By Andrew Cohen
On October 18, Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress released “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” a comprehensive study about women’s rising economic status and its effect on American life.
A veteran television news reporter and the wife of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shriver collaborated with a small group of partners, including the Berkeley Center for Health, Economic and Family Security (Berkeley CHEFS), to produce the report. Available here, it finds that the nation’s leading institutions—government, businesses, education, faith, and media—have not kept up with the changing nature of the American worker and family.
Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor project that by the end of the year—for the first time in history—more than half of the nation’s workers will be women. Mothers have also become the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families.
“That timing gives us a great chance to shine attention on whether our society fully supports women who have dual roles as workers and family caretakers,” says Berkeley CHEFS Executive Director Ann O’Leary ’05, one of the report’s two co-editors. “Our hope is to walk away with a new understanding of where we need to update social policies and how businesses can best update their practices.”
The Shriver Report includes personal essays, excerpts from Shriver’s conversations with Americans across the country, and a national survey of attitudes on women’s rising prominence in the workforce. It is featured in the October 26 issue of Time magazine, and in conjunction with the launch Shriver is appearing on various NBC networks—and will be a guest with O’Leary on the Today Show October 20.
In addition to being the report’s co-editor, O’Leary co-authored a chapter on the government’s role in supporting women with both working and caretaking responsibilities. Berkeley CHEFS Faculty Co-Director Mary Ann Mason penned a chapter about the U.S. education system’s impact on women, with suggestions for postsecondary education reform to help ensure that women may function as equal partners in the future workplace.
Maria Echaveste, senior distinguished fellow at the Berkeley Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity, wrote a chapter on immigrant women in America. It explores the significance of such women taking on the work—child and parental care, home maintenance, food production, and cleaning—once primarily done by the unpaid wives of male breadwinners.
Berkeley Law students Eleanor Blume ’10, Tracy Petznick ’11, and Zoe Savitsky ’11 also worked on The Shriver Report, the centerpiece of the upcoming annual California Women’s Conference that Shriver will host on October 27 in Long Beach. Over the next year, her report will be followed by a book on regulatory, legislative, business, and cultural changes needed to align with the needs of American women and families.
“Maria (Shriver) initially talked to the Obama Administration, which created the White House Council on Women and Girls to look at government’s role in addressing their needs,” says O’Leary. “She thinks this project will complement the White House Council, reveal important facts, guide legislators on key women’s issues, and be a great addition to the California Women’s Conference.”
Shriver was also the keynote speaker at last week’s Berkeley CHEFS conference, “Shared Responsibility, Shared Risk: Government, Markets and Social Policy in the Twenty First Century” in Washington, D.C., where she discussed the report’s implications.