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Gender and Family Issues in the Workplace

Gender and Family Issues in the Workplace

Francine D. Blau
Ronald G. Ehrenberg
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 316
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  • Book Info
    Gender and Family Issues in the Workplace
    Book Description:

    Today, as married women commonly pursue careers outside the home, concerns about their ability to achieve equal footing with men without sacrificing the needs of their families trouble policymakers and economists alike. In 1993 federal legislation was passed that required most firms to provide unpaid maternity leave for up to twelve weeks. Yet, asGender and Family Issues in the Workplacereveals, motherhood remains a primary obstacle to women's economic success. This volume offers fascinating and provocative new analyses of women's status in the labor market, as it explores the debate surrounding parental leave: Do policies that mandate extended leave protect jobs and promote child welfare, or do they sidetrack women's careers and make them less desirable employees?

    An examination of the disadvantages that women-particularly young mothers-face in today's workplace sets the stage for the debate. Claudia Goldin presents evidence that female college graduates are rarely able to balance motherhood with career track employment, and Jane Waldfogel demonstrates that having children results in substantially lower wages for women. The long hours demanded by managerial and other high powered professions further penalize women who in many cases still bear primary responsibility for their homes and children. Do parental leave policies improve the situation for women?Gender and Family Issues in the Workplaceoffers a variety of perspectives on this important question. Some propose that mandated leave improves women's wages by allowing them to preserve their job tenure. Other economists express concern that federal leave policies prevent firms and their workers from acting on their own particular needs and constraints, while others argue that because such policies improve the well-being of children they are necessary to society as a whole. Olivia Mitchell finds that although the availability of unpaid parental leave has sharply increased, only a tiny percentage of workers have access to paid leave or child care assistance. Others caution that the current design of family-friendly policies may promote gender inequality by reinforcing the traditional division of labor within families.

    Parental leave policy is a complex issue embedded in a tangle of economic and social institutions.Gender and Family Issues in the Workplaceoffers an innovative and up-to-date investigation into women's chances for success and equality in the modern economy.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-064-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Francine D. Blau and Ronald G. Ehrenberg
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)
    Francine D. Blau and Ronald G. Ehrenberg

    One of the most striking labor market developments since World War II has been the dramatic growth in the labor force participation of women. Between 1940 and 1995, women workers increased from one quarter to nearly one half (46 percent) of the labor force. The sharp rise in married women’s participation in work outside the home that has spurred the expansion in the female labor force has caused a “subtle revolution” in gender roles in the family and in the larger society. While in 1940, 86 percent of married women were full-time homemakers, by 1994, 61 percent were in the...

  6. Chapter 2 Career and Family: College Women Look to the Past
    (pp. 20-64)
    Claudia Goldin

    College women today tell us they want both family and career. They have succeeded in achieving parity in numbers with their male counterparts, their educations are of about equal quality, and they are continuing in professional and graduate schools more than ever before.¹ Yet full equality—in both the home and the marketplace—still seems an elusive goal for them and they express a palpable frustration.

    I describe here the demographic and economic fates of prior cohorts of college women. How did each combine family and career? Trade-offs of substantial consequence were made by all past generations of college women,...

  7. Chapter 3 Labor Supply Effects of State Maternity Leave Legislation
    (pp. 65-91)
    Jacob Alex Klerman and Arleen Leibowitz

    The employment of new mothers rose dramatically over the 1980s. Currently, about 45 percent of mothers of 1-month-olds are in the labor force (Klerman and Leibowitz 1994). Whileemploymentof mothers of newborns is high, actual levels ofworkare much lower. The difference between employment and work is accounted for by women who are on paid and unpaid leave. Among employed mothers with a 1-month-old child, only about one third are actually at work; fully one quarter of all mothers of newborns are on paid or unpaid leave. This “employed, but not at work” group shrinks quickly as the...

  8. Chapter 4 Working Mothers Then and Now: A Cross-Cohort Analysis of the Effects of Maternity Leave on Women’s Pay
    (pp. 92-132)
    Jane Waldfogel

    American women have made progress in recent years in narrowing the gender gap in pay. Despite this progress, a substantial gap persists between the earnings of mothers and others. Using two cohorts from the National Longitudinal Surveys, this paper explores at two different points in time the importance of family status in explaining the gender gap among young adults and the extent to which maternity leave coverage and employment continuity over childbirth are effective remedies for the pay penalties associated with motherhood.

    One of the most remarkable features of the U.S. labor market in recent years has been the narrowing...

  9. Chapter 5 Parental Leave Policies in Europe and North America
    (pp. 133-165)
    Christopher J. Ruhm and Jackqueline L. Teague

    Attitudes toward women’s roles at home and in the workplace have changed dramatically during the twentieth century. More women are presently employed than ever before and many no longer stop working when they have young children. Reflecting this trend, virtually all industrialized countries now provide entitlements to job-protected absences from employment during the period surrounding childbirth.¹ Frequently, fathers as well as mothers qualify for time off work and most countries provide income support during the leave period.

    Until recently, the United States represented a notable exception. Prior to 1993, there was no federal legislation requiring U.S. employers to offer parental...

  10. Chapter 6 Work Norms and Professional Labor Markets
    (pp. 166-209)
    Renee M. Landers, James B. Rebitzer and Lowell J. Taylor

    Professional occupations are in the midst of an unprecedented demographic transition. The ratio of men to women in professional schools has declined from over 23 to 1 in 1962 to about 1.7 to 1 by 1988 (Goldin 1992). This influx of women is not limited to traditionally female occupations. In 1969 men constituted 77 percent of accountants and virtually all the engineers, lawyers and judges, and physicians. By 1991, men were 48 percent of accountants, 92 percent of engineers, 82 percent of lawyers and judges and 79 percent of physicians (see table 6.1).

    These numbers probably understate the ultimate change...

  11. Chapter 7 Early Career Supervisor Gender and the Labor Market Outcomes of Young Workers
    (pp. 210-267)
    Donna S. Rothstein

    Most employed individuals, particularly early in their careers, have a supervisor who may take on a number of different roles. These roles may include monitoring their work, providing them with on-the-job training and promotion opportunities, and preparing them for the next stage in their careers. Given all of these possible roles for supervisors, it seems that who supervises whom might be important; this could especially be true early in individuals’ careers, when supervisors may have the biggest impact on their future labor market experiences.

    This study focuses on a particular characteristic of supervisors-their gender—and asks what effect the gender...

  12. Chapter 8 Three Perspectives on Policy
    (pp. 268-284)

    This chapter offers three perspectives on the policy implications of the papers included in this volume. In the first section, Olivia S. Mitchell summarizes recent trends in the availability of “family-friendly” policies. The following sections by Barbara R. Bergmann and H. Elizabeth Peters consider some of the larger issues which are raised as these policies evolve. Bergmann particularly emphasizes the impact of family-friendly policies on gender equality, while Peters focuses on potential conflicts among the various goals which family and workplace policies are designed to address.

    This paper examines recent developments in a particular type of employee benefits, namely, those...

  13. References
    (pp. 285-296)
  14. Index
    (pp. 297-301)