Women today work in all sectors of the U.S. economy and face the same, often dangerous, conditions that men face. Their work often involves sustained, repetitive effort, or standing, or sitting in a static position. Yet, their concerns about health and safety do not always find a receptive audience. Many women work in low-paying and stressful occupations. Their responsibilities at home make it harder for them to get involved in after-work meetings about working conditions. They often have low seniority, or jobs that place them in care-giving or support-based roles, so they hesitate to complain about hazards. Fewer women than men belong to labor unions, and many sectors where women work are not unionized, so organizing is more difficult. Yet, women's vocal presence in the workplace is changing the way people think about health and safety issues.
Women living in poverty, rural women, and women of color are prime candidates for high risk jobs. Approximately 85 percent of migrant farm workers are people of color, mostly Latino, many young, who rarely have access to worker's compensation, occupational rehabilitation, or disability compensation. While many of them are eligible for Medicaid and food stamps, not all can avail these benefits due to language barriers. Children of undocumented immigrants may be eligible for benefits, but the fear of being deported prevents these women from contacting the authorities. Many of them also have no health insurance.
More Answers from Boston Women's Health Book Collective