Sep 16
Her eye on the news
Trend reversal

Amid major cultural shifts over the last decade, the number of men both taking more active roles in parenting and putting careers on hold and becoming stay-at-home dads so their wives can pursue career goals, has been steadily on the rise. The phenomenon has been seen in the U.S. and across the pond. But in the U.K., the latest government labor statistics show that the trend is now reversing. From 1993 to 2014, the number of men staying home and out of the workforce to parent steadily rose, but an analysis of the data shows that over the last three years that figure has suddenly begun to decline. Despite the decrease in men staying home, the number of women out of the workforce continued its decline and hit a record low of 5.38 million, The Telegraph Reports.

What’s behind the trend reversal? Sir Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Manchester, thinks it has to do with the novelty of staying home to parent, or being a “new man,” beginning to wear off.

He told The Telegraph, “I think at one point in time it was quite trendy and adventurous to stay at home — men thought ‘I should be a new man’.” But, he added, “I think what’s ended up happening is that they feel like society doesn’t reward that and doesn’t give them high status. Men feel that they are only valued for their work role.

Read the full story at The Telegraph.


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Same old story

While it might come as no surprise that women are still broadly mis- and underrepresented on television,The Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film at San Diego State University now also has the numbers to prove it. A new study that looked at TV shows airing from September 2016 to May 2017 found that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to the representation of women on and behind the screen.

Some of the study’s main takeaways are that 68 percent of TV shows had more men than women on their casts, with female characters accounting for just 42 percent of speaking roles. Those women were also more likely than their male counterparts to be defined in terms of their personal life (i.e. as “mother” or “wife”) rather than their professions.

If you’re looking for a sliver of positive news, the study had some: Racial diversity on television seems to be improving, with roles for black women up to 21 percent (from 17 percent last year) and Asian women up to seven percent (from five percent last year). Latinas, however, remain dramatically underrepresented, accounting for a paltry five percent of speaking female characters. The stats are even more depressing when it comes to representation behind the camera. For example, some 97 percent of shows had no women directors of photography, while 85 percent had not a single female director. The study showed a clear “trickle-down” effect however: shows with women creators or producers, tend to feature more women on screen or in the director’s seat. Once again, the lesson for TV executives should be clear: Hire. More. Women!

Read the full story at Jezebel.


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Adaptive thinking

Despite the widespread public perception that motherhood is a distraction or even an obstacle for mothers working in creative fields, it turns out that the opposite might actually prove to be the case, according to an Op-Ed written for The Atlantic by journalist and mother Erika Hayasaki.

Research done on the brains of rats, which closely resemble human brains in several important respects, has found that upon having children the mother’s brain undergoes a remarkable transformation. Not only do her priorities shift such that she will prefer taking care of her children over consuming addictive drugs such as cocaine, but she also becomes a more effective hunter — capturing crickets at four times the speed of rats without children. These adaptations translate to more creative endeavors as well, where mother rats prove more adaptable and less error-prone at solving problems such as mazes.

Most people, however, might hesitate to claim that the brains of human mothers mirror those of rats in such a way. While studies have suggested that pregnancy in humans does induce structural changes to the mother’s brain, high profile artists such as Marina Abramović have famously claimed that having children hurts women in creative fields rather than helping them.

Not only artists feel this way, however. Brooklyn artist Hein Koh, who was famously seen in a photograph showing her tandem breastfeeding her 5 week old twins even as she worked on her laptop, has said that being a mother hasn’t hurt her work but rather made it “more interesting and layered.” And as Women in the World reported two years ago, a group of rising artists was working to reject the all-or-nothing, children-versus-art premise.

As a mother herself, Hayasaki writes, “The competition between raising children and creative output is real.” But rather than looking at motherhood as “the enemy of the work,” she encourages her fellow writers and artists to try looking at the problem in a more creative light.

Read the full Op-Ed at The Atlantic.


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‘Technical ability’

A class-action lawsuit filed on Thursday on behalf of all women employed by Google in California over the past four years, alleges that the tech giant systematically “segregated” women into employment tiers that paid them less and denied them opportunities for advancement. The complaint included three named plaintiffs who shared stories in which they alleged being repeatedly passed over for promotion in favor of less qualified men.

One of the plaintiffs, Holly Pease, said that she was hired to a senior managing role overseeing about 50 software engineers and product managers in 2005. But she soon realized that the male engineers and a senior manager that she oversaw had been placed in Google’s more highly compensated “technical” career track, even as she, despite having more than 10 years of experience as a network engineer, was relegated to the “non-technical” career track. Pease said she coached non-technical employees in how to transition to technical jobs, and even helped a poorly performing manager working below her to get a promotion to the technical track. But when she tried to transition herself, her “two interviewers, both men, did not ask her any technical questions, and one interviewer did not even bother to take notes.” The suit alleges that Google justified denying her promotion by claiming she “lacked technical ability.”

Another named plaintiff, Kelly Ellis, said she was hired in 2010 in a “Level 3” position for new college graduates. But a few weeks later, Google hired a man who graduated the same year as her into a “Level 4” position that came with “substantially higher salary.” Ellis said she watched as other men less qualified than her were promoted to Level 4 positions and higher, even as the company denied her advancement in spite of her “excellent performance reviews.” The third named plaintiff, Kelli Wisuri, said that she had been relegated to a lower-paying career track in which 50 percent of all employees were women.

Earlier this month, The New York Times published an internal Google spreadsheet that appeared to confirm that women within the same job levels were being paid less than men. Google, which has been previously accused of silencing whistleblowers, had publicly claimed in April to have closed the pay gap across race and gender. Despite that, former employees have continued to say that the company has a problem with race, and the U.S. Department of Labor has accused Google of “extreme” pay discrimination. Adding to the controversy, news of the impending gender discrimination suit came on the heels of a Google employee claiming that women were underrepresented at the internet giant due to inherent gender differences.

And if the rest of the claims listed in the lawsuit are to be believed, these complaints are only the tip of the iceberg.

Read the full story at The Daily Mail and The Guardian.


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‘Teachable moment’

Actress Amber Tamblyn, 34, has written an open letter to James Woods denouncing the 70-year-old actor for hitting on her when she was a teenager — and for publicly calling her a liar when she opened up about the incident years later.

The open letter, which was published in Teen Vogue, was the latest development in a Twitter controversy that erupted after Woods criticized Call Me By Your Name, a movie about a homosexual relationship between a 24-year-old and a 17-year-old in Italy, for “[chipping] away the last barriers of decency.” The movie’s star, Armie Hammer, hit back at Woods on Twitter by accusing him of dating a 19-year-old when he was 60. According to Business Insider, Woods dated Ashley Madison, 19, when he was 60, and Kristen Bauguess, 20, when he was 66. Tamblyn then responded to Hammer’s accusation with one of her own, claiming that Woods had once tried to pick her up in a restaurant by offering to take her and a friend to Vegas.

“‘I’m 16,’ I said. ‘‘Even better,’ he said,” Tamblyn recalled.

Woods denied Tamblyn’s account as a “lie.”

In her letter to Teen Vogue, Tamblyn wrote that Woods might be better served by viewing the incident as a “teachable moment” than by denying to himself, and others, that it had happened.

“You think, it’s not possible, there’s no way I would’ve been so stupid as to hit on a 16-year-old known actress,” wrote Tamblyn. “But I wasn’t known then, James. I was just a girl. And I’m going to wager that there have been many girls who were just girls or women who were just women who you’ve done this to because you can get away with it.”

“The saddest part of this story doesn’t even concern me but concerns the universal woman’s story,” Tamblyn added. “The nation’s harmful narrative of disbelieving women first, above all else.”

In response to the open letter, actress Julie Brown posted a reply that appeared to indicate that she had been taken advantage of by Woods while under the influence of alcohol.

“I always blamed myself,” she wrote, “until I realized who was to blame.”

Actress Jessica Chastain and the Women’s March have also tweeted support to Tamblyn, writing that her “strength gives strength to all.”

Read the full story at CBS News.


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