Return to Main Women, Law and Public Policy page

by Jo Freeman

This article was commissioned by Signs: Journal of Women and Culture in Society pursuant to a grant received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Policy Development and Research for a special volume on women and the city. It was initially published as a Supplement to Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. S4-21. in the Spring of 1980. The entire issued was reprinted as Women and the American City ed. by Catherine R. Stimpson, Elsa Dixler, Martha J. Nelson and Kathryn B. Yatrakis, University of Chicago Press in 1981.

Any analysis of the impact of urban policy on women is complicated by the absence of an urban policy. While the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been in place since 1965 and hundreds of policies and laws affecting urban areas have been promulgated in the last forty years, there is no coordinated, directed policy with specific programs to achieve important goals. From this perspective, President Carter's announcement early in his term that he would present a national urban policy was a major step. The fact that his "policy" was largely a smorgasbord of already existing programs capped by some new ideas that Congress did not pass into law reflects the difficulty of creating coherence out of chaos when there is no consensus on goals and many vested interests with stakes in specific means.
Within the arena of urban policy are several recognized but unresolved conflicts for which Carter's proposals did not display a clear preference. One of the most overwhelming is the sheer diversity of urban conditions. The phrase "urban crisis" suggests pervasive decay, but an ordering of cities by an "urban hardship index"1 shows that the crisis is concentrated in the older cities of the Midwest and Northeast, and "within these cities, to certain areas that have been characterized in recent years by a rapid process of decentralization."2 In part, the highly differentiated and localized nature of urban problems makes them difficult to solve. Our federal system gives representation on the national level to states, not cities, and disproportionate representation to states with lower populations. In the bargaining over the allocation formulas necessary to secure congressional passage of the legislation, less needy areas frequently get a significant share of the resources.3 Similarly, once funds are divided up, the governing unit often uses them to maintain basic services, primarily in those areas from which the most votes come, or to lower taxes.4 Consequently, any attempt to provide more aid for the most needy localities would require a budgetary increase or a reduction in funds available to many areas currently receiving them.
Another problem is what would be an appropriate "solution" to the urban crisis. The two most frequently discussed strategies are revitalization and adjustment. The revival strategy "seeks to restore large cities to the roles they had in the past, though with perhaps not precisely the same activities. This includes attracting back both economic activities and households that have moved elsewhere. This strategy emphasizes permanent capital investments to make cities more competitive with suburban locations and forms of aid that geographically tie their recipients to the community."5 The "adjustment" strategy accepts the decline of cities as irreversible and seeks only to ameliorate the subsequent problems. This is done by making it easier for the population to move to places of greater economic opportunity and by providing transitional aid as services are reduced. Needless to say, city governments are not likely to find the adjustment strategy desirable, and even the most depressed cities contain a significant number of voters.



Although students of urban problems acknowledge the importance of race in the creation of "crisis conditions," it is rare for anyone to look at the sex composition of cities or of depressed neighborhoods. Perhaps after the next census when figures for metropolitan areas will be available on a block-by-block basis, such an analysis can be undertaken. Yet even on an aggregate basis, it is clear that central cities have a disproportionate share of women, especially women who are elderly or solely responsible for families.
In 1977, the central city area contained 115 women over the age of fourteen for every 100 men, compared with a sex ratio of 108 for nonmetropolitan areas and 107 for suburban ones. In the central city population over age sixty-five, the ratio rises to 157 women for every 100 men. Almost 7 percent of the central city population consists of women over age sixty-five, compared with 4.4 percent who are elderly men.6 (see table 1). The distribution of female-headed families is similarly skewed. The percentage of families maintained solely by women is twice as great in the central cities as in the suburbs (20.7 percent compared with 10.9 percent). Approximately 40 percent of all families, with and without children under eighteen, live in the suburbs, but only a little over 30 percent of all female-headed families live there. This is heavily weighted by the number of black female-headed families, over 60 percent of which are concentrated in the cities (see table 2). Despite the popular idea that suburbs are the place where children are raised, there are no significant differences in family distribution by the presence or absence of children under age eighteen or in the number of children per family.7 Race and sex of family head are much better predictors of whether a family will live in the central city than are presence or number of children under eighteen.

Number of Women per 100 Men for Total Population
over Age Fourteen and over Age Sixty-five, 1977
Central Cities
Non Metropolitan

SOURCE: Computed from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Social and Economic Characteristics of the Metropolitan Population: 1977 and 1970, Current Population Reports, ser. P-23, no. 75 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, November 1978), tables 1, 4.

Percentage of Families, and Female-headed Families,
with and without Children under Eighteen, by Place of Residence, 1977
  Central Cities Suburban Nonmetropolitan
  With Children Without Children With Children Without Children With Children Without Children
  Fem All Fem All Fem All Fem All Fem All Fem All
White 32 22 36 26 40 44 35 40 28 34 29 34
Black 62 55 65 58 16 21 11 18 22 24 24 24
Total 42 26 41 28 32 41 31 38 26 33 28 34

SOURCE: Computed from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Social and Economic Characteristics of the Metropolitan Population: 1977 and 1970, Current Population Reports, ser. P-23, no. 75 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, November 1978), table 7.
NOTE: "Female" denotes female-headed families.


As one might predict from the above, city women are less likely to be married and living with their husbands than their suburban or rural counterparts. In 1977, one out of three central city households was maintained by a person living alone or only with nonrelatives, compared with one in five suburban households. Fifty-nine percent of such persons, urban and suburban, were women (see table 3).8

Percentage of All Persons over Age Fourteen
Married and Living with Their Spouses in 1977
  Central Cities Suburban Nonmetropolitan
  Female Male Female Male Female Male
White 58 51 64 60 62 66
Black 32 40 43 52 36 45
Total 47 54 59 63 59 63

SOURCE: Computed from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Social and Economic Characteristics of the Metropolitan Population: 1977 and 1970, Current Population Reports, ser. P-23, no. 75 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, November 1978), table 4.

Why are single women, with or without children, so concentrated in cities? At one time the answer would have been because of jobs. The labor force participation rates of women for the decennial censuses show that the more urban the environment, the higher the female participation rate. In earlier censuses, where the metropolitan/nonmetropolitan distinction is not made but that between urban, rural nonfarm, and rural farm is, the differences are even greater.9 Yet by 1977 this trend appears to have stopped and almost reversed itself. While the 1977 figures, taken from the Current Population Survey, are not perfectly comparable to the more comprehensive census, the margin of error is not great enough to obscure the fact that now more women work who live in the suburbs than who live in the central cities. No longer do jobs appear to be the reason women are concentrated in the cities, although those who do work are more likely to work full time (see tables 4, 5).

Labor Force Participation Rates by Sex and
by Place of Residence, 1960-77 (%)
  Total Central City Suburban Nonmetropolitan
  W M W M W M W M
1977 48.0 75.7 48.2 73.5 50.0 79.9 45.4 73.6
1970 41.8 75.8 44.7 75.1 41.8 79.4 38.6 72.3
1960 35.5 78.6 40.6 79.7 34.4 81.7 31.6 75.1

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Social and Economic Characteristics of the Metropolitan Population: 1977 and 1970, Current Population Reports, ser. P-23, no. 75 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, November 1978), table 11; ser. P-23, no. 37, table 13.
NOTE: W = women, M = men.

Percentage of Civilian Income Recipients Who Are Year-Round
Full-Time Workers, by Place of Residence and Sex, 1977
  Central City Suburban Nonmetropolitan
Women 32.0 30.2 26.3
Men 51.8 57.6 50.7

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Money Income in 1977 of Families and Persons in the United States, Current Population Reports, ser. P-60, no. 118 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1979), table 41.

If jobs are no longer the reason, perhaps a better one is the availability of affordable housing. Women earn considerably less than men, even when they work full time. Fewer women than men are employed, and even when income from all sources is taken into account, women's median income is only 39 percent that of men's (see table 6).

Median Income by Place of Residence,
Women's as Percentage of Men's, 1977

Central City
Suburban Nonmetropolitan Total
All income recipients 45.7 35.2 38.8 38.9
Year-round full-time workers 61.6 57.9 60.0 58.4


SOURCE: Computed from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Money Income in 1977 of Families and Persons in the United States, Current Population Reports, ser. P-60, no. 118 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, March 1979), table 41.

As Downs has explained,

Most new housing is built on vacant land around the edges of built-up areas and according to very high standards of quality legally required by local zoning and building codes. Therefore, it is too expensive for most households. This legal exclusion of the poor and near-poor from new growth areas results in spatial separation of most middle- and upper-income households from most poorer ones. The former are concentrated in newer neighborhoods in the periphery of the metropolitan area (and a few close-in neighborhoods). The poor are concentrated in neighborhoods with the oldest and most deteriorated housing, generally in the center of the metropolitan area.10


Women heading families, and single-woman households, are considerably less likely than men to have a middle- or upper-middle -level income. Consequently, an analysis by the Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded that "nearly half of all female heads of household must spend one-fourth or more of their cash incomes on [adequate housing]. Less than 20 percent of all households need do the same."11 The same analysis argued that "by spending up to one-fourth of their income on housing, 80 percent of all American households should be able to obtain unflawed, uncrowded housing, but only 53 percent of all female-headed households can be expected to find adequate housing for the same proportion of income."12
Even when women can afford decent housing, they cannot always find it -- or rent it. Although there are no scientifically verifiable data documenting sex discrimination in housing, a 1975 "Report on Sex Discrimination in Five American Cities" found sex discrimination pervasive. "Three facially neutral criteria surfaced during the Hearings and Workshops as prevalent practices in the rental industry for refusing to rent to women: (1) Children are not allowed. (2) Prefer married couples. (3) Sorry-no single roommates.13 Other practices were described that also have discriminatory effects: refusing to rent a two-bedroom apartment to a single woman with a female, but not a male, child, or refusing to count as income alimony payments or public assistance. It may not be due to lack of income alone that 73 percent of households in public housing are headed solely by women.14
Although women are major beneficiaries of direct housing subsidies, both for privately owned and public housing, they are much less likely to benefit from another major government housing subsidy program -- tax breaks for homeowners. Estimates of savings to homeowners through income tax deductions of property tax and mortgage interest payments range from $7 to $12 billion, considerably more than $3 billion of budget outlays in 1977 for direct housing subsidies.15 Simply by knowing the lower incomes of women, one is not surprised to learn that of the 48.8 million owner-occupied homes in the United States in 1977, only 18 percent are owned by women heading households. Of this small percentage, 45 percent are owned by women over age sixty-five -- suggesting that widowhood rather than personal resources or conscious intention is the main stimulus.16 While discrimination may have been a major cause of low homeownership rates prior to passage in 1974 of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act17 and of an act prohibiting sex discrimination in housing and housing finance,18 as it was then deemed good business practice,19 there are no hard data on sex discrimination in the sale and financing of houses since then. However, HUD's feeling is that, next to low income, women's greatest barrier to owning their own homes is ignorance of how to do it and what it involves.20 The department has created a Woman and Mortgage Credit Project to inform lenders of the credit worthiness of women and to educate women on their rights and opportunities in obtaining credit and housing finance. The project is still too new to evaluate.
A second reason women live in cities is the availability of public transportation. A survey done in 1969 by the Federal Highway Administration showed that of those over age sixteen, men were 40 percent more likely than women to have driver's licenses. When disaggregated by place of residence, the percentage of men with licenses varied little, while that of women varied enormously. Only 32.5 percent of women over age sixteen in cities of I million or more had driver's licenses (see table 7). Not surprisingly, when cars are used, men are 50 percent more likely to be drivers than are women. Women are 50 percent more likely than men to use intracity mass transit-though the figures are very small compared with the total number of trips involved.21 Although the percentages for the national survey are small, studies that concentrate on particular cities show the same pervasive sex differences. Controlling for income, age, and other variables only partially eliminates the differences in use of cars versus public transportation or even walking. Studies of preferences even show that men are much more "antitransport" than women are. As Lalita Sen summarized, "The results clearly endorse the viewpoint that women are more likely to use some form of public transportation than men, both for work and discretionary trips and have a more favorable attitude toward transit and the use of public funds to subsidize transit."22


Percentage of Persons Sixteen Years of Age and Older
with Driver's Licenses, by Place of Residence, 1969
  Percentage with Driver's Licenses
Place of Residence Males Females Total
Unincorporated areas 90.0 68.8 79.2
Incorporated places      
Under 5,000 90.9 67.4 78.8
5,000-24,999 90.5 66.9 78.2
25,000-49,999 87.8 66.4 76.6
50,000-99,999 84.5 54.5 68.3
1,000,000 and over 68.2 32.5 48.8
Total incorporated 85.4 58.1 70.9
Total 87.0 61.5 73.6

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway
Administration, Nationwide Personal Transportation Study, Characteristics of Licensed Drivers, Report no. 6 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, April 1973), p. 8.

The concentration of women and female-headed families in the city is both cause and consequence of the city's fiscal woes. Women live in cities because it is easier and cheaper for them to do so, but because fewer women are employed, and those that are receive lower pay than men, they do not make the same contribution to the tax base that an equivalent population of men would. Concomitantly, they are more dependent on public resources, such as transportation and housing. For these reasons alone urban finances would be improved by increasing women's employment opportunities and pay. Yet nothing in our current urban policy is specifically geared to improving women's financial resources. There are some proposed incentives to business to create more jobs, but not necessarily ones that would utilize the skills women currently have. The most innovative proposal was a tax credit for new hires from certain groups with particularly high unemployment rates. None of the seven targeted groups were women.23
The Carter administration also proposed (but Congress did not pass) that $3 billion be authorized for labor-intensive public works. This is a standard ploy for quickly increasing employment in industries subject to cyclic unemployment. Because the unemployment rate dropped, the administration does not intend to reintroduce the proposal. However, since it is a standard countercyclical move, which will likely be used again, it is worth understanding its implications for women.24 Public works proposals quickly create a lot of jobs, but they primarily require muscle power or construction skills few women have gained. Without parallel programs to recruit and train women for public works jobs, they will principally employ men. The government has created extensive training programs to recruit and prepare blacks for the construction trades, and these programs have been quite successful. The equivalent programs for women are small, very new, and largely funded through local Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) grants.
The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act is the major source of training funds, though it is administrated primarily on a local level. The reauthorization in 1978 did contain some provisions directed at women -- for example, a displaced homemakers program -- but these are minuscule compared with the entire CETA budget authorization. Although many women have been trained by CETA programs, they are a lower percentage than the national unemployed population.25 While the wide variety of programs under CETA will not be analyzed here, it is worth noting that some are heavily female (e.g., the Work Incentive Program for welfare recipients) and some are heavily male (e.g., the job Corps for underprivileged youth). In all programs, but especially in the heavily female ones, women receive fewer jobs than men after training. The jobs are heavily concentrated in traditionally female areas and pay less.26 Unfortunately, beyond these aggregate statistics, we do not know what the impact of CETA on women has been: whether it reinforces traditional employment patterns or whether it helps women learn skills and find jobs they would otherwise not hold, even though they are in female-dominated occupations. The Employment and Training Administration has funded a large CETA evaluation project, but the consequences of CETA for women are not one of the principal concerns.
Unless the impact of CETA and other government programs on women is specifically examined, it is likely that in the future they will primarily help men, as they have in the past. The consequences can be seen in the poverty statistics. If one compares the percentage of families in poverty by race and sex of family head, poverty has been declining over time -- but not at the same rate for everyone. The decline for female-headed families has only been slight, but that for families with an adult man in them has been significant. Indeed, the absolute number of female- headed families in poverty has increased,27 despite the fact that women have been entering the labor force at a very rapid rate. As a result, poverty, which was once identified as a minority problem, is more and more becoming a female problem (see table 8). This is so because women can no longer depend on men as the major source of their continuing economic support. At the same time, women are more and more likely to be a -- often the -- major source of economic support for children. One-third of recent marriages end in divorce,28 and 18.6 percent of all children under eighteen live in one-parent households. An estimated 45 percent of the children born in 1977 will reside in a one parent family sometime before they reach the age of eighteen.29

Percentage of Families in Poverty, 1959 and 1977
  Female Headed Husband-Wife and Male Headed
  White Black White Black
1959 34.8 65.4 13.3 43.3
1977 24.0 51.0 4.8 13.3
Decline 31.0 22.0 63.9 68.8

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Money Income and Poverty Status of Families and Persons in the United States: 1977 (Advance Report), Current Population Reports, ser. P-60, no. 116 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, July 1978), table 16.

Thus, although most people marry, few women spend their entire lives out of the labor force. Although "only 15.5 percent of all American families consist of a working husband, a wife who is not in the labor force, and one or more children under 18 years of age," our economic and employment policies are still made on the assumption that this is the average family.30 This bias is pervasive. Until recently, the United States Census always assumed that every family had one head and that head was always a husband, if he were present. Families were either "female headed" (i.e., with no man) or "male headed." Although political pressures are forcing a change in this definition,31 the determination to cling to the ideal of male precedence is found in the current tripartite division of families into "female headed," "husband/wife," and "other male head" (italics added).
Economic policy is similarly made on the assumption that each family has one primary wage earner, all others being secondary. The primary wage earner is the one who earns the most. This view is often used to discount the current high unemployment rate as not representing real hardship because a significant proportion of the unemployed are married women.32 In fact, President Carter's original welfare reform plan (not passed by Congress) provided that welfare recipients would be given one public service job per family and specified that the person to get that job would be the one who worked the most hours or earned the most in the preceding six months.33 Because of this preference for men, the Department of Labor estimated that men would have received 50 percent of the public service jobs, even though they are only 19 percent of the adults on welfare.34
The long-range economic problems of women and their children will not be solved until we recognize that employment is still the primary means by which income is distributed. Although somewhat erratic, the job market is nonetheless more reliable and more accessible than marriage as a means of economic support. Furthermore, in the long run it is more feasible for the government to equalize access to the labor force than to make up for failures of marriage through welfare and other transfer payments. However, for women to be on an economic par with men, it is necessary to guarantee their right to equal labor force participation and equal benefits from that participation. The idea that every able-bodied person who desires a job has a right to it is a new one. It took a major economic catastrophe, the Depression, to convince the public and the policymakers that the provision of adequate jobs was a social responsibility. This was embodied in the Employment Act of 1946.35 Yet, in 1978 it was thought necessary to make still another attempt "to translate into practical reality the right of all Americans who are able, willing, and seeking to work to full opportunity for useful paid employment at fair rates of compensation." Even this Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act is more an expression of hope than a series of practical programs.36 Nothing in it, or in other government employment policies, recognizes that women face a different economic reality than men do.
What is needed to bring women's employment situation up to par with men's is not merely more government programs but an entire reconceptualization of women's role in the labor force. We must recognize that all adults have responsibility for the support of themselves and their children regardless of their individual living situation, and that all are entitled to policies which will facilitate the carrying out of this responsibility, regardless of sex, marital, or parental status. Guaranteeing equal labor force participation goes beyond equal employment opportunity. This merely asserts that women who are like men should be treated like men and accepts as standard the traditional male life-style. That standard, in turn, assumes that one's primary responsibility should and can be one's job, because one has a spouse (or spouse surrogate) whose primary responsibility is the maintenance of home and family obligations. Most women cannot fit these assumptions because of our traditional conception of the family and women's role in it. Despite the fact that only 15.7 percent of all persons over age eighteen are spouses in husband/wife families with children under eighteen in which only the husband works, our entire social and economic organization assumes this as the norm. Couples who share family responsibilities, or singles who take them all on, pay a price for deviance.
The right of equal labor force participation would recognize that society should provide the support services necessary to fulfill one's family obligations rather than assume that such services will be provided by another member of the family (usually a wife). It also recognizes that job opportunities should be available to fit a variety of life-styles, rather than the traditional one of primary wage earner with dependent spouse. Key to providing equal labor force participation is increasing the availability to women of all jobs and the benefits from them. Although occupational segregation by sex has remained well entrenched for most of this century, it has never faced a concerted effort to eliminate it. While there is no comprehensive strategy for accomplishing this as yet, enough has been written about the tactics for doing so to make further analysis unnecessary here.
There has also been much analysis of the need for, or lack of need for, child care. However, this has never been done within the framework proposed here: guaranteeing equal labor force participation. Thus child care has been looked at as a problem of working women who have to work. It has been viewed not as a right but as a form of subsidy for the disadvantaged. Government publications state that impoverished female family heads would work if child care facilities were available but that "the cost of child care would have to be weighed against their earning capacity."37 If a woman earns less than the cost of caring for her children, it is deemed a bad social investment. This view fails to consider the opportunity cost to the woman from not working, even though lack of continuity in the labor force is acknowledged as a significant cause of lower lifetime earnings. It does not acknowledge how the lack of child care impedes her ability to get training for more than the most menial jobs or employer expectations of her ability and willingness to take on more demanding ones. Nor does it take into account the effect on children of being raised on welfare, without having any primary role models who are gainfully employed. In short, our current national policy is that women should pay the financial and opportunity costs of raising the next generation, unless they are able to find a mate willing to share these with them.


As employed women struggle with family burdens that men are not yet willing to share, they must also cope with a structure of time that assumes a traditional role allocation. The forty-hour, five-day week requires that one be ready and available to work at exactly the same hours that businesses and agencies with which one conducts aspects of one's private life are open. When women assume full-time jobs, they are often able to limit or adjust the private side of family work to fit their employment responsibilities. It is much more difficult to adjust the family work requiring public contact. Women are more likely to be part-time workers than men because having hours free during the work day is the only way they can deal with the conflicts between their worker and family roles. The rigid and inflexible hours of the standard work week, coupled with the long-standing employer assumption that the serious (and promotable) employee is one whose first obligation is to the job, is another way in which women experience discrimination.38 Measures for dealing with these conflicts have generally been proposed under the rubric of "alternate work schedules." While these arose out of a concern for the quality of work life and management's concern for increasing worker satisfaction in order to increase productivity, their benefits to women have not been overlooked.
Three major forms of nontraditional schedules have been broached: the four-day work week, flexible working hours, and part-time employment. In addition, organized labor has also favored cutting the standard work week to less than forty hours (usually thirty) without loss of pay, although if business hours were similarly cut, this would not relieve schedule conflicts for women.
In theory, the four-day work week would permit both women and men free time to tend to family responsibilities or to engage in leisure without requiring loss of wages. It would also decrease commuting time. This assessment assumes that agencies and businesses remain open the standard five days, so that family and personal obligations requiring public contact can be performed. If this were not to be the case, a four-day work week would just make it harder to resolve conflicts between work and private life. Furthermore, such a division of the week would separate the home from the job even more, a consequence of the industrial revolution that has frequently been criticized. Part-time employment has been very much a women's issue. Yet as long as there is still a standard full-time schedule, part-time employment runs a real risk of becoming a female ghetto. Already 66.7 percent of all part-time employees are women; 29.3 percent of employed women, compared with 10.1 percent of employed men, work part-time.39 Part-time jobs are rarely responsible ones, and those in them often find their promotion opportunities limited. Currently, the fringe benefits available to part-time employees are fewer than those available to full timers, though prorating is not unfeasible. Flexi-time, in which workers choose their own daily hours as long as certain core hours are maintained, appears to be the only innovative schedule for which there is some evidence that it helps women.40 Even here the data are too limited to predict the consequences for women of widespread adoption. Fortunately, because many government agencies and several industries are experimenting with it, results may be evident in a few years.
Another possibility that has not been widely discussed is to lengthen the work day or week. Although shift work and twenty-four-hour operation is common in some industries, it has never been proposed for the white-collar sectors. Yet, as long as an individual's standard work week were not to exceed the current forty hours, lengthening the work period has many attractive features. Time conflicts would be reduced. One could work one's normal hours and still find public agencies and private businesses open for the conduct of private life. One could go to the post office to pick up undelivered mail, be at home for repair people, go to the doctor or dentist or a child's teacher without having to take leave from one's job. If shifts were staggered, the rush-hour pressure on transportation systems could be relieved, and the peak load problems of the utilities partially ameliorated. Even a slight extension of the work day would have a beneficial effect on the unemployment rate by creating more jobs and would provide for better utilization of buildings and other facilities. Finally, this would be a much easier policy for the government to pursue than any of the others implied or specified in this paper. Not only could the federal government extend the hours of its own agencies through administrative order, but public service employment could be targeted to extension of services by state and local agencies. This would also help curb the much lamented "substitution effects," in which state and local governments substitute federal money for their own tax dollars rather than use it all to create more jobs. One could encourage private employers similarly to extend their hours and increase their employment through tax breaks and credits for associated expenses, although this might not be desirable or necessary. For those employers who cater to the public, the mere existence of a buying public at other than the standard hours might be sufficient to stimulate extended hours.



These proposals for improving the employment opportunities of women are most quickly and beneficially pursued in a city, where people, needs, and resources are most concentrated. Public transportation systems, on which women depend more than men, are already in place in the older cities, the very ones that need to be revitalized. Housing is there, too, although it also needs an infusion of funds and skilled labor to make much of it livable. While 95 percent of that skilled labor is male, model programs now exist to train women in construction and other crafts necessary to rehabilitate the housing. A significant expansion of these could provide many underemployed and poor women with high paying jobs that would not require the years of professional education necessary for white-collar jobs which pay equivalent salaries. It is also easiest in the city to be employed in one of the better-paying professions, and, if one is married, for both members of a professional couple to be adequately employed. If enough such couples were attracted back into the city, it would provide the tax base to support the social programs that eroded with the middle- class flight to the suburbs. As Eli Ginzberg, chair of the National Commission for Employment Policy, has argued, "The new trends to later marriages, low births, and the increased career interests of educated women provide the city with an opportunity to attract and retain professional couples, both of whom hold good jobs and are career oriented."41
The city is also the place where alternative work schedules can be most efficiently developed and hours extension prove most profitable. More use of public buildings and spreading out the use of transportation facilities would be, in the long run, much more economical than our present system of concentrated use. Extended hours would also enhance the safety of the streets. Numbers increase safety, safety increases numbers. Adding to the hours public agencies and buildings are open would raise the number of people needing the streets and public transportation systems, to the benefit of all.
In brief, our cities can be great arenas for experimentation in life-styles not based on the traditional sex-role allocations, places where women and men can live more equally without paying a price for deviancy and where all persons can fulfill more efficiently and productively the obligations of their work and private lives without having constantly to juggle serious conflicts. To have the programs and the policies to make this possible requires that our decision makers shed both traditional conceptions of the family and restricted ideas of appropriate sex roles. It requires acknowledging the person as the basic unit of society, with both a private and a productive life, and creating the support structure and the employment possibilities necessary to make this a reality.



I would like to thank Georgia Strasburg, David Baer, Ilana Bain, and many anonymous federal bureaucrats for their invaluable assistance in preparing this article.

1 Paul R. Dommel, James W. Fossett, and Richard P. Nathan, "Cities in Crisis: The Impact of Federal Aid" (Washington, D.C.: League of Women Voters Education Fund, December 1977), pp. 1-2.

2 Paul R. Dommel and Richard P. Nathan,"The Cities," in Setting National Priorities: The 1978 Budget, ed. Joseph A. Pechman (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1977), p. 283.

3 Howard E. Shuman, "Congress, the President, and Urban Policy," paper delivered at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, New York, 1978.

4 David A. Caputo, Urban America: The Policy Alternatives, (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1976), pp. 146-47.

5 Anthony Downs, "Urban Policy," in Setting National Priorities: The 1979 Budget, ed. Joseph A. Pechman (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1979), p. 174.

6 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Social and Economic Characteristics of the Metropolitan Population: 1977 and 1970, Current Population Reports, Ser. P-23, no. 75 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, November 1978), tables 1 and 4. The Bureau of the Census defines "central city" as the one to three largest incorporated areas within a Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA). "Suburban," used here instead of the census's term, "outside central city," refers to the remainder of the SMSA. Thus many central cities have major "suburban-like" areas in them, and many suburbs or nonmetropolitan areas may contain small but highly urbanized sections in them. "Nonmetropolitan" means the rest of the country after the SMSAs are subtracted. Thus an analysis by census tract, or by block, is really necessary to establish the degree of concentration of women in specific locales.

7 Ibid., table 7.

8 Ibid., table 5.

9 For the 1950 census, see vol. 2, pt. 1, table 50; for 1940 see vol. 2, pt. 1, table 17; for 1930 see vol. 3, pt. 1, table 30.

10 Downs, p. 165.

11 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, How Well Are We Housed? 2. Female Headed Households (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, November 1978), p. 18.

12 Ibid., p. 15.

13 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Women and Housing: A Report on Sex Discrimination in Five American Cities, prepared by the National Council of Negro Women (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 1975), p. 36.

14 Unpublished data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Management Information System, Subsidized Housing Admissions and Continued Occupancy, 1978.

15 Henry Aaron, Shelter and Subsidies (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1972), chap. 4; Special Analyses: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 1976 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1975), pp. 108-9.

16 Unpublished data, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Annual Housing Survey (1977), table A-1.

17 Equal Credit Opportunity Act, P.L. 93-495.

18 Section 808(b) of the Housing and Community Development Act (amending Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act), P.L. 93-384.

19 Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Home Mortgage Disclosure and Equal Credit Opportunity (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1976).

20 Interview with Jo Ann McGeorge, project director for the Women and Mortgage Credit Project of the Economic Affairs Department of the Office of Policy Development and Research, Department of Housing and Urban Development.

21 U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, National Personal Transportation Study: Mode of Transportation and Personal Characteristics of Tripmakers, Report no. 9 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, November 1973), appendix C, tables 3, 5.

22 Lalita Sen, "Travel Patterns and Behavior of Women in Urban Areas" (paper prepared for the Department of Transportation Conference on Women's Travel Issues: Research Needs and Priorities, September 17-20, 1978), p. 9; see also Alice E. Kidder, "Transportation Problems of Low Income Women as Members of the Transportation Disadvantaged," ibid.; Joyce Fanning Madden and Michelle J. White, "Women's Work Trips: An Empirical and Theoretical Overview," ibid.; A. H. Studenmund, Larry C. Kerpelman, and Marian T. Otts, "Women's Travel Behavior and Attitudes: An Empirical Analysis," ibid.

23 U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Targeted Jobs, Tax Credit and WIN Credit, Publication 906 (Washington, D.C.: Internal Revenue Service, February 1979).

24 Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, "Urban Policy: Status of the President's Proposals," by Keith H. Bea, Issue brief no. IB77103 (May 21, 1979).

25 U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Employment and Training Report of the President (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1978), p. 42.

26 Ibid., chap. 2.

27 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Characteristics of the Population below the Poverty Level: 1977, Current Population Reports, ser. P-60, no. 119 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, March 1979), p. 4.

28 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Numbers, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces in the U.S.: June 1975, Current Population Reports, ser. P-20, no. 297 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, October 1976), p. 4.

29 Paul C. Glick, "Who Are the Children in One-Parent Households?" (paper delivered at the Council on Early Childhood Conference on Children of One-Parent Households, Detroit, Wayne State University, May 1979), p. 7.

30 Janet L. Norwood, "New Approaches to Statistics on the Family," Monthly Labor Review (July 1977), p. 3 1. Some computations even assume exactly two children, a boy age thirteen and a girl age eight.

31 Ibid., p. 33.

32 For documentation and analysis of this view, see Kay L. Schlozman, "Women and Unemployment; Assessing the Biggest Myths," in Women: A Feminist Perspective, ed. Jo Freeman (Palo Alto, Calif.: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1979), pp. 290-312.

33 Nancy Gordon, "Women's Roles in Welfare Reform," discussion with Arnold Parker and Jodie Allen, Challenge (January-February 1978), pp. 45-50.

34 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Money Income in 1977 of Families and Persons in the United States, Current Population Reports, ser. P-60, no. 118 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1979), table 49.

35 P.L. 79-304.

36 P.L. 95-523.

37 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Characteristics of the Population below the Poverty Level (n. 27 above), p. 7.

38 Juanita M. Kreps and R. J. Leaper, "Home Work, Market Work, and the Allocation of Time," in Women and the American Economy, ed. Juanita Kreps (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1976).

39 Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Special Labor Force Report," 216, table A.

40 J. Walker, C. Fletcher, and D. Macleod, "Flexible Working Hours in Two British Government Offices," Public Personnel Management, vol. 4 (1975).

41 Eli Ginzberg, "the Corporate Headquarters Complex in New York City" (New York: Conservation of Human Resources Project, Columbia University, 1977), p. xxix.