By Heidi Brown
A new report from Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress finds that half of U.S. workers are women. And that changes everything.
"A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," a report from California first lady Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, highlights how for the first time in history, women are half of all U.S. workers and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families. This tipping of the scales and the recognition of the importance of women's earnings to family well-being is a social game-changer.
This report doesn't necessarily herald a new era of pay parity or equality. Instead, it shows how women gaining ground on the job has implications for families, the workplace, schools, faith institutions and communities.A Woman's Nation: By The Numbers
What does this mean for American men and women? "The battles of the sexes is over," Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress, declares. "It is being replaced by negotiations between the sexes about work, family, household responsibilities, child care and elder care."
The idea, according to the report's authors, is to show that while women now have more career and personal options than ever before, business, government, the media and, in many cases, spouses are out of touch with "the new normal." Women still aren't being remunerated for the work they do and still don't have enough help from their husbands or partners or workplaces.
At one level, some of the information in the report, modeled on a 50-year-old study led by Eleanor Roosevelt during the administration of John F. Kennedy, Shriver's uncle, will sound familiar to all working women. It's well-known, for example, that women continue to make less than 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. But did you know, according to the research, this inequality results in a wage loss of $434,000 over a woman's 40-year career.
Women who often are the highest paid fare no better. Female lawyers take home just 77 cents as compared to their male counterparts, according to the report, and female doctors make only 59 cents of every dollar earned by a male physician.
There has been some research into the reason behind the gap, and, according to the report, the single biggest reason women make less is the fact that they have children.
Having a child, as any working mother knows, is one of the biggest obstacles to getting equality in the workplace. The report details a study from Cornell University in which participants were asked to evaluate the job applications of two women with the exact same qualifications--except that one woman was a mother. The mother was considered less competent or promotable, and was recommended for hire less often, the study said.A Woman's Nation: By The Numbers
Other highlights from the report include:
--Seventy percent of men are comfortable having women work outside the home and three-fourths of Americans view the rise of women in the workplace as a positive development. Yet, both fathers and mothers are concerned about the loss of a stay-at-home parent for children.
--More women, from more backgrounds and classes, are going to college. Lower-income mothers are particularly benefiting from community colleges, which are less expensive. Sixty percent of master's degree recipients are now women; 50% of those getting professional degrees are, too. Not surprisingly, science is the one area in which women lag behind--just 20% of Ph.D.s in computer science and engineering are going to women.
--Some researchers report a wife feels more sexually attracted to a husband who pitches in around the house, and one of the biggest predictors of a husband's marital satisfaction is how often he has sex.
What is to be done? The report's authors don't try to dictate that. But they do say the way our lives have changed forces us to rethink our assumptions about families, work and policies at all levels.
Shriver and company will to deliver the results to the Obama administration and to dozens of CEOs around the country, as well as to audiences on NBC, where the California first lady was formerly a correspondent. Shriver's annual Women's Conference, this year set for Oct. 27 in Long Beach , Calif. , will also highlight the findings.A Woman's Nation: By The Numbers
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