Research Making the News

A grim test case on how progressive paid-leave and child care policies failed to close the gender pay gap 

Market Watch | Andrew Keshner | November 17, 2020

The U.S. needs measures like a universally available child care system to help working women – and by extension, the nation – to recover from the pandemic’s economic consequences, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The country also needs other safety net measures like paid sick and family leave.

However, other countries that have more progressive paid leave and child care policies have found that the gender pay gap is more deeply entrenched and harder to address than they may have thought. This is shown through a new study indicating that decades of paid leave policies and child care subsidies within Austria have done little to nudge the needle forward on equal pay for men and women.


Build(ing) the Future: Bold Policies for a Gender-Equitable Recovery by C. Nicole Mason, Andrea Flynn, and Shengwei Sun at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

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Do Family Policies Reduce Gender Inequality? Evidence from 60 Years of Policy Experimentation by Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais, Johanna Posch, Andreas Steinhauer, and Josef Zweimuller at the National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series.

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Heat Waves May Be Bad for Your Pregnancy

The New York Times | Nicholas Bakalar | November 16, 2020

A review of studies shows that heat waves may lead to poor pregnancy outcomes. The analysis included 70 studies in 24 countries, and found that overall, each one-degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in temperature was associated with a 5 percent increase in preterm birth and a 5 percent increase in stillbirth. Heat waves – generally meaning a period of two days or more of abnormally high temperatures – were associated with a 16 percent increased likelihood of preterm birth and a 46 percent increased risk for stillbirth. The effects of high temperature were stronger in the last month of pregnancy and there was no effect of temperature on birth weight.

Citing: Associations between high temperatures in pregnancy and risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirths: systematic review and meta-analysis by Matthew Francis Chersich, Minh Duc Pham, Ashtyn Areal, Marjan Mosalam Haghighi, Ambert Manyuchi, Callum P. Swift, Bianca Wernecke, Matthew Robinson, Robyn Hetem, Melanie Boeckmann, and Shakoor Hajat at The BMJ.

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Abused women unfairly convicted of murder and manslaughter under joint enterprise law, report finds

Yahoo! News | Catherine Baksi | November 15, 2020

Currently, there are at least 109 women and girls in prison who are serving long sentences for joint enterprise crimes, but research by Manchester Metropolitan University suggests they have been wrongly convicted using controversial law on secondary liability. According to the report, almost half of the women disclosed that they were experiencing domestic violence at the time of the offense, and in 87 percent of cases, the perpetrator of the abuse was co-defendant. The study also revealed that the women were often marginal to the event – in no case did any use a deadly weapon, 90 percent engaged at no violence at all, and in half of the cases the women were not even present at the scene. However, they were convicted and punished in the same way, and sometimes more harshly, than the person who committed the offense.

Citing: Stories of Injustice: The criminalization of women convicted under joint enterprise laws by Becky Clarke and Dr. Kathryn Chadwick at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Higher Confidence Is Not The Key To Women’s Career Advancement

Forbes | Julia Wuench | November 12, 2020

A new study shows that contrary to common advice given to women, increased confidence does not increase women’s success at work. The study found that while promotion rates do not differ significantly between men and women in the sample, the characteristics associated with job promotion do. Overall, confidence was linked to higher promotion rates among men, but not women. The study suggests we need to stop telling women to “be more confident at work” as if that alone will reconcile the gender pay gap and women’s underrepresentation in leadership. Rather than putting the onus on women to change, organizations need to be open to the ways that workplace practices exhibit and perpetuate gender bias, and then work to correct those underlying issues.

Citing: Leaning in: Is higher confidence the key to women’s career advancement? By Leonora Risse in the Australian Journal of Labour Economics.

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Despite more women leaders, society thinks men are more suitable in leadership roles, study finds

CBS News | Caitlin O’Kane | November 9, 2020

A new study shows inequality persists in how society views leadership. The study found that despite global movements calling for greater equality, society has not become more progressive in the past year in its attitudes toward women leaders. The research was conducted in the G7 countries as well as India, Kenya, and Nigeria. The Index ranks 23 sectors, such as health care, media and entertainment, and the tech industry, for the extent to which society is comfortable with women in leadership positions as compared to men. The study found that women’s views toward women leaders tended to be more favorable than men. Additionally, in the U.S. 69 percent of respondents said they would be comfortable with a women as CEO, but fewer (62 percent) were comfortable with a woman as head of government.

Citing: The Reykjavik Index for Leadership 2020/2021 by Kantar.

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New Research Reports

Race and the Work of the Future: Advancing Workforce Equity in the United States 

National Fund for Workforce Solutions | Abbie Langston, Justin Scoggins, and Matthew Walsh | November 13, 2020

This new report makes the case that workforce equity must be at the center of building an equitable economy. White workers are about 50 percent more likely than workers of color to hold good jobs, and much less likely to be displaced from their jobs by automation. Median wages are higher for White workers with a high school diploma and no college ($19/hour) than for Black workers with an associate’s degree ($18/hour). Racial inequities in income already cost the U.S. economy about $2.3 trillion per year, and as the workforce approaches a people-of-color majority that toll will only grow in the absence of bold, equity-focused solutions.

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Diversity Beyond Gender: The State of the Nation for Diverse Entrepreneurs 

Extend Ventures | Erika Brodnock | November 8, 2020

This report is the first quantitative state of the nation for entrepreneurs who are diverse by race and educational background as well as gender. The study analyzes data on venture capital investments into companies that were founded and received funding between 2009 and 2019. Companies were subsequently analyzed using machine learning and computer vision to understand the demographic factors including age, perceived gender, ethnicity, and educational background of founding members. Within that time period, 68.33 percent of the capital raised across the venture capital funding stages went to all-male teams, 28.80 percent went to mixed teams, and only 2.87 percent to all-female teams.

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An Evaluation of the Gender Wage Gap Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data

U.S. Census Bureau | Thomas B. Foster, Marta Murray Close, Liana Christin Landivar, and Mark Dewolf | November 2020

Current estimates show that, among full-time, year-round workers, women earn approximately 10 to 20 percent less than men at the median. This study combines survey and administrative data to analyze and improve estimates of the gender wage gap within detailed occupations, while also accounting for gender differences in work experience. The research finds a gender wage gap of 18 percent among full-time, year-round workers across 316 detailed occupational categories. While wages are at parity in some occupations, gaps are as large as 45 percent in others. More competitive and hazardous occupations, occupations that reward longer hours of work, and those that have a larger proportion of women workers have larger gender wage gaps.

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Maternal Telehealth Has Expanded Dramatically During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Equity Concerns and Promising Approaches 

Urban Institute | Ian Hill and Emmy Burroughs | October 28, 2020

This analysis explores what promising maternal care telehealth practices have emerged during the pandemic, what access and equity concerns surrounding maternal health have arisen in light of increased reliance on telehealth, and what lessons can be applied to a post-pandemic future. Findings show that policymakers, providers, and payers can capitalize on the potential of telehealth to promote more equitable maternal health through reimbursing telehealth visits at the same rates as in person care, expanding telehealth benefits to include services critical to the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, and investing in digital products that can facilitate access, all while taking into consideration barriers to access in terms of the digital divide.

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Fewer mothers and fathers in U.S. are working due to COVID-19 downturn; those at work have cut hours

Pew Research Center | Rakesh Kochhar | October 22, 2020

Working parents have faced unique challenges as many schools and child care centers around the country closed their doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. This new Pew Research Center analysis of government data finds that in the first six months of the pandemic, the workplace engagement of mothers and fathers with children younger than 18 at home has been affected about equally. The shares of mothers and fathers working have fallen from 2019 to 2020, but the falloff has been comparable for each group. The shares of mothers who were not in the labor force edged up more than among fathers but, among those at work, fathers appear to have reduced their work hours more than mothers.

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Coming Forward: Key Trends and Data from the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund 

National Women’s Law Center | Jasmine Tucker and Jennifer Mondino | October 15, 2020

This report provides an overview of the demographics and main trends found in the experiences of people seeking legal help from the TIME’S UP Legal Defense fund to address workplace sexual harassment. Between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2020, the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund received 3,317 requests from individuals seeking legal help for situations involving their own experiences of workplace sex harassment. This research shows the need for the systemic changes catalyzed by the #MeToo and TIME’S UP movements and shows there is a great deal of work left to do, especially to stop retaliation, ensure appropriate employer responses, and address the effects of harassment on the mental health and economic well-being of workers.

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