Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over
This reply came in the shape of a book, titled: “Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over”, and it will be available as of the 5th May. If you believe in furthering women’s agenda, and wish to understand what the situation for the majority of working women in the USA looks like, it’s a must read for you.
We had the great honour and pleasure that Caroline Fredrickson took her time to chat with us on the WorkLife HUB podcast.
Increasing inequalities in the United States
During the chat Caroline sheds the light on the increasing inequalities in the United States, those at the bottom, mainly women of colour, have no social protection, no legal protection, and yet we rely on them to look after what is most precious to us, our children, our homes, our elderly.
The book starts with a wonderful story, and storytelling and personal accounts form a very important part of the book. They create an incredibly helpful illustration to the other side of the book, which is a very thorough analyses of the current legal system, dating back to some of the founding documents. Caroline Fredrickson, a former legal advisor to the Clinton administration and currently the President of the American Constitution Society really took her time to unearth and understand, why so many working women fall through the holes in the net, and have less rights, or no rights at all, when it comes to asking for vacation, for a raise, or even for bathroom breaks in case of a pregnancy.
What is incredibly striking from the book, is that caregiving as an activity has been so devalued for so long. It’s not seen as work, something that women do naturally. But also something that as a type of work is being looked down on. There is no protection for the workers, who are most underpaid and overworked.
We spend some time discussing the lack of affordable and available, quality childcare for the majority of working mothers, and one striking aspect of this system is what Caroline has identified as a category of childcare: “Self-care.” This simply refers to children being left alone, if there isn’t relative or neighbour, and some parents just have to leave their child, they don’t have any other options, as they need to go to work, otherwise they will be fired.
We also discuss the emotional toll, that existential fears take on women working in zero-hour contracts, as contractors, in the retail, fast-food, home-care and other sectors. It cannot be compared to the stress of the executives, who are overworked. We spend very little time on thinking about these low-wage workers, and the emotional toll it takes on families and the consequent costs for societies.
Paid family leave and affordable quality childcare - let's start with that
The single breadwinner model is no longer valid. We have reached the point that is indisputable, that women have a role in the economy, but we need t think it further, how this is possible. How can we make pregnancy and work compatible, and childcare and work compatible, for both women and men.
When asked about what advise she would give to the two champions of working women, Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter, Caroline’s advise is: paid family leave and affordable good quality childcare – let’s start with that.
What needs to happen in the public debate is an honest discussion about what is going to help women? A systemic change, where quite a number of policy and legislative tools, as well as services need to be in place, so that women can truly feel, that they can Lean In, without fear and the very real risk of being dismissed or demoted.