Jan 14

When There’s A Baby Between You And The Glass Ceiling

From NPR:  Among the candidates President Obama may nominate for the next defense secretary is Michele Flournoy, formerly the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon.

Flournoy is a mother of three, and in February, she stunned her colleagues when she stepped down from her job as undersecretary of defense for policy to spend more time with her children.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s a dilemma that many working mothers face. While some call for changes in workplace policy to make caring for families and working easier, others argue women ultimately have to make a choice.

When Flournoy was working at the Pentagon, she says her hours were long and intense. She would work starting at 7 a.m. for about 12 hours, “pretty much non-stop.” Then she would have maybe two hours with her family at home before being available to work again around 9 p.m.

She did that for three years. During that time, both she and her husband were in senior government positions (her husband, W. Scott Gould, is deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs).

“There was a point in time, when my older kids were reaching the teenage years, that they really needed more of a parent,” she tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

So after a number of long discussions with her husband, Flournoy says, they decided it was time for one of them to step out.

It was an agonizing decision for Flournoy, in part because she didn’t want to let down the younger women who looked to her to open doors for them. The reaction she actually received surprised her.  Continue here.

Jan 08

The Saddest Graph You’ll See Today

From the Washington Post: This graphic, passed along by the Huffington Post‘s Laura Bassett, was put together by the Enliven Project using data from Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey and FBI reports. It drives home extremely well the fact that false rape accusations are exceedingly rare, despite what media reports might suggest. Almost as rare are cases when rapists actually go to jail.

Continue here.

Jan 03

Israel to Review Curbs on Women’s Prayer at Western Wall

From the NYT:  Amid outrage across the Jewish diaspora over a flurry of recent arrests of women seeking to pray at the Western Wall with ritual garments in defiance of Israeli law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, to study the issue and suggest ways to make the site more accommodating to all Jews.

The move comes after more than two decades of civil disobedience by a group called Women of the Wall against regulations, legislation and a 2003 Israeli Supreme Court ruling that allow for gender division at the wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, and prohibit women from carrying a Torah or wearing prayer shawls there.

Although the movement has struggled to gain traction in Israel, where the ultra-Orthodox retain great sway over public life, the issue has deepened a divide between the Jewish state and Jews around the world at a time when Israel is battling international isolation over its settlement policy. Critics, particularly leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements in the United States, complain that the government’s recent aggressive enforcement of restrictions at the wall has turned a national monument into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue.

Continue here.

Jan 03

A Woman’s Place Is in the House

From the NYT: Most states are red or blue. A few are purple. After the November election, New Hampshire turned pink.

Women won the state’s two Congressional seats. Women already held the state’s two Senate seats. When they are all sworn into office on Thursday, New Hampshire will become the first state in the nation’s history to send an all-female delegation to Washington.

And the matriarchy does not end there. New Hampshire’s new governor is a woman. So are the speaker of the State House and the chief justice of the State Supreme Court.

“Pink is the new power color in New Hampshire,” declared Ann McLane Kuster, one of the newly elected representatives, at a recent forum at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, where the women’s historic milestone was celebrated.  More here.

Dec 20

College Student’s Account Has Rape in Spotlight

From the NYT:  This year has brought news of student athletes charged with sex crimes at Boston University and at Temple, along with countless other less publicized cases. There have been claims that Wesleyan University tolerated a fraternity house where the abuse of women was common. A gang rape at the University of Massachusetts was reported just this week.

But none has generated more soul searching, or scrutiny from beyond, than a woman’s wrenching account, published in a campus newspaper last week, of being raped in May 2011 by a fellow student at Amherst College and then being treated callously by college administrators.

“Eventually I reached a dangerously low point, and, in my despondency, began going to the campus’ sexual assault counselor,” the woman wrote in The Amherst Student. “In short I was told: No you can’t change dorms, there are too many students right now. Pressing charges would be useless, he’s about to graduate, there’s not much we can do. Are you SURE it was rape?”

Within hours, the story of the woman, Angie Epifano, became the most-examined episode in memory on this campus of 1,800 students, the subject of online commentary from around the world.  Continue here.

Dec 19

Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’

From the NYT: Jessica Schairer has so much in common with her boss, Chris Faulkner, that a visitor to the day care center they run might get them confused.

They are both friendly white women from modest Midwestern backgrounds who left for college with conventional hopes of marriage, motherhood and career. They both have children in elementary school. They pass their days in similar ways: juggling toddlers, coaching teachers and swapping small secrets that mark them as friends. They even got tattoos together. Though Ms. Faulkner, as the boss, earns more money, the difference is a gap, not a chasm.

But a friendship that evokes parity by day becomes a study of inequality at night and a testament to the way family structure deepens class divides. Ms. Faulkner is married and living on two paychecks, while Ms. Schairer is raising her children by herself. That gives the Faulkner family a profound advantage in income and nurturing time, and makes their children statistically more likely to finish college, find good jobs and form stable marriages.  Continue here.

Dec 19

Are You the Office Sexist?

From GQ: Sorry we have to be the ones to tell you this. But just because you’re not the person who sexts the junior partner (you’re not, are you?) or publicly grades the women who walk by your cubicle on a ten-point scale—that doesn’t mean you’re not that creepy guy. It’s gotten a little more complicated than that. A GQ field guide to all the ways men offend women at the office.  Check it out here.

Dec 19

‘End Of Men’ Heralds New Era Of Female Dominance

From NPR: Women have fought tirelessly to establish equal footing for themselves in relationships, politics and the workplace, and according to writer Hanna Rosin, they’ve finally arrived.

In her new book, The End of Men: And The Rise of Women, Rosin argues that the U.S. has entered an era of female dominance.

 “Women make up about half the workforce and the majority of college degrees — which these days is the prerequisite to success in this world. But … I discovered that this had seeped into the fabric of our lives — our intimate relationships, our marriages, all the decisions we make in life — and that was the big surprise in reporting the book.

“The latest job numbers show that men are at their lowest labor force participation rate since 1948. They also show that the manufacturing economy has lost almost 6 million jobs, and just about the same number of jobs were added in the health-care industry and the service economy which are largely dominated by women. You can see right there that that creates a different kind of economy.

“If our assumption is that the men are the breadwinners … that men carry the family, when that dynamic shifts, you can see that relationships shift with it. So we have to redefine what we mean by ‘head of the household’ … by ‘manly virtues,’ and what women do, and what men do, and how marriage works, and who raises the children. All these things start to change along with it.”  Continue here.

Dec 18

A Year Out of College, Women Already Paid Less Than Men

From the Washington Post:  Women are attending college at higher rates than men, graduating in greater numbers and earning higher grades. Yet one year after graduation, women were making only 82 percent of what their male colleagues were paid, according to a report by the American Association of University Women set to be released Wednesday.

Nearly every occupation has long paid men more than women, despite laws aimed at narrowing and dissolving the differences. Often the gap is attributed to men picking careers with higher salaries, women slowing their careers after having children and differences in work experience. The AAUW researchers decided to look at workers when they are most similar — freshly done with their undergraduate studies, lacking vast experience and unlikely to have spouses or children.

They focused on those who graduated during the 2007-08 school year, zeroed in on full-time workers and studied what they earned in 2009, one year after graduation. The women made only 82 percent of what the men were paid, with the average woman making $35,296 while men were paid an average of $42,918.  Continue here.

Dec 18

Muscular Body Image Lures Boys Into Gym, and Obsession

From the NYT:  Pediatricians are starting to sound alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer. Whether it is long hours in the gym, allowances blown on expensive supplements or even risky experiments with illegal steroids, the price American boys are willing to pay for the perfect body appears to be on the rise.

In a study to be published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, more than 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school said they regularly exercised with the goal of increasing muscle mass. Thirty-eight percent said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent said they had experimented with steroids.

Over all, 90 percent of the 1,307 boys in the survey — who lived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, but typify what doctors say is a national phenomenon — said they exercised at least occasionally to add muscle.

Continue here.

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