Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Womenstake, NWLC's Blog

New NWLC and LDF Report: African American Teen Mothers Need Support, Not Shaming

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: September 29, 2014 at 09:35 am

During my second year of law school, I taught civics and civil rights in an alternative high school in D.C.—that is, a school for students who preferred or were pushed into a nontraditional setting. Almost all my students were Black, and many of them were either pregnant or already parents. In addition to trying to graduate, they had to deal with many other responsibilities most teenagers don’t even think about: scheduling doctor’s appointments; arranging and paying for childcare; finding affordable housing; holding steady employment to support themselves and their kids. The last thing they needed was grief for being a young parent.

Yet that’s what many African American teen mothers encounter from their peers, teachers, and administrators, according to Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity, a new report from the National Women’s Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Read more... 2 comments

Walmart Managers Must Respect the Rights of Associates

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: September 26, 2014 at 04:11 pm

More than six months after Walmart changed its pregnancy accommodation policy, the experience of workers on the ground is that pregnant women are still not being accommodated. Thankfully, workers are organizing to ensure that Walmart implements its  pregnancy accommodation policy in the way it promised.

Last week, I attended a meeting of Respect the Bump, a group that formed when Our Walmart members began discussing online the troubles they had working at Walmart during their pregnancies. After comparing stories, these women found that, across the country, pregnant Walmart workers faced similar challenges: Instead of providing even minor accommodations to those pregnant women that needed them, Walmart routinely forced them onto unpaid leave or fired them.  This is despite the fact that Walmart routinely accommodated workers with a broad array of disabilities and workers with on-the-job injuries. This disparate treatment violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Read more... 2 comments

If Shonda Rhimes Says It’s Important, It’s Important

Posted by Gail Zuagar, Outreach Associate | Posted on: September 26, 2014 at 04:01 pm

ABC’s Scandal is at the top of my DVR list—literally. This means that, come Thursdays at (its new time) 9 pm, nothing in this world (with the exception of a power outage) can get between me and my Scandal.

Can you tell that I, like all the other Gladiators out there, really love the show?

Something exciting always happens during Scandal, but what happened while watching Thursday’s season four premiere was even more exciting than usual. Shonda Rhimes and her writing team addressed two very important issues that are National Women’s Law Center priorities—equal pay for women and sexual assault. (You may have seen some of our resources and work on Title IX and sexual assault on college campuses, for example.)

Read more... 1 comment

Scheduling Protections Under State and Local Law

Posted by Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women | Posted on: September 26, 2014 at 11:40 am

Today, the national women's Law Center released a fact sheet providing information about innovative state and local laws to protect workers from abusive scheduling practices. These existing state and local laws provide a useful model for other states and localities to consider. The fact sheet describes right to request, split shift, and reporting time pay laws in effect in the United States.

Read more... 1 comment

How The Hunger Games Reminds Us that We Need to Center Black Girls

Posted by Amy Tannenbaum, Program Assistant | Posted on: September 26, 2014 at 10:48 am

I am an avid fan of dystopia, especially of the young adult variety — from the Divergent trilogy to The Maze Runner to more obscure picks like Orleans and The Summer Prince, I devour it faster than it can come out.

Read more... 1 comment

Shining Light on the Discriminatory School Discipline Practices Hurting African American Girls

Posted by Amelia Bell, Intern | Posted on: September 25, 2014 at 02:45 pm

Did you know that during the 2011-12 school year, 12 percent [PDF] of all African American girls were suspended from school? That is a higher rate than any other group of girls, surpassed only by African American boys (20%) and American Indian/Alaska Native boys (13%). Did you know that during the 2006-07 school year, an average of 18 percent [PDF] of African American middle school girls were suspended, a rate surpassed only by African American boys?

These are just a couple of the data points discussed in a report released this week — although in the works for years now — by the National Women's Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. The report, Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity, shines a rare spotlight on data showing the educational disparities between African American girls and other girls, the economic consequences of those disparities, the barriers that get in the way of their success, and interventions that could make a difference.

Read more... 2 comments

African American Girls and STEM: Schools Can Do Better

Posted by Lauren Frohlich, Fellow | Posted on: September 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

These days, people talk a lot about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Promoting participation in STEM fields has been a priority of President Obama's for a while now. There’s concern that the United States is falling behind in STEM relative to our international peers. Campaigns to increase the involvement in STEM fields of women and people of color are propelled by reports like the recent one revealing the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. But what people don't talk about as much is what happens when the factors of race and gender are combined, and how we can get more African American girls into STEM fields.

STEM fields are widely thought of as the key to future success, from a national and individual perspective. Companies need workers trained in STEM to fill thousands of vacant technical jobs as part of what has been called the “skills gap,” and these jobs tend to pay well [PDF]. To make individuals more competitive in the job market and the United States more competitive on the world stage, we need to begin with a focus on STEM education. A new report from NWLC and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund examines the challenges African American girls face in education, including the lack of adequate STEM resources in schools that African American girls are far more likely than white girls to attend, as well as stereotypes that dissuade girls from pursuing STEM.

Read more... 3 comments

A Call to Action to Support African American Girls

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: September 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

The headlines are sometimes shocking: A 7 year old African American girl sent home from her charter school and told by school officials that her hairstyle was not "presentable" and violated the dress code, which termed "dreadlocks" and "afros" to be "faddish" and "unacceptable." A 16-year-old African American female student in Richmond, CA, brutally raped and assaulted in the campus courtyard during her school's homecoming dance. An African American student parent, who took a full load of Advanced Placement courses her senior year and finished at the top of her class, forced to share her "valedictorian" title because she was deemed "a big mess" by the principal. These are the types of stories that make my heart hurt — for those girls and for their families, but also for the many girls whose stories are never told. And these are the types of stories that drove the National Women's Law Center to partner with the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund on a report that fills an important gap in existing data on educational opportunity for African American girls.

Today we released Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity. Unlocking Opportunity shines a light on the prevalence of race and gender stereotypes and other barriers that adversely impact the educational experiences of African American girls. And it highlights critical data about the education and economic outcomes that result.

We wrote this report to examine the many hurdles faced by African American girls and boys — such as the under-resourcing of schools — and to emphasize those that have a distinct impact on African American girls due to the intersection of gender and race stereotypes, such as disproportionate and overly harsh disciplinary practices that exclude them from school for minor and subjective infractions such as dress code violations (yes, some schools really make students miss out on learning time for subjective dress code and hair "infractions"); pervasive sexual harassment and violence; discrimination against pregnant and parenting students; and limited access to athletics and other extracurricular activities.

Read more... 1 comment