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Patrice Onwuka
February 7, 2024 - 4 minutes
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Background: Working for Women Report

IWN Top Takeaways

Working women in America have more opportunities than ever before to craft the careers and lives they want, but government interventions are creating needless obstacles. Of course, women also inevitably face big challenges. Some policymakers’ proposals for women backfire by making our workplaces less flexible and discouraging job creation. Onerous government regulations and mandates put enterprises out of business. Most concerning, policymakers erect barriers to opportunity that erode choices for women in how to work.

Policymakers should be committed to creating an economic environment that generates new opportunities and resources for women to build the lives they want.

State Reforms

Fight Degree Inflation: State workforces, legislatures, and governors should assess all state jobs and eliminate unnecessary college degree requirements. According to a 2017 Harvard Business School study, some 61% of employers have rejected applicants with the requisite skills and experience simply because they didn’t have a college degree.

Remove Excessive Occupational Licensing: Excessive licensing hurts workers and consumers alike. Female-dominated occupations disproportionately require licenses, creating impediments for women, particularly military spouses. States should evaluate existing licensing and fee practices and eliminate all that fail to advance legitimate public safety or quality concerns.

Protect Independent Contracting: The economy is evolving and transitioning from traditional 9-to-5 jobs to flexible, non-unionized work arrangements. Women have made impressive gains in freelancing and now comprise 52.3% of the gig workforce. Women are opting for independent work opportunities that afford them greater flexibility and autonomy that is absent in many traditional jobs. Lawmakers must protect independent contracting from reclassification to traditional employment and eschew misguided laws such as California’s AB5.

Reject ESG Investing and Workplace Quotas: Because sex-based quotas in the workplace don’t really advance women (and in fact send negative messages about us), these policies should be abandoned. Legal protections are already in place that outlaw sex-based discrimination, discrimination against pregnant workers, and workplace harassment. Government should avoid counterproductive and unconstitutional intrusions into the business decisions of private companies in the name of helping women.

Federal Reforms

Make the 2017 Tax Cuts Permanent and Embrace Tax Reform: These tax cuts unleashed record prosperity for households and businesses. By embracing tax reform that preserves America’s global competitiveness and adopting a balanced budget amendment to counteract out-of-control spending, we can lower America’s debt burden and interest payments while easing the pressure of inflation.

Reduce Regulatory Burdens on Small Businesses: Congress should consider directing the Small Business Administration to quantify and monitor federal regulatory costs on small businesses.

Reform the Social Safety Net: By imposing work requirements for able-bodied workers, closing loopholes for states to exploit, and limiting eligibility to those who are truly needy, we can create a safety-net system that encourages work and puts more people on a path to independence. As a result, poverty rates will decrease, family stability will improve, and intergenerational wealth will be created.

Pursue Creative Alternatives to Student Loans and Payment Plans: Proposed legislation would simplify repayment plans and limit borrowing choices to keep students from taking out debt they cannot afford or repay and truly help the students in most need. Policymakers should encourage students to pursue creative substitutes for taking out loans, such as income-sharing agreements in which students go to school for free and agree to pay back a percentage of their income after graduation.

Keep the Federal Government from Taking Over Childcare and Preschool Systems: The failures of our K-12 public schools during COVID-19, ineffective programs like Head Start, and fights over curricula will come to your local daycare and preschool if the federal government becomes their primary funder and sets the rules for what constitutes an approved daycare provider.

Eliminate Unnecessary Childcare Regulations: Rather than Washington imposing new regulations on childcare services and relationships, policymakers at all levels of government should seek to eliminate regulations that are not directly related to safety and true quality so that a greater diversity of providers—especially smaller and at-home providers—can enter the marketplace to give parents more and better options.

Expand Paid Time Off Without New Entitlements: Lawmakers should consider alternative ways to expand paid time off without crushing small businesses. Bills like the Working Families Flexibility Act would help expand flexibility and paid family leave for lower-income workers by allowing private-sector, hourly workers to have the same ability as public-sector workers to choose if they want to accumulate paid time off in exchange for overtime work, rather than be required to take extra pay. Also, existing entitlement programs, like Social Security, could be reformed so that workers could customize their benefits and get help to support time off from work.

Click HERE to read the full Working for Women Report. 

Patrice Onwuka Bowie, MD.
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