Women's News from the Web

Why so few women in the boardroom? Because men won’t listen to them | Christina Patterson

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 22:59
Here’s a deal – we’ll stop the fuss about gender if the other half will just occasionally shut up

Wasn’t it great? All those lunches! All those parties! All those speeches, saying how great we are and how far we’ve come!

Perhaps it was for you. I spent International Women’s Day in the way I spend most days: sitting at home, in front of my computer, looking forward to the odd trip to the kettle. I saw the tweets, and read the articles, but it all felt a bit like bring-your-daughter-to-work day. It felt like dress-up-as-Hermione for World Book Day. It felt like Crufts.

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Pakistan torn as women’s day march sparks wave of ‘masculine anxiety’

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 16:34

Public figures spoke of humiliation and rape threats surged online after rally posters hit too close to home for some men

One poster read: “Keep your dick pics to yourself.” Another had a drawing of a vagina and two ovaries and the words: “Grow a pair!” A third said, “If you like the headscarf so much, tie it around your eyes.”

The posters featured at women’s day marches across Pakistan last week, and were just a handful among hundreds that highlighted fundamental rights issues such as access to education and employment. They have since unleashed a social media storm. Thousands complained the marchers were “vulgar” opportunists who had infringed on conservative values in the Muslim-majority country and supplanted a legitimate fight for rights with a liberal, anti-Islamic agenda. Many called for a parallel men’s march.

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FTSE 350 firms under fire over ‘unacceptable’ lack of female directors

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 14:01

Investor group urges listed firms with only one woman on board to address diversity targets

An influential investor group has written to more than 60 publicly listed companies with only a single female director, including Domino’s Pizza and JD Sports, raising concerns over a lack of gender diversity and warning of a backlash if progress is stalled.

The Investment Association (IA), which represents 250 firms with £7.7tn in assets under management, has joined up with the Hampton-Alexander review team to criticise FTSE 350 firms with “one and done” boardrooms that have a single female board member.

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I’m Scared of Success

Women's eNews - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 10:27

I’m not a victim, vindictive or angry…

I’m just scared shitless of success.

There are times I self-sabotage in life because the ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past’ haunt me. On my chest is a black scarlet letter that I carry around with me. A plus-size Black woman with the audacity to try and make it into the club, that room has been defined by White America since the first Black slave stepped onto these shores. The exclusive club that has brought a plague to my career walking into rooms as the only minority. A victim I’m not; because I still sashay in with my street smarts defined by a hardened childhood of poverty, drugs, alcohol, domestic abuse and physical violence — but also a college education. My comfort drinking a 40oz. bottle of beer outside some housing projects is the same when walking into a boardroom filled with millionaires. Having street smarts and college degrees prepared my militant maneuver within corporate America. There’s a calmness in me when there’s chaos around me. As a natural born leader, I’m able to walk into a room and align teams back to the prize — the profit and success of the business. However, with this revelation came a target so big on my back that I feel an itch before they pull the trigger. What they don’t know are the layers that define me, so it’s a steady aim that needs to topple my kingdom of fun. Yet, no matter what’s been done to me I still have the courage to try again.  

During my teen years in New York I had no confidence at all. A lot of it was beat out of me, so the pavement became my world. I’d stare at the cracks and divets trying to navigate around crack needles and trash that rats scurried out to claim. I recall, one day, a grouchy teacher in high school who grabbed my hand and spoke to me. She was known to ‘bust your balls’ with a smile on her face. Back then I carried anger as a best friend so no one would bully me, lashing out at those who wanted to test my nature because I’d been tested so many times at home. Looking back I see myself as a feral animal that dressed nicely, covering up bruises and working around the soreness my body endured from abuse. So when she grabbed my hand and looked straight at me asking something like, “Are you okay?” I was shocked, No one had ever asked me that before. Tears sprang to my eyes so quickly, but that split second of care was brushed away in an instant. My Incredible Hulk masquerade slammed back onto my face. I shrugged her hand away from me and screamed venomous anger from my throat. ‘Now someone cared?,’ I thought to myself. ‘Where were they when the terror claimed my soul and made me into a reluctant warrior?’

That warrior remains in me but she is a lot nicer now. Time has faded the shakiness in my hands and turned me into steel. The courage I bring forth now comes from my lack of knowledge by not seeing the right enemy. ‘Is it I or they that sabotage my success?’ I now ask. When I walk into work the faint whisper of many cycled moons still asks “are you ok?” and the Incredible Hulk looks up slowly to say — “Yes I’m fine.”

Still, it’s not fine when I’m brave enough to ask the questions that everyone else in the club has said before. “Is my work not enough?” “Is there room for growth, can I learn more, how can I support the team and would you mind if I tried this option?” Those questions only bring forth a tilt to others’ heads and a smiling mask to their faces. Never reaching their eyes, of course, replying, “No everything is ok.”  All anyone can say is “manage up,” but how about managing alongside? Should a Black woman not challenge the status quo in order to be promoted? Currently there are only three Black CEOs on the Fortune 500 list. All of them are men, and that figure is down from six in 2012. Those stats are disheartening when fighting to climb the corporate ladder. Should I not play a victim to the Gender Wage Gap that pits my work ethic against men? Statistics show women are paid $.80 to every $1 a man makes. However that figure is even lower for Black women at $.61. Does the world compensate us for that by offsetting a lower cost to mortgage, daycare or travel expenses? Additionally this makes me fourth in line to white men, white women and black men. Have you ever tried running a track meet where the gun goes off last for you?

I’m still sitting here with a smile on my face and courage in my heart to never give in to anger. I want to worry less about the figure in my bank account that’s accruing no interest from the lack of a fair salary. The goal for me remains the same, which is to do a great job and help maintain profitability for my employe, but in my heart I know it’s the bravery that bothers them most. The hard handshake I give that used to be for the boys club only; the eye to eye stare that has them blinking and averting their eyes. Could it also be the dimples in my cheeks carved out from the tears of my oppression?

Also, my strategy of acceptance in corporate America has changed over the years. When I first began this path, I told myself to get the highest degree I could hold in media so no one could never say I am not qualified for the job. Guess what? I still ain’t qualified for the job. It’s not that privileged white people have said that to me, they just don’t know what to do with me. I smile big even with the ugly I carry inside. I’m optimistic, even though I’ve watched countless other people move onward and upward in their careers. Out of 100 people in the division of a major TV studio, I was the only black person. Before that, when I worked at one of the top five motion picture and television studios in Hollywood, there was just me and one other black woman, out of 200 employees. When I went to grad school I was just one of two black women in the graduate school program. Then there are also the friends I’ve met along the way who invite me over to their homes, where I’m usually the only black person in the room.

I always pause in the doorway and I say – “Forget it.” If I’m meant to be dragged in the street and lynched, at least I carved out a lane for those behind me. To stroll into that door again and challenge the Matrix just one more time, what’s the worst that could happen? Nothing has, except stagnation. In my career, it’s become exhausting hearing the word ‘No.’ But how can other people really see my sacrifice? Who wants to be known as the angry Black woman? I’m writing this so the world can know how much I love each and every person. That little girl who used to be balled up on her bed crying into the wall, praying for the pain to stop, is gone. As I see it, we only get one round on this roller coaster called life; one chance to hand in our ticket to fun. So when I shake your hand, look you in the eye and smile at you genuinely, please know it’s taken me a long time to wear my courage.  

Welcome into my world.


Vonti McRae is an alumni and since 2017 a  Film Instructor at the Academy of Art University. She is an up and coming screenwriter who has worked tirelessly in the media industry for over 10 years. Her writing is inspired by her childhood plus travels across the USA, and hopes to one day see her stories on the big screen. 
Contact her at msvontimcrae@gmail.com for writing inquiries. Follow her on:Instagram the_real_vonti Blog: therealvonti.com Follow her blog therealvonti.com and IG the_real_vonti

Mind the gender pay gap: Berlin women to get public transport discount

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 06:45

Gender-specific “Frauenticket” will be 21% cheaper than usual and available on 18 March in stunt to flag German pay gap

Women travelling on Berlin’s metro, buses or trams will pay 21% less than men next Monday in a stunt to boost the visibility of Germany’s gaping gender pay gap.

The city’s public transport operator, BVG, said its “Frauenticket” will be available on 18 March only, to mark Equal Pay Day in Germany. Under the slogan “Mind the pay gap”, it said its cut-price ticket was intended to flag the 21% difference between men and women’s average earnings, one of the biggest gender pay gaps in Europe.

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French gynaecologists' union threatens to stop performing abortions

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 06:43

Health minister calls protest about lack of medical insurance ‘taking women hostage’

A French gynaecologists’ union has threatened to halt pregnancy terminations in an attempt to force the country’s health minister to meet disgruntled doctors.

The Syngof union wrote to its 1,600 members calling them to be prepared to stop carrying out abortions to “make ourselves heard” and force the government’s hand.

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Government to provide free sanitary products in English secondary schools

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 04:47

Chancellor’s statement follows campaigns to end period poverty

The government will provide free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from the next school year.

The chancellor made the announcement in the spring statement, where the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast growth of 1.2% this year – a downgrade from the 1.6% forecast at the budget in 2018.

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Genetics may reduce efficacy of hormonal contraception – study

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:15

Tentative link found between genetic variant and faster breakdown of hormone

An unintended pregnancy while using hormonal contraception may not always be down to the woman’s mistake, according to research that suggests for some genetics could play a role.

Millions of women use hormonal contraceptives such as different types of the pill, contraceptive implants or hormone-releasing intrauterine systems (IUS) or vaginal rings. These devices release hormones to prevent the release of an egg, as well as triggering other changes in the body to prevent a pregnancy.

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Pete Davidson is dating an older woman - why is the world shocked?| Arwa Mahdawi

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 06:00

Misogyny is behind the criticism of the Saturday Night Live comedian’s relationship with Kate Beckinsale

Quiz time! Put your calculators away, please, I have a maths problem designed to test every inch of your natural intelligence. Ready? Here we go: Pete Davidson is a 25-year-old comedian. He is dating Kate Beckinsale, a 45-year-old actor. What’s their age difference?

Twenty years? Wrong. The correct answer, judging from popular responses, is: “Too many years to be acceptable”. While society takes older men hooking up with younger women for granted, we still seem to have a lot of hang-ups about women dating younger guys. There is a one-word explanation for this: misogyny.

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Tucker Carlson's sexist rants reveal an ugly truth | Moira Donegan

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 04:27

The Fox News host has shown us just how much misogyny continues to be tolerated – and encouraged – by men

Tucker Carlson, the Fox News commentator with a primetime show and a history of vitriolic racist rants, is in the news again after the media watchdog group Media Matters unearthed recordings of him from the mid-aughts, in which Carlson calls into a radio shock jock program to make a series of luridly sexist assertions and racist asides, palling around with a host who goes by the moniker “Bubba the Love Sponge”.

Related: R Kelly and the art of the male meltdown | Arwa Mahdawi

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BirthStrikers: meet the women who refuse to have children until climate change ends

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 02:00

A movement of women have decided not to procreate in response to the coming ‘climate breakdown and civilisation collapse’. Will their protest be a catalyst for change?

As soon as Blythe Pepino got together with her partner Joshua two years ago, she felt “this overwhelming urge to create a family with him”, she says. “I think it was the fifth day after having met him, I said: ‘I’ve got to meet your parents.’ He was like: ‘You’re mad.’”

Then, late last year, she attended a lecture held by the direct action group Extinction Rebellion, which set out starkly the catastrophic reality of the changing climate. That galvanised Pepino, an activist and musician (she is the former singer of Vaults, now Mesadorm), to do research of her own and, eventually, to have a series of sad conversations with Joshua.

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Ending period poverty shouldn’t have to be like getting blood from a stone | Yomi Adegoke

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 21:00

The announcement of free sanitary products in English schools is a big win for activists – but women’s desperate needs are still going unheard

Period poverty campaigners have put two Twitter fingers up to those who claim hashtag activism doesn’t work. After an onslaught of online campaigns and petitions, an announcement is expected this Wednesday from the chancellor, Philip Hammond, stating he will fund a scheme to make free sanitary products available in English secondary schools from September. It’s the second big win for activists – the NHS has said that the products would be available to hospital patients from July.

It has certainly been a slog, akin to (for lack of a less obvious idiom) getting blood from a stone.

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Feminism with no human warmth leaves me cold | Zoe Williams

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 20:00

I’m a fan of the acclaimed young writer known as ‘the Slumflower’. But her sexual creed of exploitation appals me

A couple of years ago, the feminist society of Deptford Green secondary school convened a conference. It was there that I met Chidera Eggerue: aka the Slumflower, author of What a Time to be Alone, hashtagger of the #saggyboobsmatter movement. She was a remarkable woman. I don’t want to call her a “remarkable young woman,” even though she was 23 at the time: “young” is such a modifier and she would have been remarkable at any age.

Her broad message was one of body positivity: if you love yourself and your shape, nobody can shame you. She built what I thought was a brisk, convincing and quite dispiriting picture of the various problems her generation faces: late capitalist consumerism combined with intense pressure to conform physically – you must be this shape, to fit into this item, to look this good on Instagram – while the new misogyny of the “alt-right” built an army of enforcers, angry men happy to roam the internet looking for any woman who might look happy with herself, to tell her about the state of her upper arms. And perhaps some men took that corrosive body-pedantry into their relationships and made women feel rubbish about themselves in real life, but the Slumflower’s message – love yourself, and that is your suit of armour – was much more important and universal than relationship advice, and spoke powerfully to girls who were ages away from their first shitty boyfriend, as well as enlighteningly to women who were ages from being able to remember him.

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How to buy the perfect-fitting bra

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 22:00

Your bra is almost certainly too big, you’re probably putting it on wrong – and you should wear a red one under a white T-shirt

Many women go wrong with the band size – probably 85%-90% of us are wearing a bigger bra than we should. Around 80% of support comes from that back band, and if it is too loose, the shoulder straps over-compensate, so they dig in, or there’s not enough support in general. The band should feel firm, not tight – you should be able to fit two fingers comfortably around the elastic all the way round. Start on the loosest set of hooks and eyes because as the bra stretches naturally with wash and wear, you can tighten it.

In an underwired bra, the wires must not sit on the breast tissue, but right underneath, and the bridge should be flat against the sternum. Next, there should be a bust in each cup – nothing falling out, cutting in, or no gaping in the cup. The straps should feel comfortable on your shoulders – not falling off, or taking too much pressure.

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Women with Allergan breast implants may sue over cancer link

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 08:29

UK women claim they were not told enough about potential risk of rare breast cancer

A group of more than 200 women are considering legal action over controversial breast implants that have been linked to a rare form of cancer.

The women claim they were not sufficiently informed about the risks of textured Allergan implants, which were pulled from the European market in December. Six of the women developed anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare blood cancer that has been linked to textured implants.

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge 'empowered' to see violent women on TV

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 08:02

Creator of BBC’s Killing Eve says it’s refreshing not to see ‘women on slabs the whole time’

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who developed the award-winning BBC drama Killing Eve, has spoken of how it is “refreshing and oddly empowering” to see female characters being violent after decades of television in which women have been brutalised.

The writer and actor acclaimed for her role in a new series of the BBC sitcom Fleabag which she created, addressed the issue as fans eagerly await the second series of Killing Eve starring Jodie Comer as a psychopathic killer and Sandra Oh as an MI5 operative.

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Lost in Space: Women Scientists in the Workforce

Women's eNews - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 05:18

As a woman, mother, and astrophysicist, the recent study published in Nature hit me in the gut; 40 percent of women with full-time jobs in science are lost from the work force after having their first child (compared to 23 percent of men). This percentage is right on target with the general workforce, in which 43 percent of women leave their careers after having children, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the numbers in science. Yet, somehow this number caught me off guard. For virtually all of the women scientists I know, being a scientist is far more than a career, it is part of their identity. Yet young mothers are still leaving in droves. If we are disproportionately losing mothers from science, what skill sets, talents, and ways of thinking are being lost from the workforce along with them?

Progress in science is fundamentally dependent on having a mix of backgrounds and experience in order to think about problems in new ways and come up with innovative solutions. Progress also depends on having people with both technical expertise and the “soft skills” to build successful collaborations and maximize efficiency. “Social skills reduce the cost of coordinating with others,” David Deming, a Harvard education economist said to the Harvard Gazette.

Parenting relies on an in-depth working knowledge of essential soft skills. Keeping another helpless human being alive does require some technical proficiency, but learning how to change a diaper is easy compared to determining when to let a baby cry at night. In a study published in Scientific American, Robert Epstein distills the 10 most important parenting skill sets for raising children.  I would argue that these 10 skills, adapted for a professional setting, also have an important role in science.  These parenting skills include: stress management, relationship skills, life skills, and behavior management. In my experience, we can use a lot more of all of these in science.

I am not saying that people who aren’t mothers can’t or don’t have these skills, nor am I arguing that all women in science should have children. It is also true that fathers have stepped up their parenting contributions over recent decades, but mothers still carry the bulk of the workload. It seems to me that if mothers are preferentially lost from the workforce, we are ultimately doing science a disservice.

Not only are we shooting ourselves in the foot by losing the skills finely honed as a parent from the workforce, but long-term productivity is also lost. A 2014 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that a mother of three will lose the equivalent of four years of research productivity before her children have reached their teens. However, over a 30-year career, there is a “motherhood bonus” of roughly 10 percent in research productivity. In other words, if a mother’s career can survive until her children are teenagers, evidence suggests that her efficiency will blossom beyond that of her childless colleagues for the remainder of her career. If the primary metric we use to evaluate scientists is research productivity, we are systematically undervaluing the capabilities of mothers with young children. Given that evidence shows these very same mothers ultimately overperform in the long-term, we are shooting ourselves in the other foot too.

Not surprisingly, my own career trajectory dramatically leveled off after having children. If I’m being honest with myself, I am disappointed that my career is not what it might have been, and that I wasn’t “good enough” to keep up my productivity while having children. Yet, I would make the same choice again and again and again. Trying to understand our place in the universe as an astrophysicist and my unfathomable love for my children each give my life rich meaning and purpose in their own way. Experiencing these together is even more powerful. Having children helps me to see the universe through their eyes, peeling away assumptions and long-held “truths” and encouraging me to simply play.  Their constant sense of wonder and awe is refreshing in contrast to a professional world of mostly incremental advances and paper drafts. I have convinced myself that the perspective my children nurture in me is of value to science.  

After I had my third child, a senior male directly above me in the food chain at my university asked me if I was “done yet.” The guilt, external and internal, just settles in and makes itself at home. I have come close to leaving academia more times than I can count, so I empathize with the mothers we have lost from the workforce, and I understand their choice. But I bet that if that senior childless male had instead been a senior woman with children, she would have instead asked how she could help. And that is one of the soft skills that is being lost from the workforce. 

Kelsey Johnson is a Professor of Astronomy at the UVA and director of the Dark Skies Bright Kids Program. She is on the board of the American Astronomical Society, and vice president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Johnson is a 2018 Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.

A feminist's guide to raising boys

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 21:00

Before I became a mother, I thought my feminism was a battle fought and won. But having three sons has challenged everything

It’s always the things you think will be a doddle that end up causing most heartache. When I was asked to write about being a feminist and a mother to three boys, I imagined dashing off something witty, yet touching and wise, and never thought for a moment I’d end up losing my temper (several times) or in tears, or storming away from meals, and feeling like a failure. Did not see that coming.

How do you raise boys? My extremely authoritative sources for this article were: my friends; my children (I interviewed two of them, but the middle one refused and now says, “Is it a gender thing?” every time it seems funny); my husband; some brilliant books; and a huge number of conversations, including one in the pub with a friend who is, genuinely, a professor of feminism. In no particular order, this is what I learned.

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Hammond to promise funds to end period poverty in English schools

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 21:00

Scheme to make free sanitary products available is expected to echo one already in place in Scotland

Philip Hammond will promise at Wednesday’s spring statement to end “period poverty” in English secondary schools by funding a scheme to make free sanitary products available from September, the Guardian has learned.

Campaigners have been calling for action from the government, amid claims that girls from low-income families can end up missing school during their periods because they are unable to afford sanitary protection.

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International Women's Day 2019: US women's soccer team sues over discrimination - as it happened

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 12:27

Follow all the news and developments as people mark International Women’s Day around the world, including

10.27pm GMT

Thank you to everyone who followed our liveblog of International Women’s Day. Women around the world staged protests against abortion restrictions and gender violence, and for equal labor rights.

9.53pm GMT

International Women’s Day has also been a reminder about some of the pioneering women in history, including Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, who in 1864 became the first African American woman physician in the US.

Today and always, let’s remember these female pioneers in medicine:

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African-American woman to be a doctor in the U.S. in 1864.

Fe del Mundo, a Filipina who was the first woman to attend Harvard Medical School in 1933.#InternationalWomensDay pic.twitter.com/dkoiKcwKPs

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