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A Woman's Agenda for the 21st Century

A Woman's Agenda for the 21st Century

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We need policies to support women as they work and care for their families.
We need policies to support women as they work and care for their families.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Center for American Progress on May 23, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1Center or American Progress | A Woman’s Agenda or the 21st Century
A Woman’s Agendafor the 21st Century
A Dozen Policies to Promote EconomicSecurity for Women and Their Families
By Heather Boushey and Jane Farrell May 23, 2013
oday’s amilies are increasingly relian upon working mohers as breadwinners orco-breadwinners. (see Figure 1)
Te pas our decades have brough abou dramaicchanges in how women—and men—navigae heir workplace responsibiliies, caregivingneeds, and personal lives.
Four in ve U.S. amilies wih children are headed by eiherwo working parens or a single working paren, and hus mos amilies have o navigaeissues such as cosly or inad-equae child care, a lack o paidamily leave, and he persisen wage gap, jus o name a ew. While social and economicchanges creaed his new realiy,poliical decisions have shapedhe sruggles so many amiliesnow ace. All working womendeserve a air day’s pay, bu hey also need o have ime o acually live heir lives and do wha isimporan o hem wihou earo losing heir jobs or ruiningheir careers. Our naion’s law-makers, however, have ailed ocra public policies ha eec-ively address oday’s challengesand make his possible.
Working women are especially disad- vanaged by he lack o policy 
Mothers are breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirdsof American families
Share of mothers who are breadwinners or co-breadwinners, 1967–2011
Breadwinner mothersCo-breadwinner mothers
   1   9   6    7    1   9   6   9    1   9    7   1    1   9    7   3    1   9    7   5    1   9    7    7    1   9    7   9    1   9   8   1    1   9   8   3    1   9   8   5    1   9   8    7    1   9   8   9    1   9   9   1    1   9   9   3    1   9   9   5    1   9   9    7    1   9   9   9    2   0   0   1    2   0   0   3    2   0   0   5    2   0   0    7    2   0   0   9    2   0   1   1
Source: Sarah Jane Glynn and Je Chapman’s analysis o Miriam King and others, “Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current PopulationSurvey: Version 3.0,” available at https://cps.ipums.org/cps/index.shtml.
2Center or American Progress | A Woman’s Agenda or the 21st Century
soluions, in par because hey coninue o ake on a larger share o he amily careak-ing responsibiliies—or boh he young
and elderly 
members o heir amilies—and because he hurdles hey ace in he workplace and a home, such as hose oulined below, only compound over ime, seting hem back economically in ever-worsening ways over he course o heir lieimes.
By addressing longsanding and ongoing gender dispariies in pay and access o benes; beeng up amily suppors such as universal child care, paid sick days, and paid am-ily and medical leave; combaing unemploymen; and empowering employees o ghdiscriminaion, policymakers could subsanially and rapidly improve women’s lives and build amily economic securiy. We need o promoe economic securiy or women and heir amilies by ensuring haevery woman can earn a air days pay and by creaing insiuions ha suppor amiliesas hey are, no as we imagine hem o be. Here are 12 good policies ha lawmakers cange sared on oday o beter promoe women’s economic securiy or hemselves andheir amilies.
Paid family and medical leave insurance
 Women—and men—who work need ime o or amily reasons, buhe Unied Saes is he only developed counry ha does no havenaional paid amily and medical leave. Caliornia and New Jersey,however, are leading he way.
Research on Caliornia’s programhas ound ha i’s good or workers, good or amilies, and good or women. I also ound ha i has been a “non-even” or businesses, wih 9 in 10 businesses reporing ha he implemenaion o he pro-gram had no noiceable eec or a posiive eec on produciviy (89percen), on proabiliy (91 percen), and on urnover (93 percen).
  A 2012 sudy rom he Cener or Women and Work a RugersUniversiy ound ha women who used paid leave were 39 percenless likely o receive public assisance and 40 percen less likely oreceive ood samps in he year aer a child’s birh.
Congress can ollow he lead o hese saes and inroduce legislaionashioned aer he Cener or American Progresss Social Securiy Cares model or a social insurance program ha would allow work-ers o earn up o 12 weeks o paid leave aer he birh o a child, he worker’s own serious illness, or he serious illness o a amily mem- ber.
In he meanime, Congress can also do more o help oher saesimplemen paid-leave-insurance programs by approving unds o help wih sarup and oher coss.
Most noncollege mothers do not getpaid leave after childbirth
Percentage of new mothers using some form of paid leave after birth (includes paid maternity, sick,vacation, and/or other paid leave), 2006−2008
Source: U.S. Bureau o the Census,
Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961–2008
, (U.S. Department o Commerce, 2011).
010%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%Less thanhigh schoolHigh schoolgraduateSomecollegeBachelor’sdegree orhigher19%32%47%66%
3Center or American Progress | A Woman’s Agenda or the 21st Century
Rehire teachers and public-sector workers laid off in the GreatRecession and end the sequester
Many workers los heir jobs due o he Grea Recession, and public-secor workers have been hi especially hard. (See Figure 3) Tis is a womans issue: 6 ou o 10 sae andlocal governmen employees and hree ou o our primary and secondary public-schooleachers are women.
Rehiring he eachers and oher workers laid o during he reces-sion would bring women back ino solid, middle-class jobs while also helping o betereducae young people.
Tis is also criical or our economy more generally, as having aneducaed workorce is criical or economic growh.Sequesraion, however, is he wrong way orward. Based on Congressional BudgeOce esimaes, he U.S.economy will creae 142,000ewer jobs each monh orhe res o he year due o hecombined eec o he payrollax increase (800,000 ewer jobsin 2013
) and sequesraion(750,000 ewer jobs rom Marcho December 2013
). Moso hese jobs will be los in hesecond and hird quarers o his year, so we are now only seeinghe iniial eecs. We should aimor smar governmen raherhan slash-and-burn policies haunairly cu he jobs ha womenare more likely o hold and haimpair governmen eeciveness.
Promote pay equity
Even hough 4 in 10 mohers are heir amilys breadwinner, oo many don’ earn a breadwinning wage.
Women earn, on average, jus 77 cens or every dollar ha menearn, and his gap hasn’ budged in more han a decade.
Te gap in pay is even worseor women o color: Lainas earn 90 percen o wha Lainos earn and abou hal o wha whie men earn. Arican American women also earn jus 90 percen o wha Arican American men earn and 69 percen o wha whie men earn. (see Figure 4)
Employment has fallen sharply among public-sector workers in education
Public-sector employees in education, 20022012 (in thousands)
7,4007,5007,6007,7007,8007,9008,0008,1008,2002002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
U.S. Bureau o Labor Statistics, “Employment, Hours, and Earnings rom the Current Employment Statistics survey.

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