Monday, November 24, 2014
This summer, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and other Silicon Valley superpowers released demographic reports on their workforces. The reports confirmed what everyone already knew: tech is a man’s world. Men make up sixty to seventy per cent of employees at these companies, and, notwithstanding rock stars like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, senior leadership is even more overwhelmingly male. A recent study by the law firm Fenwick & West found that forty-five per cent of tech companies there didn’t have a single female executive. (The picture is also bleak when it comes to ethnic diversity.) The Valley seems to take the problem seriously—Apple’s Tim Cook recently stated his commitment to “advancing diversity”—but there’s a long way to go.
A familiar explanation for tech’s gender disparity is the so-called pipeline problem: the percentage of female computer-science graduates has almost halved since the nineteen-eighties. But this doesn’t fully explain why there are so few women in senior management or on company boards (where skills other than programming matter). Nor can it explain the high rate of attrition among women in tech. A 2008 study found that more than half of women working in the industry ended up leaving the field. The pipeline isn’t just narrow; it’s tapering.
From the New Republic:
Conventional wisdom suggests that people with greater authority at work should be mentally and physically healthier than those without it. They can afford to take care of themselves and aren’t tied to the daily (unhealthy) grind. But a new study, to be published in the December issue of Journal of Health and Social Behavior, suggests that men and women react differently to the pressures of a high-powered career.
The study examined 1,300 middle-aged men and 1,500 middle-aged women from Wisconsin over a period of several decades, looking at responses to a survey gathered when the respondents were 54 and 65 years old. Women with higher levels of job authority (defined as control over one’s work, the ability to hire and fire others, and control their pay) showed more depressive symptoms than women without job authority. With men, the opposite was true: Lower levels of authority correlated with higher levels of depressive symptoms.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Well, Ms Rybody, it’s funny that you should ask this for, truly, this has become the biggest fashion question – possibly even the only fashion question – in not just the world, but the entire cosmos. For anyone who might have missed it, last week there was some dinky story about a probe landing on a comet for the first time ever. I know what you’re thinking: “Probe, schmobe, get to the real issue here – what was one of the scientists wearing?!?!?!?” Glad to be of service! The project scientist, Dr Matt Taylor, appeared on TV wearing a shirt patterned with images of semi-clothed women that I assume (not being an expert in either of these fields) reference video games and heavy metal albums. Cue internet rage! Everything that followed was utterly predictable, but not especially edifying. The story went through the five cycles of internet rage: initial amusement; astonishment; outrage; backlash to the outrage; humiliated apology. First, our attention was drawn to the shirt via some sniggering tweets; this was swiftly followed by shock and its usual accompaniment, outrage, with some women suggesting the shirt reflected a sexism at the heart of the science community. As generally happens when a subject takes a feminist turn on the internet, the idiots then turned up, with various lowlifes telling the women who expressed displeasure at the shirt to go kill themselves. (This is not an exaggeration, and there is no need to give these toerags further attention in today’s discussion.)
Just as a simple error on the part of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s driver led to the start of the first world war, so this stupid shirt sparked the beginning of World War Shirt. The scientist knew he had to respond and so, during what I am told by youngsters is called a “Google Hangout”, Dr Smith issued a tearful apology for his shirt. Rumours that the offending shirt, stiff with dried salty tears, has been spotted in Dr Smith’s local charity shop have yet to be confirmed.
Look, I didn’t especially like his shirt, but I also don’t think one can expect much more of a heavily inked dude with a well-established penchant for bad T-shirts. As a cursory search on Google Images (hard research here, people!) proves, this one, while not in the best of taste, was clearly part of that tendency. Yes, it’s an embarrassing shirt and yes, it was a stupid shirt to wear on international TV. But the man is – classic batty scientist cliche – so absentminded that, according to his sister, he regularly loses his car in car parks. So if Taylor committed any crime, it was a crime of bad taste and stupidity rather than burn-him-at-the-stake sexism.
And, well said conclusion:
I totally understand why some women were offended by Taylor’s shirt, and I especially understand the frustration felt by female scientists who feel marginalised enough in their profession without high-profile men wearing shirts featuring half-naked women. But I can’t help but feel that outrage would be better spent on complaining about how few women were present in the control room for the probe landing. There are so many signifiers of sexism in the world and – I believe (again, not an expert in this field) – the science world that to attack a man for his shirt feels a little bit like fussing at a leaky tap when the whole house is under a tidal wave. Some people online have suggested that Taylor’s shirt proves he is a misogynist, or that he sees women purely as sex objects, or that he revels in marginalising them. Personally, if I saw a male colleague wearing that shirt, my reaction would be amazement that a grown man has the fashion taste of a 13-year-old. There is a difference – and I concede, the difference may be fuzzy in some cases – between enjoying the weird fantasy-world depiction of women, and seeing actual women as sex objects. Taylor has the right to wear whatever pig-ugly shirt he likes, and people have the right to be outraged by it. But when that outrage leads to a grown man weeping on TV, perhaps we all need to ask if this outrage is proportionate. My God, I’m a fashion bitch and even I don’t want to make anyone cry over my comments about their clothes.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Amalia Miller and Carmit Segal, both economists, have an interesting article titled "Do Female Officers Improve Law Enforcement Quality?" It's uploaded on SSRN and the abstract reads:
We study the impact of the integration of women in US policing between the late 1970s and early 1990s on violent crime reporting and domestic violence escalation. Along these two key dimensions, we find that female officers improved police quality. Using crime victimization data, we find that as female representation increases among officers in an area, violent crimes against women in that area, and especially domestic violence, are reported to the police at significantly higher rates. There are no such effects for violent crimes against men or from increases in the female share among civilian police employees. Furthermore, we find evidence that female officers help prevent the escalation of domestic violence. Increases in female officer representation are followed by significant declines in intimate partner homicide rates and in rates of repeated domestic abuse. These effects are all consistent between fixed effects models with controls for economic and policy variables and models that focus exclusively on increases in female police employment driven by externally imposed affirmative action plans resulting from employment discrimination cases.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
From the New Republic (also contains a video feed):
In an interview with NPR earlier this fall, pre-school teacher Glen Peters recounted, “They couldn't find the bathroom code for the men's bathroom, so I actually had to go to the women's room while someone stood guard outside the bathroom. I knew at that moment that I was a bit of a unicorn.” Peters is part of the small cohort of males teaching pre-school nationally; in fact, barely 2 percent of early education teachers are men, according to 2012 labor statistics. And with universal pre-K taking center stage in our country’s most populous city, the absence of male influence at this stage of development is getting increased scrutiny.
Steven Antonelli, currently the director for Bank Street Head Start, has spent more than two decades working in early childhood education and has experienced first-hand the challenges men in this field face. In an interview with New Republic executive editor Greg Veis, Antonelli considers these hurdles and the importance of early childhood education.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
NEW HAVEN — A sexual harassment case that has been unfolding without public notice for nearly five years within the Yale School of Medicine has roiled the institution and led to new allegations that the university is insensitive to instances of harassment against women. The case involves a former head of cardiology who professed his love to a young Italian researcher at the school and sought to intervene in her relationship with a fellow cardiologist under his supervision. A university committee recommended that he be permanently removed from his position, but the provost reduced that penalty to an 18-month suspension.
This is a bit dated by cyberspace standards (it happened about two weeks ago), but for interested readers, there was a Chronicle of Higher Ed article about sexual harassment in philosophy departments, especially at Colorado. Here's a blog excerpt from Nous (the philosophy blog):
Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education has a long article (may be paywalled) on the University of Colorado Department of Philosophy’s issues with sexual misconduct and climate for women, with remarks from people inside and outside the department.
They wanted to help solve their field’s longstanding problems over the treatment of women and find ways to improve the climate on their own campus. But instead, the philosophy department’s decision to invite an outside review has left it struggling to survive after the investigators concluded it was rife with “inappropriate, sexualized unprofessional behavior.”…
Philosophy professors worry that the reaction to the review—completed last fall by a panel of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Women—may now destroy the department. Even the head of that national committee says Boulder’s philosophers are right to be concerned. “I don’t expect a department that has a deeply cold climate for women, and has had for years, to be able to clean it up in a year and without a fair amount of pain,” says Hilde Lindemann, a philosophy professor at Michigan State University. “But I dare say they are fighting for their lives.”…
The three female philosophers who visited Boulder early last fall as part of the review interviewed professors, students, and administrators. The committee issued its scathing 15-page report in November. It said that women had filed 15 complaints with the university’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment since 2007 and that female graduate students reported feeling anxious and demoralized. Many incidents of alleged harassment, the report said, occurred off campus and after hours while faculty members and graduate students socialized over alcohol. Female faculty members reported working from home to avoid their male colleagues.
Almost no one here recognized the portrait of the department.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Political-correctness 101 dictates that we should avoid gendered versions of job titles: We’re meant to use “server” instead of “waitress”, “actor” for women as well as men. (Thank God the nineteenth-century “doctoress” never caught on.) But sometimes, for valid and non-sexist reasons—like talking about the wage gap—writers need to identify a group of professionals by their gender. Writers who are keen not to offend face a conundrum. “Female” seems like a safe descriptor—“female boss,” “female lawyer,” etc.—but some complain it’s too “clinical.” “Lady” has made something of a come-back as a sort of retro descriptor—“Lady journo,” “lady blog”—but sounds condescending outside of a specific, ironic context. In The Guardian last week, sub-editor Maddie York points out that another word is catching on as an adjective: “woman.” According to York, “‘Woman’ and its plural seem to be taking over the role of modifier, so that now, there is no such thing, as far as much of the media is concerned, as a female doctor, a female MP or a female chef. Instead you hear or read about a woman doctor, a woman MP and so on.”
This is definitely an overstatement, but she has a point: When I started looking for it, I found that the opposite of “male boss” is often not “female boss” but “woman boss.” The BBC contrasts “women managers” with “male” ones. And the Harvard Business Review says: “Only 16% of Republicans prefer a woman boss … young people (18 to 34) are more likely to want a male boss.”
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
The diverse and robust pool of female founders and tech execs at Fortune’s 40 under 40 party proves positive for Silicon Valley’s future. Editing Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list is, every year, an education in ambition, disruption and extraordinary achievement. The process takes months of reporting, lots of debate and discussion and a healthy amount of handwringing as our deadline looms.
And then comes the fun. Every year, we hold a giant party for the 40 Under 40 and a few hundred other movers and shakers in the San Francisco area. This is always my favorite part of the process. Because our listers? They show up. This year, we had a record number join us, traveling from as far as India (Rahul Sharma, CEO of Micromax) and as close as upstairs (Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, which hosted us in the lobby of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco’s SoMa district).
There were lots of local, Bay Area-based names, including Lyndon Rive, cofounder of SolarCity SCTY 3.82% , Josh Tetrick of plant-based food engineer Hampton Creek, Tristan Walker of Walker & Co/Bevel, Kabam’s Kevin Chou, Mason Morfit, president of ValueAct Capital (and youngest person on Microsoft’s board MSFT 1.26% ). Many more traveled to be there: SBE Entertainment Group’s Sam Nazarian, from Las Vegas; Nate Morris of waste-management disruptor Rubicon Global, in from Kentucky; Anthony Watson, CIO of Nike NKE 0.88% , who flew in from Beaverton, Ore; and President Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, who was able to break away from his boss for a quick trip west. There was, of course, a healthy crew from New York, including VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, NYSE president Tom Farley, Highbridge Principal Strategies’ Mike Patterson and Blackstone’s Peter Wallace.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Slightly old news now, but from the NYT:
If you are a man speaking at a conference celebrating women in computing, it is probably all right to flatter the largely female audience members by telling them they possess “superpowers.”
It is probably unwise, though, to imply that they should avoid asking for a pay raise.
Just ask Satya Nadella.
Mr. Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, suggested on Thursday that women who do not ask for more money from their employers would be rewarded in the long run when their good work was recognized. The comments, made at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix, drew swift and negative responses on Twitter.
And some commentary from Forbes magazine:
Lots of men don’t “get it.” Lots of men don’t want to. And many men “get it” only imperfectly, but are open to course correction.
What we need now – all of us who have been working for gender equality in leadership, position and compensation – is a nuanced conversation focused on swift and effective action – not soapbox slogans. Women can not do this alone, and we can recruit those who are willing to our side…not alienate them for life. I for one think that Satya Nadella is the perfect candidate for an activist ally. Why not concentrate on that?
Thursday, October 9, 2014
The National Women's Law Center has this preview, Supreme Court Preview: 2014-2015
This term, the Supreme Court will decide at least one case—and possibly multiple cases—with critical implications for both women’s health and women’s economic security. The Court’s consideration of these cases comes in the immediate wake of the 2013-2014 term, when the Supreme Court’s decisions in McCullen v. Coakley, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and Harris v. Quinn—threatened real harm to both. In addition, this term the Court will consider two other potentially important employment discrimination cases and a significant housing discrimination case, and may again take up the issue of marriage equality; the legal issues in all these cases are important for women.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Lynn Zehrt (Belmont) has posted Twenty Years of Compromise: How the Caps on Damages in the Civil Rights Act of 1991 Codified Sex Discrimination, 25 Yale J. L. & Feminism249 (2014).
This article takes a novel approach and reexamines the legislative history surrounding the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 with a central focus on exploring the issue of capped damages. Part I begins by briefly contrasting and summarizing the diverging remedies available under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII. The article then shifts in Part II to an examination of the political climate and legislative history that forged the enactment of the 1991 Act, paying particular attention to the debate surrounding damages. This history reveals that many members of Congress had a discriminatory motive in capping damages for victims of sex discrimination under Title VII, and therefore, that these capped damages represent a codified version of injustice. Although prior scholarship documents the legislative history of the 1991 Civil Rights Act, it fails to adequately address the issue of capped damages. Thus, this legislative history is a substantial contribution to contemporary Title VII scholarship, as it provides necessary context for the current debate about whether to abolish the existing Title VII damage regime.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Presenters on US cable channel Fox News cracked a series of sexist jokes after reporting that a female pilot from the UAE had taken part in a bombing mission of Isis targets in Syria, describing her as “boobs on the ground”.
One presenter, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tried to pay tribute to Major Mariam al-Mansouri, 35, one of four UAE fighter pilots to take part in the operation. “Hey, Isis, you were bombed by a woman,” she said. “Very exciting, a woman doing this … I hope that hurt extra bad because in some Arab countries women can’t even drive.”
She continued: “Major Mariam al-Mansouri is who did this. Remarkable, very excited. I wish it was an American pilot. I’ll take a woman doing this any day to them.”
But after the segment, co-host Greg Gutfeld interrupted Guilfoyle, mocking the pilot. “The problem is after she bombed it she couldn’t park it,” he said. Another presenter, Eric Bolling, joined in, asking: “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?” The conversation between panellists, which was broadcast on Wednesday, was part of discussion show The Five on Fox News.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
A new studey mentioned in the WSJ Blog:
Here’s another sign why too much testosterone at the top might not be good for business.
Research has shown that, by nature or nurture, facial masculinity is associated with a slew of behaviors in men that range from increased aggression to a penchant for risk taking. Some economists decided to see what having a masculine-looking man at the helm of a company might mean.
Yuping Jia at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, with Laurence van Lent and Yachang Zeng at Tilburg University, collected pictures of 1,136 male chief executives at companies in the S&P 1500, and used a facial-structure metric to gauge how masculine each one’s face was.
Check out the results.
Friday, September 19, 2014
ACTIVISTS on warring sides of the abortion debate rarely take the same position when it comes to Supreme Court cases involving women’s rights. But pro-choicers and pro-lifers have found common cause in Young v United Parcel Service, a pregnancy discrimination case the justices will take up on December 3rd. Yet the ideological overlap, while intriguing, is no guarantee that justices will reach consensus.
And the case facts:
Peggy Young was working part-time as the driver of a delivery truck for UPS when she became pregnant in 2006. Ms Young’s midwife, frowning on the requirement in her job description that she haul 70lb boxes, wrote a note to UPS recommending that “she not lift more than 20 pounds." On this basis, Ms Young requested a few months of a lightened load. Other UPS employees were eligible for such an accommodation, she reasoned, so she wasn’t asking for anything out of the ordinary. Workers who were injured on the job, who were disabled under the terms of the Americans With Disabilities Act, or who lost their driving credentials were all eligible (under the collective-bargaining agreement) for “light duty” assignments. But Carolyn Martin, the company’s occupational health manager, rejected Ms Young’s request. Since pregnancy did not fall into any of the three categories of workers eligible for alternate assignments, UPS would not switch her to a less physically onerous job. Ms Martin "empathise[d] with [Ms Young's] situation and would have loved to help her," but sent her packing on an unpaid leave.
Monday, September 15, 2014
....or, so argues a writer featured in the NYT. More:
The first book, “Why Gender Matters in Economics” (Princeton University Press, 2014) by Mukesh Eswaran, an economics professor at the University of British Columbia, draws on data from past economic studies conducted under laboratory conditions to show how gender influences financial actions and relationships.
In one set of these experiments, called the dictator game, women were found to be more generous than men. Players were given $10 and allowed but not required to hand out some of it to a hidden and anonymous partner.Women, on average, gave away $1.61 of the $10, whereas men gave away only 82 cents.
Friday, September 5, 2014
TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan unveiled a reshuffled cabinet on Wednesday that included five women, an apparent nod toward his promises to raise the status of women in the workplace. The appointments tie the record for the number of women in top political positions in Japan.
Since taking office in December 2012, Mr. Abe has spoken of the need to revive Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, by more fully unleashing the potential of its huge pool of highly educated women, who have long been relegated to relatively low-ranking positions in the work force.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The Domino's Pizza chain isn't responsible for the alleged sexual harassment of a 16-year-old female employee of one of its stores because the franchise agreement left all personnel decisions up to the now-bankrupt store owner, says a closely divided California Supreme Court.
A lawyer for Domino's hailed Thursday's 4-3 ruling as "a great victory for the franchise industry" - which, according to a 2007 Census Bureau study quoted by the court, accounted for nearly $1.3 trillion in annual sales nationwide.
The ruling comes a month after the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board reached a much different conclusion in another franchise case, saying McDonald's can be held jointly liable under federal law for wage violations at its restaurants.
The court case comes from Thousand Oaks (Ventura County), where the teenager, Taylor Patterson, said the assistant store manager groped her and made lewd comments soon after she started work in November 2008.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014