Ask a Working Woman Survey 2008

Ask a Working Woman Survey 2008
Survey Results are published in the major media, and brings a dialogue of concerns of working women. The deadline to participate in the survey was June 20th. The results are here: Find out what real working women want! 
Around the Web:

Take It—The 2008 Ask a Working Woman Survey

By: Tula Connell Thursday May 15, 2008 10:32 am



A woman who spends years in medical school emerges to take her place alongside a panoply of male physicians—who, on average, make 38 percent more than she does. Female attorneys fare better—they make 30 percent less than their male counterparts. But it’s not just a matter of higher pay for men in traditionally male occupations: Male registered nurses are paid 10 percent more than women—even though 90 percent of RNs are women.

This data, from a report by the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, touches on just one of the many “challenges,” to utilize a euphemism, U.S. working women face today.

Working women have lots of concerns. Equal pay. Balancing work and family. Job security. Health care coverage. Paid maternity leave.

The AFL-CIO and our community affiliate, Working America, are providing a chance to share those concerns through our just-launched online 2008 Ask a Working Woman survey [pdf]. The bi-annual survey enables working women to share workplace concerns about such issues as equal pay and stronger family and medical leave laws. (Click here to take the survey and here to share it with other working women.) The Ask a Working Woman survey runs through June 20.

We’ll compile the survey results and give them to candidates running at all levels of public office to help shape the policy agendas of incoming lawmakers.

More than 22,000 women took part in the 2006 Ask a Working Woman survey—with the majority saying they were worried about such fundamental economic issues as paying for health care, not having retirement security and pay not keeping up with the cost of living.

And that was when the economy wasn’t in the sewer. Today, 87 percent of Americans say the economy is getting worse, matching the year’s high. But women are at greater economic risk today than in past recessions, according to a new study. In the past year, women’s real wages fell by 3 percent, compared with half a percentage point for men’s wages.

Other findings include:

  • Women also are disproportionately at risk in the current foreclosure crisis, since women are 32 percent more likely than men to have subprime mortgages.
  • Women have significantly fewer savings to fall back on in a time of economic hardship. Non-married women have a net worth that’s 48 percent lower than non-married men, and women are less likely than men to participate in employer-sponsored retirement savings programs.

And as working moms know all too well, the United States doesn’t make it easy for mothers to raise children. In a selection of 19 countries with comparable per capita income, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found the United States provides the fewest maternity leave benefits in both length of leave and paid time off. That doesn’t include any disability insurance for which mom may qualify.

The U.S. federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which has been the law for 15 years, gives eligible parents 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new child. Aside from being unpaid, the leave is limited to workplaces of more than 50 employees, which excludes about 48 million workers. About two-thirds of the women who responded to the 2006 AFL-CIO Ask a Working Woman survey said they don’t have paid family leave benefits.

Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, told a congressional committee last month there are millions of workers eligible to use FMLA but don’t because they can’t afford to take unpaid time off, especially low-wage workers.

Said Ness: Without some form of wage replacement, the FMLA’s promise of job-protected leave is a chimera for too many women and men. In fact, 78 percent of employees who qualified for FMLA leave and needed to take the leave did not because they could not afford to go without a paycheck.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ask A Working Woman Survey 2008: do it!

when i was in college i turned up my nose at Woolf’s A Room of Their Own. i thought it was classist, elitist and bourgeois.ah, youth. now i reread it and, yes, it’s still so very British Public School, but the main point of Woolf’s essay is still important: women require economic autonomy and fiscal stability to have the lives they want (and need) in order to support themselves, as well as those who depend on them.

when poverty strikes (and, these days, it’s striking more and more often) women are particularly vulnerable. as the traditional caretakers within communities, we juggle children, jobs, healthcare, and education needs; poverty makes it more difficult to shoulder those responsibilities. poor women, in essence, need to be superhuman just to make a few frayed ends meet. but this isn’t a situation that just affects poor women, or women making below $15k/year. this is now a reality for middle class women. wages are flat, industries are shrinking and working mothers and women still aren’t being paid what men in our same positions are making. basically, if you’re a woman, economic instability is a very real possibility.

in this primary season, the conversation around economic issues has been presented as a white, male, middle class issue – or a white, male, blue collar issue.

where are women in this issue? what are our economic concerns? what are our needs? what are our burdens?

well, now you have a chance to share what those concerns are.

the AFL-CIO and Working America has launched the 2008 Ask a Working Woman Survey; they are looking for women to take this survey. you can check it out on the ALF-CIO news blog here or take the survey directly here.

i think survey results will be available next month so go do it!

Posted by ding at 12:35 PM 

From 2006 & 2007:

Survey: working women most worried about economic issues

Basic economic issues top the list of what working women are worried about.
The rising cost of healthcare, pay not keeping up with the cost of living and not having retirement benefits are issues of high concern to about 23,500 working women who participated in an online survey released Monday by the AFL–CIO, a federation of unions.
Working women also are concerned about the next generation of workers. More than eight in 10 younger workers — women under 30 years — said they were more worried and concerned than confident about the future of young people going into the workforce.
”Working women are worried that the younger generation won’t get jobs that can pay the bills or have basic benefits. Their prospects are considered dim,” said Karen Nussbaum, executive director of Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL–CIO for workers who don’t have unions on the job.
Nussbaum said the survey results that most surprised her were those addressing equality in the workplace. Working women still feel the workplace is a ”man’s world” and indicate they are treated as ”second class” on the job. More than half (57 percent) feel they do not receive equal pay for equal work.
At the same time, pay is what drives most women to work, the survey shows.
Despite recent publicity on women ”opting out” of the workforce, women who participated in the survey said they work to pay bills and provide health care for their families. Even those who wanted to exit the paid labor force because of family responsibilities said they were prohibited because of the rising costs of living and health care. Only a minority of women have access to paid family medical leave or control over their work hours.
The survey also shows working women support legislation that addresses their concerns. About 65 percent said that making healthcare affordable was one of two priorities that would most improve their lives as working women. Their second priority was making retirement more secure.
African American women in particular selected strengthening laws that challenge discrimination and unfair treatment and strengthening equal-pay laws as one of their top two legislative priorities.
Just last week and American Bar Association report revealed 81 percent of minority women quit private law firms within five years because they get shunted into dead-end jobs and aren’t welcomed the same way as other new employees.
The study urged firms to enforce existing anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and do more to integrate minority women into firms’ professional and social fabric.
In the wake of the AFL-CIO survey, Nussbaum said she urges women to support an increase in minimum wage and push for universal health care and pay equity.
From on Mon, Sep. 04, 2006:
Working women still contend with workplace inequities
By Linda Chavez-Thompson and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins
This Labor Day, working women are worried. And they should be. Although recent studies of women and work have suggested the dawn of an “opt out” revolution, the idea that women are choosing to leave the workforce in droves doesn’t hold up under inspection. A handful of more affluent women may choose to “opt out,” but the vast majority of women work.
They have to.
In a recent AFL-CIO survey of more than 25,000 women, 74 percent said they earn at least half of their household income — and a whopping 38 percent of women say they make nearly all of it. For these households, and for these women, “opting out” is simply not an option.
Women cannot afford not to work. At the same time, women can barely afford to work.
Squeezed between low wages and the high costs of gas and child care, women struggle to make ends meet. And on the job, they face the triple threat of low wages, unaffordable benefits and conditions that are toxic to families.
More than 40 years after passage of the Equal Pay Act, women continue to earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Equal pay is a problem across age, race and occupation. For example, a female health technician earns just 76 percent of what her male counterpart does. A female sales associate earns 33.2 percent less than a comparable man, in the same position, according to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To put the gap in perspective: The average 25-year-old woman, throughout the course of her working life, will lose about $455,000 to unequal pay. That’s close to half a million dollars lost to discrimination. Women deserve better.
If single working mothers earned as much as men in comparable jobs, their family incomes would increase by nearly 17 percent. In turn, the raise would cut single working mothers’ poverty rates in half.
Compounding the effects of low pay, women cannot afford basic benefits. Nationally, more than 45 million Americans do not have health insurance. In California alone, 6.7 million people are without coverage. The United States spends more on health care, per capita, than any other advanced industrial nation, yet we have the largest uninsured population, according to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute.
Finally, women face work conditions that stress the fabric of families. One-third of women who responded to the AFL-CIO survey work evenings, nights and weekends. Two-fifths of women work shifts different from those of partners or spouses. For African-American women, this portion jumps to half. Tell that to the experts who have found that family dinners lead to more well-balanced children and teens.
As women are working increasingly irregular hours, some are also simply working more. Twenty percent of the women who responded to the survey said they work more than one job.
If the reality of work for women in America sounds destructive, it’s because it is. But their struggle merely mirrors that of all workers.
Working people see their living standards threatened. They face the real possibility that their children may not be better off than they are. All too often, big business has cut and run on its responsibilities and our government is letting it happen.
But even within an increasingly hostile environment, workers are finding ways to reach out, connect and push back.
On average, union workers earn 28 percent more than non-union workers, and unions make an even bigger difference in the pay of women and minorities. Women who have a union earn, on average, 31 percent more than non-union workers. Union members are also much more likely to have access to affordable health care and protection from discrimination and other unfair treatment.
Women and working families are finding strength in numbers. One woman without health care is not a national emergency. Millions lacking health care is.
This November, women are ready to make their voices heard at the ballot box. It turns out that the “security moms” of the 2006 elections are focused on economic security. Sixty-five percent of the more than 25,000 women who took part in the AFL-CIO’s “Ask a Working Woman” survey ranked health care as their top legislative concern, followed closely by retirement security. Women and workers will turn out at the polls this year as never before to elect candidates who support working families’ issues — and say goodbye to elected leaders who’ve forgotten who they represent.
It’s time this country made good on its promise of equality. And it’s time we made America work for working people again. is executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO. They wrote this article for the Mercury News.



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