Promoting Work-Family Balance

DOWNLOAD PDF READ IN FULL SCREEN By Dina Bakst, Sherry Leiwant and Janet Gornick

There have been dramatic changes in how families work, and therefore, how they live, over the last generation in both New York City and across the nation. The majority of women are now in the labor force, and about half of the labor force in the United States is made up of women. A majority of mothers are now in the labor force, including most mothers of children under the age of 6 and a little over half of all mothers with infants. In New York City, the majority of two parent families have both parents working and most women in two parent families are in the labor force. These changes have been some of the major positive social changes in our society during the past century in terms of financial security for both women and families and the contribution of the intelligence, energy and productivity of all of our citizens to our economy. At the same time, these changes have led to increasing tensions between work and family responsibilities that harm workers and their families, in particular those with the fewest economic resources.

Despite these changes, our workplaces – and our social supports -- have not kept pace. Women’s role in the workforce changes the landscape of what families need and what society can expect from families. Policies from abroad should inform us, as we assess policy options for New York City, New York State and the U. S. as a whole. We have a tremendous opportunity here in New York City to be a model for the nation, ensuring that the supports today’s working families need are in place and trying innovative ways to mold the workplace of the 21st century to meet the needs of the workers of the 21st century.