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Description: Do social policies such as parental leave affect how many women serve in government and other jobs? How?

Description: Do social policies such as parental leave affect how many women serve in government and other jobs? How?

Scenario

You have been asked by your company to talk to a group of political leaders here in the United States. As you scan the crowd, you see only a few women in the audience. One week later, you give the same talk in Sweden and find there are a lot more women in the crowd. You ask yourself why.

Review the following statistics for women in government:

  • In the United States in 2015, women held 20% of the seats in Congress (Rutgers, n.d.).
  • In 2014, women held 43.6% of the seats in the Swedish Parliament (Sweden, 2021).

Parental leave was a hot topic in the United States during the recent election. Parental leave policies may affect the representation of women in politics. Review the following statistics on parental leave (Popovich, 2014):

  • The United States currently offers 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to working mothers.
  • Sweden offers 60 weeks of paid leave, which can be split between both mothers and fathers.

The following chart provides a visual comparison of paid maternal leave as of 2015 of several countries including the United States and Sweden (Popovich, 2014):

  1. Description: Do social policies such as parental leave affect how many women serve in government and other jobs? How?
  2. Interpretation and reflection: What are the benefits of paid parental leave for society, for the population, and for health? What types of changes, if any, do you think the United States should make to its current parental leave policy?

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