<![CDATA[I have always been envious of citizens of countries in Europe and South America that have legislated generous family-friendly policies intended to make it possible for more women to work and have careers. In a recent New York Times article Claire Cain Miller gives examples of some of the laws that have been passed around the world to address family and career balance:
- Chile passed a law, the most recent version in 2009, requiring employers to provide and pay for child care for women with children under two.
- Spain passed a law in 1999 giving workers with children younger than seven the right to ask their employers for reduced hours without fear of being laid off.
- The United States passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, which provides workers with twelve weeks of unpaid leave.
- Many other countries in Europe provide long, paid maternity leaves—some up to one year—and part-time work protections.
- In Chile, the result of the requirement for employers to provide child care has been a decrease in women’s starting salaries of between 9 percent and 20 percent.
- In Spain, women’s right to work part time has resulted, a decade later, in a decline in full-time stable jobs for all women, with companies 37 percent less likely to promote women and 45 percent more likely to dismiss them.
- In the United States, as a result of the FMLA, women are 5 percent more likely to remain employed but 8 percent less likely to be promoted than they were before the law was passed.
- A study of twenty-two countries with family-friendly policies found that women were more likely to be in dead-end jobs and were less likely to be managers.
- Make sure employers do not bear the costs so that they do not pass them on to their employees as in Chile. Three states in the United States offer paid family leave and finance it through employee payroll taxes, which seems to be working.
- Keep policies gender neutral and encourage both women and men to use them. In Sweden, family leave policies encourage both parents to take time off for a new baby. In most other countries, including the United States, these policies are considered to be for women, and it is nearly all women who take advantage of them. If men take advantage of family-friendly policies, perhaps they will be seen as policies for everyone, and not just for women.
- Continue to challenge the myths about women’s careers, described in previous blogs (“Myths about Women’s Careers,” part I and part II), and work toward equal partnership with the men in our lives.
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