Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty

Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty

Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty

Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty

Synopsis

Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits demonstrates that, while the female corporate executive and the welfare mother may seem to be a world apart, they have much in common -- job discrimination, lower pay than men, and primary responsibility for the unpaid work of making sure their children are cared for. Randy Albelda and Chris Tilly provide a cogent analysis of the economic and social realities for women in the United States, across class lines. In an age when the right wing manipulates the dialogue around women's issues to separate middle- and upper-class women from their poorer sisters, this book's facts, figures, and analysis provide a much-needed antidote.

In clear language, with plenty of supporting data, the authors of this important book explain how the rapid changes in the U.S. economy and culture over the past half-century have increased pressures on families and have left single mothers in the dust. They examine the impact of public policies on families and the shortcomings of current welfare reform initiatives, including the 1996 welfare law. However, they don't stop there. Breaking through the artificial boundaries that have constrained the welfare debate, Albelda and Tilly lay out concrete proposals for transforming not just welfare, but a broad range of public policies to provide real support for families and secure women's economic equality.

Excerpt

When writing a book, it is generally gratifying to find that actual events are making that book ever more relevant. This is one book, however, we would rather have seen become less relevant. True, the main subjects of the book are not likely to soon fade in importance in the United States; women's job market disadvantages, lopsided responsibility for childcare, and disproportionate poverty pose long-term problems. But as we began writing, we hoped that the nation would find the insight, empathy, and political will to move toward more constructive solutions than currently exist.

That has not happened. Instead, the debate on poverty and welfare has grown more irrational, shrill, and mean-spirited. Biased and inaccurate perceptions of women, people of color, and poor people have distorted the public discussion. First many state legislatures and then both Congress and President Clinton approved laws that, despite a rhetoric of encouraging self-reliance, in practice punish rather than aid poor families.

The new laws are already wreaking severe consequences, starting with the millions of women who currently—or until recently—relied on welfare programs. But the impact does not end there. We argue in this book that the turn toward harsher welfare policies has created negative political and economic spillovers for all women and their families.

In this environment, our initial purposes for writing the book have taken on additional urgency. We hope to change the terms of the debate around poverty and welfare in the United States . . .

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