WORKING WOMEN NEED A RAISE — AND A BREAK
July 10, 2008
Working women spend more time at work than ever, they talk more to their coworkers than their family members and they have no free time. But what they really want is a raise, according to the sixth Working America Ask a Working Woman survey.
“Working women want to spend more time with their families, but they can’t afford to,” says Karen Nussbaum, Executive Director of Working America. “Working women say they want more cash in their wallets, even more than other benefits, like health care. Unemployment is up, the credit crunch is squeezing people and gas prices are hitting record highs. America’s working women need a raise and a break.”
A 10% raise topped affordable, high-quality health care or childcare as making working women’s lives easier, according to half of the 2008 Ask A Working Woman survey respondents. Given the economy, if working women had more available time, they are most likely to say they would work another job, ahead of spending more time with friends and family, exercise, taking a class and getting more sleep.
“Prices for everything have soared out of control while wages stagnate,” wrote Judith, a 2008 Ask a Working Woman respondent.
Working women also need a break. They are talking to their coworkers more than their children or friends. They are extremely busy and have little time for themselves. Thirty-seven percent say they work during their breaks or have no breaks.
After work and family responsibilities, a plurality of respondents say they have an hour or less to themselves a day (11% none, 34% less than an hour). A quarter say they have two hours to themselves, 16% have three hours, 10% have somewhere between four and six hours, and only 4% have more than six hours to themselves. Respondents in their 30s and 40s are particularly likely to say they only get an hour or less to themselves a day (58% and 53% respectively), as are those who are parents (72%).
In spite of their lack of personal time, they are most likely to say they would work another job if they had free time.
“I have to choose everyday if I am going to buy food or gas to get work. Gas always wins, because I need my paycheck to support my family. I never have enough money, ever,” said Kelly, a 2008 Ask a Working Woman respondent.
Working women are doing more with less, saddled with debt and facing rising prices. Working women are using their credit cards to pay for durable goods and everyday items. Six in 10 respondents have at least some credit card debt, and many won’t be able to pay off their credit cards in the near future. A quarter say they will be able to pay off their balance within the next year and 12% say within the next two years, 18% say in more than two years. Six percent say they will never be able to pay off credit card debt.
Women Need a Break
Working women need a break, especially when it comes to the gender gap.
“Women in the workforce need to have equality in pay and promotions—we need to bridge this gender gap NOW!” said Jenny, a 2008 Ask a Working Woman respondent.
Almost half of respondents said they know or suspect men make more than they do.
Having children is seen as a having a negative impact on women’s careers, while it makes little difference for men. Eight in 10 respondents say having children hurts their career and prospects in the job market (27% say hurts strongly), while only 8% feel having children hurts men’s career prospects, and 70% say it makes no difference for men.
Money is critical to nearly all working women, even at the cost of job satisfaction.
Seventy-two percent said that if they had a choice between a job that paid better or one that was more fun, they would choose the one with higher pay.
A majority of survey respondents have some form of paid sick leave. But very many women use their sick days, vacation or other paid leave to care for sick children, parents or other family members.
Eighty percent of the respondents say they identify with the goals and ideals of feminism, and 43% feel strongly about it. And they are not just hoping for change: 90% say they voted in the past election, and six in 10 support efforts to encourage voting by women.
Released on June 25, the 2008 Ask a Working Woman survey report digests data from the online survey that was conducted May 7 to June 20 with 20,000 respondents. This year’s survey is the sixth edition; it has been conducted in various forms since 1997.