Author: Gemma Alexander


Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based freelance writer specializing in technical topics for general readers. She holds a degree in Horticulture and has worked in a genetics lab and at a landfill. See other things she has written here.

“Unemployed” Redefined

Although Bloomberg sees evidence that some parts of the U.S. are already in the grip of recession, by most accounts the U.S. economy is doing well in 2019. For most Americans, the most important aspect of “the economy” is whether they have a job. In August 2019, the unemployment rate was 3.7%, far below the ten-year high of 10% in […]

The Motherhood Penalty

Juggling a career and family is a fact of life for 73% of women with children. Working mothers make up the majority of female employees (roughly half of all U.S. workers). Women are still penalized in the workplace for having children. This “motherhood penalty” is not just a matter of perception, nor is it isolated incidents […]

Immunization Awareness Month: New Laws in the face of Anti-vaccination Movement

By the late 20th century, measles and mumps seemed less like “childhood diseases” than historical ones. In 2000, measles was even declared “eliminated” from the United States. This year a serious outbreak – more than 1100 cases of measles across 30 states so far – has made legislatures take a closer look at vaccination requirements. […]

Will LGBTQ People Receive Protection from Discrimination?

The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin illegal. It is still the foundation for nearly all civil rights protections in the U.S., but the 55-year-old law includes a few loopholes that have become obvious in the decades since it passed. Most notably, the Civil […]

AAPI Heritage Month: Asian-Americans Under the new Immigration Guidelines

From travel bans to the arrests and deportations of green card applicants to sanctuary state legislation, immigration crackdowns and issues all but dominate today’s headlines. But not all communities affected by immigration crackdowns have received equal attention in the press. Thousands of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have lived in the United States for […]

Earth Day: Does the Clean Water Act Protect Our Water?

People can live without a lot of things. But clean water is not one of them. The Clean Water Act is the primary legal framework for regulating pollutant discharges into the waters of the United States. Now, recent efforts by the EPA may redefine which US waterways receive protection under the Clean Water Act. If […]

Congress Blocks Robocalls

Like email spam, telemarketer and scam phone calls are such routine and ubiquitous elements of modern life it’s easy to forget that most of those phone calls are illegal. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, passed in 1991, banned unsolicited robocalls. The proliferation of cell phones and major changes to telephone infrastructure in the intervening years […]

Government Shutdown Affects More Than Government Workers

The current partial shutdown of the federal government is now the longest in U.S. history. It began during the holidays, when many people were on vacation because it only affected about a quarter of the federal government, it was easy for most people to ignore. Then, on Friday, January 11, the first federal paychecks were […]

McCulloch v. Maryland: defining federal power

Ask people to name landmark Supreme Court cases and they’re likely to come up with such textbook examples as Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and Dred Scott v. Sandford, but not many will think to include the 1819 decision in McCulloch v. Maryland. But this less-famous Supreme Court case established two important […]