Women and Public Policy Program Seminar Series
Babies, Work, or Both? Highly-Educated Women’s Employment and Fertility in East Asia with Mary Brinton

Babies, Work, or Both? Highly-Educated Women’s Employment and Fertility in East Asia with Mary Brinton

March 22, 2019

Only two OECD countries continue to exhibit an M-shaped curve of female labor force participation across the life cycle: Japan and South Korea. In this seminar, Mary Brinton analyzes how labor market structure and workplace norms influence this pattern. Her analysis draws on data from over 160 in-depth interviews with highly-educated Japanese and Korean men and women of childbearing age, and demonstrates how working conditions exert a powerful influence on gendered patterns of behavior at home and in the labor market.

Mary Brinton, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

What Works: Designing an Inclusive Workplace with Iris Bohnet

What Works: Designing an Inclusive Workplace with Iris Bohnet

March 15, 2019

Gender equality is a moral and a business imperative. But unconscious bias holds us back, and de-biasing people’s minds has proven to be difficult and expensive. Diversity training programs have had limited success, and individual effort alone often invites backlash. Behavioral design offers a new solution. By de-biasing organizations instead of individuals, we can make smart changes that have big impacts. Presenting research-based solutions, Iris Bohnet hands us the tools we need to move the needle in classrooms and boardrooms, in hiring and promotion, benefiting businesses, governments, and the lives of millions.

Iris Bohnet, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Academic Dean, Harvard Kennedy School; Co-Director, WAPPP 

Equal but Inequitable: Who Benefits from Gender-Neutral Tenure Clock Stopping Policies with Kelly Bedard

Equal but Inequitable: Who Benefits from Gender-Neutral Tenure Clock Stopping Policies with Kelly Bedard

November 30, 2017

Having children may reduce the probability that women are promoted in a variety of professions because early productivity falls despite the existence of short family leave programs. But the problem may be particularly acute at research intensive universities where research productivity before the tenure decision is especially important. In repsonse, many of the institutions have adopted gender-neutral tenure clock-stopping policies so women-and men-do not have to sacrifice family for career, and vice-versa. The extra time on the tenure clock is inteneded to account for the negative productivity shock associated with having a child. While these policies are equal in the sense that they give the same benfit to women and men who have children, they are inequitable in that the time cost (or productivity loss) experienced by men and women is quite different. Using data from top 50 economic departments from 1980-2005, Kelly Bedard shows that these policies raise male tenure rates while at the same time reducing female tenure rates. 

 

Kelly Bedard, Department Chair and Professor of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara

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

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  

 

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

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

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

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

 

The History of the ‘Mommy Track’ with Elizabeth Singer

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

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

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

What Works: How to Design Diversity with Iris Bohnet

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

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

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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