Monthly Message from the Work-Life Director
March Greetings from the Director
Women Comprise Half the Labor Force
International Women’s Day 2010 will be celebrated March 8. The day was founded in the early twentieth century, grounded in the need for worker economic and social reform during the growth of rapid industrialization. Today it gives us reason to reflect upon the fact that women are now an integral part of the labor force.
For the first time in U.S. history, women now comprise half of all U.S. workers. Moreover, two-thirds of women significantly contribute to family income, either as primary or co-providers. According to a recent report, The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, businesses must recognize that their workforces are comprised of both women and men who share responsibility for providing care. As evident during the recent economic downturn, women are assuming the breadwinner role in greater numbers; since December 2007, men have lost three out of four jobs.
Yet, our labor policies have a long way to go to better accommodate the needs of its modern workers. Traditional labor practices, based on the assumption of single male wage earners, do not adequately accommodate the responsibilities that women have traditionally assumed, namely the care for young children and elders. Expansion of family medical leave, subsidies for child and elder care, and flexible work arrangements significantly improve the workplace for women and their families. At the University of Kentucky, the implementation of Flexible Work Arrangement Guidelines in 2008 has been a step in the right direction. The forthcoming second Work Life Survey in Fall 2010 will provide further opportunities to further examine these issues as we move towards Top 20 Status.
Shriver, Maria. (2009) The Shriver Report: A Woman’s National Changes Everything. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/10/womans_nation.html With Women Holding Half of U.S. Jobs, Workplace Models Need Updating, Study Says. (2009) The Bureau of National Affairs.Vol. 27, No. 41).