Naomi Barko

Naomi Barko is a freelance journalist who often writes on topics concerning women.

Recent Articles

Family Valued:

Cecile Johnston and her husband Kevin Diffily have just filed for bankruptcy. Their mistake? They had a new baby, and Johnston took 12 weeks off to care for her, as is provided by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. "I was working at part-time jobs for two agencies," explains Johnston, who is a community educator and organizer, "and had only a small amount of accumulated sick and personal leave from one job. The other agency agreed to lay me off under the impression that I could then get unemployment insurance. But that turned out not to be the case." With two older children to provide for, her husband's salary proved inadequate. "We ended up putting a lot of things on credit cards -- even things like gas and groceries," she admits. "It snowballed in a way I don't think we could have foreseen." Johnston's story is only one of many cited in a new campaign to give families paid benefits under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Since the act was passed in 1993, an estimated...

The Other Gender Gap

Hazel Dews is slightly embarrassed when you ask about her salary. She pauses and then confesses that after 25 years cleaning the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington five nights a week, she makes barely $22,000 a year. That's not what really bothers her, though. What irks her is that men who do the same job earn $30,000. The men, she explains, are called "laborers." They can progress five grades. The women, however, are called "custodial workers," which means they can only advance two grades. "But," she protests, "they scrub with a mop and bucket. We scrub with a mop and bucket. They vacuum. We vacuum. They push a trash truck. We push a trash truck. The only thing they do that we don't is run a scrub machine. But that's on wheels, so we could do it too." Thirty-seven years after the Equal Pay Act of 1963, American women working full time still earn an average of 74 cents for each dollar earned by men, according to a new report published jointly by the AFL-CIO and the Institute...