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Group Title: Monograph - Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Title: The one world of working women
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086797/00001
 Material Information
Title: The one world of working women
Series Title: Monograph - Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Physical Description: 15 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Nelson, Anne H
United States -- Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publisher: Dept. of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs :
For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
Place of Publication: Washington
Publication Date: 1978
 Subjects
Subject: Women -- Employment   ( lcsh )
Femmes -- Travail   ( rvm )
Discrimination sexuelle dans l'emploi   ( rvm )
Genre: federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Anne H. Nelson.
General Note: Issued Aug. 1978.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086797
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 04202589

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Preface
        Preface
    Main
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
Full Text






The One World of Working Women


U.S. Department of Labor

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Monograph No. 1


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This monograph was edited by Gordon H.
Cole, consultant, and Joan W. Leslie, Bureau
of International Labor Affairs.
The opinions expressed on these pages are
those of the author and do not necessarily
represent the views or policies of the Depart-
ment of Labor.
Material contained in this publication is in
the public domain and may be reproduced,
fully or partially, without permission of the
Federal Government. Source credit is re-
quested.
















Inquiries regarding this monograph and
those scheduled for future publication should
be directed to: Foreign Publications Group,
Room S5015, Bureau of International Labor
Affairs, U. S. Department of Labor, Washing-
ton, D.C. 20210.







The One World of Working Women



U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Monograph No. 1
Ray Marshall
Secretary of Labor
Howard D. Samuel
Deputy Under Secretary
International Affairs
August 1978


Stock No. 029-000-00324-6


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.






PREFACE









This is the first in a series of occasional
monographs in which the Department of
Labor will report on international labor mat-
ters in other countries that are pertinent to
developments in the United States.
Through this series, the Department hopes
to stimulate discussion, encourage further
study, and provide policy makers inside and
out of government with useful information
and analyses.
We believe you will be interested in this
report on the progress women of many na-
tions are making in achieving greater oppor-
tunity and equality in the working world. The
author, Anne H. Nelson, is associate director
of Cornell University's Institute for Education
and Research on Women and Work, an
activity of the New York State School of
Industrial and Labor Relations.

Howard D. Samuel
Deputy Under Secretary
International Affairs






What surprised them was how much they
had in common, that the same kinds of
discrimination existed in both developing
and industrial nations....


by Anne H. Nelson


"We do not have formal separation of men's and
women's pay but women earn less." The speaker
is a Norwegian Member of Parliament.

"Although our constitution provides for equal pay,
only 2 percent of the women earn the same income as
men." The speaker is a German Member of
the Bavarian Parliament.

"There is no discrimination in legislation in that
there is only one law for both men and women."
The speaker is an African trade unionist
puzzled by the discrepancy between the law
and the facts.

The voices were those of women from the
labor movements of 15 nations. They were
comparing their experiences at a 10-day
seminar in Israel toward the end of the
International Women's Year. They were
gathered to learn from each other, share
strategies, problems, and successes. They
knew their problems could not be solved by
a monolithic approach but only by each
country applying the remedies appropriate
to it.
What surprised them was how much they
had in common, that the same kinds of
discrimination existed in both developing
and industrial nations and that working
women in both had the same practical needs
to ease their burdened lives: housekeeping
equipment, child care, jobs that could be
fitted around their family schedules and the
chance to train for upgrading. This dis-
covery of commonality was repeated in
other forums during IWY 1975 and it has
been rediscovered wherever working women
have met since then.
International Women's Year released a
torrent of public and private documentation


of the widespread discrimination against
women that exists in the world's labor
markets. International bodies, national
commissions, labor organizations and wom-
en's groups focused attention on the gap
between men's and women's wages and
occupations, between their abilities to carry
dual roles as workers and family heads, and
between men's sense of self-worth as valu-
able members of their economic worlds and
women's lack of it.
This report will discuss some of the
changes that have occurred, particularly in
the industrialized nations, the problems that
remain and some reasons for them and
implications for public policy and women's
activity.

Flurry of Initiatives Not Enough
The United Nations' resolution of December
1972 that proclaimed 1975 as International
Women's Year (IWY) inspired national gov-
ernments to adopt equal pay goals. Some
countries issued declarations, others
amended their constitutions, ratified inter-
national conventions or passed specific legis-
lation. Many honored IWY by creating
official women's commissions, usually with
investigative and advisory powers only. Brit-
ain's equal pay and equal opportunity legis-
lation was more thorough. It provided an
oversight commission and also a new Advi-
sory Conciliation and Arbitration Service for
first-step claims, and legal remedies if con-
ciliation fails. The UN initiatives begun for
IWY were extended by proclamation to a
"Decade for Women and Development,
1976-1985." New UN programs to carry out
the World Plan of Action adopted at the
1975 Mexico City conference for IWY were
developed to achieve the goals of that first
world meeting of women.
Today women's regular participation in
the economies of the industrialized nations,





Why do so few women fill decision making
posts in the official commissions that espouse
principles of equality?


and to some degree of the developing na-
tions, is generally accepted. The principle of
equal pay and equal access to jobs and
training opportunities has been substantially
accepted as well. But, as in other areas of
life, principles are easier to embrace than to
follow.
The rate at which women are joining the
workforce has confounded all predictions
and created unexpected difficulties in secur-
ing equal pay and access to jobs and
training. Married women are pouring into
the labor markets of every industrialized
country. In Europe and the United States,
the most rapidly growing group is composed
of mothers with preschool children. Al-
though these women work primarily for
needed family income, the vast majority are
finding they enjoy the change from family
and house responsibilities.
They probably are in the workforce to
stay, and their presence challenges old pat-
terns. For example, how is child care to
be accommodated with work? Child care
arrangements and facilities will be needed
surely, but what these new workers need
most are part-time jobs. That creates a
problem since part-time work typically is
penalized by low pay, little security and no
future. As permanent members of the work-
force, women will seek to change that.
Providing them with equal pay and work
opportunities is likely to require restructur-
ing of existing jobs, pay scales and benefits,
and to change employment patterns for men
as well as women.
Eli Ginzberg, Columbia University
economist and head of the National Com-
mission on Manpower Policy, was quoted by
the New York Times as predicting that the
"revolution in the roles of women... will
have an even greater impact than the rise of
Communism and the development of nu-
clear energy." Problems seem to be the daily
menu whenever great social changes occur,


and they must be reported. But the very
existence of these problems is a sign that
something is being done to right the deeply
rooted inequities borne by one-third of the
world's labor force.

Wage Disparities
The most direct discrimination, separate
wage scales for men and women, has been
resolved for most occupations in the indus-
trialized nations. Collectively bargained
agreements by and large have integrated
wage lists for the same jobs, and men's and
women's minimum wages have been
equalized. Most of these changes have been
quite recent, however. It was not until 1975
that Australia, for example, raised its
minimum wage for women from 85 percent of
men's to 100 percent.
Yet despite legal elimination of the grossest
pay discrimination, women's earnings remain
substantially lower. France estimates they are
66 percent of men's; Britain reports they are
not yet two-thirds. In the United States they
run about 60 percent. Even in Sweden, with
its massive commitment to equality, women's
pay so far stands at 86 percent of men's. The
search for the causes of wage disparities has
led to questions about equal job opportunity,
including some pointed questions about the
seriousness of the commitment among inter-
national bodies.
Men in Decision Making Posts
Why do so few women fill decision making
posts in the official commissions that espouse
principles of equality? The World Plan of
Action points to the need for the UN and
other international bodies to clean house
themselves, review their employment records
and set an example by eliminating in their
own agencies those practices that discrimi-
nate against women. The point was made
again at the National Women's Conference
held in Houston in 1977. There the call for
international agencies to clean house high-






In Germany, there is constitutional protection
but not enabling legislation. The burden of
proving discrimination is on the woman....


lighted a general tendency of government
agencies in the United States and elsewhere
to delay full application of equal opportunity
regulations by requiring compliance first from
the private sector.
The employment record of the European
Commission in Brussels, for instance, shows
that although more than 40 percent of the
7,900 employees are female, no woman is a
commissioner, only two women hold the rank
of director, and few are in even the lower
decision making levels. The vast majority, 83
percent, hold secretarial posts. The Interna-
tional Labor Organization (ILO) and the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) suffer from a similar
imbalance.
That it is important to have women well
represented in top levels of agencies with
responsibility for equality is illustrated by the
experience in Belgium. Writing in the
March-April 1977 issue of ILO's International
Labour Review, C. Pichault reports that the
"problems of women's employment take a
back seat because there are so many other
problems to consider and the bodies con-
cerned are run almost exclusively by men....
It has to be admitted that action on behalf of
women is not pursued with great energy..."
He attributes much of the progress that has
been made by the Belgian Commission on the
Employment of Women to the fact that it is
composed chiefly of women and that they
bring commitment and perseverance to their
task.
Other benefits of women's representation in
all levels of the occupational hierarchy are
demonstrated in new research conducted on
women's employment in New York State
government. The researcher, Susan Mac-
kenzie, found that although the civil service
system officially provides for advancement
based on merit, wherever the distribution of
women in management position was high,
women in lower level positions were far more


likely to be moved up into jobs appropriate to
their skills. Appointment of women to deci-
sion making posts may well be the surest way
of providing equal opportunity to women
generally.

Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value
The phrase, "equal pay for work of equal
value," needs definition if the declarations in
support of it are to have practical meaning.
What does equal pay mean? Does it really
mean what a British union recently dubbed
it: "Men's pay for women?" Or can unequal
wage scales be justified as at least equitable
because many women have child rearing
functions and lower physical strength? Are
low wages for women's work really shameful
evidence of exploitative job classifications? Or
can they be considered merely a non-
discriminatory result of an over-supply of
labor for the jobs women happen to fill?
Answers to these questions are not as
self-evident abroad as we like to think they
are at home. In most countries the legal
recourse used in the United States to define
such terms as "equal pay" is not available. In
November 1977, Nicole Pasquier of France,
then delegate for women's affairs to the Prime
Minister's Office, pointed out the difficulty a
French working woman would have in fight-
ing discrimination. There is no public agency
to help finance and prepare a case, and
affirmative action policies supported by gov-
ernment policy and guidelines are "unheard
of" in France. As a result, few suits are
brought.
In Germany, there is constitutional protec-
tion but not enabling legislation. The burden
of proving discrimination is on the woman,
since evidence of a pattern and practice of
discrimination is not accepted as grounds for
reasonable doubt. Where specific government
support and legal machinery are not avail-
able, challenges take more time and money
and courage than most of us will ever have.
















"Work of equal value" also needs defini-
tion. The attempt to define it has brought
increasing realization that social assumptions
and legal subterfuges have down-graded the
value of the work women perform. What does
"work of equal value" mean? How is value to
be measured if men and women work at
different jobs? Comparability cannot be used,
for example, between the work of a parking
lot attendant and a secretary. New instru-
ments of job evaluation will be needed, and
they are only now beginning to be discussed.

Comparable Worth Studies
Probably the two most thorough attempts
to analyze job content for sex-neutral pay
purposes have been the "comparable worth"
study in this country by the State of Washing-
ton, and the Rutenfranz-Rohmert study in
Germany. The "comparable worth" investiga-
tion, conducted by Norman D. Willis and
Associates, evaluated 121 state job
classifications according to knowledge and
skills required, mental demands, accountabil-
ity and working conditions. A weighted
evaluation system allowed comparison of un-
like jobs. The study showed that jobs held
predominantly by women averaged about 75
percent of the pay of those held predomi-
nantly by men; where evaluation weights
were equal, no woman's job made as much as
the poorest paid male job of the same worth.
The practice of granting wage increases on a
percentage basis further complicated the
bleak picture since with each raise, the pay
gap widens. This practice, common in the
United States, has been turned upside down
by the Swedes, as will be described later.
West Germany, at the instigation of the
Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) and
particularly of its Women's Division, mounted
a re-evaluation of the work classification
scheme that had effectively relegated women
to low-paid job categories. The prevailing
wage scale in that country is established in a


series of steps that divides "light work" at the
bottom of the wage scale from "heavy work"
at the top. The amount of physical effort
required for the work is the primary measure
used for job classification. Not surprisingly,
over 70 percent of all women are in the light
work/low wage steps. The team of Rutenfranz
and Rohmert applied evaluative points to
over 200 aspects of the content of light work
jobs. In the process they refined the descrip-
tion of physical effort needed. For example, if
a woman lifts 15 pound packages all day long,
is that light work because one 15 pound
package is a light weight? They also gave
particular attention to the degree of stress
involved in the job. Their report, published in
1975, provided a tool for negotiating more
equitable pay, but it has yet to be used.
Neglect of its suggestions is partly due to the
fact that the report language is a thicket of
technical expressions not easily understood by
negotiators, but it has run into other obstacles
as well.
Both these attempts to define "work of
equal value" have run into money problems.
Washington State is attempting to incorpo-
rate the "comparable worth" recom-
mendations gradually, and some local gov-
ernments, businesses and organizations are
reported to be applying the concept. But its
women employees and their unions believe
that education and pressure will be needed
for some time before the inequities are cor-
rected.
The Rutenfranz-Rohmert report, on the
other hand, has been rejected by the German
Employers Association (BDA) which main-
tained from the outset that there was no
discrimination. Moreover, with women repre-
senting 52 percent of all unemployed Ger-
mans in early 1977, the recession has hurt
prospects for upgrading or revising the scales.
Momentum to adopt the new measures will
have to be generated in the face of employer
resistance. It probably will have to await


I






... the argument was made that with a
wage system based on age and seniority
increments, it was not desirable to retain
womenfor too long.


stronger union support and a more favorable
economic climate.
Perplexing questions about work of equal
value have been only one aspect of the
challenge of equal pay. Other, more basic
questions had to be asked: Why do women
everywhere hold undervalued jobs? Why are
they so regularly members of the secondary
or reserve workforce? The search for answers
uncovered a host of societal constraints, all
assigning women workers to an inferior status
and many embodied in national legislation:
sex segregated occupations, marital bars to
employment, termination of employment
upon birth of the first child, bars to education
and training programs for skilled trades or
job advancement, inadequate arrangements
for care of children and dependent parents,
protective legislation that fixes masculine
height and weight standards for some jobs
and protects women from night work and
overtime pay in others. Finally, basic hostility
to acceptance of equal economic roles were
found in both men and women.

Litigation as a Tool
An upsurge in litigation of women's employ-
ment issues is one result of the new ques-
tioning and the new information. Although
deplored in some quarters and considered
unnecessary by many people of good will,
litigation has proved an important means for
hastening correction of discriminatory societal
assumptions. Certainly in the United States,
litigation captured the attention of employers
faster than exhortation. The Conference
Board report, Nondiscrimination in Employment:
1963-1972, quotes a personnel executive:
"It was a district court case that first brought the
matter of sex discrimination to our attention. When
we began to look into our own practices, we were
horrified.... Most of our local employment people
simply assumed that women should only be considered
for light assembly jobs or for office/clericaljobs....


sell the idea that women might be able to do well on
certain jobs."
The marriage bar has been challenged
successfully in one country after another,
frequently by airline flight attendants. Rules
on termination of employment for reasons of
pregnancy have generally been overthrown.
Yet traditional attitudes toward married
women's employment continue to obstruct
employment equality.
The most extreme example of the problem
among industrialized nations still is found in
Japan. There the dual structure of employ-
ment for men and women underpins a wage
structure which depends on women not work-
ing long periods since wages are geared to
seniority and age, while women's work is
almost wholly confined to unskilled jobs.
Women are generally expected to retire soon
after they marry or at the birth of the first
child. Although retirement age varies by
occupation and industry, in private industry
women have been urged to retire at about
age 30.
The dilemma was confronted in Japanese
courts in 1973 when retirement at age 30 was
challenged. In defense of the rule, the argu-
ment was made that with a wage system
based on age and seniority increments, it was
not desirable to retain women for too long.
The court ruled that the argument applied
equally to unskilled men and that to differ-
entiate by sex was unlawful.
Nevertheless, informal encouragement of
early retirement continues. Clearly a problem
remains for women in that nation who try to
re-enter the workforce after they have inter-
rupted their work for child rearing. Only
secondary employment without a union con-
tract is usually feasible since the structure of
the primary labor market poses the problem
of how much to pay a newly hired, middle-
aged woman. Wages for a young person
would be too low, while wages that corre-


and even at corporate headquarters it was very hard to sponded to her age would be too high.


I I






Instead of importing "guest workers"...
Sweden tapped its remaining source of
domestic labor -married women. Today,
over 50 percent of the workforce is female.


Companies solve the riddle by not offering
regular employment to re-entry women.
The decision of the European Community
to assert the principle of equal pay led in 1976
to the first equal pay ruling of the European
Court ofJustice which has jurisdiction over
the nine Common Market nations. Gabrielle
Defrenne, a Belgian flight attendant, claimed
her pension was less than a man in her job
would have received because the mandated
retirement for women at age 40 was discrimi-
natory. After her claim was rejected by a
Belgian court, she carried it to the European
Court, basing her case on Article 119, the
equal pay for equal work clause of the Treaty
of Rome, the "constitution" of the European
Community. She appealed for back pay on
the ground that contractual fringe benefits are
indirect wages. Although Sabena Airlines
lawyers, backed by attorneys from Britain
and Ireland, argued that Article 119 was only
a principle and national laws were needed to
give it force, she won the case and the back
pay. Since the European Court ofJustice is
the Community's court of last resort, no
national court can overturn its decision.
The landmark precedent set by the De-
frenne case will cast a long shadow over
future business and contractual relationships
in Europe. If the United States experience is
any clue to what may happen there, questions
regarding equal pay are likely to be matters of
top management concern in Europe for many
years to come. Speculation before settlement
of the Defrenne case was that if she won,
women of all nine Common Market nations
might file similar suits against governments
and corporations that could cost billions in
back pay settlements. To prevent a flood of
claims, the European Court ruled that only
women who had already begun legal proceed-
ings could collect retroactively.
A new initiative of Mlle. Defrenne raises
the question of retirement age for flight
attendants. For the second time she is appeal-


ing to the European court, resting her case on
the Community directive of equal treatment.
If successful, the retirement age for women
will be 55 years, the same as that for men, up
from the former age of 45.
While labor legislation and collectively
bargained agreements provide the primary
protection for workers, court interpretations
of both can have large consequences. It has
been difficult to bring discrimination cases to
the courts, and in no other country is litiga-
tion resorted to as extensively as in the
United States. Yet as machinery for eliminat-
ing discrimination is established, as directives
of the European Community acquire legal
force, and as ratification of ILO conventions
and adoption of national equal pay and
opportunity laws proceed, we should expect
that litigation will be used more often.

The Swedish Solution
Sweden is widely regarded as a model for
other countries. When others in Europe were
solving the labor shortages of the 1960s by
importing "guest workers" from depressed
nations of the Mediterranean and elsewhere,
Sweden, after a brief flirtation with the
method, made the important decision to tap
instead its remaining source of domestic labor
-married women. Today, over 50 percent of
the workforce is female; about 71 percent of
women workers belong to unions, far higher
than the United States' 12 percent, Ger-
many's 20 percent, or Austria's 44 percent.
Sweden, in good part because of deliberate
government policy, reports that 60 percent of
all married women work, up from 15 percent
in 1950. A high 36 percent of all employed
women work part-time and most of them are
married; this contrasts with 29 percent in the
United States and a lower proportion of
married part-timers.
The Swedish approach to women's equality
is unique in several ways:
First, it is dedicated to making it possible







Women returning to the workforce after
years out for child rearing are not only
advised to train for non-traditionalfields,
but get financial assistance while they train.


for men as well as women to take on the
double roles of family care and work life.

Second, it supports the view of women's
economic equality as being only one aspect
of the society's general search for equality
among all groups; Sweden does not subscribe
to special treatment of women. For example,
women's divisions were recently dropped by
Swedish labor unions in favor of family
planning committees on which both men and
women can be active.

Third, a substantial program of support
services (child care, housekeeping assistance)
and a massive vocational education program
for adults has been instituted.
Wage policy in Sweden is set nationally by
collective bargaining and wage rates estab-
lished for organized sectors become the
standard rates for the same occupations that
are not organized. The challenge to provide
equal pay has been approached from two
angles. One is to raise the lowest pay. The
other is to break down the distinctions be-
tween men's work and women's work and to
integrate the sexes in all jobs.


Family Policy
Almost 20 years ago, with the assistance of
government economists and other experts, the
employers and unions agreed to gradually
close the gap between wages paid for all jobs.
Every time a raise is negotiated, more goes to
the low paid workers than to high. Although
the policy applies to both sexes, it has nar-
rowed the gap significantly between men's
and women's earnings. It was first applied in
the 1960s at a time when women's wages were
about 65 percent of men's; by 1974 they were
86 percent. The Swedish Trade Union Con-
federation (LO) supports the method and has
its own program for equality, called "Family
Policy." As set forth in its 1976 report, the
program rests on five declarations:


1. All adults should be economically inde-
pendent of others.
2. All adults should have the opportunity of
full development of their personalities.
3. Children should have equal chances as
regards upbringing.
4. In the measures taken by the society,
priority should be given in such a way that
help is given first to those that need it
most.
5. Equality of the sexes must form a part of
the general policy of equality.

Since achievement of equal pay probably is
not possible without at the same time elimi-
nating the dual labor market-one for men
and one for women -the Swedes have
attacked that problem as well. The Govern-
ment created in 1972 the Advisory Council to
the Prime Minister on Equality between Men
and Women. The Advisory Council considers
one of its most important tasks is broadening
the labor market for women. Geographic
mobility, for instance, is identified as impor-
tant. Consequently if during the job place-
ment process a woman finds work in another
locality, she is helped with moving expenses
and finding housing and child care. Women
returning to the workforce after years out for
child rearing are not only advised to train for
non-traditional fields, but get financial assist-
ance while they train-even for long periods
-and receive aid for such incidental costs as
transportation between school and home.
Employers receive subsidies for the on-job
training offered to women. Firms desiring
government assistance in plant location or
relocation can receive it, provided they agree
to hire at least 40 percent women if the
industry is predominantly male, or 40 percent
men if the industry is predominantly female.
For the past few years, a system of quotas has
governed admission to training programs for
teachers of preschool children, and the fa-
vored group is male.






Either parent may remain home on about 90
percent pay to care for sick children,
although it is usually women (after all, why
lose a day's high pay when the mother's pay
is lower?).


Alice Cook in Working Mother reports that
"adjustment teams" consisting of repre-
sentatives of the Swedish Labor Market
Agency, the union and management are going
into plants and other businesses "with a view
to adjusting the work process to the
capabilities of the locally available man-
power." Where women are the available labor
force, adjustment may call for flexitime,
shorter time, break-out or consolidation of
functions. Not only do the Swedes encourage
women to enter the workforce and help them
with training and placement programs, but as
Cook observes, they also are working imagi-
natively to adjust the job to the woman.

Child Care Arrangements
Since easing of family responsibilities is
important in attracting married women into
the labor market, larger child care facilities
are necessary. Women in training programs
and those returning to work are given priority
on the waiting lists for child care places. The
large apartment complexes in Stockholm
provide such unusual aids as hot dinners,
family mending, laundry drop-offs, and after-
school transportation to piano lessons. Both
parents share child care leave for six months
after birth. Either parent may remain home
on about 90 percent pay to care for sick
children, although it is usually women who
take it (after all, why lose a day's high pay
when the mother's pay is lower?). Either
parent may receive the child care allowance
that is provided until the child's sixteenth
year.
Despite these aids, Sweden reports that no
great changes have occurred in the labor
market's traditional patterns. Most young
women in vocational courses train for such
traditionally female occupations as beauti-
cian. Women are as uncommon in the high
income brackets and responsible positions as
they are common in the low. The Commis-
sion on Low Wages reports that 67 percent of


workers at the bottom pay rung are women.
However, since the pay scale governed by
collective bargaining has only a 14 percent
spread between the highest and lowest pay,
the net result has been to secure better parity
than has been achieved by any other nation.
The Swedish model has succeeded in open-
ing opportunities to women and in smoothing
the earnings differential between the sexes. It
reportedly, has not succeeded in moving
women into decision making positions in
either the private or public sectors, and it has
made only slow progress in moving them into
traditionally male occupations. The relative
success of Swedish efforts is a reminder that
social policies and educational reforms take a
long time. It may also be an indication that
governmental encouragement of women to be
more ambitious in their job aspirations is less
effective than the experience of the United
States, where women, far from being encour-
aged, had to demand equal consideration.
The Nordic countries, Australia, and others
have chosen non-governmental means for
achieving equality. Their methods depend on
collective bargaining combined with moral
suasion and governmental expertise. The
United States, of course, stands at the other
end of the spectrum. With similar social goals
and a similar commitment to equal opportu-
nity, the United States has chosen the path of
governmental intervention, of laws backed by
regulatory oversight. Individuals may appeal
to the courts singly or in class action suits.
Patterns and practices are investigated for
evidence of systematic discrimination and
government commissions are empowered to
institute proceedings against employers who
violate equal pay or opportunity guidelines.
Both methods have much to recommend
them. Neither has succeeded in eliminating
discrimination. Yet hardly a day goes by
without fresh news of women achieving po-
sitions of distinction in the United States.
Census data show that women have success-

















fully invaded many male preserves -real
estate, the armed forces, professional and
managerial positions unthinkable only two or
three years ago. Since there is always a year's
lag at best in reporting labor force data, the
same changes may be occurring in countries
that eschew legislative and judicial remedies.
Nevertheless, as of the close of 1977, women
in the United States appear to be making
more rapid headway than most others in
breaking out of the traditionally female occu-
pations of their country.
Substantial progress has been made in the
countries at either end of the spectrum:
Swedish working women have a more equi-
table wage structure; American women seem
to have had greater success in breaking down
occupational barriers. In both countries, it
seems fair to say, equality between men's and
women's earnings has been achieved only at
the bottom of the occupational ladder.

Action of International Organizations
In a conversation three years ago, a former
U.S. foreign policy officer, now officer of a
large foundation, urged a researcher to aban-
don study of the effect international organi-
zations have on the problems of women in
European countries. He considered their ef-
fect negligible and not worth the research
effort. Instead, he urged a narrower examina-
tion of national actions.
Certainly international declarations must
be implemented at national levels. True, both
national and international bodies have found
it far easier to praise equal opportunity than
to practice it. Nevertheless, the recommenda-
tions of intergovernmental and international
labor and employer organizations often have
bridged the distance between nations that are
pace setters and those that lag behind. The
fact that for most nations, attention to wom-
en's employment issues began in 1972 as
preparation for IWY, indicates at least some
potency in the recommendations of interna-


tional bodies. Recommendations have been
the occasion for some countries to make a
start, for others to spur efforts already begun,
and for the European Community to issue
directives that bind members to results and
timetables though not to particular methods.
1978 is a big year for women in the
European Community. By the end of it, all
nine members (Belgium, France, West Ger-
many, Italy, Holland, Luxembourg, Britain,
Ireland, Denmark) are to have developed
legislation that will clear the way for expan-
sion of employment opportunities for women.
The Equal Treatment Directive of 1976 that
mandated the Community changes aimed
at the underlying causes of the wage and
occupation gap between men and women. It
required the abolition or amendment of any
existing laws, administrative regulations, and
contract provisions that are contrary to equal
treatment and related to:
1. Access to employment (in criteria for selec-
tion, promotion, and dismissal).
2. Vocational training for women.
3. Working conditions (a reference to protec-
tive legislation).
It abolished discrimination based not only
on sex but also on marital and family status.
Judicial process is emphasized and national
legal systems are required to provide ways for
persons who consider themselves wronged to
press their claims. A special provision obliges
member states to inform workers of their
equal treatment rights and how to secure
them.
Not all members are yet in compliance.
Britain is farthest ahead with its Equal Pay
and Sex Discrimination Acts in force since the
end of 1975. The British law has some
interesting differences from the American and
the heads of its Equal Opportunity Commis-
sion consider the less stringent rules will work
well in their country. Jurisdiction for cases
which the new Conciliation Service fails to
adjust are lodged in Britain's industrial tri-


I

















bunals. Marie Patterson, one of two women
members of the British Trades Union Con-
gress's executive, does not expect more litiga-
tion than can be handled and certainly not
the amount that has backlogged in courts of
the United States.

Emphasis on Social Security
The European Commission is now empha-
sizing social security. A draft directive cover-
ing pension rights, unemployment benefits,
and medical care has been submitted, and it
is possible that action on it could be taken in
1978. There are indications, however, that
member states, fearful of the costs, may be
backing away from action during this reces-
sion. Yet the directive will not attempt to do
everything at once. The first phase will be the
easy one. It requires members to exclude
from their systems those provisions, such as
earlier pension rights, that are considered
favorable to women.
The Community's decision to intervene
in expansion of training opportunities for
women over age 25 emphasizes vocational
training. The program is supposed to get
underway in 1978. In the first year approx-
imately eight million European units of ac-
count (EUA)-a new currency measure
proposed for adoption in 1978-or about 1.5
percent of the Social Fund's budget will be
used for matching grants to regions with the
most severe imbalances in men's and wom-
en's employment. The allocation is expected
to rise to 25 million EUA's by 1981.
Finally, in 1978 members will report on
what has been done to implement the 1975
Equal Pay Directive that required legal
recourse in discrimination cases and annul-
ment of all wage scales or contract provisions
that violate equal pay principles. The Wom-
en's Affairs Bureau of the Community, for-
merly directed byJacqueline Nonon and now
by Florence Morgan, expects to have ready
by fall of 1978 a handbook that will review


progress and list women's organizations
active in member countries.
The OECD, composed of the world's
industrialized nations, does not demand na-
tional coordination of policies but its discus-
sions of economic policy affect national deci-
sions, and the policies of its 24 members have
extensive impact on those of many other
nations. Its members exchange information
on common problems, find out what works in
other countries and pick up ideas for legisla-
tion that will help their own situations. In
1974 OECD established a Working Party on
the Role of Women in the Economy, largely at
the behest of the United States. The Working
Party already has submitted draft reports and
is expected to submit its final report to the
Manpower and Social Affairs Committee, of
which it is an arm, sometime in 1978. The
Committee can then accept it, reject it, or
change it. Or it may choose a neutral role
and ask the Secretary General of the OECD
to publish the report under his authority if he
wishes. It is unlikely that any recommenda-
tion will be sent to the Council for action
since few are, and since women's employment
issues do not have high priority. The work
and the report, however, might start an
initiative leading to Council action later. The
OECD appears to recognize the problem but.
gives it low priority on account of the present
employment and money problems which
beset national economies.
ILO is the standard setting organization
in labor matters for much of the world. It
couches its conventions and recommendations
in language that clearly states its purpose but
which is general enough for adaptation to a
wide variety of national contexts. In honor of
International Women's Year, ILO conducted
a serious review of its two major conventions
on employment equality: Equal Remunera-
tion, No. 100 (1951), and Discrimination
(Employment and Occupation), No. 111
(1958). The 60th session of the International

















Labor Conference, held during IWY, received
a report on the status of equal pay among
member nations with a comprehensive dis-
cussion of the causes for its slow implementa-
tion. By its adoption of a far-sighted Declara-
tion of Equality of Opportunity and Treat-
ment, which is expected to be readied for
submission as a convention, ILO is prodding
members to look behind simplistic expla-
nations, to go beyond easy resolutions. Its
newest emphasis, like that of the Common
Market countries, is on education and train-
ing together with a review of the effect of
social security systems on women. Its work
has highlighted the failure of development
planners to make female labor more skilled
and more resourceful as a means of speeding
economic and social development.
ILO policies on women's work have pre-
ceded those of other international organi-
zations and of most nations. Its movement-
from the general concept of equal pay, to a
second phase that emphasized "equal pay for
work of equal value," to a third stage of broad
investigation of the employment practices and
legal and social barriers to equal treatment-
has set the path that others have followed.
What obligation does a member state as-
sume when it ratifies ILO conventions? A
flexible one indeed, yet one that is binding.
Members are bound to "promote" the appli-
cation of the principle in national laws, or in
collective agreements, or wherever govern-
ment is in a position to exert influence on the
fixing of wage rates and the elimination of
employment discrimination. Countries that
ratify the conventions have committed them-
selves to doing something to advance equal
treatment. Thereby they have created a basis
for action and appeal that could be used by
women, were women aware of the commit-
ment. Unfortunately, national publicity of
ratification is all too rare.
ILO endorses the policy that women's
needs and problems should be dealt with in


the same general framework as men's. For
example, women's issues are represented in
most aspects of its World Employment Pro-
gram launched in 1969, and their representa-
tion has led to a better understanding of
women's economic role and special difficulties
particularly in the rural areas of the world.
But to single out women's issues has been
considered undesirable. Desirable or not,
Conventions 100 and 111 have recognized
women's problems as so large and so unyield-
ing that special statements and special pro-
grams have had to be drawn up.
The United Nations of course has broader
reach though its goals are less specific than
those of ILO. The World Plan of Action
provides for development during the Decade
for Women and Development of regional
plans to achieve equality for women and to
integrate women into their nation's develop-
ment efforts. A second world conference to
measure progress will be held in Teheran in
May 1980. Planning for that two-week event
focuses on action steps for accelerating equal
treatment rather than a review of long-term
goals.

How Has The Decade Fared?
One way to measure accomplishment is by
the financial contributions made by member
nations to underpin UN initiatives. By the
end of 1977, less than $4 million had been
pledged. Pledges and contributions ranged
from $500 to $50,000 from 26 developing
nations; the remainder to be contributed by
eight industrial nations led by the United
States' pledge of $2.6 million and the British
pledge of almost $700,000. This uneven and
relatively low level of funding for the opening
of opportunities to women is repeated in the
domestic appropriations of member countries
where some national commissions are re-
ported lucky to get $1,000 for their work.
The Decade's funds are channelled mainly
through the UN Regional Economic Com-






A Catch-22... is that when women's issues
are the subject of the meetings, the delegates
selected are often women; but because they
are women, they usually are not the people
responsiblefor carrying out recommendations
adopted.


missions. The regional commissions were
established to formulate their own strategies
for implementing the World Plan of Action.
Helvi Sipula, assistant secretary-general re-
sponsible for women's questions, reported to
the March 1978 meeting of the UN Commis-
sion on the Status of Women that regional
plans of action have been developed for three
of the four developing regions-Asia and the
Pacific, Africa, Latin America-and that one
is expected soon for Western Asia. Although
Europe is the fifth region, a plan for it is not
in preparation, and North America is not a
designated region. The absence of Decade
activity in industrialized nations may be one
reason for the low contributions to the Dec-
ade's fund. The integration of rural women in
development, and the expansion of their eco-
nomic functions is the major focus of the UN
effort. Its emphasis is on the needs of the
world's economically marginal women. In
this respect the "Percy Amendment" (Senator
Charles Percy of Illinois) serves as a model
for other nations and for domestic programs
of the United States itself. It requires that
programs assisted by the United States be
reviewed for their impact on women in the
recipient countries.
For international organizations, the compo-
sition of delegations attending meetings ap-
pears to present two problems. A Catch-22,
common to all countries including the United
States, is that when women's issues are the
subject of the meetings, the delegates selected
are often women; but because they are
women, they usually are not the people
responsible for carrying out recommendations
adopted. For this reason, each woman dele-
gate can be a significant leader in her country
and yet not have sufficiently high authority to
insure weight behind her recommendations
back home. A second problem reported is
that delegates often are chosen for political
reasons unrelated to their interest or ac-
complishments in advancing women's issues.
Outreach seems to be needed to involve


women who are experienced and knowledge-
able on special issues, and who have a
constituency of their own.

Role of Labor Unions
The central political problem labor has in
representing women's employment interests is
that it also represents the people who already
hold the jobs to which women are beginning
to aspire. In addition, labor represents young
workers and older workers, both of whom are
threatened by unemployment, uncertainty
about their future, and as far as they are
concerned, by women's requests for a bigger
piece of the pie.
By and large, the men who run unions are
not so much biased as harried. In those
countries where labor has assumed a voice in
management decisions, notably Germany and
Sweden, the demands on the skills of a labor
leader would tax the acumen of Solomon and
the stamina of Tarzan. Yet leaders generally
rise out of the rank and file; they are elected
to office and are not particularly professional
at anything.
Unions have moved as slowly as employers
in pressing for equal treatment for women.
Skilled trades have always been fearful that
admission of low-paid women to their ranks
would result in driving down their high wage
levels which depend on scarcity as much as
skill. But some unions have acted. Metal
workers unions in most countries have wom-
en's divisions and a national women's officer
who works with local shop committees. The
Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has
conducted regional seminars for women in
Latin America and Asia. And the Interna-
tional Federation of Commercial, Clerical and
Technical Employees (FIET) held a World
Women's Conference in 1975 with subsequent
regional meetings where a statement of wom-
en's objectives was drafted and later adopted
by the union's 1976 World Congress. The
World Congress made a special appeal to
affiliates "to do their utmost to prevent the






One of the most important activities women
have undertaken to advance their cause is
linking with each other and forming
women's networks....


discussions of the problems of working
women-begun during International Wom-
en's Year in 1975-from petering out...."
Neither in the United States nor in other
countries do women have the representation
on union governing bodies that their numbers
warrant. Some ways that unions have for
compensating for this lack are to reserve seats
for women on executive boards, establish
special women's committees, conduct wom-
en's conferences, and encourage more women
to run for office. Right now the most wide-
spread participation of women in bargaining
activities is at the plant level. In Europe the
works councils, with grievance and bargain-
ing functions similar to those of local indus-
trial unions in this country, have increased
the participation of women. The German
Federation of Labor (DGB) reports 28.2
percent more women were elected to works
councils in 1975 than in previous years, and
in Canada a woman, Grace Hartman, was
elected president of the country's largest
union, the Canadian Union of Public Em-
ployees (CUPE). Shirley Carr had been
elected executive vice president of the Cana-
dian Labor Congress two years earlier.
Although women are increasingly active
in the U.S. labor movement, those in top
leadership are still comparatively few, and
their representation at national conventions
remains low. The December 1978 AFL-CIO
convention reported a fractional increase in
the number of women delegates, 34 out of a
total of 886, but more than the 20 or fewer
thought to have attended two years earlier.
The convention warmly recognized Joyce
Miller, president of the four-year-old Coalition
of Labor Union Women (CLUW) and en-
dorsed the activities of the Coalition. It
repeated its support of the Equal Rights
Amendment, and President Meany called on
organized labor in states which have not yet
ratified the amendment to put their political
strength to work for ratification. At a CLUW
legislative conference in the spring, Meany

13


electrified the group by declaring himself a
"closet feminist" as he accepted honorary
membership in the Coalition.
In the United States and abroad, labor
education is considered a way for women to
make up for the years missed from the
workforce at a time when people were tapped
for union leadership. The Trade Union Wom-
en's Studies program of Cornell University's
Institute for Education and Research on
Women and Work is one model for what can
be done to help union women catch up with
the information and skills they need to im-
prove their positions in the union leadership
hierarchy and to realize their individual edu-
cation goals. In that program, women receive
college credit for a year-long curriculum
where one evening a week they meet to study
communication skills, collective bargaining,
union administration and leadership, and the
history of women in the U.S. labor move-
ment. For the past five years, the AFL-CIO's
George Meany Center for Labor Studies at
Silver Spring, Maryland, has conducted one
or more one-week institutes training active
women members in leadership skills. Unions
and universities from both developed and less
developed countries have adopted parts of
these programs for their active women
unionists.

Working Women's Networks
One of the most important activities women
have undertaken to advance their cause is
linking with each other and forming women's
networks, those formal and informal contacts
among women whose homes, occupations and
backgrounds may differ, but who call on and
are called on by those in the network for
advice and assistance. One example of an
international network is the 1975 seminar in
Israel of women from widely differing unions
and nations. This first such international
gathering wrote an official statement of the
issues important to working and union
women, and many of the participants, includ-






Where the third world is concerned,
international and United States agencies
may be overlooking one of the best possible
liaisons to rural women: women trade
unionists.


ing the author, write and exchange news three
years later.
In the summer of 1977, a 10-day Pan-
African Conference on the Role of Trade
Union Women was conducted by the
African-American Labor Center, AFL-CIO,
in Nairobi, Kenya. Joan Goodin, a former
member of the international staff of the
Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks,
now executive director of the National Com-
mission on Working Women, National Man-
power Institute, attended as she had earlier
seminars of the International Transport
Workers Federation (ITF) in Latin America
and Asia. At each conference she asked
participants to write out their answers to two
questions:

Why do women not participate more
actively in their unions?
What can be done about it?

"You would think the same person had
written all the answers," she reported.
"Union women's problems are the same all
over the world and union women understand
they are all part of the world together."

One participant in the African seminar
developed a plan for short courses on a
national level. Her words sum up the spirit of
the women in all of these conferences: "We
wish to... work part and parcel with our men
trade unionists. We.do not want to be left
behind."
Where the third world is concerned, inter-
national and United States agencies may be
overlooking one of the best possible liaisons to
rural women: women trade unionists. These
women are not elitists; they often come from
rural homes themselves. They want to work
to bring the spirit of collective action to rural
women. Women unionists may be the best
friends any government organization could
have for reaching women in the countryside.
Yet they are seldom included in any planning.
Only one of the initial regional economic


plans of the UN, the Latin American, men-
tioned them and that was because a trade
unionist happened to be there in another
capacity.
Another working women's network grew
out of the Child Care Seminar sponsored by
the Coalition of Labor Union Women, an
American national network itself. Twenty-four
women were chosen by their unions to visit
Sweden, Israel, and France during 1977 to
study the child care programs. They shared
experiences and ideas with women they met.
At the same time they formed strong bonds
among themselves. Such bonds are important
to women in leadership positions who too
often find themselves isolated from informa-
tion and easy peer support of their male
associates.

Forum for Unheard Voices
Another example, closer to home, is the
Executive Women in State Government net-
work in New York. Formed in 1977 at a
conference sponsored by Cornell University,
these women administrators welcomed the
opportunity to participate in a network that
would have practical as well as psychological
value. Without an organization, women's vic-
tories often go uncelebrated and unrecorded.
Networks can change that; they can become a
forum for the unheard voices.
Women workers can benefit tremendously
from both horizontal and vertical networks in
every country. Through them women rank-
and-filers can get to know each other and lay
plans for a better world together. Through
their networks they can reach up to women
who already are in responsible positions, and
secure their help. Vertical networks help
women at both ends. Those below can receive
advice and guidance; those above can develop
a political base from which to deal. There
appears to be little of this kind of activity
going on in other countries at the present
time, but the beginnings are there. Organized
women workers already belong to the oldest

















of networks labor unions and we should
expect that as they participate more actively
in their unions, their relationships will be-
come more supportive and continuous.
Contacts on an international level are pro-
liferating. The Agency for International De-
velopment, the State Department and the
Labor Department sponsor visits of groups
and individuals concerned with working
women. The Wellesley Center for Research
on Women conducted a conference in June
1976 on Women in Development, attended by
500 women policy makers and researchers. In
May 1978 it sponsored a second conference,
Implementation of Equal Pay and Equal
Opportunity Legislation, where administrat-
ive machinery was discussed mainly by repre-
sentatives of industrialized nations. Sharing
information at such signal events can have
far-reaching effects. Brought together to con-
sider the best means for enforcing equal
treatment principles, delegates return home
with ideas for more than national machinery.
They may have begun to get the idea of
networking and wish to experiment with it
back home.

A Look Ahead
Women's Bureaus are becoming more com-
mon; more women's commissions are being
appointed; feminist groups are springing up


all over the world. The trend toward formal
and informal action on behalf of women
workers was greatly accelerated by Interna-
tional Women's Year; the changes were over-
due.
A quiet consensus appears to be forming all
over the world. The European Community in
1975 conducted the biggest-ever international
poll on sex roles and attitudes. The most
dissatisfaction among women was found in
countries that had been most restrictive to-
ward social change--France, Italy, Luxem-
bourg and Ireland. Moreover, 80 percent of
married women workers and 56 percent of
married women who do not work said they
wanted to work. With such a response, it is
no surprise to learn that three out of four
polled thought the changes occurring in
women's roles were changes in the right
direction.
Government policies will have to respond
to the new consensus for there is no doubt
that women are no longer satisfied with their
traditional roles. When we can read in the
New York Times that a Moslem woman of
Afghanistan has made the decision to seek a
job because "I just decided that now that the
children are getting older, I need more to do,"
we know that a massive social revolution is
underway.


* U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE :1978 O -Z61-017 (6340)




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