Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center



| NWLC Submits Comments to the Department of Labor Re: Survey of Working Women

April 27, 2015

Re: Proposed Information Collection; Collection Request (ICR) for the Survey of Working Women; Comment Request (Document Citation: 80 FR 10516)

Dear Ms. Adams:

We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the proposed information collection published by the Department of Labor (the Department) on the 2015 Survey of Working Women. The National Women’s Law Center (the Center) has worked to advance opportunities for women in employment and been a leader in analysis and advocacy to promote policies that improve the lives of women and their families for over 40 years. The Center’s comments will focus on the value of collecting information on women’s employment decisions and issues at the intersection of work and family obligations.

The Center is pleased to see the Department undertaking additional data collection on women’s current employment challenges and how these issues, particularly women’s family obligations, relate to their job and career decisions. Increasing data collection on these topics is a critical part of understanding how family obligations impact women’s employment decisions and substantially improves the amount and quality of information available to employers, advocates, and other stakeholders. 

Since the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau published the Working Women Count! Survey in 1994, there have been significant changes to both the economy and family life in the United States. These changes, including the Great Recession[i] and subsequent increase in low-wage workers,[ii] and the rise of women as breadwinners,[iii] have affected women’s roles in the family and the workforce. However, there is a dearth of current data regarding women’s employment decisions, leaving policymakers without the information necessary to create the best policies to address the issues facing women in the workforce today.            

Expanding the available data on women’s employment choices—and how these choices might be affected by issues such as the affordability of child care, scheduling practices, sexual harassment, ability to enter non-traditional jobs, availability of paid sick leave, or stagnant or discriminatory wages—is essential for better policy creation. Collecting high-quality data on these and other issues will create a valuable resource for policymakers, employers, advocates, and other stakeholders who are concerned with ensuring that women are able to pursue their desired work and family arrangements.

Additionally important is that the factors affecting employment decisions may vary for different groups of women depending on age, gender identity, race, national origin, education level, marital or parental status, or other reasons. The Center encourages the Department to examine work and family interactions across a range of different groups of women.

The Center supports the Department’s effort to collect data on women and their perceptions about the intersection of work and family. With the relevant data, policymakers can create better policies that protect all women and their families from unfair treatment in the workplace. Lacking this data, employers, researchers, and advocates are without key information for analysis of women’s employment choices. 

The Center appreciates this opportunity to comment.


Fatima Goss Graves
Vice President, Education & Employment

Katherine Gallagher Robbins
Director of Research & Policy Analysis

[i] National Women’s Law Center, Fourth Anniversary of the Recovery Shows Job Gains for Women—But a Long Road to a Full Recovery (July 2013) available at

[ii] National Women’s Law Center, Underpaid & Overloaded: Women in Low-Wage Jobs (July 2014) available at

[iii] Center for American Progress, Breadwinning Mothers, Then and Now (June 2014) available at


Fact Sheet | NWLC Submits Comments to the Department of Labor Re: Proposed Equal Pay Regulations

January 7, 2015

The National Women's Law Center recently submitted comments to the Department of Labor in strong support of the following proposed regulations:

1. Government Contractors - Requirement to Report Summary Data on Employee Compensation

We strongly support the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s (OFCCP) proposal to collect pay data from federal contractors and subcontractors andincorporate it into the agency’s decisions about how to allocate its enforcement resources. The Equal Pay Report will promote the critically important goals of improving enforcement of pay discrimination laws and increasing voluntary employer compliance with those laws. We also wish to make some suggestions for strengthening the proposal to ensure achievement of these goals—by expanding the scope of contractors that must report pay information, ensuring timely and accurate reporting by contractors and subcontractors, and considering relevant information in establishing priorities for enforcement activities. Finally, we share some further thoughts for how OFCCP can promote contractor compliance with pay discrimination prohibitions in its compliance evaluation processes.

2.  Government Contractors - Prohibitions Against Pay Secrecy Policies and Actions

We strongly support the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s (OFCCP) proposed rule implementing Executive Order 13665, which requires that certain federal contractors allow employees and applicants to inquire about, discuss, and disclose compensation information without fear of retribution or penalty. Our comments provide recommendations to ensure its effectiveness. We note that although our comments are primarily focused on how the proposed rule will impact women overall and women of color specifically, the proposed rule is an important step toward narrowing the wage gap for women, workers of color, and all workers.


Fact Sheet | The Wage Gap By State for Women Overall 2014

September 17, 2015

Families depend on women’s wages more than ever, but women working full time, year round are typically paid less than full-time, year-round male workers in every state. Nationally, women working full time, year round typically make only 79 cents for every dollar a man makes and the size of the disparity varies by state. Women fare best in Washington, D.C., where women working full time, year round typically make 89.5 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. New York and Hawaii follow Washington, D.C. with the ratio of women’s to men’s earnings above 85 percent in both states. Women fare worst relative to men in Louisiana, where women’s earnings represented only 65.3 percent of men’s earnings.


Reports & Toolkits | It Shouldn't Be a Heavy Lift: Fair Treatment for Pregnant Workers

June 18, 2013

Almost 35 years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act made it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of her pregnancy, women still face discrimination on the job when they become pregnant. This report details what happens when some workers ask for temporary modifications of their job duties because of pregnancy, such as avoiding heavy lifting, staying off high ladders, or being permitted to sit down during a long shift. 


Reports & Toolkits | 50 Years & Counting: The Unfinished Business of Achieving Fair Pay

June 10, 2013

THE EQUAL PAY ACT is the landmark law passed 50 years ago that requires employers to pay men and women equally for substantially equal work. Yet 50 years later, equal pay is still America’s unfinished business. 


Fact Sheet | How the Paycheck Fairness Act Will Strengthen the Equal Pay Act

May 29, 2015

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work.  Yet today, women earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.  The Paycheck Fairness Act would update and strengthen the EPA by improving rememdies for pay discrimination, prohibiting employer retaliation, and facilitating class action suits in equal pay claims, among other strategies.


More Resources

Coalition Action Materials | Coalition Letter to Chancellor Merkel of Germany to Press Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile to Reform Policies Harmful to Workers

October 08, 2015

Reports & Toolkits | Chartbook: Women's Overrepresentation in Low-Wage Jobs

October 01, 2015

Fact Sheet | The Wage Gap is Stagnant for Nearly a Decade

September 23, 2015

Fact Sheet | FAQ About the Wage Gap

September 23, 2015

Fact Sheet | The Wage Gap Over Time

September 21, 2015