Employment of Women: Survey of Current Issues & Federal Initiatives — Introduction

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Employment of Women: Survey of Issues & Initiatives

By Beth Hanson, with George Lenard
Stressed working woman glancing at clock showing almost 5 PM

Our recent series on making sense of unemployment rate news addressed the demographic disparities in unemployment rates, including how women have fared during the current economic difficulties.

Women have suffered lower levels of unemployment throughout the recession and recovery than men, are less likely than men to be long-term unemployed, and had a median duration of unemployment about two weeks shorter than men’s in 2010. However, women continue to experience employment disadvantages relative to men, mainly in areas such as pay disparities and disproportionately low representation in upper level jobs.

We now kick off a series on key issues concerning women in the workplace.

Labor Department Report Highlights Issues Impacting Employment of Women

A recent Department of Labor report, Women’s Employment During the Recovery, examines the issues women currently face in employment.

Issues highlighted include that women’s average earnings continue to lag behind men’s, and that women are more involved in part time and public sector employment and less involved in self-employment. Specifically:

  • The median weekly wage of women is just 81.2% of the men’s median.
  • Women are nearly twice as likely as men to work part time (in 2010, 26.6% of women worked part time compared to just 13.4% of men, with one in five women doing so because they couldn’t find full-time work).
  • Women are nearly 50% more likely to work in the public sector than men.
  • Only 5.5% of women are self-employed, compared to 8.3% of men, but women-owned businesses are growing rapidly, with a growth rate of 20.1% between 2002 and 2007, compared to 5.5% for men-owned firms.

The Women’s Bureau: Created to Assist Women in the Workplace

The Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor is a government agency created to monitor and remedy barriers to full integration of women into the workforce.

The Women’s Bureau was created in 1920 to assist women in the workplace. Its mission statement reads:

Women in the workforce are vital to the nation’s economic security. The Women’s Bureau develops policies and standards and conducts inquiries to safeguard the interests of working women; to advocate for their equality and economic security for themselves and their families; and to promote quality work environments.

Current priorities of the Women’s Bureau include:

  1. Equal Pay
  2. Workplace Flexibility
  3. Higher Paying Jobs for Women
  4. Employment of Homeless Women Veterans

The subsequent posts in this series discuss each of these Women’s Bureau priority issues.

Series NavigationEmployment of Women: Survey of Issues & Initiatives — Equal Pay

Leave a Reply