Entries in "policy"

June 11, 2007

let 2008 be the summer when unpaid FMLA ends

I just came across a post I made a little over a year ago, which I rather grandiosely entitled "let this be the century when sexism ends." Similarly, I hope that next summer, the 15th anniversary of the original Family and Medical Leave Act, will be the summer when we see the act revised so that all working Americans are protected from job loss if they need to take time off because of temporary health issues, or to care for others with health issues. Why are so few Americans protected by this important act? Read this poignant first-person reporting by Margaret Lowry to learn the basics.

In 2004, California implemented a statewide improved version of the FMLA, which provides partially paid leave for the first six weeks of a medical or family leave of absence from work. The California Family Medical Leave Research Project at UCLA has documented some of the benefits of this expansion of protection, although the scholars are troubled at how few workers are aware of their new rights. The report also documents the high number of workers who needed to take a leave before the new CA law went into effect, and were unable to do so, because of the financial consequences of taking even a short unpaid leave.

In December, the Department of Labor issued a request for comments on the FMLA, and received many responses. The National Coalition to Protect Family Leave presents many arguments in favor of strengthening the law. Some businesses argue that the law is already too broadly applied, and ask the government to support limitations on who can be approved for leave -- see this article in the San Antonio Express-News online.

Sherrod Brown serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. I certainly hope that he has some interns at work on analyzing the comments received at the Department of Labor. It would be wonderful to see a well-reasoned revision to the original 1993 FMLA act introduced in congress in the coming months. Perhaps before its 15th birthday arrives, the act could be given the gift of meaningful power to help all workers who need to take leave for serious health issues or to care for others dealing with serious health issues.

April 11, 2007

reviewing the reasons for the pay gap

Another book author is out promoting her latest conservative title, by publishing misinformed opinions about the reasons for the pay gap between men and women in the Washington Post. (If you have missed this, there's a good review of the recent events here, including links.)

I refuse to post to the original op-ed by said conservative book author, because, as I said above, she is misinformed. Basically, she argues that the pay gap can be explained by women's choices of more flexible work, but Elaine McCrate published a study in 2005 documenting that men have more access to flexible work schedules than women.

Here are some useful links to research explaining reasons for the gender pay gap:

And how do we solve the problem of the pay gap? Martha Burk reviews the slow movement of the Fair Pay Act.

March 26, 2007

"wasting time" at the office

As an update on my entry from early last Friday morning, here's a link to the WCPN podcast of last Friday morning's 90.3 at 9 show during which I was one of the guests to speak on the topic of "wasting time at the office".

My "maiden" experience on the radio waves as a guest was quite enjoyable, particularly because I had the pleasure of meeting the Friday host, Regina Brett. The show's producer, Paul Cox, and assistant producter, Marie Andrusewicz, both helped me to settle in at the studio. I even learned how to use a "cough" button!

Here are some background links to information I mentioned during the segment:


The piece on wasting time at the office is in the second half of the podcast, and the first half is also worth listening to, with guests commenting on population loss in Cuyahoga county and how we can take action to counteract the current trends. One of the guests recommends this report, The Vital Center, from the Brookings Institute. The guest who was in the studio with Regina Brett and myself, Mark Rosentraub, has a number of worthwhile pieces published on the topic of urban and regional renewal, also worth reading:

March 22, 2007

Handbook on Women in Business and Management

I just received a copy, hot off the presses, of the book that Diana Bilimoria graciously invited me to co-edit with her two years ago. It is even listed on Amazon! With a wonderful jacket quote on the back from Jean Bartunek, a former president of the Academy of Management and one of the scholars whom I most admire in my field. I'm floating around on air...

Book Description
`This very impressive Handbook takes established research topics about women in management and treats them in fresh and novel ways. The chapters are intellectually interesting, sound, and provocative, and meet the editors' aspiration to stimulate high quality research on women's experiences in work organizations. I recommend it highly.'
- Jean M. Bartunek, Boston College, US

This comprehensive Handbook presents specially commissioned original essays on the societal roles and contexts facing women in business and management, the specific career and work-life issues of women in these fields, organizational processes affecting women, and the role of women as leaders in business and management. The essays shed light on the extant structures and practices of society and organizations that constrain or facilitate women's representation, treatment, quality of life, and success.

Despite decades of ongoing inquiry and increasing interest, research on women in business and management remains a specialized field without mainstream acceptance within business and management disciplines. The Handbook presents the current state of knowledge about women in business and management and specifies the directions for future research likely to be most constructive for advancing the representation, treatment, quality of life, and success of women who work in these fields. It provides the foundations for improved societal and organizational structures, policies, and relational practices affecting all in business and management. Thus, by enhancing the knowledge base that improves the work and life situations of women, it suggests ways to elevate the societal and organizational systems for all.

The Handbook will be an essential reference source for recent advances in research and theory, informing both scholars of organization studies, gender, diversity, and feminism; human resource specialists; and educators of and consultants to business organizations and management.

Contributors include: N.J. Adler, J. Beatty, D. Bilimoria, K. Bourne, R.J. Burke, M. Calas, C.L. Cooper, M.J. Davisdon, L.M. Dunn-Jensen, A.H. Eagly, C. Gattrell, L. Godwin, L.M. Graves, D.T. Hall, M.M. Hopkins, M.C. Johannesen-Schmidt, A.M. Konrad, M. Las Heras, D.A. O'Neil, S.K. Piderit, G.N. Powell, L.K. Stroh, V. Singh, L. Smircich, S. Terjesen, S. Vinnicombe, H.M. Woolnough, D.D. Zelechowski

I'm also having my first experience with the business of book publishing. I'm wondering who will ever purchase copies, given the astronomical price! (I'll be putting in an order in about 2 weeks for a big batch with my 50% editorial discount, so please let me know if you'd like me to reserve a copy for you.)

March 19, 2007

changing family dynamics? demand for flexible work increasing?

I commented last month on the push for workplace flexibility among fathers, and whether it is actually occurring or not. This morning, I found an entire issue addressing motherload, the overload that mothers face, in the American Prospect. (This is not a magazine that I normally read -- does anyone know something about it?)

The issue includes articles by Scott Coltrane (What about fathers?) and by Linda Hershman, What a Load, who indicts our nation's lack of progress in gender equity, and lays the blame firmly at the feet of fathers, who she says are getting a free pass.

Continue reading "changing family dynamics? demand for flexible work increasing?"

February 27, 2007

workplace flexibility for dads

Brian Reid, also known as RebelDad, wrote about an interesting question recently. Are there daddy wars coming in the suburbs, and have the mommy wars (stay-at-home vs. employed mothers) been resolved, or at least declared a truce?

One of the most challenging research questions right now in the arena of workplace flexibility is why there is such a big gap between organizational policies which permit flexibility, and the percentage of employees who take advantage of such policies. For instance, paternity leave. Very few men take it, even though there are several different options other than a six- or eight-week leave, typically unpaid, just after a baby is born.

I wonder what dads really say to each other about balancing work, family, and personal interests. Do they discuss it with each other, the way stay-at-home moms do at playgroups (wishing they had time to join a book club or get exercise more regularly) and the way that employed moms do at lunches (wishing they didn't have to rush home to relieve the nanny or make dinner, or that they could take a vacation without kids)?

September 03, 2006

employers vs. women, or employers supporting working families?

Equal rights for women have come a long way in the United States, since the Declaration of Independence over 240 years ago. Even in the 86 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment to the constitution, inequities between men and women have narrowed. No longer are women expected to quit their jobs when they marry, or when they become pregnant. Between 1960 and 1999, the percentage of of working mothers with infants had risen from 27 percent to almost 60 percent. And yet, huge inequities between mothers and other workers, and among women of different backgrounds still exist.

In an effort to draw attention to such inequities, last year WorldWIT initiated the Breastfeeding at Work Week, which highlights actions employers can take to level the playing field for mothers and others in the workforce, and encourage new mothers to continue breastfeeding their infants after they return to work. Since I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding, and for supporting working women in equitable ways, I am writing this blog entry as my first effort to honor Breastfeeding at Work Week for 2006.

Perhaps you have read about some of the challenges that mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding face, when they return to work. Recently, Jodi Kantor wrote in the New York Times about the differences between new mothers in white collar and working class jobs in terms of their access to support for pumping breastmilk at work. Kantor noted that "federal law offers no protection to mothers who express milk on the job", despite the efforts of Congressional Representative Carolyn Maloney, who has repeatedly introduced legislation which would create such a protection.

Why wouldn't Congress want to protect a woman's health after childbirth, and specify that new mothers who return to the workplace must be protected from harrassment? Read on for some historical background, and some predictions for the future.

Continue reading "employers vs. women, or employers supporting working families?"

August 09, 2006

I'll be heading to Atlanta soon for the Academy of Management

I’ll be facilitating a roundtable in the ODC doctoral consortium on Saturday, and participating in the ODC board meeting on Sunday afternoon.

On Monday, I’ll be giving a presentation with my colleague Latha Poonamallee as part of this symposium:

Program Session #: 676 | Submission: 12162 | Sponsor(s): (GDO, CAR)
Scheduled: Monday, Aug 14 2006 12:20PM – 2:10PM at Hyatt Regency Atlanta in Inman

She’s Having a Baby!?: The Transition to Motherhood and Working Women’s Identity and Careers

Chair: Judith A. Clair; Boston College
Chair: Danna Greenberg; Babson College
Discussant: Laura Morgan Roberts; Harvard U.

In this symposium, we explore how women make decisions about, move through, and negotiate identity and career as they consider getting pregnant, and progress through their pregnancy and childbirth at work. While as scholars we theorize about the implications of having children for women’s careers, we less commonly discuss or study this “middle period” when women move from “working woman” to “working mother.” We view this period as consequential for women in that it sets the course for the future relationship women have with their careers and organizations. In addition, we find the identity and career issues as women make decisions about and move through pregnancy (and their bodies literally “blossom” before their own and co-workers’ eyes) to be rich with possibility for theory building. In addition to building scholarly knowledge, further insight into this period of working mothers’ lives holds practical implications for women and policy makers as women’s decisions and experiences have implications for their work identities and careers. Our goal during this symposium is to spark interest among scholars to further explore the dynamics of pregnancy decision making and the movement through pregnancy and childbirth in the workplace and its implications for working women.

Better Later than Earlier? Age at First Birth and its Impact on Perceived Career Success
Author: Jamie J. Ladge; Boston College
Author: Monique Valcour; Boston College

Private to Public: Emerging Images and Identities for Pregnant Women in the Workplace
Author: Danna Greenberg; Babson College
Author: Judith A. Clair; Boston College

Nurturing Identity, Professional Identity: Breastfeeding and the Return to Paid Employment
Author: Sandy Kristin Piderit; Case Western Reserve U.
Author: Latha Poonamallee; Case Western Reserve U.

and on Tuesday my colleagues will present a paper on which I am a co-author, as part of this symposium:

Program Session #: 992 | Submission: 14998 | Sponsor(s): (GDO, CAR)
Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 15 2006 8:30AM – 10:10AM at Hyatt Regency Atlanta in Cairo

Women Above the Glass Ceiling: Collusion, Voice and Exit

Chair: Susan Mary Vinnicombe; Cranfield U.; [E-Mail This Contact]

Hewlett and Luce’s (2005) recent study suggests that women are leaving the corporate world (off-ramping is the term they use) in greater numbers than men. An alarming finding from their study is that when these women want to get back into the corporate world (on-ramp), zero per cent of those who were previously in the business sector want to return to their former employers. Such a finding indicates that the women were not happy with their experiences in their organisations. The kaleidoscope career model (Mainiero & Sullivan, 2005) suggests that women face three career issues (authenticity, balance and challenge) that they then shift for a best fit at different career stages and thereby create different patterns, much like the kaleidoscope does. In mid career women are coping with family/relational demands and hence issues of balance move into the forefront. They continue to seek challenge and authenticity, but those issues make way for the need to achieve balance. In late career, women have resolved the balance issues to a large extent and the questions of authenticity take center. They continue to wish for challenge and want balance, but authenticity moves to the forefront. Researchers seem to agree that the mid life stage involves a re-evaluation and rebalancing of both personal and professional aspects of a person’s life. However, there are very few studies that have attempted to understand the nature and components of this rebalancing act.

Women Above the Glass Ceiling: Collusion, Voice and Exit
Author: Susan Mary Vinnicombe; Cranfield U.
Author: Halla Tómasdóttir; Cranfield U.

Turning a Blind Eye: Executive Women Conforming to the Gendered Organization
Author: Nurete Leor Brenner; Case Western Reserve U.
Author: Lindsey Godwin; Case Western Reserve U.
Author: Diana Bilimoria; Case Western Reserve U.
Author: Deborah A. O’Neil; Case Western Reserve U.
Author: Sandy Kristin Piderit; Case Western Reserve U.

Women Above the Glass Ceiling: Exit
Author: Deirdre Anderson; Cranfield U.
Author: Val Singh; Cranfield U.
Author: Susan Mary Vinnicombe; Cranfield U.

Women Above the Glass Ceiling: Voice Through Women’s Corporate Networks
Author: Val Singh; Cranfield U.
Author: Susan Mary Vinnicombe; Cranfield U.
Author: Savita Kumra; Oxford Brookes U.

If anyone would like to see a copy of either presentation, please comment here, or send me an email.

April 21, 2006

responsible capitalism: employee-owned companies, and how they support one another

Did you know that Ohio is home to a Center for Employee Owned Corporations? Are you planning to attend their conference today in Akron?

Companies with ESOPs suggest a more socially responsible variant of capitalism, where the interests of the stockholders and of the employees need not be divergent. When employees have a stake in the corporation, the long-term interests of investing in a particular region can be taken more seriously when members are elected to the board of directors, and when decisions about relocating facilities or changing working conditions for employees are considered.

Want to learn more?

Continue reading "responsible capitalism: employee-owned companies, and how they support one another"

April 04, 2006

campus event 4/11: regional coalitions as a way to address inequalities

Did anyone get to attend this? I couldn't (a last-minute conflict arose) but I would love to read a blog entry by someone who did... or even just hear an informal update!

Margaret Weir, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Sociology, University of California at Berkeley
will present an NSF-ADVANCE Distinguished Lecture on

Challenging Metropolitan Inequalities: Coalition Building for Inclusive Growth

April 11, 2006, Clark Hall 309 - 4:00-5:30 pm

Many discussions of how to address the Cleveland area's economic and social challenges include proposals for some sort of "regionalization." Yet the obstacles to any shared efforts across government boundaries remain substantial. Join us for a talk and conversation about the prospects for policies that seek growth with equity for Cleveland and other metropolitan regions.

Professor Margaret Weir received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 1986. Her research and teaching fields include political sociology, American political development, urban politics and policy, and comparative studies of the welfare state. She has written extensively on issues of regional coalition-building, metropolitan government, and the political and economic isolation of central cities. Professor Weir is also coauthor, with Benjamin Ginsberg and Theodore J. Lowi, of We the People (5th ed.), a major textbook on American government.

One of her recent chapters on coalitiion building and regionalism is available online here (essay 5).

Sponsored by ACES and the Office of the President and The Provost, in conjunction with the Department of Political Science.

March 27, 2006

paid parental leave -- could it happen in Ohio?

So, while I was coping with the spring coughing crud at the end of last week (yes, I will call the doctor today), many who write about work-life issues in the blogosphere were commenting on the paid parental leave movement, which has hopped from California to New Jersey. Rebel Dad argues that we should do what we can to get behind this movement, following the lead of the playground revolution chronicled by Miriam Pescowitz.

How can it be healthy for only 20 percent of US families to be able to welcome a new baby to the family without worrying about who will pay the bills? It just can't. We need to level the playing field, so that every new child gets parents who can spend time bonding without fear of the consequences in their paychecks.

This doesn't have to be a really expensive program. The California program costs an average worker only $46 per year, and probably produces tenfold the savings over the following several years, in terms of decreased rates of child abuse, better child and parental health, etc.

The movement is already afoot in two other places: Massachusetts and Washington state. (I won't even mention the much more generous benefits in Canada, Sweden, etc.)

September 21, 2005

the illusory trend to return to traditional women's roles, and what we can do about it

Poor Louise Story. The young Yale graduate who wrote a story for yesterday's New York Times which landed on the front page is getting pummeled throughout the blogosphere (even in the comments), in Slate, and probably, by "many" of her friends. Yes, I pity her, even though I know that the critics speak the truth, because I remember being just out of school and having the sense that the trends among my peer group were newsworthy, without realizing how circumscribed a peer group I had constructed around myself.

I do not remember talking much with my college friends about our plans for marriage and family. I just assumed that I would work and raise a family with my husband. I knew that I needed to stay employable, in case of divorce or an illness that might incapacitate my husband. I had the sense that my mother had not been happy when she was not employed (she returned to the workforce part-time when I was 10 or 11), and I couldn't imagine living a life without a public role of respect. The problem is that parenthood is still not seen as a role of public respect in our society.

Continue reading "the illusory trend to return to traditional women's roles, and what we can do about it"

July 31, 2005

Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United States

What does the US have in common with Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland? No guaranteed paid maternity leave. Read all about it in an Associated Press article by Peter Svensson, reprinted on the front page of the business section in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Perhaps if Ohio wants to address the poverty level of its citizens, particularly in cities like Cleveland, we could follow the example of California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. They require employers to offer short-term disability insurance, which covers six weeks of postpartum income replacement for new mothers. Or maybe not... maybe we are content with the thought that a waitress or a cashier might have given birth three weeks ago, and returned to work as fast as she could in order to ensure that she can pay rent to keep a roof over her new baby's head.

It's probably too much to ask that we follow the example of California, which introduced paid family leave at 50% of workers' income levels last year, funded by a small tax on all employees. And we certainly aren't likely to follow the example of Canada, where the maximum paid leave for new mothers was extended from six months to one year in 2004, up to a maximum of C$413 per week.

No wonder that the modal number of children born to a mother in the US has dropped from 4 in 1976 to 2 in 2000, and the percentage of women without children has grown from 10% to 19%. With 55% of new mothers participating in the workforce within a year after their child's birth, the lack of paid parental leave has a dramatic effect on women in the United States. (See this census report for details.)