House GOP threatens to defund office that studies, advocates for working women
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One potential casualty of the budget showdown in Congress is the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor. For just over 100 years, the Women’s Bureau has studied and advocated for the needs and interests of working women.
House Republicans have recommended eliminating its budget — which totaled $23 million in federal funding in 2023 — as a cost-cutting measure. The 19th, an online publication that covers gender and politics, first detailed how this funding ended up in play.
The Women’s Bureau was founded on the idea that when women are overrepresented in some sectors and shut out of others, that hurts the whole economy.
“We haven’t finished the bureau’s work,” said Betsey Stevenson, former chief economist at the Labor Department.
Occupations are still highly segregated, she said, and gender wage gaps persist within professions. Without the data the bureau publishes, policymakers will be left in the dark.
“When we turn a blind eye to the realities that we’re facing, we’re left really unable to address them,” Stevenson said.
And the Women’s Bureau doesn’t just study those issues, noted economist Lauren Bauer with the Brookings Institution.
“They actually do things to advance an agenda that works for working women,” she said — things like running grant programs to move women workers into male-dominated fields and publishing sample employment contracts to help domestic workers get paid fairly.
Eliminating the Women’s Bureau, Bauer added, will set those priorities back.
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