The Quest for Perfection Is Stunting Women’s Academic Potential

In the latest study on gender and perfectionism by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the majority of women in the surveyed group were perfectionists. And Harvard economics professor Claudia Goldin conducted a study that found female students responded more negatively to imperfect grades than male students.

“It seems like the strongest social pressure affecting college-educated, professional women today isn’t that they’re afraid to succeed; it’s that they’re afraid not to,” wrote Amanda Hess, critic and regular contributor to
The New York Times

Women’s Rights Are Essential to Democracy. Why Do Philanthropists Treat Investments in Women as a Special Interest?

In the last two months, the Supreme Court heard two case to limit nationwide access to abortion care. The chaotic state of play for abortion rights in the United States illustrates the consequences of failing to integrate efforts to strengthen democracy into strategies for advancing gender equity and vice versa.

For philanthropic leaders, the twin goals of strengthening democracy and advancing gender equity presents a compelling case for simultaneous investment. Divorcing gender justice from democracy is inconsistent ideologically, and it’s also irrational and unnecessarily expensive. To separate them is to delay success and pay for it many times over. 

How Derivatives Blew Up Our Economy—And Just Might Again

You’ve probably heard of derivatives. In 2021, they were reportedly worth $600 trillion in face value. Some critics say it was only $12.4 trillion if you count only the money “netted.” By comparison, the entire U.S. national budget in 2021 totaled $6.8 trillion.

“Derivative” as an adjective means to be hackneyed and stale or even plagiarized or stolen. So how can a small group of Wall Street banks, hedge funds, private equity and investment firms make trillions selling and trading in derivatives, and not necessarily the stuff they’re derived from? What are they exactly?

For Families That Need the Most Help, Childcare Costs Are About to Drop

At the end of February, President Joe Biden’s administration announced it was going to require every state to cap its co-payments so that families that receive subsidies pay no more than 7 percent of their income towards childcare. 

This important move addresses the acute need among the lowest-income families, most of whom are families of color. With the change, more than 100,000 families are expected to save about $200 a month on average, according to the White House. The change could also encourage more providers to participate in the subsidy program because they know they’ll be paid consistently for serving low-income students in the same way they are for other children. The new rule is effective April 30. Some states will be able to make the changes quickly; others will need approval from their legislatures. All will need to be in compliance by 2026. 

Which Political Party Is Budgeting for Women’s Futures?

For too many—especially women of color—paychecks aren’t keeping up. Inflation is inching downward, but costs for groceries, childcare and rent feel out of reach.

But congressional fights over taxes and spending are really about fundamental questions: What do women, our families and communities need? What kind of future do we want to build? Recent budget proposals by the Biden administration and Republicans in Congress show how our two major political parties answer those questions. The answers were starkly different, revealing high stakes when it comes to women’s ability to participate in the economy, care for their families and control their own reproductive lives. 

The Best and Worst States for Family Care Policies

In 2021, the Century Foundation published its first care policy report card, “Care Matters,” which graded each state on a number of supportive family policies and worker rights and protections, such as paid sick and paid family leave, pregnant worker fairness, and the domestic worker bill of rights. The 2021 report card revealed the tremendous gaps in state care policies and a fragmented and insufficient system of care workers and families in most states.

This year’s update, co-authored with Caring Across Generations, takes another look at how states are doing.

Charting the Future of Equal Pay

Today, women workers make 78 cents when compared to men, and 66 cents for Black women, 52 cents for Latinas and 55 cents for Native women. The earnings gap is even larger when the value of benefits, including health and life insurance and performance bonuses, is included in the equation.

Disclosure of pay data by gender and race to the EEOC may pave the way for transparency to the public at large—and much-needed action to close gender and racial pay gaps once and for all. It’s been 60 years. Isn’t that long enough?

(This article originally appears in the Spring 2024 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)

Beyond the Federal Budget: Hunger, Misogyny and the Absurdity of it All

Extreme House Republicans have been dangling the threat of a government shutdown for months, playing politics with the lives of real people. In addition to being disruptive, wasteful and unnecessary, a government shutdown would have a deep and scarring impact on those facing food insecurity and poverty. This is not a game.

Resistance to safety net programs like the expanded child tax credit, SNAP and WIC is rooted in racist, misogynistic, tired and offensive stereotypes that blame and shame people, rather than help them when they need it most.

Front and Center: ‘Politicians Who Believe Guaranteed Income Programs Discourage People From Working Are Wrong’

Back for its third year, Front and Center is a groundbreaking Ms. series that offers first-person accounts of Black mothers living in Jackson, Miss., receiving a guaranteed income. First launched in 2018, the Magnolia Mother’s Trust (MMT) is about to enter its fifth cohort, bringing the number of moms served to more than 400 and making it the longest-running guaranteed income program in the country. Across the country, guaranteed income pilots like MMT are finding that recipients are overwhelmingly using their payments for basic needs like groceries, housing and transportation.

“I’ve always had a good relationship with my kids, but MMT has allowed me to say ‘yes’ more. … My son and I both have birthdays coming up and I told him we could plan something fun, maybe go out of town. I’ve never taken them out of town before.”