As the granddaughter of a woman engineer (and also someone who struggles to assemble her Ikea furniture but loves her new toolkit anyway), it was an honor to be surrounded by tradeswomen at the Institute for Women and Work’s panel last Thursday night up at Cornell. We were gathered to discuss how the economic crisis and recovery efforts in New York impact women, particularly tradeswomen. For me, though, it was an education in a history I didn’t even know existed: the history of tradeswomen in the U.S. and their fight for recognition and rights. After 30 years of activism, women still only comprise 3% of the construction labor force. As one panelist said, “do we really believe that men have 97% of the answers?” I think not. Although frustration with this slow-moving progress was evident in the room, the Cornell event was more celebratory than anything else. Susan Eisenberg shared slides from her multi-media installation, On Equal Terms. The theme of the installation: Women in construction—30 years and still organizing. The most provocative exhibit was the bathroom shack, literally a 6 foot by 6 foot plywood replica of a typical bathroom tradeswoman encounter on the job, complete with documented misogynistic and explicitly sexual graffiti.
5.1 million jobs have been lost since December 2007.
The subprime lending crisis has particularly hit hard women and people of color because of predatory lending practices. NCRW’s research has shown that African American and Latina women borrowers are most likely to receive sub-prime loans at every income level. Women are 32% more likely than men to receive subprime mortgages.
In the financial sector, men’s unemployment in Feb was 6.9% while for women it was 6.6%
April 3, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird Last night I attended a dynamic panel hosted by Legal Momentum on Women’s Economic Equality: The Next Frontier in Women’s Rights. The brilliant panelists duked it out, discussing the current economic situation, its impact on women, and in what directions we should be heading. Legal Momentum President, Irasema Garza, discussed the frustration that while historic legal victories were secured decades ago, this hasn’t translated into systematic equality for the majority of women in the U.S. Women continue to be steered away from training opportunities, segregated into low-wage jobs, and are 42% more likely to be poor than men. In the midst of this stalemate came a ray of sunshine: the election of Obama. With this historic election comes the opportunity to set new goals, reframe old debates, and shift the focus of our advocacy. In this light, Legal Momentum is calling for a Second Bill of Rights for Women. The bill must provide pathways to employment for women through job training and education; secure rights and supports to ensure women earn a living wage; ensure that public benefits provide an adequate safety net; and expand legal rights and support services for survivors of domestic violence. Heather Boushey brought her economic expertise from the Center for American Progress and laid out the current stark reality:
It is undeniable that we are facing tough economic times. In January, the unemployment rate registered 7.6% with 11.6 million people lacking jobs. An additional 7.8 million people are deemed underemployed, that is, working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs. And prospects are dimming. According to the Economic Policy Institute , finding a job today is twice as hard as it was when the recession started a year ago. With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA], however, there is some room for hope. Many of our network members are doing excellent work on the stimulus plan. The Ms. Foundation held a conference call to discuss the legislative package and how to secure more jobs for women. The National Women’s Law Center is analyzing the stimulus process and how it affects women and families. Check out their latest breakdown. In examining the bill, we were particularly struck with provisions regarding small businesses, healthcare, education and, especially, job creation. Naturally, we had some questions, for example, what other areas are critical for stimulating growth and supporting women and girls, their families and communities? To find the answers, we turned to our experts:
March 3, 2009 posted by Deborah Siegel I’m sitting in a very crowded auditorium at 3 World Financial Center, home of American Express, and the sun is pouring in on one of the coldest days of the year. We’re about to be warmed by the annual panel that takes place the afternoon of the National Council for Research on Women’s evening-time gala, the Making a Difference for Women Awards. This year’s panel, “An Immodest Proposal: Advancing a New Era of Social Justice” (kudos on the title, NCRW!) features Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger, Chancellor and President of Syracuse University Nancy Cantor, Accenture / Microsoft / PepsiCo Director Dina Dublon, and Columbia University law professor and Nation columnist Patricia Williams. The Takeaway co-host Adaora Udoji, whose voice I wake up to each morning, will be moderating. There is nothing modest about this crowd of female movers and shakers from corporate, academic, and nonprofit spheres. The NCRW staff—of which I used to be part—has clearly done an excellent job spreading word. It’s a dazzling lineup. Let the conversation begin! Adaora: First question is for Nancy. What can you tell us about advancing a new era of social justice in education? Nancy: The idea of the ivory tower as a monastic place is breaking down. What that means is we have no understanding of the groups we’re leaving behind. How do we level the playing field of education? If we don’t find ways to strengthen our connections to our communities, cities, rural areas, and bring in the population, we’re going to be stagnant. Adaora: Are we seeing that 50% female leadership in education yet? Nancy: No, not at all. What we are seeing at all levels is girls falling off the map as we go up. Adaora: Why is that?
February 27, 2009 posted by adminThe best thing we can do for women and their families is to get people back to work. We’ve seen 3.6 million jobs disappear over the past year and millions more have seen their hours cut back. The recession is turning out to be deeper and more protracted than many had predicted even a few months ago. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a down payment on creating jobs in the months to come and laying the foundation for long-term economic growth.The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the recovery package will save or create 3.5 million jobs and that about four in ten of these jobs will go to women workers. In particular, the recovery package will help states avoid some cutbacks, which takes some women’s jobs out of jeopardy since women make up the majority of state and local government workers. But, most importantly, the recovery package will get the economy back on track, which benefits all kinds of families. The recession – so far – is leading to higher unemployment among men than women: as of December 2008, the latest data available by gender, men account for four out of every five jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007. This means that in millions of U.S. households, it is a woman who is supporting the family. This means that families will have to rely increasingly on women’s earnings, which are typically lower than men’s and are less likely to come with health insurance. Now is the time to insist that every woman earns a fair day’s pay.