Term Paper: Women's Rights: Equality

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[. . .] FWI has positioned itself so as to assist policy makers in high places.


The Center for WorkLife Law identifies the gender pay gap as a discrimination law issue. The Center views the gender pay gap as an undesirable default behavior that is permitted in the absence of modernized statutes and enforced best practices in employment law and employee relations. When it is not focused on changing the laws, the Center takes a change agent stance to working with all relevant stakeholders to enjoin a cooperative force for altering discriminatory and inequitable workplace practices, and cementing preferred policies in newly conditioned environments.


The Independent Women's Forum views the gender gap as socially / politically constructed myth. The IWF does not believe that the gender gap is an authentic problem, and is determined to cast unformed doubts about the veracity of the research and statistics provided by think tanks and research centers, and perhaps most importantly, their anti-organization, NOW. The gender pay gap is a touchstone for IWF that enables them to garner media attention and serves as a platform for introducing the many interlaced problems that IWF believes can be cleared up by a reductionist stance toward information. For instance, IWF dismisses the statement that women earn just ae of what men do for the same jobs, saying that the jobs are not really the same, that women work fewer hours and leave work early to care for their children, and make many other too-numerous-to-mention-here choices that give them greater flexibility but less pay. IWF is not interested in deep discussion, preferring to make unfounded and distorted proclamations in the manner of disciples. The women who are drawn to IWF are likely to be the same women (Campbell, 2007) who echo Sarah Palin but might also chafe under a woman President, considering it unnatural or polarizing.

Alternative Solutions to the Policy Problem

The United States continues to be one of only seven countries in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) -- a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world (National Women's Law Center, 2011).

The United States has not endorsed this international agreement, although it seems to be a good fit to our domestic labor laws and antidiscrimination laws, which have been on the books for decades. If America is not getting on the international bandwagon, what is she doing at home (perchance, in the kitchen)?


1. Mass action. NOW organizes marches and protests (non-violent civil disobedience) around issues that have wide national appeal and are able to attract sufficient numbers to powerfully engage the media.

2. Direct action. NOW Members are alerted to the need for individual direct action, such as contacting their representatives or supporting a candidate for office.

3. Lobbying / Field organizing.. From the national office, the Action Center in Washington, D.C, NOW lobbies, implements policy, initiates field organizing, and co-ordinates national actions.


1. Ongoing reports. One niche that FWI fills is producing large ongoing reports in which the unit of analysis is national employers and nation-wide workplaces.

2. Speakers' bureau. The Institute created the FWI Speaks program (Family and Workplace Institute, 2010) to enable groups, organizations, and governmental bodies to engage speakers for customized presentations that detail and discuss the Institute's research findings.

3. Model program. Through a grant from the Ford Foundation, the Institute has established a model program for employers and employees called the Supporting Work Project. The project goals are to employ groundbreaking strategies to partner business and community leaders so that employers can help educate low-wage earners about publicly-funded work supports and increase their access to these benefits.


1. Media coverage. The Center works to provide the media with easy access to factual information LLC tackled journalists' viewpoints on their portrayal of issues related to motherhood in the workplace. In 2006, WLL produced a report titled Opt Out or Pushed Out?, that provided the sort of facts and data that warms a journalist's heart -- and results in less biased reporting.

2. Employer best practices. LLC develops best-practice policies on performance evaluation and flexible work arrangements that deeply influence the legal profession.

3. Social science. The Center engages in Social science research that serves as both resource and reference to employees, employers, and attorneys. LLC documented that motherhood triggers the most robust forms of gender bias in the nation's workplaces today. In the initiative Diversity Beyond the Body Count, LCC provided employers with specific guidance on how to reverse the effects of implicit bias in the workplace by changing their approaches to work allocation, performance evaluation, and compensation.


1. Online news and commentary. IWF produces an ongoing stream of blog-like commentary and short news blurbs. All key IWF staff appears to contribute to Website content.

2. Policy papers. The range of topics in IWF's policy papers is staggering. They profess expertise on an extensive range of policy issues, but the papers are predominantly briefs, and shallow briefs, at that.

3. Research. From time-to-time, IWF conducts a research study, which appears to be of the secondary research type, examining and rearranging extant data to serve their purposes. The research findings are made available on the Website and also broadcast on radio and television.

Evaluation Criteria

The criteria that will be used to evaluate the alternative strategies for dealing with the policy problem are as follows: Effectiveness, equity, and social acceptability.

Policy Alternative Assessment


NOW's position is that the gender pay gap will only close when sufficient pressure is brought to bear on "the establishment," which they would further define also as the establishment that exists in the home -- the problem without a name, as Betty Freidan called it. This activist position defines their approaches to the policy problem. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently stated in an interview that women's rights are not protected under the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Taking this as evidence that women must not rest on their laurels, lest they be eroded right from underneath them, NOW is calling for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution that will guarantee both men and women equal status under the Constitution.

NOW has been a powerful voice for women's rights and has fairly steadfastly declined to soften its approach in concert with the less strident social and political arena that followed in the decades after the '60s. This is both NOWs greatest strength and its Achilles' heel. NOW has been inarguably effective and is unmatched in the arena of women's rights its efforts to achieve equity through policy change. The call for a Constitutional Equal Protection Clause is evidence that NOW understands that the greatest obstacle to achieving gender equality is social acceptance. The flip side of social acceptance is political feasibility, with conservatism trending upward, this symbiotic relationship takes on heightened importance. An enormous number of women support gender equity, but do not support reproductive health options, as they are defined by NOW. Bridging this gap will be even harder than bridging the gender pay gap.


The key to change, according to FWI, is the conciliatory provision of information. The strategies they employ pivot around the idea that given accurate data and thoughtful delivery, people will do what is right. FWI seeks to engage organizational and governmental audiences, cause them to reflect, and them to change. One reason that FWI may have received a welcome signal from the White House is that they tend not to take a polarizing stance, but rather, offer a service to decision-makers to help "improve the quality of family, work and community life by providing them with data-based solutions to everyday issues that effect [sic] people in all walks of life" (Family and Workplace Institute, 2010) The modus operandi for FWI is partnership. In a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of their approach, FWI has partnered with the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) to assist businesses in transformational change that will alter the way they think about and adopt strategies for a flexible workplace. While the project does not focus exclusively on the gender wage gap, it does overlap the issue as pay is often a casualty of flexible work arrangements and other family-friendly accommodations. In addition, the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor convened a two-day, two-site forum on workplace flexibility and low-wage / hourly workers in February of 2011. A spin off of the March 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, these forums were designed to maintain momentum for the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility.

If NOW could be characterized as an arm wrestle, FWI could be depicted as a handshake. The soft collaborative approach is effective for FWI. Because FWI moves through its partnerships and efforts to educate… [END OF PREVIEW]

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