Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Her Royal Crookness<p> Donald Trump&rsquo;s nickname for Hillary Clinton &ndash; Crooked Hillary &ndash; works because it builds off her well-deserved reputation with the public for skirting the law and bending the rules. But it&rsquo;s missing a key component of what should trouble the public about Mrs. Clinton. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s not just that she has a habit of bending the rules and breaking the laws. The bigger problem is that she doesn&rsquo;t think the rules should apply to her in the first place. HRC &ndash; or Her Royal Crookness &ndash; sees herself as a Queen, existing in a realm above the minions who work for her, and even higher above her lowly subjects. Queens don&rsquo;t have to bother with the system meant for ordinary schlubs. She doesn&rsquo;t have to accept facts or findings; we peons are expected to accept her version of events, rather than trust our own lyin&rsquo; eyes.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s the big takeaway from the <a href="">State Department&rsquo;s Inspector General Report</a> examining Secretary Clinton&rsquo;s email practice during her tenure leading the State Department. In contrast to Clinton&rsquo;s public assurances, her practice of exclusively using a private email system for her official work in spite of knowledge of the extreme security risks and record keeping requirements <em>was</em> unique; it <em>wasn&rsquo;t </em>approved by State Department lawyers; and, no surprise, was inconsistent with security protocols and put sensitive information at risk. &nbsp;</p> <p> Yes, Colin Powell also used a private email address and didn&rsquo;t follow record-keeping policies properly. But, as the report notes, that was when the rules for preserving email records were less detailed, and the security risks less understood. Mrs. Clinton shouldn&rsquo;t be able to get away with an &ldquo;everybody does it&rdquo; defense.</p> <p> In fact, the report describes what happens when lesser mortals break the rules. When an Ambassador to Kenya used a private server in spite of guidance that this practice was against the rules, disciplinary hearings were initiated and the Ambassador resigned his post. Yes, the rules apply even to ambassadors, just not to Queen Hillary.</p> <p> Clinton and her top aides wouldn&rsquo;t even deign to be interviewed by the Inspector General&rsquo;s office. That&rsquo;s for the little people, apparently. Her campaign is now trying to rip the report as a partisan hatchet job, trusting that the media and the public will overlook that the Inspector General was appointed by President Obama. &nbsp;</p> <p> Her Royal Crookness assumes she can get away with it just as she expects the American people will buy her campaign speeches about cracking down on Wall Street, and ignore the millions of dollars showered on her family personally by bankers and corporate heads. She&rsquo;s not planning to answer questions about millions of dollars flowing from Chinese donors into the Clinton Foundation (that&rsquo;s the <a href="">latest scandal</a> brewing as a part of an inquiry into Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe &mdash; it&rsquo;s so hard to keep track) either. And she&rsquo;s not going to tell you why dozens of other countries, including many with dubious human rights records, gave her family&rsquo;s nonprofit millions. How dare you ask such a question of the Queen!</p> <p> Americans should not accept a Queen for President. We&rsquo;ve had enough of a ruling class that thinks it&rsquo;s above the rest of us. In fact, that&rsquo;s one of the few areas where there is a bipartisan consensus. Overwhelming majorities of Democrats, as well as Republicans and Independents, said they thought it was wrong that there are separate rules for Washington elites, when <a href=";t=%5BOp-ed%5D-Something-Nearly-Everyone-Agrees-About--Except-Congress--The-Daily-Caller">surveyed</a> about Congress&rsquo;s special exemption from Obamacare. Both parties&rsquo; primaries have since revealed an intense dissatisfaction with a system that seems rigged to benefit the political-connected. &nbsp;</p> <p> Americans recall that we are supposed to be a nation of laws, after all, and those laws are meant to apply to everyone, even those with titles like Secretary or Senator.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s bad news for Her Royal Crookness, Hillary Clinton, who epitomizes the elitism that Americans resoundingly reject. &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 27 May 2016 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHillary Clinton's Wage Gap Hypocrisy<p> A Hillary Clinton Political Action Committee recently <a href="">released an ad</a> &mdash; undoubtedly the first of many &mdash; aimed at persuading American women they have no choice but to support her in November. This commercial strings together a selection of Trump&rsquo;s most off-putting statements, calling women fat and flat-chested, and otherwise treating women as sex objects, which hardly seems like behavior fitting a President.</p> <p> Even before Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, political analysts assumed that women would be the foundation of Mrs. Clinton&rsquo;s path to the White House. As Hillary endlessly reminds her audiences, she&rsquo;s a woman, making her potentially the first female president. Women are also the centerpiece of her policy agenda. She promises to create a new government-mandated paid leave benefit, additional childcare subsidies, and more laws and regulations that she claims will close the so-called wage gap.</p> <p> Yet Clinton has obstacles to overcome too. Savvy women are sure to notice that this is another example of a politician saying one thing and doing something entirely different. When it comes to the wage gap, Clinton talks a good game, but within the ranks of her own staff &mdash; surprise, surprise &mdash; she has a yawning wage gap of her own.</p> <p> Last month, <a href="">the Daily Caller</a> reported that male executives at the Clinton Foundation made 38 percent more than female executives at the Clinton Foundation. In fact, the gap between the top male and female executives was a jaw-dropping $109,000. This isn&rsquo;t the first time Hillary Clinton has been exposed as having a wage gap problem. In August, the Washington Free Beacon revealed that women on <a href="">Clinton&rsquo;s campaign staff</a> make less than the men. Years ago, there were also <a href="">disparities</a> between the wages of men and women on Clinton&rsquo;s Senate staff.</p> <p> Clinton probably has good explanations for these pay disparities: The men working at the Foundation and on Clinton&rsquo;s campaign staff likely have had different roles, longer hours and more job experience than some of the women, which is why they earn more than their female colleagues. Yet that&rsquo;s exactly the same reason there exists an average wage gap throughout the entire economy, a truth that Hillary herself has dutifully ignored.</p> <p> Feminist groups and liberal politicians like Clinton regularly promote the &ldquo;77-cents-on-the-dollar&rdquo; statistic, implying that this average difference in pay is evidence of sex discrimination. In reality, this statistic ignores the many factors that we know drive earnings: industry, specialty, years of experience, even number of hours worked. When those factors are controlled for, the wage gap <a href="">shrinks</a> to a few percentage points.</p> <p> Mrs. Clinton doesn&rsquo;t want to talk about those factors. She wants women to consider themselves victims of an irredeemably sexist society, where the only solution is to elect good liberals like her and give government more power to micromanage worker compensation.</p> <p> Voters may not buy it. After all, this primary season has told us nothing if not that Americans are sick of the status quo and a Washington elite that believes the rules don&rsquo;t apply to them. Women, who tend to place a high value on honesty, might notice that Clinton has a habit of decrying a system that she personally benefits from.</p> <p> During Bill Clinton&rsquo;s presidency, for example, the Clintons staunchly opposed programs to help more parents escape the failing D.C. public school system, but naturally didn&rsquo;t hesitate to enroll their own daughter in the city&rsquo;s most expensive private school. They promoted laws that promised to crack down on sexual harassment in workplaces, but Mrs. Clinton looked the other way as her husband transformed the White House into its own hostile work environment &mdash;&nbsp;she even helped smear the women being used by her husband.</p> <p> Today, Mrs. Clinton claims that she wants to crack down on Wall Street fat cats and rails against supersized CEO pay; meanwhile, voters are expected to ignore how her family is among the fattest of cats, and for years has been focused on maximizing their take from this corrupt system, accepting enormous payments &mdash; sometimes more money than the average worker makes in a year &mdash; for performing next to no work.</p> <p> Voters may find this hypocrisy as cringe-inducing as Trump&rsquo;s boorish statements about women. Certainly, Clinton shouldn&rsquo;t assume that women will overlook these issues as they consider their choice &mdash; and they will indeed have a choice to make &mdash; in November.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasMon, 23 May 2016 15:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumForcing More Workers to Punch a Clock Isn’t Progress<p> Judging from President Obama&rsquo;s email announcement that the Department of Labor would today release a final rule expanding overtime pay regulations, you might think that he was footing the bill: &nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones. It&rsquo;s one of most important steps we&rsquo;re taking to help grow middle-class wages and put $12 billion more dollars in the pockets of hardworking Americans over the next 10 years.</p> <p> But, of course, that&rsquo;s not the case.&nbsp; Employers will have to come up with the extra billions to pay more overtime due to the new rules.&nbsp; That means that while some workers may earn more under the new rule, others will lose out as businesses respond by reducing base compensation, cutting back hours overall, consolidating jobs, and raising prices.&nbsp;</p> <p> Of course, the hard costs of paying for overtime are just one of the burdens created by the new rule. They&rsquo;ll also face significant new compliance costs as they have to track more workers&rsquo; hours in order to assess when they qualify for overtime.&nbsp; The National Retail Federation estimates the new rule will cost employers more than $9 billion per year.</p> <p> Some workers may not mind having to punch a clock if it means extra dollars in their paycheck.&nbsp; But others will resent being transitioned from salaried positions, in which they are compensated for productivity and value added, into one where hours logged are the key metric.&nbsp;</p> <p> As is so often the case, these&nbsp;workplace regulations&nbsp;are likely to backfire the most on women who value flexibility.&nbsp; Some businesses are sure to respond to these new rules by eliminating at-home and nontraditional work arrangement since it&rsquo;s tough to keep precise track of someone&rsquo;s work hours when&nbsp;they are telecommuting or using a flexible schedule.</p> <p> Policymakers could help workers more by cutting back on red tape to make it more likely that employers will create jobs, giving people a better chance to&nbsp;find the arrangements they prefer, whether that&rsquo;s working in an hourly job with overtime potential&nbsp;or a salaried position.&nbsp;</p> <p> The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum&rsquo;s recently release report, <a href="">Working for Women</a>, makes that case and particularly highlights the need to modernize the Depression-era Fair Labor and Standards Act, which governs issues like overtime. Conservatives need to be prepared to dive into this debate and explain why new regulations like this one aren&rsquo;t a victory for workers, but another impediment to job creation, and make the case for a new direction and real flexibility.</p> L. LukasWed, 18 May 2016 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy College Students Can’t Tell the Difference Between Boys and Girls<p> Most videos that string together clips of people struggling to answer what should be easy questions are meant to make us laugh. And certainly, this <a href="">new video</a> from the Family Policy Institute showing college students stumbling to answer the question, &ldquo;Is there a difference between men and women?&rdquo; is good for a chuckle. Yet there are larger messages too, about a culture that seems to want to obscure inconvenient truths and a politically-correct campus environment that&rsquo;s hindering, not helping, students prepare for the real world.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> We can give the students in the video a little benefit of the doubt. The interviewer starts the conversation by referencing the whole transgender bathroom facilities brouhaha, so perhaps they assume that the interviewer is looking for something deeper than the obvious anatomical differences between boys and girls. It&rsquo;s still notable, however, that these college students ignore such fundamentals entirely.</p> <p> After all, the differences in observable parts that everyone masters by preschool manifest in many other aspects of life. These students might have mentioned, for example, that women are designed to incubate babies, while men aren&rsquo;t, which has profoundly affected our roles in families and society. One would think that women&rsquo;s studies majors would have had plenty to say on such a topic. The students might also have noted that, generally speaking, men tend to be physically bigger, stronger and faster than women, which also has had a big impact on history, even if it is less important in today&rsquo;s technologically sophisticated world.</p> <p> Yet none of this is mentioned, and instead the students focus almost exclusively on the idea that gender is a &ldquo;social construct&rdquo; unnecessarily imposed on people. This isn&rsquo;t just silly. It&rsquo;s dangerous. Society should be concerned if girls and young women are oblivious to men&rsquo;s innate physical advantages. Today&rsquo;s movies and television programs routinely feature 100-pound female warriors who level men twice their size with a single kick. Older generations get that this is just cartoonish fantasy, but this isn&rsquo;t always obvious to girls and young women.</p> <p> My ten-year-old daughter was insulted when her gym class was divided into boys and girls. I explained that around her age, boys start becoming stronger and faster, so it&rsquo;s generally better and fairer for girls to compete against girls and boys against boys. But she&rsquo;d drunk enough girl power Kool Aid not to want to accept such inconvenient facts of life. I reassured her that this didn&rsquo;t make men &ldquo;better&rdquo; than women, necessarily, but explains why Dad tends to carry the heavier suitcases and why there are usually boys&rsquo; or girls&rsquo; teams, since otherwise, boys would tend to dominate.</p> <p> Presumably she&rsquo;ll come to understand this on her own, but recognizing the differences between men and women, particularly differences in physical strength, has implications that stretch far beyond gym class. People who are truly concerned about minimizing violence against women ought to consider how the denial of physical differences, like strength, may leave women more vulnerable. It&rsquo;s important for young women to know that the average man can overpower the average woman&mdash;which means that women should be careful not to put themselves in situations where this advantage can be abused.</p> <p> Beyond showcasing the needlessly confused answers about gender identity, this video also speaks to the success of colleges in imparting their moral code to their students more broadly. What stands out most about this video is that these students are clearly focused not so much on answering the question as signaling that they are committed to diversity and to accepting students who are transgendered or do not fall neatly into those traditional categories of &ldquo;boy&rdquo; and &ldquo;girl.&rdquo; Several use the term &ldquo;social construct&rdquo; and parrot lines that sound as if they are lifted from a diversity-awareness seminar that warned them about the prevailing culture&rsquo;s inappropriate creation of expectations that needlessly squelch individual self-expression and self-realization. Those students who admit that they do recognize sex differences&mdash;such as that they know that the interviewer is a man&mdash;seem to want to apologize for making such limiting inferences.</p> <p> The students&rsquo; desire to show that they are committed to diversity, ironically, lends a Stepford-wife-like quality to their answers, which are filled with politically correct buzzwords. The eager glances they offer the interviewer, as if hoping for validation once they&rsquo;ve succeeded in displaying their P.C. bona fides, is also noticeable. This hardly seems evidence of a true commitment to diversity or free thinking, but rather speaks to a campus culture where the primary purpose is fostering a politically-correct world view in which one must reject old categories like male and female. Colleges may not be having much success in teaching marketable skills like writing and mathematics, but in the P.C. arena, at least, colleges are a smashing success.</p> L. LukasMon, 16 May 2016 14:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumI Live In A Country With Paid Family Leave. It's No Magic Bullet.<p> <em>Carrie Lukas, a mother of five, is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> <p> Americans often hear about Europe&rsquo;s superior benefits systems. Where I live in&nbsp;<a href="">Germany</a>, women receive 14 weeks of fully paid maternity leave and an additional 12 months of partially paid support. The upsides&nbsp;of such a policy are clear: Women have ample time to recover from birth and bond with their babies. Yet there are also real drawbacks, which include and go far beyond the expense for taxpayers and businesses.</p> <p> Women in the European Union are&nbsp;<a href="">more likely</a> to work part-time and in lower-paid positions and are less likely to be managers than American women. Women hold&nbsp;<a href="">43 percent</a> of managerial positions in the United States, but less than 30 percent in Germany. Research confirms that other European&nbsp;<a href="">employment mandates</a> and&nbsp;<a href="">family-friendly programs</a> &mdash; such as&nbsp;the right to work part-time and&nbsp;the mandatory provision of child care &mdash; make women more expensive to employ and result in lower take-home pay and fewer job opportunities.</p> <p> I&rsquo;ve seen up close what this means for women living here. While many certainly enjoy their time off from work, I&rsquo;ve also heard complaints about how these policies affect&nbsp;careers. A married friend without children worries that her boss hesitates to give her more responsibility because he thinks she&rsquo;ll inevitably disappear for a lengthy leave. Another friend &mdash; the head&nbsp;of her department &mdash; is frustrated with having to hold a position for an employee taking a second year-long leave. She works extra hours to train a temp while the woman on leave posts pictures from the park on Facebook and shares plans for another child.</p> <p> America has been wise to avoid creating a one-size-fits-all paid leave system for our diverse workforce of about 150 million people. While we want all workers to be able to take off when it&rsquo;s needed, people have different preferences for how to handle absences and different priorities for compensation. Many employees value paid leave benefits (which is why most&nbsp;<a href="">American business</a> voluntarily offer some paid leave benefits). But some workers would rather have larger paychecks and fewer benefits. That should be their right. Moreover, some businesses can&rsquo;t afford to offer paid leave benefits to all workers, and forcing them to do so would require job cuts or closures. Companies need and deserve flexibility too.</p> <p> This flexibility made it possible for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, the small nonprofit organization that I help manage, to hire a woman just three months before her due date. We offered some paid time off so she could adjust to motherhood, but asked that she be available by phone and email to help us function while she was on leave. Such negotiations and the development of flexible, win-win relationships wouldn&rsquo;t take place if a one-size-fits-all law were&nbsp;enforced.</p> <p> This doesn&rsquo;t mean that nothing can be done to help more workers prepare for leave or to help those who struggle financially when they need to take time off. Policymakers can start by making it easier for people to save on their own for periods of leave and encourage Americans to assist those with lower incomes who lack paid leave benefits through tax incentives or private charity. The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum recently released&nbsp;<a href="">a report</a> calling for the creation of &ldquo;personal care accounts&rdquo; (PCAs), which would allow workers to save pretax income to be used when they take time off for situations eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Saving in advance could help workers who lack paid leave benefits replace income when they need to take time off from work.</p> <p> Of course, workers living paycheck-to-paycheck can&rsquo;t save on their own. Policymakers can help them by using tax breaks to encourage businesses to open and contribute to PCAs for these workers and to offset the costs of other leave benefits. For example, Virginia considered <a href="">legislation</a> that would have given small businesses that provided paid leave benefits for workers taking leave after the birth of a child a tax credit to help offset these costs. This could make it easier for more businesses to offer such benefits. Private charities could also help by setting up and funding PCAs for workers with lower incomes.</p> <p> Undoubtedly, PCAs won&rsquo;t ensure that everyone has the time off that they need. Yet in discussions about paid leave policy, it&rsquo;s important to recognize that there is no magical solution that will help everyone without also harming others by eroding job opportunities and reducing take-home pay. Sweeping mandates and government paid leave entitlement programs are sometimes presented as magic solutions, but only because they ignore those women who would&nbsp;miss out on higher pay or better jobs, or would&nbsp;be priced out of the job market entirely. Policymakers can best help people by giving both workers and companies flexibility.</p> L. LukasWed, 11 May 2016 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSorry, Secret: Women Shouldn’t Sweat The Wage Gap<p> Secret deodorant isn&rsquo;t just hocking a nice-smelling antiperspirant: It&rsquo;s selling women empowerment. At least, that&rsquo;s the vibe its <a href="">popular new commercial</a> strives to create by featuring a young woman nervously preparing to ask her boss for a raise. The commercial teeters on the edge of perpetuating a rather tired woman-as-victim message. but ultimately offers something more.</p> <p> Lucy, a pretty, young professional, practices in the office bathroom mirror how she&rsquo;ll approach her boss. The boss must be intimidating: She vacillates between addressing him formally, as &ldquo;Mr. Kendal,&rdquo; or casually calling him &ldquo;Bob&hellip; Bobby,&rdquo; hinting at the struggle women have in navigating old boys&rsquo; networks and dealing with male authority figures. One of her most compelling arguments&mdash;&ldquo;Todd makes more than I do and has only worked here for two years&rdquo;&mdash;suggests her workplace is steeped in sexism.</p> <p> When an older, unattractive female coworker meets her gaze in the mirror, viewers expect the older women to put Lucy down. Our culture tells us women typically see each other as adversaries, especially when there are big differences in age and looks. But instead the matron offers her young colleague encouragement: &ldquo;Do It!&rdquo; Secret closes the one-minute video with the message &ldquo;At three o&rsquo;clock, Lucy does her part to close the wage gap.&rdquo;</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>One of These Employees Is Not Like the Other</strong></span></p> <p> In reality, the wage gap in Lucy&rsquo;s office would almost certainly be far less than the statistics we commonly hear suggest. Politicians and feminists imply that the Department of Labor statistic showing that the average full-time female worker earns about 80 percent of the average full-time male worker means that&rsquo;s the typical difference between two coworkers, one male and one female, with the same backgrounds and responsibilities, working in the same job at the same company.</p> <p> Yet that&rsquo;s not what that statistic tells us at all. Men and women tend to make <a href="'s-Time-For-Straight-Talk-About-the-Wage-Gap">very different choices</a> about work, which dramatically impact how much they earn. Men typically spend more time on the job each day than women do. Men and women tend to choose different industries and specialties; women tend to take more time out of the workforce and opt for jobs that are less dangerous, with more regular hours, and that are less physically demanding. Men take on dangerous, unpleasant jobs and bad hours in exchange for bigger paychecks.</p> <p> When those factors are taken into account, all but <a href="">a few percentage points</a> of the wage gap disappears. That means Lucy may earn less than her coworker Todd, but it&rsquo;s probably not by very much.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>Women Can Undercut&nbsp;Themselves</strong></span></p> <p> Of course, that shouldn&rsquo;t stop her from talking to her boss and making the pitch for a raise. In fact, some researchers have hypothesized that women&rsquo;s greater reticence to talk about money may be at the root of the unexplained wage gap. Women <a href="">are less likely to negotiate</a> their starting salaries, and more hesitant to ask for raises than men are. Over time, this can add up and contribute to earning disparities.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s incredibly important&mdash;and empowering&mdash;information for women to have. We can do something about that. We can keep that in mind when considering future job offers or when approaching an annual review. We can prepare ourselves to negotiate and make the case that we deserve more. As parents, we can also make sure we teach our daughters from a young age the importance of being comfortable discussing money and to properly value their time and talents.</p> <p> Lucy can do it, and she should. I hope that&rsquo;s the message women take from this commercial. Rather than assuming the wage gap is a great chasm and proof our economy and workplaces are intractably sexist, women should recognize that the choices we make&mdash;and our willingness to speak up on our own behalf&mdash;will determine how much we earn and how high we rise. Recognizing how much is in our control will make women more confident, and give us less reason to sweat.</p> L. LukasFri, 6 May 2016 07:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCareer Focus Ignored In Discussion Of Income Inequality<p> A think tank continues to shed light on what is called the &quot;wage gap&quot; between male and female workers. The new focus involves the difference between the life choices of male and female college graduates.</p> <p> According to the Economic Policy Institute, young men right out of college are paid more than their female peers. An email from EPI goes on to say that young men with a college degree earn an average hourly wage of $20.94 early in their careers, while their female counterparts earn an average hourly wage of $16.58. That equates to a $9,000 annual wage gap for full-time workers.</p> <p> &quot;The best way to close the gender wage gap for people of all educational backgrounds is for all working people to see real wage increases, with women&#39;s wages increasing at a faster rate than men&#39;s,&quot; says EPI.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, managing director at </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, considers this another example of &quot;very cherry-picked statistics&quot; that do not tell much about the role that discrimination plays in the workforce.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;And certainly discrimination is what EPI is implying,&quot; Lukas says. &quot;The problem in that is that they aren&#39;t comparing two recent graduates who are holding the same jobs, working for the same company or even in the same industry. Rather, they&#39;re just taking the average female college graduate and comparing her to the average male college graduate.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Lukas doesn&#39;t consider that very useful because it ignores other more personal factors.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;We all know that men and women often make different choices about what to study during college and what careers to pursue after college,&rdquo; she tells OneNewsNow. &ldquo;And there are big differences in what some of those jobs pay and how they compensate their workers.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;So this really is another very misleading statistic - and it&#39;s really not helping an honest discussion of the situation that men and women face in the economy.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><a href=";utm_campaign=c9f8e6630b-EPI_News_04_29_164_29_2016&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_e7c5826c50-c9f8e6630b-55943493"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">EPI offers information</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> on the wage gap, </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">as does IWF</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">.</span></span></strong></span></p> L. LukasThu, 5 May 2016 08:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSexual Harassment Training Isn’t Just a Waste of Time: It’s Harmful<p> The last time you had to sit through a training program or sign your office&rsquo;s fine-print disclosure on sexual harassment policy, you probably thought you were just wasting your time. You were wrong: Research suggests that efforts to raise awareness and train employees about sexual harassment may be worse than a waste. They may actually lead to more tolerance for sexual harassment, as well a greater reliance on stereotypes and more animosity between the sexes.</p> <p> A <a href="">research team at Stanford</a>, for example, used an experiment in which one group of men heard a sexual harassment policy before conducting a task with an unseen female partner. The researchers found that, compared to a control group, these men were more likely to believe &ldquo;most people think both men and women are lower status, less competent, and less considerate,&rdquo; and personally thought &ldquo;everybody was lower in status.&rdquo; <a href="">Another study</a> of participants in a sexual harassment training seminar found that &ldquo;[m]ale participants were less likely than other groups to perceive coercive sexual harassment, less willing to report sexual harassment, and more likely to blame the victim.&rdquo;</p> <p> So much for sensitivity training. These findings may surprise the writers at <a href="">The Guardian</a> and <a href="">New York Magazine</a>, but probably seem pretty obvious to the rest of us. Few people forced to read legalese or watch stilted programming about Johnny and Jane learning appropriate office behavior feel affirmed and inspired to be more respectful to others. Rather, such programs tend to remind us of everything that&rsquo;s wrong with our culture, with people assuming the worst of each other and forcing everyone to walk on eggshells lest they offend someone else.</p> <p> The researchers studying the impact of these training programs acknowledge that they may be inadvertently activating &ldquo;gender stereotypes rather than challenging them,&rdquo; and that men who already feel women enjoy a double standard&mdash;welcoming sexual attention in some circumstances but also able to claim harassment&mdash;may feel their suspicions are confirmed. One researcher blamed these unwelcome results on the content of training, which tends to rely on cartoonish examples.</p> <p> That may be true, but the flaws in the training programs also speak to the more fundamental problem of the selective and arbitrary nature of sexual harassment categorizations themselves. We all know that in the real world, the off-color joke told by the cool male coworker may be deemed acceptable office banter, but when it&rsquo;s uttered by the awkward, pot-bellied, older guy, then it&rsquo;s contributing to a hostile environment and becomes potential fodder for a lawsuit. A woman who wants to go out with her colleague or even her supervisor may well be flattered when he makes an advance, but the hapless guy who mistakenly thought she was interested can end up in big trouble.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="true" scrolling="no" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="640"></iframe></p> <p> Sexual harassment training experts suggest that companies should set clear guidelines and consequences. But companies only have so much discretion since the law invites litigation not just for egregious situations, such as a boss coercing an underling or offering perks for sexual favors, but for more nebulous situations that could be the result of mere misunderstandings, differences in people&rsquo;s sense of humor, or a romantic partnership gone bad. Since nearly <a href="">40 percent of workers admit</a> to having dated a coworker, there will inevitably be many grey areas and misunderstandings about what&rsquo;s within the parameters of normal adult relationships and what&rsquo;s out-of-bounds.</p> <p> People who are genuinely interested in promoting greater respect and understanding among the sexes, and among different groups of people more broadly, ought to consider the implications of these findings, and how other awareness-raising efforts might similarly be backfiring. College campuses, for example, have increasingly prioritized encouraging&mdash;even requiring&mdash;students to ruminate on social problems, whether they&rsquo;re the problems faced by women, transgendered students, African-Americans, or other minority groups. Yet this approach hardly seems to be healing divisions or reducing conflict. <a href="">Surveys suggest race relations</a> are at a twenty-year low. Undoubtedly there are many reasons for this unhappy reality, but it&rsquo;s worth considering how dwelling on our differences and encouraging people to focus on society&rsquo;s problems may be giving those problems more power, rather than less.</p> L. LukasWed, 4 May 2016 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump secures most unbound delegates in Pennsylvania<p> &quot;We will continue to have a strong and dedicated staff of more than 300 workers who are going to help us win in California and other contests still to come&quot;, he said.</p> <p> Clinton also faces the task of drawing Sanders&#39;s supporters to her side after the Democratic National Convention in July. Not only did Donald Trump win the vote total among Republicans in Pennsylvania but 39 of the 54 uncommitted delegates from the state say they will be supporting Trump at the GOP convention.</p> <p> But speaking in Evansville in the hotly-contested state, he continued to rail against what he calls the &quot;crooked way&quot; the party picks its nominee and claimed his rival Ted Cruz is unfairly <em>winning</em> delegates. He has vowed to compete until the final District of Columbia primary in June. &quot;So if people are only campaigning in the purple states they are only campaigning to those swing state voters and not caring about what the whole country needs&quot;, explained Nicholas Engel, who has been volunteering with the campaign, from state to state, for months.</p> <p> &quot;I can neither support a liar and a criminal, nor a bigot and a racist&quot;, says Joshua Cortes, a freshman at the University of Florida. Bernie Sanders and his failure to address certain issues and questions that we voters should have answered.</p> <p> &quot;I don&#39;t think there&#39;s going to be any taboos with Donald Trump&quot;, said James Pethokoukis, a scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute. &quot;When he said, &#39;Bad judgment, &#39; I said, &#39;Sound bite!&#39;&quot;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&quot;Hillary Clinton and her supporters have employed this line far too often suggesting that women somehow owe her their support just because she&#39;s a woman&quot;, said Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum. </span></strong></span></span>For example, Sanders spent more than $4.8 million on payroll expenses in March, compared with $2.7 million for Clinton, according to an NPR analysis of those fundraising reports.</p> <p> &quot;We will unify our party to win this election&quot;, Clinton said Tuesday night in her victory speech in <em>Philadelphia</em>, mindful of the distrust harbored by enthusiastic supporters of rival Sen.</p> <p> At least some in the Sanders camp have signaled that changes are in the works.</p> <p> &quot;A restaurant in Pennsylvania has unveiled a pizza inspired by Hillary Clinton&quot;.</p> <p> Second, however, it&#39;s also important for Sanders not to alienate Clinton and other members of the party.</p> <p> Jane Sanders recently sat down with MSNBC&#39;s &quot; Morning Joe&quot; for an interview.</p> <p> &quot;Trump did an impression of Hillary Clinton accusing her of needing a teleprompter and speaking in a boring, robotic manner&quot;.</p> <p> &quot;We may be spoiling their day but we&#39;re not spoiling the race&quot;.</p> <p> Mr Boehner said he and Mr Trump are &quot;texting buddies&quot; and he will vote for the property tycoon.</p> L. LukasMon, 2 May 2016 07:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHillary Clinton Wants You To (Literally) Play Your “Woman Card”<p> Hillary Clinton is not only embracing the accusation that she is &ldquo;playing the woman card,&rdquo; she wants all of her women supporters to play the game with her.</p> <p> Clinton&rsquo;s women&rsquo;s outreach director Mini Timmaraju emailed supporters on Thursday&nbsp;advertising a limited time opportunity&nbsp;to receive their&nbsp;own literal &ldquo;woman card,&rdquo; <a href=";isd=No&amp;/&amp;utm_source=sp&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=20160429hfa2_fr&amp;utm_content=25368078-20160429-HFA-full%20(2)&amp;utm_term=Link%204&amp;spMailingID=25368078&amp;spUserID=MTE0MzE4MzI2Njc4S0&amp;spJobID=784531079&amp;spReportId=Nzg0NTMxMDc5S0">in exchange for a campaign donation</a>.</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been hearing from supporters all over the country that they&rsquo;d like a &lsquo;woman card&rsquo; of their very own &mdash; to display proudly on a fridge or pull out of their wallet every time they run into someone who says women who support Hillary must not be using our brains,&rdquo; the email read.</p> <p> For anyone who missed it, earlier this week, Trump said the only thing Clinton has going for her in this election is her gender.</p> <p> &ldquo;If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don&rsquo;t think she&rsquo;d get 5 percent of the vote,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The only thing she&rsquo;s got going is the woman&rsquo;s card.&rdquo;</p> <p> Since this comment, plenty of female writers and social media users have joked that their &ldquo;woman card&rdquo; gives them access to lower wages, fewer job opportunities, and increased chance of harassment and sexual assault.</p> <p> Clinton has also taken hold of this idea to turn the political tide in her favor.</p> <p> &ldquo;If fighting for women&rsquo;s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the &lsquo;woman card,&rsquo; then deal me in,&rdquo; <a href="">she responded</a>.</p> <p> Of course, Trump was not attacking Clinton&rsquo;s positions on any of the above issues,&nbsp;rather he was pointing out that many people who&nbsp;support her&nbsp;do so solely because they would like to see a female President of the United States.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Hillary Clinton and her supporters have employed this line far too often suggesting that women somehow owe her their support just because she&rsquo;s a woman,&rdquo; said Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s ridiculous and, frankly, sexist. Donald Trump is right to point out that people should evaluate candidates based on their vision and experience. That&rsquo;s truly treating women and men equally. Voting for someone simply because she&rsquo;s a woman is as wrongheaded as voting against someone for being a woman.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> L. LukasFri, 29 Apr 2016 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPersonal Care Accounts Can Help People Who Need Time Off from Work<p> Americans are dismayed by stories about parents who can&rsquo;t afford to take time off from work when a new baby is born or a family member is hospitalized. We believe money worries shouldn&rsquo;t compound the challenges of stressful times that have such a profound effect on our personal health and happiness. That&rsquo;s why Americans overwhelmingly want policymakers to take action to help people who lack paid leave benefits through their jobs.</p> <p> This is a laudable instinct. Yet those who want to help people without benefits need to make sure that in seeking to solve one problem, they aren&rsquo;t creating new ones. Unfortunately, that&rsquo;s what often happens when government intervenes.</p> <p> A law requiring all businesses to provide paid leave, for example, sounds like a straightforward way to solve this problem. Unfortunately, however, such a mandate would backfire on many workers &mdash; particularly women workers &mdash; by making them more expensive to employ.</p> <p> Some businesses can absorb higher employment costs, but many can&rsquo;t. Businesses facing increased costs have to compensate by raising prices on consumers or cutting other spending. Managers often have to find savings in their workforce and either reduce base pay or consolidate jobs. That means that while some workers would enjoy a new paid leave benefit as a result of a government mandate, others will be big losers from the policy, seeing their take-home pay cut or their jobs disappear entirely.</p> <p> Ironically (but unsurprisingly), the people everyone most wants to help &mdash; those with the lowest pay and fewest benefits who are most vulnerable to significant hardship &mdash; are the ones most likely to suffer as a result of a mandate. Americans have witnessed this phenomenon with the minimum wage, as workers with lower education or fewer skills find their jobs eliminated and face high unemployment rates. Other employment mandates and family-friendly programs intended to help women have also been shown to lead to lower pay and less employment options.</p> <p> This doesn&rsquo;t mean that there is nothing that policymakers can do to help workers who lack family leave benefits. The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum recently released Working for Women report calling for the creation of &ldquo;Personal Care Accounts&rdquo; (PCAs), which would allow workers to save pre-tax income, which could then be used when they take time off for situations eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act.</p> <p> Employers could also receive a tax benefit for contributing to employees&rsquo; accounts.</p> <p> Unused funds in PCAs could eventually be rolled into retirement accounts, which would also increase financial security for these workers and encourage people to be good stewards of these resources, judiciously using their leave time.</p> <p> Of course, savings accounts won&rsquo;t solve this problem for everyone: Workers scraping by day to day are unlikely to find a way to contribute to a PCA. Younger workers who haven&rsquo;t had time to build up savings in their PCA accounts will also be vulnerable when they need to take leave.</p> <p> Yet Americans are up to the challenge of helping these people. Private charities could be set up to open and fund PCAs for lower-income workers in need.</p> <p> Consider that there are 4 million babies born each year in the United States. About two-thirds of the women giving birth are in the labor force. A $5,000 PCA for the poorer half of those mothers would require about $7 billion. That&rsquo;s a big number, but not so incredible when you consider that charitable giving in the United States exceeded $350 billion in 2014. Family groups and progressive philanthropists could make this a charitable priority.</p> <p> There is no magical, costless way to ensure that everyone has the time off that they need without harming people&rsquo;s employment prospects. All proposals have their benefits and their drawbacks. Personal Care Accounts have the potential to help many workers and wouldn&rsquo;t backfire on low-income workers by pricing them out of the labor market.</p> <p> And unlike sweeping one-size-fits-all mandates and government programs, they also wouldn&rsquo;t discourage companies from offering their own benefits or flexible work arrangements that can be win-wins for businesses and women. They are an option worth exploring further so that we can find ways to really help people who need time off from work, but who want jobs too.</p> L. LukasThu, 28 Apr 2016 15:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMelissa Click: Being A 'White Lady' Made Her ‘An Easy Target’ <p> The craziness continues with Melissa Click, back to rant about&nbsp;her firing from the University of Missouri. &ldquo;This is all about racial politics,&rdquo; she claimed&nbsp;<a href="">in Monday&rsquo;s&nbsp;interview</a> with the Chronicle of Higher Education. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a white lady. I&rsquo;m an easy target.&rdquo;</p> <p> In November, then-Professor Click prevented&nbsp;a student reporter from covering student protests at the University of Missouri. She called for&nbsp;&ldquo;muscle&rdquo; to help remove the reporter.</p> <p> Click <a href="">was charged with assault in January</a> and <a href="">fired in February</a>.</p> <p> The university curators voted to fire her because&nbsp;she &ldquo;was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">For those&nbsp;comments on race, Click has the role as &ldquo;unintentional destroyer of college campuses&rsquo; PC edifice,&rdquo; Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum (IWF), </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">told</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&nbsp;the New York Post.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Lukas also believes that Click&rsquo;s lawsuit against the university for allegedly not&nbsp;following the rules in similar firing cases like hers &ldquo;may have merit.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&ldquo;Where was Click when&nbsp;[Tom] Wolfe was being similarly sacrificed for political expedience?&rdquo; Lukas asked.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> To be consistent, Click would have to go further:</p> <p> If Click is serious about raising awareness about the unfair, quasi-judicial proceedings that pass for justice at American universities, perhaps she could lead a class-action suit with all the students &mdash; particularly men &mdash; who have been subjected to sexual-assault tribunals or tossed out over dubious Title IX violations for creating a &ldquo;hostile&rdquo; environment.</p> <p> It does not seem that that was the point of Monday&rsquo;s interview. &ldquo;Being Melissa Click&rdquo; is&nbsp;a sympathetic feature. Click was complaining about her firing in the way she knew how.&nbsp;While &ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t the one in charge,&rdquo; Click claimed, she &ldquo;was the one held accountable.&rdquo;</p> <p> Click is looking for employment elsewhere and will be offering her prospective employers&nbsp;<a href="">a 10-page curriculum vitae</a>, citing her&nbsp;publications on &ldquo;femininity, affluence, and whiteness in the Martha Stewart phenomenon,&rdquo;&nbsp;Twilight,&nbsp;and&nbsp;Fifty Shades of Grey.&nbsp;A <a href="">compilation of </a>the nine &ldquo;most preposterous&rdquo; &nbsp;citations was published by&nbsp;the Daily Caller.&nbsp;</p> L. LukasWed, 27 Apr 2016 15:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMelissa Click Just (Accidentally) Outed The Campus-PC Gestapo<p> Melissa Click may not know it, but since being fired by the University of Missouri she&rsquo;s already taken up another important role: unintentional destroyer of college campuses&rsquo; PC edifice.</p> <p> Americans first met Assistant Professor Click in video clips taken last year during the campus protests roiling Mizzou. In one, Click called for some &ldquo;muscle&rdquo; to remove a journalist attempting to cover the protest. Another showed Click cursing at police officers.</p> <p> The university&rsquo;s Board of Curators voted to fire her, carefully noting that it wasn&rsquo;t due to her views or support for the protestors, but because she wasn&rsquo;t supposed to &ldquo;interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.&rdquo;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s a pretty low bar for employment at a state university.</p> <p> Yet Click has a point when she says she alone is being singled out for punishment. She contends: &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a superhero .&thinsp;.&thinsp;. I wasn&rsquo;t in charge.&rdquo; True: she wasn&rsquo;t. She simply had the misfortune of being caught on camera.</p> <p> Click may be too modest, however, and is overlooking her superhero-like ability to embody everything that&rsquo;s wrong with campus culture. Her video clip, like Batman&rsquo;s emblem in the sky, ought to be enough to stir Americans &mdash; even those in power in higher education &mdash; into action to demand overdue campus reform, if we&rsquo;re paying attention.</p> <p> Start with Click&rsquo;s gymnastics on the issue of racial politics. Click was involved with protests stemming from anger over the events in Ferguson, Mo., where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by police officers.</p> <p> Student protesters cited a handful of alleged racially charged incidents &mdash; swastika graffiti, the use of the N-word &mdash; to charge that the school was also a hotbed of racial injustice.</p> <p> They called on University President Tim Wolfe to resign, and he did, capitulating to the students&rsquo; demands, which were egged on by activist professors like Click.</p> <p> Click now claims her own dismissal is racially charged, meant to send a message that blacks aren&rsquo;t supposed to stand up against whites. Yet she also notes that being &ldquo;a white lady&rdquo; makes her an &ldquo;easy target.&rdquo;</p> <p> In other words, Click believes that although bigotry pervades the university&rsquo;s liberal halls, administrators are too cowed to fire anyone who isn&rsquo;t white, making her supposed white privilege also her biggest handicap.</p> <p> Click is suing the school for allegedly failing to follow the rules governing firings in cases like hers. Her charge may have merit. But where was Click when Wolfe was being similarly sacrificed for political expedience?</p> <p> If Click is serious about raising awareness about the unfair, quasi-judicial proceedings that pass for justice at American universities, perhaps she could lead a class-action suit with all the students &mdash; particularly men &mdash; who have been subjected to sexual-assault tribunals or tossed out over dubious Title IX violations for creating a &ldquo;hostile&rdquo; environment.</p> <p> Click is now looking for a new gig in academia. Like too many alumni today, she&rsquo;s qualified for little else. During her many years of schooling, she garnered degrees in Advanced Feminist Studies and studied the feminist implications of Martha Stewart, &ldquo;50 Shades of Grey&rdquo; and &ldquo;Twilight.&rdquo;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s a tough r&eacute;sum&eacute; to have in this job market. Yet Click can take comfort that she&rsquo;s in good company with the many students who saddled themselves with tens of thousands of dollars in student-loan debt to attend classes like hers: In fact, about half of all recent college grads are working in jobs that don&rsquo;t actually require a college degree.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s long been evident that something is seriously wrong with American higher education, but Click&rsquo;s case ties key pieces of the puzzle together: the absurdity of the racial- and gender-grievance game on college campuses, the politically motivated inquisitions that serve as university justice and the increasingly useless nature of so much of what&rsquo;s studied.</p> <p> American campuses need a heroic overhaul if they&rsquo;re going to prepare the next generation to be citizens and leaders in the real world. That&rsquo;ll require real academic freedom and open debate &mdash; which won&rsquo;t include safe spaces &mdash; as well as rigorous academic standards that require students to actually study and learn.</p> <p> The challenge is huge, and the stakes are high. Good thing a superhero like Melissa Click is showing the way.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> L. LukasWed, 27 Apr 2016 07:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy European Children Are So Much Quieter Than Yours<p> The playgrounds weren&rsquo;t just beautiful. They were <em>quiet</em>. That was what struck me when I first moved to Vienna, Austria. Children there played and laughed, but rarely yelled across the park. Naturally, we Americans stood out. It wasn&rsquo;t just my young daughter yelling, &ldquo;Hey Mom, look at me!&rdquo; from atop the climbing gym. I was part of the problem: &ldquo;Time to go home!&rdquo; I&rsquo;d thoughtlessly yell from my bench, and then feel other parents&rsquo; eyes dart toward me in disapproval.</p> <p> European parents&rsquo; discipline about not shouting at their kids was all the more impressive since they also almost never followed their children from apparatus to apparatus, as is the habit of most of us hovering American parents. These parents sat at the edges of the sprawling playground, reading books, drinking coffee, and letting their tots explore on their own. When they had to talk to their kids, they got up and walked close enough that they could use a normal voice.</p> <p> I was baffled at first, and I&rsquo;d snicker with my fellow expats about the harsh disciplinary measures and lack of spirit that must explain the bizarre quiet. Yet now, nearly eight years later, I&rsquo;ve come to see a logic behind our different cultures, and understand why Americans&rsquo; reputation for being loud and boorish and the continental Europeans&rsquo; reputation for being cold and standoffish exist, but are ultimately incomplete.</p> <p> A root cause, it seems to me, is the very different roles that public spaces play in our lives and communities. Americans are less likely to <a href="">live in apartments</a> and generally have <a href="">bigger homes</a> and yards than <a href="">Europeans</a> do. That means American children typically play in backyards and parents enjoy quiet and a bit of nature on their own properties. So when Americans seek out a playground, we are looking for company. Our children go to find other kids, and we parents are often also looking for conversation, rather than just an opportunity to sit peacefully under a tree. For city dwelling Europeans, the parks and playgrounds are their backyards. They go there to let their kids run around, but also to enjoy a natural setting themselves.</p> <p> The differences in the use of public spaces explain behaviors outside of the playground too. Americans find it jarring when they are sitting at a European caf&eacute; or restaurant and someone takes the empty seat at their table. If someone is sharing our space, we assume we have to interact. Europeans presume that they and others will enjoy privacy even in close quarters. Just as American parents teach their children to look people in the eye and politely greet them, European children are taught how to interact quietly to avoid bothering people around them.</p> <p> We learn these skills from a young age. My daughter&rsquo;s 5th grade class (at a public school in Berlin, Germany) practices what they call their &ldquo;one meter&rdquo; voices: students are expected to sit with a partner and engage in quiet conversation. They are supposed to be able to hear each other, but not be heard more than one meter away. This allows other conversations to take place around them, creating an expectation of privacy and personal space in a crowded room.</p> <p> Americans often hear about how much more sophisticated Europe is: women nurse their babies openly, and people change their clothes in public parks or by swimming pools because they don&rsquo;t have our hang-ups about nudity. It may be that Europeans are just more comfortable with nudity, but this different relationship with public spaces also comes into play. In Europe, I may be in a public setting but the space around me is mine. I know that my neighbors at the playground, caf&eacute;, beach, or bus stop are going to do their best to ignore me entirely and give me whatever privacy I may want or need.</p> <p> At first, I mistook these customs&mdash;the failure to make eye contact or smile while passing on the street, the utter lack of chit-chat that&rsquo;s the background buzz of American waiting rooms and checkout lines&mdash;as evidence of a core coldness. Yet I&rsquo;ve come to see it not as a lack of friendliness or compassion, but an outgrowth of the Europeans&rsquo; respect for privacy in the public sphere.</p> <p> And the good news is that&mdash;while of course I&rsquo;ve heard European friends joke about the brash, guffawing Americans ruining the atmosphere of a restaurant or public garden&mdash;most of them also appreciate the upsides of Americans&rsquo; dispositions: our open faces and quick smiles, as well as our instinctive friendliness and willingness to talk and laugh with strangers. Just as I&rsquo;ve come to understand their lack of smiles, they understand that Americans&rsquo; loudness isn&rsquo;t intended to bother them (even if it sometimes does).</p> <p> My children are still noisier than their European neighbors, and I occasionally slip and holler to my kids across the playground. But I&rsquo;m trying to embrace these rituals of European public spaces, and not only because it&rsquo;s good manners to respect the customs of your host country when you are a guest. I find I also enjoy the privacy and the quiet. Even at the playground.</p> L. LukasTue, 26 Apr 2016 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPersonal Care Accounts Can Help More Than Just Savers<p> The family leave issue is a tough one.&nbsp;&nbsp; While <a href="">most businesses</a> offer full-time workers paid leave benefits (which typically can be used for maternity leave or other situations that fall under the &ldquo;family leave&rdquo; category), many workers&mdash;particularly part-time workers and those with lower-incomes&mdash;don&rsquo;t have any paid leave. And even those who do often don&rsquo;t have benefits generous enough to cover the recommended minimum of six weeks for recovering from the birth of a child.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s a real problem, and can create tremendous hardship for women and families.</p> <p> Yet solving this problem isn&rsquo;t as simple as declaring that all businesses must provide six weeks of paid leave to all workers, or even creating a government program to provide benefits directly. That&rsquo;s because such mandates and programs change the expected employment costs associated with workers, particularly female workers. Family leave mandate advocates often seem to want to shrug off such boring economic concept as mere excuses not help women. But these dollars-and-cents considerations really do matter and ignoring that reality can harm those who we all want to help.</p> <p> All businesses consider how much workers will cost, and make adjustments when employment costs change. Some businesses can easily absorb the higher costs that would occur from new mandates (whether it&rsquo;s a new leave benefit or a higher minimum wage). But not all of them can. Most have to figure out how to compensate for those costs, by raising prices on consumers or cutting other spending, which can include cutting base pay or consolidating jobs. As a result, while some workers are winners from these progressive proposals, others are losers who see their wages cut or jobs disappear. Ironically (but unsurprisingly), people with the lowest pay and fewest benefits before the introduction of a new mandate are the ones most likely to suffer after its imposition. We&rsquo;ve seen how this works with the <a href="">minimum wage</a>, as well as with the introduction of other <a href="">employment mandates</a> and <a href="">family-friendly programs</a> intended to help women, but that ultimately make women more expensive to employ.</p> <p> This economic reality check doesn&rsquo;t mean that there is nothing that policymakers can do to help workers who lack family leave benefits.</p> <p> The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum recently released <a href="">a report</a> calling for the creation of &ldquo;Personal Care Accounts&rdquo; (PCAs), which would allow workers to save pre-tax income, which could then be used when they take time off for situations eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The <a href="">Washington Post&rsquo;s Danielle Paquette</a> wrote this even-handed article that laid out the issue, including this critique:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Jeffrey Hayes, program director of job quality and income security at&nbsp;<a href="">the Institute for Women&rsquo;s Policy Research</a>,&nbsp;questioned the effectiveness of IWF&rsquo;s proposal, saying&nbsp;more attention should be paid to young parents with the least&nbsp;financial security. Some work part time or for small firms that supply&nbsp;no benefits. Others carry thousands of dollars in student debt.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;Pregnancy tends to happen early in the life course,&rdquo; Hayes said. &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t&nbsp;have time to build up much money.&rdquo;</p> <p> This is certainly a fair point: Workers scraping by day-to-day aren&rsquo;t going to contribute to a PCA. Yet that doesn&rsquo;t mean that those with lower incomes couldn&rsquo;t benefit from such a system since private charities could be set up to open and fund PCAs for lower income workers in need.</p> <p> Consider that there are <a href="">four million babies born</a> each year in the United States. About two-thirds of the women giving birth are in the labor force. A $5,000 PCA for the poorer half of those mothers would require about $7 billion. That&rsquo;s a big number, but not so incredible when you consider that charitable giving in the United States <a href="">exceeded $350 billion</a> in 2014. Family groups and progressive philanthropists could make this a charitable priority.</p> <p> This isn&rsquo;t a magical solution and won&rsquo;t ensure that everyone has the time off that they need. Yet it would help many workers and won&rsquo;t backfire on low-income workers by pricing them out of the labor market. And unlike sweeping one-size-fits-all mandates and government programs, it wouldn&rsquo;t discourage companies from offering their own benefits or flexible work arrangements that can be win-wins for businesses and women. It&rsquo;s an issue worth exploring further to help more people have the time off they need, without putting their jobs in jeopardy.</p> L. LukasThu, 21 Apr 2016 07:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum