Posts filed under 'Glass ceiling'

Gender gap: How are we doing?

The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap report came out this week. Since I’m in lazy Saturday morning mode, I will quote the Seattle Stranger on how my fair country fared:

The good news: Women in the U.S. live longer, are more likely to be literate, and go to school longer, on average, than women in any other nation.

The bad news: The US ranks 37th in wage equality, 20th in labor force participation, and 66th in political empowerment, determined by combining the number of women in ministerial positions (14 percent), the number of women in Congress (15 percent) and the number of years the nation has had a female head of state (none).

Speaking of women holding roughly 2 percent of all top CEO positions in the US, here’s an interesting report from the Harvard Business Review on how “attitudes about women in executive roles have improved over the past 40 years, but not as much as many men seem to think.” Some snippets from the press release follow, quotes courtesy of Dr. K. Michele Kacmar, one of the authors of the study and a professor of management and the Durr-Fillauer Chair of Business Ethics at the Culverhouse College of Commerce at The University of Alabama:

“For the most part, men don’t see their attitudes toward female executives as being a big problem,” Dr. Kacmar said, “and that in itself may be a problem. When men see the business world as being more rosy for women than women do, that perception may not be accurate.”

Also:

“When every single board member has a daughter or a wife or a sister who can educate them on what it is like to be a female executive, then we will see real change in this area,” she said.

I’m just saying…

4 comments December 2nd, 2006

More to be thankful for

cornucopiaTo milk last week’s holiday with ignoble origins a tad longer, following are a few recent news items that made me stand on my desk and cheer (that is, on top of the cancellation of the O.J. media blitz):

The Wall Street Journal released its “50 Women to Watch” list for 2006. Interesting Broadsheet notes here on philanthropist extraordinaire Melinda Gates making the top slot.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a kickass series this month called “The Glass Ceiling: Where a Rise to the Top Stops.” I especially liked the piece on the “Women at the Top” class offered in the University of Washington’s MBA program, which tackles such corporate-ladder issues as dealing with authority (is that a newspaper euphemism for dealing with harassment in the workplace?), balancing family with career, and facing the consequences of leaving the workforce temporarily to raise kids. (Why do we need yet another newspaper series like this? Because as Elana Centor points out on Blogher, the recent appointment of Kerrii Anderson to permanent CEO of Wendy’s brings the total number of women running Fortune 1000 companies to a whopping 2.1 percent. Uh, yay?)

And finally, USA Today has been running a six-week “Young and in Debt” series, which I’m sure most of us can relate to. Check out the live chat today — Monday, November 27 — at noon EST. (Thanks to Boston Gal’s Open Wallet for alerting me to this series.)

Add comment November 27th, 2006

Trophy husbands

Trophy huzzyThe UK Sunday Times ran an endlessly amusing article yesterday, “Trophy Husbands,” about women breadwinners and their underemployed and/or “house manager” husbands. According to one UK survey, 39 percent of women in that country who work full time believe that they earn more than their partners — “believe” being the operative word here, because as one headhunter quoted in the article says, “You could probably get more people to talk to you on the record about how often they have sex.”

The article goes on to say that 1.8 million women who work full time in the UK earn more than their male partners. What’s more, the Office for National Statistics reports that 14 percent of UK men now work at home (i.e., change diapers all day), compared with just 8 percent of women. And evidently the times, they are a-changin’ so much that we now get to witness a surge in male gold diggers, underappreciated househusbands, and women leaving their husbands for their male nannies.

Of course, the crux of the article lies with this statement:

It’s clear that both men and women are struggling to deal with these altered dynamics.

Meaning, men are the new women. Or maybe women are the new men. Or now anyone can be overworked and underappreciated. Or act like a total sexist ass.

Growing pains aside, cultural shifts like this thrill me to no end, especially when they bring women closer to wielding the same power in the business world as their male counterparts and earning the same salaries, if not more. And especially when they help some underappreciative men see what goes into running a household and an army of rugrats from dawn till dusk.

And I’m sorry, guys, I don’t mean to smirk a little at some of the “My! How the tables have turned!” tales in the article, but I can’t help it. It’s kind of like the first time a boyfriend who was more domestic than me whined, “I cook for you, I clean for you, and what do I get in return? Zero appreciation!” I have to confess, I was so giddy over this role reversal (probably because I watched my dad come home from the office and ask my working mom “What’s for dinner?” all those years) that I threw a dishrag at my poor underappreciated hausfrau boyfriend, asked him to drape it from his waist like an apron, and begged him to repeat the statement.

Needless to say, I didn’t get any nookie that night.

2 comments November 20th, 2006

(Once again) debunking the opt-out myth

Elizabeth Vargas and totIn case you missed 20/20 on ABC last Friday, Elizabeth Vargas — sadly, one of the decade’s shortest-lived evening newscasters — did a story called “Can Working Mothers Have It All”?

While the segment didn’t add anything new to the conversation, acknowledgment from the mainstream media never hurts. And maybe someone watching in, say, Duluth, didn’t know that America is one of four countries of 168 studied that doesn’t have a national paid maternity leave plan. (The other three countries? Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea.)

Plus, seeing clips of syndicated radio asshat Tom Leykis saying he doesn’t want his tax dollars helping working moms was a good reminder of who women are up against. I’m not a parent, nor do I ever intend to be one. But fair flextime policies are not only good for working mothers, they’re good for working dads, people caring for aging or ailing relatives, artists and writers with creative projects outside the workplace, weekend warriors with road trip or mountaineering habits, and so on. (Of course you may be hard-pressed to find a company that will give you several weeks of paid “novel-writing leave.” Damn.)

Other recent media coverage that should make working moms stand up and cheer:

The Christian Science Monitor‘s Marilyn Gardner looks at the truth behind women opting out, complete with the subhead “Two reports show a weak labor market and inflexible work policies as the main reasons women are staying home” and nuggets like this:

“Most mothers do not opt out,” says Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings. “They are pushed out by workplace inflexibility, the lack of supports, and a workplace bias against mothers.” In one recent survey, 86 percent of women cited obstacles such as inflexible jobs as a key reason behind their decision to leave. (Published 10/30/06)

ABC News’ Betsy Stark did a depressing segment on tag-team parenting — couples working opposite shifts so they don’t have to pay for pricey childcare (or worry about seeing each other Monday through Friday). I was shocked to learn that about a third of dual-income families employ the eminently more affordable tag-team tactic when it comes to childcare. Of course, the less well-off you are… well, you know the drill. (Aired 10/31/06)

The New York Times ran a piece by M. P. Dunleavey in the Business section on how this country is lagging far, far behind its European counterparts in terms of giving new parents a break. I’m glad the Times is finally starting to move past the whole opt-out thing. (Published 11/4/06)

If any of the above makes your blood boil and/or you want to do something about corporate and government attitudes toward working parents, check out MomsRising.org. You’ll find a book, documentary, and burgeoning political movement to partake in.

1 comment November 14th, 2006

What are you wearing?

Katie CouricSpeaking of what powerful women wear their first day on the job, let’s take a brief trip down memory lane, shall we? Here’s a gem from a press conference with Katie Couric this summer.

Couric was questioned again about why she left her longtime “Today” job to take the anchor position (a rare opportunity, and nothing to do with being the first solo female network anchor, she said) and how her daughters, ages 10 and 14, received her decision (supportively).

She finally drew the line at a query about what she intended to wear on her first newscast.

“You’re kidding, right?” she replied.

“Sadly, I’m not,” said the reporter asking the question, an acknowledgment of the microscopic scrutiny given to Couric’s ascension to the ABC-CBS-NBC anchor troika.

“I’ve actually gone to Charlie Gibson’s stylist,” Couric responded wryly, referring to her ABC counterpart.

Anyone else have any gems they’d like to share, either from your own life of the lives of public figures? I’m collecting.

2 comments November 14th, 2006

Fashion Week comes to Capitol Hill?

ArmaniIs this for real? The Washington Post devoting 1,000 words to Nancy Pelosi’s wardrobe? Sure, it’s in the Fashion section, but come on. Is anyone scrutinizing Robert Gates’ couture? Did anyone give a whit about what Dennis Hastert wore when he became Speaker?

See for yourself:

Pelosi’s suit was by Giorgio Armani — the Italian master of neutral tones and modern power dressing — and she wore it well. She looked polished and tasteful in front of the cameras. It is tempting to even go so far as to say that she looked chic, which in the world beyond Washington would be considered a compliment, but in the context of politics is an observation fraught with insinuations of partisanship and condescension.

And:

Armani stands as a kind of professional armor. It is protective but soft. Tailored but with a drape. It is the style of business dress that in the 1980s famously feminized menswear and brought masculine confidence to women’s wear. An Armani suit, for a woman, is a tool for playing with the boys without pretending to be one.

And finally:

Pelosi had to decide how a woman who will be second in line of succession to the presidency should look. And what she came up with is someone who wears a neutral-colored, softly tailored power suit. One that is accessorized with style rather than rote references to love of country. She looks dignified and serious. And in this case, she also happens to look quite good.

Thanks to Naomi, my sister, for taking time out of her busy day off in DC to call me with this, uh, news.

5 comments November 10th, 2006

Women! Coming soon to a political office near you

BubblyHappiness is waking up to Salon.com‘s thrilling Broadsheet post, Most. Women. Leaders. Ever!

(Note: If you’re not a Salon.com subscriber, you likely will have to watch an ad to read the article. Or you can just amuse yourself with the excerpts and links below…)

Music to my ears:

The ascendance of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and the defeat of the South Dakota abortion ban, aren’t the only good news for American women to come out of Tuesday’s elections. As the likely first ever Madam Speaker, Rep. Pelosi will preside over a chamber filled with more female representatives than ever before, according to the Associated Press. The House will add at least three women members, and the Senate will add two, bringing the total number of women in Congress to 86 — 70 in the House, 16 in the Senate. (Women were candidates in two other tight races that were still too close to call on Wednesday.)

This veritable symphony, too:

With the Democrats in control of the House, AlterNet notes that women representatives are also poised to take other important leadership positions there, beyond that of Madam Speaker: “Most significant, New York Rep. Louise Slaughter will likely become chair of the House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters of floor debate. Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald of California will chair the House Administration Committee, which oversees federal elections and day-to-day operations in the chamber.”

Also note that if Bush and Cheney were both to vacate office (perhaps by fatally choking on a pretzel and being imprisoned for shooting a hunting buddy, respectively), Pelosi would be poised to be the first female president. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Add comment November 9th, 2006

Madame Speaker

Nancy PelosiDon’t those words have lovely ring to them? Here’s what Time had to say about Nancy back in September:

Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House, portrays herself as a polite, grandmotherly lady. She constantly discusses her five grandchildren, makes sure her office is stocked with Ghirardelli chocolates, perpetually smiles and never swears in a business in which almost everyone else does. She even has a few cute quirks she and her staff would love to tell you about: a diet consisting mostly of chocolate and chocolate ice cream, and so much energy, she rarely sleeps. Just the other night, she will tell you, she was up watching MTV after midnight.

Don’t believe it for a second. Would your grandmother ever say, “If people are ripping your face off, you have to rip their face off” (Pelosi’s approach to handling attacks from Republicans)? How about “If you take the knife off the table, it’s not very frightening anymore” (her explanation for why she won’t let voters forget George W. Bush’s unpopular Social Security proposal from last year)?

The 66-year-old San Francisco lawmaker is an aggressive, hyperpartisan liberal pol who is the Democrats’ version of Tom DeLay, minus the ethical and legal problems of the former Republican House leader. To condition Democrats for this fall’s midterm elections, she has employed tactics straight out of DeLay’s playbook: insisting other House Democrats vote the party line on everything, avoiding compromise with Republicans at all cost and mandating that members spend much of their time raising money for colleagues in close races. And she has been effective. House Democrats have been more unified in their voting than at any other time in the past quarter-century, with members on average voting the party line 88% of the time in 2005, according to Congressional Quarterly….

Right fucking on!

Add comment November 8th, 2006

First woman speaker of the house?

Call For ChangeGet thee to a voting booth. Better yet, help direct your complacent neighbors to a voting booth on Tuesday, November 7th. With Nancy Pelosi poised to become the first woman speaker of the House if the Dems take Congress, how can you refuse? It’s one for the history books, people.

So where do you sign up? The webtastic folks at MoveOn.org have made it easy as (apple) pie for you to ring up voters from the comforts of your own damn sofa and encourage them to vote. You can start today on your coffee break, or tonight during commercials while watching McDreamy and McSteamy. Or you can do it this weekend, when maybe you have a bit more free time. Or Monday night, when it’s really freaking critical.

All it takes is an hour or two or three — as much or as little time as you have. Click the lovely flashing graphic or follow this link to learn more and sign up. Because when it comes right down to it, we freelancers are allergic to Republican agendas. So help a runny-nosed, hive-riddled freelancer out, would ya? Vote. Vote Dem. And encourage your neighbors to do the same.

(Note: It wasn’t my intent to post PSAs on this blog, but I can’t just sit by and do nada, not with all those money-grubbing, child-fondling freaks in office. So until the election is over you’re just going to have to deal with it. And yes, I’ll be making calls from my own home Sunday night. And on Tuesday, I’ll be knocking on doors with the DCCC.)

6 comments November 2nd, 2006

Yukking it up about the wage gap

It’s the weekend, so rather than post some dire stats about how women make roughly 75% of what their male counterparts make as I’d intended (believe me, I have a nice stack of reports and articles I could draw from), I thought I’d post these more entertaining reminders that not all workers are created equal:

1. Batgirl vs. the wage gap – A charming little YouTube vid. (“Holy act of Congress, Batman!”)

2. “A Career in Business Isn’t for Every Gender” – The Onion’s hilarious take on the glass ceiling. Almost knocks the Forbes “Don’t Marry Career Woman” piece down to size. Almost.

Thanks to Salon.com’s Broadsheet for clueing me in to both. More dire stats to come in a future post. Feel free to share any you come across too via email or comments.

1 comment September 30th, 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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