Unfinished Business: Working Together to Overcome Barriers To Women’s Participation in the Workforce
January 31, 2014 - New York City
Cornell ILR's Labor and Employment Law Program, in partnership with the National Association of Commissions on Women, the Women's City Club of New York, and Wider Opportunities for Women, and in collaboration with the Women's Bureau, US Department of Labor, held a special forum, Unfinished Business: Working Together to Overcome Barriers To Women's Participation in the Workforce, on Friday, January 31, 2014, at the Cornell ILR Conference Center in New York City.
The event commemorated the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's American Women: A Report of the Commissions on the Status of Women, which brought national attention to the key barriers to working women's full participation in the workforce, too many of which are still with us today. The report called for the creation of a network of empowered and funded state and local Commissions on the Status of Women, ensuring that informed and experienced women advocates are always "at the table."
The program, which brought together women's and worker rights groups to address the issues preventing women's full participation in the workplace and society, discussed topics such as the lack of good child and eldercare, continued pay disparities, and the persistence of occupational segregation that have been the "unfinished business" of American public policy—unfinished at great cost to women workers and their families.
Speakers included the Honorable Alphonso David, Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights, Governor's Office, New York State (keynote address); Professors Pamela S. Tolbert, Cornell ILR, Organizational Behavior, Beth Livingston, Cornell ILR, Human Resources, and Patricia Roos, Rutgers University, Sociology, who provided the most up-to-date policy-oriented research on the key unresolved issues cited in the report; and luncheon speaker Cecilia Zamora, President, National Association of Commissions on Women.
Afternoon workshops to discuss perspectives on action for imminently needed changes were facilitated by the Honorable Mary Ellen Clark, New Jersey Assistant Commissioner of Labor; Grace Boone, Secretary, Board of Directors, Women's City Club of New York; and Mary Murphree, Senior Research Analyst, Rutgers University, SMLR; Board Member, Women's City Club of New York. Closing remarks and analysis were provided by the Honorable Gale Brewer, the Manhattan Borough President Elect and soon to be Borough President, from her unique political vantage point.
Esta R. Bigler, Director, Labor & Employment Law Program, Cornell University ILR, said that this program was a starting point for future collaborative action by academics, advocates, and governmental bodies in hopes of establishing legislation and policies that increase the influence and participation of women in the workplace.