Shortchanging Working Women

Caroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society, talks about her new book. Photo credit: David Y. Lee for Public Welfare Foundation

Caroline Fredrickson talks about her new book. Photo credit: David Y. Lee for Public Welfare Foundation


What do you do if your employer isn’t bound by any law not to discriminate against women? Or to pay women as much as men, or even the minimum wage?

Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, examines these and many other questions in her new book, Under the Bus, How Working Women are Being Run Over, which was released May 5 (

She talked about the book at a gathering of about 50 people this week in the Public Welfare Foundation’s Lankford Auditorium. Foundation president Mary McClymont, who introduced Fredrickson, noted that the concerns raised in the book relate to the Foundation’s focus on workers’ rights. The various injustices, exclusions, and barriers that Fredrickson highlights, “all add up to seriously undermining our shared goal of economic equality for all,” McClymont told the audience.

Several of the major issues facing working women that Fredrickson examines include persistently low wages, long and unpredictable work hours, and policies such as family leave and paid sick leave that are simply not available to many workers.

In Fredrickson’s view, workers and advocates need to “lean together” to overcome some of these obstacles: lift up state and local policies that are more favorable to working women; remove exclusions that fail to protect so many workers; increase the minimum wage and either eliminate the tipped wage or tie it to a percentage of the minimum wage; and promote more flexibility in the workplace, among other things.

As Fredrickson says, her book, “puts it all together, explaining how this huge and growing segment of the workforce – overwhelmingly female and of color – was created, how and why it is growing, and how, if we don’t fix these problems, all American workers will be swallowed by this trend.’ ”

Photo credit: David Y. Lee for Public Welfare Foundation


The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. The Foundation looks for strategic points where its funds can make a significant difference and improve lives through policy and system reform that results in transformative change. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or on Facebook.

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