Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thank you, Beyoncé!

The new Beyoncé album has a song called "***Flawless" which features words from a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an amazing feminist author from Nigeria. I wanted to hear the whole speech and I was happy to find it as a TED Talk. I think the points Ms. Adichie brings up have a lot to do with what we've been talking about in class, especially about gender norms. I really like how she talks about making change through educating the youth and changing gender perceptions at a young age for men and women.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Blurred Lines - Feminist Remix

You've probably already seen this, but here's a feminist remix to the song Blurred Lines. So funny!

Twitter's Sexist and Racist Reaction to the Obama Selfie

In response to Lynsey's article, I thought this article on The Salon by Elias Isquith was interesting because it analyzed the Twitter reaction to Michelle Obama and the presidential selfie. The article draws upon the different reactions from liberals and conservatives. While some tweeters, focused on Michelle Obama's status as a #angryblacklady, others focused on her status as a domestic woman scolding her husband: "Uh-oh – President @BarackObama might be sleeping on the couch tonight."

Wall Street Has a Big Fat Crush on Hillary Clinton

After our class discussion on the media perception of Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and other leading women political figures, I thought it would be interesting to look into what the public is saying about this figures in recent news. In an article on The Wire, author Philip Bump analyzes the role between the financial sector and presidential campaigns, with a focus on Hillary Clinton's upcoming candidacy for president in 2016. Given that Clinton has held many public relations events and has been "tending to would-be financial donors for much of last year," Bump argues, "It's actually a sign that Hillary wants their money." Personally, I believe the article characterizes Clinton in a terrible light, by scrutinizing her support for the financial sector.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

The New Republic ran a cover story last week on Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is emerging as an important voice in the Democratic Party. This is a really interesting article that makes some intriguing comparisons between Warren and Hillary Clinton  You can watch videos of Warren here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Focus on Angry Michelle Obama

Here's an article with the photos of the exchange between Michelle Obama and the Danish Prime Minister at the funeral for Nelson Mandela.
Tech Leadership Lags Behind in Gender Diversity

Silicon Valley lags behind the rest of Corporate America in getting more women into leadership roles, new research finds
...The underlying reasons for the tech industry lagging behind others in gender diversity are myriad and much debated. Some point to low levels of young women in science and engineering education programs limit the potential pool of future female leaders. Others think Silicon Valley has a cultural problem that stacks the deck against women. The smaller sizes of tech companies surveyed by Fenwick, relative to the larger S&P 100 companies, may also mean there are fewer opportunities open to women.

Feminist Consumerism

I have noticed more and more that there are increasing amounts of commercials that are capitalizing on feminist ideals. The most recent one I saw was a Pantene commercial that compared how women and men were perceived in the workplace. You can watch the commercial on the link below, as well as see Sheryl Sandberg's positive reaction to the commercial.

This summer, I also remember a commercial winning awards called "Camp Gyno". The add is for "Hello Flo", a monthly care package.

Nike has done many commercials supporting and empowering women athletes

And, of course there are the classic Dove commercials promoting natural beauty along with their skin

When I look through award winning commercials, it's amazing how many of them have a feminist theme. Adds like these are spreading and are getting such positive responses. I think feminism, to a certain extent, sells. It seems to me that the main obstacle when it comes to modern feminisms is that objectifying women sells. These commercials prove that there are other ways to sell products.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

GM Names First Female CEO

GM announced today that Mary T. Barra will be their new CEO as Daniel Akerson will retire in January. She will be the first woman to lead a major auto company and join a handful of women who are CEOs of major American companies today (LA Times). Because we were just talking about women in the workforce yesterday, I thought you guys might want to take a look at this article. NYT makes the statement, "But by choosing a female C.E.O., the G.M. board underscored how the once lumbering automaker is embracing change and diversity." How exciting to see this change happening!


Levo League

Since we were talking about Sheryl Sandberg yesterday I thought I should post this website that she endorsed and maybe sponsors. I am not quite sure about the latter. I conducted a lot of research on this company this summer and it's pretty cool. Levo League is a company that aims to elevate young women in the workforce. There is a long history of men helping men and this new company wants to create that network for women. It reminded me a bit about Eleanor Roosevelt's advice that women must work together to help each other in politics. The founders of Levo League want to create resources by women, for women to succeed. On the website there are "office hours" where many prominent and also less well known people speak and give advice to women in the work force. There is also a job board, a section for mentors, a section with publications and finally an introduction to their "local levo" program. The company is in its very early stages which I think you can tell from the website, but I think the idea is cool so if you have some free time, check it out! Here is a copy of their mission statement:

At Levo, we are working toward our vision of a future where there is no income or achievement disparity between women and men across industries. Our mission is to create a trusted community of young professionals who are invested in supporting each others' success in game-changing leadership positions.

Here is a link to the webiste:

Women in Leadership Stereotypes

This advertisement for Pantene in the Philippines shows the differences in how men and women are perceived when doing the same things or serving in the same roles, just as we have talked about in this class. I feel like this is a perfect example of the connections between media portrayals of women and how we view women in politics and other positions of power, but this time it's a positive link! Media that shows the inequalities that women face helps to promote women's rights as opposed to furthering stereotypes, and we weren't shown many good examples of positive media. It's also a smart way to sell their product to women, because it shows that they are on our side. The article points out that the women are all light-skinned, which is problematic, but at least it is a step in the right direction and has brought about some dialogue. I wish big companies would do ads like this in the US! (Sheryl Sandberg commended the makers of the ad as well, who both happen to be men.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wall Street Mothers, Stay-At-Home Fathers

An article about role-reversals in heterosexual relationships involving top women leaders on Wall Street. It's interesting to hear about some of the personal struggles these families go through despite their willingness to reverse gender roles. Also, the series mentions The Feminist Mystique and how gender roles have developed over time. Read the article here.

Jessica Peña

See Jane

In MissRepresentation they made several comments about Geena Davia and her institute. They have done so much good work that I wanted to post a link to the website. They talk explicitly about the connection between the perception of women in media to women in politics.

Women in the Workplace + Entrepreneurship

The following articles popped up in my LinkedIn feed today - the first, in particular, seems pretty relevant for today's discussion of workplace issues.

Article 1: "When Gender Gets in the Way of Sponsorship"
"Sponsorship is a necessarily close relationship. Getting to know each other well enough to establish trust demands regular one-on-one encounters, possibly over the phone but more typically in person, sometimes at work but often outside of it. But how close is too close?
Sex — or the specter of it — haunts sponsorship, prompting men and women to avoid the professional partnerships necessary to achieve their career goals for fear of being censured, fired, or sued. According to my research, 95% of men and 93% of women say they find it easiest to give and receive guidance in a one-on-one setting. Yet 64% of senior men (vice president and above) and 50% of up-and-coming women admit they’re hesitant to initiate any sort of one-on-one with the opposite sex lest their motives be misconstrued by their colleagues and rumors start poisoning the workplace."
This article features the bios of several incredible women who've started their own companies. Here's a preview:
Lisa Stone, Founder of BlogHer
"In early 2005, Stone and her co-founders Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins noticed that there were countless women blogging, but mainstream media rarely linked to their posts. The trio decided to host a grassroots conference that year and attracted sponsors like Google and Yahoo. It quickly sold out and soon after, they launched The publishing platform turned blogging into a lucrative business for many women -- it paid $25 million to 5,000 of its bloggers between 2009 and 2012 -- and now reaches an audience of 92 million."

"How to be a feminist according to stock photography" - by 22Words

A short, hilarious look at the stock images NY Mag uses to describe feminists.

 "Ladies, you may think you’re feminists, but it turns out you’re probably doing it all wrong…

The folks over at NY Mag use a lot of stock photos in their business. They also have a lot to say about women’s rights. So naturally, from time to time, they use stock photos in pieces about empowering women.

Putting their experience to good use, they collected a variety of images that come up when you search terms such as “feminist,” “girl power,” or “career woman” on stock photography sites.

It turns out you can learn a lot about how to empower yourself as a woman from this exercise. Here are some of the key takeaways…"

More of the Media's Attack on Women

Here is another video with a clip from a speech by Jean Kilbourne on the terribly negative effects that the media has on women. She says that the images of women in advertisements are extremely harmful to women, especially due to photoshop because of the unreal and impossible standards that it sets up for women. She also discusses the ways that the media objectifies and dehumanizes women by only showing sections or parts of their bodies and by layering them with images of an item, turning them into that object. After our discussion and viewing of Miss Representation, I have been aware of the number of videos and articles that address these issues of women in the media. That means at least that people are becoming more aware of it, even as advertising gets worse and images of women get thinner and more unattainable.
She also points out Kate Winslet as an actress who does not allow photoshop on her and publicly denounced the use of it in a GQ cover photo of her, saying she did not allow them to do that. While more female celebrities are understanding the harm of photoshop and taking a stand against it, their efforts are not being respected or taken seriously in many instances, which is sad and frustrating. I do have hope for the future, because of the increased awareness of women in media and the activism surrounding it, that changes will be made to women's representation.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Robin Thicke's Grammy Nominations

Robin Thicke was nominated for multiple Grammys, including Best Record and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Blurred Lines" and I am really upset about it. The media portrays the Grammys as the biggest event in the music industry. It is supposed to recognize the creative genius of performers and often launches and reaffirms the tremendous success of nominees and winners. So when I woke up this morning and read that "Blurred Lines," a horrible song that objectifies and dehumanizes women was one of very few to be selected as the "best" of the year I was outraged. The decision demonstrates that Grammy voters not only tolerated the abusive language of the song, but thought it was praise worthy. This is a song that contains the line, "OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you, but you're an animal, baby it's in your nature." These lyrics advocate a message of sexual violence and it's terribly immoral, disappointing, and dangerous that the Grammys might award Robin Thicke with the biggest honor in the industry. What message does it send to children and teenagers that these degrading songs are not only allowed to be played on the radio but also are recognized as the "best" by the institution Americans consider to be the authority on music in society? It all relates back to what we learned in Miss Representation---misogyny continues to permeate the media and impede the progression of women's rights in the United States.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Center for American Women and Politics

The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University is a great source for information on women in political leadership. Take a look at the website to find fact sheets, research reports, and other materials on women officeholders past and present.

The Representation Project

In addition to the powerful video that Celia posted earlier, you might look at other materials and resources on the website of The Representation Project, which was founded by Jennifer Siebel Newson (the filmmaker who made Miss Representation). 

Nelson Mandela and Women's Rights

Given the passing of Nelson Mandela, a truly wonderful man who is best known for his fight against apartheid, I thought I would share some resources which given insight into his work for women's rights as well. Nelson Mandela helped create a country with a constitution that "provides legal protection from women from discrimination, rape and domestic violence (Chenelle)." As evidenced in his 1995 address on Women's Day, he also looked to women to lead in local government and push their communities to carry out vital government programs. In this particular speech, Mandela urged women to help put into effect the Reconstruction and Development Program, a wide-reaching program that attempted to tackle the many injustices--poverty, lack of clean water and housing, little access to healthcare, etc.--brought about by the Apartheid government. Previously, I had not known much about Mandela's advocacy on the part of women, but he was an advocate of freedom for all people, and acknowledged women's struggles during a time in which many other issues were vying for his attention as well. May his powerful legacy inspire us to fight the good fight.      

I will leave you with a quote from Nelson Mandela's State of the Nation Address in 1994:

"Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression."

This is his address on Women's Day:

note: "Masakhane" is a national slogan used by South Africans and political leaders meaning "Let us Build Together"

These are some of the ways he advocated for women in the South African Constitution:


Twitter hires their first female board member

As of today, Twitter hired their first Female board member, Marjorie Scardino. Scardino has worked in both the U.S. and London and was the CEO of the large education company Pearson, in addition to her time on the board of Nokia for 12 years. I was shocked to find out that Twitter has never had a woman on its board, and it reminded me of the segment in Misrepresentaiton on women in top level jobs. The company was criticized for its all-male board about a month ago by The New York Times, and Scardino has been hired in what sadly appears to be a desperate attempt to mitigate much deeper issues of sexism in the company's almost 8-year existence. An article from The Guardian notes that "about 49% of publicly traded tech companies have no women on their boards." Twitter and other tech companies should be embarrassed and need to acknowledge the many brilliant and capable women who are denied entry into the tech sphere. Scardino's wealth of knowledge and experience in the media and tech worlds should not be undermined by Twitter's efforts to keep criticisms at bay.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nike's Ad Celebrating Generations of Female Athletes

This is a little old, but still a great ad by Nike celebrating the anniversary of Title IX. Here's the link.

Jessica Peña

Women in Media

I came across this link on my Facebook newsfeed this evening and it seems to perfectly fit with the take away message from Missrepresentation.

The video was made by The Representation Project, whose mission is to "challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, or circumstance can fulfill their potential" 
This short video is great because although people may not have time to watch a whole documentary (although they should because Missrepresentation was worth it), a short clip can powerfully get the message across and can easily be shared with friends.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Women in Congress as Fund-raisers

According to this recent article in the New York Times, women running for Congress in the last decade have raised on average more than their male counterparts. The financial advantage is especially true for Democrats.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Phyllis Schlafly on "The Mike Hukabee Show"

At the end of class I referred to a video I found of a recent interview with Phyllis Schlafly. In 2012, she appeared on "The Mike Hukabee Show" to discuss her new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War On Religious Freedom. I found the interview difficult to watch, but I think it is relevant to the course to see how the work of women we have been studying evolved throughout time. Phyllis Schlafly is certainly still an ultra-conservative and now focuses her activism on defending the nation from what she claims to be President Obama's attack on religion. She believes President Obama wants the government to infringe on citizens' religious rights and Hukabee encourages her throughout the piece. One of the many infuriating moments of the interview is when Hukabee praises Schlafly's A Choice Not An Echo, a book she published in the 1960s, as "a turning point for [him] as a young teenager [that] helped to cause [him] to be a conservative." You can access the interview here 

Heidi Nelson Cruz, CMC '94

You might enjoy this article from the New York Times about Heidi Nelson Cruz, who graduated from CMC in 1994. She holds an M.B.A. from Harvard, is a managing director at Goldman Sachs, and is married to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Gender Quotas in German Corporations

This article from The Atlantic describes an interesting experiment in Germany--mandated gender quotas in corporations. Will taking legal measures that require more balanced participation in leadership by men and women be a good idea? Is it legal? Will it change the culture of inequality in the workforce? I think it's a course of action worth considering and will be interested to see the consequences of these new government directions.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"Why Women Still Need Husbands"

This article by Suzanne Venker has caused a lot of controversy and sparked a heated debate about marriage and women being dependent on men and we've been talking a lot recently about domesticity and the changing roles of women over recent decades so I wanted to know what you all think of the article. Personally it offended me because she seems to ignore not only different sexual orientations but also blames the fact that there are fewer male breadwinners today on women and makes it seems like it's a bad thing that more women are working. What do you all think?

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Nominee Janet Yellen

Sort of related to my post earlier but also just really exciting in itself, Janet Yellen was nominated by President Obama to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve! If appointed, she would be the first woman ever to hold the position as well as the first democrat since 1987.

(Sidenote: Larry Summers was also being considered but withdrew his name from consideration)
    • This article actually mentions his controversial comments about women.

Women at the top: Sheryl Sandberg, bell hooks, and sexism in tech

These two articles aren't directly related, but I thought they bring out similar themes and discussion points. The first is the article I mentioned in class where bell hooks critiques Lean In as "faux feminism." It's long and at times I found it a little difficult to keep up, but it also has a lot of great points. (Disclaimer: I haven't read Lean In.) The second is an article about women in the tech industry called "F**k You, I Got Mine: Women in Tech for the Patriarchy," which also critiques Lean In for its support of white privilege and talks about how and why women are pushed to make choices that support themselves over women as a whole.

Here's the two articles:
Women in tech:
bell hooks:

Women Underrepresented in the Fields of Science and Engineering; Larry Summers's Talk

I know that this doesn’t have to do with women and politics per se (this post has to do with the underrepresentation of women in math, science, and engineering), but I wanted to put this on the blog because I think that women being “less logical” or “more abstract” in their thinking is an argument that has been used to explain the underrepresentation of women in politics as well, and the argument is still being used against us today and by our own peers.
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, a male junior at Pomona who knows that I’m interested in feminist issues. He told me about an economics book he is reading for class called “Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-By-Numbers is the New Way To Be Smart” by Ian Ayres, specifically a section of the book about a talk that Larry Summers, the then President of Harvard, gave back in 2005.
            Larry Summers is a prominent economist, and served as the President of Harvard University from 2001-2006. Summers resigned in 2005 for multiple reasons, but mainly because of a talk he gave in which he suggested that the underrepresentation of women in the fields of math, science, and engineering was due to a statistical difference in scores between the genders or what he called a “different availability of aptitude at the high end.”
            In the part of the book “Super Crunchers” my friend was referring to, Ayres explains how Summers was wrongly accused of sexism, was not making a definitive statement as to the inferiority of women and was merely pointing to a statistical fact. The study that Summers refers to in his talk compares the scores of girls and boys in a math exam given to the graduating senior class of a high school. The results of the test showed that the average test scores of the girls and boys were the same. However, the variations within the scores were different. The scores for boys showed that, in the top 5% of test scores, boys outnumbered girls two to one. They also showed that boys outnumbered girls by two to one in the bottom 5% of scores as well. This means that, though the averages of the two genders were the same, the scores of the boys had a larger range. So, girls scored in a smaller, more tightly knit range whereas more boys scored very well and very badly.
            My friend agreed with Ayres and thought that Summers was wrongly accused of sexism, but I pointed out that both he and Summers were ignoring significant social factors that could contribute to this variation in test scores. I argued that women haven’t been encouraged to pursue math and science and grow up to believe that they are “male” fields. He agreed with me on this point but argued that this lack of encouragement only accounted for the lack of women in the top 5% of scores, not the bottom 5%. I argued that the lack of women in the bottom 5% could be explained by the fact that men in general are raised to think that they can pursue any path that they choose whereas women are encouraged to toe the line; to not do too well but to not do too badly either. Men are free to slack off in school whereas if a woman slacks off in school it is seen as a reflection of the female gender as a whole. He brushed this off and saying that my argument was vague and unfounded whereas his argument was based on statistical evidence.
            The next morning I was still thinking about our conversation so I decided to look for articles on the topic and maybe (hopefully) some counter-evidence. I found many articles about the controversy and one in particular showed that though the variations in test scores were higher for boys in America, they were actually higher for girls. This statistic from an article I found on Jezebel points out, “In most countries studied, girls' math skills were just as variable as boys', and in the Netherlands they were actually more variable. In general, countries where girls matched or outperformed boys were also countries with high gender equality — like Denmark, Iceland, in the UK.”

            I find it frustrating when statistics and test scores are used to explain away women being underrepresented in certain fields and social spheres when the social spheres are what breed the difference in test scores in the first place.

Here are some links to the articles I was looking at: