For the first time in US history women are about to become the majority of the nation's paid workers. The recently released Shriver Report: A Women's Nation Changes Everything is a comprehensive study of this milestone. Today, women are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in 63.3% of American families.
"The changes in social policies, such as paid family medical leave, universal childcare, caregiving credits for social security, and pay equity, to deal with the reality of today's employed women are long overdue," said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "We have been working for these changes for several decades. Hopefully, women becoming the majority of the US workforce is the wakeup call needed to make the changes now."
Though women are about to be the majority of US paid workers, women are still discriminated against in wages, benefits, pensions, and social security. Workers still do not have paid family medical leave guaranteed nationwide (although numerous countries do) and very limited public funded child care. In fact, half of all women employees do not have one paid sick day. Moreover, the federal guarantee of unpaid Family Medical Leave only covers 47% of private sector workers.
Despite women's contributions to the paid workforce, the social polices of our government still do not recognize the changed role of women. Ms. magazine is releasing to the public a feature article, "Paycheck Feminism" (see PDF), which proposes the 5 next steps we as a nation must take to change government social policies.
Media Resources: The Shriver Report 10/09; Ms. Magazine 10/19/09; Interview with Eleanor Smeal 10/19/09