According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), African-Americans earn only 1 percent of Ph.D.’s in physics. This blog post discusses a May 2011 NSF workshop focused on collaboration in the sciences with the express purpose of increasing the participation of under represented minorities in the STEM fields. Of note is a Master's-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program partnership between Fisk, a historically black university (HBU) and Vanderbilt.
The New York Times discovered that many American universities are using deceptive tactics to appear more to be offering women's sports to more participants than they actually are. This includes offering spots to women who do not actually compete or reporting male players who practice with the team as female players.
From the article:
As women have grown to 57 percent of American colleges’ enrollment, athletic programs have increasingly struggled to field a proportional number of female athletes. And instead of pouring money into new women’s teams or trimming the rosters of prized football teams, many colleges are turning to a sleight of hand known as roster management. According to a review of public records from more than 20 colleges and universities by The New York Times, and an analysis of federal participation statistics from all 345 institutions in N.C.A.A. Division I — the highest level of college sports — many are padding women’s team rosters with underqualified, even unwitting, athletes. They are counting male practice players as women. And they are trimming the rosters of men’s teams.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate abortion rates among subpopulations of women in 2008, assess changes in subpopulation abortion rates since 2000, and estimate the lifetime incidence of abortion.
METHODS: We combined secondary data from several sources, including the 2008 Abortion Patient Survey, the Current Population Surveys for 2008 and 2009, and the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth, to estimate abortion rates by subgroup and lifetime incidence of abortion for U.S. women of reproductive age.
RESULTS: The abortion rate declined 8.0% between 2000 and 2008, from 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 to 19.6 per 1,000. Decreases in abortion were experienced by most subgroups of women. One notable exception was poor women; this group accounted for 42.4% of abortions in 2008, and their abortion rate increased 17.5% between 2000 and 2008 from 44.4 to 52.2 abortions per 1,000. In addition to poor women, abortion rates were highest for women who were cohabiting (52.0 per 1,000), aged 20–24 (39.9 per 1,000), or non-Hispanic African American (40.2 per 1,000). If the 2008 abortion rate prevails, 30.0% of women will have an abortion by age 45.
CONCLUSION: Abortion is becoming increasingly concentrated among poor women, and restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect this population.
The rate of abortion among American women has dropped overall, but not among the poorest women, according to study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology by the Guttmacher Institute.
Between 2000 and 2008, abortions among American women aged 15 to 44 fell 8%, reaching a low of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women. The decline applied to most groups: notably, the abortion rate declined 18% among African American women over that time period and 22% among teens aged 15 to 17.
However, women living in profound poverty were the one exception. Women whose incomes fell below the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children) accounted for 42% of all abortions in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, the abortion rate among the lowest-income women climbed from 44 to 53 abortions per 1,000 women — an increase of 18% overall.
A study in the journal Birth shows that, while home births are still relatively rare in the United States, they increased 20% between 2004 and 2008.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Home births in the United States increased 20% from 2004 to 2008, reaching their highest level since 1990, according to a study published online Friday in the journal Birth.
The study's authors, led by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistician Marian F. MacDorman, examined trends in home births by looking at birth certificate data from all 50 states. These provided information about maternal race and ethnicity, maternal age and marital status, whether infants were born prematurely, birth weight, place of birth and who attended the delivery.
While home births had declined gradually between 1990 and 2004, the team found, they began creeping back up in 2004. That year, there were 23,150 home births in the United States -- about 0.56% of total births. In 2008, there were 28,357 home births in the country, or 0.67% of total births.
The increase appears to be driven primarily by an increased interest among Caucasian women in giving birth at home, the authors wrote. In 2004, about 0.80% of births among Caucasian women were home births. In 2008, 1.02% were. The researchers calculated that approximately 94% of the increase in overall percentage of home births between 2004 and 2008 was because of this increase. According to the study, the percentage of home births among white women is three to six times higher than for any other race or ethnic group.
Also of interest: percentages of home births were generally higher in western states, and lower in the Southeast. In 2008, Montana had the highest percentage of home births -- 2.18%. Vermont was next at 1.96%, and Oregon was third at 1.91%. In all, 16 states had more than 1% home births, while 18 states had less than 0.50%.
The percentage of home births delivered by certified midwives or certified nurse-midwives increased from 15.8% in 2004 to 19.2% in 2008. The percentage of home births delivered by other midwives fell from 43.9% in 2004 to 42% in 2008. The vast majority of midwife-assisted births were planned home deliveries. The percentage of home births delivered by physicians -- most of which are unplanned home births, the authors noted -- fell from 8.7% in 2004 to 5.4% in 2008.
Background: After a gradual decline from 1990 to 2004, the percentage of births occurring at home increased from 2004 to 2008 in the United States. The objective of this report was to examine the recent increase in home births and the factors associated with this increase from 2004 to 2008.
Methods: United States birth certificate data on home births were analyzed by maternal demographic and medical characteristics.
Results: In 2008, there were 28,357 home births in the United States. From 2004 to 2008, the percentage of births occurring at home increased by 20 percent from 0.56 percent to 0.67 percent of United States births. This rise was largely driven by a 28 percent increase in the percentage of home births for non-Hispanic white women, for whom more than 1 percent of births occur at home. At the same time, the risk profile for home births has been lowered, with substantial drops in the percentage of home births of infants who are born preterm or at low birthweight, and declines in the percentage of home births that occur to teen and unmarried mothers. Twenty-seven states had statistically significant increases in the percentage of home births from 2004 to 2008; only four states had declines.
Conclusion: The 20 percent increase in United States home births from 2004 to 2008 is a notable development that will be of interest to practitioners and policymakers. (BIRTH 38:3 September 2011)
A study finds that being overweight can adversly impact a woman's salary or chances of employment, though it does not have the same effect on men.
Using data collected in Iceland, one new study examined the association between excess weight and employment. The study found a slightly negative correlation between weight and the employment rate of women, and a slightly positive correlation for men. The results were published in the March issue of the journal Elsevier's Economics and Human Biology.
Iceland was selected because it has the greatest level of gender equality in terms of health, education, business opportunities and political participation, according to a World Economic Forum study of 134 countries.
Most studies of the relationship between body weight – as well as its corollary, beauty – and labor-market outcomes have indicated that it is a function of a gender bias, the negative relationship between excess weight or obesity and labor-market outcomes being greater for women than for men. Iceland offers an exceptional opportunity to examine this hypothesis, given that it scores relatively well on an index of gender equality comprising economic, political, educational, labor-market, and health-based criteria. Equipped with an advanced level of educational attainment, on average, women are well represented in Iceland's labor force. When it comes to women's presence in the political sphere, Iceland is out of the ordinary as well; that Icelanders were the first in the world to elect a woman to be president may suggest a relatively gender-blind assessment in the labor market. In the current study, survey data collected by Gallup Iceland in 2002 are used to examine the relationship between weight and employment within this political and social setting. Point estimates indicate that, despite apparently lesser gender discrimination in Iceland than elsewhere, the bias against excess weight and obesity remains gender-based, showing a slightly negative relationship between weight and the employment rate of women, whereas a slightly positive relationship was found for men.
This American Express OPEN publication bridges the gap between the quinquennial Survey of Business Owners conducted by the U. S. Census Bureau. The report offers an up-to-date accounting of the state of women-owned businesses in the United States in 2011. Using data from the three most recent business census surveys (1997, 2002, and 2007)—the most recent of which was just published in December 2010—this report provides estimates of the number, employment and revenues of women-owned firms as of 2011. Data are reported at the national level in total, and by industry, revenue and employment size class. Trends at the state level are also reported.
Highlights from the Executive Summary:
As of 2011, it is estimated that there are over 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.7 million people.
Between 1997 and 2011, when the number of businesses in the United States increased by 34%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 50%—a rate 1½ times the national average.
Despite the fact that the number of womenowned firms continue to grow at a rate exceeding the national average, and account for 29% of all enterprises, women-owned firms only employ 6% of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4% of business revenues . Further, the employment and sales growth of women-owned enterprises between 1997 and 2011 (8% and 53%, respectively) lags the national average (17% and 71%).
A study presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association finds that women deployed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are emerging as a group especially vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder.
From the Los Angeles Times article:
In the study, presented this week, researchers studied 922 National Guard members -- including 91 women -- under mandatory deployment to Iraq in 2008. The guard members were screened using mental-health measures before deployment and three months after deployment. The study found that women were much more likely than men to meet the criteria for PTSD after returning home -- 18.7% of women had PTSD compared with 8.7% of men. There were no significant differences between men and women in their level of combat exposure.
A human rights commission report estimates that 10,000 women are victims of human trafficking in Mexico City, but there were only 40 investigations of the crime and three convictions in the city in 2010.
In January through March of 2010, SPLC researchers interviewed approximately 150 women who were either currently undocumented or have spent time in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants. The women all have worked in the U.S. food industry in Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, New York or North Carolina. A few have now obtained legal status. Researchers also interviewed a number of advocates who work with immigrant women and farmworkers. The interviews were conducted almost exclusively in Spanish, and recordings were transcribed and translated into English.
From the report summary:
Facts About Immigrant Women Working in the U.S. Food Industry
Undocumented women are among the most vulnerable workers in our society today. They fill the lowest paying jobs in our economy and provided the backbreaking labor that helps bring food to our tables. Yet they are routinely cheated out of wages and subjected to an array of other abuses in the workplace. They are generally powerless to enforce their rights or protect themselves. The following are facts from the SPLC report Injustice on Our Plates.
There are an estimated 4.1 million undocumented women in the U.S. today. In addition, 4 million U.S.-born children — citizens by birthright — live in a household with at least one undocumented parent.
Undocumented women typically earn minimum wage or less, get no sick or vacation days, and receive no health insurance.
Legalizing undocumented workers would raise the U.S. gross domestic product by $1.5 trillion over a decade. On the other hand, if the government were to deport all 10.8 million undocumented immigrants living on U.S. soil, our economy would decline by $2.6 trillion over a decade, not including the massive cost of such an endeavor.
Each year, undocumented immigrants contribute as much as $1.5 billion to the Medicare system and $7 billion to the Social Security system, even though they will never be able to collect benefits upon retirement.
There are an estimated 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers employed in the United States.4 The federal government estimates that 60 percent of farmworkers are undocumented immigrants; farmworker advocates say the percentage is far higher.
The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) published by the Department of Labor reports that about 22% of the farmworker population is female. Thus, there are an estimated 630,000 women engaged in farm work in the United States.
The average personal income of female crop workers is $11,250, compared to $16,250 for male crop workers.
A mere 8 percent of farmworkers report being covered by employer-provided health insurance, a rate that dropped to 5 percent for farmworkers who are employed seasonally and not year-round.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, farmworkers suffer from higher rates of toxic chemical injuries and skin disorders than any other workers in the country. The children of migrant farmworkers, also, have higher rates of pesticide exposure than the general public.
Each year, there are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 cases of physician-diagnosed pesticide poisoning among U.S. farmworkers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Farmworkers are not covered by workers’ compensation laws in many states. They are not entitled to overtime pay under federal law. On smaller farms and in short harvest seasons, they are not entitled to the federal minimum wage. They are excluded from many state health and safety laws.
Because of special exemptions for agriculture, children as young as 10 may work in the fields. Also, many states exempt farmworker children from compulsory education laws.
Almost a quarter of the workers who butcher and process meat, poultry and fish are undocumented.
At least half of the 250,000 laborers in 174 of the major U.S. chicken factories are Latino and more than half are women.
Working in a chicken factory is one of the most dangerous occupations in America. Line workers endure a frigid and wet work environment, without adequate bathroom breaks, while being exposed to numerous hazards handling chicken on hangers that whiz by a rate of hundreds per minute. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not enacted any regulation to limit the speed at which poultry and meat processing lines operate — despite the appallingly high rates of injury directly attributable to the line speed. In the decade ending in 2008, 100 poultry workers died in the U.S., and 300,000 were injured, many suffering the loss of a limb or debilitating repetitive motion injuries.
The U.S. Department of Labor surveyed 51 poultry processing plants and found 100% had violated labor laws by not paying employees for all hours worked. Also, one-third took impermissible deductions from workers’ pay.
Sexual Abuse On the Job
In a recent study of 150 women of Mexican descent working in the fields in California’s Central Valley, 80% said they had experienced sexual harassment. That compares to roughly half of all women in the U.S. workforce who say they have experienced at least one incident.
While investigating the sexual harassment of California farmworker women in the mid-1990s, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that “hundreds, if not thousands, of women had to have sex with supervisors to get or keep jobs and/or put up with a constant barrage of grabbing and touching and propositions for sex by supervisors.”
A 1989 article in Florida indicates that sexual harassment against farmworker women was so pervasive that women referred to the fields as the “green motel.” Similarly, the EEOC reports that women in California refer to the fields as “fil de calzon,” or the fields of panties, because sexual harassment is so widespread.
Due to the many obstacles that confront farmworker women — including fear, shame, lack of information about their rights, lack of available resources to help them, poverty, cultural and/or social pressures, language access and, for some, their status as undocumented immigrants — few farmworker women ever come forward to seek justice for the sexual harassment and assault that they have suffered.
In interviews for this report, virtually all women reported that sexual violence in the workplace is a serious problem.
The May 2011 report from the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board finds that women have made many advances in federal government employment but also still find many challenges in the progress toward equality.
From the Executive Summary:
There have been many changes in American society since [the 1992 report, A Question of Equity: Women and the Glass Ceiling in the Federal Government,], and those changes have been mirrored in the Federal Government. Over the past two decades, the Federal Government has made substantial progress in hiring and advancing women in the Federal workforce. More women are employed in positions in professional and administrative occupations, which offer the greatest opportunities for pay and advancement. Increases in the representation of women in the executive ranks have outpaced projections from MSPB’s 1992 study. Pay differences between women and men have been considerably reduced.
These tangible gains have been accompanied by substantial, if less visible, improvements in Federal workplaces and the work lives of Federal employees. Fewer women believe that they have been subjected to overt or subtle discrimination at work. MSPB’s analysis of General Schedule promotion rates supports a belief that the prevalence and force of stereotypical assumptions about the abilities and appropriate roles of women have greatly diminished. Although women and men can differ in career factors such as occupation, family responsibilities, geographic mobility, and interest in supervisory roles, women are about as likely as men to be promoted when factors such as occupation, experience, and education are held equal.
Contributors to this progress include changes in American society that have expanded the opportunities available to women and changes in the civilian labor force that have expanded the pool of highly-qualified women in many occupations. Within the Federal Government, those changes are reflected in diminishing differences between women and men in important characteristics such as education and experience. That trend, combined with a continued interest in career advancement among women in the Federal Government, bodes well for future gains in the representation of women at the highest levels of pay and responsibility, including the Senior Executive Service. Much credit is also due to agency efforts to recruit and advance women, to reduce the incidence of prohibited discrimination, to provide greater flexibility in work arrangements, and to focus on contributions and skills—rather than on indirect and unreliable indicators of performance and dedication such as time spent in the office or irrelevant factors such as marital status and family responsibilities—when evaluating and promoting employees.
Still, progress toward full equality is not yet complete. Women remain less likely than men to be employed in high-paying occupations and supervisory positions. That reflects, in part, continuing occupational differences between women and men in the Federal workforce and the broader civilian labor force. Women have made great strides in entering occupations such as physician and attorney, but remain relatively scarce in fields such as law enforcement, information technology, and engineering—fields important to the current and future Federal workforce. Also, even within a given occupation, women often have lower salaries than men, and those salary differences cannot be fully explained by differences in measurable factors such as experience and education.
Agencies and stakeholders should also be aware that future progress may come less easily than past progress. First, occupational differences persist between women and men in both American society and Federal workplaces. Such occupational differences can complicate recruitment and create glass walls—barriers to movement across organizations, functions, or occupations—within the Federal workforce, resulting in different opportunities for women and men even if they are comparable in terms of educational attainment, years of experience, and performance. Second, agencies have increased their use of external hiring and upper-level hiring to fill positions in professional and administrative occupations. Women are increasingly successful in employment competitions of all types, reflecting diminishing differences in critical factors such as education, experience, and career interests. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, women are generally less likely to be hired when an agency fills a position through external (as opposed to internal) recruitment or fills a position at upperlevel instead of entry-level.
Also, sex-based discrimination and stereotypes have not yet completely disappeared. Even in the absence of overt discrimination, many employees continue to believe that women are subjected to unfounded assumptions about their abilities or dedication to work. However, most issues that are critical to the fair treatment and advancement of women are universal. For example, concerns about the role of favoritism in personnel decisions are widespread and shared equally by women and men. Other issues important to both women and men include the recruitment and selection of supervisors, career management (e.g., helping employees understand what is required to advance), and balancing demanding jobs with life/family responsibilities.