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Women Continue to Face Disparities in Work

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a report this week indicating that women continue to dominate “pink-collar” jobs, despite becoming more educated, more employed, and holding higher positions than before. Using Census Bureau data, the report said that women in the US now demonstrate higher high school graduation, college enrollment, and undergraduate graduation rates than men, reported the Associated Press. However, women remain most commonly secretaries, bookkeepers, nurses, waitresses, receptionists, sales supervisors and cooks, with only the latter two occupations ranking among the most common jobs for men. Moreover, women are still trailing in technical fields. AAUW Executive Director Jacqueline Woods stated, “Education in computer and information technology fields is critical to thriving in the new high-tech economy… And with only 28 percent of women studying in a field that will prepare them for work in science, engineering, or information technology, we’ve got a real problem.”

The report highlights persisting gender disparities, particularly in juggling the work-family balance. An issue brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that over half of working mothers (versus only 30 percent of fathers) do not work when a child becomes sick. Of that group, another half do not get paid for the missed work, and the percentage rises to 66 percent among low-income women (earning less than double the poverty level) and 75 percent among very poor women-those below the federal poverty line. Study author Dr. Alina Salganicoff told Reuters Health, “Low-income women are really disproportionately affected by this,” primarily because many hold part-time or low-wage, hourly positions without benefits.

Meanwhile, the US House Education and the Workforce Committee last month passed the “Family Time Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1119) which could undermine workers’ most basic rights by altering the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which currently requires employers to pay overtime to certain employees when they are required to work beyond the normal 40 hour work week. Under H.R. 1119 and its Senate counterpart the “Family Time and Workplace Flexibility Act” (S. 317), employers would gain full discretion to replace employee overtime pay with “compensatory” time off which would not have to be provided until 13 months later, if at all. According to the National Organization for Women (NOW), nearly 80 million workers could be negatively affected.

The Feminist Majority Foundation joins the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute, NOW, and other progressive organizations in opposing this latest assault on workers’ rights and calling for protection of their overtime pay.

TAKE ACTION Urge Congress to oppose the not-so- family-friendly “Family Time Flexibility Act.”

Sources:

AP 5/4/03; AAUW 5/5/03; Kaiser Family Foundation 4/2003, 5/6/03; Reuters Health 5/8/03; AFL-CIO 4/8/03; NOW 5/1/03; EPI 4/2003