Although I generally try to fight the stereotype of Government publications as weighty tomes with austere, distinctly non-decorative covers, I must admit that many worthy documents do come clad in such sober raiment.
Take, for example, Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy. This publication of the congressional Joint Economic Committee, like many such documents, presents its material straightforwardly and unadorned except for an assortment of graphs and charts, all in black and white. But the format is immaterial when matched against the importance of its subject. Indeed, the very sobriety with which the economic progress of American women, or lack thereof, is presented actually increases the credibility of its findings, at least for me.
One important message is that women have made significant economic strides over the last several decades. Yet certain persistent issues documented in this report – the pay gap, under-representation of women in top corporate jobs, and the problems of working mothers – still block the achievement of women’s economic equality.
Of course, the economic downturn of the last few years only serves to emphasize these issues. I was particularly interested in a survey that covered how employers were dealing with this. A surprisingly large percentage of employers said that they were actively helping their employees to cope with the recession and also maintaining flexible employment policies. I was also struck by number showing that without Social Security, far more older women than men would live in poverty.
Although various submissions within Invest in Women, Invest in America suggest possible solutions to the problems of women in our economy, I was most impressed by the depth and quality of the research, without which no really sound solutions are possible. Sober, serious, and detailed, this publication is a valuable resource for studying a complex and long-running social issue. You can read it here or here or get a copy here. It’s also available in libraries.