Apr 012010

A slew of reports have come out in recent weeks regarding women’s economic well-being.  Not really anything earth-shattering here, mostly confirming what we already know, but when you look look at the assorted findings in aggregate, it does make for  an interesting read:

According to a University of Florida study,

When it comes to sex roles in society, what you think may affect what you earn. A new study has found that men who believe in traditional roles for women earn more money than men who don’t, and women with more egalitarian views don’t make much more than women with a more traditional outlook.

And what are we to make of that data, one wonders.

From the University of Alberta (Canada):

Human trafficking and the global sex trade comprise the third-largest and fastest-growing international crime industry after arms and drugs…About 7,500 foreign nationals are trafficked in the United States alone every year, “and 200,000 American children are at risk for entry into the sex trade,” said Margareta Winberg, speaking as part of the U of A’s International Week evening keynote event.
“The prostitution industry is expanding in a free-market economy where women and girls are seen as highly saleable commodities,” added Winberg, a long-time feminist activist and politician who now serves as Swedish ambassador to Brazil.

Also speaking on the same program was Dr. Sitoshi Ikeda, a professor with the University of Alberta’s Department of Sociology. Presenting a talk entitled Prostitution: An Economic Opportunity for Women or Violence Against Women? Ikeda addressed prostitution issues from his studies in globalization. He looked at male oppression against women in light of the dominant free-market ideology that has been acting as a force behind recent efforts to legalize prostitution.

“Legalized prostitution follows the neo-liberal logic that the market outcome is always best, regardless of social conditions,” he said.

Asserting that the hold of sexist and “masculinist” attitudes in Canada are still strong, as exhibited by the stubborn wage differential between men and women in equivalent employment, and statically high levels of sexual violence, Ikeda believes free-market ideologues have been steadily lobbying to separate human traffic and prostitution since the 1980s.

Ikeda questions the logical foundations of these ‘free market’ arguments, stating that it seems questionable to put forward the sex trade as a legitimate career option when every encounter could be seen as an act of “sexual harassment in the workplace”.

He also sees the question of consent as troublesome, given how many women in the international sex trade hail from economically or politically embattered regions which drastically limits their options and autonomy.

Via Newsweek:

U.S. Department of Education data show that a year out of school, despite having earned higher college GPAs in every subject, young women will take home, on average across all professions, just 80 percent of what their male colleagues do. Even at the top end, female M.B.A.s make $4,600 less per year in their first job out of business school, according to a new Catalyst study. Motherhood has long been the explanation for the persistent pay gap, yet a decade out of college, full-time working women who haven’t had children still make 77 cents on the male dollar. As women increasingly become the breadwinners in this recession, bringing home 23 percent less bacon hurts families more deeply than ever before.


Female bylines at major magazines are still outnumbered by seven to one; women are just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and less than a quarter of law partners and politicians.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) reports in a new study that while men have lost more jobs druing the recession than jobs, the kicker is that women are then being put in the position of being the sole breadwinner with incomes that are less than mens,

“Most of the jobs that have been lost(in the recession) have been lost by men, leaving millions of women and mothers to support their families.”That’s a rough task for many women. For though they’re usually doing essentially the same work as men, or the equivalent of it, women earn substantially less than men internationally, 30 to 40 percent less, despite a narrowing of the gap in recent years. The gap is narrower within the United States, but even so, US women average only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

The pay gaps exist in part because, as the ILO’s Sara Elder said, “We still find many more women than men taking up low pay and precarious work, either because this is the only type of job made available or because they need to find something that allows them to balance work and family responsibilities. Men do not face these same constraints.”

And it may get worse for women even after the recession ends since “we know from previous crises that female job-losers find it more difficult to return to work as economic recovery settles in.”…

…In the United States, that would mean cracking down on the widespread violations of the 47-year-old Equal Pay Act that has never delivered its promise to guarantee women equal treatment on the job.

Better yet, would be the passage – and strict enforcement – of the long stalled Paycheck Fairness Act. It would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act that have made it relatively easy for employers to discriminate against women in pay and other matters.

It’s estimated that if US women were granted equal pay, they could each earn as much as $2 million more over the whole of their working lives. It’s estimated as well that equal pay would reduce the number of families living in poverty by as much as half.

The CAP also has an interesting look at The Economic Security of Unmarried Women,

(T)he economic circumstances of unmarried women are troubling. They face greater economic insecurity compared to the general population or their married counterparts by almost any measure. They must confront disproportionate unemployment, poverty, and lack of health insurance, as well as other hardships. Despite being just under half of the female population, they represent 63 percent of unemployed women, 60 percent of women without health insurance, and three-quarters of women in poverty.

The University of Warwick (UK) has come out with a study which claims that,

One key to happiness might be whether you make more than your peers, regardless of whether that income is six figures or just a mediocre take-home, a new study finds.

The article refers to participants in the study, it would be interesting  to have a breakdown by sex.

 April 1, 2010  Posted by on April 1, 2010

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