6 Ways the Next President Could Actually Close the Wage Gap

Alden Wicker
Posted

This just in: Female graduates earn $8,000 on average less than male graduates only a year out of college, according to the latest study. (Yes, this is a new study. Yes, it does sound depressingly familiar.)

Even when the study controlled for factors like what kind of careers men and women chose and hours worked, it found that men still out-earn women by 7%.

So what does this have to do with the election? Actually, everything. The gender gap is at a historic high this year–and we’re not even talking about wages anymore. We’re talking about the voter gap. Women are actually much more likely to vote for Obama by about nine percentage points, while men are more likely to vote for Romney by the same number.

The All-Powerful Female Voter

But grabbing the female vote has become somewhat of a priority for both candidates as we head into the final stretch. That’s because undecided female voters in swing states could have the power to tip the election one way or another.

And what do these swing voters care about? The economy. That’s the reason why she is so undecided–she doesn’t feel like Obama has done a great job boosting the economy, but she doesn’t feel like Romney actually cares about women’s concerns at all, including the wage gap.

To corral these female voters, Obama has been playing up Romney’s, erm, less-than-satisfactory answer in the second debate on equal pay for genders (if you’re tired of Tumblr posts, here’s a fabulous remix). Meanwhile, Romney is pointing to the fact that the number of women in poverty has risen since Obama took office. (Check out our post on whether we are better off than we were four years ago.)

But interestingly, the next president could almost erase our economic woes by addressing women’s concerns in a one-two punch: Economists think that closing the gender wage gap could be a much more effective stimulus than even Obama’s 2009 giant spending package, growing the economy by a potential three to four percentage points. There are several reasons why, but the main point is that women tend to spend more of their additional dollars on themselves and their families than men do. So pay them more, and watch them reinvigorate the economy.

RELATED: Why, Dollar for Dollar, Giving to Women Is Best

So, What Will Romney and Obama Do for Women?

Romney and Obama are trying to prove that they’ve got women’s backs, but in different ways:

Romney

Romney–in the second presidential debate and in recent speeches–points to the economy as being at fault for the poverty affecting women. His plan to help women achieve economic empowerment is simply by boosting the economy at large. But is this an effective strategy?

Unfortunately, it isn’t. During good economic times the wage gap actually widens, as men reap more pay in the form of bonuses, merit-based raises and overtime work. During the recession, real earnings for men fell 2.1%, while women’s earnings fell by only .9%. As the economy has recovered, men have gotten the majority of new jobs again. Romney would have to try something else to get the rising economic tide to lift all boats, instead of leaving women tied up at the dock.

Obama

Obama has the advantage of pointing to policy that he’s already implemented: the Lilly Ledbetter Act. It removed the statue of limitations for suing a company when you find out they’ve been underpaying you. It’s not bad, but it’s not a great leap forward either. After all, as one of our own readers pointed out, “All the act does is say I can sue the pants off people.” And Vice President Joe Biden himself said “it’s not a big deal in terms of equal pay.” More will have to be done.

Let’s Get Real

Let’s skip the platitudes and get down to the truth of it all: How could the next president address our concerns about workplace equality and the wage gap in a focused and targeted way? Some things might be out of their purview (no law can make women adopt a more assertive posture), but we found several scientifically and real-world-tested, government-driven solutions to the gender gap.

Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama? Here are six things you can do to actually narrow the wage gap. We’ll consider it a win if you can at least nudge the United States back into the top-20 list of the best countries for women from 22nd place. (22nd?!) 

1. Sign the Paycheck Fairness Act

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which failed in the Senate in June, would require companies to give a “business reason” for paying female employees less, and prevent retaliation against employees who inquire about wage disparities. It’s not clear the first provision would do much to raise wages–some argue that it just codifies what large companies are already doing. For example, IBM asks its managers to explain discrepancies during company-wide audits, and companies can give “experience” as a business reason for paying women less, such as leaving the workforce for a period of time to have children.

But the second provision has a good shot at nudging us closer to fair pay: Women often don’t even know they are being paid less until an intentional tip or unintentional slip by another employee clues them in. (That’s why women should be more open about their salaries!) But many companies expressly forbid sharing salary information. Because of this, researchers say you can’t argue that the market for labor will operate most efficiently (i.e. fairly) with a hands-off approach. An efficient market, by definition, involves all parties having perfect information.

2. Raise the Minimum Wage

We’ve written about how raising the minimum wage would help the economy. It would also disproportionately benefit women, who make up nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers. According to the National Women’s Law Center, raising the minimum wage would raise the earnings of about 15.4 million women. In fact, in the ten states with the narrowest wage gap in 2010, half had minimum wages of $8 or more (the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour).

3. Institute Guaranteed Paid Maternity Leave

January report by the Rutgers Center for Women and Work found that women who are provided paid maternity leave are not only more likely to be working a year after giving birth, they are also more likely to report getting a raise in the year following the birth. (The study doesn’t posit why this is.) The report also found paid maternity leave can save the government money. Women who have paid maternity leave are 39% less likely to receive public assistance and 40% less likely to receive food stamps in the year following a child’s birth compared to those who don’t take leave. Most surprisingly, companies save money with paid maternity leave by cutting down on turnover and training costs to replace departing new mothers.

RELATED: More Mothers Ditching Maternity Leave Early

But the U.S. is one of the last remaining developed countries that does not have a national paid maternity leave policy. While the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act prevents your employer from giving away your job during 12 weeks of maternity leave, it doesn’t require employers to pay you during that time. And it only applies to companies with 50 employees or more.

Iceland–which, by the way, is the top-ranked country for women–has a system where new parents get paid 80% of their salary by their company for a combined nine months. Mom and Dad each take three months, and the remaining three months can be allocated between them however they see fit. This solution neatly addresses the worry that requiring paid leave for new mothers would scare companies into not hiring women. In Iceland, you never know if it could be that just-married guy taking off three to six months next year, instead of the woman with the big bad wedding ring on her finger.

(P.S. Longer maternity leave isn’t just good for mothers’ wallets, it’s also good for babies’ health!)

4. Provide or Subsidize Affordable Childcare

Ask any mom, and she’ll tell you that she needs reliable childcare in order to focus on her job. But childcare in the United States is expensive, and there’s often an inadequate supply. In a 2002 study out of California, the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that–regardless of whether a mom was single or married, college-educated or not–lack of childcare is the most frequent barrier to employment.

And this large gap in employment for mothers leads to lower lifetime earnings for women. Interestingly, the effect of unstable childcare is most pronounced on the middle class (something that should make presidential candidates’ ears perk up). Low-income women are more likely to turn to relatives for help, while high-income women can afford high-priced care. The California study also demonstrated that every dollar spent on childcare results in two dollars of economic output.

RELATED: Six Ways to Save on Childcare Costs

One bold government initiative would be to pay for childcare, like the free universal preschool provided in France. But UC Berkeley researchers estimate lowering the cost of childcare (a.k.a. subsidizing it) by just 10% would increase female workforce participation by 10% among married moms and 2% among single moms. Baby steps? (Pun intended.)

5. Support Unionization

Unionization and collective bargaining has a well-recorded tendency to raise wages across the board, but research shows it also tends to raise women’s pay relative to men’s by up to 8.8%, depending on the industry. Researchers surmise that this is because unionization means more bureaucratic measures and standards are put into place for deciding on pay.

6. Institute Quotas for Corporate Boards

Right now, the percentage of women on corporate boards is only at 16%. There could be many reasons for this: Women don’t promote themselves enough, they can’t break into the old boys’ network, and/or being the point person for every family emergency make them (or make them seem) less able to put in the hours. But maybe it’s just because companies aren’t looking hard enough for capable women.

Take for example, Norway (number three on the list of best countries for women). In 2006 it instituted an aggressive law requiring companies to fill 40% of board seats with women, or face harsh sanctions up to and including dissolving the company. Companies complied, and now even middle management positions in Norwegian companies are increasingly filled by women. Spain and France have quotas now, and the European Union is seriously considering one as well.  

Is performance affected by forcing companies to take on more female leaders? Yup. Research shows that companies with the most female board members outperform companies that have few. And startups with women on the executive team are more likely to succeed.

Would You Support These Measures?

We know “women” are no monolithic voting block. So tell us: Which, if any, of these measures would you support if the next president were to put it on his agenda? Let us know in the comments.

  • Becca Wildsmith

    GREAT reporting, Alden! VERY interesting info contained. Thanks!

  • Saracsm

    Excellent article! One of the best I’ve seen on Learnvest. Can you forward this to whoever wins the election? :)

  • vcgal

    Great article!  I’d support all of these measures.  And I’d like to add actual national healthcare.  “Obamacare” is a step in the right direction, especially with its no-copay contraceptives and women’s health screenings, but a real national healthcare program would help everyone. 

    Women need to mobilize as a block and let politicians know we’re not going to take sexist attitudes, discrimination, or interference with our bodies anymore.  We need to vote our interests and not be sucked in by the political propaganda/pandering.

  • Alexandra

    So…none of those would help decrease the wage gap.  Minimum wage could be great for improving workers lives regardless of gender but the other suggestions actually have a negative impact on the wage gap.  We already have anti-gender wage gap discrimination and thats not the problem, women getting stuck in more administrative roles or being pushed into less paying industries is a much larger problem.  3 and 4 exist in Scandinavian countries like Sweden, where the wage gap is actually worse than it is in America.  I’m not sure your argument for 5 has a strong basis and unions can actually hold higher-skilled workers back. Quotas exist in Norway (i think) and they have done a horrible job at promoting underqualified workers and demeaning women’s work everywhere.  Even Norwegians don’t like quotas.  

  • Jenlane74

    I categorically support all of these measures.  Let’s see how today’s election turns out, and whether we have a fighting chance to achieve any or all.

  • Valerievermilya

    If you want a socialist regime – why not move to another country?

    • Kgal1298

      I hope you actually understand the term socialist before using it because many people have the context wrong. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/rob.drury.12 Rob Drury

        True; but not Valerie!

  • Mara

    Alexa and Alden for President!..get ready for the 2016 campaign! :D

  • http://www.omshesaid.wordpress.com/ RANI SHAH

    Very good article! I second that you send it to the winning party!

  • Susanna Porter

    I’d support all of them; great ideas!!  I wish more people understood how important these issues are.  I have posted this article on FB and will spread it among my friends via email.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rob.drury.12 Rob Drury

      And I wish more people understood that promoting healthy and successful businesses is the only proper and reliable way to benefit anyone’s paycheck.  All bad ideas!

  • Ebony

    I would definitely support raising the minimum wage, guaranteed paid maternity leave and affordable childcare. At least to start with…then we can add the rest of them. But, I think those would definitely take a load off of a lot of women’s minds

    • Guest

       Raising the minimum wage would not take a load off of my mind.  It would decrease my standard of living dramatically despite all of my hard work and efforts to make a decent living for me and my family. 

  • Cathswart

    Great article! This is definitely one of the best articles ever on Learnvest. I think all of these ideas are great. While I don’t support direct subsidization (for childcare), I think that instituting a quota and fair pay acts will go a long way towards giving women the income they need to pay for childcare. I also think that giving companies tax incentives for offering childcare on-site at the company, or providing childcare vouchers (if that is not an option) as part of a compensation package to employees will help make childcare more accessible and convenient for parents, especially women. 

  • Theresa

    So you plan to decrease the wage gap by making sure that no one has a job. Interesting strategy. 

    • michele

       How is this ensuring no one has a job? I am curious how that comes into play here.

      • http://www.facebook.com/rob.drury.12 Rob Drury

        It comes into play because every recommendation here is a job killer.

        • saras_tears

          No they aren’t.  Lazy, overweight greedy people are job killers.

          Oh hai Rob.

          • http://www.facebook.com/rob.drury.12 Rob Drury

            Are you referring to union workers.  I stand corrected.

          • saras_tears

            Stand or sit?

            Treadmill, meet Rob.

      • Theresa

        These recommendations are definitely job killers over all. We’re already concerned about jobs being shipped overseas, so we’re gonna make it more expensive for companies to hire Americans.  At least, the minimum wage and unionization make it more expensive to hire any American.  The rest just make it more expensive to hire women and to have employees in general.  If you include the quota, what % of a company has to be women, you make it more expensive for them to have employees in the states, so they won’t.  Businesses have to make a profit or they can’t continue to exist.  Even if a company is patriotic, this makes it too expensive to hire Americans, so they won’t. That’s of course the simplified version, but cost companies too much to do something and you threaten their survival. In that case they won’t do it. 

        • FEAR is the job killer

           So its all about the expenses, the bottom line, profit, making the benjamins, hitting the quarterly profit projections so the sharholders don’t crucify you, and who gives a flying rat’s a$$ about the long-term future, or the people who work their butts off so the greedy little pr!cks at the top can keep raking in their moolah while their workers get screwed. Fine, let’s just aspire to be like India and China then. Let’s pay our people $10 a day, work them 16 hours straight with no breaks, give them no health, safety or labor protections, and let them live in cardboard boxes and dig holes to cr@p in. Who cares as long as the pigs at the top keep livin large. Give me a freaking break.

          • Theresa

            I don’t understand the argument that you’re making.  Its not about the $.  Who is gonna pay for this though?  Ok, let’s pick up $30 Trillion more of debt to bail out companies to pay for this. We didn’t have these laws and have good standards of living.  

            Don’t start comparing that. China and India are partially socialist, that’s why the standards of living are so low because the gov’t sets them. But we should let the natural labor markets decide.  

          • Theresa

            Hitting quarterly profits is different than existing and surviving. Look at any industry where unions are strong.  Which of them is doing well?  None.  Any country where Unions and these kind of laws exist.  Are any of them doing well? No.  Any states?  No. They are all in bankruptcy or the verge of it.

          • JenInBoston

            Oh, that’s not actually factual. The idea that there are no countries doing okay in which unions are strong is bogus. Provide legit citations if you think otherwise  (and it won’t prove your point to mention Greece and Spain and then stop talking. You’ll need to discuss Northern Europe, France, England, the growth of Brazil’s economy, and others).

          • Theresa

            I would love to respond. Actually France has a much lower % of their population in unions than the US and the UK is just about the same as the US.  Brazil is very very low.  But even still, just purely because its a developing country, it should grow faster than developed countries.  Its much easier to go from 1 to 2 than 101 to 102.  Actually Iceland had the highest in the world and they are also bankrupt. Even in worse position that Greece and Spain. You’re right about North Europe, but they actually all have high unemployment (arouond 8 to 9% even before the global recession and growth has 1-2% max. See Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development about unions and the Economist for economic growth and unempleoyment.

          • Megan

            Wow, you are grossly misinformed. If you are so worried about not making profits than whey are you commenting on an article about raising pay. You shouldn’t care how much money you make. I mean, afterall it’s not about the benjamins…right? Tip: if a business can’t make money than they won’t be able to operate and won’t hire employees. Lose-lose. MOST companies aren’t run by “pigs at the top livin large”. Find companies where employees are happy and do your business there. Also, if you shop at Walmart or any other major retailer you are probably supporting most of the things you don’t want to be supporting. Do your research, then vote wisely with your dollars.  

  • Jancullinane

    One thing women can do for themselves is to learn to be better negotiators. By not negotiating a first salary, women end up with about a half million dollars less by the time they retire than they otherwise could have (research from Linda Babcock).  Negotiation skills are something that can be learned.

    Jan Cullinane, AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (John Wiley & Sons) 

    • guest

      I agree! I’ve been underemployed (stuck in a sales job) with an MBA and 15 years in high-tech experience because of Obama. He had 4 years and it’s time to give someone else a chance. I’d rather live in Romney’s world with a economy and have a better job than get free birth control.

      • JenInBoston

        How are you stuck “because” of Obama? Did he tell you you can’t look for something better and take control of your own destiny? You’ve got an MBA and 15 years in high tech? If you’re not employed at $80,000 or above, it’s because you have workplace “issues” or you haven’t tried very hard to procure good employment. Sorry, but there are SO many open jobs for people with those qualifications. Just go on Monster.com and look up Business Analyst positions at financial services companies. There are tons and they mostly pay 6-figures. If you have what you say you have, it’s absurd to be “stuck” anywhere. Stop reacting. Take charge! It’s not Barack Obama’s fault that you have accepted things you aren’t okay with. Go do something with your abilities!

        It’s ironic that the same people who view people who use food stamps as “takers” who see themselves as victims and expect the government to solve their problems–these same people simultaneously blame the government for whatever job they themselves are “stuck” in and see themselves not only as victims of a big impersonal bureaucracy, but as the personal victims of one individual (President Obama). Please!

        When Bush was in his final months of office, I lost my (very good) job as my company shrank smaller and smaller in the already-screwed up economy. I scrambled. I hustled. I busted my chops. I burned the midnight oil to teach myself tangible skills I couldn’t afford to go to back to school to study. I didn’t wait for some magic president to wave a wand and make a job appear for me. It was very hard and I experienced major ups and downs but by Obama’s 4th year in office, my annual salary had risen $40,000 *above* what I’d been making at the time I was laid off. Either Obama gets the credit for my current success AND your current situation or Obama deserves neither credit for my success nor blame for your position. That’s just logic.

    • michele

       LearnVest has advocated that several times. And your point is well made – many women could get paid fairly if they negotiated for their salary. However, in a culture where it’s made difficult to know exactly how much many jobs are worth, having more transparency may also help.

  • Laura

    :/  A bit late for this one, unfortunately.  Would have been nice to see this yesterday! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/rob.drury.12 Rob Drury

    I subscribe to this column for the same reason as I do all of the many others to which I subscribe; to offer my audience a greater variety of helpful financial advice.  Unfortunately, it seems that most times that I stop in, you’ve done something to further invalidate yourselves as a credible financial source.

    All six of your recommendations are potential business killers, and therefore, benefit no one in the long run.  I say “potential” because some of the ideas can be used as part of a successful HR strategy if done correctly and consistently within a company’s business model, but none of them has any business as law or public policy. 

    Rob Drury 
    Executive Director, 
    Association of Christian Financial Advisors

  • Tracee Portka

    Everytime I’ve read an article that pertains to the presidency it ALWAYS leans to the left. Never fails.   I don’t need any help from the gov’t and don’t expect my taxes to go and help you other than what would be absolutely necessary.  AND I would NEVER advocate for unions.  I live in CA.  I am experiencing firsthand just what unions do and they destroy!  PERIOD.  It’s always at the expense of the private sector.  You know, the working class that don’t get huge pensions and a never ending vacation.  Do you even realize what you are advocating?   You mean to tell me that women need the gov’t to fight for them?  C’mon, the less gov’t the better.  Thank God I can think for myself!   

  • Tracee Portka

    unsubscribe!

  • Trish Carter

    I would like for Learnvest to spend less time on politics.It may be because of the election or not.Just keep giving me good tips on spending less and saving more. 

  • Wake Up

    The problem in the United States is that far too many of our leaders (and people in general) are still stuck in the 1950s. Deep down, far too many of us fundamentally believe that women do not belong in the workplace. You cannot have women on the boards of major corporations when far too many of the men (and even women) who run those companies remain fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of women having a career.

    In both subtle and obvious ways, we still send the message to women and girls that your main purpose in life–some even say it is a woman’s only “real” purpose–is to birth and raise children. Everything else–including having a career–should be second place, if it even has a place at all. In the “good old days” women were mostly relegated to low-paying jobs like teaching, nursing, and being secretaries or sales clerks because of a subtle and not-so-subtle expectation that a girl should only hold down a job long enough to support herself until she married a nice boy and “settled down.” (i.e., left  the workforce to have children.) That belief persists today, in managers who even admit (off the record of course) that one of the reasons that they pay women less is because a woman’s career is not as important as her husband’s; when/if the kids come along, it will be the woman that leaves the workforce, so the man needs to make more in order to “supprt his family.”

    Until the US accepts the reality that the 1950s are dead, gone, buried and never coming back, we will not implement policies like paid maternity leave, universal access to child care and pay equity, because deep down the US still believes that women with children should stay at home and raise them, instead of  pursuing a career. Should they? In an ideal world, maybe. But we do not live in an ideal world and we never have. (Talk to people who don’t view the past through rose-colored glasses and they will tell you that unless you were a white protestant male, the 1950s really sucked.)  While we need to get over the feminist myth that women can “have it all” (which in its own way is just as destructive as the “a woman’s place is in the home” meme) we also need to realize and accept that if a woman wants or needs to have a job or chooses to have a career, she needs the right tools, policies and support. She cannot have it all, but she can have more and better.

    (And BTW guys, yes I know that it can work the other way, and men should have the chance to balance their careers and personal lives as well. One of my best friends is an eye doctor and the soul breadwinner in her family. Her husband stays home, raises their 5-year-old twins, takes care of the house and gives guitar lessons on the side. And they are the happiest family I know.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rob.drury.12 Rob Drury

    Well, all major networks have called it.  If the above measures are what you call success, then be prepared to be happy – until everyone including you pays the penalty for it.  Obama wins – America loses!

    • FEAR is the job killer

       Angry white guy is angry.

      • Rob_Drury

        Whoa, so the frequent male-bashing in this forum isn’t enough; we need to get racial now?

  • Using Her Brain!

    REALLY? Are you ALL in Oblala dream land here? What makes you think ANY of these “Let’s Get Real” objectives will happen?… Is is what you’ve NOT seen over the last 4 years? Unemployment UP
    Poverty UP
    Small Businesses DOWN—–> More will close and/or not hire full time so they don’t have to pay YOUR INSURANCE.

    When you wake up in four years and see MORE WOMEN in POVERTY (as has been the record of the LAST 4 Years)… Your Nightmare will kick you into reality… REALLY?

  • Promotionless

    Regarding unionization, I think good can be the enemy of best.  In my workplace, it is true that unionized workers tend to earn more in positions than non-unionized workers in the same industry in my part of the country.  However, all management here is non-union and, almost exclusively, male in the upper management.  Therefore, it is my observation that being in the union keeps you out of the “boys’ club” and out of the better paying management jobs.  Managers are always promoting other men and tend to characterize women from the union unfavorably.  Involvement in the union seems to be the enemy of getting in the club.  So, while a woman may earn a ridiculous $22.00/hour for doing a $10/hour-type of job, thanks to the union, she will almost never get to upper management, where she would earn $93k/yr.  Unionization here has created an “us-them” dynamic and, ultimately, as it plays out here, it is the enemy of women.

  • JenInBoston

    I think the whole conversation around child-bearing needs to be majorly rephrased. Find any article about women in the workforce and maternity leave, and you’ll find “discussion” stuck around ideas like “why should I pay for her rugrat vacation?” or “why should I hire someone who will take 3 months off?” or even “women aren’t committed employees after having children” or “I know she’s going to work less so it’s fair to pay her less” etc. etc.

    This all ignores that the literal future of humanity wholely depends on women conceiving, carrying, delivering, and then caring for an entirely helpless infant for at least some period of time. It might seem like an extreme topic, but it isn’t. And when women actually stop bearing babies, countries freak out pretty quickly. All of a sudden they realize the implications, which range from impending national insecurity due to lack of sufficient numbers to support a strong military, to not having nearly enough doctors and nurses 40 years later, to feeling that their specific language and culture may actually disappear forever.

    Look at Japan or Italy where the birth rate has sunk well below the replacement rate. General opinion in those countries holds that birth control and industrialized living moved the birthrate from many babies per woman down to 2 or 3 babies per woman, but that slipping well below the replacement rate was due more to social issues that made it unreasonably hard for women to accomplish various things in life if they also had multiple children.

    Now those governments are basically *begging* women to have more kids, whether the women work, or not. Did you know that the US birth rate is now below the replacement level? That’s a fact. It’s down to about 1.8 births per woman.

    And before anyone mentions that fewer people could be a good thing for the world…although that’s true, we must also think about how in the heck we’re supposed to manage a society in which there are significantly more old, ill, dependent adults than young, healthy adults to support the elderly. It’s just not as easy as saying “yay, lower population growth!”

    The fact is that unless you’re a total misanthrope, you really *need* all women to have an average of a couple of children. If maternity were viewed as what it really is–critical, species-sustaining work–I think we’d be having a very different conversation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rob.drury.12 Rob Drury

      Good points, except that the very mindset you’ve described here is the “archaic” one that most here are fighting against; that there is no more important role for a woman than conceiving and raising children.  Thanks for making a fantastic case for all of us “chauvinists” who revere the stay-at-home mom far above the corporate CEO.

      • JenInBoston

        No, you misunderstood the point and you evaluated it from, as you said, the archaic mindset (which unfortunately isn’t at all close to archaic yet). Not that YOU have that mindset, but you, as do we all, live in a time where that mindset provides the backdrop for much of our thought. The whole paradigm needs to shift in order to have a conversation about the critical nature of child-bearing not remotely in the same light as a conversation about the “place of women.” 

        Note that I didn’t say “the place of women in the _______.” Any adult has the right to make a go at whatever path s/he finds fulfilling. That’s a fact that co-exists with the fact that right now, in order for humans to exist, more humans must be born, and only women can bear them. 

        Look, there are cultures where women cannot hold jobs because of all the cultural requirements that surround monthly menstruation. In our culture, we’re basically beyond that. Nobody cares or even notices if a woman uses the ladies’ room more frequently during 25% of her work weeks. It just doesn’t matter. 

        This isn’t to compare monthly cycles to child-rearing, in terms of effort! But it is to point out that where there are biological differences between males and females, the differences are real, but the *nature and impact* of those differences occupy a spectrum across cultures, from a place of cultural obsession to a place of utter insignificance. Additionally, the perceived impact and need for associated norms and cultural management can fundamentally shift over time.

        There are a few companies out there that are taking this approach, implementing things like on-site daycare, parental leave (rather than maternal), back-up daycare, lactation rooms, sick-child coverage, explicit policies allowing infants in the workplace, and of course logical infrastructure to support ALL the employees’ success in what is a pretty novel way of running a workplace. I hope many, many companies will become like this in my lifetime because IMO, it’s just a fact of life that all adults need fulfilling work, and it is a human right to become a parent if one desires it, and somebody has also got to bear children, and these somebodies are always female, and these things need not mutually exclude one another but can all be compatible.  =)

  • Leeannbailey

    Wow–I’m grateful to LearnVest for these talking points.  This is the best info I’ve ever gleaned from all the articles I’ve read from LearnVest.  Thanks!

  • Larissa

    I would support all but 5 and maybe 6. I’m firmly against unions because I think they have lost sight of their goals of keeping the workers well compensated while not bankrupting the company and allowing subpar workers to continue to work. Plus I don’t think unions should be compulsory. If you want to join great, if not I don’t think you should have to or be forced to pay union dues. I’m not sure about quotas. I don’t like the idea of them but you can’t argue with the results of their implementation in Norway, and I know how hard it is to break into “the good old boys” club.

  • chillini

    This is a great article- except you made it much more political by adding in #2 and #5.  Both of those points were not well thought out and offered up the least explanation for why these points were even included.  

    I agree with all the rest and think women need to fight to get these issues in the public eye vs. letting the media flaunt birth control and abortion as “women’s issues”.  While they are, MANY more women would be impacted by even just one of the above. 

  • Aptucker

    Wow! Socialist much?