How Does US Rank on Women’s Equality?

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At the top because the US is always Number One?  Top ten?  Below Rwanda?

The answer helps explain why couple equality is sometimes so difficult. Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst gives us the scoop in her recent blog  Economix. There are at least four different published rankings that consider some aspect of gender inequality that include the US. None of them places the US among the top ten.

The best the US did was #13 on the Human Development Index which takes into account life expectancy at birth, enrollment in schools, adult literacy and per capita gross domestic product. It ranked 19th on the Gender-Related Development index. On a third measure, The Gender Empowerment Measure, which takes into account relative levels of political participation and decision-making power, economic participation and earnings, the US ranked 18th. On the Gender Equity Index, on a scale of 100, the US ranked 74th in 2009, below Rwanda.

We have written in earlier blogs about the ways in which corporate culture and social policies in our country continue  to work against gender equality in families. These statistics show how far behind the US is regarding gender equality relative to other countries, both developed and developing.

Post by Anne

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NBC Features Dual Career and Workplace Issues this Week

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This morning Meet the Press addressed institutional lag in the workplace; that families have changed much more than the places they work. This is a critical issue for couples commited to equality. One of the guests was Maria Shriver. She has just completed a report called “A Women’s Nation” that NBC will be featuring this week.

I was surprised to see this subject getting prime coverage on a “serious” news show–rather than a special feature somewhere else. I think it may be because work-family issues are starting to be more than a “woman’s” issue. And because host David Gregory is a father of young children.

Gregory spoke about how he had to speak to his boss about reducing and rescheduling his hours to better fit his wife’s. He reported that his female boss was quite willing to help him work this out. Good as it is to hear this kind of new gender behavior given favorable press, Shriver brought us back to the need for change and the gendered nature of power. She noted that confronting one’s employer  may be easier for him than for most women. (And I think for most men).

Check out the links above to listen to the show or read the report. I haven’t read all of Shriver’s report yet, but it appears well-researched. What is especially important is that it calls for institutional changes in the workplace instead putting all the focus on the individual family and what they should do. Valerie Jerrett, another panelist on the show (an advisor to Obama), also emphasized the need to encourage positive workplace behavior–to identify what is working in some work settings and policies that invite others to follow their lead.

Bravo to NBC for making work-family issues front and center this week.

posted by Carmen

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Institutional Changes Promote Couple Equality

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Check out a recent post on equally shared parenting blog for a good discussion on the idea of reducing several employees’ hours to 30 a week rather than laying off one worker. This is a solution that may be good for families all the time, not just in an economic dowturn.  Working for couple equality always requires creative institutional solutions as well as  individual couple efforts.  We need to work at both the couple and the societal level.

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