Women Hit Hard by Budget Cuts

Professors hold teach-in for students entering “disproportionate” workforce

About 50 female students gathered at San Diego State University Wednesday morning to hear the grim future of their careers.

Women will be disproportionately affected by state and federal budget cuts, according to the members of the university’s Women’s Studies department, who held a day-long teach-in on the matter.

The speakers and organizers of the event say that industries in which women typically hold the majority in have seen large cuts in recent years.

“Many of our students are graduating into careers that are getting cut,” said SDSU women's studies professor Doreen Mattingly.

Women comprise 75 percent of the national education workforce, according to the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at UCLA. From 2011-2013, California higher education spending will be cut by 23 percent, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities reported.

In the case of education -- and other industries in which the dominant workforce is female -- women are more affected by budget cuts,

On the other hand, construction jobs are predominantly filled by men – before the recession, 87.5 percent of construction workers were male, according to the IRLE. Infrastructure is typically one of the first industries to receive stimulus money.

The disparity in funding was a talking point for keynote speaker and former Democratic Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña. She said that equal funding compared to infrastructure should go into education.

“California is eighth largest economy in world,” she said. “We got here because we invested in education. If we stop investing in education, we will lose our technology edge, we'll lose the next generation of researchers and innovators, we will lose employers -- companies that create those jobs.”

However the net benefits of education should be the objective that women bring to the table in their fight for education and health care dollars – not gender equality, said Julie Cullen, economics professor at UCSD.

"I wouldn't argue the goal should be to design state budget cuts that are gender neutral with respect to the distribution of job losses,” she said. “Presumably, these decisions should be driven by trade offs regarding the net benefits of the set of goods and services the state provides. [The state] should cut those with the lowest net benefits first."

One component of the teach-in was to advise students on how to effectively advocate for representation in budgetary decisions. If women voice their concerns as voters to their representatives, they are likely to impact such decisions. Mattingly admitted that this belief is optimistic, but she said it certainly wouldn’t hurt to raise awareness for the communication students can create with their representatives.

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