For the first time in history, half of all U.S. workers are women, and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of U.S. families, according to a report released Oct. 16, 2009 by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and California first lady Maria Shriver.
The report, The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, was co-authored by, among others, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation; Heather Boushey, CAP senior economist; Ann O’Leary, CAP senior fellow; and John Halpin, CAP senior fellow.
Pointing out that in 1967 women made up only one third of all U.S. workers, the report said women’s changing roles affect the country’s major societal institutions. The report concluded that today’s families need more flexible work schedules, comprehensive child care policies, redesigned family and medical leave, and equal pay for women.
Four out of every five families today with children still living at home are not the traditional “male breadwinner” and “female homemaker” combination, according to the report. In fact, women increasingly are becoming their family’s breadwinner or co-breadwinner, it said. The report pointed out that although women hold half of all jobs, they do not make up half of every type of job. Occupations with high concentrations of women include secretaries, administrative assistants, registered nurses, elementary and middle school teachers, cashiers, and retail sales workers.
The report suggested that government address the new economic and social reality by updating the country’s basic labor standards to include family-friendly employee benefits and overhauling anti-discrimination laws so that employers cannot disproportionately exclude women from workplace benefits.
The report pointed out that the United States is the only industrialized country without any requirement that employers provide paid family leave.
Flexible work arrangements, career paths, and leadership styles are needed that better meet the demands of today’s diverse workforce as well as today’s flexible economic environment, the report said. It urged that these new work policies not be perks for only a chosen few.
Source: BNA HR Report, Vol. 27, No. 41 pg 1142