Monday, March 30, 2015
Ellen Pao recently lost her high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit. The case was big news because it brought to public attention the glaring dearth of women in the tech industry, and whether such dearth might be caused by prejudice.
A NYT background story on the case. Some commentary by Fortune magazine. A discussion by CNET of Pao's post-verdict tweets. Some comments by Prof. Tracy Thomas and I in the Daily Princetonian (Pao had graduated from Princeton).
Monday, March 23, 2015
Feb. 24, 2015: Ellen Pao, center, with her attorney, Therese Lawless, left, leaves the Civic Center Courthouse during a lunch break in her trial. (AP)
SAN FRANCISCO – A California trial judge ruled Saturday that a woman suing a Silicon Valley venture capital firm in a high-profile gender bias case may seek punitive damages that could add tens of millions of dollars to the $16 million in lost wages and bonuses she is pursuing.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn denied a request by lawyers for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to have Ellen Pao's demand for unspecified punitive damages thrown out. Pao, the interim CEO of the news and social networking site Reddit, claims she was passed over for a promotion at the firm because she is a woman and then fired in 2012 after she complained.
Kahn said there was enough evidence for the jury considering Pao's lawsuit to conclude that Kleiner Perkins acted with malice, oppression or fraud, which in California is the legal threshold for awarding damages that are designed to punish and deter particularly bad behavior.
Monday, March 16, 2015
A trio of economists have uploaded on SSRN a study about executive compensation and gender. The abstract:
We document three new facts about gender differences in executive compensation. First, female executives receive lower share of incentive pay in total compensation relative to males. This difference accounts for 93% of the gender gap in total pay. Second, the compensation of female executives displays lower pay-performance sensitivity. A $1 million dollar increase in firm value generates a $17,150 increase in firm specific wealth for male executives and a $1,670 increase for females. Third, female executives are more exposed to bad firm performance and less exposed to good firm performance relative to male executives. We find no link between firm performance and the gender of top executives. We discuss evidence on differences in preferences and the cost of managerial effort by gender and examine the resulting predictions for the structure of compensation. We consider two paradigms for the pay-setting process, the efficient contracting model and the “managerial power” or skimming view. The efficient contracting model can explain the first two facts. Only the skimming view is consistent with the third fact. This suggests that the gender differentials in executive compensation may be inefficient.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Irene Velkova, University College London, has uploaded "Quotas for Women on Corporate Boards: The Challenge for Europe." The abstract reads:
“Bringing more women on boards is not just the right thing to do. More women on boards is the bright thing to do!”, argues Viviane Reding, the Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship in 2009-2014 when promoting European Union quota law. And then she adds: “…I do not like them (quotas) either. But I like the results they bring.”
The debate for higher female representation on corporate boards has become particularly intensive during the recent financial crisis. Scholars advocate that women are more risk-averse, more engaged with longer-term issues and tend to draw more attention to governance and ethics. Thus, it is suggested that due to the behavioural differences between men and women, more gender – balanced boards would have prevented a number of financial collapses. This assertion has triggered more detailed analyses of current statistics for women on boards in the European Union. The numbers that are found follow the global pattern. Women are well underrepresented on boards and even less visible as CEOs or chairpersons of companies. In particular, at the end of 2013 women held 17.8% of the seats on boards in Europe, 16.6% in the US, 12.3% in Canada, 12.3% in Australia and 17.1% in South Africa. Women serve as chairpersons on 3.2% of the biggest companies in Europe , 3.1% in the US, 4.2% in Canada, 3% in Australia and 5.5% in South Africa. The country in the world that excels with the highest number of female directors on boards is Norway, which has achieved 42% women on boards by 2013. These strikingly low ratios and the general finding in the empirical literature that women bring positive change to firms’ performance have generated a phenomenal drive for promoting initiatives that strive to increase the number of women on boards.
Monday, March 2, 2015
Sara Bahayi is Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver in recent memory, and she is believed to be the only one actively working in the country. She’s 38, unmarried and outspoken. And in a highly patriarchal society, where women are considered second-class citizens and often abused, Ms Bahayi is brazenly upending gender roles.
Every day, she plies her trade in a business ruled by conservative men. She endures condescending looks, outright jeers, even threats to her life. Most men will not enter her taxi, believing that a woman should never drive for a man.
Yet she earns $10 (£6.50) to $20 a day, enough to provide for her 15 relatives, including her ailing mother. She relies on ferrying women shackled by traditions and fear, who vicariously live their dreams of freedom through her.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
As she prepares for her presidential bid, Hillary Clinton intends to serve up a different campaign message than last time:
But rather than the assertive feminism associated with her years as first lady, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign message will be subtler. It will involve frequent references to being a mother and grandmother and to how her family has inspired her to embrace policies that she believes would help middle-class families.
As one Democrat close to her put it, voters have learned that she is tough; now she can also present herself as a sensitive candidate capable of nurturing the nation at a difficult time.
Black women have a long history of advocating for fair wages and access to decent employment opportunities for African-American communities. In her recent remarks at the Academy Awards championing the fight against wage inequality, Patricia Arquette seemed wholly unaware of these histories, elaborating backstage that it was now time for all other groups to fight for white women, because they had fought for everybody else.
In 1920 or thereabouts, famed Washington, D.C., educator Nannie Helen Burroughs helped to found the National Association of Wage Earners as both an advocacy group and a training resource for working class black women. Addressing employment inequality and wage inequality for newly freed black women entering the workforce after Emancipation, and later for black women from the South who had migrated North, was a hallmark of black women’s organizing in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Fannie Barrier Williams, a socialite, club woman and budding political theorist told the crowd, “in the item of employment, colored women bear a distressing burden of mean and unreasonable discrimination.” Still, she told them, “we believe this country is large enough and the opportunities for all kinds of success are great enough to afford our women a fair chance to earn a respectable living.” In 1925, Gertrude Elise McDougald, an organizer and teacher in New York City, helped to found the Trade Union Committee for Organizing Negro Workers, in order to encourage African-American solidarity with labor and discourage strike-breaking as the pathway to work.
Monday, February 23, 2015
The woman said she was about to hang up after a telephone interview when she realized the hiring managers on the other end had forgotten to disconnect the call. So the woman, who asked not to be identified because it could hurt her employment prospects, kept listening — and what she heard shocked her.
Her most recent salary was lower than the interviewers expected, which they assumed signaled a problem with her work. They didn’t offer her the job.
A bill recently filed in the Massachusetts Legislature aims to address situations like this by prohibiting employers from seeking job candidates’ salary histories. The bill also would require companies to disclose an advertised position’s minimum pay and permit employees to discuss their salaries openly.
These practices would help reduce the gender wage gap by addressing the problem at the beginning, before a single job candidate is interviewed, the bill’s sponsors say. Because women’s earnings are historically lower than men’s, revealing their salaries puts them at a disadvantage.
It allows employers, when hiring, to offer lower salaries than they might otherwise or, as the example of the woman shows, draw unfair conclusions about women candidates.
Friday, February 20, 2015
There is a huge gender disparity in the arrests related to prostitution. According to the Massachusetts State Police’s data, of the 920 arrested on prostitution charges in 2014, 70 percent were women. According to the Seattle Attorney’s Office, 199 women in Washington were prosecuted on prostitution charges, compared to 98 men. This, then, is no longer about the debate on whether or not prostitution should be legal but about the negative stigma that comes with being a female prostitute.
Prostitutes often do not willingly enter the occupation. According to the International Labor Organization, 20.9 million people are victims of human trafficking. Co-founder of the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS) and former prostitute Noel Gomez told The Seattle Times that she was a prostitute for a long time and has “never met one woman in my life who wants to do the work they’re doing. Not one.” She herself was forced into prostitution as a teen and still feels troubled by the experience.
In late January, Washington Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles introduced a bill in Seattle that extended the maximum penalty of sex buying from 90 days to a year in jail. Today, sex buying is defined as “patronizing a prostitute,” which is nothing more than a Class A misdemeanor. The goal of the bill is to decrease prostitution rates, as opposed to using resources to arrest prostitutes. This plan needs to be enacted because in the majority of the arrests, prostitutes are reportedly treated worse than their male patrons in a crime in which the latter is equally guilty.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Several articles about men and women being treated and perceived differently despite similar performances. Men have the golden halo effect of brilliance and higher appreciation and return on work, while women run twice as fast to get to the same place. If they can.
This is the sad reality in workplaces around the world: Women help more but benefit less from it. In keeping with deeply held gender stereotypes, we expect men to be ambitious and results-oriented, and women to be nurturing and communal. When a man offers to help, we shower him with praise and rewards. But when a woman helps, we feel less indebted. She’s communal, right? She wants to be a team player. The reverse is also true. When a woman declines to help a colleague, people like her less and her career suffers. But when a man says no, he faces no backlash. A man who doesn’t help is “busy”; a woman is “selfish.”
In a study led by the New York University psychologist Madeline Heilman, participants evaluated the performance of a male or female employee who did or did not stay late to help colleagues prepare for an important meeting. For staying late and helping, a man was rated 14 percent more favorably than a woman. When both declined, a woman was rated 12 percent lower than a man. Over and over, after giving identical help, a man was significantly more likely to be recommended for promotions, important projects, raises and bonuses. A woman had to help just to get the same rating as a man who didn’t help.
Male professors are brilliant, awesome and knowledgeable. Women are bossy and annoying, and beautiful or ugly.
These are a few of the results from a new interactive chart that was gaining notice on social media Friday. Benjamin Schmidt, a Northeastern University history professor, says he built the chart using data from 14 million student reviews on theRate My Professors site. It allows you to search for any word to see how often it appeared in reviews and how it broke down by gender and department.
The chart makes vivid unconscious biases. The implications go well beyond professors and college students, to anyone who gives or receives feedback or performance reviews.
It suggests that people tend to think more highly of men than women in professional settings, praise men for the same things they criticize women for, and are more likely to focus on a woman’s appearance or personality and on a man’s skills and intelligence.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Colleges are investigating the majority of reported cases of sexual assault and are finding less than half of accused students responsible, according to a report released Tuesday by United Educators, a risk management and insurance firm. The study examined 305 reported cases of sexual assault at 104 institutions between 2011 and 2014.
About three-quarters of those cases were investigated, according to the report, and the accused students were found responsible in 45 percent of them. One-quarter of the cases resulted in the accused students not being found responsible, and in 7 percent of the cases, the accused students withdrew before the adjudication process was complete.
Of the 23 percent of cases that were never investigated by a college or university, 20 percent of the claims involved students who were unable to identify who had assaulted them. Another 23 percent involved victims who were "uncooperative" and chose not to pursue an investigation. More than 40 percent of the cases that were investigated ended in the accused student's expulsion, the report said, and 25 percent ended in suspensions of more than a year. Disciplinary probation and training accounted for about 9 percent of the sanctions.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
....there are two problems with what President Obama said about paid parental leave in his State of the Union: First, he called it “maternity leave.” And, second, that statement quoted above is all he said.
In the press release from last week, “parental leave” was the chosen phrase. Critically, it was gender-neutral. As President Obama said tonight, "it’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue.” And as the CAP report points out, parental leave isn’t a women’s issue either, “men increasingly want to be caregivers.” It also clarifies, “As family demographics shift, parents of young children are not the only types of workers with significant caregiving responsibilities.” Specifically, the report is referring to the realities of “care for elders” and “same-sex families,” where maternity leave would not apply even if it were guaranteed.
And President Obama should have said more. He could have brought up that men do increasingly want to be caregivers, that paid parental leave should be given equally to men and women, that paid parental leave could have important economic benefits, like reducing employee turn over when men and women seek to change jobs to have children, that paid parental leave isn’t something that only elite workers have earned.
President Obama’s announcement last week may have been a wonderful surprise to federal workers and their families, and even to Americans everywhere eager to see universal paid parental leave become a reality. But the announcement set high expectations for what else President Obama could have said on the topic tonight. A one-liner about “maternity leave,” left us all hanging.
How did that happen? It started during the Great Depression as "a source of 'fiscal stimulus,' if you will," says Arizona State University's Chris Herbst, an associate professor in the school of public affairs.
The Works Project Administration first ran the day cares. The idea was to employ teachers and to also watch kids so that their unemployed parents could look for jobs. When women replaced deployed soldiers in the domestic workforce during World War II, the government funded a major expansion.
That all ended with the war, and though in the early 1970s Congress approved a similar program, Herbst says aides convinced President Nixon to veto it.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
From the New Yorker: America's Family-Leave Disgrace
What do Papua New Guinea, Oman, and the United States of America have in common? They are the only three countries in the world with no paid-maternity-leave law. When you point out the deficiencies of the United States in this regard, somebody often replies, “This isn’t Scandinavia; we can’t impose cuddly capitalism”—the M.I.T. economist Daron Acemoglu’s phrase—“and still enjoy economic growth.” Granted, we’re not Sweden, but neither are we Romania, Uganda, Bolivia, or any of the hundred and eighty-five other countries that, according to a 2014 report from the U.N.’s Institute of Labor, provide their citizens with paid leave to care for a new child. Ninety-eight of those countries offer paid leave for fourteen weeks or more. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama vowed to make family leave and sick days a priority in the final two years of his Presidency. He has work to do. In the United States, where all sorts of powers are commonly attributed to the private sector, many people might imagine that employers take up the slack. But the majority of U.S. employers do not offer paid family leave, for the simple reason that they don’t have to.
Though women lawyers are outnumbered by males in partnerships at large law firms, they made strides at several law firms in Washington, D.C., in recent promotions.
Out of 35 law firms that announced the promotions of partners since October, 14 promoted as many or more females than men in Washington, D.C., theNational Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. In many cases, the proportion of women promoted to partner was greater in a law firm’s D.C. offices than in other locations.
Arent Fox promoted four lawyers nationally and all were women, the story says. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld promoted five lawyers to partner in Washington, D.C., and four were women.
Leaders of Arent Fox and Akin Gump told the National Law Journal that flexible work schedules help the firms retain and promote women. At Akin Gump, three of the four women lawyers promoted in D.C. have worked reduced hours and will continue to do so as partners.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
The majority of young women and men today would prefer an egalitarian relationship in which work and family responsibilities are shared equally between partners if that possibility were available to them, according to a new study from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of California-Santa Barbara.
The study finds that when the option is made available to them, the majority of respondents -- regardless of gender or education level -- opt for a relationship in which they would share earning and household/caregiving responsibilities equally with their partner. Additionally, the study finds that if workplace policies that support work-family balance, such as subsidized child care, are in place, women are even more likely to prefer an egalitarian relationship and much less likely to want to be the primary homemaker or caregiver.
Will some future cohort of progressive-minded men cooking chili with grass-fed ground beef in their NFL-themed Crock-Pots one day fulfill the promise of decades of kitchen appliances and help ensure a better balance of housework at home? Based on past experience, it seems misguided to place too much faith in any technology for achieving equality between the genders. Strasser, the historian, suggested that family-friendly public policies, like family leave or subsidized child care, might be more fruitful.
Men's club mentality keeping women out of partnerships, Managing Partner roundtable finds
Large law firms need to radically change their cultures and working practices if they are to succeed in creating gender-diverse partnerships.
That's the view that emerged at a Managing Partner roundtable, which considered why many firms are still failing to develop gender-balanced partnerships and senior management teams.
"I don't know that we'll ever be able to get to 50 per cent diversity until the business of law as practiced by large law firms today changes," said Gina N Shishima, US head of IP transactions and patent prosecutions, and US chief diversity officer at Norton Rose Fulbright.
Women typically constitute more than half of the trainees and associates, but make up less than 20 per cent of the partners at international firms and about a quarter of the partners at London, regional and national firms, on average.
At equity partner level, female representation is even lower, ranging from 15 to 17 per centamong the UK's top 25 firms, fractionally up from the 14 to 15 per cent recorded in 2008, according to PwC data.
"Based on data alone, women should have achieved nearly 50 per cent parity as partners at the turn of the century," commented Lauren Stiller Rikleen, president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and executive-in-residence at the Boston College Center for Work & Family.
Law firm culture and unconscious bias play important parts in keeping women out of partnerships and senior management teams, according to panelists.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
WASHINGTON -- President Obama will call on Congress to require companies to give workers up to seven days of paid sick leave a year, a senior adviser said Wednesday.
Obama will also take executive action to give at least six weeks of paid leave to federal employees after the birth or adoption of a child, Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett said.
And Obama wants Congress to spend $2.2 billion to help states and cities develop paid family leave programs.
Jarrett announced the new initiatives in a post on the job networking site LinkedIn -- a venue chosen, she said, because its audience was best positioned to drive change in their own workplaces.
From Jarrett's announcement:
So on Thursday, President Obama will call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick time — and call on states and cities to pass similar laws. The President will outline a new plan to help states create paid leave programs, and provide new funding through the Department of Labor for feasibility studies that will help other states and municipalities figure out the best way to implement programs of their own. And the President will sign a Presidential Memorandum that will ensure federal employees have access to at least 6 weeks of paid sick leave when a new child arrives and propose that Congress offer 6 weeks of paid administrative leave as well.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015