Tag Archives: parental leave

Image: Koivth via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.5)

Image: Koivth via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.5)

by Jessica Looze, Aleta Sprague, and Jody Heymann

Over the past half century, the number of women in the workforce and their earnings rose markedly—not just in the United States, but worldwide. Yet in recent years, this progress has stagnated, and we’re still far short of gender parity in the economy. This is in large part because many workplaces continue to operate as if employees have no caregiving responsibilities. The global increase in women in the labor market hasn’t coincided with an equivalent rise in men’s share of caregiving. And in too many countries, laws and policies aren’t helping.

Indeed, the gender wage gap is largely a motherhood gap: unmarried women without children earn 95 cents on a man’s dollar, but for married mothers with at least one child under age 18, this figure drops to 76 cents. The gender gap at work is fueled by a gender gap at home. Women continue to spend more time doing carework than men, which is not simply a reflection of personal preferences: gender disparities in caregiving are embedded in, and perpetuated by countries’ laws, and policies. The consequences for the financial well-being of women and their families can be enormous.

To assess countries’ progress toward promoting gender equality in the economy and in caregiving, the WORLD Policy Analysis Center (WORLD) at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, together with our colleagues at the Maternal and Child Health Equity (MACHEquity) research program, recently released new globally comparative data and analyses on laws and policies affecting work and caregiving across all 193 UN member states. We examined the availability of leave following the birth of a child, for children’s health and education needs, as well as leave for the health needs of adult family members. The data show that while globally, countries are making some progress in promoting gender equality for workers with infant children, many countries still have a ways to go. Moreover, compared to infant caregiving, countries have made far less progress toward promoting gender equality when it comes to providing care for children beyond infancy or for elderly parents.

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The New York Mets' infielder Daniel Murphy

The New York Mets’ infielder Daniel Murphy

Julie’s post raises some interesting points about what it means to be a professional athlete of any stripe. Another recent incident, this time in Major League Baseball (MLB), serves as both a teachable moment and an segue into a broader debate about parental leave and what it means to be a “good employee.”

Daniel Murphy, an infielder for the New York Mets, was recently at the center of a very public debate over taking parental leave while in the midst of a season. Major League Baseball has a pretty long season – players typically report to Spring Training sometime in February, the regular season runs from April (or the very end of March depending on the year) until September, with post-season play taking place in October. This means that players typically have a narrow window for off-season activities. Younger players may play in Winter Leagues in either Arizona, the Caribbean, or in Australia while older players spend the off season getting surgical repairs and readying themselves physically for another grueling season, which features 162 regular season games. Players therefore do not get an enormous amount of time off, and they have a lot of baseball work to do during the typical “off” season as well as pressure to make up for family time lost to the long season.

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