By Erin Dougherty Foley and Craig B. Simonsen

ELL postLast month, the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau (WB), has issued a Proposed Information Collection Request (ICR) for a “Survey of Working Women.” 80 Fed. Reg. 10516 (February 26, 2015).

In its notice, the DOL notes that, not surprisingly, the labor force, employment opportunities, work environments, and the American family have changed substantially since 1994, when the WB published the results of its earlier Working Women Count! survey. The WB would like to conduct a new Survey of Working Women in order to identify “women’s current employment issues and challenges and how these issues and challenges relate to job and career decisions, particularly reasons for exiting the workforce.”

The WB is proposing to conduct a “quantitative survey,” that would collect information in order to identify employment issues and challenges currently facing women, including their perceptions on career choice and overall equity in the workplace, and also to explore the factors that contribute to women leaving and/or staying out of the workforce.

The original Working Women Count! report focused on compensation, work and family issues, and equal opportunity issues. For instance, the report concluded:

Solutions must come from many quarters. Positive change will require a cooperative effort, and the imaginations and talents of many individuals and organizations. Sixteen hundred partners joined the Women’s Bureau in this effort out of a shared concern and desire to understand what working women care about. Now each of us—government, business, unions, grass roots organizations and the media—has an important role to play. And we can each begin by discussing these issues with our own co-workers, our own community organizations, and our own families. We must build the consensus documented in this report into a national consensus for change.

The WB’s purposes, driving rationales, and conclusions may lead later to DOL rulemaking and policy initiatives.  Employers who wish to follow or even comment on this DOL project and process are invited to provide written comments to the ICR for a Survey of Working Women, which are due on April 27, 2015. We’ll be following it and will report back with new development.