Did you know an estimated ten percent of Executive Chefs in the U.S. are women? Hot Bread Kitchen’s stated mission is to leverage the buying power of the food industry to create professional opportunities for low-income immigrant women. While that is true, our secret agenda is to change the gender dynamic of the culinary industry and get more women in the kitchen. To help advance our secret agenda, we launched the Women Bake Bread Scholarship program on Crowdrise.
Want to be the next superhero? Aim for a career in science and technology. Natalie Portman and Marvel Comics have teamed up to start the Ultimate Mentor Adventure, a program for high school girls interested in STEM programs. Portman was moved to participate after acting as an astrophysicist, Jane Foster, in the movie Thor and its sequel. The girls who are selected will be paired with a mentor in the science field and will participate in behind-the-scenes events. Forms and videos can be submitted until October 20. Instructions are available on Disney’s site.
More stay-at-home mothers have gone back into employment in the past two years than in the previous 15 combined, an official study suggests, in the wake of controversial Government reforms blamed for undermining traditional families.
Almost 200,000 women in two-parent families with dependent children have re-entered the workplace since 2011 compared with 185,000 who went back to work between 1996 and 2011.
The increase – the sharpest in a generation – comes on the back of changes to child benefit which saw the Government accused of forcing middle-class stay-at-home mothers back into employment and the failure to implement tax breaks for married couples.
Campaign groups who support the right of parents to care for their children at home said the figures effectively destroyed David Cameron’s promise that he would lead Britain’s “most family friendly Government” ever.
They said it bore out fears that the Coalition policy was driven by an “agenda” which sought to “separate mothers from their young children”.
A study published by the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of working mothers has soared to record levels with large majorities even of those with young children now going out to work.
It shows that the total number of women with dependent children in the workplace has leapt by almost a fifth since the mid 1990s, when comparable records were first kept.
Overall the number of working mothers is up by almost 800,000 to 5.3 million since 1996.
The number of married or cohabiting mothers in the workplace, has jumped from 3.8 million to 4.2 million since 1996 – an increase of 384,000, with the majority returning to work under the Coalition.
Laura Perrins, a former barrister who is a leading figure in the campaign group Mothers at Home Matter, said: “I would say the Government have absolutely failed to be in any way family friendly.
“They don’t seem to understand what family friendly means – they think it basically means separating mothers from their young children.
“The Coalition are more interested in ideology and the gender politics of getting more mothers back into work than being family friendly.
“They have dedicated themselves to separating mothers from their young children. The needs of children are completely ignored.
“One of the reasons why things have got to where they are now has got to be the loss of child benefit – for many families that loss has got to be made up somewhere.
“We have always said that there was more at work than getting the deficit under control, this has been very agenda driven, it is about getting mothers back to the workplace, probably to increase GDP.”
Justine Roberts, founder of the website Mumsnet, said: “We do know that people are feeling more and more squeezed so in that sense it could be there is a feeling that either you can’t afford to stay out of the workplace because of the effect on their future prospects or just simply that you need to go out and earn more money.”
But she said that the cost of childcare and the state of the job market in recent years were having the opposite effect on other women – with some who would like to go back to work deciding it is not worth their while to do so.
While there have been big increases in single mothers going out to work, after initiatives by successive governments aimed at tackling child poverty, the number of mothers who are married or in a long-term relationship in the workplace has also jumped by almost 10 per cent in that time.
Overall 72 per cent of married mothers now work, up from 67 per cent in the 1990s.
Crucially, the biggest increase among the group has been in the last two years alone when 199,000 more mothers who are either married or in a stable long-term relationship entered the workplace. In the previous 15 year, the figure rose by only 185,000.
The study, which charts changes in the labour market over the last 40 years, also highlights how women who do re-enter the workplace are having to settle for lower wages and lower status than their male counterparts.
The study charts a dramatic transformation in the make-up of the British workforce since the early 1970s, a period which have seen a raft of legislation ensuring equal pay and equal rights, benefits changes and changing attitudes.
It shows that the proportion of men of working age in employment has fallen from 92 per cent in 1971 to 76 per cent this year.
At the same time the proportion of working-age women with jobs has jumped from 53 per cent to 67 per cent – although the majority of the increase came in the 1970s and 1980s.
Yet while the growth of women in the workplace has slowed in the last two decades the number of working mothers has continued to rise dramatically.
The study showed that two thirds of married British mothers with dependent children under the age of three are now working.
The report follows a bruising period for David Cameron’s family policy which, according to a polling study earlier this month, threatens to cost the Conservatives the next election.
Tory backbenchers have been bitterly disappointed by the failure so far to honour a pre-election promise to recognise marriage in the tax system.
There was also anger when the Coalition scrapped child benefit for many middle class households in which anyone is a higher-rate tax payer, even if they are the only earner.
The change, announced in 2010 and which came into force this year, infuriated many stay-at-home mothers who accused the Government of effectively forcing them back to work and someone else to look after their children.
The recent surge in mothers entering the workplace corresponds with the period since the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced the child benefit changes.
There was also anger this year after the Coalition unveiled plans to exclude parents who do not work from new state-funded childcare support.
When Mr Osborne was then accused of patronising women when he spoke out to defend the policy, describing mothers who stay at home to look after their children as making a “lifestyle choice”.
High-profile mayoral elections this year have already proved that the steps to City Hall remain steep for female candidates.
Only one of the nation’s 10 largest cities is run by a woman: Annise Parker of Houston, who faces re-election in November. Just 12 of the 100 largest cities have women in the top job, including Fort Worth, Baltimore and Las Vegas.
This year has seen two notable candidates falling short: Democrats Wendy Greuel in Los Angeles, who made it to a runoff and then lost, and Christine Quinn in New York, who was considered the front-runner for months only to come in third in a Sept. 10 primary.
Next week, Boston voters have a chance: Charlotte Golar Richie is one of a dozen candidates for mayor in the non-partisan preliminary election Sept. 24.
The political group EMILY’s List — which raises money for female candidates — has endorsed women running for mayor this year in 10 cities, including Minneapolis; Dayton, Ohio; and Tacoma, Wash. But three are now sidelined, including Anita Lopez, who did not make a runoff in Toledo, Ohio.
“To be the chief executive, to be the person where the buck stops, that’s that kind of last hurdle for women in elective office,” says Debbie Walsh of Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics — who points out that big-city mayors wield considerably more power than individual members of Congress. “When you get to those really big cities where when you’re the chief executive you’re overseeing millions and millions of dollars in jobs and a big law enforcement presence, that’s where it seems to be a bit stalled out.”
In smaller cities, women do better. About 17.4% of all city mayors are women, about on par with the U.S. House of Representatives. And the U.S. Senate now has 20 women, an all-time high.
It could be that voters have more trouble seeing women as executives than as legislators, where collaboration, a traditionally female attribute, is more prized. Currently five of 50 governorships are held by women, and there are 24 states that have never had a female governor, according to counts kept by the Center for American Women and Politics.
Though New Jersey Democrat Barbara Buono faces long odds to unseat Gov. Chris Christie in November, things could change in 2014, Walsh says, when 36 states elect governors and women have already announced candidacies in New Mexico, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Jennifer Lawless, director of American University’s Women and Politics Institute, says studies show that voters aren’t reluctant to elect women to executive office. But not enough women run, she says. “The issue isn’t that they don’t have the credentials or the background anymore. The issue is that that’s not sufficient to get them to run for office.”
The difficulty of women winning executive branch jobs “is something we want to look at and understand better,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock says. For the group, which was formed to get women elected to Congress, spending on candidates in municipal elections means navigating a welter of state and local election finance regulations, she says. “These are tough glass ceilings for us to break.”
In New York, Quinn’s loss revived a longstanding argument about whether female candidates are judged more harshly than men on their clothes and demeanor, fueled by the comment of Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, who said, “If I have to listen to that voice for four years, I’ll die.” The New York Times reported after her loss that a team of seasoned political women had suggested Quinn pay attention to whether she was coming across as likable enough, and that opinion poll respondents described her, unfavorably, as “ambitious” and “bossy.”
“Nobody who runs for mayor of New York is not ambitious,” Walsh says. “But to be called that as a woman, that is framed as a negative.”
Having a female mayor is a barrier that, once broken, appears to stay that way. While Chicago hasn’t elected a woman since Jane Byrne in 1979, San Diego and Dallas have had three women serve as mayors, and San Jose and Houston have had two.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is the second woman to be mayor of Baltimore, winning election in 2011 after being appointed to replace Sheila Dixon a year earlier.
“I think that’s sometimes what it takes. You have to be able to see someone in that position,” she says. “Think about what it took when people were wrapping their minds around having a black president. It went from ‘Ain’t no way, never going to happen,’ to now people don’t give it a second thought.”
Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY
The vast majority of Americans, regardless of gender, are never going to serve on a Fortune 500 company’s board of directors. Consequently the gross gender imbalance in board seats is not necessarily something that the woman on the street spends a lot of time fuming about. Nonetheless, the imbalance is striking, and I think people ought to pay more attention to it.
The main reason is that here we have a field of American life where I think we can say pretty clearly that meritocracy is not an important factor. Nothing is ever purely about anything, but corporate boards in the United States are about as close as it gets to a pure case of privilege reproducing privilege. The key criteria for serving on a corporate board is to seem like the kind of person who would serve on a corporate board—which is to say a white man of a certain age. But there are no actual job qualifications or performance criteria for nonexecutive directors. So the CEO of the Washington Post Company (Slate‘s parent) is on the board of Facebook, and Al Gore is on the board of Apple, and a former high-level BMW executive is on the board of Microsoft. Yet if you want to put women on your board, this very same open-endedness makes it easy. Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, is also on the Microsoft board. And good for her.
Now my best guess is that women’s underrepresentation on boards doesn’t have huge practical consequences. There is some evidence that more diverse boards outperform less diverse ones, and probably some downstream gender-equity issues would get addressed better if firms had better gender equity on their boards.
But the lack of board diversity is important primarily because it’s a huge tell—and not because it has huge consequences. A company that can’t manage to have half its board seats filled with women simply isn’t trying. Which is to say that the vast majority of large American companies simply aren’t trying. And yet most of those countries would say they think diversity and gender equality are important. But given a fairly simple, straightforward, and low-consequence way of making a statement about gender equity, virtually no firms do it. Most other corporate staffing decisions are a good deal more complicated, and the barriers to gender inclusion may be more real or more robust. But when you see a corporate board that’s not even close to half women—and nine times out of 10 that’s what you’ll see—you shouldn’t trust any assurances you receive about anything else the company is doing.
Are you “too beautiful” to be in the workplace? Can your boss fire you if he thinks your appearance is a threat to his marriage?
The answer, at least according to the Iowa Supreme Court, is “yes.”
Here’s just another obstacle to women’s advancement in the workplace; one of many that we argue create a new “soft war” on women.
Research finds that women are penalized if they are seen as too talkative, too competent, too aggressive, too self-promoting–or, ironically, too passive– too self-effacing or not caring enough.
Now, a court of law on July 12 said you can be fired if your boss thinks you’re too good looking.
This case arose when a 33-year-old dental assistant, Melissa Nelson, was fired by her boss, dentist James Knight of Fort Dodge, because he believed her good looks were a threat to his marriage. He said he would be tempted to begin an affair with her.
Nelson reportedly engaged in no improper behavior. It was just that her boss believed that he could not control his own sexual feelings, and so he had the right to deprive her of her livelihood.
This notion would be laughable, except that when Nelson brought suit for sex discrimination, an Iowa district court dismissed the case.
Amazingly, it found that she was fired “not because of her gender but because she was a threat to the marriage of Dr. Knight.”
When she appealed, the Iowa Supreme Court said the key issue was “whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.” The court ruled that the answer was yes.
Appearance was also a factor when a banker sued Citibank in 2010 for firing her because she was too curvy. Debrahlee Lorenzana, an attractive young Puerto Rican woman, was hired to be a business banker at a New York Citibank branch office.
She said her male managers gave her a list of clothing items she was not allowed to wear: turtlenecks, pencil skirts, fitted suits and three-inch heels.
According to her lawsuit, her bosses told her that “as a result of the shape of her figure, such clothes were purportedly ‘too distracting’ for her male colleagues and supervisors to bear.”
After trying to dress more conservatively, which included wearing no makeup, she was told she looked “sickly,” and when she left her hair curly instead of straightening it, they told her she should go ahead and straighten it every day.
She finally got the message that there was no way she could win. “I could have worn a paper bag, and it would not have mattered,” she told the Village Voice. “If it wasn’t my shirt, it was my pants. If it wasn’t my pants, it was my shoes. They picked on me every single day.” (The case went to arbitration; the results were not publicly revealed.)
What’s the message here? Women can’t win. They are constantly inundated by media advertising, telling them that, above all, they must be attractive and pleasing to men. But at the same time, they must be super-competent to succeed on the job.
A woman has absolutely no power to control how her employer will see her. Her behavior can be irreproachable and her competence unquestioned. But if her boss decides he can’t handle his feelings, she’s toast. The onus is not on him to keep his personal feelings under control, which we are all expected to do at work. Why is his concern about his marriage her problem?
Why did an all-male court not recognize that in the Nelson case, the dentist’s behavior was classic discrimination?
Should the law really allow men to fire perfectly qualified women when they perceive a threat to their marriages?
If this precedent is allowed to stand, male managers will be given broad license to fire women for all kinds of reasons. Suppose a male manager is in fact threated by a highly competent female employee who might be after his job. All he has to say, with no proof, is that he feels she’s a threat to his marriage, and so he can fire her. Under this interpretation of the law, she has no recourse.
What if the situation were reversed? What if a female manager felt that her attractive male assistant was a threat to her marriage and fired him? Can you imagine a male court upholding that decision?
Women are expected to keep their emotions in check at work and if they don’t, they are seen as a problem. But men can let their feelings determine their actions, with no penalty. For example, male managers who display anger are not evaluated poorly by their co-workers, but angry women are seen as incompetent and out of control.
Women are being urged to live up to their potential, get as much education as they can and “lean in” to their careers, as Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg puts it in her best-selling book. But new obstacles keep surfacing where we least expect them.
Women can’t keep leaping all these hurdles on their own. The courts need to be allies of women’s rights in the workplace, not just another barrier to their success. We’ll never win the “soft war” unless things change.
Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett are the authors of “The New Soft War on Women,” to be published in October by Tarcher-Penguin.
You say there’s a problem getting women into technology? The real problem might be the (some) men.
The tech industry – more specifically the chunk of it located over on the US west coast – has hardly covered itself in glory.
First there was the example of Sqoot, which earlier this week made a rather weak joke in a call for an event called the Boston API Jam: “Women: Need another beer? Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you.” As Betabeat points out, this quite quickly lost them a couple of sponsors. Sqoot said sorry, in a Google doc and on Twitter; the discussion then carried on over to Hacker News, where you’ll find that quite a few commenters … don’t quite get it. Such as this one:
Actually that’s the funny part, this “joke” was in no way belittling women, it’s idolizing them. It was made at the expense of the stereotypical male geek to whom women are otherwise inaccessible. Somehow it was appropriated as being about the female attendees.
Oh, man. How to explain this? Ah, someone did, almost at once:
Yes … it’s idolizing women … as sexual objects offered as a perk to male coders so that they can serve the men. As a female coder, I’d rather not be offered as a perk to male coders. So, yeah, this is belittling.
Let’s understand it again: being female isn’t a disadvantage in coding. If you have to ask, consider that Ada Lovelace was arguably the first programmer, and that Grace Hopper only, you know, invented the compiler, among other things.
To bring things up to date, the UK has a couple of women making a big difference in our access to coding and data – Emma Mulqueeny, who runs Rewired State, and Emer Coleman, who was very influential in getting the London Datastore opened up and is now working away inside government getting data pushed out in the same way.
But while being a woman in programming isn’t like living under the Taliban, it clearly carries its own frustrations. A link on Twitter to a blogpost by The Real Katie expressed her annoyance as a female coder as being told to “lighten up”:
Let me tell you, I love coding. Been doing it since before I hit puberty. I did it when I barely had the money to keep a server up. I do it on the weekends and evenings, and I’m teaching my kids how to do it. I’ve spent thousands of dollars to go to conferences so I can learn more about it. Why would I ever leave the profession where I got paid real money to do what I love?
In short, I got tired of being told to ‘lighten up.’
This industry is one of subtle sexism. I almost prefer outright sexism, because at least that you can point out. The subtle barbs are usually dismissed as something I need to not care about. It was a joke! Sheesh. Why are you so sensitive?! All I did was make a joke about you needing to be in the kitchen!
There’s plenty more; it is a story of the frustration of being female in a role where gender should be utterly unimportant and yet weirdly is. It’s a sort of background hum of sexism; the sort that can drive people out of promising careers, and leave the “brogrammers” looking at each asking “where are all the women?”
Having read that I followed a tweet by Kevin Marks which plunged me into what seems to me a quite amazing Twitter conversation, where an initial trigger – a video that really objectifies women – leads quickly down a dark path of implications, accusations, excuses, sidestepping and lines like “I have a family!”
It was kicked off by a tweet from @shanley – Shanley Kane – towards Christian Sanz and Reuben Katz, who run a company called Geeklist.
Charles Arthur compiled the whole back-and-forth over at Storify. If you’re male, the real question to ask when you read it, is: how much of this behaviour goes on which you just don’t notice?
The backlash has been quite dramatic – so much so that Katz has quickly moved to apology mode, with a post entitled “public apology” which says:
We never meant to offend any woman and are very sorry as we clearly have.
We did not create the video at question. It was created out of love for Geeklist by a great Woman entrepreneur. Support for her company. Design Like Woah. She makes shirts and made awesome ones for us. She also goes way out of her way to help us ship to our men and women alike globally who love our brand.
They’re trying to take the video down, though it’s complicated as it’s actually owned by the videographer friend of the woman who sells the T-shirts.
As for our handling of the twittersphere. We could have handled it better. I know Shanley personally, have skyped and emailed her many times and interviewed her for a job at Geeklist. She is an awesome candidate that as a startup I was very sad the timing was not right to work together. Of our 5 person team 2 are women and I am certain they can speak on our behalf as respectful gentlemen in the workplace who create a welcome environment for all. I also own a business with my wife where we have over 350+ women employees. I’ve built my career over 15 years working to make this world a better place for women, mothers, and children.
In my wildest dreams we would never wish to offend any woman. The initial request made sense and we were discussing finding Gemma to take it down, when we got taken off guard a bit by her continued comments. We handled those poorly, but felt we had to defend ourselves. We apologize as well if our handling of the tweets offended anyone.
It’s good that Katz (and, one feels sure, Sanz too) has recognised that they handled the whole thing badly. In some ways this could be looked at as a “brand management” issue – if the person who had complained to the Geeklist duo had been male, how would it have played out?
And meanwhile ask yourself whether there’s really no sexism in computing – or whether the answer to “why aren’t there more women in technology” might have anything to do with the people who are already there.
Women doctors are piling a ‘tremendous burden’ on the NHS by working part-time, a female Conservative MP has said in comments supported by a health minister. Conservative MP Anne McIntosh told the House of Commons that the increased numbers of women GPs caused a strain on the NHS because they took time off to raise children.
The comments were supported by health minister Anna Soubry, who said the MP raised an important point about the ‘unintended consequences’ of more women training to be doctors.
In the debate on the NHS 111 phone line yesterday, Ms McIntosh said female medical students are likely to want to marry, start, families and then work part-time.
She said: ‘It’s a controversial thing to say, but perhaps I as a woman can say this – 70% of medical students currently are women and they are very well educated and very well qualified.
‘When they go into practice and then in the normal course of events will marry and have children, they often want to go part-time and it is obviously a tremendous burden training what effectively might be two GPs working part-time where they are ladies.’
Ms Soubry agreed and said: ‘Could I just say very quickly you make an important point when you talk about, rightly, the good number of women who are training to be doctors, but the unintended consequences.’
The Government’s five-year mandate to Health Education England commits the body to ensure that half of of medical training places to go to GPs by 2018.
GPC member Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said: ‘This is a very outdated view of women in the modern workplace. Having a family or choosing to work flexibly should not be perceived as a negative career option, for women or men.
‘The NHS needs to adapt its workforce planning to reflect the changing working patterns in society.’
Male train drivers in Stockholm have circumvented a ban on wearing shorts in the summer by coming to work in skirts.
More than a dozen male employees working for the Roslagsbanan train services in the Swedish capital have been wearing skirts in order to keep cool.
Uniform regulations by the train company Arriva state that skirts or long trousers are acceptable. At a meeting last year, drivers were told that shorts were not allowed. Photo: ALAMY
One of the drivers, Martin Åkersten, explained that temperatures can hit 95F (35C) in the train cab during the summer. Uniform regulations by the train company Arriva state that skirts or long trousers are acceptable. At a meeting last year, drivers were told that shorts were not allowed.
They have given their blessing to the men wearing skirts however. “To say anything else would be discrimination,” Thomas Hedenius, the communications head, told the local Mitti newspaper, cited by the Local website. He added that the regulations were in place so staff looked presentable and tidy, adding that shorts appeared “more relaxed” than a skirt.
A meeting is due in September to discuss the issue of uniforms. The Roslagsbanan train service carries around 45,000 people per workday.
The real gap isn’t between men and women doing the same job. It’s between the different jobs that men and women take.
It might be the most famous statistic about female workers in the United States: Women earn “only 72 percent as much as their male counterparts.”
It’s also famously false. A new survey from PayScale this morning finds that the wage gap nearly evaporates when you control for occupation and experience among the most common jobs, especially among less experienced workers. It is only as careers advance, they found, that men outpaced female earnings as they made their way toward the executive suite.
So, women aren’t starting off behind their male counterparts, so much as they’re choosing different jobs and losing ground later in their careers.
The irony is that as women advance in their own careers, they might be more likely to fall behind, but they are also more likely to negotiate. That popular refrain that women don’t know how to ask for a raise? That’s bunk, too, the researchers concluded. Nearly a third of women — and 29 percent of men — have asked for raises, and even more female executives have done the same. In female-dominated sectors like health care and education more, half of women have negotiated for salary, benefits, or a promotion .
Still, inequalities persist. Comparing men and women job-by-job conceals the fact that men still dominate many of the highest-paying jobs. PayScale studied more than 120 occupation categories, from “machinist” to “dietician.” Nine of the ten lowest-paying jobs (e.g.: child-care worker, library assistant) were disproportionately female. Nine of the ten highest-paying jobs (e.g.: software architect, psychiatrist) were majority male. Nurse anesthetist was the best-paid position held mostly by women; but an estimated 69 percent of better-paid anesthesiologists were male.
The highest-paid job in PayScale’s controlled set is anesthesiologists, who are 69 percent male and 31 percent female — creating a 38 percent percentage-point “jobs gap.” Here is the jobs gap for the ten highest-paid positions.
PayScale’s study is a necessary chaser to BLS and Census data, because the government “compares all weekly earnings, even though women and men do different things,” said PayScale chief economist Katie Bardaro. “We’re trying to compare men and women with the same education, same management responsibilities, similar employers, in companies with a similar number of employees.” After controlling for these factors, “the gender wage gap disappears for most positions,” she said.
In one job, they had enough data to show a statistically significant wage advantage for female workers. That is “dental hygienist.”
But even if the gender gap disappears after controlling for experience and job selection, it’s hard to imagine that men thoroughly dominating the highest-paying positions is a good outcome. For example, the expectation that women more than men bear the responsibility to raise children gently nudges thousands of highly educated women out of full-time work.
There is a wage difference. But it might not be the wage difference that you thought. The real gap isn’t between men and women doing the same job. The real gap is between men and women doing different jobs and following different careers.
That gap should continue to tighten. Women have earned the majority of bachelor’s degrees for the last few years. They’re well-positioned to benefit from a growing professional service economy, and working moms are already the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with kids, an all-time high. But if women are more likely to go into health care than manufacturing, more likely to work in human resources than software, and more likely to leave their careers early to start a family, the gaps will persist.
Ideally, some day soon, it won’t take a statistical “control” to show that men and women are fundamental equal partners — and equal competitors — in the work force. It will just be the obvious truth.
Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees business coverage for TheAtlantic.com.