Re:Gender works to end gender inequity and discrimination against girls and women by exposing root causes and advancing research-informed action. Working with multiple sectors and disciplines, we are shaping a world that demands fairness across difference.
Bryce Covert looks at 2010 Census data, which shows that stay-at-home mothers are more likely to be younger, Hispanic, and less education--and most likely "choose" to be stay-at-home mothers out of economic necessity in the face of childcare costs.
A study in 2010 conducted by the Census, looking at its own data on stay-at-home mothers, showed that as compared to the make-up in 1979, today’s moms in the home are younger, less educated, and much more likely to be Hispanic – and in particular, foreign born. The report states, “on average stay-at-home mothers do not have higher levels of educational attainment compared with their counterparts.” In fact, 18 percent lack a high school degree, compared to just 7 percent of women in the workforce. They are also younger: women under 35 are more likely to be stay-at-home mothers now than they were in 1969.
The statistics on race paint a clear picture that the face of stay-at-home motherhood is more and more likely to be Hispanic. In 1969, 94 percent of stay-at-home mothers were white. That figure dropped nine percentage points between then and 2009. Meanwhile, the number of Hispanic stay-at-home mothers shot up. In 1979, a mere seven percent of stay-at-home mothers were Hispanic, but that increased to 27 percent in 2009. That’s a difference of about 11 percent between stay-at-home mothers and other mothers. These women also tend to be foreign born: 23 percent of stay-at-home mothers are from another country, as compared to 11 percent of other mothers.
Why would Hispanic women born in other countries stay out of the workforce? One of the major factors, the Census study says, may be that with less education and potentially more limited job skills, it may be a practical consideration. Because it can mean that they are unable to get higher paying jobs, which leads them to fall behind financially. According to an analysis run by the New York Times, those households have a median income of $64,000, over $10,000 less than those in which women are in the workforce.
This is a very different picture than the white, ultra-wealthy Ann Romney, and also possibly different than the mothers pictured in P&G’s ad. Why? Because given all of these considerations, it’s likely that the women staying home aren’t doing so because of a choice so much as a financial consideration.
Childcare is anything by cheap in this country. The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies reports that the average annual cost of putting an infant in full-time care can hit $18,200 on the high-end, and the cost for a four-year-old can be as much as $14,050. For a household making that median $64,000, that figure can eat up almost 30 percent of its income. Subsidies are meant to help families plug that hole and get to work, but we’ve recently been pulling back on that support. TheNational Women’s Law Center has reported that 37 states have made getting help paying for childcare more difficult through putting people on waiting lists, requiring higher copayments, lower reimbursements for childcare providers, and making eligibility even more stringent. The result will be far fewer families who can pay for childcare.
In a reversal of traditional gender roles, young women now surpass young men in the importance they place on having a high-paying career or profession, according to survey findings from the Pew Research Center. Two-thirds (66%) of young women ages 18 to 34 rate career high on their list of life priorities, compared with 59% of young men. In 1997, 56% of young women and 58% of young men felt the same way.
Pew Research Center Report, April 2012 by Eileen Patten and Kim Parker
Asia Society and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy deliver “Rising to the Top?”, a study that highlights the current socio-economic landscape for women in China and the region. The report discusses gender gap issues and presents policy recommendations to ease gender inequality.
A new CNN/ORC International poll shows that most Americans now think the number of women in the workplace is a good thing for children of working mothers, which is a significant change from attitudes on that topic in the 1980s and 1990s.
The CNN/ORC International poll also indicated that nearly nine in ten Americans approve of mothers of young children working outside the home, even if their husbands can support their families. Six in ten women, including six in ten mothers of children under the age of 18, said they would prefer to have a job outside the home.
Congrats, ladies! By today you’ve earned the same as men did in 2011. That gap means that the typical woman working full-time, year round, makes about seventy-seven cents for every dollar a typical man does, and those missing twenty-three cents can really add up. In a year a woman loses $10,784 to a man—enough to buy about 2,700 gallons of gas. It can add up to a loss of $431,000 in pay for the typical woman over a forty-year career. No small chunk of pocket change.
This issue hasn’t gone unnoticed. The first thing President Obama did after settling into the West Wing was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, which expanded the statute of limitations on lawsuits over equal pay. Yet Ledbetter did little to actually change the gap: it stood at seventy-seven cents when the bill was passed at 2009, where it stands today.
But this high holiday of gender inequality is not the day to get dragged down in pessimism! After all, it can’t be totally out of reach to change this thing that’s barely budged in fifty years, amiright? In the spirit of moving forward and focusing on real solutions, here are some quick steps we can all take to make the gap disappear:
Although social and political efforts have been made to close the wage gap and in turn the wealth gap, recent Census data still indicates that women earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. For women of color the gap is even wider: Black women earn 69.5 percent, and Hispanic women 60.5 percent, compared to the earnings of their white male counterparts.
The wage story is just as unequal for single mothers: They make less than men, less than married women, and less than women without children. Adding race to the equation, single mothers of color are hit hardest by the wage gap. Studies show that single mothers of color are much more likely to live in poverty and face significant barriers to creating wealth. Lower wages can often prevent families from engaging in asset- and wealth-building mechanisms such as pension plans because of fewer job benefits and resources. Lower earnings can hinder families from investing and saving their money, a key strategy for building wealth. Additionally, wealth not only impacts economic security but long-term retirement security as well.
While it’s recognized that the racial wealth gap is widespread there is a critical need to understand the intersection of race and gender in accumulating wealth.
Even that 73 percent number is too rosy, because it only looks at a snapshot of mothers and men employed in a given year.
But mothers also spend more years out of the workforce than anyone else, usually to care for family. So the financial impact of mothers' employment patterns becomes clear only when we look across the years. The lifetime earnings of women are just 38 percent of the lifetime earnings of men.
Now that's a gap.
One of the reasons more women drop out of the workforce is because United States income tax policy is designed specifically to encourage them to drop out.
A significant gender pay gap still persists. That's why we cannot be passive as we acknowledge Equal Pay Day, which marks the day when a woman's earnings catch up to what her male peers earned in the previous year. To millennials, it's startling to see that women still earn just 77 cents to the dollar of what men earn. Women of color are hit especially hard: African-American and Hispanic women earn 70% and 61%, respectively, of what white men earn. Without any male income in their household, single women and lesbians may feel the pay gap effect all the more. This wage gap costs working women and their families more than $10,000 annually and jeopardizes women's retirement security.
This gap isn't just about women making different choices in their careers. Even after accounting for occupation, hours worked, education, age, race, ethnicity, marital status, number of children and more, a difference of 5% still persists in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation. After 10 years in the workplace, that gap more than doubles to 12%.
Today we are fortunate to have critical laws like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which overturned a 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it harder for women -- and all employees -- to pursue federal claims of pay discrimination. Although this important law restored fairness for workers who want to use federal law to challenge cases of discriminatory pay, it only addresses one piece of the larger puzzle. More needs to be done.