Posts filed under 'Glass ceiling'

The Glass Ceiling Index: “Hillary Clinton: Stop running for president and make me a sandwich!”

Number of members of the Facebook group Hillary Clinton: Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich: 23,000

Percent of Americans who think electing a women president would be a bad thing: 9

Percent of Americans who think electing a woman president would be a good thing: 33

Percent of Americans who think the gender of the president does not matter: 55

Amount of male corporate directors there are in the United States for every female corporate director: 8

Percent greater salary that U.S. female corporate directors (surprisingly) make over their male counterparts: 15

Percent of women who asked for higher compensation in a recent gender and salary negotiation study: 50

Percent of men who asked for higher compensation in that same study: 83

Average salary that participants of another study said they would award a female applicant who, in a videotaped job interview, expressed anger over losing a past account: $23,000

Average salary that participants of that same study said they would award a male applicant who, in a videotaped job interview, expressed anger over losing a past account: $38,000

2 comments November 30th, 2007

Sexual harassment: Should you take it lying down?

Anita Hill’s op-ed piece in the New York Times yesterday triggered a trip down memory lane for me, kind of like one of those “Where were you when Kennedy got shot?” moments. And I’m a-gonna take you with me…

In 1990, I was fairly clueless, certainly when it came to matters of sexual harassment. Only a year earlier, I’d been ass-swatted and propositioned repeatedly by a crazy managing editor at the weekly piece-of-crap community newspaper that hired me straight out of college. When the boss wasn’t rambling on about his “days back in ‘Nam,” he was either ogling the breasts of his female cub reporters or waxing unpoetic about the things he’d do to us behind closed doors if only he were 20 years younger. Lacking any reference point of Proper Workplace Conduct, I chalked it all up to Loser Has-Been Middle-Aged Guy With A Touch Of PTSD Syndrome and nervously laughed it off. The fact that I didn’t speak up and put this dirty old letch in his place still horrifies me today. Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t hesitate to put my paltry paycheck (less than $200 a week) on the line to paste that pecker to the wall.

A year later, the professional rep of Professor Anita Hill was on trial, so to speak, during the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I’d moved from the newspaper in LA to a progressive book publishing company in NY, where my co-workers and I watched a 6-inch B&W portable TV in horror as a bunch of cranky old white guys on Capitol Hill lambasted Hill for speaking out about pervy Thomas’ inappropriate advances, incessant talk of sex and porn, and pubic-hair-on-the-Coke-can commentary when she’d worked for him years earlier — curiously, at the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. It was then that I started to (duh!) connect the dots: my mom hadn’t been marching with an “ERA Now!” sign in the 70s just because she had nothing better to do on a rainy Saturday, my former boss was lucky no one had stripped him of his title and paycheck yet, and it took a hell of a lot of guts for a woman to speak out against a Boss Behaving Badly in a work world that amounted to nothing more than an old boys’ club.

I know it’s not the early 90s anymore (though we do still have a Bush “running” the country). Now you can’t read or watch the news for a week without hearing about some discrimination suit or other. Today’s columnists and talking heads seem to love “Women are the new men!” equality-in-the-office stories as much as feminist zines and bloggers do. And even if motivated as much by lawsuit phobia as by social awareness, workplaces are more egalitarian than ever.

But still… There are people who will never believe Anita Hill and all the Anita Hills we have yet to hear from. There’s also this: The price of speaking out against harassment can be quite hefty, at times costing accusers their jobs, reputations, careers, and even mental health. When I was writing The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, a few women I interviewed — successful, ambitious, powerful, well-paid women — said they’d been sexually harassed at work. Not in a “Holy crap, I think I might need to hire a bodyguard” way. But in a “Don’t expect to succeed in this company because, after all, you’re just a chick,” or a “You only got the promotion because you have a hot ass” way. In every case, the women told me they didn’t want to speak up and risk jeopardizing their job. Besides, they “knew it was a losing battle.”

More disturbing, I recently interviewed a couple of career consultants for an article on women’s workplace issues and was told that women should not file a sexual harassment complaint at work, unless they are fully prepared to sacrifice their job and possibly their career. (Evidently retaliation from lawsuit-skittish employers is alive and well.) One consultant I interviewed even went so far as to say, “Why should you have to put your job on the line for some jerk who’s just going to abuse his power at the next company he lands at anyway?”

Maybe it’s easy for me to say I’d risk my job, career, and mortgage to stop some boneheaded manager from acting like a Neanderthal because I work for myself. Maybe my blood wouldn’t be so quick to boil if I was a minimum-wage worker with a couple of kids to feed and couldn’t afford to lose my job no matter what. I’m not sure. But I know that if it weren’t for Anita Hill, countless women like me might not be asking themselves these questions at all.

13 comments October 3rd, 2007

Fun with statistics

Dad's DayIn honor of Dad’s Day, I thought I’d pass these along:

HR Magazine: Flexible work schedules are the workplace benefit fathers appreciate most (53 percent), followed by telecommuting (34 percent), on-site child care (12 percent), and paid paternity leave (10 percent).

FOX News: More dads say they struggle with work-life balance than moms, found a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Adecco USA, a career-services consultancy. Curiously, a majority of men also said they would not take paternity leave if their company offered it.

BusinessWeek: In a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, employers cite child-care issues as causing more problems than any other family-related issue in the workplace, with increases in absenteeism and tardiness reported in nine out of ten companies. And 80 percent of the companies surveyed said that work days were cut short because of child-care problems. (Moral of the story: Give us flex work or give us death!)

New York Times: When it comes to U.S. CEOs, men still predominate. (Duh.) Even in the nonprofit sector, women make up just 29.6 percent of chiefs. But that looks like progress when set against the number of head honchos of semiconductor companies (3.1 percent) and aerospace firms (4.5 percent).

Downtown Women’s Club (press release): More than half of working women do not think that they are affected by the gender wage gap. (Newsflash: They’re dead wrong.)

PRWeb (press release): Nearly one-third of all married women in the United States now make more than their husbands, according to the Census Bureau.

The Economist: By 2020, more than half of the UK’s millionaires may be female.

Add comment June 16th, 2007

Happy Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay DayHave you seen the interesting coverage Equal Pay Day (April 24) is getting this week? Basically all those wackjobs who say discrimination in the workplace is a figment of the collective feminist imagination can eat their boxers (or in some cases, thongs). A new study by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation has found that women working full time one year out of college earn 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn. And ten years out of school, we’re earning 69 percent of what our male counterparts earn.

Meaning all those “that’s because some mommy-minded women choose the slow track at work” arguments don’t hold water. Ditto for the “that’s because some women choose lower-paying careers and/or industries” argument. Check out these stats about women and men one year after college graduation:

In education, women earn 95 percent as much as their male colleagues earn, while in math, women earn 76 percent as much as men earn, the study showed.

If you want to read the entire study, you can indulge in all the wonky stats your vindicated little heart desires here. Also, here’s a kickass writeup of these new findings on Broadsheet (if you’re not a Salon subscriber, you may have to watch an ad first).

Oh, and as a consolation prize, the London’s Evening Standard reported that between household duties and office life, women only work ten minutes more a day than men.

7 comments April 24th, 2007

Flirt your way to the top?

Office SlutEvidently that’s what we women do, according to a study by Harper’s Bazaar that the UK’s Daily Mail reported on this week. Not only that, we play dumb with our male coworkers, backstab our female ones, and cry like a girl in the loo. Sure, Harper’s Bazaar isn’t the most — how shall I say? — liberated publication, but come on.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly never flirted my way through the workweek to get what I want — unless of course what I wanted was a piece of that sexy new admin on the third floor. But having had several male bosses or superiors flirt with me at work, I quickly learned that keeping my so-called feminine wiles to myself was a necessary survival tactic. If a managing editor’s tried to swat my ass, I’m certainly not going to do or say anything to encourage them the next time I have the misfortune to cross their path. If anything, I’ll trot out my mousiest duds (a la Jane Fonda in 9 to 5) and avoid the creep at all costs, while pondering exactly what the consequences of reporting their inappropriate behavior to HR will be.

Oh, and for the record, Harper’s Bazaar, I freaking hate pumps.

1 comment February 9th, 2007

Ode to the first female Pro Football Hall of Famer

Lesley VisserI have a dirty little feminist secret: I recently became a football fan. I blame my boyfriend, who’s been working on me for three years. So in honor of the Stupor Bowl this weekend, I thought I’d call your attention to this Women’s eNews piece on Lesley Visser, who’s made numerous firsts in sports journalism and was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (a first for a woman).

Some of the other firsts Visser’s achieved in her 34-year-career:

  • First female print sports journalist assigned to cover the National Football League beat for a major U.S. newspaper (1976)
  • First woman to appear on TV’s “Monday Night Football” as a sideline reporter (1997)
  • First woman assigned to a Super Bowl sideline as an on-the-field reporter (2000)
  • First female sportscaster to carry the Olympic torch (in 2004)

And in case you’re wondering just how few women work in sports journalism, Women’s eNews has the stats:

A June 2006 report on more than 300 newspapers by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida found that women make up an average of 13 percent of newspaper sports departments — sports editors, assistant editors, columnists and reporters — even though 40 percent of high school and university athletes are women. Ninety percent of the papers surveyed have men as sports editors.

A 2002 study by the Washington-based Radio-Television News Directors Association and Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., found that women were only 8 percent of television reporters and anchors.

Since I can’t say “Go, Seahawks!” this Sunday, I’ll just say “Go, Lesley!”

Add comment February 3rd, 2007

RIP, Molly Ivins

Molly IvinsPublic figures come and go all the time. But losing Molly Ivins to breast cancer this week makes me especially sad. Women are still a big fat minority in the land of newspaper columns, syndicated or otherwise. Outspoken, uproarious, rabble-rousing, politically charged women who make fun of the president even more so. Here’s a lovely tribute that one of Molly’s editors wrote about her. ‘Bye, Molly. Thanks for your ability to inspire hope and laughter no matter how sucky things got.

3 comments February 1st, 2007


2008 electionFirst Barack. Then Hillary. I cried, then I cried some more. Could we really have an African-American president or a woman leading the White House who isn’t just a thinly-drawn TV character? I sure hope so. And what about a woman of color president? (Only not Condi.)

Could it be that the times, they really are-a-changing, albeit ever so slowly? (Fantasy political football: Hillary and Barack become running mates! But who would be top dog? Hil or Bar?)

Wonky friends in DC, do you think any of this is possible?

3 comments January 21st, 2007

Will the real women CEOs please stand up?

Paging all She-E-OsThe New York Times ran a long piece in its business section yesterday called “How Suite It Isn’t: A Dearth of Female Bosses.” Among the reasons given for less women at the helm of U.S. Fortune 500s: Being herded into dead-end staff positions in departments “like HR and communications” rather than groomed for operating roles. Having a hard time penetrating “the thick layer of men” crowding U.S. boardrooms and corner offices. Not wanting to sacrifice their home life for an extreme job that requires living at the office.

The article interviewed a number of generous women CEOs who were more than willing to share their experiences, like Carol Bartz, who was one of the first female CEOs and recently stepped down from her role as head honcho of Autodesk. I especially like how Bartz said that in her career, she’d found networking more helpful than any formal mentoring programs. Since a good mentor relationship is hard to find (and no one really knows what one is anyway) but networking opportunities abound everywhere you look, I have to agree.

Curiously the Times piece mentions that spokespeople for nearly all the female CEOs contacted claimed their bosses were “too busy” to do an interview or that they didn’t want to participate in a piece on women CEOs because they wanted to be recognized for their achievements, not their ovaries. Perhaps reporter Julie Creswell didn’t give her sources enough time to respond, though I think that’s being generous to the CEOs in question. Considering so many women at the top had no role models to speak of, you’d think more of them would want to tell aspiring female execs what unique challenges and triumphs await them.

So if you want to hear what it’s really like at the top, trot on over to this SmartMoney article profiling eleven fearless women who bought or started their own company and have since become wildly successful. Yeah, you’ll get more touchy-feelie cheerleading in this piece, but if you want to run your own show, you’re going to need all the pep talks you can get.

Add comment December 18th, 2006

The wage gap narrows…sort of…and not for reasons you’d expect

coinageI found this little nugget in Monday’s Seattle Times, in an article called “Gender Gap Narrows as Men’s Pay Erodes”:

…a noteworthy trend in the 21st-century economy: Women are closing in on men when it comes to wages, but not for the reasons anticipated — or hoped for — when gender pay equity became a rallying cry in the 1970s.

Data show that the pay gap has been narrowing not because women have made great strides, labor experts say, but because men’s wages are eroding.

Since I’m on deadline, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about how languishing wages are a drag for all workers and probably not what my mom had in mind in the seventies when she joined NOW and marched for the ERA. But don’t let me put words in your mouth or anything…

Add comment December 6th, 2006

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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