Thursday, May 8, 2003

YWCA luncheon


Tapping on glass ceilings

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It always sounds so harmless when somebody breaks the news to us women that we're not doing as well as we thought.

The names are cute - the Mommy Track, for instance.

Being on a track for mommies doesn't sound nearly as bad as being Professionally Derailed If You Have Children. Qualified women unable to make it to top management are said to be unable to shatter the Glass Ceiling. Which sounds less violent than Batting Your Head Against A Brick Wall.

Now a study by the American Association of University Women finds that although more working woman are educated, most of us still are finding jobs in what they daintily describe as "pink collar" positions. The most common occupations for women are secretaries, bookkeepers, nurses, waitresses, receptionists and cooks.

Honorable work, of course. But not as well compensated as computer systems analysts or scientists, listed as among the top 10 jobs for men. Not to mention blue collar jobs, which often are unionized.

Salt in the wound

As if to rub salt in the wound, Ohio is cutting child-care subsidies for about 2,504 Hamilton County families and reducing subsidies for the 5,371 now getting help. A family of three must earn less than $22,536 a year to remain eligible, and those who remain eligible will have co-payments of almost 10 percent of their gross family income.

Wonder what Gov. Taft will call this? Women who can't afford child care (and, let's not kid ourselves, this will affect more mommies than daddies) may have to cobble together something that includes a neighbor or an older sibling or a boyfriend. If things fall through, she'll miss work. We could call it the Pink Slip Track. And there is no cute name to call what happens to children who are put in the care of amateurs - or worse.

Lots of people with multicolored collars have been working for decades to improve the news for working mothers and their children. But no single organization has done more here than the YWCA.

Safe and affordable day care. Shelters for battered women. Literacy classes. Job training. Health services. And since 1980, the YWCA has sponsored an Annual Salute to Career Women, which both gives a giant hurrah for success and raises money to help other women succeed. "Lift as you climb" is the Y motto.

At first, it must have been tough to scrounge up women qualified to be called executives. But this year, the YWCA's president Charlene Ventura said, "We had over 100 nominations for the award, and the judges went through a lot of agony to pick out eight." Agony? I like to think of it as the sound of firm tapping on the glass ceiling, oil on the Mommy Track.

Among the honorees at Tuesday's luncheon were Cincinnati's city manager and executives from Drake Center, Federated, GE and Convergys.

Our wages still lag behind men's and some of them are still trying to decide whether we're fit to play golf. But on a day like Tuesday, it's hard not to notice our progress and be, well, tickled pink.

E-mail lpulfer@enquirer.com or phone 768-8393.




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