Janet Gornick

Janet C. Gornick is professor of political science and sociology at the Graduate Center, at the City University of New York.

Recent Articles

Outside the 9-to-5

Some of the fastest-growing professions with nonstandard work hours are dominated by women.

From our pink-collar jobs package, Women's Work : One in five employees in the United States works mostly at nonstandard times--during the evening, at night, or on rotating shifts--and one in three works on the weekend. Despite their prevalence, nonstandard-hour workers are remarkably invisible, remaining largely off the radar screen of policy-makers, unions, and other groups concerned with jobs, workers, and working conditions. Of course, the times are changing. The Obama administration has pledged its support for several pro-worker policy reforms--including increasing and indexing the minimum wage, extending the Earned Income Tax Credit and strengthening workers' rights to unionize. The appointment of a progressive labor secretary further signals that working conditions are returning to the public agenda. While nonstandard-hour work has yet to attract sustained attention in political or policy circles, there are glimmers of emerging awareness. Hillary Clinton made a point of...

Atlantic Passages

Many rich countries do a far better job than the United States does of supporting workers who are balancing the competing demands of employment and parenthood. Several European countries, especially in northern and western Europe, provide extensive work/family reconciliation policies -- including paid family leave, public early-childhood education and care, and working-time measures that raise the quality and availability of reduced-hour work. The European Union puts a common floor under several of these national standards. Parents in much of Europe have access to multiple forms of paid family leave, for both mothers and fathers. Equally important, these programs provide wage replacement, usually financed by social insurance, in order to spread the costs between women and men, across generations, and among enterprises. Social-insurance financing also minimizes employers' resistance to hiring young workers, especially women, who they anticipate will be leave-takers. The Nordic...

Reconcilable Differences

In the true marriage relation the independence of the husband and wife is equal, their dependence mutual and their obligations reciprocal. -- Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) F eminists have long been queasy about marriage, but our queasiness is not about marriage per se; it concerns the way marriage has been practiced. The religious right paints feminists as opposed to marriage and all that goes with it: heterosexuality, men, family, love, caring, and children. Campaigning against the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly flatly warned that "feminists hate men, marriage, and children." Twenty years later, Pat Robertson advised would-be supporters in a fundraising letter: "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children ... and become lesbians." Clearly, the right misrepresents feminists' struggle with marriage, but many moderates and even some...

Support for Working Families

F our decades of steady growth in female employment have gone a long way toward closing the job gap between women and men in the industrialized countries. One of the most striking changes in Europe and the United States has been the rise in employment among mothers with young children. Nearly 85 percent of U.S. mothers employed before childbearing now return to work before their child's first birthday. Although this is an encouraging trend from the perspective of gender equality in the marketplace, it is raising a new and difficult question about arrangements in the home: If everyone is working in the market, who is caring for the children? Many parents in the industrialized countries find themselves navigating uncertain new terrain between a society that expects women to bear the primary responsibility for caring in the home and a society that expects, and increasingly requires, all adults to be at work in the market. Mothers and fathers are struggling to craft private solutions to...