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
Thursday, January 8, 2015
The popular thinking is that the term went from empowering to delusional, running up against the hard truths of reality to get worn down to the spurious fantasy underneath. Feminists, according to this narrative, were the ones who promised women they could have it all — rewarding career, loving partner, cheerful brood — and then couldn’t deliver. Conservatives have been particularly enamored of this story. “Feminist groups like to pretend that women can have it all without sacrificing time with families,” Carrie L. Lukas, a managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum, wrote in her 2006 book about feminism. The Federalist peddled a similar argument: “Women ask about having it all because they were told they could have it all . . . by women like [Gloria] Steinem.”
The idea that feminism was the source for such a pernicious ideal has become so widely assumed that even Patricia Ireland, a former president of the National Organization for Women, seemed to subscribe to a variation of this notion. “Twenty years ago, it was a triumphant phrase and also a demand,” she told William Safire in 2001 for a column in this magazine, but “the phrase has come to carry with it a sense of being overwhelmed.” Hence the sad fate of the Career Bogeywoman, her soul sucked dry by her high-powered job, her children barely nourished by the dregs of maternal instinct that managed to survive her outsize ambition.
Once you start digging into the origins of the phrase, however, this narrative begins to unravel. “Having it all,” at least as it applies to women and work, has a relatively limited pedigree. Ruth Rosen, a scholar who has written extensively about the history of feminism, told me that you can’t find much archival evidence of the phrase before the tail end of the 1970s — and even then, it wasn’t so much a feminist mantra as a marketing pitch directed toward the well-heeled “liberated” consumer. In 1980, two years before Brown’s book, Joyce Gabriel and Bettye Baldwin published “Having It All: A Practical Guide to Managing a Home and a Career”; true to its promise, Gabriel and Baldwin’s book offers straightforward tips on how a working mother might make the most of her scarce time. (“Strive to do two things at once,” the authors advise, like letting your nail polish set while you blow-dry your hair.) Women’s magazines and Madison Avenue might have been selling the concept, but it was after Brown’s book landed on the best-seller list, Rosen says, that the phrase gathered real cultural momentum, becoming shorthand for having kids and a career.
Friday, January 2, 2015
What is afoot in Britain might provide lessons for the States:
Labour has called for widespread pay transparency across Britain, proposing legislation that would make it compulsory for big companies to publish the average difference between the pay of their male and female employees.
Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, tabled a 10-minute rule bill to enact section 78 of the Equality Act (2010), which was introduced by Labour but abandoned by the coalition when it entered government. The section requires companies that employ more than 250 people to publish their gender pay gap figures.
The bill was backed by 258 MPs, with eight voting against, but it is unlikely to progress further before the general election without government backing. It isLiberal Democrat policy to enact section 78 of the Equality Act and Lib Dem MPs were given a free vote on the issue.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Two interesting recent articles from the NYT. One is about the status of LGBT folk in Cuba. An excerpt:
Mariela Castro, the daughter of the current president, Raúl Castro, has led the charge on legislative and societal changes [for LGBT rights] that have given rise to an increasingly visible and empowered community. In the process, she has carved out a rare space for civil society in an authoritarian country where grass-roots movements rarely succeed. Some Western diplomats in Havana have seen the progress on gay rights as a potential blueprint for expansion of other personal freedoms in one of the most oppressed societies on earth.
“It’s fine to criticize, but you also have to acknowledge that they’ve done good,” said John Petter Opdahl, Norway’s ambassador to Cuba, in a recent interview. Mr. Opdahl, who is gay, said his government gave Ms. Castro’s organization $230,000 over the last two years. “She has taken off a lot of the stigma for most people in the country, and she has made life so much better for so many gay people, not only in Havana but in the provinces.”
Another article revisits the Stanford undergraudates from the class of 1994.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Since Kerry Devine, 32, and her friends began having children, she has noticed a stark difference between her female friends in Auburn, Wash., where she lives, and those in England and Cyprus, where she grew up. In the United States, they almost all stopped working outside the home, at least until their children were in school. Yet, she says, she can’t think of a friend in Europe who left work after her children were born.
Ms. Devine quit her job after she had her first child, a girl, four years ago, because she thought 12 weeks of maternity leave was too short. “I just didn’t want to leave her in day care or pay for the expenses of it,” she said. When she gave birth to twin boys this year, a return to work — she had been a property manager for apartment buildings — looked even less plausible.
Her story would have played out differently, she said, if she had been living in her native England. Like many European countries, Britain offers a year of maternity leave, much of it paid, and protections for part-time workers, among other policies aimed at keeping women employed.
A randy Brooklyn judge turned the hallowed halls of justice into a seedy sleaze pit — sexually harassing his Orthodox Jewish secretary with lurid tales about his erotic adventures with a mistress, proudly striding shirtless around his chambers, and forcing her to pick up his soiled underwear, a new lawsuit charges.
Brooklyn civil court Judge David Schmidt, 61, tormented veteran court secretary Sharon Sabbagh, 57, by stroking her face, forcing her to give him hugs before she went home, and regaling her with explicit tales of sex with his mistress, the lawsuit alleges.
“When I have sex with my wife, I think of her,” Schmidt said, adding that he buys his fling underwear from Victoria’s Secret and that they have daily phone sex, the Brooklyn Supreme Court suit claims.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Feminist Study of Irish Discrimination Reform Shows Law Reinforces Gendered Assumptions about Work and Family
From Robert Lekey, at Jotwell, The Careless Ideal Worker, reviewing Olivia Smith, Litigating Discrimination on Grounds of Family Status, 22 Fem. Legal Stud 175 (2014).
It will not surprise readers alive to anti-discrimination law’s limited capacity to transform systems that Ireland’s reform to protect workers in certain care relationships from discrimination based on their family status has reinforced gendered assumptions about care and workforce participation. However much its findings line up with our pessimistic hunches, Olivia Smith’s study is worth reading because it exemplifies an admirable kind of feminist scholarship: quantitatively and qualitatively empirical; theoretically grounded; alert to the intersection of gender with other grounds of disadvantage, such as class; and self-conscious of its limits.
Smith offers a “contextualized assessment” of a dozen years’ tribunal litigation under the “family status” discrimination ground. Prior to this ground’s adoption in the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011, women had challenged discrimination associated with their care obligations under the ground of gender. As Smith notes, that tack had confirmed the gendered view of care as women’s work. Yet while the gender-neutral ground of “family status” might signal that care obligations bear on men as well as on women, the litigation record shows it to have reinforced the gendered dynamics of Irish work and family life.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
A Colorado mother claims in a federal lawsuit that she was fired from her hairstylist job after she sought to take periodic work breaks to pump breast milk but was rebuffed by an employer who called the idea "gross," court documents showed on Tuesday.
Ashley Provino of Grand Junction said she asked permission from her employer, Big League Haircuts, to take breaks every four hours to pump breast milk for her infant son, according to a complaint filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Denver by lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.
Provino said the owner, Kyle Reed, “adamantly refused” her request, called the topic “gross,” retaliated by cutting her hours so she never worked more than four hours at a time, and ultimately fired her.
“Discrimination against breastfeeding mothers in the workplace is not only illegal, it is also bad for Colorado families and businesses, because it forces women out of the workplace,” ACLU cooperating attorney Paula Greisen said in a statement.
Reached by telephone, Reed said the lawsuit was “total fiction” and vowed to fight Provino's claims.
“She has dollar signs in her eyes and thinks she's going to win a million dollars,” he said.
The Supreme Court heard oral argument yesterday in Young v. UPS. The commentators have noted that some justices questioned the appropriateness of summary judgment here especially as to the question of what instances in fact were other workers given temporary light duties, and whether pregnant employees were asking for too many favors, granting them "most favored nation status" in the snarky words of the Fourth Circuit. As Justice Ginsburg retorted, it seems UPS was arguing for the converse, "least favored nation status."
See Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, Heavy Lifting: The Supreme Court is Flummoxed by Pregnancy Discrimination and Semi-colons. The so-called "after the semi-colon" debate seems to discount the legal issue as one of mere statutory interpretation. But it's much more than semantics. What's at issue is the second clause of the operative Pregnancy Discrimination law that imposes affirmative duties on an employer. The first clause, before the semi-colon, is a prohibition: do not discriminate on the basis of pregnancy. The second clause, after the semi-colon, says "women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work."
Kagan, who has been a one-justice Tasmanian devil all morning, concludes by informing Halligan [UPS attorney]: “What we know about the PDA is that it was supposed to be about removing stereotypes of pregnant women as marginal workers. It was supposed to be about ensuring that they wouldn’t be unfairly excluded from the workplace. And what you are saying is that there’s a policy that accommodates some workers, but puts all pregnant women on one side of the line.” This is why pro-life and pro-choice groups and most women’s groups have crossed the ideological divide to support Young in this case: The PDA was intended to prevent women workers from being forced to choose between their jobs and their babies.
Underlying the debate seems to be the old public v. private sphere divide. Some of the arguments and questions from the justices seem to make much of the fact that pregnancy is a private choice, something that happens to a woman outside of work, like an injury to a male worker playing on his all terrain vehicle (ATV) on the weekend. (Facepalm to Alito's analogy here: idiosyncratic extreme sports v. commplace, fact of life and constitutionally-protected status). As a private choice, an employer in the public sphere has no obligation regarding that private choice.
For more debriefing, see
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Germany’s top listed companies will be required to have 30% of their board positions filled by women under a law agreed today by Angela Merkel’s coalition parties.
The law, due to come into effect in 2016, aims to create greater gender equality in the workplace of Europe’s biggest economy where, despite having a female leader and 40% of the federal cabinet being female, women are significantly under-represented.
According to the The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), just 6% of management board positions and 22% of supervisory board seats are held by women among the 30 companies on Germany’s blue-chip DAX index trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.