Gender Implications of the Financial Crisis in the United States
By Heidi Hartmann
President, Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Note: this is the write-up of a presentation, which Heidi Hartmann presented at an event, co-sponsored by the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America, the Center of Concern,
and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) on April 22, 2009 on the gender implications of the global financial crisis.
The United States is a women’s success story in many ways. As Americans, we pride ourselves on the economic and social progress women have made. We were the first country to have a modern women’s liberation movement, beginning in the 1960s, and we have put substantial infrastructure in place to achieve equality for women—the 1963 Equal Pay Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 1972 Title IX amendment legislate equal opportunity in pay, employment, and education, respectively. Yet for the past two decades at least, policies in other countries are catching up with and exceeding those in the United States, so that we can no longer consider ourselves the leader in women’s achievement or economic well-being. Let me begin by reviewing women’s progress in the labor market for the past several decades, then look at how this recession is affecting women and men, and finally examine how US government policy is responding to the crisis. Women and men are being affected differently, and US policy designed to get our economy moving again should take these differences into account. Without specific attention on women’s needs in this crisis, we could see women’s economic standing fall further below men’s than it already is.