2004 Progress in Equity Award
American Association of University Women
Affirmative Action and Diversity Initiatives Award, 2002
Vanderbilt University Opportunity Development Center
REPORTS AND PAPERS
Women in Corporate Director and Executive Positions in Tennessee
Although women make up almost half of the workforce, they fill less than one fourth of corporate board and executive positions in the United States. In this joint study with CABLE, we examined the gender composition of the boards and executive positions in Tennessee’s 105 public corporations. We also looked at the number of women board members and executives by board size, company revenue and industry. We found that women make up less then ten percent of corporate board members and executives. Companies with larger boards or with greater revenue were more likely to have women on their boards. This study is the first of its kind to be done on Tennessee.
Tax Reform and Tennessee Households: A Distributional Impact Analysis
Dr. Ronnie Steinberg, Lindsay Kee, and Emily Tanner-Smith prepared an analysis of three possible tax plans for the Tennessee Tax Structure Study Commission. The report looked at three possible scenarios for tax reform: the status quo sales tax, a graduated income tax with a lowered tax on sales and groceries, and a statewide property tax and motor vehicle title tax with a lowered tax on sales and groceries. Three basic family types at seven different incomes were analyzed. The results illustrate the need for a progressive income tax. Furthermore, because of the regressive nature of the sales tax creates an exorbitantly high tax burden for those at the lowest income levels, elimination of the tax on groceries and an Earned Income Tax Credit would be required to truly create tax relief for the poorest Tennesseans.
Immigrant Women in Davidson County, Tennessee: A Preliminary Report
Undergraduate Research Associate Jessica Bearden began her report by considering two contradictory arguments about immigration in the United States with respect to Davidson County, Tennessee: a) that immigrants fill jobs that would not otherwise be filled by a native born worker, and b) that immigrants do not work, but rather drain social services. In the report she profiled race, employment, and educational demographics among the immigrant population in Davidson County, hypothesized possible reasons for unemployment among immigrant women, and highlighted the limitations of the available data. She found that the female immigrant population in Davidson County is largely
educated and employed, and tended to give the state more money in taxes than they or their families received in social services. The most important piece that she uncovered was the lack of information on immigrant women available and the need for further research.
Tennessee Women’s Scholarship Directory
Recognizing the increasing cost of higher education and the low college graduate rate for women in Tennessee, Research Associates Sheila Katz and Jennifer Howard, along with Dr. Ronnie Steinberg, created this book as a tool for female students. This collection of scholarship information includes general information about Tennessee’s public and private universities and colleges, and is available free of charge. In addition to listing scholarships, the directory also includes scholarship search engines, online resources, and additional resources to nontraditional students. We received numerous letters and e-mails from guidance counselors thanking us for the directory, including the following:
· "Thank you so very much for sending me the TN Women's Scholarship Directory. What a wonderful tool for assisting me in getting valuable information to my students. I have already put it to good use. Thanks again for all you do for our students. Sincerely, Belvia Pruitt” (Guidance Counselor, Ezell Harding Christian School, Antioch)
· “I would like to THANK whoever is responsible for creating this publication. It will prove to be an amazing help when steering students towards scholarships and helping them find things to apply for… Thank you again for your time in putting this together. Sincerely, Brian Motto” (College Counselor, Father Ryan High School, Nashville)
· “What a masterpiece and what a service! This promises to be a most useful tool for counselors and students. Thank you sincerely for all of your efforts. Marion Birge” (College Counselor, Houston High School, Germantown)
· “The scholarship booklet published last year was WONDERFUL… I had several students that received scholarships last year because of this publication… Sincerely, Margaret Ann Williams” (Guidance Counselor, Greenbrier High School, Greenbrier)
Tennessee Women’s Scholarship Directory Website
With a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, W-SPARC created a scholarship website at sitemason.vanderbilt.edu/wsparc/scholarships. Many state high schools do not have adequate scholarship resources and guidance staff cannot gather appropriate information. Non-traditional students do not even have access to guidance counselors. The website was designed to provide access to scholarship information to these students. The website includes:
o A printable version of the directory broken down by chapter, with text on what each section contains and/or how to use each section
o A section on school-specific scholarships, including a map of the locations of institutes of higher education in Tennessee and their contact information
o A link to the latest information on Tennessee lottery scholarships, including the Tennessee HOPE scholarship, the General Assembly Merit Scholarship, the Need-Based Supplemental Award, the Tennessee HOPE Access Grant, and the Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant.
o A section where new scholarships not already in the Directory will be listed.
o A form for organizations to update scholarships already listed in the directory, or to add new scholarships.
o An order form to request print copies of the directory.
o A short survey for consumers to provide feedback on the directory’s usefulness and suggest improvements for future editions.
The online version of the directory is updated periodically so that students would have access to the most recent information available.
Footing the Bill: Women and Tax Reform in Tennessee
Dr. Steinberg, Lindsay Kee, and undergraduate Jennifer Karpinski examined the effect of different tax proposals under consideration by the Tennessee legislature on women who live in different types of families and at different income levels. Dr. Steinberg testified about our findings before the Tennessee legislature’s joint budget committee, at the request of Senator Bob Rochelle after the study was assessed by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. Our findings were also excerpted in the June 2001 issue of Nashville Woman and in the Tennessee Commission of Children and Youth’s report, Tennessee and Its Children: Unmet Needs 2001.
Continuation of Health Insurance in Tennessee Divorce Cases: A Feasibility Study
In February 2001, Rep. Carol Chumney proposed HB 1243 to allow those who would otherwise lose their group health insurance coverage due to divorce to continue such coverage until they remarry, at no additional cost to the recipient. Lindsay Kee, Alisa Palmisano, and Ronnie Steinberg completed a feasibility study to determine the existence of relevant studies, useful datasets that could potentially be analyzed to answer pertinent questions, and experts or organizations that may be able to conduct a larger study. Their work reveals that the problem of loss of health insurance due to divorce particularly affects women, as they are (a) more likely than men to have health insurance through their spouses and (b) more likely than men to face poor economic conditions after divorce.
Directory of Resources for Women in Tennessee 2002
Alisa Palmisano, with the help of undergraduate Annie Lewis, completed a resource book of services for women in Tennessee. This was a First Tennessee Bank and Vanderbilt University Opportunity Development Center funded publication. The resource book contains over 400 organizations of importance to women, including job training and placement agencies, legal services, family centers, domestic violence shelters, sexual assault organizations, and pregnancy centers. We have distributed the book widely throughout the state. The resource book is also available through a searchable database on our website, www.wsparc.org.
Women and the Living Wage: The Case of Nashville, Tennessee
Maria Tsagaris, undergraduate, Alisa Palmisano, Research Associate, and Ronnie Steinberg completed a study estimating the number of employed people in Nashville who do not earn a living wage, which required estimating what a living wage would be in Nashville.
Status of Women in Tennessee Report
Alisa Palmisano, undergraduate Kristi Erickson, and Ronnie Steinberg, performed an analysis of low-income work by sex-type of job, which appeared as a focus box in the Status of Women in Tennessee Report. Their work reveals that one of the central obstacles to women in Tennessee achieving economic independence is that jobs traditionally held by women in the state do not pay enough to allow them economic independence. This points to three solutions. The first is to improve access to education and job training for all women, to enable them to move out of low-paying jobs. The second is to provide education and training for women to compete for jobs which are traditionally male jobs, and which pay much higher wages. The third is that a system of pay equity could be implemented to increase wages for jobs that have traditionally been female.
ONGOING AND PROPOSED PROJECTS
Nashville Women and the Impact of Social Service and Healthcare Reforms
At the request of the Women’s Caucus of the Metro Nashville City Council, W-SPARC will conduct four studies about the impact on Nashville women of potential changes in health care, social services, housing and transportation. In the Health Care study, W-SPARC will examine the impact of potential hospital closures and of TennCare reforms on Nashville women. We will investigate what the net effect would be if public hospitals closed, and which subgroups of Nashville women would be most affected. In the Transportation Study we will identify and describe the changes in Metro’s public transportation services since 2003, determine the population affected by these changes and describe the net impact of these changes on that population. The Affordable Housing Study will look at the available housing stock in Nashville and examine women’s ability to afford housing. Finally, in the Social Services Outsourcing study, W-SPARC will examine the effect of contracting out social services.
Barriers and Bridges: Immigrant Women and Work in Tennessee
Professor Ronnie Steinberg and Research Assistant Professor Patricia Foxen are seeking funding for this qualitative study to examine immigrant women’s contributions to Nashville’s economy and culture, focusing on their paid and unpaid work, their contributions to the economy, and the positive influence that they have on their communities and families. Because the federal and state Bureaus of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development do not maintain detailed occupational, industrial, or wage data by ethnic group for Davidson County’s foreign-born population, the economic contributions and special circumstances of this population remain mostly undocumented. As a result, the contributions of immigrant women to the Nashville community have been largely invisible, and their contributions in paid and unpaid labor have been ignored. The research will become the basis for several academic articles and possibly a book length manuscript on immigrant working women’s lives as well as the basis for a public photography exhibit that will tour the state.
GO-GIRLS (Giving Our Girls Insight & Resources to Learn Self-Sufficiency)
The GO-GIRLS program aims to teach middle school girls of all economic levels about the long-term economic consequences of their life decisions regarding education, marriage, children, financial planning, and jobs. In Davidson County 16.8% of 9th graders drop out before reaching the 12th grade, despite the fact that degree completion increases job opportunities and earning potential. With GO-GIRLS we hope to inform these girls of the importance of continuing education, and assist them in making choices that promote their economic independence and security.
Women, Minorities and Federal Income Taxes
The federal income tax system has long been touted as a progressive system that shifts the burden of paying taxes towards those who can afford it most. However, a growing body of literature has demonstrated that the federal income tax system may not be as progressive as it appears, particularly for minorities and women. In a project headed by Professor Beverly Moran of the Vanderbilt University School of Law, W-SPARC is analyzing the distributional impact of the federal tax system on women and minorities. The resulting analysis will be disseminated through a series of public lectures and a monograph.
Tax Reform, Race and Tennessee Households: A Distributional Impact Analysis
This study looks at the impact on Tennessee households by race of various tax reform scenarios. The three tax reform scenarios under study are: the status quo sales tax, a graduated income tax with a lowered tax on sales and groceries, and a statewide property tax and motor vehicle title tax with a lowered tax on sales and groceries. Three basic family types at seven different incomes are being analyzed. This study examines differences in the distributional impact of these scenarios between blacks and whites.
Future of Health Reform/Funding for Low-Income Working People in Tennessee
Currently women across the economic spectrum are living longer than they ever have before. Consequently, elderly women are more likely to deal with the cumulative effects of chronic illnesses than with acute illnesses as they have in the past. Some women rely on Medicaid and others on their own private insurance to pay the costs associated with such illnesses. However, national research has shown that the health care system in the United States today is organized to deal with the acute illnesses of old age rather than today’s long-term, chronic illnesses. The current health care system is not organized in a way that is conducive to providing adequate care to today’s elderly women in a cost-effective way. National studies project a lower quality of life for elderly women; furthermore, national studies predict that the funds women believe will protect them in old age will be depleted before they can use them. W-SPARC wants to examine this issue in the state of Tennessee to see if this state is consistent with national data. If so, we want to organize a task force to address this issue.
Current Research on Women, Work and Diversity
Tennessee Economic Summit for Women
December 3, 2004
Impact of State Taxes on Women
National Council for Research on Women
June 7, 2004
Footing the Bill: Women and Tax Reform in Tennessee
Tennessee Tax Structure Study Commission
November 20, 2003
Getting the Facts You Need to Take Action: The W-SPARC Model
National Organization for Woman--State Conference
October 11, 2003
Fighting Back with Facts: Getting the Research You Need to Build a Movement Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
How Sex Gets into your Paycheck and How to Get it Out
Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Combining Activism and Theory in the University: A Roundtable Discussion
Southeastern Women’s Studies Association
March 22, 2003
Economic Independence for Women: Is It Possible?
Tennessee Education Association
On Being A Fierce Advocate
The W-SPARC Model
Feminist Dialogues Series
Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University
February 26, 2002
Impact of Tennessee State Tax Reform on Women
Testimony by Dr. Ronnie J. Steinberg
Tennessee State Legislature Joint Budget Committee
Tax Policy and Its Impact on Tennessee Women
League of Women Voters State Convention
How Sex Gets in Your Paycheck: The Case of Nurses
Tennessee Nurses Association
Economic Independence for Women: Is It Possible?
Tennessee Women’s Medical Association
Women in the Political Economy
National Organization for Women—State Convention
Women’s Social Policy and Research Center
American Association of University Women, Nashville Chapter
The Political Economy at War With Women
Women and Wages
Feminist Expo 2000