|May 11, 2003|
By Paul E. Almeida, President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
This year more than ever, on one of the busiest phone traffic days of the year when you reach out to touch your mother, what you may get is her voice mail asking you to leave a message.
Is she out to brunch with the rest of your siblings? No.
Is she out visiting her mother? No.
Most likely because she is out working.
When Congress enacted Mother’s Day as a holiday in 1914, only 20% of all women worked; in 2002, 60% of all women worked. Today, most mothers – even those with the youngest children – work outside the home. Once considered as the extra income for middle class families, women – especially working mothers – are providing essential income for their families’ survival.
You will find women in the occupations they were in 10 – 20 – 30 years ago, such as nursing and education. However, major shifts have occurred as women fill the universities and earn higher degrees. In fact, women have earned more bachelor’s and master’s degrees than men for more than 20 years, as well as an increasing number of professional degrees and doctorates. In 2002, women accounted for 55% of technical writers, up from 36% in 1985; women pharmacists stand at 52% up from 30% in 1985; and women are now 55% of all economists, up from 35% in 1985. In 2002, women accounted for 29% of all lawyers, more than 31% of all physicians, and 66% of all psychologists. In 2002, 73% of working women were in white collar occupations. Many of these occupations are those expected to be the fastest growing over the next ten years.
While the responsibility for family economic survival has drastically shifted from male sole bread winner to equal partners, man and woman, women still earn considerably less than their male counterparts. In fact, in 2002, women earned 76% as much as men. The gap between the wages of men and women is larger in the US than in Germany, Britain, France, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and New Zealand.
In 1970, 12% of all children lived in one parent families; in 2000, the number grew to 27%. Most of these children lived with their mother. Families headed by women (with no husband present) now account for about 24% of all families with children 18 years or younger. And 49% of all women are not married (they are single, divorced or widowed; many are mothers). To add insult to injury, because women are paid less when they work, they then receive smaller pensions (and Social Security payments) when they retire.
So on Mother’s Day when all you get is your Mom’s voice mail, remember to thank her for all she has done and continues to do: her sacrifices know no bounds.
Paul E. Almeida
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
815 16th Street, NW, NW, # 1030