Quotas Matter: The Impact of Gender Quota Laws on Work-Family Policies with Ana Catalano Weeks

April 6, 2017

Do gender quotas matter to policy outcomes, or are they just `window dressing'? In this seminar, Ana Catalano Weeks discusses her findings from one of the first studies of the relationship between quota laws and policy outcomes across countries. She argues that after a quota law, we should expect to see change on issues characterized by gender gaps in preferences, especially if they lie off the main left-right (class-based) dimension in politics -- like maternal employment. She finds that implementing a quota law increases public spending on child care (which encourages maternal employment) and decreases spending on family allowances (which tends to discourage it). Evidence from fieldwork in Portugal and Italy suggests that quotas work by increasing women's leverage within parties and raising the overall salience of gender equality issues with the public and male party elites.

Ana Catalano Weeks, WAPPP Fellow; College Fellow, Department of Government, Harvard University  

 

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The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations with Francine Blau

March 23, 2017

Using data from the 1980-2010 time period, Francine Blau provides new empirical evidence on the extent of and trends in the gender wage gap, which declined considerably over this period.  By 2010, conventional human capital variables taken together explained little of the gender wage gap, while gender differences in occupations and industries continued to be important. Moreover, the gender pay gap declined much more slowly at the top of the wage distribution that at the middle or the bottom and, by 2010, was noticeably higher at the top. Francine also uses the literature to identify what has been learned about the explanations for the gap, considering the role of human capital and gender roles, gender differences in occupations and industries, gender differences in psychological attributes, and labor market discrimination against women.

 

Francine Blau, Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, ILR School, Cornell University

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Can Financial Incentives Reduce the Baby Gap? Evidence from a Reform in Maternity Leave Benefits with Anna Raute

March 16, 2017

Over the past five decades, women's educational attainment and labor market participation have increased tremendously. At the same time, many developed countries have faced decreasing birth rates and below replacement fertility levels. All OECD countries, except the US, now provide paid parental leave in order to facilitate family and career compatibility and lower the cost of childbearing. Drawing on insights from a major reform of parental leave benefits in Germany, this seminar explores whether earnings dependent parental leave benefits have a positive impact on fertility, and whether they are successful at narrowing the baby gap between high educated (high earning) and low educated (low earning) women.

Anna Raute, WAPPP Fellow; Assistant Professor in Economics, University of Mannheim

 

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The History of the ‘Mommy Track’ with Elizabeth Singer

November 10, 2016

As women began to fill the ranks of management in the 1980s, the impact of motherhood on an individual’s career trajectory and the corporate balance sheet became a source of debate among feminists and business leaders. In this seminar, Elizabeth Singer More examines the “mommy track” argument that some feminists, most prominently Felice Schwartz of Catalyst, claimed would save businesses money by working to retain white-collar women. Schwartz hoped this argument would persuade businesses to provide benefits, such as flex-time and paid maternity leave, which they had resisted providing for years. But there were two significant costs to the “mommy track” argument. The first was the possibility that mothers who did not want to be on a decelerated career track would be involuntarily sidelined. The second was that by basing a claim for treating mothers as valued employees on the company’s profit interest alone, feminists risked losing the standing to demand rights and benefits that did not directly benefit the bottom line.

Elizabeth Singer More, WAPPP Fellow; Lecturer on History and Literature; Lecturer on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University

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The Long-run Effect of Maternity Leave Benefits on Mental Health: Evidence from European Countries with Lisa Berkman

April 7, 2016

Maternity leave policies have known effects on short-term child outcomes. However, little is known about the long-run impact of such leaves on women’s health as they age. This seminar examines whether maternity leave policies have an effect on women's mental health in older age. Data for women age 50 years and above from countries in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) are linked to data on maternity leave legislation from 1960 onwards. A difference-in-differences approach that exploits changes over time within countries in the duration and compensation of maternity leave benefits is linked to the year women were giving birth to their first child at age 16 to 25. Late-life depressive symptom scores of mothers who were in employment in the period around the birth of their first child were compared to depression scores of mothers who were not in employment in the period surrounding the birth of a first child and, therefore, did not benefit directly from maternity leave benefits. The findings suggest that a more generous maternity leave during the birth of a first child is associated with reduced depression symptoms in late life. This seminar explores how policies experienced in midlife may have long-run consequences for women’s health and wellbeing.

Speaker:

Lisa Berkman, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and of Epidemiology; Director, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard. T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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What Works: How to Design Diversity with Iris Bohnet

March 2, 2016

Gender diversity is a moral and a business imperative. But unconscious bias holds us back, and debiasing people’s minds has proven to be difficult and expensive. Behavioral design offers a new solution. Building on her talk in the fall and her new book, WHAT WORKS: Gender Equality By Design, Professor Bohnet will discuss what organizations can do create more inclusive environments, level the playing field and help diverse teams succeed. Speaker: Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy; Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School

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Two Decades of Gender-Role Attitude Change in Europe with Mary Brinton

February 29, 2016

This seminar explores the assumption of many cross-national studies that gender-role attitudes fall along a single continuum between traditional and egalitarian. Brinton analyzes over-time data from 18 European countries and identifies trajectories of attitudinal change. Brinton demonstrates that while traditional gender-role attitudes have precipitously and uniformly declined, European nations are not converging towards one dominant egalitarian model but instead are diverging across three distinct varieties of egalitarianism.
Speaker: Mary C. Brinton, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
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Reserving Time for Daddy: The Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Fathers’ Quotas with Ankita Patnaik

September 17, 2015

Paternity leave, men's role in childcare, and their work-life balance have become more commonly discussed topics by policymakers and business leaders. What kinds of policies succeed in getting fathers involved in their children's lives from the beginning? What are the long-term consequences for families, in terms of fathers' and mothers' careers, incomes, and the division of household labor at home? In this seminar, Ankita Patnaik discusses how parental leave schemes can be designed to induce fathers to participate and whether small changes in the initial parenting experience can have lasting effects on both parents' behavior. She presents findings from a study that shows that even a few weeks of paternity leave can have a large and persistent impact on sex specialization in the long-term by encouraging a more equal distribution of household responsibilities. Speaker: Ankita Patnaik, Researcher, Mathematica Policy Research

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From Sexual Harassment to Selective Mistreatment: The Regulation of Gender at Work with Jennifer L. Berdahl

February 20, 2015

Debate abounds about why women continue to be underrepresented in top management positions and in male-dominated domains. This presentation reviews research on an often subtle, but powerful and pervasive, organizational force that discourages men and women from engaging in non-stereotypical roles and behavior: The harassment and mistreatment of gender incongruent employees. The author’s research on this topic is reviewed, from “not man enough” harassment, to the sexual harassment of “uppity” women, to the general mistreatment of non-traditional parents. The presentation concludes with recent studies that distinguish mistreatment from advancement and shed light on the “double bind” for women and the systematic scope of gender regulation in the workplace. SPEAKER: Jennifer L. Berdahl, Montalbano Professor of Leadership Studies: Gender and Diversity, University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business

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The Work-Family Narrative as a Social Defense: Explaining the Persistence of Gender Inequality in Organizations with Robin Ely

September 15, 2014

Why has women’s professional advancement stalled? A widely accepted explanation is that women’s family obligations conflict with long hours of jobs, hampering their advancement into senior organizational positions. The commonly championed solution has been policies offering flexible work arrangements designed to mitigate such conflict. Yet research shows that men, too, experience work-family conflict. Moreover, work-family policies do little to help women or men’s workplace advancement, and in fact, often hurt them. In this presentation, Ely draws from her in depth case study of a global professional service firm to ask why the belief that work-family conflict lies at the heart of women’s stalled advancement persists. She explores how this popular narrative self-perpetuates despite evidence to the contrary, and how organizations use this narrative as an explanation for women's blocked mobility partly because it diverts attention from the broader problem of a long-hours work culture among professionals. Speaker: Robin Ely, Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean, Harvard Business School

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