Gillibrand's Fight: The War on Women

Monday, March 07, 2011

Democratic Senators discuss House Republicans' proposal. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) talked about the new White House report on the status of women and the potential impacts of the House Republicans' budget cuts.

New York's junior Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) has criticized the Republican-proposed budget cuts as a masquerade for ideology that is unfair to women. She's called it a "misjudgment" of what the American people want.

She pointed to cuts to nonprofits that deal with health care for women as an example. These aren't just jabs at reproductive care, they're jabs at overall health care, she said.

I feel like it's much more of an all-out assault on women that is not just about reproductive rights. Apparently they don't believe that women's health care should be funded. Companies and organizations and not-for-profits like Planned Parenthood, that's their job. They outreach to at-risk women and deliver a full range of health care services to them, including mammograms and pre-cancer screenings and including prenatal care, so when the pregnant women needs help to make sure that the child she bears is healthy, they don't even want to fund that.

Sen. Gillibrand highlighted data in the White House's report on women on the stubborn wage gap between women and men. The report found that women are more likely to be heads of households in single parent families than men and these women have the lowest family earnings among all family types.

So the statistics and studies show that when women earn less, it affects children. It's the number one indicator of how much that child will have opportunities for education or health care or to really reach their potential so it really hurts children when women earn less than their male counterparts for the very same work...For every dollar a man earns, a woman earns 78 cents on that dollar.

Sen. Gillibrand's big concern is women that aren't entering advancing fields, like math and science. Another finding in the White House report showed that even though women earn more bachelors degrees overall, they earn less than half of the degrees in math, physical science, engineering and computer science, and those numbers are on the decline.

There aren't enough women in the higher levels of most professions, including politics, Gillibrand said.

We have so few women who are running for office. We still only have 17 women in the United States Senate...those are terrible indicators. Women have to be involved because if they don't participate, decisions are going to be made about every aspect of their lives and they might not like what those decisions are.


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Comments [25]

K Webster from NYCity

Senator Gillibrand has done tremendous work for NY State: including standing up to the shameful Republican attempt to deny 9/11 responders health care.
And now another shameful attempt by the Republican majority to target poor, working and middle class women. The anti-child values here are equally shameful. When you target women's programs you target mothers and their children.
Most of the world is poor and female. When we rise so does the entire human race.

Mar. 08 2011 10:14 AM

JD How many female senators are there? CEOs? Astronauts? How many male teachers? Nurses?

Maybe the women in your experience are doing a better job than you are.

Mar. 07 2011 02:25 PM

Howard from the Bronx - people who correct other people's grammar are saying worse things about themselves than they are about anybody's grammatical goofs. I'll bet you never make mistakes, do you?

Mar. 07 2011 02:17 PM
J.D. from dt manhattan

JM, I did not dismiss your experience and observation as you did mine -- I simply stated my own. That's different.

Shana, your stories suggest a need for stronger unions and a national policy on child care. Your experience and observation do not alter nor contradict mine.

When I hear an unsourced statistic that women make 78 cents on the dollar to men for the same work, it simply does not gibe with my decades of experience and observation in corporate, nonprofit and government. When I hear that figure in the same breath as "there are few women CEOs" I have to wonder if the 78 cent figure is arrived at through inclusion of CEO salaries. By the way, there are also very few male CEOs, compared to the number of men in the work force, so that strikes me as a false argument.

Court cases on workplace gender discrimination are remarkable because they are infrequent as compared to the millions of women not suffering on the job, and indeed, enjoying tremendous protections and advantages. Without exception it has been my experience that women bosses generally favor female subordinates over males, unless they are sexually attracted to the male. Yes, that double standard is alive and well.

It does not serve the cause of equality to lie, to spew tired dogma, to repeat old falsehoods until they are perceived to be true, to have revenge on men for past gender inequities, etc. Those who act this way expose themselves as garden variety opportunists who mouth feminist platitudes as just another trick in their career game. It should also be noted that a perpetrator of white collar fraud or embezzlement is just as likely to be a woman as a man.

There are still women babbling old-school feminist canards that women in positions of power will mean the end of war and violence. Conveniently they neglect to consider Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Condoleeza Rice, HIllary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth I, Boudica, etc., and indeed Ms. Gillibrand herself, who fully supports Bush's perpetual war as long as it has been passed on to a Democratic president. All those dead and maimed babies in Afghanistan and Pakistan are someone's children, a fact that does not seem to affect the women currently in power any more than the men.

Mar. 07 2011 01:08 PM
Shana from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

JD, I worked in the fashion industry which has a lot of women working in it and I have personally seen several coworkers fired after they have had children. One woman I knew returned to work two months after giving birth and worked from home during her maternity leave only to be fired four months after returning from work, simply being told that they didn't have any work for her (never mind that she and everyone else were swamped with work the whole time). And I've seen many guys working in the industry given an advantage over female employees of the same standing whether manager was male or female. I also had a female boss flat out say that she was going to offer a woman with six years work experience a starting salary equivalent to that of someone straight out of college because the woman had taken a year off to raise her kid, because in this manager's words, "she'll be desperate for work so she'll take anything." Now tell me if you know any men with that experience after having children

Mar. 07 2011 11:28 AM

Thank you Senator for speaking out and speaking loud. I hope you can galvanize a movement (let's be Egyptians!) of citizens and politicians to prevent the erosion of gains that women and families have made. This undermining of these minimal safety nets by Republicans is, to my mind, part of thier greater plan, in light of thier Christian/corporate ideology, for putting us back in the middle ages. Let them call this class warfare and let us stand behind this spade and take ownership of the fight against what they are trying to do to our Families and our communities.
Republican economics have almost always led to disaster for most of us.(Savings and Loan Disaster, recent Mortgage and Banking Fraud, the great Depression). The only people who do well are thier cronies. Please continue to shine the light on the destructive quality of the legislation they want to enact.

Mar. 07 2011 11:20 AM

Likewise J.D., you dismiss my own firsthand experience. How are your observations more valid than mine? Are you a woman giving female subordinates preference? If not, you just might be guilty of "mansplaining."

Mar. 07 2011 11:14 AM
J.D. from dt manhattan

JM, your dismissal of my lifetime of experience and observation of women dominating the workplace and academia for a generation as merely anecdotal, apart from being rhetorically snippy, is absurd, especially when you then compare women bosses generally giving women subordinates unfair advantage with the old canard that women of child-bearing age don't get hired. That kind of cliche propaganda might have worked 40 years ago. Now it rings resoundingly false.

Mar. 07 2011 11:06 AM
J.D. from dt manhattan

Ha! When challenged on these so-called statistics, Kirsten Gillibrand hems and haws and brings out the gee-I-dont-think-so's. She's a female chauvinist ideologue, pushing the women disadvantaged in the workplace mythology. Women have dominated the workplace and academia for a generation. Don't be fooled.

Mar. 07 2011 10:51 AM
Chriss from Montclair

Brian, you asked her the obvious question about boys and she gave you an answer that is NOT TRUE.

She needs to get some recent data.

Mar. 07 2011 10:50 AM

As long as marriage exists, there can be no true equality. Marriage should be abolished and outlawed, and children should be produced in factories and raised by corporations or the state.
This would eliminate most of these problems.

Marriage is virtually obsolete and deleterious to everybody's rights.

Mar. 07 2011 10:50 AM

Yes, thank you for your support!

And you know J.D., I can provide my own anecdotal experiences with "old boys" clubs and sexist behavior in my own past jobs. I also resent that even though it's technically illegal, a hiring manager will look at me and decide that because I have the physical capability to bear a child that this fact alone makes me a "liability" in the workplace.

Mar. 07 2011 10:50 AM
Howard from the Bronx

Kirsten -It's FEWER women, not less - less qualified is correct. Look it up in Strunk & White -remember that guide?

Mar. 07 2011 10:50 AM
Henry from Katonah

Thanks to the Senator, epecially for her work on Dont-ask and Ground zero workers during the lame duck session. And for NOT voting for the tax cut "compromise." It may have needed to pass but not with Dem majorities.
2 Qs ( off yr Women's issues subject ) -
1) I was hoping in January that the Senate negotiations on rules would turn out to be more important that the headline grabbing House actions. Why so little ? Why not eliminate secret holds all together, for instance. Any comment ? I understand that the talks were confidential - - which is one of the things wrong with the way the Senate works.
2) With all this noise especially from the GOP abt deficits, why are hedge fund managers still paying 18% income tax ? - - wouldn't this loophole be easy to close?
Espcially when you are debating taking heating oil from the poor and zeroing out CPB.

Mar. 07 2011 10:48 AM
Chriss from Montclair

According to the NOW website "In 2007, women's median annual paychecks reflected only 78 cents for every $1.00 earned by men."

It's NOT for equal jobs. This fact has been abused for years.

Also, looking at who is graduating from College and getting jobs, it seems that BOYS are falling behind. To this, there have been a rash of books and studies discussing this.

Ask any single women in NYC if there are "qualified" men available.

Not to say girls don't need help. But this is NOT 1977.

Mar. 07 2011 10:47 AM
Jorge Posada

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Brava! Predictable stream of liberal pieties. Sounds like she's reading her talking points off her website.

Mar. 07 2011 10:47 AM
J.D. from downtown manhattan

Where exactly do woman earn less for the same work and who is collecting these statistics? My entire life I've witnessed the exact opposite: women bosses giving women subordinates advantage over men.

Mar. 07 2011 10:44 AM
LCruz from brooklyn

so, based on the "equal pay for equal work" can on surmise that women who voted for this congress would not like to be paid equally ?

Mar. 07 2011 10:44 AM
Hazel Sharpe from New Jersey

Brian just asked Gillibrand why anti-choice Republicans also want to cut funding for women's access for contraception. I think this position reveals exactly what the conservative Republicans priority is: controlling women - specifically women's bodies. They are clearly uncomfortable with women having any reproductive choice. They feel they should be the 'decider' of what women do with their bodies. They don't respect women. They are overwhelmingly frightened, insecure little men.

If conservative Republican men truly cared about children you would see more working in child care - teaching in the elementary grades, working in day care, etc. But you don't. And you know why? It doesn't pay enough for them.

Mar. 07 2011 10:43 AM
Emily Anne

Republicans are against abortion AND birth control, despite the fact that birth control will reduce the number of abortions, because the pro-birth (I can't call them pro-life, considering they don't care about life after birth) lobby favors sex only within the context of marriage and procreation. They want to control women's fertility and go back to the days when women stayed home with children. It seemed like a fringe belief before, but it is not becoming obvious how much power they have. Scary. Thank you Sen. Gillibrand for taking a stand.

Mar. 07 2011 10:43 AM

In any case, the choice of religion is completely irrelevant since the US Agency for International Development has already decided women's rights in Afghanistan is a "pet rock."

Mar. 07 2011 10:41 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

You are right. It is an assault on women. The problem that I am finding is that many women that I know have know idea of the legislation the GOP is putting forth. The GOP's actions NEED to be advertised more than it is. The public requires information to be conveyed more rigorously. For whatever reason, people are not paying attention and do not really know what is happening.

Mar. 07 2011 10:40 AM

keep tax dollars in ny.
will Gillibrand support cutting red state socialism, like farm aid for agribusiness

Mar. 07 2011 10:39 AM
Shana from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

Her, you may as well say the same thing about Christianity and Judaism if you're going to go that route. And just like those two religions have varying ways of looking at women's rights, the same can be said for people that follow the Muslim faith. Try talking to Muslim women from Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey (I've known women from all three countries) or just about any modernized country with a significant Muslim population. You'll see that they have the same women's rights issue as you would find in just about any model Judeo-Christian European country.

The issue is of SOME men and women trying to re-dominate women and remove the gains we have made in the past. Try and remember who it is trying to take money away from Planned Parenthood and other organizations working women have come to depend on.

Mar. 07 2011 10:30 AM
Her from NYC

Does the war on women include supporting Islam?

Mar. 07 2011 09:13 AM

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