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Women on the Edge: Gendered Political Economy Past and Present Dr. Sunghee Choi Dr. Marie Francois California State University Channel Islands.

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Presentation on theme: "Women on the Edge: Gendered Political Economy Past and Present Dr. Sunghee Choi Dr. Marie Francois California State University Channel Islands."— Presentation transcript:

1 Women on the Edge: Gendered Political Economy Past and Present Dr. Sunghee Choi Dr. Marie Francois California State University Channel Islands

2 Overview of women and the American economy  Some Definitions and Snapshots  How we got here  Why are women more economically insecure?  What to do about it

3 Some Definitions  Economic security = having enough money to cover the basics (rent, food, child care, health care, transportation, taxes), and enough to develop savings and assets  Self-sufficiency standard income needed for family of specific size living in particular county to meet minimal basic needs includes daily costs – housing, food, child care, out- of-pocket medical expenses, transportation  Federal poverty level developed in 1960s, still used to determine eligibility for public programs fails to take into account housing and transportation costs, geography, and increasing child care costs

4 Snapshots in 2008 CaliforniaUSA 20% of working families suffer economic hardship – earnings don’t meet needs full-time working women’s median income fell at nearly 2x rate of working men Median monthly income of economically insecure families = $1,735 ($1,000 short of basic needs) women’s median income: $36,451 in 2007 fell to $35,745 in 2008 Data from and

5 “Poverty” vs. “Self-Sufficiency” 2008 measures Family of 4 — whether in high cost market like San Francisco or more affordable like Baton Rouge — federal poverty level $22,050 annual household earnings Ventura County, Self-Sufficiency Standard: -- family of 2 parents, 2 kids needed $49,154 to $70,589 annual earnings depending on children’s ages (preschoolers the most expensive) -- family of 1 parent, 3 children, $54,554 to $92,979 SSS data for California by county at InsightCCED.org The federal poverty line is set too low to accurately measure hardship

6 Ventura County 10.2% females at less than 100% of poverty level (males 7.8%) in x as many women ages (19%) uninsured than men (9%) in 2007 Poverty rate greatest for women who are not high school grads (19.5%) compared to women with bachelor’s degrees (2.9%) Overall unemployment rising: August % August % 44,000 people

7 How’d we get here? Economic, political, and ideological structures are built, and can be rebuilt

8 History of gendered economics  Enlightenment and Liberalism Broke down community-based traditions of work and well- being, brought cult of (male) individual work of women in family invisible, ignored working women Citizens (i.e. voters), and in theory workers, only male  Ideology of “breadwinners” as male, yet: 5% married, 41% single women in workforce % married, 69% single women in workforce 1995  Women effectively barred from lucrative work More reproductive responsibility Fewer educational opportunities By 1940, 70% firms had sex restrictions

9 Policies are human constructions, let’s make good ones  Late 1800s - Progressive women put welfare on national agenda – public programs to “offset regularly occurring events outside control of individuals”*  st minimum wage law – aimed at women & children  women won vote, but still 2 nd class economic citizens  Social Security, Medicare, AFDC (now TANF), etc. – result of policy choices within specific contexts  1963 Equal Pay Act – did not eradicate discrimination, wage gap has grown *Nelson, “Origins of the Two-Channel Welfare State,” p. 126

10 Why are women more economically insecure?  Economic Restructuring and Globalization  Occupational Sex Segregation  Gender Stereotyping and Discrimination  Welfare Reform and Gender Implications  Child Care Dilemma  Retirement and Elderly Women

11 Economic Restructuring and Globalization  Increasing Job Insecurity  Deepening Dual Labor Market  Growing Income Inequality Results: Increasing number of women in low wage, temporary, contract and contingent employment, mostly in service industry.

12 Occupational Sex Segregation Positive Changes during  Women engineers (1% to 10%)  Women Physicians (6% to 29.3%)  Women College Professors (19 5% to 43.3%)  Younger, highly educated, white, and full-time female workers benefitted most from positive change.

13 Median Weekly Earnings of Selected Female-dominated and Male-dominated Occupations, 2001 Occupation Female (%)Median Weekly Earnings($) Secretary Child care worker Dental assistant Registered nurse Elementary school teacher Social worker Mail carrier Police officer or detective Engineer10.4 1,142 Truck driver Airplane pilot or navigator 3.0 1,150 Fire fighter Electrician U.S. Department of Labor statistics

14 Why do we care about occupational sex segregation?  It limits women’s employment opportunities.  It reinforces gender stereotypes and sexist ideology of devaluing women’s work.  Female-dominated jobs are less prestigious and pay less than male-dominated jobs.  Women with lower education and minority women are more likely to be in sex-typical jobs.

15 Gender Stereotyping and Discrimination  Narrowing, but persistent Gender Wage Gap  Whites: 75.7%; African Americans: 85.7%; Hispanic Americans: 91.1% (2001)  Gender earning gap for a comparable education level persists.  Motherhood Penalty  A wage penalty of 7% per child  Higher penalty for married women with children than unmarried women with children  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009)

16 Gender, Education, and Income femalemale gender gap (Ventura 2008) Total$33,350$50,67466% Less than high school graduate16,18425,80663% High school graduate25,88139,48566% Some college/associate's degree35,01351,90867% Bachelor's degree41,89774,85556% Graduate/professional degree67,740100,000+68% Median earning past 12 months for population 25 yrs old and over with earnings

17 Welfare Reform and Gender Implication  “Great Risk Shift” (Hacker)  The work-first model does not work for majority of welfare recipients, due to limited education and family needs (child care).  After leaving welfare, most move into low-wage jobs.  The work-first model doesn’t work for immigrant and minority women either.  Marriage is not the solution.  Successful Programs: California Community Colleges and CARE

18 Child Care Dilemma  The Family and Medical Family Leave Act (1993) Men are less likely to leave work More costly for women’s job security and wage  No official government policy mandating paid parental leave  Little government childcare subsidy for low income families  Little support from corporations and businesses -- local best practices?

19 Retirement and Gender Implication  Structural Legacies: lower earnings, fewer job benefits, employment interruptions  Longevity -- women outlive men  Higher poverty rate among elderly women living alone, particularly minority elderly women over 85.  By 2020, most poor elderly will be women.

20 What can we do to make changes? Collective Action Works!  Civil rights movement included welfare rights 1960 – 745,000 families on AFDC 1972 – 3 million families on AFDC*  “Made in L.A.” Garment workers successful boycott of Forever 21 “Made in L.A.”  South Korean female textile workers catalysts for transition to democracy  Living Wage Campaign – CAUSE *Piven and Cloward, “Poor People’s Movements”

21 Education and Empowerment support better policies, such as...  TANF reauthorization 2010 – keep access to postsecondary education for recipients  Paycheck Fairness Act pending in U.S. Senate AND California AB 793 State Lilly Ledbetter Fair Wage Act of 2009  California AB 119 prohibits gender discrimination in individual health insurance and health plan rates  Support development of new poverty measures THANK YOU


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