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Posts Tagged ‘center for american progress’

Recently, I came across a post on Daily Worth, a financial blog for women, written by a young woman who had just been offered a promotion at her daily newspaper: social media editor.  She was currently making $32,000, but after doing some research, realized that her new job was  worth $40,000.

So she screwed up her courage — her company was having a hiring and wage freeze, after all — marched in to see her boss, and negotiated salary:

Although I could feel the pressure, I said it would be hard for me to take the promotion for less than $36,000, and I’d have to think about it. That was tough to do because I consider my boss a friend, and I felt like I was letting her down personally. Still, I left our meeting without accepting or rejecting the position. The next day my boss called me with an offer of $35,500 plus a monthly cell phone stipend of $75, bringing the total to $36,400 annually. I accepted.

Happy ending, right?  Not by my math.  What about that missing $3,600?

As we’ve written before, we’ve become used to that seventy-seven cents on the dollar business. Used to it, but still peeved.  And really, it’s worse than that. In a study of University of Chicago MBA’s — which allowed labor economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz to compare “apples to apples”, controlling for everything from biz school courses to job experience to hours worked when it came to gender disparities — they wrote in New York Times Freakonomics column that for new MBAs, there was a just a modest wage gap — favoring men, of course — out of the blocks. But here’s where it starts to stink:

Fast forward 10 to 15 years, and the earnings gap between our male and female MBApples is about 40% for those who were observationally equivalent at graduation. But almost all of that huge difference can be fully explained by the greater number of career interruptions and lower weekly hours experienced by the women (mind you, they still work a large number of hours). One of the reasons for the large gap in earnings between male and female MBAs is that the cost of career interruptions is very great in the corporate and financial sectors. These costs are considerably lower in medicine, and somewhat lower in law and academia.

To be sure, for many women the time-out is a choice, and one that works well for them and their families.  Still, for those who jump back on the career ladder, they rarely make up for that lost time — or salary.  Still, though motherhood and lower-paying careers are convenient excuses, they’re handily debunked by Ilene Lang, who’s with the women’s research group Catalyst. “From their very first job after getting their MBA degree, women made less money than men,” Lang told NPR last year. “On average, $4,600 less.”

Very first job? MBA? Well, that settles the time-off-for-kids/lesser-paid-career-track thing. And Catalyst’s findings held even for women without children. For Lang, this says old stereotypes persist. “There are assumptions that women don’t care about money, which is crazy!” Lang said in that same piece. “There are assumptions that women will always have men who will take care of them, that women will get married, have children, and drop out of the labor force. All those assumptions are just not true.”

You mean we work for more than pocket money? But the numbers are worse than we think, according to the Center for American Progress: Working women in the United States lose, on average, $431,000 over a forty-year career. Women with a high school degree lose $300,000 on average, and women with a bachelor’s or graduate degree lose $723,000 on average. In fact, the analysis shows that the more educated and professional a woman may be, the more she loses over a lifetime of work, simply because of her gender.

But getting back to that blogger from the Daily Worth, we can’t help wondering if there is something else at play as well: we don’t speak up.  In fact, we grab that 77 cents on the dollar and say thank you very much — or, as that blogger revealed, feel as if we are letting someone down by asking for more.  Is it because we women are hard-wired to please? That we have a hard time shaking off the good-little-girl mantle? All of which comes back to bite us in the paycheck. Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of “Women Don’t Ask” note:

* By not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60—and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary.

* Women often don’t know the market value of their work: Women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs; men expect to earn 13 percent more than women during their first year of full-time work and 32 percent more at their career peaks.

And in most cases, men do. As we wrote on Equal Pay Day, a non-holiday that marks the date in April that women’s salaries catch up with their male counterparts’ (That’s right, as compared to the dude in the next cube, from January 1 until April 14, you, sister, were working for free): Every time we change jobs and are asked for a salary history, we’re at an increased disadvantage–and coupled with this gender-based pay discrimination disparity, well–that disparity is going to do nothing but get worse.

Sigh.

Just yesterday, I was talking with my big sister.  She was asking about our book and I was grousing about the fact that, in today’s publishing climate, authors have to do a lot of self promotion.  “I hate it,” I moaned.  “And I’m no good at it.”

She smiled, obviously older — and wiser too. “If you were a man,” she said, “you wouldn’t have a problem with it, now would you?”

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Surely you have heard that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has voted to reinstate the Global Gag Rule that prevents any family planning agencies that provide information about abortion service from receiving any U.S. foreign aid.

Who gets hurt?  Women, children and anyone who believes the conversation about women’s issues needs to move forward.

But once again, that conversation has been hijacked by the right-wing strategy to frame deeper issues related to women and families in terms of a women’s right to choose.  For a refresher, let’s look at the vote by Michele Bachmann and others on the right to defund Planned Parenthood — even though abortions only make up 10 percent of the services it provides to women without other means of health care, and that abortion services receive no federal funding.  As we wrote before:

I know of one woman, in fact, whose life may have been saved by Planned Parenthood. She discovered a lump in her breast shortly after losing her work-related health insurance. Where did she turn for a mammogram? Yep, Planned Parenthood, which ultimately shepherded her through the scary process of not only the diagnostics, but ultimately surgery, chemo and radiation.

The Global Gag Rule has been the ball in a decades-long — and ugly — game of political ping-pong since Ronald Reagan was in office.  Here’s a little bit of the backstory, courtesy of the Center for American Progress:

The global gag rule—first instated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, rescinded by President Bill Clinton in 1993, re-imposed by President George W. Bush in 2001, and rescinded again by President Barack Obama in 2009—prevents U.S. family planning assistance from going to organizations that perform or provide information about or referrals to legal abortion services. What’s more, organizations that receive funds cannot use their own money to provide abortion-related information or services, or advocate for liberalized abortion laws. The rule imposes no similar restrictions on advocacy against such laws. When in force, the global gag rule comes on top of the Helms amendment, the 1973 law that prohibits direct U.S. funding of abortions overseas.

Under the global gag rule, these organizations face a choice: either participate in the American right’s global campaign to restrict women’s rights and access to reproductive health care or lose critical U.S. funding.

That funding is crucial for agencies that cover a number of issues related to healthy women and children.  Like clean water.  Sanitation. The current rule, which primarily affects women in developing nations, is even more draconian than George W. Bush’s version, which at least made an exemption for HIV/AIDS education.  This new iteration of the rule does not.  But there’s more.  What also gets cut out of the equation when these agencies are defunded is access to contraception.  Back to the Center for American Progress:

And there is clear evidence that access to family planning improves women’s health and overall well-being. Maternal mortality rates see significant reductions when women can control the timing and spacing of their pregnancies. Access to family planning can help women avoid the pregnancy-related complications some 15 million women confront every year. And when women have the resources to control their fertility, they can take advantage of educational and economic opportunities that benefit not only women but their families and communities as well.

Ironically, the Guttmacher Institute has found that when abortion becomes illegal, abortions don’t decrease — they just become dangerous.  Life-threatening, actually. And what better way to avoid abortions than to provide contraceptive services.  No brainer, right? Go figure. (In fact, here in the U.S., the Institute of Medicine recently came out with guidelines that urge health insurance under the Affordable Care Act to include FDA approved contraception as preventative care.  Why? Proper spacing of pregnancies can prevent a host of serious health risks for both mother and child.)

But what makes us even more angry is the way the debate on abortion sucks the energy out of the fight for a better world for women and children — here and abroad.  Suddenly, regardless of where we stand on a women’s right to choose, we’re in a defensive position.

And that’s important because it means they control the conversation. Our attention spans are shorter, we live in a soundbyte society, and so there’s no room for nuanced discussion. Point, counterpoint.  And when we’re on the defensive, there’s no space to speak to other issues, let alone attempt to reframe the whole conversation.

We’re gagged, in more ways than one.

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