Who Are Essential Workers? Women

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses and social gatherings were shut down or restricted, only “essential workers” were allowed to leave their homes and travel to work. Who turns out to be “essential”? Campbell Robertson and Robert Gebeloff of the New York Times report that an analysis of census data cross-referenced with federal government guidelines for essential workers shows that one in three jobs held by women in the United States was designated as essential—and women of color are more likely to be doing essential jobs than anyone else. Specifically, roles deemed essential that are filled overwhelmingly by women are

  • Drugstore pharmacists, pharmacy aides, and technicians
  • Home health aides and personal care aides (eight out of ten are women)
  • Nurses and nursing assistants (nine out of ten are women)
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Workers at grocery stores and fast food counters (more than two-thirds)
  • Hospital orderlies
  • Childcare workers for the children of other essential workers.

Robertson and Gebeloff note that the Department of Homeland Security deemed “essential infrastructure workers” as those jobs “too vital to be halted.” They also note that the people in these roles, whether we’re in a pandemic or not, are usually underpaid, undervalued, and unseen.

The authors report that men do make up 28 percent of the workers in jobs deemed essential, but they are only the majority of essential workers in law enforcement, transit, and public utilities. There are not as many of these jobs as those in the forefront of the pandemic—the healthcare industry. It is healthcare that has the most essential workers, and healthcare workers are women:

  • There are 19 million healthcare workers nationwide, three times more than in agriculture, law enforcement, and package delivery combined.
  • Four out of five healthcare workers are women.
  • There are now four registered nurses for every police officer.

Robertson and Gebeloff point out that “being essential does not at all mean being well compensated or even noticed.” In fact, for the 5.8 million workers in essential healthcare jobs at the low-wage end of the wage scale, the pay is less than $30,000 per year. Half of these low-wage workers are people of color and 83 percent are women. These low-wage healthcare workers also face difficult working conditions that include

  • Having no health insurance
  • Having no protective equipment
  • Having no affordable childcare
  • Doing hard physical work and suffering a high rate of nonfatal injuries

Gene Sperling, writing for the New York Times, adds

  • Forty-seven percent of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides do not have any sick leave.
  • Only 13 percent of female home care workers have any type of retirement plan.
  • A quarter of home health aides taking care of our older relatives and children earn less than the minimum wage.

Sperling asks what it will take in this country to really value essential workers? He explains that “economic dignity means providing people with the capacity to care for family, pursue their potential and a sense of purpose, and contribute economically free from domination and humiliation.” Let’s be clear that the essential workers we are talking about here are primarily women and predominantly women of color. Clapping and banging pots to honor them during the pandemic does nothing to really address the structural disadvantages they face, such as lack of a decent minimum wage, lack of paid sick leave, lack of subsidized childcare, and lack of the right to organize for union protections. We can fix this. Many economists have laid out a pathway to a living wage and other protections, and it is not difficult to achieve. Let’s really honor our essential workers.


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Why Healthcare Is an Obstacle to Running for Office

Over the years I have repeatedly noticed and wondered why the people who run for national office always seem to be wealthy. One of the exciting aspects about the 2018 election was the unusual number of women of color and working class people who ran and were elected to the House of Representatives. Isabella Grullón Paz, writing for the New York Times, explains that often women of color and working-class people who decide to run for office must give up their health insurance in order to do so, which is a very big decision. Nabilah Islam, a Democrat running to replace a retiring Republican in Atlanta explains, “When you run for office, you can’t do this part time. The deck is stacked against you if you do it part-time.” Consequently, because we do not have universal health insurance in this country, people lose their health insurance when they leave their jobs to run for office if they are working class. This is a big price to pay for public service and is a structural barrier for many working-class people who would like to run for office.

Paz gives examples of several working-class women of color currently running for office who gave up their employer-sponsored health insurance to run:

  • Cori Bush is running for the second time to defeat a ten-term incumbent in Missouri. She is running on a platform that includes expanding access to healthcare, but she herself gave up her health insurance when she decided to run. She explains that she did not make the decision to give up her health insurance lightly and is now facing large medical bills after contracting COVID-19, from which she is recuperating.
  • Samelys López is running for the House from New York’s Fifteen District and has no healthcare insurance. She states that healthcare should be a human right. López states, “I shouldn’t have had to make that choice” between running for office and having employer-sponsored healthcare.
  • Nabilah Islam is running to replace a retiring Republican in Atlanta, and she has no health insurance. She explains, “It was something that I forwent because running for office is cost-prohibitive, and it’s expensive to pay for health care.” Islam lost her insurance in 2018 when she left her job.
  • Jessica Cisneros lost a primary race last month and ran her campaign while uninsured, even though she provided health insurance for her full-time staff.

Paz notes, “The Democratic Party has often called for greater representation by candidates of color and working-class people. But many of those people are less likely to have health insurance.” Lack of health insurance is a structural barrier to being able to run for office. If the Democratic Party is serious about wanting greater representation among our lawmakers, they need to fund health insurance for candidates of color and working-class people.


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Why Universities Push Older Women Out: Gender and Ageism

I remember when I first learned from a search firm that women over age fifty-five were considered “too old to hire” by many of their clients. I was leading a search for a new leader for an organization, and the search firm we hired asked whether we wanted them to bring us women over fifty-five years of age as potential hires. They said that most of their clients would not consider an older woman as a candidate, and they didn’t want to waste their time or ours. We were shocked, and we told them that we considered women over fifty-five to be perfectly fine potential leaders. And, unlike many of their clients, we actually hired an older woman.

I recalled this story as I read an article by Susan M. Shaw, a professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Oregon State University about older women being refused promotions, pushed out of academia, or both. She cites the work of Audre Lorde on ageism, “Ageism distorts relationships and encourages people to repeat mistakes of the past . . . which ‘keeps us working to invent the wheel.’” In other words, organizations lose valuable employees and their institutional memory when they devalue and dismiss their older members. Shaw describes the gender difference in ageism:

  • Older men are often moved from leadership position to leadership position in the university, even after retirement.
  • Older women are often moved out of leadership roles or choose to leave leadership and go back to faculty positions because of the toll of sexism, ageism, racism, and heterosexism they endure across their careers.

Shaw cites the work on ageism by feminist Barbara Macdonald in 1979 as still true today in academia (and, I propose, beyond academia). Macdonald noted that ageism is a “point of convergence” for racism, ableism, capitalism, and heterosexism in that it is the social and economic dependence, violence, enforced gender identities and roles, and heterosexuality that play out in ageism.

Shaw points out that since white women and women of color were only reluctantly let into the academy, “they’re easier to marginalize and discard because they never fully belonged.” Their marginalization is rooted in cultural stereotypes about older women as “little old ladies,” doddering , addled, and incapable. She notes that older men, on the other hand, “tend to be looked at more fondly and with more respect.”

Universities push aside or out older women in many ways: one is by removing them from positions of power or, more subtly, by ignoring their contributions. Shaw also makes an interesting point about the possibility that older women get pushed out because of a fear of older women’s power. Shaw suggests we consider that

  • After dealing with a lot of abuse over their careers, older women tend to refuse to put up with it anymore.
  • As they age, older women become more assertive and confident and less fearful and dependent.
  • An older woman with tenure who no longer cares what anyone thinks of her is a frightful thing to many people in academia.

What great role models and mentors older women can be to younger women about how to handle sexism, racism, classism, gender identity, and homophobia in academia. But that is probably one reason why older women get pushed out.


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How Gendered Language May Influence Who We Vote For

Robin Lakoff, a linguistics professor emerita at University of California, Berkeley, is one of the foremost scholars on the impact of language on our attitudes and behaviors. Jessica Bennett of the New York Times cites Lakoff as saying, “We are uneasy with the president as ‘she’ because encountering it forces us to have in mind a new conception of ‘president.’” Lakoff’s point, as well as the findings reported by Bennett on new research on language used in the 2016 presidential election, is that the language we hear and use influences our behavior, including who we vote for.

Try this experiment, which I have been using for years: simply switch the order of the gender you name first in a sentence. Say and write “women and men” instead of the standard usage of “men and women.” One workshop participant recently said to me, when I put “woman” first in a sentence, “You’re trying to mess with our minds.” He was right. I became aware at some point that when I change the order of the gender pronouns, it does register as “not right” with listeners and opens the possibility of a conversation about unconscious bias. And, if you are like me, you have noticed how much concentration it takes to use gender neutral pronouns like “they” and “them” in reference to gender expansive people who do not identify as either female or male. Our brains don’t have an existing pathway that we can reflexively travel to say “they” and “them.” The same is true with putting “women” before “men” in our language use. But these new pathways can be formed with conscious intention and practice.

Bennett offers other examples of the way “man” is still often the default in the English language, such as maestro, manning the command post, freshman and ombudsman. She cites new research from linguists and cognitive scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Potsdam, and the University of California at San Diego who found that during the 2016 presidential race, Americans were reluctant to use the word “she” in the context of a hypothetical president. Even just reading the words “the president, she” caused subjects “considerable disruption” in reading time as their brains “stumbled” over the deeply ingrained bias of “president = he.”

The researchers decided to use the 2016 election as a natural experiment. The hypothesis was that the use of the “she” pronoun in reference to who would win the race would go up or down based on the beliefs of voters about who would win the election. Even though Hillary Clinton was expected to win by a large margin by the research participants, the use of the “she” pronoun did not increase. In a study repeated twelve times between June 2016 and January 2017, the twenty-five thousand participants were asked to predict who would win. While over 60 percent predicted that Clinton would win, the use of the “she” pronoun did not go up.

The researchers conclude that using male language “could indirectly contribute to a culture where women are not typically seen as typical candidates” or leaders. The study’s main author, Dr. Titus von der Malsburg, notes that this could influence elections “because women would have to do extra work to convince voters that they can do the job.”

During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates, I remember how it was almost jarring to me when the women candidates would say, “the president, she . . . ” I realize now that they were trying to break through our deep and unconscious bias toward men as leaders. It’s deep. Unfortunately, none of the numerous talented and capable women running for office were successful in breaking through. Let’s all try to change the pronouns we use to be more inclusive as a way to open up more possibilities for who our leaders are in the future. Each time you can put women first by saying “women and men,” you will help move us forward as you disrupt the deep patterns of bias carved in our brains.


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Women Are Missing from COVID-19 Research: Why This Matters

Women have historically been underrepresented in medical research, and it is happening again in the United States with research for a COVID-19 vaccine. Alisha Haridasani Gupta, writing for the New York Times, notes that because data being collected on the virus and in clinical trials does not bother to record sex breakdowns, we will not know the answers to these questions and more:

  • How many women are infected versus men?
  • Are men and women equally likely to get infected?
  • What is the fatality rate for each sex?
  • Are symptoms exactly alike for men and women?

Gupta writes that “sex data blind spots can be traced back to the fact that, historically, science didn’t study the female body.” The assumption in science persists that there are no fundamental differences between male and female bodies, even though a vast amount of research shows otherwise. Instead, scientists still assume that any deviation in research studies from the white male archetypes is an anomaly to be ignored. Gupta cites a recent clinical trial in 2015 on “female Viagra,” which included twenty-three men and two women, as an example of the mindset of scientists who assume that including women is not important, even for a drug being developed specifically for women.

Why is it important to include women in medical research?

  • Gupta cites Caroline Criado Perez from her award-winning book as saying, “Researchers have found sex differences in every tissue and organ system in the human body.” Gupta notes that consequently, women and men are likely to have fundamentally different reactions to the virus, vaccines, and treatments. In fact, research found that SARS, influenza, Ebola, and HIV all affect women and men differently.
  • Because of sex differences, correct dosages of vaccines and treatments are likely to be different.
  • Between 1997 and 2001, eight of the ten FDA-approved drugs withdrawn from the market “posed greater health risks for women than men,” including valvular heart disease and liver failure.
  • Sex-disaggregate data was collected during the H1N1 pandemic, which determined that pregnant women were at a higher risk. Consequently, they were the first to receive the vaccine.

Sex-aggregated data is not being collected for the COVID-19 virus in the United States, even though it was collected in other countries. Gupta notes the following challenges to changing the practice in the United States to include women and people of color:

  • Medical researchers in the United States are predominantly male and white.
  • The mindset that white women and people of color don’t need to be included in clinical trials is deeply ingrained. Including white women and people of color is perceived to be an added complication.
  • The data collection systems are not set up to collect the information, and no leadership is coming from the top of the government to do so. In fact, Gupta reports that the White House’s initial twelve-person Coronavirus Task Force was entirely male. Two women were finally added, Dr. Deborah Birx and Seema Verna, but they are outnumbered and not senior enough to push through systemic changes.

We have to keep asking the questions raised by Gupta in the opening section of this article. This situation is shameful and potentially harmful to white women and people of color.


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Why It Matters That Young Men Don’t Vacuum

I am always surprised to see research showing that the attitudes of young men about gender equality in the home are not changing. Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times writes that “young people today have become much more open-minded about gender roles . . . in politics and sports . . . [but] they are holding on to traditional views about who does what at home.”

Miller cites a new Gallup survey of opposite-sex couples ages eighteen to thirty-four that found no difference between the younger couples and older ones about how indoor chores like cooking and cleaning are divided. This longitudinal survey, or a survey that is repeated over time, shows that “women now do a little less housework and childcare, and men do a little more. But a significant gap remains.” For example,

  • Women spend about one hour more a day than men on housework.
  • Women also spend about one hour more a day than men on childcare.

Miller notes that, like me, researchers are surprised that home life doesn’t look that different for young people than it did fifty years ago. They are surprised because attitudes about gender roles have changed in so many other ways:

  • There is now almost universal support for women to pursue careers or political office.
  • Women get more education than men.
  • Young people are much more accepting of gender-fluid identities—when people do not identify as either a woman or man.

What could be keeping the gender inequality in the home in place? Here are several possible factors:

  • Some traditional norms are reinforced in childhood. In a previous article, I wrote about research showing that boys are not required to do as many chores as girls are as children.
  • Miller notes that masculinity is strongly tied to earning an income and avoiding all things considered feminine.
  • Studies have shown that men can feel threatened if their wives earn more than them.

Miller did report on some positive changes in attitudes about gender roles in the longitudinal studies:

  • The biggest change has been among white men—one in six now say they prefer a traditional marriage, while a majority said this in 1976.
  • Young people whose mothers work full time are more likely to want a similar arrangement.

Not surprisingly, Miller reports that black women have been most in favor of dual-earner arrangements throughout the years of the longitudinal research.

Miller concludes that the disparity in time spent on household chores and childcare impacts women’s careers and “is a leading cause of the gender gaps in pay and promotions at work. . . . Making relationships more equal inside the home could have far-reaching effects outside of it, too.” Amen.


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Why Women Don’t Advance to Senior Leadership: New Research

Two well-known scholars of gender inequality, Robin J. Ely of Harvard Business School and Irene Padavic of Florida State University, recently published new research in the Harvard Business Review with surprising findings about why women don’t advance. This research expands our understanding of why the advancement of women to senior leadership positions has been stagnant for the last twenty years.

Ely and Padavic explain that companies complain of high turnover of women and problems with promoting women to senior levels. They note that the problem is pervasive: “Women made remarkable progress accessing positions of power and authority in the 1970s and 1980s, but that progress slowed considerably in the 1990s and has stalled completely in this century.”

The authors note that a widely held belief called the work/family narrative is commonly used to explain the lack of advancement for women. According to this belief, “high-level jobs require extremely long hours, women’s devotion to family makes it impossible for them to put in those hours, and their careers suffer as a result.” The authors cite a 2012 survey of more than 6,500 Harvard Business School alumni in which 73 percent of men and 85 percent of women cited this scenario to explain women’s lack of advancement. This new research reveals startling findings showing that the work/family narrative is not the cause of the problem and that, in fact, it is used to help keep gender inequality in place.

Ely and Padavic conducted their new study with 107 partners and associates of a global consulting firm that had very few female partners. Nearly all of those interviewed, both women and men, blamed the work/family narrative for the lack of female partners in the firm. An analysis of the interview data revealed a different story:

  • Both women and men suffered from the work/family balance problem, but the men advanced when the women did not.
  • Women, but not men, were encouraged to take accommodations, like working part-time and taking internally facing roles, which derailed their careers.
  • Two-thirds of men who were fathers reported work/family conflict, but only one man took accommodations.
  • Employees who took accommodations—virtually all of whom were women—were stigmatized and saw their careers derailed.
  • The promotion record for childless women was no better than for mothers.
  • The foundational premise that women can’t advance because 24/7 work schedules are unavoidable was contradicted by observations that a culture of overwork was created by unnecessary overselling and overdelivering. In fact, research has shown that long hours do not raise productivity and are associated with decreases in performance and increases in sick leave.

The researchers conclude that it is the culture of overwork that is the problem, something I wrote about in an earlier article. The culture of overwork, combined with deeply embedded societal beliefs that women are best suited to family caregiving and men are best suited to be ideal workers committed to their jobs, sets up women who want to be committed workers and mothers as their primary identity for devaluation. If they want to be both mothers and committed workers, they are labeled as bad mothers or horrible women who are not positive role models for junior women.

The work/family narrative functions to divert attention from the real problem, which is the unnecessary and inhumane cultures of overwork. The work/family accommodations offered as a solution to the culture of overwork serve only to derail women’s careers and cover up the real problem of inefficient work practices and the assumption that long work hours are unavoidable.

It will take a concerted push by employees, both women and men, to force companies to see the advantage of reasonable hours. Because the problem is systemic, the very nature of work needs to change, which will happen only if people demand it. Younger men say they want more involvement in family life. Employers want to keep talent and may listen if young men start to quit. Employers may even decide that they cannot afford to lose out on women’s talents. We need to start a discussion on a national level about the nature of work and how to make it more humane for everyone. Only then will women have the chance to achieve workplace equality.


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The Women of Mexico Stand Together against Femicide

Thousands of women in Mexico are regularly being killed as a result of gender-related violence. Jorge Ramos, writing for the New York Times, reports that women are being pushed to their deaths from the upper floors of buildings, dismembered by boyfriends, skinned and gutted by assailants, or are disappearing and are never found by their families. Because these crimes have been largely ignored and often classified as suicides by law enforcement, women in Mexico are declaring, “Enough is enough,” and designating themselves as empowered feminists. Ramos explains that

  • In 2019 alone, 1,010 femicides were registered in Mexico by local authorities, more than double those reported in 2015.
  • Most femicides, or the killing of women and girls because of their gender, are unreported, misclassified as suicides, or uninvestigated in Mexico. Consequently, the official 2019 figure of 1,010 femicides is likely a gross undercount of the actual cases.

Ramos describes the determination and anger of Yesenia Zamudio, a mother whose daughter was murdered, as an example of “the expression of a new culture against silence and machismo taking root in Mexico.” Zamudio has become a public speaker at protest rallies and a leader of the digital organizing, inspired by the global #MeToo movement, that produced a massive countrywide protest on Sunday, March 8, 2020, and a national women’s strike, #UnDiaSinMueres (#OneDayWithoutWomen), on Monday, March 9, 2020. Smaller protests have been going on for months, some of them violent, which Zamudio explains is justified as long as the government does nothing. “We want you [the government] to listen to us,” she explains as the government continues to do nothing to protect women and frustration grows.

Paulina Villegas, reporting on the #UnDiaSinMujeres strike, notes that “many workplaces across the country were devoid of women . . . some schools shut down.” Even some newsrooms, government offices, and subway ticket booths were closed without women to staff them. Overall, businesses and city governments were supportive and declared they would not penalize the women for missing work. Villegas explains that the march on Sunday—by tens of thousands of women—and the massive strike on Monday represent unprecedented collective action.

The women of Mexico are demanding that their president, Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador, acknowledge the seriousness of the femicide issue and create a special prosecutor’s office for femicide and cases of disappearance. So far, he has been tone deaf, insensitive, and condescending to the women. Let’s see if these protests and the nationwide strike get his attention. Let’s hope so for the sake of the women of Mexico.


Photo courtesy of Thayne Tuason

How the #MeToo Era Impacts Women’s Mentoring: New Research from Simmons

Much attention has been paid in the media to reports that, as a consequence of the large response to the #MeToo platform for reporting sexual harassment, men are withdrawing from mentoring relationships with women. Because scholars have shown that mentoring is an essential element of women’s professional advancement, and media reports of withdrawal are largely based on men’s perspectives and responses, Simmons University researchers decided to examine the actual experiences with mentoring of women protégés in the #MeToo era in their report titled Women’s Mentoring Experiences in the #MeToo Era.

The Simmons researchers note that two large national surveys by LeanIn.org (2018) and Survey Monkey (2019) found that

  • In 2019, 60 percent of male managers in the United States reported they are “uncomfortable engaging in commonplace work-place interactions with women, including mentoring,” which is a 14 percent increase from 2018.
  • Over one-third (36 percent) of men who are uncomfortable explained that they are “nervous about how it would look” or of having their intentions misunderstood.

To understand women’s perspectives, the Simmons scholars surveyed 142 women at a 2019 women’s leadership conference and found

  • Half of the respondents were midlevel professionals from industries where most of the #MeToo dialogue has centered—finance, banking, insurance, and technology.
  • Almost three-quarters (71 percent) reported being in a mentoring relationship.
  • The majority (64.8 percent) had female mentors.
  • About one-third (35.2 percent) had mentors two steps above them.

The findings from this study were surprising.

Finding #1

Not much has changed in mentoring relationships, and some relationships have improved. The study asked questions about two primary roles that mentors play in the workplace, defined by Kathy Kram (https://www.amazon.com/Strategic-Relationships-Work-Creating-Sponsors/dp/0071823476): career support and psychosocial support:

  • The study respondents reported no decrease in career support since the #MeToo era began, with career support remaining stable overall. Respondents did report increased activity by female mentors compared to male mentors. For example, respondents rated that their mentors “help me learn about other parts of the organization” at a rate of 50 percent for female mentors compared to 25 percent for males.
  • For psychosocial support, participants reported an increase in psychosocial support across nine of the fourteen roles. For example, 67.3 percent of respondents selected “provides support and encouragement” as one type of support, which indicates a strengthening of mentor relationships.

Finding #2

Women continue to rely on female mentors. This phenomena is not new, but the problem remains that mentors are typically more senior, and men hold greater numbers of senior positions in organizations. This means the number of senior women available as mentors is low.

Finding #3

Employees are largely unaware of what their organizations are doing to address #MeToo issues.

What needs to be done? The Simmons researchers suggest that to build a mentoring culture

  • Organizations need to require, support and reward cross-gender mentoring.
  • Organizations need to create LeanIn-like circles for men to provide a “safe space” where men can express their fears and clarify what behaviors are inappropriate.
  • Men and women need to understand the natural draw of homophily, or the tendency to feel more comfortable with others like themselves. Homophily excludes white women and people of color from access to mentorship and can impede their careers.

In conclusion, the study authors suggest their research reflects that “mentors and protégés are doing the hard work of adjusting, clarifying, and strengthening their relationships to their mutual benefit, and to the benefit of their organizations.” This seems to be primarily true between women mentors and women protégés.


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Women in Politics in Finland Make a Difference: Groundbreaking New Family Leave Policies

Sanna Marin, age thirty-four of Finland, became the world’s youngest sitting prime minister in December 2019. In addition, four of the five party leaders in this coalition government are women, with Marin as the leader.

Johanna Lemola and Megan Specia, writing for the New York Times, note that Finland has had strong female representation for decades, which has been growing:

  • In the 1983 election, women held 30 percent of Parliament seats.
  • By the 2007 election, women made up more than 40 percent of lawmakers.
  • Women make up 47 percent of Parliament in the term that began in 2019.

In a different article, Megan Specia writes that “Ms. Marin has been a rising star in Finland’s Social Democratic Party since first entering Parliament in 2015.” She served as the minister of transportation and deputy prime minister, stepping in for the previous prime minister when he was ill during a critical time. Specia cites Johanna Kantola, a professor of gender studies at Finland’s Tampere University, as noting that the new government is quite a contrast to the older male-dominated center-right government in power from 2015 to 2019: “It kind of took us back to 1980 in a way . . . they were old white men . . . [and] the kinds of politics that they did. It was a very bad time for gender equality.”

Specia quotes Marin as explaining, “Human rights and equality of people . . . [are] the basis of my moral conception.” Iliana Magra, writing for the New York Times, notes that the new government, led by Marin, has already taken a big step toward tackling gender inequality by abolishing gender-specific benefits and using gender-neutral language in the new legislation that gives the same amount of parental leave to all parents. Specifically, the new reforms

  • Give each parent 164 days of paid parental leave, which is an increase in the total allowance for a couple from eleven and a half to fourteen months
  • Offer single parents the right to use the parental leave quotas of both parents
  • Allow parental leave to be given regardless of the gender of the parents or whether they are a child’s biological parents

Magra explains that although parental leave reforms have been in the making for a long time, “Ms. Marin may have been key to finally pushing the policy forward.”

These reforms are intended to be an investment by the government in the future of children and the well-being of families. The minister of social affairs and health, Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, notes that “the reform will be a major change in attitudes, as it will improve equality between parents and make the lives of diverse families easier.”

Don’t you wish our government would make an investment like this in us? I do.


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