Heidi Hartmann is a feminist economist who is founder and president of the Washington-based Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), a research organization created to conduct women-centered, public policy research. She is an expert on the intersection of women, economics and public policy. Dr. Hartmann is also a Research Professor at George Washington University and the editor of the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy.
On August 14, 1945, Hartmann was born to Henry Hartmann and Hedwig (Bercher) Hartmann in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She attended Swarthmore College, where she received a B.A. in economics with honors in 1967. During that same year, she married Frank Blair Cochran, birthed Jessica Lee Cochran then divorced a year later. Hartmann then attended Yale University, where she received a M. Phil. in economics in 1972 and a Ph.D in the subject in 1974. In 1979, she married John Varick Wells and had two daughters—Katherine Lina Hartman Wells and Laura Cameron Hartmann Wells.
Hartmann began her career in 1969 as a computer programmer and researcher for the city planning department of New Haven, Connecticut, from 1969 until 1972. After, she became an acting instructor at Yale University for one year. She moved to New York City, where from 1974 to 1976 she was a visiting assistant professor of economics at the New School for Social Research. Hartmann then took her talents to Washington, D.C., where she worked for two years as a senior research economist at the Office of Research of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and then for eight years as a staff member of the National Academy of Science/National Research Council. Here she worked on many reports listed in the 'Publications' section below. Hartmann held an American Statistical Association fellowship at the Census Bureau up until 1987, when she founded the Institute for Women's Policy and Research. She is also the editor of the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy.
Before finding IWPR, Hartmann did many things. She began her career in 1969 as a computer programmer and researcher for the city planning department of New Haven, Connecticut, from 1969 until 1972. After, she became an acting instructor at Yale University for one year. She moved to New York City, where from 1974 to 1976 she was a visiting assistant professor of economics at the New School for Social Research. Hartmann then took her talents to Washington, D.C., where she worked for two years as a senior research economist at the Office of Research of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and then for eight years as a staff member of the National Academy of Science/National Research Council. Here she worked on many reports listed in the 'Publications' section below. Hartmann held an American Statistical Association fellowship at the Census Bureau up until 1987, when she founded the Institute for Women's Policy and Research (IWPR).
Women's contribution to the economy
Hartmann believes women's part in the economy is split in two halves: work for pay and family care. Women are increasingly getting out of the home and into the marketplace but at the same time are still taking on most of the workload at home. In order to achieve equality for women, Hartmann argues that society needs to improve opportunities in the labor market and also make the ability of women and men to make work and home care more manageable.
Hartmann argues women's employment progress has significantly increased over the past five decades. Women have entered occupations, that have historically been closed off to them and are able to contribute to their family income and the economy more than ever before. According to a 2014 report by Women's Policy Research, growth for women's occupations over the past seven years was strongest in professional and business services (42,000 jobs were gained by women). Despite all this, Hartmann still thinks that women's employment has a long way to go—see Social Security and Wage Gap/Discrimination.
Social Security provides many advantages as well as disadvantages for women, according to Hartmann's studies. In terms of advantages, it covers everyone (including women) that has worked at least ten years at a salary of $4,360 per year. It provides benefits to wives regardless of whether they have worked for pay or not, former wives (who had at least a ten-year marriage) and for widows. Social Security also is adaptive to inflation processes and does not discriminate against lower or higher earning women workers. Hartmann also makes note of disadvantages of the United States' current social security system that are particular to women. In 2013, Social Security cuts (known as Chained CPI) hurt women more than it helps them. Elderly women rely on Social Security for most of their income, because they have less access to other forms of income such as pensions and savings that men have more access too. Besides the recent cuts to benefits, years when women are caregiving are averaged as zeroes, which drag's down a woman's overall average income. Additionally, there are no benefits to caregiving outside of marriage, whereas the married caregiver can received spousal benefits from Social Security.
Hartmann advocates greatly for equal opportunity in the labor market. In "Still A Man's Labor Market: The Long-Term Earnings Gap; Unnecessary Losses", Hartmann argues that the wage gap has a major influence on many aspects of family life—such as choices, poverty rates, single mother's ability to care for their children and older women's retirement rates. If women's wages were higher, Hartmann concludes that nearly all families with women earners would have a higher standard of living. She attributes the lower average earnings of women not to their preferences for low wage work, but because of the degree of sex segregation. Labor market discrimination leads to lower earnings for women, meaning women cannot pay for child care, which takes them away from their jobs to commit to their children, a commitment that in turn contributes to discrimination against them in the workplace. Hartmann recognizes the gender wage gap across all racial and ethnic groups. According to a 2013 report, women of all racial and ethnic groups earn less than men of the same group, and also earn less than white men. Hispanic workers have lower median weekly earnings than white, black and Asian workers, the lowest of any race/ethnic group reported on. Asian workers have the highest median weekly earnings—primarily because of higher rates of educational attainment for both males and females.
This concept, created by Hartmann, is grounded in her belief that equal pay for jobs of equal value. "The general goal of a comparable worth strategy is pay equity—equitable occupational wage rates that are not influenced by the sex, race, or ethnicity of the incumbents." (Comparable Worth, 4). She emphasized a certain type of wage discrimination that arises when a firm is substantially segregated by sex and the two groups are not performing the same sort of tasks, but tasks that are of "comparable worth" to the employer (Women, Work, and Wages 9). Hartmann's exploration of comparable worth forced her to not only look into the issue of wage gaps between men and women but also the significance of gender bias/sex segregation in employment. She defines sex segregation in the workplace as the concentration of men and women in different jobs that are predominantly of a single sex. Hartmann works towards a goal of complete integration, with different proportions of men and women within every occupation identical to their representation in the labor force as a whole. She points out, however, that due to differences between men and women deeply rooted in certain cultures, this goal may take decades to reach. Therefore, an appropriate policy goal would be to eliminate barriers in the way of women's full exercise of employment rights.
According to Hartmann, patriarchy is defined as "controlling women's access to resources and their sexuality, which in turn, allows men to control women's labor power, both for the purpose of serving men in many personal and sexual ways and for the purpose of rearing children". Before capitalism, a patriarchal system was established in which men controlled the labor of women and children in the family, and that through this they learned the techniques of hierarchal control. Today, Hartmann argues the labor market perpetuates this hierarchal control. Low wages keep women dependent on men, encouraging them to marry. Married women must perform domestic tasks for their husbands, and thus men benefit—both from earning higher wages and by not having to participate in domestic tasks.
Marxism and feminism
In 1981, Hartmann wrote the lead article "The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism" in the publication Women and Revolution. The article argues that "the marriage of Marxism and feminism has been like that between husband and wife depicted in English common law; Marxism and feminism are one, and that one is Marxism ... either we need a healthier marriage or we need a divorce". Hartmann argues that the attempts to integrate Marxism and feminism are not sufficient enough because they don't incorporate the feminist struggle into the larger struggle against capitalism—it places the concerns of class over those of gender. Hartmann believes Marxism provides good analysis but is sex-blind. She says the way that radical feminists describe characteristics of men- competitive, rationalistic, dominating- are much like the characteristics of capitalistic society. Therefore, it is in a capitalist society that it makes sense for people to look down on women as emotional or irrational—looking at them as "dependent". Because of this, a feminism analysis is also necessary to describe the relations between men and women. She says that society must use the strengths of both Marxism and feminism to judge capitalism and acknowledge the present situation of women in it.
Women face a double-bind in many aspects of society, but in particular the economy. A woman is expected to work and provide for her family, while also making sure everything is taken care of in the home. In "Contemporary Marxist Theory and Practice: A Feminist Critique", Hartmann along with Ann Markusen argue that in order to overcome the issues feminist economists are working to correct (wage gap, discrimination in the workplace, and social security), the relation of women's reproductive processes to economic production need to be emphasized along with their importance to being a part of the actual work force. Hartmann also says that although a couple's share of work outside of the home has become more equal over the past thirty years, the couple's share of housework has hardly changed. In order to progress in the area of housework, the family needs to be understood not just as a unit of common ancestry but also as a location where conflicts regarding production and redistribution are sorted out. Conflicts of production deal with how housework is distributed, the standards for this, and who will work for wages outside the home. Conflicts of redistribution deal with how the money should be spent and who will decide this.
Awards and honors
Hartmann has won various awards. In 1994, she won the MacArthur Fellowship Award—a five-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation give to individuals who show exceptional creativity for their research and the prospect for more in the future—for her work on women and economics. She is also the recipient of two honorary degrees.
- Assembly of Behavioral and Social Sciences (U.S.). Committee on Occupational Classification and Analysis.