5-24-19 'Why can only guys make movies?'
In the almost 72-year history of the Cannes Film Festival only one female director, Jane Campion, has ever won the prestigious Palme d'Or prize for best film. Furthermore, just 86 movies by female directors have ever been in competition for the festival's main prize, compared with more than 1,650 films by male directors. This year, the 21 film shortlist features a joint record four women, showing how far the event - which boasts the late feminist director Agnès Varda as its poster girl - has to go in terms of gender equality. However, delve a little deeper into the festival programme and there's no shortage of talented women telling their stories, with those from Latin America leading the charge. Melina Leon last week became the first female director from Peru to be invited to premiere a film at Cannes - and her black and white production, Song Without a Name (Cancione Sin Nombre), has been mentioned by many critics as worthy of winning The Caméra d'Or, or Golden Camera, awarded to the best feature by a first-time director. The film, which premiered in the Directors' Fortnight section, is set in the politically turbulent Peru of the 1980s and follows Georgina, a young indigenous woman from the Andes, whose newborn daughter is stolen from a health clinic. Leon arrived a year after star protests led Cannes to sign up to a 50:50 gender parity pledge, balancing it's 2019 jury and selection committee accordingly; and the festival has hosted a series of talks about 'Women in Motion'. She welcomes conversations around the issue, even if they're difficult. "Just the fact that we're talking about it [is good]," she tells the BBC. "It might be uncomfortable - but everything that requires change is going to be uncomfortable and there's going to be be confrontation. "There's so many female students of film and then when it comes to making the first [full-length] feature it's only the guys - why? (Webmaster's comment: Because young men control the movie going market and they only want to see male butality and only men make those kinds of movies.)
5-22-19 Women who have cardiac arrests are more likely to die than men
Women who have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital are less likely to be resuscitated by a bystander and more likely to die than men. Hanno Tan at the University of Amsterdam and colleagues analysed data from all resuscitation attempts made by emergency services in an area of The Netherlands between 2006 and 2012. During this time, there were more than 5700 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, which occur when the heart goes into an irregular rhythm and then stops beating. Heart attacks are one of the most common causes of cardiac arrests. Around 68 per cent of women who experienced cardiac arrest outside of hospital received a resuscitation attempt from a bystander, compared to 73 per cent of men, the team found. Of those women who were resuscitated, around 12.5 per cent survived to be discharged from hospital, compared to 20 per cent of men. “People may be less aware that cardiac arrest can occur as often in women as in men, and the women themselves may not recognise the urgency of their symptoms,” says Tan. “Women may have symptoms of an impending heart attack that are less easy to interpret, such as fatigue, fainting, vomiting and neck or jaw pain, whereas men are more likely to report typical complaints such as chest pain,” he says. “This new insight is particularly worrying, given that we already know that women who have suffered a heart attack are less likely to receive the appropriate treatment,” says Sara Askew of the British Heart Foundation. “Now, it appears the case is the same for women who have cardiac arrests.”
5-14-19 NASA to get an extra $1.6 billion to put the first woman on the moon
NASA’s planned 2024 moon mission will be called Artemis, after a Greek goddess of the moon and twin sister of Apollo. US president Donald Trump has announced an additional $1.6 billion in funding to kickstart the mission. The budget, which is for the financial year 2020, includes $1 billion for the development of a commercial lunar lander, which NASA would purchase from a private company. Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander, unveiled on 9 May, could be one option. Most of the remaining money will go towards NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, which are intended to carry crew members to the moon-orbiting Lunar Gateway from which the lander will bring them to the surface. Officials say this will include the first woman on the moon. The Gateway itself has had its budget cut back by about $300 million, some of which will go towards exploring the south pole of the moon with robots before landing humans there. Congress still has to approve the budget request, and the approval will depend on where the money will come from — it will likely be offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, such as cutting the budget available for university grants. Even then, some experts question whether it will be enough funding to get humans to the moon in 2024. “This additional investment, I want to be clear, is a down payment on NASA’s efforts to land humans on the moon by 2024,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a press call on 13 May. “In the coming years we will need additional funds, but this is a good amount that gets us out of the gate in a very strong fashion, and sets us up for success in the future.”
5-10-19 Sexist ruling to restrain one athlete
South Africans believe the International Association of Athletics Federations wants to destroy the dominance of our greatest female athlete, said Luke Feltham. The IAAF’s new guideline that women athletes must have testosterone levels of less than 5 nanomoles per liter of blood is just its latest attempt to hobble Caster Semenya, a 28-year-old female runner who has naturally high testosterone. The IAAF already made the Olympic gold medalist submit to an intrusive gender test, and now it has invoked dubious science to bar her from competing unless she takes hormones to artificially reduce her testosterone level. The ruling applies to races from 400 meters to a mile—covering all the events the South African competes in, fueling “suspicions that we are watching a malicious missile intended for Semenya.” South African Sport Minister Tokozile Xasa was outraged, dismissing the ruling “as racist, sexist, and homophobic.” Xasa was joined by Steve Cornelius, a South African law professor who resigned from the IAAF disciplinary board over the issue, saying that the ruling was “manifestly unfair and most likely unlawful.” Semenya will fight this discriminatory measure in court, and she will have South Africa behind her. In the meantime, “while she can run, she will run. And we will watch.”
5-8-19 In defense of home birth
Women who choose to have their babies at home are often ostracized. This needs to stop. Almost a decade ago, I called my mother to tell her about the birth of my daughter — her first grandchild. Her first question was: "Where are you?" I'd recently confessed that I was planning to have my baby at home. Mom's eyebrows raised, but after reminding her that we could see the hospital from our apartment, she didn't try to dissuade me. "Just don't tell your father," she half-joked. I live in the U.K., where home birth is, at least on paper, a mainstream choice. It is offered as an option by the National Health Service and is recognized by our leading obstetric and midwifery bodies as being safe and suitable for many women. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence even says home birth is safer than hospital birth for some women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Yet, women who choose to have their babies at home are frequently ostracized for their decision. One good and timely example can be found in the reactions to the news that Meghan Markle was considering a home birth for her and Prince Harry's first child. Her decision was labeled "risky" and "dangerous" by the press, and even "laughable" by obstetricians. These stereotypes are outdated, inaccurate, unproductive, and dangerous. They need to change. There are many reasons a woman might choose a home birth. She may have had a previously traumatic birth in hospital or want to minimize her chances of an unnecessary intervention that could leave her with physical or emotional scars. She might feel more able to advocate for herself in a home setting, or be keen to get to know the midwife who will care for her. Or she may just feel safer and more relaxed in her own home. By far the most common criticism aimed at home birth is that it is not safe, or not as safe as giving birth in a hospital. But the research contradicts this claim. In a 2011 study, researchers from Oxford University examined more than 64,000 low-risk births (i.e. births in which there were no complications during the pregnancy or leading up to the delivery) and found that, for women having their second or subsequent child especially, hospital birth was not any safer for their babies than home birth. A secondary study of higher risk women showed similar outcomes for babies at home as in hospital, and a higher rate of admission to neonatal units for hospital-born babies.
5-6-19 Medical student evaluations appear riddled with racial and gender biases
Men are described as ‘scientific,’ while women are ‘fabulous’ and minorities ‘pleasant’. Men are “scientific,” women are “lovely” and underrepresented minorites are “pleasant” and “nice.” If those sound like stereotypes, they are. But they’re also words commonly used to evaluate medical students, a study finds. Analysis of nearly 88,000 evaluations of third-year medical students written from 2006 to 2015 revealed evidence of implicit bias. White women and underrepresented minority groups were more often described by words about their personalities, while men were evaluated with more words describing their competancy. The results, published online April 16 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, give “a good idea of what kind of words are being used,” says Carol Isaac, an education researcher at Mercer University in Atlanta not involved in the study. Evaluations are standard after third-year students spend six to eight weeks in a hospital or clinic clerkship, during which they typically help observe patients, stitch up incisions and deliver babies. Students’ grades for this period are partly informed by performance evaluations from the physicians they study under. Along with grades and resumes, the evaluations are “one of the main determining factors,” for where a student ends up in residency, says study coauthor Urmimala Sarkar, a physician who studies health services at the University of California, San Francisco. Choice quotes from the evaluations might also be included in “dean’s letters” sent to hospitals when students apply for medical residency — the three-plus years of postgraduate training in a chosen medical specialty. (Webmaster's comment: Many white men cannot help themselves. Their hatred of women and non-whites seems to be built in their genetics.)
5-3-19 Ignoring women candidates
Why are the Democrats’ women candidates being ignored? asked Alexis Grenell and Christina Greer. Some polls show Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Beto O’Rourke all running ahead of the five female candidates running for president, including two with sterling credentials: Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. It’s no shock that Biden and Sanders are currently on top, given their previous presidential runs and high name recognition. But “it’s galling to see previously obscure men with limited accomplishments like ‘Beto’ and ‘Mayor Pete’ leapfrog over women whose outsize accomplishments and respective résumés would put most people to shame.” Warren, a former Harvard professor and influential U.S. senator, every week releases detailed, thoughtful policy proposals to help middle-class Americans. Buttigieg, who won re-election in tiny South Bend, Ind., with roughly 8,500 votes, dismisses policy details as “minutia.” Harris, a former California attorney general and the second black woman to serve as a U.S. senator, has received far less attention than O’Rourke, a wealthy heir who “won fame for losing a Senate race.” When women have more qualifications than men, they are inevitably dismissed as “less likable.” That’s pure misogyny.
5-3-19 Garth Brooks on country's gender bias: 'We don't have enough female voices'
Country singer Garth Brooks has called for more gender diversity in the genre, telling the BBC: "We do not have the female voice in it enough." He said his wife, country singer Trisha Yearwood, "works a thousand times harder than me to get a tenth as much as I do out of this business. "She doesn't complain. She just rolls up her sleeves and goes to work." Female country singers have seen a decline in airplay over the past two decades, studies show. The genre's most popular male artist, Kenny Chesney, was played on radio more than 6 million times between 2000 and 2018, according to data published last month by musicologist Jada Watson at the University of Ottawa. The top female, Carrie Underwood, was played only half as much. Taylor Swift, who abandoned country music in 2013, came third in the study, with 1.8 million plays. "The fact that somebody who hasn't released a country single since 2013 is still number three, is a sign of what has happened in the last five years," said Ms Watson. A further study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, part of University of Southern California, looked at the number of female artists and songwriters on the country music charts. They found only one-fifth of the top 500 country songs from 2014-2018 were by female artists. In the most recent top 50 country music chart compiled by Billboard, only eight female artists currently appear. Country singer Kacey Musgraves, whose latest album Golden Hour, has been named record of the year at the Grammys, ACM and CMA awards, has only received limited airplay on country radio stations. "It seems a group of 10 guys who all sound the same have no issue getting on the radio," she told HuffPost last year, "but women who vary vastly from each other have a very hard time breaking through even in the smallest way on the country radio chart".
5-1-19 Caster Semenya: Olympic 800m champion loses appeal against IAAF testosterone rules
Caster Semenya has lost a landmark case against athletics' governing body meaning it will be allowed to restrict testosterone levels in female runners. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) rejected the South African's challenge against the IAAF's new rules. But Cas said it had "serious concerns as to the future practical application" of the regulations. Olympic 800m champion Semenya, 28, said in response to the ruling that the IAAF "have always targeted me specifically". Now she - and other athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) - must either take medication in order to compete in track events from 400m to the mile, or change to another distance. "For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of Cas will not hold me back," said Semenya in a statement. "I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world." Previously, she had said that she wanted to "run naturally, the way I was born". Cas found that the rules for athletes with DSD were discriminatory - but that the discrimination was "necessary, reasonable and proportionate" to protect "the integrity of female athletics". Cas has asked the IAAF to consider delaying the application of the rules to the 1500m and one mile events until more evidence is available. Semenya is still eligible to compete at the Diamond League meet in Doha on Friday and can make an appeal against the Cas ruling to the Swiss Tribunal Courts within the next 30 days.
5-1-19 What Caster Semenya IAAF discrimination case means for women and sport
South African athlete Caster Semenya has lost her discrimination case against the International Association of Athletics Federation, which has found that forcing athletes with high levels testosterone to lower them is "discriminatory but necessary". The 28-year-old Olympian had challenged the IAAF over its decision to restrict testosterone levels in female runners for distances between 400m and a mile. Semenya, who has won the last 29 of her 800m races, was born with intersex traits - meaning her body produces atypically high levels of testosterone. The ruling means she will have to take testosterone suppressants if she wishes to compete in these shorter events. Three sports judges in Switzerland have taken more than two months to reach this verdict - indicating the sensitivity and complexity of the case. Depending on your point of view, the situation seemed clear-cut - whichever way you want to look at it. Supporters of Semenya argue that the runner has been penalised for no other reason than the biological traits that she was born with. She has not cheated, or found to be taking performance-enhancing drugs. Kyle Knight, a researcher in the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch said that taking the proposed IAAF testosterone suppressants would be as "humiliating as it is medically unnecessary" for female athletes whose hormone levels are outside accepted boundaries. And in 2019, the spectrum of identity stretches beyond the binary, say human rights activists. So shouldn't Semenya's physical abilities be celebrated the same way as Usain Bolt's height and Michael Phelps's wingspan are? The IAAF say that the issue is not personal to Semenya. But the fact that the ruling is over women competing at the distances she runs - and not across all track and field - has led to the suggestion she is being targeted. But the IAAF insist they are determining boundaries to protect the integrity of sport - particularly women's sport. IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe told Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper: "The reason we have gender classification is because if you didn't then no woman would ever win another title, or another medal, or break another record in our sport."
4-26-19 The space pioneer who was grounded by sexism
In 1961, Jerrie Cobb seemed poised to become the first woman in space. A talented pilot who held world records for speed, altitude, and distance, she was the first woman to complete NASA’s arduous astronaut testing, scoring in the top 2 percent of candidates—male and female. Twelve other women made it through the tests before NASA abruptly shuttered the program. She and her female colleagues protested the decision in front of a congressional panel. Women pilots didn’t want to fight “a battle of the sexes,” she told lawmakers. “We seek, only, a place in our nation’s space future without discrimination.” Testifying the next day, astronaut John Glenn disagreed. “The fact that women are not in this field,” he said, “is a fact of our social order.” Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova flew into space the following year; it would be another two decades before an American woman, Sally Ride, made the journey. Born in Norman, Okla., Geraldyn Cobb was the daughter of a military pilot, said The New York Times. She learned to fly in her father’s open-cockpit biplane and earned her pilot’s license at age 16, but struggled to find work as a female aviator. One airline rejected her after discovering “that Jerrie Cobb was not a man.” Cobb was eventually hired by an aircraft ferry service and had logged 7,000 hours in the cockpit by age 28. That’s when she was approached by NASA scientist Randy Lovelace, said the Houston Chronicle. He believed that women would make superb astronauts because they were lighter and shorter, needing fewer resources, and “could handle pain, heat, cold, and loneliness better than men.” Women were not allowed to be military test pilots, and so the testing took place in secret. “Instead of making her an astronaut, NASA tapped her as a consultant to talk up the space program,” said the Associated Press. She was dismissed late in 1962, one week after commenting, “I’m the most unconsulted consultant in any government agency.” Cobb spent the next few decades as a humanitarian aid pilot, carrying food and medical supplies to remote corners of the Amazon. When NASA sent a 77-year-old Glenn into space again in 1998, Cobb asked for a second chance as well. She was rebuffed. “I would give my life to fly in space,” she said. “I would then, and I will now.”
4-26-19 Nike raises eyebrows with model's unshaven armpit
One of Nike's social media posts has attracted attention not for the sportswear on display - but for the model's body hair. The latest picture on its Nike Women Instagram page shows model and singer Annahstasia Enuke posing with her arm behind her head, revealing a small amount of underarm hair. Nike captioned the post 'Big Mood', but the comments reveal that some people were left in a bad mood after seeing the post. ''That's disgusting. Like please don't get me wrong I'm delighted that this woman is brave enough to go around like that..... but that's horrible. It's not cute,'' read one Instagram comment. Another posted: ''Why? Need to shave that armpit..eeew.'' ''Women who are empowering armpit hair, good luck finding a man accepting you with it,'' posted another Instagram user. The comments provoked a furious counter response. 'It's about time we stop pretending women are born hairless and smooth and remain that way.'' ''Why is it acceptable for men to have body hair but not women? Stay strong girls! Love yourself just the way you are,'' commented another Instagram user. (Webmaster's comment: Body hair is natural for both men and women. Women with body hair are more naturally sexy! But just like men's breads, body hair is a women's choice.)
4-19-19 ‘Invisible Women’ spotlights a gaping and dangerous gender data gap
A new book explains how the failure to study women harms their health. The recent cancellation of the first all-female spacewalk occurred after the publication of Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women. But the news — the lack of enough space suits for the women, suits which weren’t designed for the shape of women’s bodies in the first place — would fit right in to Criado Perez’s scathing takedown of a world that ignores the needs of half the population by not using or even gathering data on women. This gaping gender data gap, Criado Perez convincingly argues, is costing women their health and their lives. From city infrastructure to car safety to health, journalist Criado Perez details what’s at stake when (largely male) planners, politicians and researchers turn a blind eye to women’s needs. For example, many cities have been designed to accommodate cars, a choice that favors men over women, who are more likely to walk or take public transportation. Criado Perez argues that this bias toward cars may lead to more injuries for women when it snows and sidewalks aren’t prioritized for clearing. A study of pedestrian injuries in Sweden found that 79 percent took place in winter, and 69 percent of people injured in single-person incidents, such as a fall, were women, Criado Perez writes. When women do drive, they do so in vehicles with safety features designed to protect men. Women tend to be shorter than men, and this means they need to sit farther forward in a car to reach the pedals. Yet this is not considered the standard seating position, making women who shift forward “out of position” drivers, Criado Perez notes. This necessity, unaccounted for in a car’s design, puts women at greater risk of injury in frontal crashes. And the risk extends to collisions from behind, as today’s seats are too firm to protect women from whiplash, throwing them forward faster than men. The result? Although men are more likely than women to be in a car crash, a woman in a collision “is 47% more likely to be seriously injured than a man … [and] 17% more likely to die,” Criado Perez says.
4-19-19 The Afghan women determined not to lose out in Taliban talks
When 18-year-old Ogai Wardak came face to face with Taliban fighters, her fear quickly gave way to cautious hope. "Their faces were scary, but their hearts were kind," she tells me when we meet in the Kabul studios of Zan TV, the only Afghan television channel just for women. "The Taliban of this time are not like the past, not like the scary stories I heard," explains the ebullient young woman bursting with personality. She was born in 2001, the same year the Taliban were toppled from power. Wardak met some of their fighters during last year's rare three-day ceasefire, when they slipped into Kabul to gaze at city streets, even taking selfies and savouring ice cream. But if the Taliban return to power, would they allow her to keep presenting on Zan TV? "No!" she exclaims, without skipping a beat. "But I have to fight them because it's my dream, and I have to work for my sisters." As Afghans engage in a new round of talks with the Taliban, this time in the Gulf state of Qatar, this historic step is concentrating women's minds on how much they stand to win - or lose. Politician Fawzia Koofi is one of the only women who attended the first round of negotiations in Moscow in February. "It was not an easy moment," she admits when we sit down in Kabul. "When I entered the room, everything they did in Afghanistan during their time crossed my mind," she recalls. Hers is an everywoman story about being stopped from attending school and being pelted with stones as she walked down the streets. "We listened to each other, and we didn't agree on very much, but in that moment I realised we can't go back," she tells me. The past in Afghanistan is a different country. Its deeply conservative society has undeniably changed since the Taliban's harsh rule. It's a story which inspires but also, still horrifies. The country still often called "the worst place to be a woman" has a female literacy rate of only 17%. And yet, women held about a quarter of the seats in the last Afghan parliament.
4-18-19 Major gap between men and women
The average physician’s salary has hit a new all-time high of $313,000 a year. There’s a major gap between men and women; male primary-care physicians make $51,000 a year more than women, and male specialists—who average $372,000 in pay—earn $92,000 more than female peers.
4-17-19 Sadaf Khadem: Iranian female boxer halts return over arrest fears
An Iranian who became the first woman from her country to contest an official boxing match says she has cancelled her return home from France after hearing a warrant had been issued for her arrest. Sadaf Khadem beat the French boxer Anne Chauvin in an amateur bout on Saturday. She had planned to fly to Tehran with her French-Iranian trainer this week. Khadem was quoted by a sports newspaper as saying she believed she was accused of violating Iran's compulsory dress code by boxing in a vest and shorts. Iranian officials have not commented, but the head of Iran's boxing federation denied that Khadem would be arrested if she came home. "Ms Khadem is not a member of [Iran's] organised athletes for boxing, and from the boxing federation's perspective all her activities are personal," Hossein Soori was quoted as saying by an Iranian news agency. Khadem fought in a green vest and red shorts with a white waistband - the colours of Iran's national flag - in Saturday's bout in the western French town of Royan. The 24-year-old had to fight abroad as, despite having the blessing of Iranian sporting authorities, it proved too complicated to fulfil their requirement that the bout be refereed and judged by women. Khadem had been expecting a hero's welcome when she returned to Iran. But while she travelled to Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport with her trainer Mahyar Monshipour - an Iranian-born former World Boxing Association champion who also serves as an adviser to the French sports minister - she said they were told that warrants had been issued for their arrest. "I was fighting in a legally approved match, in France. But as I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, which is completely normal in the eyes of the entire world, I confounded the rules of my country," she told the L'Equipe newspaper. "I wasn't wearing a hijab, I was coached by a man - some people take a dim view of this." Under Iranian law, women and girls as young as nine years old who are seen in public without a headscarf can be punished with a prison sentence of between 10 days and two months, or a cash fine. Iranian sportswomen are required to cover their hair, neck, arms and legs when competing.
4-6-19 The 'womanspreading' placard that caused fury in Pakistan
When Rumisa Lakhani and Rashida Shabbir Hussain created a placard for an International Women's Day march in Pakistan, they had no idea just how much it would place them at the centre of a fierce national debate.. The day before the event the two 22-year-old students attended a poster-making session at their university in Karachi. They wanted to come up with something that would attract attention and started brainstorming ideas. A friend happened to be sitting with her legs spread wide, and this inspired the poster that Rumisa and Rashida made. For Rumisa the way women should sit is a constant issue. "We have to be elegant; we have to worry about not showing the shape of our bodies. The men, they manspread and no-one bats an eye," she says. Rumisa's design depicted an unashamed womanspreader nonchalantly lounging in sunglasses. Her best friend Rashida then provided the slogan. Rashida wanted to draw attention to the fact that women "are told how to sit, how to walk, how to talk". So they decided on the caption: "Here, I'm sitting correctly." Rumisa and Rashida met in their first year at Habib University. Rumisa studies communication design, while Rashida is a social development and policy student. "We are best friends, we laugh together, tell each other everything," Rashida says. They share a passion for women's rights, based on their personal experiences of sexism. For Rumisa, dealing with the family pressure to get married has been a "daily struggle". She sees the fact that she isn't married today as "a personal victory". Rashida says she faces constant harassment on the streets. She also finds the expectation that she should marry and become a housewife uncomfortable. So the two friends were keen to participate in one of several "Aurat" marches - named after the Urdu word for women - staged in cities across Pakistan last month. "It was an amazing feeling, having so many women screaming for their rights," Rumisa says. "It was our space at that moment and I think all who attended could feel that empowered vibe from it."
4-4-19 Sweden female gambling addicts outnumber men for first time
For the first time, the majority of Swedes with a gambling addiction are women, the health authority's latest survey figures suggest. The report found there was no longer a gender gap among problem gamblers, of whom half were women. And among the 45,000 people with a problem severe enough to be considered a gambling addiction, 64% were women. That is up from just 18% in 2015 - with the surge widely being attributed to the increase in online gambling. The survey of 5,000 people found that overall numbers of problem gamblers had dropped since the last analysis published in 2015. But at the same time, there was a 50% increase in problem gamblers - the category in which the gender gap vanished. The number of women with a gambling problem had been increasing over the past 10 years, the public health agency said. Ulla Romild, the investigator behind the report, said that despite the drop in overall numbers, it was "worrying" that serious problems were increasing "and that we see an increase among women". She said that from a public health perspective, the high proportion of female gambling addicts - those with the most severe problem - was not the most important result. "Our focus is broader than only people being dependent on gambling," she said. "We are more interested in a larger group experiencing harm... a combination of people with moderate risk and gambling problems." That group contains more than 100,000 people - just under 1.5% of Sweden's population. Another 225,000 - just under 3% of the population - have some risk of becoming problem gamblers. One area the report highlights is the increasing amount of gambling done online, and the "new game forms" on the internet which are changing gaming patterns.
4-3-19 Disney accused of valuing 'male workers more'
Walt Disney Co. is being sued over claims it underpays female employees. Andrus Anderson LLP claims corporate policies, such as basing new employees' wages on previous salaries, have a discriminatory effect on women. The legal action, brought on behalf of two women, claims the company does not have an internal mechanism to ensure women are not paid less than male counterparts for the same work. Disney denies the allegations calling them "without merit". According to the complaint, reported in Variety, financial analyst LaRonda Rasmussen raised a concern regarding her pay with Disney's human resources after discovering six men who shared the same job title were being paid more than her. It's claimed the pay disparities ranged from $16,000 per year (£12,147) to $40,000 (£30,368). She was given a $25,000 (£19,000) raise but alleges she still makes significantly less than her average male counterpart. "Like other companies that operate without transparency, consistency, and accountability," the legal papers - filed on behalf of Rasmussen and another woman, Karen Moore, claim, "Disney's leadership tends to value male workers more than female workers. "Taken together, Disney's compensation policies, procedures and practices are not valid, job-related, or justified by business necessity." A spokesperson for Disney - which has offices, studios and parks around the world - responded: "The lawsuit is without merit and we will defend against it vigorously," Andrus Anderson LLP are similarly suing several other companies including Intel, Steptoe & Johnson and Farmers Insurance. Last year, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar creative officer John Lasseter was forced to step down in the wake of sexual assault allegations made by former employees.
4-2-19 Equal pay day: How do we close the gender pay gap?
Equal Pay Day in the US is on 2 April. The date symbolises how far into the new year an American woman must work to earn the same as a man made in the previous year. While the US has banned unequal pay for equal work since 1963, on average women continue to earn about 80% of the amount paid to men. Asian women fare slightly better, but for black and Hispanic women the gap in earnings is even wider, according to government data. Advocates for equal pay call for systemic legislative changes to address the disparity, and highlight issues such parental leave and childcare costs as areas in need of reform. But what are some of the other solutions put forward? In some US states, employers are barred from asking job applicants how much they previously earned. California, Massachusetts, New York City and Puerto Rico are among the jurisdictions which already ban employers asking about previous salaries, and similar measures are under consideration in more than 20 other states. These laws in part aim to break the cycle of pay disparity by removing the link between historic inequalities and pay negotiations. In 2017, when the law was announced in New York, the chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P Malalis, said it was designed to "break the cycle of income inequality" and put an end to women and people of colour being "held back by their current or previous salary". For many people, talking about money can be awkward. In fact a recent study found that one in five Americans do not tell anyone how much they earn, including their partners. However, some people argue that the secrecy around pay helps to perpetuate inequality. Angela Cornell, the director of the Labor Law Clinic at Cornell Law School told the New York Times that salary secrecy "can make it difficult for employees in the private sector to learn that there are unlawful disparities" in pay. Ms Cornell added that through speaking to a male colleague about how much they earn, she discovered he was paid $50,000 (£38,000) more than her.
3-29-19 Seven ways the world is not designed for women
When a last-minute spacesuit switch saw the cancellation of Nasa's all-female space walk, it sparked bigger conversations about how women navigate a world appeared to be designed for men. Caroline Criado Perez, a journalist and the author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, told the BBC she was totally unsurprised by the spacesuit debacle. "This is just what happens over and over when it comes to what we design," she says. "We are so used to thinking of men as the default and women as the sort of niche - a variety of man." Ms Criado Perez began researching gender bias after discovering that medical data around heart attacks was based on male symptoms, causing clinicians to miss heart attack cases in women since those symptoms were considered atypical. "It's the same thinking that leads Nasa to put two larges as the average, when it's the average for men, actually." From police stab vests that don't account for breasts, to safety goggles too large for women's faces, to boots that don't fit women's feet, Ms Criado Perez says the list is endless. "The average woman is an outlier." Here is a look at seven of those ways the way the world is not designed for women: Spacesuits, Military equipment, Car crash dummies, Smartphones, Sports attire, Science gear and Office space.
3-28-19 Mum's plea for girls to ditch leggings sparks protests
A letter written by a mother concerned by the number of women wearing leggings on a university campus in Indiana has sparked backlash and protests. "I'm just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings," Maryann White wrote in a letter published in the student newspaper. Ms White explained that the sight of leggings "obtruded painfully" on her during a visit with her four sons, and made it "difficult for young guys to ignore" women's bodies. "Think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead," she suggested to the female students of the University of Notre Dame. The letter sparked an immediate backlash from students, who argued that their choice of clothing should not be policed and women should be free to wear what they want. A student group, "Irish 4 Reproductive Health", organised "Leggings Pride Day". It encouraged people of all genders to wear their leggings proudly on campus. The event was designed to protest against the "age-old sexist trope" that women are responsible for the actions of men, who are characterised as incapable of controlling themselves. A number of students shared photographs of themselves wearing leggings to social media as part of the protest. For some students wearing their leggings around campus was nothing new, however the row encouraged others to don spandex in public for the first time. Women wearing leggings and yoga pants away from the gym has become more common in recent years, and the garments have been the focus of a number of controversies. While some online have questioned if the letter was the work of a troll, intent on stirring up controversy, the Washington Post pointed out that it is not the first time a letter to the student paper has questioned the way female students dress. In a letter titled "Ladies, be decent", a then student railed against the "inappropriate" outfits women wore on campus. Nicole Waddick, a senior at the university, said she chose to take part in the protest because "what I wear is not an invitation to sexualise my body". Kate Bermingham, a PhD candidate at the university shared a photograph of herself wearing leggings along with a reminder that women of colour are more likely to be chastised for violating perceived dress codes. Indeed, a report from the National Women's Law Center found that black girls were reprimanded more harshly than white girls for school dress code infringements. A number of people on social media pointed out that it was "inspiring" to see so many male students supporting the protest. One male student wrote a follow-up letter to the paper urging his female classmates to "wear what you want". "How you dress for Mass is not a reflection of your character, nor does it disqualify you from dignified and respectful treatment from the rest of us," he wrote. (Webmaster's comment:) Immature little boys that can't control their urges should be given a closed room where they can J__K O_F until they grow up!)
3-27-19 Gender pay gap widens for UK scientists and engineers
On average, female scientists and engineers earn less than their male counterparts, and the difference is getting bigger, according to the 2019 New Scientist/SRG salary survey. The gender pay gap for UK scientists has widened. The average female scientist or engineer now earns £35,600, while the average for men is £45,800 – a 22 per cent difference. That’s according to the 2019 edition of the annual salary survey carried out by New Scientist and science recruitment specialists SRG. The gender difference is greater than last year, by £2000. Our survey asked 2750 scientists, engineers, academics and people working in clinical trials across the UK about their salaries, experience and location. We surveyed roughly equal numbers of women and men. The results reveal that the stark difference in pay between men and women applies across their entire careers. The gender pay gap is the difference between the average wage of all men and of all women. (By contrast, unequal pay occurs when women are paid less than men for the same work, which is discriminatory and illegal.) The gender gap can reflect a number of factors, including organisations employing more woman at lower levels of the hierarchy, or cultural or systemic biases against women that prevent them progressing in the same way as men. Another factor is that many women interrupt their careers to have children and may return to work part-time instead of full-time. According to our survey, women working in UK science are twice as likely as men to work part time. There’s a growing cultural awareness of the pay gap issue. Since 2017, for example, UK employers with more than 250 employees have been obliged by law to report pay differences between male and female employees. “The new legislation seems to have made little difference so far within science,” says Richard Acton, a director at SRG. “While it has raised awareness around the gender pay gap, specific positive-discrimination campaigns to increase diversity and pay balance are rarely seen in the UK.”
3-25-19 Saudi Arabia sisters given humanitarian visa and leave Hong Kong
Two young sisters from Saudi Arabia who spent six months hiding in Hong Kong after fleeing their family have left for a third country after being given humanitarian visas, their lawyer says. Rawan and Reem (not their real names) said they did not want to return home because they feared punishment. The women said they were stopped by Saudi officials at Hong Kong's airport en route for Australia in September. No details about where they are and how they left have been released. "We are thrilled that our story has a happy ending and that we have found our way to safety to re-start our lives free of violence and oppression," the sisters said in a statement released by their lawyer. "We wish for our story to offer hope to others who face similar situations. We want to say loud and clear to the Saudi authorities and other regimes which treat women unequally: never underestimate the strength of brave women." They left Hong Kong late last week and were "safe and well," the statement added. The Saudi authorities have not commented on the case. Rawan, 18, and Reem, 20, arrived at Hong Kong's airport in September in a two-hour stop as they travelled to the Australian city of Melbourne. They had fled their family while on a holiday in Sri Lanka. But they were stopped from continuing on by Saudi officials who attempted to seize their travel documents, the sisters said. They then resisted boarding a flight to Dubai, only to find the flights to Melbourne they had booked had been cancelled. The women fled the airport and spent the following six months in Hong Kong hiding in 13 different places, including hotels, hostels and shelters, they told the BBC in an interview last month after launching an appeal for help. In November, they were informed that their Saudi passports had been invalidated - under Saudi law, women have to get a male relative's approval to apply for a passport or travel outside the country. (Webmaster's comment: With regards to women Saudis are Mideast Male Brutes!)
3-22-19 Choosing unfit men over fit women
Austria’s civil service isn’t getting enough young recruits, said Claudia Aigner. At age 18, all Austrian men must choose between six months of military service or nine months of civilian service. Of those who meet physical fitness standards, more than half choose the shorter stint in the military. But a whopping 24 percent of all young men aren’t deemed fit to serve at all, because they are either obese, unhealthy, disabled, or mentally ill. The result is that while the army is doing fine, the civilian service has become severely understaffed. So some politicians have come up with a ridiculous proposal to shunt those men deemed unfit to serve in the Austrian military straight into the civilian corps for their national tour of duty. “Seriously?” Do we really want to let “obese psychos” work as ambulance drivers, home health aides for the sick and elderly, or with children? I have a radical idea that would get some warm bodies in these unfilled posts: Why not open up compulsory service to—gasp—women? Since “women are known to be the caring sex,” most of them would probably choose a civilian job over a stint in the military, and the problem would be solved in a jiffy. Yet in sexist Austria, this logical solution hasn’t even been proposed.
3-20-19 One in four scientists have experienced harassment or discrimination
A survey of nearly 3700 scientists across Europe and North America suggests that harassment, bullying and discrimination are widespread. A QUARTER of people working in science have experienced sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination over issues ranging from disabilities to diet. The 2019 New Scientist/SRG Salary Survey polled nearly 3700 people across Europe and North America who worked in academia, industry and government agencies. The data revealed a gap of about £10,000 between the average salaries of male and female respondents in the UK. Of the countries surveyed, discrimination and harassment seems highest in the US and Canada. Twenty nine per cent of respondents in North America said they had experienced this at work, compared with 19 per cent of people in the UK and 25 per cent in the rest of Europe. Across all regions, respondents were most likely to say they had experienced discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender, followed by age and race. Men and women both reported encountering such behaviour: in the UK, 23 per cent of women said they had experienced discrimination and harassment, compared with 15 per cent of men. Hollywood’s “Me Too” movement against sexual harassment has spread to many other areas of society. Twitter users have used the #MeTooSTEM banner to allege that some high-profile researchers have harassed and bullied with impunity. Several survey respondents told New Scientist that they believe the career structures within academia make this kind of behaviour more likely to go unchecked. One of the biggest problems may be that senior university researchers bring in large grants from research funders to their institutions. The power is often with the money,” comments Laura Norton at the Royal Society of Chemistry. This can be compounded by hierarchical power structures. “Group leaders are often seen as eminent leaders in their field,” says Norton. “To speak up against those people requires strength.”
3-19-19 Cheer the first women-only spacewalk, but equality is still far away
The first women-only spacewalk is a cause for celebration, but we are still a long way from achieving equality in our space programmes. OVER the past 20 years, 128 astronauts have spacewalked for a total of 1300 hours to assemble and maintain the International Space Station (ISS). Until now, just nine of those people have been women. Next week, when Anne McClain and Christina Koch step into the void, that number will rise to 11. Another milestone will be reached too: this will be the first of the 213 ISS spacewalks to be entirely composed of women. On the one hand, I am excited. On the other, I am trying not to wince. It is hard to be unreservedly enthusiastic when astronauts named Alex, Sergey, Stephen or Yuri spacewalk outside the station twice as often as women. Looking at the historical context doesn’t make this more cheery. Of more than 500 people who have reached space, just 64 have been women. Of 222 (soon to be 224) astronauts who have spacewalked, McClain and Koch are just the 13th and 14th women. Even the composition of this historic spacewalk is random chance, the outcome of Koch joining a rescheduled mission after a launch was aborted in October. Women are less likely to go into space at all, and if they do, they are half as likely to spacewalk. (Webmaster's comment: The first women to walk in space was a Russian in 1984. The first women in space was a Russian in 1963.)
3-19-19 Fund to boost female and black physicist numbers
The Institute of Physics is launching a bursary scheme to help female and black students to become physics researchers. The scheme is funded by one of the world's leading astronomers, Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. The discoverer of pulsars donated the £2.3m she won as part of an international science award. The initial aim is to increase the number of female physics researchers in the UK from the current level of 22% to more than 30% in the next 10 years. The Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund will also support students from low socio-economic backgrounds and those who qualify for refugee status. Prof Bell Burnell was awarded a Breakthrough Prize last September for her discovery in 1967 of radio pulsars - rapidly rotating star remnants. Instead, her male collaborators received the award. In an effort to remedy some of the injustices women as well as black and refugee students face in entering a career in physics, Prof Bell Burnell donated her entire prize money to the Institute of Physics (IoP). In an interview with Physics World, Prof Bell Burnell said she hoped that the scheme would bring more diversity into physics departments. "I have been concerned about the shortage of women in physics for a very long time. I'm one of the founders of the Athena SWAN scheme (to support diversity in universities). "I never thought I'd have this kind of money, so it would be nice to enable those who want to - refugees and people from minority and other under-represented groups - to stay on and do PhDs."
3-18-19 Boys and girls may have differing attitudes to risk thanks to society
Men are more likely to engage in riskier behaviours than women, or so the stereotype goes. However, according to a study with children, these differences are far from written in stone, but are shaped by society. To find out how gender may affect risk-taking behaviours, Elaine Liu at the University of Houston in Texas and Sharon Xuejing Zuo at Fudan University in Shanghai studied a small town in south-west China, where children from two ethnic groups — Mosuo and Han — attend school together. These two groups have different traditional gender norms, with women typically heading Mosuo families, whereas men typically take this role in Han families. Liu and Zuo asked 352 children in the town to play a lottery game. The 7 to 12-year-olds had to select one of six lottery tickets, labelled 1 to 6, with the higher the number, the riskier the choice but the bigger the possible reward. For example, ticket 1 was guaranteed to win a small prize, while ticket 6 had a 50 per cent chance of scooping a larger prize. Among the youngest children, Mosuo girls tended to favour riskier choices, compared with Mosuo boys. However, this pattern reversed in older children. For Han boys and girls, boys tended to favour riskier ticket choices than girls, and this didn’t change with age. The results show that Mosuo children are influenced by their Han peers rather than biological factors, says Liu.
3-9-19 How women are challenging Hungary's sexist politics
Anna Donáth spent her first night in police custody in December. Her phone and bag were missing, and she worried no one knew where she was. Donáth was arrested as she lead protestors through the streets of Budapest, who had gathered in opposition to a new overtime bill passed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his far-right government. "'Let's free Anna, let's free Anna,' they were shouting," Donáth, 31, says. "There were a couple of hundred people there." After hours sitting in a police cell, she realized she had nothing to fear. "It was phenomenal to suddenly know there was this community behind me," she says. The overtime bill, dubbed the "slave law" by critics, brought thousands out onto the streets. Budapest has seen its share of mass demonstrations but opposition parties rarely unite in protest. So when eight female politicians from all the opposition parties took to the stage, united against a government ruling, people took notice. In Hungary this was unprecedented. Their hope is that together they can build a credible opposition to Orbán and his powerful Fidesz party. But the number of women in Hungary's parliament is small and Orbán's popularity seems unchanged after almost nine years in power. The rallies began in furious opposition to a change in Hungary's overtime laws, which said that workers could be forced to work 400 hours of overtime — while giving employers up to three years to compensate employees. Legislators said the bill was a response to a labor crisis. But as the protests grew, the message changed from anti-labor laws to broadly anti-regime.
3-8-19 US women's national team take legal action over discrimination
All 28 members of the United States women's national team squad have begun legal action against the US Soccer Federation (USSF), just months before defending the Women's World Cup title. The discrimination lawsuit relates to equal pay and working conditions. Players - including Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe - are urging the governing body to "promote gender equality". It follows a discrimination complaint made by five American players in 2016. The US have won the Women's World Cup three times - at the inaugural 1991 tournament in China, the 1999 event hosted by the US and then in Canada four years ago. The men's team made the quarter-finals in 2002, while their best finish remains the third place in 1930. The lawsuit, filed with the US District Court in Los Angeles, stated: "Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts. "This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players, with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions." (Webmaster's comment: So much for the superiority of the American male.)
3-8-19 Respect for U.S. Women Hit New Low Before Midterms
In the wake of the #MeToo movement and amid what many have dubbed, "the Year of the Woman," U.S. women were feeling less treated with respect and dignity in 2018 than at any point since 2011. A few months before a record number of women were elected to Congress last year, a record-low 48% of U.S. women believed women in the country are treated with respect and dignity. While women have typically been less likely than men to have the same opinion on how women are treated since Gallup started asking this question, the divide between men and women stretched to 22 percentage points in 2018. Although a banner year in Congress, it was also a tough year for U.S. women on a number of fronts. This poll was conducted Aug. 13-Sept. 30, 2018 -- before and during the first public hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual misconduct. Men's views of how women in the U.S. are treated, on the other hand, haven't changed much. The seven in 10 U.S. men who said in 2018 that women are treated with respect and dignity is slightly down from peaks in 2011 and 2012, but attitudes have been mostly stable for the past several years.
- Record-low 48% of U.S. women say women treated with respect, dignity
- Gap between men and women widens to 22 points
- Majority of women see men treated better than women
3-8-19 More Seats for Women in the House, Not Enough at the Table
Record-high numbers of women ran for office at all levels of government in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. Women were particularly successful in the congressional elections, with the total number of women in the House of Representatives rising to 102, and to 25 in the Senate -- both all-time highs. Despite these successes, Gallup polling after the midterms found significant room for improvement, particularly in women's perceptions of their own status in society. A record-low 46% of women in the U.S. reported feeling satisfied with "the way women are treated in society," while 52% reported feeling dissatisfied. This marked a 15-percentage-point drop in satisfaction from 2016, before President Donald Trump's election. A second poll in early 2019 asking about "the position of women in the nation" found somewhat more positive results -- although only slightly more than half of women (57%) said they were satisfied with women's position, while a sizable 41% said they were dissatisfied. Increased concerns about how women are treated in the climate of the Trump administration, the #MeToo movement and other factors likely contributed to the "pink wave" that swept a number of long-term male incumbents out of office. This includes the victories of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.
3-8-19 International Women's Day: Trail-blazing women of Kew
London in 1896, and a curious turn of history. Women gardeners were employed for the first time at Kew, and on equal pay, decades before women gained the vote. Made to wear the same garb as male gardeners so as not to distract their colleagues, their brown woollen bloomers soon made the news. As the satirical magazine, Punch, put it, "They gardened in bloomers the newspapers said. So to Kew without waiting all Londoners sped." After a blaze of publicity, the powers that be changed their minds and skirts were reinstated. Now, more than a century on, Kiri Ross-Jones, archivist and records manager at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, reflects on the trail blazers of Kew. She says it's incredible that at this point in time, women were in horticultural employment. "They worked long days, there was a lot of physical work involved in it - and also the studying side of it as well - these women were studying in organic chemistry and physics as well as botany and horticulture. "And I think it's just amazing that at this point in time these women were doing that here at Kew." Annie Gulvin, Alice Hutchings, Gertrude Cope and Eleanor Morland, who trained together at Swanley Horticultural College, became the first female gardeners at Kew. Their days were long, digging in the dirt from 6am to 6pm in the summer months. They were expected to spend their evenings attending lectures or studying in the library. "As far as we can tell, the women were employed on exactly the same terms as the men - and they appear to have been paid the same salary - it was quite a low salary for that day - but it was, as far as we can tell, exactly the same as the male gardeners," says Kiri Ross-Jones. (Webmaster's comment: At this time in America we were still beating our wives into submission.)
3-7-19 Cern cuts ties with 'sexist' scientist Alessandro Strumia
The European particle physics research centre Cern has cut ties with the scientist who said that women were less able at physics than men. Cern has decided not to extend Professor Alessandro Strumia’s status of guest professor. The decision follows an investigation into comments, first reported by BBC News, made by Prof Strumia at a Cern workshop on gender equality. Prof Strumia told BBC News that he stood by his remarks. "Some people hated hearing about higher male variance: this idea comes from Darwin, like other offensive ideas that got observational support," he told BBC News. "Science is not about being offended when facts challenge ideas held as sacred". He added that he believed that he had not been fairly treated. "For months, Cern kept 'investigating' if my 30-minute talk might have violated Cern rules [requiring an] 'obligation to exercise reserve and tact in expressing personal opinions and communication to the public'," Prof Strumia said. "In such a case, they would have opened some procedure, where I would have been able [to defend] myself. This never happened." Last September, Professor Strumia stated that “physics was invented and built by men, it's not by invitation" at a presentation at the Cern the workshop. He also showed cartoons deriding women campaigning for equality in science and presented the results of an analysis that he claimed showed that work conducted by female physicists was not as good as their male counterparts. His analysis was quickly dismissed as being unscientific and incorrect by experts in the impact of research.
3-6-19 UN rights chief Bachelet warns of threat from 'gross inequality'
The UN human rights chief has warned of the threat posed by growing global inequality over income, wealth and access to resources and justice. "In recent months we have seen people across the world take to the streets to protest," said Michelle Bachelet. Addressing the UN Human Rights Council, Ms Bachelet referred specifically to a recent wave of protests in Sudan, as well as protests in Haiti and France. She also warned of the "existential threat" of hate speech and xenophobia. Ms Bachelet expressed concern that the demands of citizens protesting against inequality were being met by "violent and excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, torture and even alleged summary or extrajudicial killings". "In Sudan, for the past several months, people protesting harsh economic conditions and bad governance have been violently dispersed by security forces, sometimes using live ammunition," she said. Ms Bachelet singled out Venezuela as an example of how "violations of civil and political rights" can accentuate inequality and worsening economic conditions. She also criticised Israel over its blockade of Gaza, and said she regretted Israel's "immediate dismissal" of a report by a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry, "without addressing any of the very serious issues raised". UN experts said last week that Israeli security forces might have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity while responding to weekly mass Palestinian protests along the Gaza-Israel border last year. The experts investigated the deaths of 189 Palestinians and said they found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers had shot at children, medics and journalists, even though they had been clearly recognisable as such.
3-3-19 The journey towards gender equality in Saudi Arabia
Last year, the ban on women driving was lifted. But there's still a long way to go. ast summer, when Sharia Walker got behind the wheel for the first time in Saudi Arabia, the reactions she encountered surprised her. "Guys honk their horns and give me a thumbs-up," she said recently, during her 25-minute commute home from work in her gray, Toyota Camry. "[There were] five kids packed up in a car, and they're all peering through the window and waving like they've seen a celebrity or something." Walker was treated like a celebrity because the kingdom had just lifted its decades-old ban on women driving. "I never in a thousand years imagined that one day, it would be possible for me to get behind the wheel and drive myself home. The status quo had been set in place for so long," said Walker, who lives in Jeddah. The lifting of the ban has improved life for some Saudi women like Walker — they can get themselves to work or even take a job that involves lots of driving — while others say they are ambivalent about it or would rather women stay off the roads. The change has also come at great cost for activists who began fighting for this cause back in the 1990s. Until last summer, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women weren't allowed to drive, a policy that had been in place since 1957. The ban's origins are murky, but the country follows Wahhabism, a strict form of Sunni Islam, which, among other things, forbids the sexes to mix. Saudi clerics argued that allowing women to drive would lead to promiscuity. But in September 2017, Saudi Arabia's ruler, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, issued a decree announcing that the nation's women could drive starting on June 24, 2018. This was an extraordinary moment for women in the kingdom. Many had long fought for that right. Some analysts view this change as a direct result of the crown prince's vision to revamp the economy. In 2016, only one in five Saudis employed in the kingdom were women — extremely low compared to other parts of the world. The ban has been widely condemned as a major barrier against women's empowerment in the kingdom and a symbol of oppression. Some rights organizations hoped the ban's removal would lead to more action on gender equality in Saudi Arabia. But last May, in the lead-up to the lifting of the ban, more than a dozen female activists who had pushed for the right to drive were rounded up and put in jail. At least nine of them remain in prison. Families of the activists say they have been tortured and put in solitary confinement for long periods. No formal charges have been brought against the women, only a series of allegations that accused them of having been involved in a foreign plot against the government. "We have received reports that several activists including women's rights activists were tortured, ill-treated, and sexually abused during the first three months of their detention," said Dana Ahmed, Middle East and Gulf researcher for Amnesty International. "Several activists reported that activists received electric shocks, were flogged and beaten and one activist wasn't able to stand or walk properly according to her family who saw her."
3-1-19 A woman’s place in the courtroom
Women lawyers are caught in a double bind, said Lara Bazelon. They have to battle sexism from judges and other litigators, but can’t risk alienating a jury when a client’s life and liberty are at stake. Last year, Elizabeth Faiella took a case representing a man who alleged that a doctor had perforated his esophagus during a routine medical procedure. Before the trial began, she and the defense attorney, David O. Doyle Jr., were summoned to a courtroom in Brevard County, Fla., for a hearing. Doyle had filed a motion seeking to “preclude emotional displays” during the trial—not by the patient, but by Faiella. “Counsel for the Plaintiff, Elizabeth Faiella, has a proclivity for displays of anguish in the presence of the jury, including crying,” Doyle wrote in his motion. Faiella’s predicted flood of tears, he continued, could be nothing more than “a shrewdly calculated attempt to elicit a sympathetic response.” The judge denied Doyle’s request, saying, in essence, “I expect both parties to behave themselves.” Afterward, Faiella confronted Doyle in the hallway. “Why would you file such a thing?” she demanded, noting that it was unprofessional, sexist, and humiliating. “I don’t understand why you are getting so upset,” she says Doyle replied. (Doyle denied that gender was the motivating factor behind filing the motion; he said he had filed such motions against male attorneys as well.) When I asked Faiella for a copy of Doyle’s motion, she said that she could send me examples from more than two dozen cases across her 30-year career. She said that at least 90 percent of her courtroom opponents are male and that they file a “no-crying motion” as a matter of course. Judges always deny them, but the damage is done: The idea that Faiella—who told me “I have never cried in a trial. Not once”—will unfairly deploy her feminine wiles to get what she wants has been planted in the judge’s mind. Though Faiella has long since learned to expect the motions, every time one crosses her desk she feels sick to her stomach. “I cannot tell you how much it demeans me,” she said. “Because I am a woman, I have to act like it doesn’t bother me, but I tell you that it does. The arrow lands every time.” For the past two decades, law schools have enrolled roughly the same number of men and women. In 2016, for the first time, more women were admitted to law school than men. In the courtroom, however, women remain a minority, particularly in the high-profile role of first chair at trial. In a landmark 2001 report on sexism in the courtroom, Deborah Rhode, a Stanford law professor, wrote that women in the courtroom face what she described as a “double standard and a double bind.” Women, she wrote, must avoid being seen as “too ‘soft’ or too ‘strident,’ too ‘aggressive’ or ‘not aggressive enough.’” If the courtroom were merely another place where the advancement of women has been checked, that would be troubling, if not entirely surprising. But the stakes in the courtroom aren’t just a woman’s career development and her earning potential. The interests—and, in the criminal context, the liberty—of her client are also on the line.
3-1-19 Feminine job titles get go-ahead in France
Decades after other French-speaking countries adopted feminine names for professions, the official guardians of the language in France have also backed the change. The Académie française, whose members are known as "immortals", has said it has no obstacle in principle to such a "natural evolution" of French. Feminine forms for jobs like prosecutor or firefighter are already often used. But until recently the academy objected to such changes as "barbaric". (Webmaster's comment: The only thing barbaric is many men's neverending hatred of women!) In its report it said "the academy considers that all developments aiming at recognising in language the place of women in today's society can be foreseen, as long as they do not contravene the elementary and fundamental rules of language". It will now accept, for example, professeure for a woman teacher instead of the masculine professeur. But the male-dominated body, which dates back to the 17th Century, said it would not draw up an "exhaustive list" of names, accepting that it would be an insurmountable task. It pointed out that several feminine versions of auteur (author) had already come into usage, including auteure, autoresse and autrice. Some French jobs already have feminine forms such as infirmière (nurse) but the vast majority of job titles are masculine. The feminine definitive article is commonly used to distinguish between sexes, for example la juge (judge) or la ministre (minister). Any changes may simply be a matter of making formal a job title that already exists. Some will just have an extra "e" as a suffix and maybe an accent, such as préfète (prefect), députée (MP) avocate (lawyer) and procureure (prosecutor). Then there is sapeuse-pompière (firefighter) rather than sapeur-pompier. Other francophone countries such as Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg as well as the Canadian province of Quebec already have feminine forms for jobs. (Webmaster's comment: But not in the United States. Men want to keep women subordinate!)
2-28-19 Should the government really make parenting 'easy'?
This can't be the goal of family policy. Americans seem to be in a mood nowadays to throw money at families. It's an appealing prospect for me, as a mother of five young kids. I want a pony! At least, my kids would definitely like to have a pony. Ponies are not at the center of most family-policy debates. They focus on more practical things: paid family leave, free maternity care, free day care, or just more money for families, funneled through expanded tax credits or child allowances. At the moment the day-care issue is front and center of our political debate. Matt Bruenig has gone a step further though with his "People's Policy Project," releasing a comprehensive proposal detailing all the benefits he thinks families need. Bruenig's "Family Fun Pack" smartly draws together different ideas from the family-policy debate, advancing them all under a single rationale. Under his proposal, all expectant parents in America could look forward to "baby boxes," paid parental leave, free day care, universal pre-K, complimentary school lunches, free health care, and a monthly child allowance that would extend until their child reaches adulthood. It's a comprehensive package meant to ensure that every child has everything he might need, without parents being called upon to make Herculean sacrifices. You could view this as a way to boost birth rates, which has been a topic of increasing concern in most Western countries of late. Bruenig doesn't really stress that angle, since he's more concerned with the problem of material inequality. Children typically don't earn money, and they're also a major drain on their parents' resources. The Family Fun Pack is pitched as a measure that could alleviate these inequities, making parenthood "easy and affordable" for everyone. Let's pause right there. Parenthood should be "easy and affordable"? For the moment, put aside whether the state should take on massive new spending commitments when we're already $22 trillion in debt. Even supposing the finances were manageable, do we really want to pitch the idea that swinging into parenthood should rightly be a no-stress kind of deal?
2-27-19 In 1959 a Swiss referendum denied women the right to vote
In 1959 Switzerland held a referendum on whether women should be allowed to vote in general elections. Only men could take part in the referendum and two-thirds of them voted no. Swiss women eventually won the right to vote in 1971. Ruth Dreifuss campaigned for women's rights as a 19-year-old during the 1959 referendum, and was instrumental in getting women elected to parliament in 1971. She later became the first female president of Switzerland.
2-22-19 Women's Inequality
In 2017, a higher percentage of American women had four or more years of college education (34.6 percent) than men (33.7 percent). Women, however, still lagged men in workforce participation, with 56.9 percent for females and 69.2 percent for males. There’s only one woman for every 21 men in the top 1 percent of earners. Even though most college graduates are women, only 4.5 percent of them make it into the highest income tier, in which household earnings are greater than $845,000. Among married top-percentile households, the woman’s income was needed to make the threshold only 15 percent of the time. (Webmaster's comment: They also lag males in compensation by over 20%.)
2-22-19 Why women-only spaces still matter
"What do you think of the Boy Scouts admitting girls?" It was the last day of The Compact, a California-based feminist summer camp for women and gender-variant adults, which I was attending. A half-dozen of us sat chatting around a picnic bench, enjoying the sun filtering through the redwoods. As the question hung in the air, there were sighs, groans, eye-rolls. The consensus was clear: "Just don't mess with the Girl Scouts. Please." As of this month, the Boy Scouts of America is being officially rebranded as Scouts BSA. Since this shift was first announced in fall 2017, much of the national conversation has focused on a supposed rivalry with Girl Scouts USA. With a national scouting organization accepting both boys and girls, the implication goes, is an all-girls counterpart still needed? My own Girl Scout career was short and unenthusiastic. It lasted less than a year; I don't recall if I even got a vest. But in recent years, I've come to crave the company of other women. The Compact, for me, was a chance to recapture some of what I missed out on in my youth, and a searing reminder of the importance of women-only spaces. Privilege has a gravitational pull. Those who possess it become the center of any interaction in which they are present. When a man enters a room full of women, his experiences and viewpoints immediately define the conversation. Instinctively, unconsciously, the women in the room step back. They moderate their words. They watch for signs of discomfort and rush to soothe hurt feelings. For many of us, this is the natural outcome of a lifetime of training. Girls learn to defer to boys, let boys behave as they will, cushion boys' feelings, and soften boys' falls. We learn to be calm, likable, pliable; we learn to doubt our own instincts and neglect our own needs in order to smooth the way for others. When we experience mistreatment and violence, we learn to blame ourselves. Women-only spaces offer a respite from the pressure — and, often, trauma — wrought by that social conditioning. By temporarily removing cisgender men from the equation, organizations like Girl Scouts USA and The Compact allow women to put our own experiences front and center. When I was an adolescent, that felt transgressive and uncomfortable. As an adult, it feels like a lifeline.
2-7-19 Don’t believe women in science face huge inequality? Here’s the proof
Scientists read and react to peer reviewed research, making the pages of leading scientific journals like The Lancet a good venue to fight for gender equity, says Jessica Wade. What’s the best way to tackle the equality and inclusivity problems in science? In a special publication of The Lancet, researchers are doing it with data. It couldn’t be more timely: from the gender pay gap to #MeToo, women are making their voices heard. The special issue is intersectional – it doesn’t only focus on gender, but considers its interplay with other protected characteristics. As a woman in physics, I am all too familiar with the challenges of working in a male-dominated profession. Seeing many of those obstacles set out formally in print really hammers home how much work still needs to be done. In The Lancet special issue we learn that, as a woman scientist, there are subtle biases at work in your medical education (78 per cent of the faces in medical textbooks are male), your success in securing academic funding (12.7 per cent success rate for men applying to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 8.8 per cent for women applicants to the same body), and even your chances of being invited to peer-review the work of other scientists (74 per cent of the peer-reviewers for The Lancet are men). One of the new papers – co-authored by Esther Choo at the Oregon Health and Science University –should be a wake-up call to academic departments trying to reform their workplace culture. It outlines succinctly the obstacles responsible for inequity: “a punitive environment for whistle-blowers; minimal consequences for perpetrators of harassment or discrimination; and absence of standardised approaches”.
2-6-19 State of the Union: Democratic women cheer at Trump speech
President Trump and Democratic women share an unexpected moment of unity during his State of the Union speech. The female Democrats were dressed in white to highlight equal rights, 100 years after Congress agreed to give US women the right to vote.
2-1-19 Women in film: 'We're living in the dark ages when it comes to representation'
The movies that made the most money in 2018 - such as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2 - were all directed by men. That's the norm when it comes to Hollywood's biggest films, according to US campaign group, Time's Up. They've shared figures which reveal only 4% of the biggest earning films from the past decade have been directed by women. And now they're calling on Hollywood studios and stars to change that. Time's Up has launched the #4percentchallenge, and stars Tessa Thompson, Brie Larson and Bryce Dallas Howard are among the names to lend their support. Time's Up's campaign to draw attention to this inequality has been welcomed by rising female film talent here in the UK. "Four percent is a pretty depressing figure, but things like this challenge are absolutely necessary," British director Georgia Parris told Radio 1 Newsbeat. She premiered her first full-length film, Mari, at the BFI Film Festival. "It's that age-old problem that women are hired on experience and men are hired on potential. "So if we're not being given the opportunities to gain that experience then how is the problem ever going to change?" But she says the success of 2017's Wonder Woman is an early sign that things are starting to change. "I think there's a sense that women tend to direct sensitive, female-based issue films but these are the ones that tend to cost less money," she adds. "But you look at something like Wonder Woman and that's done hugely well."We're starting to see those snippets of women being trusted with bigger budgets."
1-28-19 UAE mocked over gender balance awards tweet featuring only men
The UAE has been mocked over a tweet announcing the winners of awards for gender balance that featured only men. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's ruler, was shown congratulating the recipients of Best Personality Supporting Gender Balance, Best Federal Authority Supporting Gender Balance, and Best Gender Balance Initiative. The sheikh insisted women were "central to shaping the future of the country". But many Twitter users questioned their apparent absence from the ceremony. A later tweet by the Government of Dubai Media Office included a photograph showing five women standing beside Sheikh Mohammed and the male recipients, but it did not identify them. A statement by the official Dubai Media Office meanwhile cited Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of the UAE Gender Balance Council, as saying it had achieved a goal set in 2015 to reduce the gender gap across all sectors of government. In April, the UAE cabinet approved legislation to ensure equal pay for women. But last month the country was ranked 121st out of 149 countries overall in the World Economic Forum's 2018 Global Gender Gap Report and 134th in terms of economic participation and opportunity.
1-25-19 High school valedictorians
About 70 percent of high school valedictorians in recent years have been girls.
1-21-19 Sexism row over German charity event
A row over sexism has broken out in the German port city of Bremen, after a prestigious charity event refused to invite the co-mayor because she is a woman. The Eiswette (Ice Bet) club hosts a black-tie dinner each January, among the many more colourful events that make up the popular festival, to raise money for the country's maritime search and rescue service, the local Weser Kurier newspaper reports. Germany's great and good, along with their foreign guests, turn up in their hundreds to bet on when the ice on the River Weser will break - but only if they are men. The gala dinner has been an exclusively male preserve for 190 years. But this year it faced a dilemma on Saturday when the city's main mayor, Senate President Carsten Sieling, bowed out in order to attend the funeral of Pawel Adamowicz, the murdered mayor of Gdansk in Poland. The Social Democrat mayor nominated his female co-mayor, Finance Senator Karoline Linnert, from the governing coalition's Greens junior partner, to attend in his place. But the Eiswette refused to break with tradition, and allocated the place to the mayor of neighbouring Bremerhaven, who happens to be a man. Ms Linnert did not hide her disgust. "The gentlemen of the Eiswette set great store by etiquette. But protocol suddenly doesn't matter any more when - how awful! - the official substitute for the male mayor of Bremen turns out to be the female mayor of Bremen," the Green politician posted on Facebook. She was particularly offended that, in the year when Germany is celebrating 100 years of women having the vote, "the Eiswette still thinks it right to exclude women under cover of tradition," but wished the men a pleasant evening anyway.
1-18-19 Women deserve equal rights
It’s time for Saudi Arabia to abolish the “wrong and discriminatory” practice of male guardianship, said Faisal Abbas. The system, which requires women to get a male relative’s permission to work, travel abroad, or even leave the house, didn’t become codified until the Islamic revival of the 1980s, and today many Saudi men—even conservatives like me—find it “outdated.” Our society is now undergoing “massive and rapid changes,” in line with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” plan for the future. Not only are women now allowed to drive, they have also “been granted the right to work in almost all sectors.” In most public places, segregation of the sexes is ending. For the first time in 35 years, cinemas are opening. Even our dress code has become “far more relaxed.” Women can choose for themselves whether to wear the face-covering niqab, the hair-covering hijab, “or neither.” Critics may cavil that the Saudi feminist activists who advocated for the lifting of the driving ban were jailed last year. But if the security forces acted improperly, “I am fully confident that they will face justice.” The signs are clear. “Whatever is left of the male guardianship system will be abolished—by default—sooner rather than later.”
1-6-19 How Serena Williams inspired new rules in tennis
Serena Williams, previously ranked No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association, has won a different type of victory: The WTA recently announced changes to the rules about tennis players' dress and rank — partly in response to what Williams went through when she returned to the tennis court after her maternity leave. The debate began when French Tennis Federation judge Bernard Giudicelli called out Williams after the French Open — a tournament she's won three times — for wearing a black bodysuit, otherwise known as the "catsuit." Guidicelli was quoted in Tennis Magazine as saying the outfit "will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place." That statement didn't go down so well. Some fellow players and fans called the comments sexist and racist. Williams' catsuit had been inspired by the "Black Panther." She told The Guardian it made her feel like a "warrior princess," like in the movie. It turns out the black bodysuit Williams wore to work that day also had a practical purpose: Williams suffered blood clots after giving birth in 2017, and the leggings helped with circulation. Stephanie Myles, a sportscaster and editor for Tennis.Life, said that "with the compressive elements to the outfit, she could probably even get away with wearing it [to] Wimbledon, where they are far more strict, if she could prove that she needs it for medical reasons." Now, other players won't have to make that argument. The Women's Tennis Association put out a statement last month saying that wearing leggings and compression shorts without shorts or a skirt over them is totally acceptable. It turns out there was never a rule against it. And Myles says forget the fashion statement — it just makes sense. "Not everywhere they play is warm and sunny," she explained. "And so, they sometimes play late at night where it gets cold." Players get cold. Leggings keep the muscles warm. Doubles champion Pam Shriver also thinks the rule change makes sense. Shriver played from 1978 to 1997. She never wore a catsuit on the court but she did get reprimanded one time for a clothing violation. "I couldn't be bothered leaving the court," she said. "I didn't need to go to the toilet. I had [a] jog bra on, and I just changed my shirt." She didn't know changing her shirt on the court was against the rules. "I mean, eventually you realize there's rules and guidelines in sports that are just outdated. So, that was one," she said. That rule was changed the next day. (Webmaster's comment: Fighting against the male brute bullshit rules is a moral imperative!)
1-4-19 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Lawmaker mocks college dance critics
In the eyes of some social media critics the United States' youngest-ever congresswoman can do no right. To a lengthy list of past misdemeanours, including her clothes and not being rich, can now be added the grievous crime of dancing while in college. A day before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was officially sworn-in, near decade-old footage of the congresswoman dancing as a student at Boston University re-emerged on Twitter, apparently in an effort to embarrass her. On Friday Ms Ocasio-Cortez posted a new video of her dancing outside her new office in the halls of Congress to the tune of War by Edwin Starr. "I hear the GOP thinks women dancing are scandalous. Wait till they find out Congresswomen dance too!" she wrote, referring to the Republican Party. The original post has been viewed more than 8 million times. Here is America's favourite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is," one right-wing Twitter account, @AnonymousQ1776, wrote as they shared the clip. The account, which appears to reference the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, has since been removed. "After Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is forced out of office after one term she can go dance on a stage that has a pole," said another. But the criticism prompted a much larger wave of support for the congresswoman online. "[Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] is officially done," comedian Patton Oswalt joked. "She'll never recover from the world seeing her dancing adorably and having fun with her friends." "I want Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to give me dance lessons," Star Trek actor George Takei tweeted, while actor Russell Crowe declared her "fantastic". The video of Ms Ocasio-Cortez was compiled from a longer video featuring Boston University students. The video was posted to YouTube in 2010, when Ms Ocasio-Cortez was an undergraduate.The video was part of a meme circulating at the time.v Participants, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other students at Boston University, emulated the dance from 1980s movie The Breakfast Club in a mash-up featuring the song Lisztomania, by French indie band Phoenix. (Webmaster's comment: Women can never do right according to the white male brutes!)
1-3-19 Sabarimala: India's Kerala paralysed amid protests over temple entry
Schools across the state are closed and public transport too has been suspended. One person was killed in clashes on Wednesday. The Sabarimala temple was historically closed to women of "menstruating age" - defined as between 10 and 50. The Supreme Court revoked the ban in September, which prompted outrage. On Wednesday, Bindu Ammini, 40, and Kanaka Durga, 39, entered the shrine around dawn and became the first women to do so. Schools across the state are closed and public transport too has been suspended. One person was killed in clashes on Wednesday. The Sabarimala temple was historically closed to women of "menstruating age" - defined as between 10 and 50. The Supreme Court revoked the ban in September, which prompted outrage. On Wednesday, Bindu Ammini, 40, and Kanaka Durga, 39, entered the shrine around dawn and became the first women to do so. Thursday saw a second day of protests across the state. Right-wing groups, supported by India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), demanded a state-wide shutdown. They wanted schools, colleges and businesses to remain closed as a sign of protest. The state government, which supports the Supreme Court ruling, stepped up security and deployed police across the state for protection. But fearing violence, schools and shops were closed. And buses did not run as protesters blocked highways and other roads. In total, more than 700 people were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday. Sixty police officers were injured, more than 80 public buses were damaged and at least a dozen police vehicles were attacked. (Webmaster's comment: Can it be true that religion is behind most violence? Seems to be.)
1-2-19 Sabarimala: Indian women make history by entering temple
Two Indian women have made history by entering a prominent Hindu shrine in the southern state of Kerala, following months of protests against their entry. The Sabarimala temple was historically closed to women of "menstruating age" - defined as between 10 and 50. The Supreme Court overturned that ban but protesters then attacked women and stopped them from going in. The women's entry to the shrine sparked fresh protests and police used tear gas at several locations in Kerala. Bindu Ammini, 40, and Kanaka Durga, 39, devotees of the temple deity, Lord Ayyappa, entered around dawn. "We arrived early in the morning and we had a darshan [saw the idol] for a few minutes," Ms Ammini told the BBC. Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, whose government supports the Supreme Court ruling, told reporters that the women's entry into the temple was a historic moment. On 1 January, his left-wing coalition government organised a "women's wall" - in which women from across Kerala formed a 620km (385-mile) human chain to protest against the ban. Temple officials say the women have "defiled" the temple. It was closed for an hour in order to perform "purification rituals" but has now reopened. Demonstrations across the state have since erupted and police have fired tear gas to disperse crowds. Violent clashes have been reported outside the state parliament, according to local media. The ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also called for a two-day protest after news of the women entering the shrine broke.