The Making a Difference for Women Awards 2012 officially kicked off the Council’s 30th anniversary celebrations. Throughout the year, we will be paying tribute to the people, achievements, and milestones that brought us to where we are today.
The National Council for Research on Women and our network of researchers, policy specialists, and advocates will continue to monitor how major breakthroughs in laws and policies are being applied and ensure that they are respected and reinforced so that women have the rights, protections, and opportunities they need to live healthy, productive, and economically secure lives.
Amended to the US Constitution in 1972, Title IX paved the way to ensure equality of participation in all educational programs and activities. Many point to the dramatic increase in women’s sports after Title IX but there is on-going concern that schools and institutions may be overlooking other types of disparities, such as women’s lack of participation in STEM-related studies and activities.
Women now earn more bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees than men thanks in large part to Title IX’s removing gender discrimination from every level of education. Between 1972 and 2012, women’s participation in college sports increased 12-fold and in high school athletics by nearly 10-fold.
Title IX is under attack from critics who claim that there is a “boys’ crisis” since girls are outpacing them in reading, writing, and school/college graduation. The decline of decent jobs in traditional male occupations such as manufacturing has also led to increased concern about the next generation of men.
OUR FOLLOW UP:
NCRW experts do not view Title IX as a zero-sum game in which one’s gain comes at another’s loss. We are actively monitoring compliance and recommending new ways to end gender imbalances in scholastic and collegiate activities and achievements so that women and men can both contribute to their full potential.
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT:
The Family and Medical Leave Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Although viewed as a breakthrough, FMLA only guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave to those working for businesses with more than 50 employees. Efforts to pass paid parental leave legislation have failed except for some state initiatives in New Jersey, California, and Washington.
In the 1960s, only about 30% of employed women had access to leave during pregnancy. By the late 1990s, that had risen to about 50% of employed women thanks to FMLA.
57 percent of women in the ten largest low-wage occupations for women, such as in food preparation or child care providers, have no paid sick days. As a result, many low-income mothers lose their jobs or leave the workforce after childbirth.
OUR FOLLOW UP:
NCRW is working with its partners to advocate for paid leave across industries and company size.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT:
Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act [VAWA] in 1994 to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking across the United States. It was re-authorized in 2000 and 2005.
States have passed and implemented more than 660 laws on domestic violence since 1994 and the national hotline established by VAWA has answered over 2 million calls. Some businesses have introduced Employee Assistance Programs for victims of domestic violence.
In the current political climate, there is concern that VAWA may not get full funding in 2012. Anti-gender-based violence (GBV) advocates also worry about maintaining protections for LGBT victims of violence as well as the 12,000 petitions by immigrant women seeking asylum because of GBV.
OUR FOLLOW UP:
NCRW and our network partners are working to ensure that VAWA is re-authorized and fully funded in 2012. We are also building support for the International Violence Against Women Act [not yet passed] that would withhold assistance to countries that tolerate human rights violations against women and girls.
LILLY LEDBETTER FAIR PAY ACT:
The first legislation to be signed into law by President Barack Obama, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act revised the rules on bringing gender discrimination suits. Lilly Ledbetter’s claim against her employer (Goodyear Tire in Gadsden, AL) was unsuccessful but she became a prominent spokesperson for leveling the playing field and ending pay discrimination based on gender. The Paycheck Fairness Act attempted to introduce more accountability but the bill died in the Senate in 2010.
The American Bar Association reported there were more than 70 gender pay discrimination cases under Lilly Ledbetter provisions pending in federal circuit courts as of March 2011. There have also been several major class action suits filed since the bill’s passage.
Although the number of gender discrimination class action cases has risen, there have been very few rulings in favor of plaintiffs. A recent Supreme Court ruling decided that “women” did not constitute a class.
OUR FOLLOW UP:
NCRW experts are providing benchmarking and toolkits so that organizations, companies, and institutions can conduct internal assessments of pay inequality and take corrective action when disparities are uncovered.
Women 2012: Profile in Numbers
Percentage of doctoral degrees earned by women
43% ofwomen work in only 20 job categories, such as teaching, child care, nursing, cleaning, and waitressing
These jobs have average annual median earnings of $27,383 and often have few or no benefits
GENDER PAY GAP
Gender Pay Gap
Women with Bachelor’s degrees make $650,000 less than men with the same level of education over a lifetime
Men with professional degrees earn one million dollars more over a lifetime than women with these degrees
17.4 million women and 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line.
Women are 29% more likely than men to live in poverty.
Women aged 65 or older are 60% more likely to live in poverty than men aged 65 and older
Percentage of women graduates from law school
PARTNERS IN LAW FIRMS
Women MD Degrees
WOMEN DEANS OF MEDICAL SCHOOLS
Women doctoral degrees in engineering
Women bachelor’s degrees in engineering hit a 15-year low in 2009 at 17.8%.
In 2010, women earned 43.1% of bachelor’s degrees in environmental engineering but only 9.5% of bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering
Women bachelor’s degrees in engineering hit a 15-year low in 2009 at 17.8%. In 2010, women earned 43.1% of bachelor’s degrees in environmental engineering but only 9.5% of bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering
Women on Fortune 500 Boards
2011: all women - 16.1%; women of color: 3%
Fortune 500 Boards with zero women
Gender Pay Gap for MBAs
Salary difference in first jobs - $4,600 gap between men and women
WOMEN IN FINANCE
Fortune 500 Board Directors in Finance and Insurance