* Karen Nussbaum designed a deeply flawed 1994 study titled “Working Women Count! A Report to the Nation.” On October 14, 1994, Nussbaum joined Labor Secretary Robert Reich and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clintonin a White House press conference announcing the results of her research, which painted a bleak picture of the conditions under which American women worked. Nussbaum based her findings entirely on responses to a questionnaire she had created and distributed to some ten million women nationwide. Two percent of those who received the questionnaire actually completed it and returned it to Nussbaum. Based upon their responses, Nussbaum concluded that most American women felt they were “not getting a fair deal” on the job; she reported that nearly half of women felt they were underpaid for the work they were doing, and that 60 percent of all women experienced work-related stress.
But as Christina Hoff Sommers explains, the results of Nussbaum’s survey were statistically meaningless, because all the women who returned their questionnaires were what pollsters call “self-selected” respondents – which virtually insure biased perspectives and thus are shunned by all responsible researchers. The meaninglessness of the study was further compounded by the fact that it questioned only women, even though much of the reported worker dissatisfaction (about pay and stress, for example) was by no means gender-specific. Because no men were surveyed, Nussbaum’s study could not compare the responses of women with those of men. This was a clear case of a researcher setting out to prove what she had already concluded prior to even beginning her research.
* In August 1979 at Bryn Mawr College, Nussbaum participated in a “Conference on Alternative State and Local Policies,” which had ties to the Institute for Policy Studies.