what behavior might qualify as bad. We need something like Lean In circles for men.”
  • Male leaders can meet one-on-one with young female colleagues in a nonthreatening environment by leaving the office door open for meetings, socializing over dinner with multiple colleagues, and not inviting female colleagues to their hotel rooms for meetings when on business travel out of town. These strategies are examples of ways to continue supporting the careers of female colleagues with less risk of misunderstanding for male leaders.
Alexandra Robbins of the New York Times notes that redefining masculinity from toxic to productive is being encouraged on college campuses in some fraternities. Productive masculinity is defined as conscious action to disrupt sexism, racism, and homophobia by men confronting disrespectful behavior in other men, which involves having open conversations with other men about masculinity and developing respectful and platonic relationships with women. In their recent ad addressing toxic masculinity, Gillette explains that they hope to influence the next generation of men to show respect, hold each other accountable for bad behavior, and be role models to show the best in men. Jennifer Wright of Harper’s Bazaar notes that the firestorm unleashed by the two-minute Gillette ad, which many people labeled as a “war on men,” shows how far we have to go. Perhaps senior male leaders in companies can learn from younger men on college campuses about productive masculinity and from Gillette about what respect, accountability, and role modeling look like. We really do know how to do this—but powerful men need to be willing to do things differently. Do you see examples of productive masculinity at work? We would love to hear your stories.   Photo courtesy of thetaxhaven (CC BY 2.0)  ]]>

Power and Success: What’s Different for Women

Nancy Pelosi is now the re-elected Speaker of a US House of Representatives more female and more racially diverse than ever in our history. Pelosi and the new congresswomen are giving us a changing picture and a new narrative of what power looks like and how to achieve it. What’s different? Jill Filipovic of the New York Times writes that “power, for all of American history, has been white and male.” She notes that the white male story of how to achieve power is one of meritocracy: power is earned through individual hard work. This story tells us that if white women and people of color do not have power, it is because they have not worked hard enough to earn it. The white male story of power also has a particular look, sound, and context, states Filipovic. It is tall, deep-voiced, and has a partner and children that depend financially on it. The goal of achieving power in this narrative is individual legacy. The new narrative of power arising from the stories of the women of the 116th Congress includes the following:

  • Power can be earned and wielded by women of every race, religion, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, and so on—not only by white men.
  • Power can be achieved through collaborative, generational efforts built upon community trust to move together toward the common good.
  • The purpose of power is not personal legacy but collaboration to improve an evolving and complex ecosystem that impacts all of us.
  • The goal of achieving power is not personal empowerment but comes with a responsibility to appreciate those who came before. Here are some examples:
  • Ayanna Pressley, the first African American and first woman to be elected to the House from Massachusetts, paid tribute to Shirley Chisholm, the first-ever African American woman elected to Congress, as she took office.
  • Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim woman, took her oath of office in a traditional Palestinian robe.
  • Ilhan Omar, the other Muslim woman in Congress, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore suffragist white during their swearing in and spoke of the struggles their families had endured.
Our society has always been uncomfortable with powerful women. Until now, women have paid a price for trying to fit into and enact the male narrative of individual achievement. Being seen as “too ambitious” or “too interested in personal glory” has turned people off to voting for or hiring women leaders. Filipovic suggests that perhaps the new narrative of group and community collaboration as the means to and purpose of power for women will diminish collective discomfort with powerful women. Collaboration and support are important and quite different for women than for men, not only for achieving elected office but also for career. A recent study, reported by Samatha Schmidt of the Boston Globe and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that men are told that to get hired for executive leadership roles, they should develop a broad network of diverse and influential contacts and avoid cliques. Surprisingly, the researchers found that this advice works well for men but not for women. Success in achieving executive-level roles for women lies with other women—a clique of women, to be exact. Schmidt reports that researchers found the following:
  • While women do need a wide network of contacts, they also need a close inner circle of other women who provide support and gender-specific job advice.
  • Of the highest-achieving women, 77 percent had strong ties with an inner circle of two or three other women connected to each other—also known as a clique.
  • Each woman in the inner circle had a set of contacts that were independent of the contacts of the other women. Each woman in the inner circle could serve as a bridge to a vast number of connections to support each other when navigating the job market.
What are the chances that this changing narrative will stick and open possibilities for women? Let me know what you think.   Photo courtesy of United States Mission Geneva (CC BY-ND 2.0)  ]]>

Why Being an Older Woman Rocks!

It’s an exciting time to be an older woman. This wasn’t always so for me. I remember the pain of realizing, around the time I turned fifty, that people, especially men, were looking right through me as though I was invisible. I also became aware of career opportunities that were closing because of my gender and age while men were seen as viable leaders into their eighties. Don’t get me wrong—there is still plenty of ageism mixed with sexism and racism in our country—but something new is also happening for older women. There are currently some exhilarating role models of powerful older women who are refusing to be invisible. Consider these examples offered by Jessica Bennett of the New York Times:

  • Susan Zirinsky will become the head of CBS News in March at the age of sixty-six. She will be the first woman in this position and the oldest person to assume the role, replacing Les Moonves who was ousted for sexual harassment as a result of the #MeToo movement.
  • Nancy Pelosi, re-elected at the age of seventy-eight as the Speaker of the House, is the most powerful elected woman in US history.
  • Maxine Waters, at the age of seventy-nine, is the first woman and the first African American to lead the powerful Finance Committee in the House of Representatives.
  • Glenn Close beat out four younger women for the Golden Globe for Best Actress at the age of seventy-one.
  • Donna Shalala is the oldest member, at the age of seventy-eight, of the newly elected Democratic freshman class of the House of Representatives.
  • Christiane Amanpour, sixty-one, replaced Charlie Rose, also ousted for sexual harassment, on PBS last year.
  • And let’s not forget Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—the incredible RBG—who is eighty-five.
Bennett writes that there are now “more women over 50 in this country today than at any other point in history, according to data from the United States Census Bureau.” She cites Susan Douglas, a professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, as saying “a demographic revolution” is occurring. Nearly a third of women aged sixty-five to sixty-nine are still working, up from 15 percent in the late 1980s, according to a recent study by Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz. Some 18 percent of women aged seventy to seventy-four work, up from 8 percent. Older women in general are also speaking out against the cultural stereotypes that they are bossy, useless, unhappy, and in the way. Mary Pipher of the New York Times notes that women are beginning to speak openly about the pleasures of being older, which resonates with me. There are, of course, health challenges that can occur as part of aging, but the risks that come with age are often outweighed by positive changes, such as the following:
  • Many older women describe themselves as vibrant, energetic, and happy.
  • We know ourselves and have developed emotional intelligence and empathy for others.
  • As Pipher notes, we find freedom from the male gaze. Once I realized I had become invisible to men as a woman over fifty, I felt a sense of relief to be free from catcalls on the street, sexual harassment, and other unwanted attention. I could just be.
  • While I still care about staying fit and enjoying clothes, I stay fit for myself and my health, and I buy and wear clothes to please myself instead of to impress others.
  • Many older women report feeling good about developing resilience after facing and surviving losses and disappointments. It’s a powerful feeling to know you can handle almost anything.
  • Being older can also mean saying “no” more easily to things we do not want to do, being less anxious in general, and having more clarity about our intentions.
  • Pipher also notes that “women are connected to a rich web of women friends” and long-term partners and have “emotional health insurance policies” that are priceless. This can be true at any age.
Let’s celebrate older women—and hear them roar!   Photo of Ruth Bader Ginsburg courtesy of Supreme Court of the United States (PD-USGov) Photo of Donna Shalala courtesy of United States Congress (PD-USGov) Photo of Maxine Waters courtesy of House of Representatives (PD-USGov)]]>

Why Are There So Few Female Architects?

In past articles, I have written about gender discrimination against women in the law, economics, and medicine and physics. New research reveals similar patterns that discourage women from staying in the field of architecture. As in many other professions, such as those mentioned above, women account for half of all graduates from architecture schools but represent only 20 percent of licensed architects and 17 percent of partners or principles in firms. Allison Arieff, writing for the New York Times, reports on a recent survey of 14,360 respondents conducted by Equity by Design, an initiative of the American Institute of Architects. The survey included architects in every state and across six continents, and it found the following:

  • Female and minority architects and designers earn lower salaries than their white male peers and are less likely to hold positions of leadership.
  • Mothers in particular lose out on career and salary advancements.
  • Firms have been slow to follow best practices regarding equity and worker well-being.
  • Assumptions are prevalent that women will quit to marry.
  • Women’s competency and qualifications are often questioned, and they are unable to command authority on job sites.
  • Female role models and mentors are scarce.
  • Male colleagues complain that they do not want to take orders from a woman.
What needs to change? Arieff points out that the culture of male dominance runs deep in the architecture profession. In fact, she explains, “Until 1972 and the advent of Title IX, which forbade gender discrimination in federally funded education programs, most American architecture schools refused to admit women.” Arieff cites Ila Berman, dean of the University of Virginia School of Architecture, who said that the challenge is to “change a culture that will only be changed through representation, when 50 percent of the people in the room are women.” Caroline James, founder of the Design for Equity advocacy group, suggests that women need the following:
  • Tools for dealing with sexism
  • Mentorship
  • Access to salary information
  • Equal pay
  • New definitions of success as an architect
Last but not least, the #MeToo movement made a contribution to shifting the toxic culture of the industry when several male architects were accused of harassment in an online list. Arieff reports that one prominent architect, Richard Meier, was forced to step down from a leadership role in his firm after allegations from five women. A manifesto titled “Voices of Women” calling for an end to “pervasive prejudices and disrespectful behavior” was also introduced by a group of female architects in 2018. Change is coming.   Photo courtesy of Shawn Carpenter (CC BY-SA 2.0)]]>

Low Unemployment Is Opening Opportunities for Women—But Is It Temporary?

The current low unemployment rate, and resulting tight labor market, might be good for opening opportunities for women—and maybe not. Jed Kolko and Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times report that as our economy continues to recover from the great recession, “traditionally male industries have made a comeback.” During the two-year period of 2016 and 2017, employment in five male-dominated sectors (mining, construction, transportation, agriculture, and manufacturing) grew by 3.4 percent versus 2.5 percent in the mixed-gendered and female-dominated sectors. Of note is that the number of employed women economywide grew 2.9 percent versus 2.5 percent for men, and this growth for women was concentrated in male-dominated sectors that are at least two-third male. Kolko and Miller point out that in male-dominated industries and roles involving making and moving physical goods, women’s employment rose 6.9 percent versus 2.3 percent for men. Will this tight labor market permanently help break down gender barriers and open opportunities to higher paying jobs? Maybe yes and maybe no. The authors point out the following factors at play:

  • We have seen women hired into male-dominated industries before during wartime (for example, Rosie the Riveter) and other tight labor markets—only to be laid off when the labor pool relaxed.
  • While women are getting traditionally male jobs, the median earnings for women working full-time are 29 percent below men’s earnings for the same jobs.
  • Women still face more discrimination and harassment.
  • As women start working in a field in great numbers, average pay tends to decline.
  • Long-term job growth will not be in these male-dominated sectors. It will be in the female-dominated healthcare sector.
Time will tell whether this is a permanent or only temporary opening of opportunity for women. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash]]>