12-16-19 Barack Obama: Women are better leaders than men
If women ran every country in the world there would be a general improvement in living standards and outcomes, former US President Barack Obama has said. Speaking in Singapore, he said women aren't perfect, but are "indisputably better" than men. He said most of the problems in the world came from old people, mostly men, holding onto positions of power. He also spoke about political polarisation and the use of social media to spread falsehoods. Speaking at a private event on leadership, Mr Obama said while in office he had mused what a world run by women would look like. "Now women, I just want you to know; you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you're better than us [men]. "I'm absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything... living standards and outcomes." When asked if he would ever consider going back into political leadership, he said he believed in leaders stepping aside when the time came. "If you look at the world and look at the problems it's usually old people, usually old men, not getting out of the way," he said. "It is important for political leaders to try and remind themselves that you are there to do a job, but you are not there for life, you are not there in order to prop up your own sense of self importance or your own power." Mr Obama served as US president from 2009 until 2017. Since leaving the White House, he and former first lady Michelle Obama have set up a foundation mentoring young leaders around the world. The pair were in Kuala Lumpur last week for an Obama Foundation event. (Webmaster's comment: One third of men are nothing but male brutes who enjoy beating and raping women and children. Having them in power this is the world we get.)
12-15-19 Iraq protests: The women rising up on Baghdad's walls
Since October, a wave of anti-government protests has swept across Iraq. The protesters represent a cross-section of society and, unusually for a traditionally patriarchal country, women have taken a leading role. Their prominence is celebrated in murals which have sprung up across the capital, Baghdad. Baghdad's Tahrir Square, epicentre of the protests, has been transformed into a hub of creative defiance. Murals paying tribute to the spirit and strength of Iraqi women have become an iconic visual representation of the protests. Often produced by women, the artwork highlights their increasingly active role in seeking to shape their future. The demonstrations and the murals have enabled women to create a collective community, reclaim their national identity and re-write their history. Despite facing disapproval from parents and husbands over fears for their safety - more than 400 people have been killed by security forces - women continue to join the demonstrations, sometimes secretly. For women, who have in the past been neglected by political movements, the absence of any political agenda behind the protests has spurred them to take part. And in a society where men and women have seldom protested side by side, the fact that they are working together in the interest of reaching a shared goal is a significant social achievement.
12-13-19 Why women are fighting back against hair oppression
Recent efforts to ban hair discrimination have amplified the struggle for women of colour and their natural hair, particularly in the workplace. Last week, Senator Cory Booker proposed the first bill in history to ban hair discrimination at the federal level. The CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair) was first introduced in California, making it the first state to pass a law that makes this form of discrimination illegal. This move was followed by the State of New York, and New Jersey became the latest state to pass this legislation. "Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day for black people across the country," said Senator Booker. While many incidents of discrimination in schools and the workplace have recently surfaced on the news and on social media, this deep-rooted issue has unfortunately been a common reality for many black men and women. A recent study by soap brand Dove found that a black woman is 80% more likely than a white woman to change her natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work. Tameka Amado, a young African American woman in Boston, says she has changed her hair "plenty of times" for work and school. "When I was on the competitive cheerleading team, I was never allowed to wear my hair in its natural state. My coach made sure our hair was up and straight. The repeated ironing of her hair caused it to start falling out in a her junior year, she says. "For centuries our hair has been attacked. It's uncomfortable to know you have no control of how your hair grows, the only thing you can control is how you wear it and how you protect it, and to not have that freedom is discrimination. It only happens with us." Laws like those proposed by Senator Booker give her hope, she says.
12-10-19 The female burden of neurodiversity
A year ago, shortly before my 32nd birthday, I walked into a neuropsychologist's office. I had an appointment, a pre-filled-out questionnaire, and a check to pay for a cognitive assessment. And I had a hunch — one that, up until that point, I'd admitted to very few people. I first suspected I might have ADHD after reading a 2013 article in The Atlantic headlined "ADHD is different for women." The piece laid out a form of the disorder that I'd never heard of before, characterized not by hyperactivity, but by inattention. I felt the hairs on my arms prickle as I read the author's description of herself: "disorganized, scattered, forgetful, and introverted." Like her, I was tornado-level messy, dreamy and distractible, constantly misplacing things and losing track of time. And, like her, I had long considered all of these things to be embarrassments — a failure to live up to the expectations laid out for me. It took me another five years to pursue a formal diagnosis. But when I did, my hunch was finally confirmed: I have inattentive-type ADHD, the same kind described in the Atlantic article, and the type most commonly diagnosed among girls and women. When I tell people I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, the conversation usually focuses on how long it took for me to get a diagnosis, and all the signs that were missed along the way. But when we talk about neurodiversity and gender, that's only one part of the story. We also need to talk about gendered expectations of behavior — whose responsibility it is to manage whose symptoms, and who gets a pass on dealing with the tough stuff. In recent years, there's been increased public attention on how ADHD manifests — and is diagnosed — based on gender. Though it's not an absolute distinction, boys with ADHD are often hyperactive and impulsive, so they get noticed; girls like me tend to be spacey and preoccupied, so we get overlooked. (The very presence of the "H" in the now-standard acronym is a tip-off to the institutional biases at play.)
12-9-19 The Golden Globes' biggest snub was women. Again.
It has been almost two years since Natalie Portman leaned into the microphone at the 75th Golden Globes to announce the "all-male nominees" for Best Director. While the line got laughs and applause from the audience at the time, it seems that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association missed that her remark wasn't just a joke. On Monday, the Golden Globes failed to nominate a single woman in the best directing category for the fourth year in a row — an omission made all the more egregious by the fact that 2019 was a banner year for women-helmed blockbusters. Perhaps the most glaring name left off the list was Greta Gerwig. The director was previously nominated for an Oscar for her movie Lady Bird and returns this Christmas with her adaptation of Little Women, which has already earned rapturous praise from critics. Also surprising was the absence of Marielle Heller, who directed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, another film that has received glowing reviews. Similarly, Lorene Scafaria — who directed the hit Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu — failed to make the Golden Globe's list of best directors. Neither did Olivia Wilde, whose debut, Booksmart, was hailed as one of 2019's sharpest comedies. Alma Har'el (Honeyboy), Claire Denis (High Life), Jennifer Kent (Nightingale), and Jennifer Lee (Frozen 2) also failed to make the cut. Instead, the Golden Globe's list of best directors included Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917) and Todd Phillips (Joker). Women had a slightly better showing in the foreign language film category. While it's surprising that Lulu Wang, who directed the funny and powerful family drama The Farewell, didn't get a regular directing nod, her movie, with its Mandarin-heavy script, did land a nomination in the category typically reserved for features made abroad. Also nominated in the foreign language category was Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a moody and transfixing film by the French director Céline Sciamma. Aside from the foreign language category, though, no women filmmakers had their movies nominated for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical; or Best Motion Picture, drama, either.
11-29-19 How Trump talks about women - and does it matter?
With a number of women running to take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, the president's language about his opponents will undoubtedly be a recurring issue. But is there really a gender difference to his attacks? In an interview, Mr Trump referred to career diplomat Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, not by name, but as "the woman". Ms Yovanovitch, who Mr Trump recalled from her post in May, testified in the public phase of the impeachment inquiry on 15 November. She told lawmakers she was removed in a smear campaign by those with "questionable intentions". Justifying his decision to oust her, the president told Fox & Friends last Friday he heard "bad things" about "the ambassador, the woman". "This was not an angel, this woman, okay? And there were a lot of things that she did that I didn't like." Mr Trump added that his staff felt they had to be kind because "she's a woman - we have to be nice." Professor Marianne LaFrance, a psychologist at Yale University, says this remark is a prime example of gendered language. "That referencing says she's not an individual, she's not a professional, she's first and foremost a woman," Prof LaFrance says. "One of the things that's interesting about women and language is that women are 'marked'." Men, she notes, are not usually referred to as a "male person". "But we find it often easy and useful to describe a person first and foremost as a woman. Not a politician - she's a woman politician. You don't often say he's a male politician." And once language is used to "mark" someone, it "taps into a whole universe of stereotypes" that are typically unconscious. "So in saying a female politician - before you've said anything else about her policies, her credentials, her professional standing - you've said a lot." Even before he became president, Mr Trump had a history of controversial comments about women. His comments in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape about grabbing women "by the pussy" are perhaps the most notorious, and made headlines in 2016.
11-29-19 Sudan crisis: Women praise end of strict public order law
Sudan has repealed a restrictive public order law that controlled how women acted and dressed in public. On Twitter, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok paid tribute to women who had "endured the atrocities that resulted from the implementation of this law". The country's transitional authorities also dissolved the party of former President Omar al-Bashir. Mr Bashir seized power in a 1989 coup and ruled for nearly 30 years before peaceful protests ousted him in April. Sudan is currently led by a joint military and civilian council, as well as a civilian-led cabinet headed by Prime Minister Hamdok. Both the repeal of the public order law and dissolution of the National Congress Party (NCP) were a response to key demands of the protest movement, which aims to dismantle Mr Bashir's regime. People celebrated in the streets of the capital Khartoum overnight at news of the moves. Aisha Musa, one of two women on Sudan's new Sovereign Council, told BBC Newsday that while the former regime had focused on how women dressed and acted - including preventing women from wearing trousers - it had ignored their education and healthcare. "It is about time that all this corruption stops, that all this treatment for the women of Sudan stops," she said. A 2017 report by two charities described the restrictions as a blend of legal and moral prohibitions "designed to exclude and intimidate women from actively participating in public life". They gave the authorities sweeping powers to arbitrarily control what women wore, whom they spoke to and saw, and any job they might hold - with any perceived offender facing punishment by flogging, or in rare cases stoning and even execution. Moreover, the public order rules were kept "vague and open-ended leaving them open to exploitation as a social control tool by the authorities," the report said.
11-22-19 Sex discrimination in the boardroom?
“A shareholder for a company with an all-male board is suing California over a law that requires public companies to have women on their boards,” said Kayla Epstein in The Washington Post. The plaintiff, Creighton Meland, is a retired corporate attorney in Illinois and a shareholder at OSI Systems Inc., which manufactures “specialized electronic systems for the security and health-care industries.” Meland argues that California’s 2018 law mandating that companies have at least one woman on their boards is unconstitutional and actually discriminates on the basis of sex. California is the first U.S. state to pass such legislation.
11-22-19 Outrage in Pakistan after feminism panel includes no women
The Arts Council of Pakistan has been forced to backtrack after it emerged that a discussion on feminism it is hosting was to have an all-male panel. An outcry on social media resulted in two women guests being added, and Friday's event in Karachi was renamed. The original title, Feminism: The Other Perspective, drew derision and has now been recast as Understanding Feminism. Organisers say male decision-makers were to share views on feminism, but many critics questioned the very idea. In overwhelmingly patriarchal Pakistan, having an all-male panel discuss feminism didn't seem the obvious way to tackle gender inequality. The only woman included in the original line-up was discussion host Uzma al-Karim, whose name was put at the bottom of the promotional literature. After sustained criticism on social media, two women speakers were added to the panel - feminist Mehtab Akbar Rashdi and journalist Quatrina Hosain - and Uzma al-Karim's name was made more prominent in the amended literature. But that didn't persuade everyone. Many criticised the men who'd agreed to take part, accusing them of using feminism to further their own interests. The writer of this article and others acknowledged there was no reason why men shouldn't give their views on feminism - it just seemed wrong to invite a panel that included no women at all. One woman, Erum Haider, tweeted: "The men I know who are feminists would be embarrassed to be on this panel." Discussion host Uzma al-Karim told BBC Urdu: "Our purpose was to get men having decision-making powers in major media houses and those with a following to talk about their understanding of feminism. "We wanted to register their perception because they were in a position to influence public opinion. And that's why we called it 'the other perspective'."
11-20-19 Married heterosexual men happiest earning 50 per cent more than wives
Over the past few decades, more and more women have started to out-earn men. In the US, for example, the proportion of wives who earn more than their husbands has climbed from 12 to 28 per cent since 1980. Now a study of data from the US suggests that married heterosexual men feel most comfortable when they earn 50 per cent more than their wives. Joanna Syrda at the University of Bath in the UK analysed data from a US survey of more than 6000 married heterosexual couples that included questions about income and emotional well-being. She found that men tended to be unhappier when their wives earned more than them, becoming gradually more so as their wives’ earnings grew relative to their own. This was unrelated to total household income, the amount of housework the men did, or the hours their wives worked. Men who were sole breadwinners were also at the unhappier end of the spectrum, probably due to the stress of supporting their families on their own, but they weren’t as unhappy as men who earned less than their wives. The men who were happiest were those who earned 60 per cent of their households’ total income and whose wives earned 40 per cent. This is probably the sweet spot at which wives earn enough money to minimise financial strain on their families without challenging the traditional stereotype of the male breadwinner, says Syrda. “The male breadwinner identity – the idea that a man must take care of his family – has been incredibly durable despite many other changes to gender norms,” says Syrda. “These findings show that it can actually be harmful to men’s mental health because they feel emasculated if their wives earn more than them.” Nicholas Haslam at the University of Melbourne in Australia agrees. “Even if men think they’re beyond all of this sexist stuff, very often they’re not and it still bothers them to earn less,” he says. “The fact that men are happiest when women earn two-thirds what they do shows we have a long way to go to reach equality.”
11-16-19 Women's football: Spain's top players to strike this weekend
Women footballers in Spain's top division will strike this weekend in a dispute over pay. Almost 200 players from 16 clubs voted to strike in October after more than a year of failed negotiations. They are demanding a professional agreement that regulates minimum working conditions, rights to minimum wages and measures for maternity. UDG Tenerife did not to travel for their game at Espanyol on Saturday and will not field a team. The squad were set to fly to Barcelona on Friday, but after their flight was delayed by technical problems they decided to not to make the trip. In a statement on their website, the club said they "respect the position of the players to support the strike", adding that they hope an agreement can be reached "for the sake of women's football and generations to come". There are eight matches in the top league which could be affected, two on Saturday and six on Sunday. Teams must be able to field seven players in order for games to go ahead. A video featuring top players, including Athletic Bibao goalkeeper Ainhoa Tirapu and fellow Spain international Silvia Meseguer of Atletico Madrid, was promoted on social media by the Association of Spanish Footballers, which is the players' union. On the video, they say they are fighting for former players, current players and "for those who will one day be in our place". The action was supported by 93% of players employed by 16 clubs at a meeting in Madrid on 22 October. Clubs are proposing a minimum wage of 16,000 euros (£13,700), but unions representing the players are asking for at least 20,000 euros (£17,000).
11-13-19 Saudi Arabia apologises for video labelling feminism as extremism
Saudi Arabia's state security agency says a social media post on one of its accounts that categorised feminism as extremism was a mistake. The promotional video categorised feminism, homosexuality and atheism as dangerous ideas and warned Saudis to be vigilant against them. The security agency says it is investigating the video. Saudi Arabia is trying to shake off its image as one of the most repressive countries in the world for women. The animated clip was posted to the Twitter account of the State Security Presidency over the weekend. The agency reports directly to King Salman. The agency said in a statement that the video contained multiple mistakes and the makers of the video did not do their job properly. The Saudi Human Rights Commission also released a statement saying that feminism was not a crime. However, it did not make reference to homosexuality or atheism. Saudi Arabia has no written laws concerning sexual orientation or gender identity, but judges use principles of Islamic law to sanction people suspected of extra-marital sexual relations, homosexual sex or other "immoral" acts, according to US-based Human Rights Watch. The video has been criticised by human rights groups including Amnesty International. Heba Morayef, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director, said: "This announcement is extremely dangerous and has serious implications for the rights to freedom of expression and life, liberty and security in the country." The video comes as Saudi Arabia continues a programme of reforms, many of which focus on women's rights. The government lifted a long-standing ban on women driving in 2018 and made changes to the male guardianship system this August, allowing women to apply for passports and travel independently without permission from a man.
11-9-19 Lebanon protests: Confronting the ‘sexualisation’ of women demonstrators
Protesters from across Lebanon have taken to the streets to demand an end to government corruption. And women once again have been at the forefront of the demonstrations, which began in mid-October. But attitudes towards women from some in the region have revealed persisting stereotypes and objectification of women.
11-6-19 What would a city designed by women be like?
Cities are supposed to be built for all of us, but they aren't built by all of us. Every city in the world has been designed and built by men. But what if the other half had a go? Barcelona might be able to give us that answer. For the past four years the city has had a female mayor with a profoundly feminist agenda. We spoke to feminists working in urban planning in the city to find out what they think needs to change to make cities better for women.
11-1-19 Income and Generation gap
A poll by LendingTree found that 64 percent of men reported getting a raise in the past year, compared with just 52 percent of women. There was also a generational gap: 64 percent of Millennials got a pay bump, versus 61 percent of Gen-Xers and 47 percent of Baby Boomers.
10-31-19 US congresswoman makes final speech to House
US lawmaker Katie Hill gave her last speech on the House floor. She resigned from Congress following allegations that she had an affair with a Capitol Hill aide, which she denies. The ethics committee launched an inquiry after conservative blog RedState reported allegations that Ms Hill had an affair with one of her congressional aides, a man. The same blog separately reported claims that Ms Hill, who is bisexual, had also engaged in a three-way consensual romance with a female campaign staff member and her husband. It published naked images of the politician. In an emotional speech, Hill spoke about the "right-wing media" seeking "clicks" following the publication of the photos.
10-31-19 Saudi Arabia set for first WWE women's wrestling match
The first women's wrestling match in Saudi Arabia takes place on Thursday, as the country takes steps towards relaxing strict rules on entertainment. The contest, in Riyadh, features WWE stars Natalya and Lacey Evans. It is not clear whether the wrestlers will be required to "dress modestly", as foreign tourists must do. Saudi Arabia has attempted to shake off its image as one of the world's most repressive countries for women in recent years by introducing reforms. The government lifted a long-standing ban on women driving in 2018 and made changes to the male guardianship system this August, allowing women to apply for passports and travel independently without permission. However, women continue to face numerous restrictions on their lives, and several women's rights activists who campaigned for the changes have been detained and put on trial. Some of them have alleged that they have been tortured in prison. Thursday's landmark match is part of the WWE Crown Jewel event taking place at Riyadh's King Fahd International Stadium, which can seat 68,000 spectators. "When I signed up for WWE my goal was to really impact the world and the people that I can, and we're doing it one day at a time," Lacey Evans tweeted on Wednesday, after the line-up was announced. Natalya wrote: "The world will be watching. I am so incredibly proud to represent our women's division tomorrow night at #WWECrownJewel. It's time to bring your best, Lacey." Saudi wrestler Mansoor, who will be squaring off against Cesaro, told WWE.com that many female members of his family could not wait to watch the match live. "I cannot even begin to describe how much that means to me, how much that means to my little sisters, who love WWE, how much it means to my nieces, who love WWE and who fantasise and dream about being wrestlers," he said.
10-30-19 Meghan Murphy: Canadian feminist's trans talk sparks uproar
A Canadian library has been criticised for refusing to cancel an event hosting a feminist with controversial views on transgender rights. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside a branch of the Toronto Public Library as writer Meghan Murphy gave a talk inside. The library defended its decision to allow her talk on gender identity and "society, the law and women". Campaigners have called Ms Murphy anti-transgender, which she denies. Toronto police quoted by Global News said officers had been present inside and outside the event to "keep the peace." Global News reporter Kamil Karamali tweeted that attendees were escorted by police out the back of the building when the talk ended. Ms Murphy says she wants to ensure the safety of women in places like female prisons, women's refuges and changing rooms. In Canada, she has spoken against a bill that amended Canada's rights act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender expression and identity over concerns it could undermine women's rights by eroding their "safe spaces". "Under current trans activist doctrine we're not allowed to exclude a man from a woman's space if he says that he's female and I find that quite dangerous and troubling," she told the BBC. She says she believes the transgender activist movement is "regressive and sexist" and ignores women and girls. The talk's organisers, a group called Radical Feminists Unite, have said they are "not a hate group, and we do not espouse hate speech, or advocate for the removal of rights from any marginalised group".
10-24-19 Record-High 56% of U.S. Women Prefer Working to Homemaking
A new high of 56% of U.S. women would prefer to work outside the home rather than stay home and take care of the house and family. Given the choice between working or staying home to take care of the house and family, a record-high 66% of U.S. adults would prefer to work. While women's preference to work outside the home (56%) continues to lag behind men's (75%), it is at its highest point in roughly three decades.
- 56% of women prefer to work rather than to be homemaker
- 75% of men would rather work outside the home
- 50% of women with children under age 18 prefer to stay home; 45%, to work
10-23-19 Spanish women footballers vote to strike over pay
Almost 200 women footballers in Spain's first division have voted to strike in a disagreement over pay and conditions in the top league. The action was supported by 93% of players employed by 16 clubs at a meeting in Madrid on Tuesday after more than a year of failed negotiations. Clubs are proposing a minimum wage of €16,000 ($17,000; £14,000), but unions representing the players are asking for at least €20,000. A date for the strike has not been set. One of the unresolved issues relates to women players being recognised as full-time professional footballers. The salaries of those on part-time contracts was also a stumbling block, the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) said. The three unions representing the players want a minimum of €12,000, but the clubs are proposing €8,000. "We are 100% football players, every hour of the day," said Ainhoa ??Tirapu, vice-president of the AFE women's football committee and a goalkeeper for Athletic Bilbao and the women's national team. "But there are red lines such as bias." In an AFE statement (in Spanish), she added: "We asked for minimum rights as workers, we have battled to achieve it. "It's not just money - we have lowered our red lines, but nothing has been achieved. Now we can fight and we are paving the way for other players. We must not be inactive and fight for our rights." Any strike action could have an impact on the UEFA Women's Champions League competition, including Manchester City's last-16 tie with Atletico Madrid next week. Negotiations between the Association of Women's Football Clubs (ACFF) and unions began last October. Interest in women's football has soared in recent years, with TV audiences and spectator numbers at matches increasing steadily. Women players, however, are still paid far less than their male counterparts in their equivalent leagues and international competitions.
10-22-19 How space affects women and men differently
Some 564 people have been into space - 65 of them women. That's despite the fact that the first woman in space, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, went into orbit as early as 1963. It took Nasa 20 years to catch up and in 1983 Sally Ride became the third woman, and first American woman to go into space. Before her voyage she was asked by the media if she was taking any makeup on her trip and whether she cried when there were malfunctions in the flight simulator. On Friday 18 October, Nasa conducted its first ever all-female spacewalk, after plans earlier this year were scrapped because of a lack of medium-sized spacesuits to fit one of the astronauts. For the last decade, Dr Varsha Jain has been working part-time as a space gynaecologist. She combines her PhD work at the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh with research alongside Nasa into women's health in space. Overall adaptation to the space environment is roughly the same for men and women but there are some differences. Women are more likely to feel sick when they go into space, men are more likely to get re-entry sickness when they come back to Earth. Men have more problems with their vision and hearing when they get back from space which women don't get. When women return they do have problems managing their blood pressure so they feel quite faint. So there are some subtle differences and we don't know if that's to do with hormonal differences or more physiological changes that are occurring. And long-term, understanding those differences will help us understand more about human health on Earth. When the Americans sent Sally Ride up into space, the questions that Nasa had were about what would happen to women's periods and how do we account for this. Female astronauts said at the time, 'let's consider it non-problem until it becomes a problem'. But space travel is a bit like a camping trip and the engineers had to plan things like how many sanitary products were needed. Because it was a very male dominated world, the figures that they thought they needed were 100 or 200 tampons for a week! They shortly came to the conclusion that that many weren't needed. Most female astronauts now use the contraceptive pill to stop their periods and it is safe for them to do so because they are healthy women. One of the parts of my work was to research other ways for women to stop their periods to see if things like the contraceptive coil could be more effective.
10-19-19 Why aren't more women winning Nobels in the sciences?
Just 20 of the more than 600 Nobel Prizes in the sciences have gone to women. The 2019 Nobel Prizes for chemistry and physics were awarded this October, and — as is the case most of the time — they went to men. That's despite steps the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which runs the Nobel program, took just last year to be more inclusive. The academy's secretary-general, Göran K. Hansson, sent a letter to scientists asking them to take geography and gender into consideration in their nominations and asked more women to suggest candidates. But efforts to diversify Nobel winners are slow going, and there's a long history to overcome: Of the more than 600 Nobel Prizes that have been given out in the sciences, just 20 have gone to women. Some other prize categories, such as peace and literature, are more diverse, but they are considered more "acceptable" for women. (The 20 awards include prizes in physiology or medicine, chemistry, and physics.) But those prizes have also had their challenges. The Nobels haven't been spared from modern movements like #MeToo; last year, because of a complicated sexual harassment scandal, the Royal Swedish Academy didn't award a prize for literature — so there are two awards in that category this year. Hansson told the journal Nature that he couldn't do more to increase diversity because of a covenant laid down by the original funder of the prizes, Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite. Nobel explicitly said nationality shouldn't be considered in awarding winners. "It's important to remember that the Nobel Prize is awarded for discoveries and inventions," Hansson said at the 2018 press conference to announce the Nobel Prize winner for physics, "and those who receive it have made major contributions to humankind, and that's why they get the prize."
10-18-19 Women Truckers
The number of female truck drivers increased by 68 percent since 2010 to 234,234 in 2018, though it’s still rare to find one behind the wheel of a big rig. Women account for just 6.6 percent of the trucking workforce.
10-18-19 Soccer ban lifted
Thousands of jubilant Iranian women cheered on their national soccer team as it beat Cambodia 14-0 at a Tehran stadium last week, the first time since 1981 that women have been allowed to attend a game in the Islamic Republic. Iran allotted 4,000 tickets in the 80,000-seat stadium to women, seating them in a segregated section guarded by female police. “Part of me is happy,” said Maryam Shojaei, sister of Iran’s national team captain, Masoud Shojaei, “but they have basically created a wall.” Last month, a woman facing six months in prison for sneaking into a match died after setting herself on fire, and the world soccer body, FIFA, told Iran it would have to let women watch or face a ban.
10-14-19 Nobel economics prize winner: I want to inspire women
Esther Duflo has said she is "humbled" by her success in winning this year's Nobel prize for economics and hopes it will "inspire many, many other women". Prof Duflo was part of a trio, alongside her husband Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer, to win the prize. Their work had "dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice", the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prize, said. Prof Duflo is only the second woman to win the prize since it began in 1969. At 46 years old, she is also the youngest recipient of the prize. "Showing that it is possible for a woman to succeed and be recognised for success I hope is going to inspire many, many other women to continue working and many other men to give them the respect that they deserve like every single human being," she said. Prof Duflo's husband was her PhD supervisor and their work, alongside that of Prof Kremer's, has focused on poor communities in India and Africa. Their research helps show which investments are worth making and also what has the biggest impact on the lives of the poorest people. For example, their research in India found a high level of absenteeism among teachers. They found employing them on short-term contracts, which would be extended if they had good results, led to significantly better test results for students. Another project looked at how the demand for de-worming pills for parasitic infections was affected by price. They found that three quarters of parents gave their children these pills when the medicine was free, compared to just 18% when they cost less than a US dollar, which was still heavily subsidised. The research has helped inform decisions on whether medicine and healthcare should be charged for and, if so, at what price.
10-11-19 Gender and Our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds
“Can it be that our culture still wants little girls to stay in their lane?” asked Karen Sandstrom in The Washington Post. In a book “dense with research and point of view,” cognitive researcher Gina Rippon argues that her field is littered with suspect findings about the supposed differences between the brains of men and women. A study can always be found to support the ideas, say, that boys excel at mechanical tasks and girls are more empathetic. Because Rippon, a British professor emeritus, has long been a critic of what she calls neurosexism, she has accumulated many detractors. But she isn’t denying that there are observable differences between the brains of men and women; “she just wants us to accurately understand whatever differences do exist.” Don’t let the science here intimidate you, said Laura Miller in Slate.com. Rippon is an “irascible but very down-to-earth guide” to brain research, and her withering assault on some of the sloppy work of her peers “reads like a secretly recorded trash-talking session in a lab break room.” She also revisits the 19th century, when male researchers weren’t pondering if women might be inferior intellectually; they were merely hoping to understand why. Today, subtler prejudices are alive and well. The media, meanwhile, tends to ignore studies that highlight commonalities between the genders while playing up those that appear to show differences. What’s often missed, Rippon says, is that the differences can be attributed to the brain’s amazing malleability. In one study she cites, teenage girls who played Tetris regularly for just three months enlarged the areas of their brain associated with spatial processing—a capability often cited as a hallmark strength of the male brain. “So has Rippon proved that it’s all nurture and no nature?” asked neuroscientist Simon Baron-Cohen in The Times (U.K.). Hardly. Plenty of research indicates there are measurable differences in the average male and female brain among newborns. A 2001 study that I co-led found that even among 24-hour-old infants, boys gazed longer at objects and girls at human faces. Because that finding “strikes at the heart of Rippon’s thesis,” she attacks it on technicalities. Such criticism of Rippon should be expected, said Sue Nelson in the Financial Times. For years, Rippon has been knocking down myths, and every time her motives are questioned. Instead, her case deserves a hearing. Because when the subject is myths about what women can’t do, “stereotypes are brain changers.”
10-10-19 Iran football: Women attend first match in decades
Iranian women have attended a World Cup qualifier in Tehran after being freely allowed to enter a stadium for a men's match for the first time in decades. Women have effectively been banned from stadiums when men are playing since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution. The change followed the death of a fan who had set herself alight after being arrested for trying to attend a match. But Amnesty International described the move on Thursday as a "cynical publicity stunt". The non-governmental organisation said there were only a "token number" of tickets for female fans as it called for all restrictions on female attendance to be lifted. More than 3,500 women bought tickets to Thursday's World Cup qualifier against Cambodia, where they were granted access to a special women's-only section of the Azadi Stadium. The stadium has a capacity of about 78,000. The tickets for women reportedly sold out within minutes. Photos from inside the stadium showed female football fans excitedly waiving Iranian flags and cheering on their team. They were elated to see Iran win the match 14-0. Women were previously allowed into the Azadi Stadium to watch a screening of their team playing Spain in the 2018 World Cup. but Thursday was the first time in decades that they had been allowed to watch a game on Tehran's pitch. The issue of gender discrimination in Iranian football came to global prominence last month when Sahar Khodayari, known as "blue girl" because of the team she supported, set fire to herself outside court while awaiting trial for trying to attend a match disguised as a man. The 29-year-old died a week later. Football's governing body Fifa responded by stepping up pressure on Tehran to meet its commitments to allowing women to attend World Cup qualifiers. It said this week that it would "stand firm" in ensuring that women had access to all football matches in Iran.
10-9-19 Elizabeth Warren's pregnancy discrimination experience is something that still happens all the time
One story that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, tells on the campaign trail is how she was ushered out of a teaching job in 1971 because she became pregnant. It was a hard-knock lesson in how American employers mistreat their workers, and the discrimination that working women in particular face — but also an ironic change in life circumstances that ultimately put Warren on a course for politics and a run for the presidency.. The story made headlines this week after some conservative media outlets tried to debunk Warren's story. But not only does Warren's narrative hold up, it's not even a relic of an unfortunate past. Pregnancy discrimination is still a widespread problem in American employment today. Ever since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, courts have generally concluded that firing or discriminating against a woman because she's pregnant is discrimination based on sex, and thus prohibited. How often discrimination was actually prevented is another matter: During the 1960s, around half of all women who were in the workforce when they first became pregnant left their job by the time their pregnancy reached six months. Then in 1974, the Supreme Court actually took the opposite tack, ruling that pregnancy discrimination did not fall afoul of the Civil Rights Act. That set off a campaign that eventually passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) in 1978, which explicitly forbade "discrimination on the basis of pregnancy," and obligated employers to treat pregnant women the same "as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work." Warren's story happened in the early 1970s, before the PDA. She had just gotten her teaching gig in the Riverdale school system in New Jersey. In April of 1971, the Riverdale Board of Education voted unanimously to extend Warren's contract, but by June of 1971, the Board had accepted her resignation. Warren's explanation is straightforward: In April, no one knew about her pregnancy. "By the end of the first year I was visibly pregnant, and the principal did what principals did in those days: wished me luck, showed me the door, and hired someone else for the job," Warren said earlier this year.
10-6-19 Why Simone de Beauvoir rejected the idea of the 'strong woman'
In The Second Sex (1949), Simone de Beauvoir argued that women were at a disadvantage in a society where they grew up under "a multiplicity of incompatible myths" about women. Instead of being encouraged to dream their own dreams and pursue meaningful projects for their lives, Beauvoir argued that the "myths" proposed to women, whether in literature or history, science or psychoanalysis, encouraged them to believe that to be a woman was to be for others — and especially for men. Throughout childhood, girls were fed a steady diet of stories that led them to believe that to succeed as a woman was to succeed at love — and that to succeed at other things would make them less lovable. Although some of Beauvoir's claims have dated, her method in The Second Sex was groundbreaking, two-fold and still worthy of attention: In the first volume, she explored some "facts and myths" that had been written about women by men. In the second, she sought to describe what it is like for women to become women in the world where men defined them in these ways — and how it led many to feel divided and dissatisfied. Whereas boys were brought up to believe that they could value their own independence and creativity and have flourishing personal relationships, on Beauvoir's analysis, a woman's education too often led her to feel "torn" between choosing freedom and choosing love. "Woman," she wrote, is "doomed" to feelings of failure and guilt, because if she succeeded at conforming to mythical ideals of femininity she would be a mirage, not a person. She was expected to embody "an inhuman entity: the strong woman, the admirable mother, the virtuous woman, and so on." Because femininity is so closely associated with prioritizing the needs of others, with being likable and giving, when a woman "thinks, dreams, sleeps, desires, and aspires" for herself, she becomes less feminine — which, in the social currency of 1949 at least, meant she became a worse woman.
10-6-19 Women CEOs are making gains
Gains for women CEOs Marillyn Hewson, chairman and chief executive of Lockheed Martin, tops the 22nd annual list of the 50 most powerful women in business, said Fortune. The magazine considered four criteria: "the size and importance of the woman's business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman's career (résumé and runway ahead), and social and cultural influence." Hewson, who has led Lockheed since 2013, increased the defense contractor's sales despite some hurdles, such as the U.S. nixing Turkey's plans to buy F-35 fighter jets. Though 36 Fortune 500 companies — a record number — now have female CEOs, there are still gaps. There's never been a woman at the head of major U.S. bank, and "women of color remain depressingly rare in the highest of corner offices."
10-5-19 Saudi Arabia: Unmarried foreign couples can now rent hotel rooms
Unmarried foreign couples will now be allowed to rent hotel rooms together in Saudi Arabia as part of a new visa regime announced by the religiously conservative kingdom. Women will also be allowed to stay in hotel rooms alone. Couples previously had to prove they were married before getting a hotel room. The government move comes amid efforts by Saudi Arabia to grow its tourism industry. In the past, couples had to provide documents proving marriage, but now these rules have been relaxed for foreigners. "All Saudi nationals are asked to show family ID or proof of relationship on checking into hotels," the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage said in a statement. "This is not required of foreign tourists. All women, including Saudis, can book and stay in hotels alone, providing ID on check-in." The new visa regulations state that female tourists are not required to fully cover up but are still expected to dress modestly. Alcohol remains banned. Long seen as one of the strictest places on earth, Saudi Arabia is trying to soften its image in the eyes of foreign tourists and investors. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has recently made some substantial changes in the ultra-conservative kingdom. These include ending a ban on female drivers and allowing women to travel abroad without a male guardian's permission. But these changes have been overshadowed by highly controversial issues including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Simon Calder, senior travel editor at The Independent, said that the relaxing of visa regulations would likely increase the number of people travelling to the kingdom. (Webmaster's comment: Saudi Arabia is still the worst religious dictatorship on Earth!)
10-2-19 Why are so few women inventors named on patents?
It's easy to list some of the many everyday items invented and patented by women - the dishwasher, windscreen wipers, the board game Monopoly, to name but a few - but the world is still failing to take full advantage of women's innovative ideas, a report suggests. Women inventors account for just under 13% of patent applications globally, according to the study, by the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO). That's one female inventor for every seven male ones. And although the proportion among patent applications is increasing, at the current rate it won't reach gender parity until 2070. So, why are there so few women in the world of inventing? Researchers attribute the gap to a lack of women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem). According to Penny Gilbert, partner at intellectual property law firm Powell & Gilbert, it's simply a pipeline issue. "If we want to see more women filing patents, then we need to see more women taking up Stem subjects at university and going on to careers in research," she says. Currently only about a quarter of the UK workforce in Stem industries is female and fewer girls and women study these subjects at secondary school and university, despite efforts to diagnose and solve this imbalance. Patents are granted to the owner of an invention, allowing the creator and subsequent owners to prevent others from using their invention. In order to qualify as an "invention" patent, the filing must contain a new, useful idea - that would not be obvious to a skilled person in that field. They can be filed individually, or by teams of inventors. The gender disparity among inventors grows even starker when you take into account most female inventorship takes the form of a lone female on a male-dominated team. More than two-thirds of all patents come from all-male teams or individual male inventors - and just 6% from individual female inventors. All-female teams are nearly non-existent, making up just 0.3% of applications, according to the IPO. Even when they apply for patents, women may be less likely to receive them, according to a study of US patent applications, by Yale University researchers. They found applicants with an obviously female name were less likely to have their patent approved. And of course, not everyone involved in an invention is credited with a patent.
9-27-19 Free the Nipple
Equality, after Fort Collins, Colo., formally repealed its ban on women going topless. The victory for the nationwide “Free the Nipple” movement follows a federal appeals court ruling that the ban reinforced “negative stereotypes depicting women’s breasts, but not men’s breasts, as sex objects.”
9-25-19 Somali journalist: 'I was the only female reporter in my city'
Maryan Seylac is a journalist from Somalia. She was one of the first female reporters from her city, Baidoa, and set up an organisation that seeks to encourage and support women journalists in the country. She has told the BBC her story, discussing the challenges that women face in one of the world's most dangerous countries to be a journalist and how she was almost killed in an attack by militant Islamist group al-Shabab. I was always interested in journalism. From a young age, I used to listen to the BBC Somali Service with my father and discuss the stories with him - that's how I developed an interest in politics. Somalia is full of political issues and has been fought over by various groups since the military regime was toppled in 1991, when I was about four years old. Since 2012, it has gradually become more stable, but Somalia is still a dangerous place to be a journalist, particularly if you're a woman. At school, I was always outspoken and used to address the class as they were lining up for lessons. In Somalia, your parents never ask what you're going to be in the future, because as a woman your place is in the home, cooking and cleaning. But I knew early on that I wanted a career, and it would be in journalism. My father was a teacher and he always wanted one member of our family to take that role from him. Because my older brothers and sisters didn't, he thought it would be me who would become a teacher - and I did, for a while. When I left high school I spent a year teaching in a school back home in Baidoa. But it was not the job I wanted to do. My friend's husband worked on the local radio station and I asked if I could get some experience there in the evenings. Most of the media in Somalia is privately-owned and struggles to be balanced in its reporting, but radio, as the main source of news, is very important. As the only woman, I was quite a novelty in the newsroom and they offered to train me. I used to help out, welcoming guests and reading the news.
9-22-19 Fifa 'assured' Iranian women will be able to attend football matches
Women in Iran will be able to attend football matches, starting with a World Cup qualifier next month, according to football's world governing body, Fifa. Fifa president Gianni Infantino said he discussed the issue with the Iranian authorities after the death of a female fan earlier this month. Mr Infantino said they assured him that women would be allowed into matches. Women have effectively been banned from stadiums where men are playing since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Earlier this month, football fan Sahar Khodayari died after being arrested for trying to go to a match disguised as a man. Ms Khodayari, also known as the "blue girl" after the colours of her favourite team Esteqlal, feared she would be jailed. She set herself on fire outside the court and died a week later in hospital. Her death caused widespread grief and outrage, both within and outside Iran. Football players and fans around the world have also been paying tribute to Ms Khodayari. Footballers from some European women's teams have been wearing blue armbands during matches, in her memory. Fifa itself has faced growing criticism, with people calling for the body to suspend or ban Iran's football federation. Fifa officials have spent a week in Iran discussing the 10 October match against Cambodia, Iran's first home game of the 2022 qualifying competition. "We need to have women attending," Mr Infantino told a Fifa conference on women's football. "We have been assured that as of the next international game of Iran... women will be allowed to enter football stadiums. This is something very important - in 40 years this has not happened, with a couple of exceptions." Although Iranian women have been banned from watching men's teams play, foreign women have been allowed limited access to stadiums in order to watch these matches. While the sporting ban is not written into law, it is "ruthlessly enforced", Human Rights Watch says.
9-20-19 Equality: Walmart faces discrimination finding
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Walmart likely discriminated against 178 female employees, said Sarah Nassauer in The Wall Street Journal. Some of the charges date to 2001, when Walmart workers first pursued a class-action suit alleging “the retailer systematically paid 1.6 million female workers less than men and offered fewer promotions.” The Supreme Court threw out the case in 2011, ruling that members of the group had too little in common for a single case. But the EEOC this week sided with dozens of the claims.
9-20-19 Can men really take paternity leave?
Woe unto the man who openly considers taking paternity leave, said the Asahi Shimbun. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi received an avalanche of criticism last week after he announced he might take some time off to help his wife when their first child is born next year. The 38-year-old son of a former prime minister, Koizumi is a rising star in the center-right Liberal Democratic Party. But his socially liberal views—he favors letting married women keep their maiden names and thinks fathers should be more involved in day-to-day parenting—is causing a backlash. His detractors, who include former cabinet ministers, say that Koizumi’s government duties will require his presence, and that “working for the country should be his top priority.” Koizumi shot back that his critics were being “old-fashioned” and “pigheaded.” Under Japanese law, new dads are entitled to up to a year of paid leave to care for kids. But while 86 percent of Japanese men want to take paternity leave, only 6 percent of eligible fathers actually did so last year. Many who didn’t cited workplace attitudes that discouraged time off. Still, that mindset may be evolving, thanks partly to a new generation of politicians like Koizumi. The “seeds of change have been planted.”
9-20-19 The cost of traditional masculinity
“No man in America should be afraid of feminism,” said Liz Plank. The rigid gender roles that feminists want to break down make men’s lives more stressful and difficult than they need to be, giving rise to “man-made diseases” that shorten men’s lives. Traditional notions about masculinity lead men to engage in high-risk behavior in their personal lives and in their work; to avoid doctors and psychologists even when suffering physical and mental pain; and to drink, smoke, and eat poorly. The suicide rate is four times higher for men than for women—partly because men think weakness and depression are unmanly and partly because they are more likely to own guns. Even among minors, more than 80 percent of gun deaths are of boys. In European countries like Sweden, Austria, and Iceland, where gender equality is real and most women work, male suicide rates are much lower than in the U.S. and men’s life expectancy is longer. If men lose their jobs, their wives can shoulder the economic burden for a while without the men feeling shamed. Surrendering lone-cowboy masculinity in exchange “for a longer (and happier) life seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.” (Webmaster's comment: The emasculation of male brutes is a moral imperative!)
9-13-19 Woman dies for soccer
Iranian soccer fans mourned the death this week of Sahar Khodayari, a 29-year-old woman who was arrested for sneaking into a soccer stadium to watch a game. Khodayari set herself on fire outside a courthouse last week after learning that she might be sentenced to six months in prison; she died of her burns seven days later. Public events in Iran have been either segregated or closed to women since the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution. News of Khodayari’s death led to an outpouring of demands for equality, with tributes posted on social media with the hashtag #BlueGirl—?a reference to the color of her favorite team, Esteghlal. Andranik Teymourian, a former captain of the national team, tweeted that soccer stadiums should be named after Khodayari “in the future.”
9-11-19 Are voters biased against women candidates?
With a record number of women in the fight for the White House, it's time to re-examine what role - if any - gender biases may play in the 2020 election. It's been a groundbreaking year for women in US politics: 1,834 women won office at the state and federal level during the mid-term elections last November and 2,112 are serving in state legislative offices. The year 2018 saw the largest increase in female representation in state governments following a decade of stagnation, according to the Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University. Six women have launched campaigns for the highest office in the land. Women have vied for the Oval Office in the past - Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina in 2016, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run, in 1972, back to Victoria Woodhull in 1872, to name a few - but 2018 has seen more candidates than ever before. Each presidential hopeful must prove they are the best fit for the job, regardless of gender. But some argue the women are up against something more: unconscious biases that have long coloured our understanding of who a leader can be. "We all constantly form stereotypes based on what we observe - and we're not thinking about forming them, so they lie a bit below the surface... that's the implicit part," says professor Alice Eagly, a gender psychology professor at Northwestern University, Illinois. Bias comes into play when we make assumptions about people based on those unconscious stereotypes. Other stereotypes - like racial biases - also play a role in informing our opinions. Gender, however, comes with especially defined stereotypes. "How many observations of men and women do you get in one day? Many thousands! We automatically take in that information to decide what are the [gender] characteristics," Prof Eagly says. When looking at women running for office, political science scholar Kelly Dittmar of CAWP says the problems centre around role expectations. "We have certain expectations of gender roles, how women should act, what traits they have, and then we have expectations of what leaders look like, what are their traits, areas of expertise," Prof Dittmar explains. "And for women, the congruity between the gender expectations and the candidacy expectations have been in conflict for much of our history."
9-10-19 Iran's 'blue girl' dies after setting herself on fire
An Iranian female football fan who set herself on fire a week ago has died. The woman set herself alight in Tehran after her trial, for attempting to enter a football stadium disguised as a man, was postponed. The authorities in Iran regularly stop women from entering stadiums. Her story has been followed closely by Iranians around the world who used the hashtag "blue girl" - a reference to the colours of her favourite team, Esteqlal of Tehran. The woman, referred to as Sahar, which is not her real name, was arrested in March when she tried to enter a football stadium. After being jailed for three days she was released on bail and waited six months for her court case. But when she appeared at court she found out it had been postponed because the judge had a family emergency. She later returned to court to pick up her mobile phone and it is widely reported that she is thought to have overheard someone saying that if she were convicted she could get six months to two years in prison. She then set herself alight in front of the court house and later died in hospital. Women in Iran have been stopped from going to stadiums to watch men’s sporting events since 1981. This was temporarily lifted last year to allow women to watch the World Cup being streamed at a stadium in Tehran. While the sporting ban is not written into law, it is "ruthlessly enforced", says Human Rights Watch. Football's governing body Fifa set a deadline of 31 August for Iran to allow women into stadiums - something the country has not yet guaranteed. "We are aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it," a Fifa statement said. "Fifa convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran."
9-6-19 Gender equality: 'No room at the top for women scientists'
The number of women climbing the career ladder in science is "disappointingly low", say researchers. Women make up half of students in the life sciences, but only one in four professors, according to data from 500 scientific institutions worldwide. The main problem lies with retaining and promoting women into influential positions, the study concluded. It found women had fewer chances to serve on committees or speak at scientific meetings. Other factors included unconscious bias, tensions with work-life balance, poor funding and pay, and a lack of networking opportunities. The data, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, came from 541 universities and research institutions in 38 countries in the US, Europe and Australia. Women made up more than half of undergraduate and postgraduate students, 42% of assistant professors and 23% of full professors, although rates varied by institution. The findings back the view of many women in science that more must be done to address the problem of the "leaky pipeline" - where women leave the profession due to problems such as harassment and issues around promotion and pay. "There is no point in encouraging more girls into science if the system is set up to exclude them," Dr Jessica Wade of Imperial College London, who champions women in physics but was not connected with this particular study, told the BBC. "Improving gender balance in science will take institutional commitments to support women in their applications for promotion, act when there are reports of sexual harassment or bullying and make work allocation more transparent." Women have made important contributions to science throughout history, but have consistently been underrepresented at all levels. One recent study found that closing the gender gap in physics will take hundreds of years, given the current rate of progress.
8-30-19 The minimum wage
The minimum wage for restaurant servers and other tipped employees is less than $5 per hour in 36 states. About 4.4 million U.S. workers rely on tips to make a living, two-thirds of them women, and many have to frequently work double and triple shifts to make ends meet.
8-23-19 Scarlett Johansson tops Forbes highest-paid actresses list
Scarlett Johansson has topped Forbes' list of best-paid actresses for a second year - but is only the eighth highest paid actor overall. The 34-year-old's income of $56m (£45.7m) lands her below seventh-placed male actor Adam Sandler. She earned $15.5m (£12.6m) more than she did in 2018, thanks largely to the success of Avengers: Endgame. Modern family actor Sofia Vergara is the only other woman to break into the overall top 10. Earlier this week, Dwayne Johnson was announced as the highest-paid actor of the last 12 months, making $89.4m (£73.6m) according to the latest annual rankings from the financial experts. Notably all of the top 10 actresses earned above $20m (£16.3) this year, compared with last year when only the top two - Johansson and Angelina Jolie made that amount. Johansson is set to reprise her title role in the Avengers spin-off Black Widow next year. Meanwhile, Jolie - who earned $28m (£22.8) in 2018 - drops out of this year's top 10 due to increased earnings for several of the highest earners in the top 10. She is currently acting in and producing two forthcoming films - Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and The One and Only Ivan. Other names to drop out of the top 10 this year include Mila Kunis, Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett, Melissa McCarthy and Gal Gadot. Unlike the male actors list, there's a notable lack of diversity among this year's highest earning women. Vergara is Colombian-American, but there are no black actresses in the top 10.
8-17-19 Allyson Felix: Nike changes policy for pregnant athletes
Six-time Olympic gold medallist Allyson Felix says female athletes will "no longer be financially penalised for having a child" after Nike changed its contracts for pregnant athletes. In a letter shared by Felix on social media, Nike says it will "not apply any performance-related reduction" for 18 months if an athlete becomes pregnant. Felix's daughter Camryn was born prematurely in November. In May, she said Nike wanted to pay her 70% less after she became a mother. Writing in the New York Times at the time, Felix, 33, said: "I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn't be punished if I didn't perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth. "I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike's most widely marketed athletes, couldn't secure these protections, who could? Nike declined." Felix returned to racing for the first time in 13 months in July at the US National Championships. After the meet, she decided to not renew her Nike contact and joined women's athletic wear company Athleta. On social media on Friday, Felix posted a picture of the letter from Nike executive vice president of global sports marketing John Slusher. She wrote: "Our voices have power. "Nike has joined in officially and contractually providing maternal protection to the female athletes they sponsor. This means that female athletes will no longer be financially penalised for having a child." In a statement to Sports Illustrated, Nike said: "Female athletes and their representatives will begin receiving written confirmation reaffirming Nike's official pregnancy policy for elite athletes. "In addition to our 2018 policy standardising our approach across all sports to ensure no female athlete is adversely impacted financially for pregnancy, the policy has now been expanded to cover 18 months."
8-13-19 Sperm sorting method could prevent girls being born, scientists warn
Scientists warn that sex ratios could be skewed even further by the discovery of physical differences between sperm. The finding that some chemicals slow down sperm that carry the X chromosome could lead to gels for home use that make a couple less likely to conceive a girl, scientists have warned. “I am concerned about the social impact of this,” says Alireza Fazeli of Tartu University in Estonia. “It’s so simple. You could start to do it in your bedroom. Nobody would be able to stop you from doing it. It was thought that the sperm of mammals that lead to male and female offspring are identical except for the DNA they carry. But Masayuki Shimada of Hiroshima University in Japan and his colleagues have found that 500 genes are active in sperm that carry the X chromosome, which give rise to female offspring, that aren’t active in sperm that carry the Y chromosome, which lead to male offspring. Of these genes, 18 code for proteins that stick out from the sperm cell’s surface. The team has found that chemicals that bind to two of these proteins can slow down the movement of X-carrying sperm without affecting the Y-carrying ones. This discovery makes it simple to separate sperm according to the sex of the offspring they could produce. When the researchers used this method on mouse sperm, they found that selecting the fastest swimmers for conception led to 90 per cent of the resulting pups being male. When they used slowed-down sperm, the pups were 81 per cent female (PLoS Biology, DOI: 10.1371/ journal.pbio.3000398). The researchers focus on livestock, and they have found that the technique works in cattle and pigs (see “Why sort sperm?”, below). They haven’t tried it on human sperm, but Shimada says he thinks it would work.
8-13-19 Brazil's indigenous women protest against Bolsonaro policies
Hundreds of indigenous women occupied a building of Brazil's health ministry in the capital, Brasília, on Monday to protest against the policies of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. The group of some 300 protesters demanded better healthcare for indigenous people, especially women, and condemned proposed changes to how these services are delivered. The Bolsonaro government wants to make towns and cities responsible for providing medical services to indigenous people, and community leaders fear local authorities lack the infrastructure and specialised units required. The federal government is currently in charge of healthcare, and indigenous communities are visited by specially trained professionals. The protesters, who are in the city for the first March of Indigenous Women, sang and danced inside and outside the building of the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health, known as Sesai. "We've been left abandoned. They treat indigenous people like animals," 43-year-old Teresa Cristina Kezonazokere told Correio Braziliense newspaper (in Portuguese). The demonstration ended almost 10 hours later, when Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said he would talk to some of their leaders. There were no reports of violence. Organisers say the event in Brasília aims to highlight the role of women in indigenous communities. On Wednesday, some 1,500 indigenous women from 110 ethnic groups are expected to join a protest to defend rights they say are under threat under Mr Bolsonaro. "We don't have to accept the destruction of our rights," said indigenous leader Sônia Guajajara. The president has promised to integrate indigenous people into the rest of the population and repeatedly questioned the existence of their protected reserves, which are rights guaranteed in the country's constitution. Mr Bolsonaro, who supports policies that favour development over conservation, says the indigenous territories are too big in relation to the number of people who live there and has promised to open some of them to agriculture and mining.
8-12-19 Teen Choice Awards: Taylor Swift backs equal pay for US footballers
Teen Choice Award-winner Taylor Swift has backed the US women's football team in their campaign for equal pay. After being presented with the Icon Award from player Alex Morgan, Taylor Swift said: "Please, please, please support her and her teammates because this isn't over yet. "It's not resolved." The women's team began legal action against the US Soccer Federation over equal pay in March, but the Federation claims they get paid more than the men. Taylor added: "Let people know how you feel about it because what happened to them is unfair. It's happening everywhere and they are heroes and icons for standing up." The California-based awards featured performances from the likes of Mabel and OneRepublic. Winners included BTS, who picked up four awards including International Artist. The event came hours after their management company announced the K-pop group would be taking a "long-term break". Jonas Brothers won the Decade Award - created to celebrate their first studio album in 10 years - and also took home an award for Summer Group. Louis Tomlinson won for his song Two Of Us, which was written about his mum, who died two years ago - just before he started his solo career. For the second year in a row, Riverdale won best TV drama, and its stars Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart won for drama actor and actress. Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson also both won for the second year in a row for their roles in the Avengers movies. Three films - Spider-Man: Far From Home, Aladdin and After - took three awards each. In the music categories, winners included Shawn Mendes, Billie Eilish, Cardi B and Lil Nas X.
8-11-19 This underground network helps Yemeni women to safety
The group uses WhatsApp to help facilitate a safe escape. Azal held her breath and hoped the burqa she was wearing would be enough to evade detection at the nearly two dozen checkpoints that lay ahead. If everything went according to plan, she would soon be in Sudan. Getting in the back of a pickup truck with a strange man posing as her husband was just the beginning of her harrowing escape from Yemen. "I never imagined this would be my life," said Azal, who asked that her last name be withheld for her family's safety. More than four years of war between the Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed, internationally recognized government has ripped Yemen apart and led to the world's worst humanitarian disaster. Houthis, backed by Iran, have captured large swaths of the country, including the capital city, Sanaa, from pro-government forces. In those areas, rights groups say Houthis have escalated their crackdown on public displays of dissent. In October 2018, Houthis arrested Azal, then 21, along with dozens of other university students who attended a protest against poor living conditions in the capital, according to Rasha Rashid Jarhum of the Peace Track Initiative. In prison, guards severely beat her and accused Azal of belonging to ISIS. Released after 12 hours with a bloodied face and a warning, Azal knew she needed to leave her city — and fast. "The Houthis [then] asked my university to hand me over. They were outside my house day and night," she remembered. "I was driven out of the country, forced to run from one house to the next." Some 6,000 miles away in Ottawa, Canada, Rasha Rashid Jarhum had begun coordinating Azal's escape through the messenger service, WhatsApp. "We were asking her, what are the options? We told her, once you think you can safely relocate and once you arrive in Marib, just contact us," Jarhum said.
8-10-19 Are women better ultra-endurance athletes than men?
Through thunderstorms, scorching heat and icy rain, Fiona Kolbinger cycled 2,485 miles (3,999km) in a little more than 10 days over some of Europe's most demanding terrain. In doing so, the German cyclist became the first woman to win the Transcontinental Race this week. That in itself was remarkable: it was the first time she had formally competed in an ultra-cycling event. But what was all the more remarkable was the fact she finished the brutal journey from Bulgaria to France a full 10 hours ahead of her closest opponent. "I am so, so surprised to win," she said. "When I was coming into the race I thought that maybe I could go for the women's podium, but I never thought I could win the whole race." Perhaps she should not have been so surprised: her result is one of a number of wins racked up by female ultra-endurance athletes in recent years. In January, British ultra-runner Jasmin Paris became the first woman to win the 268-mile Montane Spine Race in the UK, finishing the course in 83 hours, 12 minutes and 23 seconds, smashing the course record by 12 hours. And that included time to breastfeed her baby along the way. And in May, British junior doctor Katie Wright beat 40 men and six other women to win the Riverhead Backyard ReLaps Ultra-marathon in New Zealand, running almost non-stop for 30 hours. Is this a sign women are better at ultra-endurance events? And if so, why? In general, women have a greater distribution of slow twitch muscle fibres, said Dr Nicholas Tiller, a senior lecturer in applied physiology at Sheffield Hallam University. These muscle fibres are more resistant to fatigue and more suited to endurance. He said that men still tended to have bigger muscles and greater maximal capacities like strength and aerobic power, which is why women generally can't compete with men over shorter distances like a marathon.
8-9-19 Women may travel alone
Saudi Arabian women celebrated this week after the kingdom lifted some of the onerous guardianship restrictions that constrain their lives. Women will now be allowed to get passports and travel without a male relative’s permission and to register births and be guardians to minors. We will have “a generation growing up completely free and equal to their brothers,” said activist Muna AbuSulayman. The changes, part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform program, come after a string of high-profile cases in which Saudi and Emirati women have fled abroad to escape domestic abuse. But the guardianship system remains in place. Male relatives can still report women to authorities for “disobedience” and living on their own, offenses that are punishable by imprisonment and flogging.
8-2-19 Princess flees
The estranged sixth wife of the ruler of Dubai is begging a British court to protect her children from being forced into marriage. Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, 45, brought her daughter 11, and son, 7, to London several months ago, saying Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum wanted to marry one of them off. She is seeking asylum in the U.K., sole custody of her children, and a restraining order. Sheikh Mohammed, 70, who is prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and has some 20 children by many wives, is challenging the petition. Two of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters from other marriages tried to flee their homeland, one in 2000 and one last year; both were captured by Emirati forces and forced to return to Dubai.
8-2-19 Saudi Arabia allows women to travel independently
Women in Saudi Arabia can now travel abroad without a male guardian's permission, royal decrees say. The new rule announced on Friday allows women over the age of 21 to apply for a passport without authorisation, putting them on an equal footing to men. Women are also being given the right to register births, marriage or divorce. The kingdom has recently eased other long-standing social restrictions on women, though campaigners say more remains to be done for women's rights. Saudi Arabia has increasingly come under the spotlight over its treatment of its female citizens, an issue highlighted by several high-profile cases of Saudi women seeking asylum abroad. The de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has sought to relax prohibitions on women, including lifting a driving ban last year, in a bid to open up the conservative kingdom. But he has also cracked down on women's rights activists, putting a number of them on trial in recent months. Saudi's male guardianship system gives husbands, fathers and other male relatives the authority to make critical decisions about women. Until now, this has meant women there were required to seek those relatives' permission to obtain or renew a passport and exit the country. But the royal decrees published in the kingdom's official weekly Um al-Qura gazette on Friday stipulate that Saudi passports should be issued to any citizen who applies for it, and that anyone over the age of 21 does not need permission to travel. The changes allow women for the first time to register their children's births, as well as marriages and divorces. They also cover employment regulations that expand work opportunities for women. Under the rule, all citizens have the right to work without facing any discrimination based on gender, disability or age.
7-18-19 Trump and the everlasting problem of men demanding apologies from women
It was a busy weekend for President Trump on Twitter. You've no doubt heard the story by now: In the span of 24 hours, Trump posted a series of rapid-fire tweets aimed squarely at "the Squad" of four Democratic congresswomen of color — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — telling them to "go back" to their home countries. These tweets revealed, yet again, the president's deeply racist and misogynistic character. But it was one of his follow-up tweets, posted July 15th, that demonstrated an equally troubling pattern with which many women are all too familiar: men demanding apologies from women. "When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said," Trump asked in his tweet. The question smacks of sexism: A grown man chastising women as if he were somehow superior to them, as if they need to be "put in their place." Never mind the foul language he himself has used to describe everything from his political opponents to entire countries. Never mind that most of Trump's accusations against these congresswomen were false. It didn't matter. These women, Trump believed, had misbehaved, and needed to pay the price of public humiliation and contrition. This kind of gaslighting behavior is peak misogyny, and most women are very familiar with it. The phrase "I'm sorry" may seem small and inconsequential. It's only two words and three syllables. And of course, men have been asked or forced to apologize for their actions, too. But the demanded apology's power over women is huge: Research shows that women are society's chief apologists, saying "I'm sorry" far more often than men. Indeed, society's tolerance for women who are anything but quiet and polite is low, and the punishment imposed on such a woman is shame and remorse. And it's not just society: Women themselves believe they should apologize more often for their actions. One 2010 study published in Psychological Science suggested that "women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior."
7-12-19 U.S. women’s soccer triumph drives push for equal pay
The U.S. women’s soccer team came back to New York City this week to a ticker-tape parade and chants of “USA! Equal pay!”—echoing the shouts in the stadium that greeted the squad’s fourth World Cup victory. Tens of thousands of paradegoers cheered the team, which turned in a historically overpowering performance, winning its seven matches 26-3, including a 2-0 defeat of the Netherlands for its second straight title. The team was defiantly joyful and relentless in the process, beginning with an unheard-of 13-0 romp of Thailand. The Americans celebrated goal after goal, sometimes cheekily—as when forward Alex Morgan pretended to sip tea after scoring in the semifinal against England. “There is some sort of double standard for females in sports,” Morgan said to critics, a theme that continued after the Americans’ triumph. The women’s team is pursuing a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming they make less than the underperforming men’s team. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) proposed a bill this week that would withhold federal funding for the U.S.’s hosting of the 2026 men’s World Cup until the teams got equal pay. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer invited the women champions to visit the Capitol after President Trump demurred on a White House invite. Co-captain Megan Rapinoe, the dominant player of the tournament, said Trump distracts from the example her teammates have set: “They have inspired particularly young women to believe in themselves, to be brave, to be bold, to be fierce.”
7-11-19 Islamic headscarf: Iran's promotional video divides opinion
As part of Hijab week in Iran, a video endorsed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps promoting the Islamic headscarf has created a social media stir. In the clip, produced by the Basij Cyberspace organisation, an "inappropriately dressed" young woman enters a shop that sells fake jewellery. The woman, who is also the film's narrator, says the male shopkeeper gives her "a peculiar look and a meaningful smile". When she asks about real jewellery, he tells her she needs to go to a store where jewellery is "kept in seven boxes and locked in seven safes". He also tells her anything that is valuable is "hard to access and commands special respect", while appearing to lean low and stare at her. When a woman enters wearing a full-body veil, the chador, the man stands up straight and bows his head. The clip ends with the first woman - now dressed in a chador - saying: "I realised I had to make a change. I understand the difference between fake and genuine jewellery." It has been viewed on Twitter 114,000 times since posted, and has inspired some people to share their views. Responses to the animation have been mixed. One woman, apparently pro-establishment, felt it did not help promote the hijab at all and disliked being compared to jewellery, tweeting: "I'm a human being. Don't downgrade us to goods," A man who claimed to be a shopkeeper said he was more vigilant with chador wearers as they could sneak things under their clothes. Another woman tells the "absolute jewels" to "leave us fakes alone", implying that she does not like being told to wear the full-length veil. Some have lamented that the animation is "ridiculous" and a waste of mobile data. In Iran, the law requires women to wear modest "Islamic" clothing. In practice, this means women must wear a chador, a full-body cloak, or a headscarf and a manteau (overcoat) that covers their arms.
7-2-19 Germany's Ursula von der Leyen nominated to lead EU Commission
EU leaders have put forward their choices for the bloc's top jobs, with a woman for the first time proposed for European Commission chief. The nomination of German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen came as a surprise after the main front-runners were rejected. IMF head Christine Lagarde has been nominated for the head of the European Central Bank (ECB). The announcement follows days of difficult negotiations. Ms Lagarde said she was "very honoured" to have been nominated, tweeting that she had "decided to temporarily relinquish my responsibilities as IMF Managing Director during the nomination period". Their nominations must be approved by the European parliament. "We have agreed the whole package before the first session of the European Parliament," said European Council President Donald Tusk. He praised the "perfect gender balance" and said Germany had abstained on Ms Von der Leyen's nomination over coalition issues. However, he pointed out that Mrs Merkel herself had backed her. The German leader told reporters that her abstention had come according to a deal reached in the ruling coalition in Berlin. "We agreed this in the coalition: that if there is no unanimity, then one abstains. But one can say this has been approved today without any opposition," she said. If Ms Von der Leyen is confirmed in the role it would be the first time in over 60 years that a German has been given the post. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the nomination of two women for key jobs sent a powerful message that the EU was leading the way towards gender equality. However, there were concerns that the European Parliament's own contest for the main job - the "Spitzenkandidaten" (lead candidate) process - had been cast aside. Neither the winner, Manfred Weber of Germany, nor other frontrunners were selected by EU leaders.