Ahead of Labor Day, Gender Justice Experts Discuss Most Urgent Workplace Threats to Women & Opportunities to Address Inequality
August 30. 2023
For Immediate Release
Aug 30, 2023
Leading up to Labor Day (Sept. 4), Equal Rights Advocates recognizes unfinished business for American working women in terms of equality, advancement, and economic power and unique opportunities of the moment to drive progress.
Women comprise a majority of the American workforce and have made tremendous strides in recent decades gaining entry to and advancing in a number of historically male-dominated professions. The labor force participation rate for women hit an all-time high in June 2023, reaching 77.8%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Despite this progress, much work remains to realize the goals of the modern labor movement for women and other gender-expansive workers as they recover from COVID-related job loss and combat conservative rollbacks of reproductive and civil rights.
Women also continue to experience biased inequities in pay, promotion, and higher-wage job opportunities. They remain disproportionally harmed by sexual harassment in the workplace and lack of paid leave and other necessities of working caregivers.
Incremental improvements in women’s pay and wealth in recent years are far from uniform, as Black and Brown women remain excluded from the positive trends experienced by other demographics. Despite some of the rosier outlooks reported recently, job reports have painted a much more dire situation for Black women in the workforce–a demographic that experienced an increase in the unemployment rate from 4.4% in April to 5.3% in May. And that doesn’t take into account the number of Black and Latinx women who have been pushed out from the workforce completely–a figure as high as 200,000.
In this landscape of unequal progress, ERA’s Family Voices Amplified research found a full 50% of Black and Latinx women are struggling to make ends meet and are being knocked down the ladder of financial stability due to increased caregiving responsibilities and debt incurred during the pandemic.
We support emerging opportunities to address these work-related needs of American women. Congressional approval of infrastructure investments topping $4 trillion (through the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) present a once-in-a-generation chance to remove barriers that disproportionately block women of color from high- wage and equitable jobs. State legislatures across the country have passed or are considering stronger pay equity laws raising wages for the lowest paid workers and requiring the posting of salary ranges in job listings, which is critical to ending the undervaluation of women’s work. This state-by-state momentum is critical as Congress is considering similar reforms at the federal level.
ERA has been fighting for women’s equality for decades. Partnering with other advocacy organizations to address the country’s most pressing social justice issues, ERA leads the national Equal Pay Today campaign driving wage justice for working women, the Stop Harassment State Network to eradicate workplace harassment and assault, and state campaigns that incubate innovative policy wins ready for replication across the country, such as the Stronger California Women’s Economic Security Campaign. ERA also enforces civil rights laws in court, fights to end all forms of discrimination in schools and workplaces, and provides free legal counseling and advice to those who need it.