Entries in Women (29)


Women Get Skills to Break Into Traditional Men’s Trades

Design Pics/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- In the shadow of a Long Beach, Calif. power plant, a dozen women step into tool belts, don hard hats and learn how to carry a bucket of cement up a flight of stairs to get a leg up on trades usually dominated by men.

According to a 2009 Department of Labor report, while gender equality has made headway in the executive ranks -- a quarter of CEOs are women -- less than 1 percent of 77,000 U.S. ironworkers and steelworkers are female.

Sherron Ballard, 55, used to be a real estate agent -- now she wants to work in construction.

Ballard told ABC News that she was making the job switch for the higher income, which would help her raise her daughter.  

She is participating in a grueling 10-week program by Women in Non Traditional Employment Roles (WINTER). The Los Angeles-based group, in it's fifteenth year, trains women to become plumbers, electricians and ironworkers -- well-paid, blue-collar occupations previously dominated by men.

At one California construction site, 250 men worked alongside two females.

WINTER’s goal is to tip that balance. The women earn safety certificates, learn about timekeeping, what to wear on construction sites and how to handle discrimination.

“When they go out there for their first job, a lot of people are gonna look at them and say: ‘Why aren’t you home? What are you doing here? Are you sure you’re in the right place?’ And they need to learn how to brush it off and continue on with their work,” said Berta Campos, a program instructor. “I think we need more women in order for men to change their mind and we have to prove them wrong.”

“Women have to go out to work,” said Donna Williamson, who recently graduated from the program. “I have a child. I have to support him.”

Williamson, a 41-year-old single mother, used to make minimum wage selling skateboards in a bike shop. Now she’s an apprentice ironworker making $28 an hour, and her wages are sure to increase as she progresses in her career.

“I used to drive around and I’d look at the guys on the beams, on the high-rises, and it’s one of those intriguing things,” she said. “There are not a whole lot of women in the construction field. At the end of the day, you are dirty, you are sweating, you don’t smell the greatest and that’s fine with me.”

“I love my job,” Williamson continued. “If I can do it, they [women] can do it. And I’m only 5’2.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fact Check -- Obama and ‘Equal Pay’ for Women

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Three years after he signed it into law, President Obama has made the little-known Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act the centerpiece of his re-election pitch to women.

It’s a “big step toward making sure every worker in this country, man or woman, receives equal pay for equal work,” Obama says in a video to supporters on his campaign blog.

The legislation repeatedly tops Obama’s list of accomplishments in stump speeches on the campaign trail and is cited as a fulfilled promise from 2008.

“Change is the first bill I signed into law that enshrines a very simple proposition,” Obama told a crowd of donors at the Apollo Theater Jan. 19. “You get an equal day’s pay for an equal’s day work.”

The idea that Obama has narrowed the gender pay gap is also the subject of an aggressive digital media push to promote his record and enlist new members to the group “Women for Obama.”

“Ensuring equal pay for women was @BarackObama’s first act as President, but not his last,” reads a message posted to the Obama for America twitter account for New Mexico, @OFA_NM.

Actress Kerry Washington, an Obama surrogate in Florida, was even more direct in a promotional video on the campaign’s blog: “There’s equal pay for women,” she declares outright.

The only problem? Women don’t enjoy equal pay, it’s improved little during Obama’s term and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act has hardly been a “big step” toward the goal.

In 2010, the most recent data available, women on average earned 77.4 cents for every dollar earned by men holding the same full-time, year-round job, according to Census data analyzed by the National Committee on Pay Equity.

The gap was virtually unchanged from 2009, when it was 77 percent and 2008 when it stood at 77.1 percent, before the law was enacted.

Pay inequity remains most pronounced among women of color. African-American women made 67.7 percent of what was earned by men in 2010, according to the Census, while Hispanic women earned 58.7 percent, both figures largely unchanged from the year before.

Still, while the Lilly Ledbetter Act hasn’t directly resolved the issue of systemic pay inequality, it has helped some victims of discrimination pursue their compensation claims in the courts, women’s rights advocates say.

After the Supreme Court threw out Lilly Ledbetter’s pay discrimination suit against her employer Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., saying it exceeded the statute of limitations, Democrats in Congress with support from Obama enacted the law to extend the period for alleged victims to sue.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is the 'Mancession' Over?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The slow economy may be grinding on, but some are saying goodbye to the "mancession."

Three years ago when the recession was at its peak, and hundreds of thousands of Americans were laid off each month, men were more likely than women to lose their jobs.

Now, as the employment market improves, the trend has reversed.  USA Today reports men are claiming over two-thirds of the private-sector jobs that are being created.

Citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paper says close to 1.28 million men snatched jobs in the year leading up to November compared to 600,000 women during the same 12 months.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Holiday Shopping: Men Outnumber, Outspend Women

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- More men than women went shopping on Black Friday weekend, and men outspent women.

According to a National Retail Federation survey, men and women shopped at different hours, preferred different types of stores and favored different categories of goods. Men are not as willing as women to pull themselves out of bed at the crack of dawn to go snap up bargains. They are, however, willing to shop late.

Between Thursday and Sunday, Americans spent an estimated $52.4 million, according to the NRF. That's slightly more than last year, with 35 percent of that total being spent online. A record 226 million people shopped, compared with 212 million last year. Per person, men spent an average $484 to women's $317. Online, the average man spent $200 -- twice as much as the average woman.

Stephen Hoch, a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, says that while it's true that more men shopped than women, the difference is small. Asked by the NRF if they had shopped or would shop during the holiday weekend, 56.8 percent of males said yes, compared with 55.2 percent of women.

"You've got two things going on here," says Hoch. "Men spend more online, and that tends to be on more expensive stuff like electronics. Traditionally, consumer electronics is more of a male product. Women get allocated the duty of picking up stuff for the kids."

According to the NRF's survey, 47 percent of men said they bought or would be buying consumer electronics, compared with 32 percent of women. But for some electronic products, women outnumbered men.

Women, says Steve Kidera, spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association, bought more digital cameras and more digital photo frames. They outnumbered men in buying MP3 players, smartphones and eReaders. Women swamped men (14 percent to 9 percent) in buying GPS devices.

What other kinds of products were big-sellers? According to the NRF, the best-selling categories were clothing or clothing accessories, toys, books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games, and consumer electronics or computer-related accessories.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


High Heels for a Down Economy?

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When the economy heads south women’s heels go north.

A look back at decades of shoe fashion research reveals that high heels soared during the worst recessions. “Usually in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up as consumers turn to more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” says Dr. Trevor Davis, a consumer products expert with IBM Global Services.

From the depression in the 1930s to the oil crisis in the 70s, and the dot com crash in 2000, high heels replaced flats and low, thick heels.

But once again, this recession is different.

A computer-based analysis of the last four years of social media posts shows discussions of increasing heel height peeked near the end of 2009, and declined after that. “Key trend-watching bloggers between 2008 and 2009 wrote consistently about heels from five to eight inches,” says an IBM summary of its research.  “By mid 2011 they were writing about the return of the kitchen heel and the perfect flat from Jimmy Choo and Louboutin.”

While heels on many women’s shoes are still high, the social networking analysis suggests a change in trend.

“This time something different is happening,” says Dr. Davis about the current economic problems many shoppers face. “Perhaps a mood of long term austerity is evolving among consumers sparking a desire to reduce ostentation in everyday settings.”

IBM says its new research, “highlights the predictive capacities of social media analysis as a source of valuable insights” for businesses interested in market trends and planning future products.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Walmart Plaintiffs File Amended Sex Discrimination Complaint

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After a big defeat at the Supreme Court last spring, current and former female Walmart employees filed an amended complaint in federal court Thursday hoping to band together as a smaller class and sue the retailing behemoth for sex discrimination.

Last spring, the Supreme Court ruled that the original case, which had grown into a challenge involving hundreds of thousands of female employees across the country and potentially billions of dollars, could not go forward.

Plaintiffs had claimed they could prove Walmart discriminated against all women employees by using statistics, by alleging that the company’s corporate culture was suffused with gender stereotypes, and by pointing to the company’s practice of allowing local managers wide discretion in hiring and promoting, which supposedly allowed those stereotypes to impact the lives of women employees.

However, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for himself and the other conservative justices on the bench, ruled that the women failed to prove a common practice or policy of discrimination at Walmart that would allow them to band together and bring the suit.

The amended complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, limits the potential class to current and former employees who worked in the company’s California stores. Experts say the plaintiffs will have to do more than show their newly constructed class of employees is smaller.

Greg Rossiter, a spokesman for Walmart, said he believes the courts will ultimately reject the class action suit.

“As we have said all along, these claims are unsuitable for class treatment because the situations of each individual are so different and because the claims of the plaintiffs are not representative of the thousands of women that work in Walmart,” he said. “The fact is, the statewide class that the plaintiff’s lawyers now propose is no more appropriate then the nationwide class that the Supreme Court has already rejected. ”

Plaintiffs’ lawyers say in the coming months they will file similar, smaller class action suits across the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dr Pepper Ten: It’s ‘Not for Women’ Marketing Campaign Says

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(PLANO, Texas) -- Would women want a soft drink that was packaged in gunmetal grey and silver bullets? Probably not, but that’s the whole point of the marketing for Dr Pepper Ten, the new 10-calorie soft drink aimed at men. A national ad campaign rolled out Monday proudly says the drink is “not for women.”

The beverage was developed after research from the Dr Pepper Snapple Group found that men apparently are reluctant to drink diet drinks that don’t seem macho enough.

Unlike Diet Dr Pepper, Dr Pepper Ten has calories and sugar, and rather than the dainty tan bubbles on the diet can, Ten will be wrapped in aforementioned gunmetal grey packaging.

TV commercials are heavy on the machismo, including one spot that shows muscular men in the jungle battling snakes and bad guys and appearing to shoot lasers at each other.

“Hey ladies. Enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is our movie and this is our soda,” a man says as he attempts to pour the soda into a glass during a bumpy ATV ride. “You can keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks. We’re good.”

Dave Fleming, the director of marketing for the company, told Advertising Age, an industry publication, that he was not out to alienate women, and that the goal was “to be direct and have fun."

“Did we have a conversation about how far we wanted to go with this message? Absolutely,” he said in an interview in February when the campaign was in testing. “But we did the research, and it scored well with men and women.”

Jim Treblicock, executive vice president of marketing for the company, said about 40 percent of people who have tried the soda so far are women. The drink was tested and promoted in six markets across the nation before being widely rolled out.

“Women get the joke. ‘Is this really for men or really for women?’ is a way to start the conversation that can spread and get people engaged in the product,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Forever 21′s ‘Allergic to Algebra’ Shirt Draws Criticism

Robert Marquardt/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A Forever 21 shirt with the words “Allergic to Algebra” printed on the front is the latest shirt to draw criticism for its seemingly anti-education message for girls and teenagers.

One shopper posted a photo on, a social news website, of the shirt on a mannequin with a neon green note attached to it with the message: “SMART girls are cool. Don’t buy this top.”

Many comments on expressed disdain for the shirt.

“It’s a big deal because there is still this childish perception -- among females AND males -- that girls can’t do math,” wrote a commenter by the handle mikgyver. “I can’t tell you how many times, as a girl who’s good at math, that I’ve been accused of ‘trying to be a guy’ when I get good grades in math.”

Another commenter, called “kadhai” and self-identified as a “student of mathematics,” wrote, “I’m curious as to what the story behind this top is, and who thought it would be a good idea to put something so offensive as this on a shirt.”

“Our merchandise is intended to appeal to all audiences, not to offend them,” Linda Chang, a senior marketing manager for Forever 21, told ABC News in a statement. “We would like to apologize to our customers as our intent was not to discredit education and we are taking the proper actions necessary.”

The company told ABC News that it is pulling the shirt from its website.

The trendy Los Angeles-based retailer is popular among teenagers, and the shirt is being sold for $12.80. There were no shirts that alluded to education in the men’s section of the website.

And the algebra shirt isn’t the only one on the website that seems to be down on school.

One shirt blatantly declares “Skool sucks” and another shirt has a list on the front that reads: “A+=amazing, B=brilliant, C=cool, D=delightful, F=fabulous.” The website’s tagline for selling the shirt is “F doesn’t always mean fail!”

One shirt seemed promising with the message,”I heart school” emblazoned on the front, but a photo of the back reveals the rest of the message: “not…”

The “Allergic to Algebra” Forever 21 shirt follows a controversial and similarly themed shirt from JCPenney.

Less than two weeks ago, JCPenney pulled a shirt from its website that drew sharp criticism from consumers calling it “sexist.” The girls’ shirt read: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

After a petition was created to remove the shirt, the company obliged and apologized to its customers. “We want to apologize to our customers,” Ann Marie Bishop, a spokeswoman for JCPenney, told ABC News. “We agreed that the shirt does not deliver an appropriate message.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Survey: Women Worry More About Economy Than Men

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While many women are hopeful about a brighter financial future, a new financial survey out in time for Mother's Day says they're more likely than men to worry about today.

Jonathan Clements of Citi Personal Wealth Management explains that these worries stem from women's financial standing and the rising price of commodities.

"We know that women tend to have lower incomes," says Clements.  "A rise in the price of these economic necessities, things like gas, things like food, are going to crimp their household income more."

Moreover, in the average household, women are more likely than men to handle the bills.  But mothers may reap some rewards for their financial worries this Sunday.

"Americans are going to spend twice as much on Mother's Day than they spend on Valentine's Day," Clements says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Working Women Hold College Degrees than Men

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The gap between employed women and men with college degrees has widened, according to data from the Census Bureau released on Tuesday. Thirty-seven percent of employed women have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 35 percent of men, according to 2010 Census figures.

The figures released Tuesday in the Census Bureau's "Educational Attainment in the United States: 2010" analyze the education levels of Americans ages 25 and older. The minimum age of 25 was set to account for those who take extra time to finish school.

The widest gap in education levels exists among people between the ages of 25 and 30. Thirty-six percent of women in this range hold bachelor's degrees or higher, compared to only 28 percent of men.

"Women are just outpacing men generally in higher education today," said Alan Berube, a senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. "More of them are going to college and then more of them are actually succeeding and getting a degree, specifically bachelor degrees."

Women in the workforce first surpassed men in obtaining college degrees in 2006, when 34 percent of working women held bachelor's degrees, compared to 33 percent of men. The 2010 data shows the greatest gap between women and men in the workforce, but the overall population of women ages 25 and over with college degrees still lags behind men by 0.7 percent

"This is going to change the calculus in households about whose time in the labor market is more valuable," Berube said. "It will change the default assumptions about who is going to raise kids, who's going to do housework, who's got the most earning power, and really, at the end of the day, educational attainment is the best predictor of earnings."

Beyond the undergraduate level, almost 10.6 million women hold master's degrees or higher, compared to nearly 10.5 million men. Women also outpace men in the education and health services field, while men surpass women in fields such as manufacturing, agriculture and construction. Analysts link these disparities to the economic downturn.

"Women tend to be in industries and occupations that were less affected by the economic downturn -- education, healthcare, and government," Berube said. "In many ways, the recession was a male recession. Industries like manufacturing, construction and finance were more heavily affected."

Tuesday's data offers the most detailed look yet at education attainment across the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio