April 29, 2019
Organizing for the Equal Rights Amendment the first time round, in 1972-82, tapped the strengths and experienced the weaknesses of social movements in general. The strengths of social movements derive from their “hydra-headed” qualities: the activists bubble up from many different arenas, giving the movement great flexibility, adaptability, diversity, and intelligence. The weaknesses derive from their relative absence of selective incentives, so that the motivation for activism is primarily ideological commitment. That commitment in turn, creates a “dynamic of deafness,” in which activists are unlikely to listen and learn from their opposition. In this seminar, Jane Mansbridge discusses how the current organizing effort has learned in different ways from the past.
Jane Mansbridge, Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, Harvard Kennedy School
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
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
December 1, 2016
Across the world, the increasing use of digital payments for government to person transactions for social programs has provided an entry point for the world’s poor into the formal financial sector. This phenomenon begs the question: how can governments best leverage this opportunity to enable economic empowerment for women? This seminar explores research that uses a randomized controlled trial to assess how financial inclusion coupled with targeted benefit payments impact women's labor force participation and economic welfare in India.
Simone Schaner, Assistant Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Dartmouth College
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
October 6, 2016
Historians have long suspected that Queen Victoria’s gender played a role in the rise of constitutional (e.g. ceremonial) monarchy in 19th-century Britain. But what was the nature of this role? In this seminar, Arianne Chernock takes on this question through an archival-based approach by exploring Victoria’s centrality to the early women’s rights movement in Britain – especially in inspiring women to demand the right to vote. Chernock argues that recognizing Victoria’s role in the women’s rights movement allows us to see the shift towards a more restricted Crown as an attempt to contain radical thinking about women, agency, and power to create a more democratic and transparent British state.
Speaker: Arianne Chernock, Associate Professor, Department of History, Boston University