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Women at Work

A Dirty Little Secret About Salary Negotiation

When it comes to salary negotiation, managers ought to check their biases at the door, and make decisions about employees based on merit. But a recent article from TODAY Money notes that women who ask for more money are often negatively perceived by their supervisors as being greedy, demanding, or not nice. Research has documented that women pay a social cost for negotiating pay that men do not experience; one study found that when women negotiated they were considered less desirable by hiring decision-makers, and their colleagues had less desire to work with them. Research also shows that women have greater concerns than men about experiencing backlash for negotiating pay, and that these concerns are very much grounded in reality. This backlash, in itself, is a form of workplace discrimination.

It is crucial that employers put conditions in place that control for the “implicit bias” that women experience in negotiations, reducing the likelihood that women who negotiate will experience and fear discrimination. For example, a recent study found that when job announcements specified that the salary was negotiable women were actually more likely than men to engage in negotiations. This transparency signals to workers that negotiating is acceptable, and unlikely to lead to fallout. Read more »

Fair Treatment for Breastfeeding Moms

As we marked the 35th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, we reflected on how pregnancy is still used as an excuse to push women out of work. It turns out lactating on the job can be just as dangerous for women. Take the case of Bobbi Bockoras. Bobbi works at a glass factory in Pennsylvania. She gave birth earlier this year and informed her employer she would be breastfeeding her child and so needed time to pump during her shift. Instead of providing Bobbi with a safe space to do so, her employer asked why she could not pump in a bathroom, which is prohibited by the federal law in light of health and privacy concerns. When Bobbi told her employer that she had a legal right to pump in a space that is not a bathroom, her employer placed her in a first-aid room, where her co-workers pounded on the door to get in, greased the doorknob to the room, and openly mocked her by insinuating she was a cow.

When Bobbi complained about these incidents, her supervisor instead placed her in an old locker room covered in dead bugs and with exposed electrical wiring and no air conditioning. He also retaliated against her by removing her from the day shift—which allowed her to breastfeed her baby on a regular schedule—to a rotating shift that took a toll on her body and caused her to produce less milk for her newborn. Read more »

California Stands Up for Domestic Workers

California just enacted the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, joining New York and Hawaii as states that care for those who care for the vulnerable. Domestic workers are an important part of today’s work force. These workers – 95 percent of whom are women – care for the household, the children and grandparents, the sick and people with disabilities. In the words of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, they do “the work that makes all other work possible.” And yet, they are often paid very low wages, and work in difficult conditions.

After 7 years of advocacy and two vetoes, California’s domestic workers will finally receive a very important workplace protection: the right to overtime pay. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can be for workers who spend all day taking care of children, the elderly and the infirm. The bill of rights is estimated to cover 200,000 California housekeepers, child-care providers, and caregivers. Read more »

Dear ADAAA, Happy Birthday! Love, Pregnant Workers

Today is a day for pregnant workers to celebrate. Five years ago today, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) became law and restored the promise of the ADA, making the workplace much more accessible for people with disabilities.

But wait, you might be saying, pregnancy is not a disability, so how does this protect pregnant women? Here is why we are celebrating the ADAAA:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communication, and government activities and requires reasonable accommodations in the workplace. The ADAAA, signed into law on September 25, 2008, expanded the universe of disabilities that employers are required to reasonably accommodate—meaning, an employer must make an adjustment in the employee’s daily work that helps a person do his or her job. Read more »

“We Can Do It!” – With A Little Help from the EEOC

For years, I’ve been enamored of the image of “Rosie the Riveter” – maybe it’s that we’re both redheads, but more likely it’s because she symbolize the breaking down of gender barriers, and new access for women to traditionally-male, higher-paying jobs.

That process of breaking down gender barriers is still very much in progress. Last week, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Vamco Sheet Metals, Inc., a company that manufactures and installs sheet metal in New York. The lawsuit alleges that all of the women working on Vamco’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice construction project were fired for “pretextual reasons” – in other words, for fabricated or trumped-up charges designed to hide discriminatory sexist motive. And while Vamco has finished its work on this particular project, the EEOC is hoping to protect women who want to work on Vamco’s construction sites in the future with an injunction. Read more »

10 Reasons to Get Back to Work After Labor Day

We all know it can be hard to come back to work after a long weekend. For those of you fighting for women’s equality, here are 10 reasons to roll up your sleeves on the Tuesday after Labor Day: Read more »

Pay Negotiation and the Gender Wage Gap: For CEOs and for All of Us

A new report came out from Bloomberg last week on the topic of negotiation and the gender pay gap. It caught my eye for two reasons: (1) last year I was part of a team that worked on this issue under the direction of gender and negotiation powerhouse, Dr. Linda Babcock (check out “Women Don’t Ask” for a great introduction to the topic), and, (2), shortly afterward, I failed at negotiating my own salary in real life. Less than a month after I spent my entire “Spring Break 2012” holed up in a coffee shop working on our project focused on, once again, the VERY issue of encouraging more women to negotiate, I accepted a summer position at the offered wage without missing a beat. Why didn’t I negotiate? Two main reasons are commonly identified for women not negotiating, the first is that they aren’t aware it’s an option, and the second is that they’re concerned about negatively perceived for doing so. For me it was the latter and I had good reason – a 2006 study found that when women initiate negotiations, both men and women are less likely to want to hire them. Read more »

ICYMI: On Fast Food Wages, the Daily Show Nailed It

I’m recently back from my summer vacation, and one of my favorite ways to catch up on the news is to watch the Daily Show episodes that have lined up on my Tivo.

Why Are Men More Likely to be Given Flexible Work Schedules?

As a young woman looking for a career after college, I know that the playing field is still far from level for women in the workplace. We’re subject to a stubborn wage gap between men and women doing equivalent jobs; persistent occupational segregation of women into low-paying jobs; an inadequate federal minimum and tipped minimum wage, which is hardest on women since we make up two-thirds of those paid the minimum wage or less; and sexual harassment. And this week I learned another troubling statistic: managers are more likely to grant higher-status male employees’ requests for flexible work schedules than they are to grant requests from equivalent female employees. Read more »

I Agree with Leader Pelosi: When Women Succeed, America Succeeds

This week marks the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention in U.S. history. The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton for the convention asserted that “all men and women are created equal” and called for legal and societal reforms reflecting that equal status, including “securing to woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions, and commerce” and – more radical still – granting women the right to vote.

This afternoon on Capitol Hill, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and several other House Democrats – women and men – gathered with women’s rights advocates of today to recognize the immense progress that women have made since 1848 – as well as the work yet to be done to ensure that women have equal opportunity to support themselves and their families. To address the challenges facing women in the 21st century, they unveiled an important new initiative, “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families.”

Leader Pelosi with other Members of Congress and Women's Rights Advocates on the Hill

As Leader Pelosi observed in her remarks, women now make up close to half of the U.S. workforce, and more families rely on women’s income than ever before. At the same time, women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers, and the typical woman working full time, year round is paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. Workplace policies that fail to accommodate the needs of working parents and inadequate access to high-quality, affordable child care compound economic challenges for many women. Throughout their lives, women are more likely than men to experience poverty. Read more »