Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter have drawn much attention for their thoughts about the professional working lives of women. But Sandberg and Slaughter have failed to recognize or willfully ignored the stations of the vast majority of working women – those women who do not have the luxury of “opting out” or “leaning in.” The inadequacies of our workplace laws leave many working women behind and perpetually struggling to survive.
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) President Caroline Fredrickson, a former labor lawyer and a longtime leader in the legal progressive community, declares a powerful response to “leaning in,” or “opting out,” which dominate discussion of inequalities facing women in the workforce.
The discussion of workplace equality for women now focuses almost exclusively on white-collar professionals. This discussion needs broadening.
Fredrickson’s compelling book, Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over, tells the stories of many women, who do not have the protection of our laws or the ability to stand up to their employers’ often illegal demands. Indeed, for too long many employers have ignored or been exempted from laws meant to protect workers against corporate malfeasance. Fredrickson also notes the inadequacy of our laws is ingrained in a history riven with racial and gender biases. Time after time, Fredrickson notes that historical progressive movements to improve the lives of working Americans have left women behind. If our nation fails to embrace collective solutions to collective problems, inequality will continue to fester in America while democracy suffers.