In the latest episode of the Roosevelt Institute's Bloggingheads series, "Fireside Chats," ND2.0 Editor Bryce Covert talks to The Atlantic's Derek Thompson about the ongoing challenges for women in the workplace. In particular, they ask why women are still struggling to close the wage gap despite earning more degrees than men and participating in equal numbers. In the clip below, Bryce says the problem is that legal support for working women and men isn't there. She argues that "the workplace still looks as if someone is taking care of the children, but they're not," and "we don't have the policies in place to deal with the way our workforce looks now."
Bryce notes that while explicit legal barriers to women attaining parity in the workplace have been removed, the U.S. has failed to institute work-family policies like flex time, paternity leave, and day care that have put men and women on more equal footing in Europe. In other words, the problem isn't that women need to change, but that "I don't think the workforce has changed enough to accommodate them." She adds that while "there's a lot to celebrate and the change has been so dramatic and so fast," she is wary of "assuming that this is just a trajectory we're on" and "if we just sort of let things play out then equality will be reached."
In addition to these long-term trends, Bryce and Derek discuss the fallout from the gendered recession and recovery, with Bryce noting that "it's been a pretty slow, painful recovery" for everyone, "but women started backsliding. Their unemployment rate is now higher than it was the beginning of the recovery." And while the fact that women dominate many growth sectors would seem to work in their favor, Bryce says they're still stuck in "service sector jobs which tend to be low pay, low benefits, unstable," and "if that's where the growth is I'm not sure if that's a good sign for them or anyone." Even the fact that they're attaining more college degrees doesn't necessarily give them the upper hand, since "even when women are earning these degrees, at every educational level, they're still earning less than men."
For more, watch the full video below and check out Bryce's recent article at The Nation on where women stand in the post-"mancession" economy.