Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Outcome of Outcome Feminism – Part 3: Woman's Time and Money

Author: Blaise Wilson

The Outcome of Outcome Feminism Series:
Part 1 – Factors to be Controlled:
Part 2- Assumptions:
Part 3 – Freeing Women's Time and Money: This article
Part 4- Cultural Pressures:
Part 5 - Discrimination:
Part 6 - Discussion of Assumption 6:
Part 7 - Discussion of Assumption 1:
Part 8 - The Outcome of Outcome Feminism Conclusion:
Part 9 - Campaigns and Action:

This third instalment of the Outcome of Outcome Feminism regarding the Gender Wage Gap looks at how women can be encouraged into the workforce by freeing up their time and money.

Three areas were highlighted and main points are:
  • Provide child-care and redistribute household chores by getting others to provide it. Others included: 
    • men 
    • state (e.g. increased nursery or school hours) 
    • work (e.g. on site crèche)
    • pay someone (subsidised by the state) 
  • Provide family friendly jobs 
    • flexible for the employee, not the employer
    • new parent leave and holiday/sick leave
  • Use taxation and financial incentives for women to be in the workforce 
    • benefits
    • targeted increased tax on men, while reducing it for women
These solutions need further analysis to ensure they have a net benefit and do not impede on other principles, such as the Free Market and personal liberty. However many require increased government control and raises in taxation.

In the previous articles it was establish which factors play a role in the Gender Wage Gap. After highlighting a number of required assumptions the factors boiled down to three areas:
  1. Freeing up women's time and money
  2. Cultural pressure
  3. Discrimination 
This article concentrates on solutions to the first issue – freeing up women's time and money. The solutions are generic suggestion, although the UK and US are of particular interest, some of these solutions are already in place in some countries.

Freeing Up Women's Time and Money
“Globally, only half of women are in the labour force, compared to more than three quarters of men“ [p68, 3]. By freeing women from child-care responsibilities and household chores they will be free to chase the careers they have always dreamt of. And this would decrease the Gender Wage Gap by getting more women into full time work.

One solutions is getting others to full-fill the child-care and domestic duties. Examples of these 'others' could be men, through the redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work [3, 9] or public services such as after school programmes, even going so far as “making preschool education compulsory” [p178, 3].

Paying someone could free up women's time while providing paid work, but it would need to be reliable, affordable, accessible, and of high quality [3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 14]. This needs to be offered from birth, and be flexible to allow women to take any job, even those with unsociable hours.

Another solutions is to cut out the 'others' and pay women directly to raise their own children through the state by making “care credits available to all caregivers, regardless of their sex, to compensate for contributions ‘lost’ during periods out of the labour force to look after dependants” [p156, 3].

Once women are free to go into the workforce it is important for jobs to become more 'family friendly.' Family friendly jobs include:
  • paid new parent leave [3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14], with Norway allotting a minimum of 10 weeks to the fathers in a non transferable 'use it or loss it' system [8].
  • flexi-time [4, 9] and clear advanced scheduled work times [7].
  • “Provide mandatory on-site childcare and other basic services” [p147, 3].
  • support transition from part to full time work [9].
  • Ensure paid leave from work is available, financed through tax if needed [3]
  • Improve networking opportunities for self-employed women [9].
Improved finances will allow women to pay for child-care, which would then free up their time to work. This could be done through government schemes, laws and welfare.

Welfare support could include raising the minimum wage, and increasing or abolishing the 'tipping' minimum wage, as women make up the majority of these workers [7].

Another is to “provide access to benefits as an individual entitlement rather than a household-based one, and use quotas or reserve spots for women to ensure equal participation” [p146, 3]. This individual method could apply to tax too, by scraping higher tax on second family earners (in France, Portugal and the US) [9].

Improved child tax benefits, tax credits and other social benefits but also ensure that any financial gain encouraged women into work, rather than discourage them [9], however access to these benefits should also be improved [5].

It could even be taken as far as taxing women less altogether by designing a “tax systems to redistribute income and to redress socio-economic disadvantage by ensuring that women and marginalized groups are not disproportionately burdened” [p214, 3].

Many of these changes could be funded by increased taxation and borrowing [3]. This may include increasing governmental control on the finances of the country through a central bank and regulations, all while reducing the risk of a fragile, short-term boom by implementing capital controls [3].

Full-time working women in the UK earn 90% of their male counterparts [16], whereas US women earn only 77% [15]. Although the difference may not be due to these factors alone, the UK has implemented many of the solutions above, whereas the US has not.

For example, the UK ensures new parents have paid leave, including the men. Whereas the US does not guarantee maternity leave [7]. UK workers get paid holiday and sick leave, with minimal requirements mandated by law. America does not [7]. The UK not only taxes on an individuals system, but also provides child support and tax relief for nurseries. The US taxes the second earner of a household more [9], and is not well known for it's welfare system.

That said, both countries could improve by implementing addition solutions from these suggested, where they don't already. However further solutions need to be thoroughly investigated on a cost benefit and risk analysis to ensure the knock on impacts have short and long term net benefits.

Some of these risks include raising taxes to fund any state supported initiative (or increase borrowing). Increased government laws, regulations and controls may impede the Free Market. Personal liberty could be impacted if the government attempts to force men to do more housework. Using quotas, targeted taxes or tax relief based on gender would fail our #NounSwap test, and would be against Equality of Opportunity.

By removing the responsibility of child-care from women, will this lead to a baby boom? Especially if more children means increased support though child tax benefits and other financial incentives. Families would have less responsibly to raise their own children, the education system may have to fill this gap.

Having reliable, accessible and high quality child-care available 24/7 while being cheap will require generous state subsidies. Increased taxes would have to fund this. Why 24/7? Women may need to work away from home such as long distance drivers or oil rig workers. Without having 24/7 accessible and flexible child-care women will still be limited in the high paid jobs they can take, as not all jobs can be flexible the child-care will need to be.

Increasing the need for child-care will have further impacts. In the UK the government recently increased access to free nursery places from 15 to 30 hours, causing less places to be available without significantly increased funding [17]. Child-care will be required during school holidays.

With fewer connections at home, will this cause the breakdown of the family unit? Will kids get the emotional support they need from their parents? Gifts and money are a poor substitute for time and effort.

Raising minimum wage has negative effects. Increased unemployment and higher prices as employers struggle to pay their staff, paradoxically increasing people below the new, higher, poverty line. It decreases the gap between unskilled and skilled labour. This may disincentivize individuals to gaining skills. It makes it harder to break into the job market. Higher skilled people will get the fewer available jobs, making it difficult for those fresh out of education to get experience [18].

This job scarcity will also result from a sudden increase in women in the workforce. The recession demonstrated job scarcity is not good for the economy. More jobs would have to be created. As more child-care workers would be required many women could take up those roles. Taking care of someone else's kids instead of their own, while being paid for it.

As women take on certain roles another impact is an increase in female deaths in the workplace. Especially if women take up highly paid but dangerous roles.

This is based on the assumption that most women will go out to work if given half a chance, that most women want to work but they are currently tied to the household. If this assumption is false these solutions will not solve the Gender Wage Gap. However women who wish to enter the workforce may have greater opportunity to do so which will help narrow the Gender Wage Gap.

Further short and long term cost and risk benefits analysis should be done before implementing any solution. Some solutions appear to benefit women on the surface but may cause more harm than good.

There were three main areas covered to free up women's time and money.
  • Provide child-care and redistribute household chores
  • Provide family friendly jobs
  • Use taxation and financial incentives for women to be in the workforce 
Many solutions requiring increased taxation and/or government controls.

[1] UK Government request companies publish gendered wage data: accessed 29/08/2015

[2] Wage Gap in Rwanda, Burundi and Nicaragua is almost non existent: accessed 29/08/2015

[3] UN Women Progess Report 2015 – 2016 accessed 29/08/2015

[4] New Republic – How to Equalize the Female Pay Gap accessed 29/08/2015

[5] New Brunswick: The Wage Gap Action Plan 2005-2010 accessed 29/08/2015

[6] Roosevelt Institute: How to Fix the Gender Wage Gap: Going Far Beyond an App accessed 29/08/2015

[7] American Progress: Seven Actions that could shrink the Gender Wage Gap accessed 29/08/2015

[8] Policy.Mic: Norway Has Found a Solution to the Gender Wage Gap That America Needs to Try accessed 29/08/2015

[9] IMF STAFF DISCUSSION NOTE: Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity accessed 29/08/2015

[10] Graduating to a Pay Gap The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation: accessed 29/08/2015

[11] Quotas in the EU: accessed 29/08/2015

[12] Pros and Cons of Quotas: accessed 29/08/2015

[13] Gender Wage Gap within the same job: accessed 29/08/2015

[14] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now accessed 29/08/2015

[15] Full-time US women earn 77% of men: accessed 07/09/2015

[16] Full time UK women earn 90% of men: accessed 07/09/2015

[17] BBC report on increased child subsidy for nurseries: accessed 08/09/2015

[18] Pros and Cons of raising minimum wage: accessed 11/09/2015

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