Has The Women’s Rights Movement Screwed Over Poor Women?
Good news, ladies! Thanks to the women’s rights movement, over the course of the last century or so, American women have made great advances in income equality, education level, and overall ability to have it all-ness. Well, rich women have. Poor women are still getting about equally as hosed as they were in the 1970s.
UMass Amhearst Professor Nancy Folbre notes that the gains that women have made in the last century have slowed in the last 20 years, and this is partly due to the fact that poor women have been largely left behind. The reason? Someone has to take care of the kids, and it’s damn sure not going to be the government. That’d be socialist.
The US is the only industrialized country in the world without some sort of state paid maternity leave for all mothers, and thus employers can opt to provide paid maternity leave for women if it strikes their fancy. For highly educated women, this isn’t as big an issue— 66% of women with college degrees have employer-provided maternity leave, up from 27% back in the early 1970’s. Only 18% of women without high school diplomas receive the same courtesy from their employers. This depressing statistic hasn’t completely flatlined since the 1970’s, though; in the early 1970’s, about 16% of women without high school diplomas were given paid maternity leave, which means poor women have seen a whopping 2% increase in access to maternity leave over the course of almost 40 years.