The organizers of the Women’s March on Washington have set the date for their general strike, dubbed “A Day Without A Woman,” for March 8, which is International Women’s Day.
The group previously announced their plan for a general strike but didn’t give the date until Tuesday.
“In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer ‘A Day Without A Woman,'” the organizers said in an Instagram post.
“In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer A Day Without A Woman. We ask: do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities? Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression? Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children? We saw what happened when millions of us stood together in January, and now we know that our army of love greatly outnumbers the army of fear, greed and hatred. On March 8th, International Women’s Day, let’s unite again in our communities for A Day Without A Woman. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing more information on what actions on that day can look like for you. In the meantime, we are proud to support Strike4Democracy’s #F17 National Day of Action to Push Back Against Assaults on Democratic Principles. This Friday, February 17th, gather your friends, families, neighbors, and start brainstorming ideas for how you can enhance your community, stand up to this administration, integrate resistance and self-care into your daily routine, and how you will channel your efforts for good on March 8th. Remember: this is a marathon, not a sprint. #DayWithoutAWoman #WomensMarch”
“We saw what happened when millions of us stood together in January, and now we know that our army of love greatly outnumbers the army of fear, greed and hatred,” the post says. “On March 8th, International Women’s Day, let’s unite again in our communities for A Day Without A Woman.”
Our goal here is to correct the record on women in the workplace as it stands today:
Workplace Opportunities for Women in Today’s Marketplace
In early America, professions were limited for women. However, with the need for dual incomes in many families and the rise of the Industrial Revolution and better educational opportunities, the world began to open up for women. World War II created a further demand for women in the workplace. The percentage of women in America’s workforce increased from 27 to 37 percent in just the five years between 1940 and 1945. (History.com Staff, 2010) And the number of women in America’s workforce continues to rise, growing by 28 million from 1984 and 2009. (Giang, 2013)
While women were at one point dangerously overworked and underpaid, especially in comparison to men, there are now laws in place monitoring men’s and women’s work hours and pay to create a platform of equal opportunity and a method of redress when necessary.
The Advancement of the Working Woman
A 2012 study commissioned by the Independent Women’s Voice found that the vast majority of women (74 percent) agree at least somewhat that workplace discrimination is a serious problem, but this does not necessarily translate into support for more government regulation to “solve” the problem. (Strategies, 2012) An October 2013 Pew survey, however, is at odds with those numbers, finding that most working women and men do not believe discrimination exists in their own workplaces. (Demographic, 2013) When asked if men and women are paid about the same for doing the same job in their workplaces, 75 percent of the women and 73 percent of the men said “yes.” Seventy-two percent of the women and 73 percent of the men said women have about the same opportunities to advance to top executive and professional positions in their company as men. Every year, more and more women are entering the high paying professions. According to the Department of Education, women are more likely to graduate from college, graduate school, or become doctors than men. (Perry, 2013) Census data show that women in their twenties are out-earning men in metropolitan America. (Wiseman, 2010) Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum, pointed to a 2010 study of single, childless workers in urban areas between the ages of 22 and 30 that showed women earned on average eight percent more than men. (Lukas, 2011) It is even estimated that in four years “one third” of American jobs will be generated by companies owned by women.” (Roshania, 2011)
A study done by American Express OPEN found that as of 2013 in the U.S.: (OPEN, 2013)
There are estimated to be more than 6 million women-owned businesses generating revenues over $1.3 trillion and employing 7.8 million people.
Between 1997 and 2013 the number of women-owned firms increased at a rate one-and-a-half times the national average.
The number of women-owned businesses was up 59 percent, employment in them was up 10 percent and revenues produced by them were up 63 percent, which topped the growth rates of all privately-held businesses in this time period.
Women-owned firms continue to diversify into all industries and since 2002 women-owned firms are exceeding overall sector growth rates in eight of the 13 most populous industries.
These new findings echo what CWA’s Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI) found in its Year 2000 report, Gaining Ground: A Profile of American Women in the Twentieth Century, which examined women’s well-being over the past century. (Crouse) Dozens of trend graphs in that publication track the astounding forward progress for women in seven different areas: trends in population, health, education, family, economics, attitudes, and historical events. BLI’s social science data shows incredible strides forward for women’s well-being. Kay Hymowitz, in Foreign Policy, shows how well women are doing in the business world: We are as likely as American men to be company managers. (Hymowitz, 2013)
The U.S. has the highest proportion of women in senior management positions (43 percent) of any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (women comprise 47 percent of the U.S. labor force); the U.S. was ranked eighth globally in gender equality by the World Economic Forum; 24 percent of working American women are in professional fields (compared to only 16 percent of working American men); 46 percent of American firms are owned or co-owned by women.
In addition to the above-mentioned gains, Hymowitz noted that women are still hitting the “glass ceiling” in some areas. (Ibid) In the legal profession, we make up 47 percent of law school students, but only 21 percent of law school deans, 20 percent of law firm partners, and 23 percent of federal judges. In medicine, we make up 48 percent of medical school graduates, but only 13 percent of medical school deans and department chairs, and only 19 percent of full professors. In business schools we earn 37 percent of the MBAs, but we account for only 14 percent of executive officers, 18 percent of senior financial officers, and four percent of CEOs.
But is this really a case of hitting the glass ceiling, or is there something else at work in these statistics? Again, despite rhetoric to the contrary, men and women are different. Our needs and desires differ significantly from those of men. Our priorities are not the same, and neither is the way we seek to balance our lives with our careers. The decisions that we make in regards to career and family contribute to the perception of a glass ceiling.
Life Balance and the Working Woman
Giving women and men the ability to operate within a flexible work environment allows us to continue working while raising children if we so choose, or pursuing other interests, without having to greatly sacrifice one for the other. A study done by Boston College shows that work/family balance benefits not only the employee but the employer as well. (Boston College, 2014) Their study shows that greater workplace flexibility leads to higher employee job satisfaction, performance, productivity, and commitment. (Boston College, 2014) When women are granted flexibility in the work environment, they are allowed the opportunity to be successful parents as well as valuable employees. One anecdote from the Boston College study suggests that the costs of implementing workplace flexibility are negligible. “When asked about the costs the [accounting] company’s flexibility practices involve, the [spokesperson] laughed. ‘We’re accountants,’ she said, ‘We’ve thought all that through, and let me assure you, the cost of our flexibility practices is nothing compared to the cost of losing good people and hiring and training new ones.’” (Boston College, 2014)
Therefore, good public policy should promote “work/life balance” and recognize that women desperately want working circumstances that will allow them to be mothers or pursue other endeavors. We want accommodating workplaces. A 2007 Pew survey found something we already know: 60 percent of mothers with minor children said that part-time work was their ideal. (Paul Taylor, 2013) Another 19 percent preferred not to work outside the home at all. That is nearly 8 in 10 mothers who would prefer not to work full time while their kids are growing up. Some women — especially high level women — temporarily step off the fast track when they begin their families. (Johnston, 2013)
Not surprisingly then, employment among women drops once women begin having children. (Hersch, 2012) And that is their choice! Most women want to play an active role in their child’s nurturing, development, and life during their formative years. A workplace environment that would allow us to have flextime, work part time, and/or drop out and re-enter the workforce at a comparable level once we choose to do so can be a win/win solution for everyone.
It is revealing to look at Sweden’s experience as a country that has supposedly reached equality paradise. Christina Hoff Sommers showed that the expensive benefits offered to parents in Sweden had an unintended negative outcome for women. (Sommers, 2013)
Parents in Sweden receive a 16-month parental leave and upon return to work may choose to work part time (six-hour days) for reduced pay up till their child turns eight years of age. It seems that more women than men are choosing to avail themselves of this arrangement, never going back to fulltime work (and, thereby, never advancing to higher-level jobs). Sommers said that Cornell economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn found, “Swedish-style paternal leave policies and flex-time arrangements … make employers wary of hiring women for full-time positions at all. Offering a job to a man is the safer bet. He is far less likely to take a year of parental leave and then return on a reduced work schedule for the next eight years.” (Ibid)
Part of the issue is that our priorities are not geared solely toward careers. This is revealed in a 2005 Harvard Business Review study showing that 37 percent of women have left work voluntarily (off-ramping) during their careers, and among women with children it jumps to 43 percent. (Luce, 2005) When the study was revisited in 2009, the number dropped to 31 percent. (Sylvia Ann Hewlett, 2010) The authors explain that this is perhaps in part due to the poor economy and women being reluctant to leave a job.
Childcare and the Working Woman
Another assumption about working American mothers is that we would choose to stay in the workplace if we had taxpayer-funded childcare. Actually, child care is not the fundamental issue determining a mother’s choices, nor do most mothers want to rely on government-provided childcare. When parents were asked to rank nine childcare options for pre-school children, they ranked government-run childcare centers dead last. (Yoest, 2014) Many mothers seem to prefer homecare by a relative, even when other childcare is convenient. Relatives regularly provided childcare to almost half of the more than 20 million preschoolers in the spring of 2011. (Laughlin, 2014)
About 30 percent of pre-school children are cared for on a regular basis by a grandparent; another 25 percent by their fathers, three percent by siblings, and another eight percent by other relatives. (Bureau, 2008)
Clare Booth Luce gave an early warning about the reality facing women when she said:
“It is time to leave the question of the role of women up to Mother Nature — a difficult lady to fool. You have only to give women the same opportunities as men, and you will soon find out what is or is not in their nature. What is in women’s nature to do they will do, and you won’t be able to stop them. But you will also find, and so will they, that what is not in their nature, even if they are given every opportunity, they will not do — and you won’t be able to make them do it.” (Luce C. B., 2014)
In Children at Risk, Dr. Crouse said:
Those who are determined to institute full male-female equality in the workplace realize that to achieve that goal, women must be freed from the duties and responsibilities of motherhood (whether they want to be or not). Thus, they push both for taxpayer-funded abortion and child care.” (Crouse J. S., 2010)
Many women today want both a career and family life; it is possible to have both. But a government-run, early childhood education program or government-funded child care facility may not be the route they would take.
There is a real disconnect between familial and governmental priorities when it comes to balancing work and family. Families have different ideas on what works for them. They do not want a one-size-fits-all government approach to the problem but rather need policies that facilitate flexibility and creative work options while reducing their financial burden.
According to a Public Agenda survey, 70 percent of parents with children five and under say that one parent at home is the best child care arrangement during a child’s earliest years. (Rizzolo, 2000) This coincides with numerous academic studies which show that the more hours a child spends in daycare the lower their social competence and the higher the incidence of negative behavioral problems.
Right now, the reality in America is that millions of children under the age of five participate each year in federally-funded preschool or other early learning programs or receive federally-supported child care in a range of settings. According to the Government Accountability Office there are 45 federal programs that operate early learning and child care programs from birth to the age of five. The federal programs that specifically fund early learning and child care received $13.3 billion in federal funding in fiscal year 2010. These programs, under the guise of helping mothers and fathers balance work and family priorities are aimed at facilitating fulltime work and don’t address the real needs or preferences of most families. This includes revising the Child and Dependent Care Tax to include non-traditional providers like family and friends.
According to the Heritage Foundation, 80 percent of four-year-old children enrolled in preschool and day care are served by the private sector and 28 percent of the private enrollment takes place in churches, synagogues, or community centers. (Sheffield, 2014)
In addition to the daycare centers, families have many other options: daycare in churches or the parents’ places of employment, family daycare where children go to daycare providers’ homes, in-home care by a nanny or au pair, or kin care by a relative or friend. Interestingly, many parents utilize more than one daycare option.
Cottage Industry and the Working Woman
Women have long shown great creativity in crafting options that allow them to both care for children or pursue interests and contribute to their family’s income. However, increased government intervention has decreased our options.
Cottage industries are suffering, plagued by government regulation costs and increased taxes at every level, lending truth to the popular maxim, “It takes money to make money.” Yet, for many Americans on a shoe-string budget, overbearing government interference limits their economic freedom to innovate and develop jobs.
The current burden of government regulation is smothering the entrepreneurial aspirations of many American women. In the 1930s, Ruth Briscoe, a young woman from a poor minister’s family, was trying desperately to become a teacher. Struggling like everyone else, simply buying food was a hardship. In the midst of the Great Depression,
Ruth could not find anyone to hire her. But instead of relying on the government, Ruth relied on her creativity and sheer determination to earn money. She created her own job by going door to door, selling fruit and candy she made in her humble kitchen. Ruth’s home venture was so successful that the profits she made were enough to help her through that dark period in America’s history.
Today, if Ruth wanted to start up her small business, she would be responsible for 43 forms at the federal, state, and local levels of government with many that have to be renewed each year. Some of those forms have extremely expensive penalties attached if you are late. Some areas of the country are even more burdensome. And this does not take into consideration all the other regulations she would incur. God forbid if she does not have a commercial kitchen in which to make that candy.
To legally run her home-based business today, Ruth would need to install a brand new kitchen in her home, complete with separate stainless steel sinks, counters, and expensive oven exhaust hoods. Then Ruth would need to be sure her neighborhood is within local commercial zoning limits before she could even think about selling her goods.
Equity and the Working Woman
We continue to hear that a woman makes 77 cents to a man’s dollar. This is the so-called “wage gap.” However, a look at women’s choices clarifies that the wage gap is a myth. Any wage discrepancies between men and women disappear when taking into account education, number of hours worked, industry, years of experience, and career choice. In fact, professor of economics Matthew Rousu, writing in Forbes, called it “misguided” to blame any differences in pay between men and women on discrimination. (Rousu, 2014)
The Independent Women’s Forum’s Carrie Lukas says, “It’s not just conservatives who reach this conclusion: Studies by the American Association of University Women and the General Accounting Office have found the same. Researchers vary on how much of a gap lingers after controlling for men and women’s different choices, but there’s a near consensus that a large portion of that 77-cents-on-the-dollar gap has nothing to do with workplace discrimination.” (Lukas, Why Some Women Will Never Be Happy With Proof of Equality, 2012)
Derek Thompson, senior editor at The Atlantic, argues that while the 77-cent argument makes a good sound bite, the reality is “more dynamic.” He said, “The 77-cent talking point is everywhere, and too often the conversation ends with the double-sevens.” (Thompson, 2014) According to a columnist for Slate, once we factor in the choices women make, like those we have mentioned, the 77-cent gap falls to only a nine-cent gap. (Rosin, 2013)To counter this, Forbes cites estimates that show childless women in their 20s who are just beginning in their career path will earn about $1.08 to a man’s dollar. (Ibid R. )
But the conversation does not end there. Many continue to argue that women cannot break through the “glass ceiling” because we are treated unfairly. Again, this ignores the factors unique to women, the choices we voluntarily make, and the professions we choose. “A big part of the difference in pay is due to the choice of jobs,” Rousu said. “Women are still more likely to be Kindergarten teachers, while men are more likely to work in finance.” (Ibid R. )
Thompson explains that wage difference is also “about time — time since entering the workforce and time spent working.” He says this is because many women take off time or begin working part time in order to be moms at the point where the rewards for working longer hours pays off. (Ibid T. )
When viewed in the bigger picture, both men and women showed increased job satisfaction when companies allowed for flex time, job sharing, remote commuting, and other creative-work agreements. Concerned Women for America has greatly benefited from the adoption of such workplace innovations. In fact, the U.S. should be moving towards allowing for greater flexibility in employee/employer contracts, as opposed to recent efforts like the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Historically, it’s the small-business mindset that leads the industry when it comes to flex time options. According to the Families and Work Institute’s 2014 National Study of Employers, “Small employers are more likely to allow employees to change starting and quitting times within some range of hours, work some regular paid hours at home occasionally, have control over when to take breaks, return to work gradually after childbirth and adoption, and take time off during the workday to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay.” (Galinsky, 2014)
While the option of remote commuting has actually increased in popularity since 2008 (from 50 percent of companies allowing it in 2008 to 67 percent in 2014), (Ibid.) the option of job sharing is increasingly being eliminated (down from 29 percent in 2008 to 18 percent in 2014). (Ibid.)
Workplace flexibility is helpful and needed, and numbers from the aforementioned study indicate that it is on the rise, but there is still room for improvement. Women can compete with men in every field. The question is, “Do we really want to?” Christina Hoff Sommers looked at the top ten college majors that have the highest earning potential and found men make up the majority in nine of them: (Sommers, No, Women Don’t Make Less Money Than Men, 2014)
87% – Petroleum Engineering
48% – Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
67% – Mathematics and Computer Science
88% – Aerospace Engineering
72% – Chemical Engineering
89% – Electrical Engineering
97% – Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
90% – Mechanical Engineering
83% – Metallurgical Engineering
90% – Mining and Mineral Engineering
But those numbers seem more based on choice than any type of imagined discrimination, as Sommers then looked at the ten college majors that had the lowest earning potential and found that women dominate nine out of the 10:
74% – Counseling Psychology
97% – Early Childhood Education
34% – Theology and Religious Vocations
81% – Human Services and Community Organization
88% – Social Work
60% – Drama and Theater Arts
66% – Studio Arts
94% – Communication Disorders Sciences and Services
77% – Visual and Performing Arts
55% – Health and Medical Preparatory Programs
So clearly, we are choosing to enter careers that interest us. Carrie Lukas reminds us, “Women are better off understanding that it’s the decisions they make — not systematic sexism — that determine how much they earn and the parameters of their future.” (Lukas C. L., 2012)
PHILOSOPHY OF POLICY OF WORKPLACE OPPORTUNITIES
Concerned Women for America supports all life-affirming choices for women. We believe that occupational choices for women are integral to a healthy economy and to healthy families. We reject the notion that the primary factor inhibiting our monetary success is discrimination. In fact, burdensome tax policy and regulatory overreach is currently far more oppressive. CWA strongly condemns mistreatment of any worker, including sexual harassment. As conservatives, we must strongly condemn perpetrators, whether in business or politics.
We recognize that women are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and celebrate our differences from men. True diversity recognizes and applauds the differences between men and women and believes that they complement one another. Femininity is a wonderful gift. The majority of women who become mothers intensely love those children and prefer to maximize their time with them. For each family, this means something
different, and therefore, flexibility is the key. We support government policies that encourage, rather than restrict, workforce practices.
We urge U.S. employers to institute flexible policies that encourage productive and happy employees. Whether job sharing, flex time, comp time, or the other multitude of arrangements, innovative employer/employee contracts allow women to maximize participation in the workforce. In addition, government overreach inhibits freedom.
Boston College, S. C. (2014, April). Why Employees Need Workplace Flexibility. Retrieved from BC.edu: http://workplaceflexibility.flexibility.bc.edu/need/need_employees#workFam
Bureau, U. C. (2008, February 28). Nearly Half of Preschoolers Receive Child Care from Relatives. Retrieved from Census.gov: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/children/cb08-31.html
Crouse. (n.d.). Gaining Ground.
Crouse, J. S. (2010). Children at Risk: The Precarious State of Children’s Well-Being in America. In J. S. Crouse, Children at Risk: The Precarious State of Children’s Well-Being in America (p. 136). New Brunswick, NJ and London: Transaction Publishers.
Demographic, P. R. (2013, December 11). On Pay Gap, Millennial Women Near Parity – For Now,” Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/12/11/on-pay-gap-millennial-women-nearparity-
Galinsky, K. M. (2014, April). 2014 National Study of Employers. Retrieved from Families and Work Institute.
Giang, V. (2013, March 27). The Incredible Rise of Women in the Workplace. Retrieved from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/
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History.com Staff. (2010). American Women in World War II. Retrieved from History.com: http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/american-women-in-world-war-ii
Hymowitz, K. (2013, June 24). Think Again: Working Women. Retrieved from Foreign Policy: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/24/think_again_working_women
Ibid, R. (n.d.).
Ibid, R. (n.d.).
Ibid, T. (n.d.).
Ibid., p. 6. (n.d.).
Johnston, K. (2013, May 27). Many women with top degrees stay home,. Retrieved from Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/05/26/women-graduates-elite-colleges-more-likely-opt-out-workforce/wQAmXRV9WMWtFKph26ORBM/story.html
Laughlin, L. (2014, June 5). 2013, Current Population Reports, P70-135, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from Census.gov: http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p70-135.pdf
Luce, C. B. (2014, February 9). Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute website. Retrieved from Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute website: http://www.cblpi.org/about/clare_quotes.cfm
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Lukas, C. (2011, April 12). There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap. Retrieved from The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704415104576250672504707048?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%-2Farticle%2FSB10001424052748704415104576250672504707048.html
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Perry, M. J. (2013, May 13). Stunning college degree gap: Women have earned almost 10 million more college degrees than men since 1982. Retrieved from American Enterprise Institute: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/05/
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Yoest, C. C. (2014, April 14). Emptying the Nest: The Clinton Child Care Agenda. Retrieved from Family Research Council: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF03H12.pdf