Nel's New Day

December 27, 2015

Best Feminist Quotes – 2015

Filed under: Feminism — trp2011 @ 2:27 PM

From Ms, Vienna Urias ‘ best feminist quotes of 2015:

Just like that, 2015 is coming to a close. Despite some serious ups and downs, 2015 became the year that same-sex marriage was legalized, global support for women’s education surged and feminist consciousness soared. So let us bask in the feminist glory of the year with a few of our favorite quotes from 2015.

  1. Malala-Yousafzai“When you said in your speech, ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’, I decided there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So I’m a feminist and we all should be a feminist because feminism is another word for equality.” — Malala Yousafzai, in conversation with Emma Watson in November.
  1. Sen.-Claire-McCaskill“As one of just 20 women currently in the Senate, it’s important to me to encourage more women to run for office…But equally important is encouraging more men to sometimes just shut the hell up. It’s not that women don’t value your thoughts, it’s just that we don’t value all of them. The world doesn’t need your opinion on everything. For example, what women do with their bodies. Hush.” —Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), in a satirical skit on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert in November.
  1. MichelleObama“As a first lady, a mother, and a human being, I cannot walk away from these girls, and I plan to keep raising my voice on their behalf for the rest of my life. I plan to keep urging world leaders to invest in their potential and create societies that truly value them as human beings. I plan to keep reaching out to local leaders, families and girls themselves to raise awareness about the power of sending girls to school. And I plan to keep talking about this issue here at home, because I believe that all of us—men and women, in every country on this planet—have a moral obligation to give all of these girls a future worthy of their promise and their dreams. “—First Lady Michelle Obama, in an essay written in November for The Atlantic about the Let Girls Learn initiative.


  1. Viola-Davis“Let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” —Viola Davis, during her Emmy Award acceptance speech in September.
  1. RBG“People ask me sometimes, when—when do you think it will it be enough? When will there be enough women on the court? And my answer is when there are nine.” —Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking at Georgetown University in February.
  1. Mindy“I have a personality defect where I sort of refuse to see myself as an underdog. I often am reminded of it when people ask why I am confident. It’s because my parents…they raised me with the entitlement of a tall, blonde, white man.” —Mindy Kaling, at a Q & A during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in January.
  1. AngelaDavis-1024x684“There can be no great triumph over racism without addressing capitalism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, the environment that we live in and the food that we consume. We have to recognize all of these connections.” —Angela Davis, speaking at “Angela Davis: A Lifetime of Revolution,” hosted by USC’s Black Student Assembly and the USC Speakers Committee in February.
  1. Rowan-Blanchard“When I was in preschool, I played catch with the other kids, and was told I threw ‘like a girl.’ I have been a feminist ever since.” —Girl Meets World star Rowan Blanchard, speaking at U.N. Women’s annual conference in June.
  1. Amanda“End the ‘angry black girl’ narrative. It’s just another attempt to undermine certain perspectives. I have strong opinions. I am not angry.” —actor Amandla Stenberg, in a July tweet.


  1. “People are always asking me, ‘Who will you pass the torch to?’ The question makes me angry. There is no one torch—there are many torches—and I’m using my torch to light other torches. There shouldn’t have been a ‘first’ Gloria Steinem, and there won’t be a last one.”—Gloria Steinem, in an October interview with The New Yorker.

Photos of Mindy Kaling, Amandla Stenberg and Viola Davis via Shutterstock. Photo of Angela Davis courtesy of Universität Wien. Photo of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg via Wake Forest University School of Law. Photo of Rowan Blanchard courtesy of Dominick D. Photo of Gloria Steinem courtesy of Jewish Women’s Archive. Photo of Malala Yousafzai courtesy of Utenriksdepartementet UD. Photo of First Lady Michelle Obama courtesy of U.S. Embassy Tokyo. Photo of Sen. Claire McCaskill courtesy of Senator Claire McCaskill. All images licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.


July 30, 2015

Portland Says ‘Shell No” to Arctic Drilling


Dangling shell noIn a David v. Goliath set-to in Portland (OR), protesters are one-upping the kayaktivists in Seattle, adding small boats and a “human curtain” from GreenPeace rappelling 100 to 200 feet down from the city’s tallest bridge, St. Johns Bridge, to block a ship from going out to sea. Earlier this year, protesters tried to block the departure of the Shell-leased drilling rig “Polar Pioneer” from Terminal 5 in the Port of Seattle. This week’s altercation escalated when the 380-foot icebreaker MSV Fennica tried to leave dry dock where it had a 39-inch gash in its hull repaired after the ship tried to take a shortcut early in its 1,000-mile journey from Dutch Harbor to the Aleutions.

Environmental activists in kayaks protest the Fennica, a vessel that Royal Dutch Shell PLC plans to use in its Arctic offshore drilling project, as it underwent repairs on Swan Island, Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Portland, Ore.  The damaged ship, a 380-foot icebreaker, which arrived at a Swan Island dry dock early Saturday morning, is a key part of Shell's exploration and spill-response plan off Alaska's northwest coast. It protects Shell's fleet from ice and carries equipment that can stop gushing oil. (Sam Caravana/The Oregonian via AP) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; NO LOCAL INTERNET; THE MERCURY OUT; WILLAMETTE WEEK OUT; PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Environmental activists in kayaks protest the Fennica, a vessel that Royal Dutch Shell PLC plans to use in its Arctic offshore drilling project, as it underwent repairs on Swan Island, Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Portland, Ore. The damaged ship, a 380-foot icebreaker, which arrived at a Swan Island dry dock early Saturday morning, is a key part of Shell’s exploration and spill-response plan off Alaska’s northwest coast. It protects Shell’s fleet from ice and carries equipment that can stop gushing oil. (Sam Caravana/The Oregonian via AP) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; NO 

fennica mapThe channel was shallower than shown by the 80-year-old charts that were surveyed with sextants and hand-held lines. The NOAA ship Fairweather, in the area to map Arctic shipping routes, found rocky areas less than 30 feet deep, one only 22.5 feet deep. The Fennica draws 27.5 feet.

fennica AnnThe Fennica is vital to Shell’s drilling because it contains a 30-foot-tall capping stack equipment  designed to prevent a blowout like BP experienced in the Gulf’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. A spill would be disastrous in Arctic waters which are covered by ice flows much of the year.  The Chukchi Sea is home to an estimated 2,000 polar bears, as well as gray whales, bowhead whales and a major walrus population. Gray whales swim north also go for feeding grounds in the Chukchi Sea.

Shell received federal permits last week but must wait until the Fennica arrives at the drill site before the company can reapply for more permits to drill into hydrocarbon zones in the Chukchi Sea.

Bridge goodScheduled to leave last night, the Fennica set out about 6:00 (PST) this morning but was forced to turn around by the presence of the protesters who plan to remain there indefinitely in spite of the unusual 100+ degree temperatures for at least today and tomorrow.

Bridge with yellowFollowing is an article from Oregon’s junior senator, Jeff Merkley:

“At this moment, the damaged Fennica icebreaker is entering the water in my home of Portland, OR, in what could be a make-or-break moment for our environment and our future climate.

“Here’s the background: In 2008, President George W. Bush not only lifted the executive ban on Outer Continental Shelf drilling, but also leased parts of the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea to Shell for oil and gas exploration.

“When Shell first attempted exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea in 2012, however, it was clear the company was out of its depth. In September, during open sea testing, Shell’s spill containment system was “crushed like a beer can.” Then the Noble Discoverer caught on fire later in November. To cap off the year, Shell’s other rig, the Kulluk, ran aground and was deeply damaged near Kodiak Island after facing severe winter weather. In a review, the U.S. Coast Guard deemed Shell’s wreck to be a result of “inadequate assessment and management of risks.”

“Yet now, with no indication things will be different this time around — and with clear and mounting evidence we can’t afford to burn Arctic oil if we are serious about climate change — Shell is making moves toward Arctic drilling once again. In fact, Shell’s rigs are already on their way to Arctic waters. The only thing that is stopping Shell is the delay of the Fennica, the damaged icebreaker, which they need to begin their drilling operations.

“Shell should seize this last chance to reverse course and drop their reckless plans for Arctic drilling before it is too late.

“Drilling in the Arctic is the height of irresponsibility. If the Chukchi leases are developed and Shell begins operations, a major oil spill is extremely likely. We all remember the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted in billions of dollars in economic damage to coastal communities and devastating pollution from the 4.9 million barrels of oil that were dumped into the warm Gulf waters. The harsh climate and remote location of the Arctic would make cleanup of a comparable spill nearly impossible, and if a spill happens during the winter, months could pass before a well could be plugged.

“Additionally, we should not be investing in infrastructure that will lock in decades of production — and carbon pollution — from previously unexploited fossil fuel reserves. The science is clear that we have already discovered five times as much fossil fuel as we can afford to burn if we hope to avert catastrophic climate change. Human civilization already faces enormous challenges from climate change.

Save the Arctic“We must take steps to alleviate this danger, not make it worse — and for Shell that means demonstrating global leadership by deciding to not put the world at risk by tapping into untouched and treacherous oil reserves in the Arctic. The U.S. should also use its power and leadership as the new Chair of the Arctic Council to work with other nations to keep Arctic oil off limits.

“Simply put, the Arctic may have oil, but the risks of drilling in the Arctic are too great. Arctic oil should stay in the ground.

“Several weeks ago, five of my Senate colleagues and I introduced the Stop Arctic Drilling Act of 2015, legislation that would protect the Arctic — and our climate — by prohibiting any new or renewed leases for oil drilling in the Arctic.

“It can take years to pass legislation in Congress, however, and right now we only have a window of weeks — maybe just days — before Shell starts drilling.

“It’s time for Shell to do the right thing and announce that they will pull out of the Arctic.”

Two friends—married couple Ann Hubard (photographer) and Taylor West (writer)—went down to the Willamette River this morning to chronicle the events as protesters kept the icebreaker from leaving Portland to help Shell drill for oil. Hubard, who was interviewed for the Oregonian, sent photos, and Taylor sent her impressions of this morning’s gathering:

zigThirteen Dangling in Protest:  Dangling some 408 feet above the Willamette River, yellow and red streamers marked each roped body. A flotilla of colorful kayaks was strategically stationed below, and a lone powered paraglider zigzagged up and down, in and out, voicing support for the mission. News helicopters tracked and recorded the event from on high while hundreds of spectators craning necks to spot the target of the daring dissenters. Moving ever so slowly up the Willamette came the MSV Fennica, 9,000 tons of icebreaker stretching longer than a football field. At last the dare is on!

Bicycles under bridgeThe crowd is eerily quiet,  the flotilla of kayaks centers itself, and, in unison, the danglers hang at attention. Suddenly I’m aware of only the paraglider’s engine and the roar of helicopters circling above. We stand together in anxious anticipation, heads shifting back and forth in tennis-match-style from danglers to ship. Who will say uncle first? Suddenly, the crowd erupts in boisterous cheers and applause. Yes, the Fennica has stopped before it turned and straddled on the river side-saddle as it starts its retreat. The daring dangling dissenters have won this round.

last chanceComment from Hubard: The Shell ship is huge, and being there helps you really understand how impressive these protesters are, to hang there as long as they have. Their dedication and perseverance is amazing.  I feel honored to have been there.

Addendum: This afternoon, police closed the St. Johns Bridge and removed three or four of the protesters dangling from the bridge. Law enforcement also circled protesters in kayaks and canoes that had continued to enter the river and block the big ship’s access. At 5:55 (PST), the Fennica went under the St. Johns Bridge, going north toward the Columbia River. Updates are available here.


July 29, 2015

Feminism Needs a New Book for Youth

valentiBook discussions are an occasional focus of my local NOW chapter meetings, and one member suggested Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti, a writer who created Although the book was written in 2007, she hoped that the 2014 update would make the book current. Unfortunately, the new edition fails to update many references. For example, she decries sexism in Elizabeth Dole’s presidential campaign to an audience who has no idea who Dole. The use of sexist treatment of Hillary Clinton would have far more appeal to a younger audience.

full againFull Frontal Feminism was first published when Valenti was 28. Her new introduction in the 2014 edition reflected the reason for changing the original sexist cover (left) and her thinking about her entitlement as a white person. The second edition has a much better cover (below). Yet she made few changes to include women of color and update references. The year after she wrote the book, the beginning of the Great Recession caused a tremendous turmoil in the United States that created financial chaos for men as well as women. The changes produced crises that caused a commonality in financial issues for all genders. Another issue not addressed in the update is the explosion of anti-choice laws throughout the states that started to spike in 2011 with 135 separate laws passed in 2011 and 2012.

full next coverReviews of both editions are mixed—some people loved the book while others found it a disappointment.  One review described Valenti’s narrative as the Ann Coulter of the woman’s movement. The author’s ambivalence comes from the obvious point of view from a privileged, upper middle-class white woman mixed with Valenti’s complaints about the attitude of the wealthier girls in her high school.

Another reviewer called the book “Flyby Feminism” because of its superficial and shallow approach. Unfortunately, Valenti fails to give any analysis or explanations for her criticisms and frequently ending a statement with “puke” or a sarcastic comment such as “Need I go on?” In many cases, the answer would be “yes.” Some historical background to Valenti’s comments would have been useful. She simply writes that women gained the right to vote in 1920 although 14 states—almost 30 percent of the United States—had woman’s suffrage when the 19th Amendment was ratified. In fact, women could vote during the Revolutionary War but lost that right by 1807. Valenti’s comment about not knowing who the first feminists “really were,” [author’s italics] could have been replaced by brief references to early matriarchal societies and burning witches.

Like right-wing talk shows, the book uses the “straw man,” “bait-and-switch” method, for example, declaring that all anti-choice advocates hate abortion because they hate sex. Another problem with the book is the number of sweeping generalizations such as “when you’re a feminist, day to day life is better” and “there’s nothing feminists like better than pop culture.” Dogmatic expressions such as “I’m better in bed than you are” are reasons for the superiority of feminism.

The subtitle, A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters, describes the audience, but some of them may not respond well to the patronizing, authoritarian tone. Without support for what Valenti calls “truth,” the statements are delivered as directives. In essence, the narrative demands that readers be open-minded while exhibiting narrowness. In focusing on an inviting approach toward youth, Valenti compares today’s hip, pop-centric, sexually-driven fun-loving Third Wave to the stuffy, academic, boring women of the past without recognizing what these people achieved for greater gender equality. The book’s goal of telling young women that they are already feminists, although they don’t know it, is vital. Yet Valenti she tells her audience how to be “appropriate” feminists, focusing much of this description on having sex without guilt, before complaining about people telling others how to be feminists.

Some of the book’s advice is just bad. Valenti recommends having sex only with men who say that they are feminists, overlooking the fact that some men use this as a ploy to get sex from a woman. In her list of reasons why women stay with abusive men, she omitted the emotional attachment or dependence that the woman may have for the abuser. Other advice is demanding and negative: don’t change your name after you marry, don’t have sex with a Republican, don’t have plastic surgery. The primary “do” is to do be just like the author.

The book does provide 12 pages of solutions, but much of the advice is general, inane, and sexual—i.e., “have orgasms,” go to girls’ rock camps, volunteer, and call out people on sexist remarks. Fortunately, a bibliography at the end guided readers to other books that would benefit young people interested in feminism.

Valenti’s  early writing career was as a blogger, founding, which is highly promoted in Full Frontal. Most blogs, especially in earlier days, relied on an informal approach to stating opinion without research. This tradition of a conversational tone may be responsible for the author’s writing style—simplistic, chatty, and peppered with mistakes such as indicating that the Supreme Court picked George W. Bush as president in 2004 instead of 2000.

All said, however, Valenti makes good points in the book, albeit without much backing:

  • Media sexism in stereotyped female appearance [which Valenti failed to point out has been prevalent throughout the centuries];
  • Teen feminist actions such as a high school student opposing abstinence-only sex education;
  • Women not at fault for rape;
  • Overwhelming poverty for women;
  • Men as feminists;
  • Importance of women voters;
  • Intersectionality of oppression from a variety of reasons such as poverty, race, gender, etc.

I was interested in the book’s discussion about the mandatory sterilization of women, still occurring in so much of the United States at the current time that California has just passed a law banning the practice. Those present also brought up issues not addressed within the book such as a focus of feminism on capitalist ideas rather than environment, the negative influence of Texas on education through the state’s control of textbooks with conservative and misleading content, and the fact that women pay more than men do for the same service or item (something that Valenti did not address in the book).

In searching the Internet, I discovered that most feminist books on lists for youth are fiction, and many nonfiction titles are classics such as Mary Wollenstonecraft’s “Vindication of the Rights of Women,” written in 1792. General books on feminism for young people are more focused to readers under the age of 15; recently published books for older teens and those in the early twenties don’t seem cover the wide range that “Full Frontal Feminism” does. A thoughtful and accessible book for young woman is badly needed.

The Internet may also promote the confusion of a definition for feminism: in its list of five feminist books, Google listed “She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman.” In my reading about the subject—both feminism and Full Frontal Feminism—the best definition I found is that “feminist” is not a person but a process.

Despite the flaws in the book that our group discussed, the discussion was extremely fruitful. I greatly appreciated the depth and concern that the group members expressed in our discussion.

November 22, 2014

What Were They Thinking!? Barbie and Palin

Filed under: Feminism — trp2011 @ 9:20 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

What were they thinking?! To sell more dolls and make money from females, Mattel came out with a book showing the sexist toy completely dependent on males to be a computer engineer. In a blog about Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer, Pamela Ribon pointed out that Barbie tells her sister, Skipper, that she’s “designing a game that shows kids how computers work .” That’s before she tells Skipper that she needs “Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game” because she’s “only creating the design ideas.”

Wearing her flash drive on a pink heart-shaped necklace, Barbie’s computer gets a computer virus that infects Skipper’s hmework. When she tells Steven and Brian about the problem, Steven says, “It will go faster if Brian and I help.” Barbie is only too grateful to let them do the work although Barbie’s teacher has already explained how Barbie can fix the problem. The book then culminates in Barbie’s taking credit for the work that the two boys did.

The book came out in 2010 but drew little attention until Pamela Ribon’s blog that includes pages from the book. The embarrassed Mattel published an apology before it pulled the book from

“We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn’t reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girls’ imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.”

The apology has jacked up the price of the book for those who have used copies. Prices range between $200 and $290.

After the fact, author Susan Marenco noted problems with the book. She said, “Maybe I should have made one of those programmers a female – I wish I did.” Mattel had requested that Barbie be a designer. Marenco added, “Maybe I should have pushed back, and I usually I do, but I didn’t this time.”

Casey Fiesler pushed back by remixing the book for a new version. The dialog includes this exchange between Barbie and Ken:

Ken: “If girls start making videogames, they’ll take out all the hot chicks, and they’ll all be about puppies and picking out hairstyles.”

Barbie: “Don’t be a moron, Ken. You spend more time on your hair than I do.”

In an article about the book, Fiesler wrote:

“In the end, we don’t need a book (or a doll!) to show a young girl that STEM is just as much for them as for boys. Tell her, or show her! Find out what she’s interested in and tell her how technology relates to it. Point out that computers aren’t just passive by getting her started in a kid-friendly programming environment like Scratch.”

Kathleen Tuite has created a site where people can create different versions of the book. One of the first of over 2,000 submissions switched roles in the book so that Barbie is the game programmer.

Before the Mattel pulled the book, reviews in the United Kingdom averaged one star. Respondents in the U.S. were kinder—or perhaps more clueless—although it brought responses like these.

“The first computer coders were women, not men. A woman, Ada Lovelace, invented the idea for general programming language in 1843, for crying out loud, and had other visionary ideas about what would become computing.”—Caroline Farr

“Only Mattel and Barbie could send the message that a pretty young bimbo has to leave the real work of coding to the guys.”—Judy Stoodley

This is not the first time in Barbie’s 65-year history that people have pointed out Mattel’s gaffes in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). An a 1992 release, Teen Talk Barbie babbled “Math class is tough,” and “I love shopping.”

Barbie is modeled after Bild Lilli, a doll intended for adult men—sort of a sex toy. Sometimes given as bachelor gifts, the dolls’ wardrobe was composed of negligees, tiny top, and tight pants. Men put them on dashboards, and others bought them for the thrill of peeping under her ensembles.

Another terrible gaffe comes from the Smithsonian Magazine list of the 100 most significant Americans of all time, over four centuries of history. The usually revered people are on it: presidents such as Lincoln, FDR, and Washington; activists such as Frederick Douglass; entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford and Steve Jobs; and other icons such as John Muir, Frank Sinatra, Mark Twain, and Babe Ruth.

One name sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb–Sarah Palin. No, this is not a joke—unless the Smithsonian meant it as such. George W. Bush is there, and Barack Obama is not. Steven Skiena, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University, and Charles B. Ward, an engineer at Google, devised “an algorithmic method of ranking historical figures, just as Google ranks web pages,” and “their concept of significance has less to do with achievement than with an individual’s strength as an Internet meme — how vividly he or she remains in our collective memory.” Smithsonian took their list and edited it by assessing how well the individuals’ achievements are remembered and valued in the present day.

As Stephen D. Foster, Jr. wrote:

“Palin, America’s village idiot known for quitting as Governor of Alaska and engaging in drunken brawls and incoherent speeches full of factual errors such as not knowing the actual address of the White House, is on the list, while the first African-American president in American history is not.”

Palin made the “First Women” category with Pocahontas, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Martha Washington, Hellen (sic) Keller, Sojourner Truth, Jane Addams, Edith Wharton, Bette Davis, Oprah Winfrey. The magazine didn’t even spell Helen Keller’s name correctly.

People have long known that Barbie should not be a role model for young girls, but until now the Smithsonian has been an honored institution. James Smithson left his entire estate worth over $500,000 in 1829 (almost $11 million today) to found an institution “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The Smithsonian should be embarrassed by its choice and issue an apology just as Mattel has. Including Sarah Palin on this list has destroyed any credibility of the Smithsonian. Girls in the United States need to aim higher than Barbie and Sarah Palin—much higher.

August 18, 2014

Why U.S. Doesn’t Have Enough Women Leaders

Last fall Janet Yellen’s appointment to chair the Federal Reserve caused great buzz throughout the nation, primarily because of her gender. She was the 28th woman chosen by the current president for an executive role, and the current Senate has a record number of females. Yet the 20 women senators comprise only 20 percent of the Senate, and few women are even on ballots throughout the United States.

American University mathematics professor Mary Gray, also a statistician and lawyer, said the problem is “a question of glass ceilings.” Women don’t have the money to run for the office. With few exceptions such as Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Susanna Martinez (New Mexico governor), men donate to other men. Michele Swers, professor of political science at Georgetown University and author of Women In The Club: Gender and Policy Making In The Senate, said people donate to likely winners with a bias toward incumbents. For example, appointed incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) just defeated Rep. Colleen Hanabusa for his office.

Swers pointed out other problems for women:

“There’s a lot of research on how voters react to women candidates. Most of it has to do with how voters react to different stereotypes about women. Political leadership qualities like being strong, direct and tough are considered male qualities. Women face a double bind in that you need to show yourself as tough and confident but still retain feminine qualities without appearing weak.”

Gray’s perspective also shows the male prejudice against women. He said that Warren was helped because she was “able to seize on a topic of interest.” He identified fiscal policy as this “interest” and contrasted her with Wendy Davis who concentrated on women’s reproductive rights, evidently not “a topic of interest.” He also said that Davis won the primary because of no competition:

“No Democrat man has come forth because they don’t think they’ll get elected. Davis is a classic example: You can get women to do things that men don’t want to do.”

Gray didn’t mention that Warren was not opposed by big money because both she and opponent, Scott Brown, refused Super PAC donations.

“A leadership role in the judiciary” is important for women candidates, according to Gray.

Last fall, the Center for American Progress ranked each state on its support of women in specific leadership seats and management gaps. Utah, Arkansas, and Kentucky came in at the bottom in comparing the number of women in these positions as compared to men. Maryland topped the list. In addition to high percentage of managerial jobs and elected congressional positions with women, the state has 110 sitting female judges, 39 percent of the 279 total. Nevada has the same percentage of female judges, and Oregon and Montana have even higher percentages, each with 43 percent.

Swers says that the Republican party is leaving the number of women behind in politics.

Derek Willis, of The New York Times, described a study showing that women who run for office are as likely as men to win political races, but they don’t run for office as often. University of Pittsburgh researchers Kristin Kanthak and Jonathan Woon designed an experiment in which members of a group volunteered to complete math problems. In some groups, the person was selected at random, and in others, the group elected its representative. Women were less willing to volunteer in the case of votes. The study’s conclusion was that women are less interested than men “in having their worthiness offered up for public debate.”

Although researchers provided evidence that women’s personal fears held them back from volunteering, Amanda Marcotte offers some caveats to this conclusion.

“After all, the reason that women are more afraid to offer themselves up for public judgment isn’t because women are inherently timid, as shown by their willingness to volunteer in the random selection groups. The likelier explanation is that women know, from experience, that the process of having a group evaluate your worthiness is a much more punishing experience for women, because you have to endure greater and more candid scrutiny than men do, a gender disparity that any foray into social media or parenting or Hollywood easily demonstrates.”

College seems to be the time that women no longer compete at the same rate as men for political office. According to Jennifer Lawless’ study, the percentage of both boys and girls who ran for high school student government was the same (23 percent), and girls were slightly ahead in winning. Lawless cited two reasons for high school politics having fewer gender differences than those in college:

  •  College-aged men were much more likely to say that a parent had encouraged them to run for office someday; about a third of men said their mom or dad had encouraged them while less than a quarter of women said the same.
  • Men are much likelier to put themselves in politically immersive environments such as becoming involved in the College Democrats or College Republicans, reading political news, or even discussing politics with friends.

Lawless’ study is ten years old, and young women now have far stronger female political role models—Nancy Pelosi, Michele Bachmann, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Elizabeth Warren have all risen to prominence since then. Yet there seems to be no difference in women running for office in that time, possibly because the campaigns for these women showed the serious gender bias in electioneering.

Sports seems to be one factor in running for office. Both men and women who played varsity-level sports were more likely to run for office. The number of girls and women in competitive sports has increased dramatically since Title IX went into effect over 40 years ago. Female high school athletes went from 7.4 percent in 1972 to 41.4 percent in the 2010-2011 school year.

Cultural stereotypes frequently keep women from political action. Women can find it difficult to show the confidence and assertiveness connected to strong leadership but still appear “likeable.” The “ideal worker” is seen as having no demands from home responsibilities, relegating women with caregiving needs to second-class status. A 40-hour-a-week job is now seen as part time. Women’s leadership in the corporate world has stalled: females held only 16.9 percent of board seats in 2012 with no increase for eight years. In political empowerment, the United States ranks 60 out of 136 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2013 global gender gap index.

The need for more women in leadership positions is not merely a call for equal numbers of men and women. Research during the past two decades shows that when women thrive, both organizations and nations thrive. Women’s leadership moves companies, governments, and societies in better directions.

Women tend to be far more effective leaders, according to a new survey from Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor in 13 countries. Women outperformed men in 10 of 14 leadership qualities. Other studies show that countries with ethnic diversity usually showing weaker economic growth reverse this trend with women leaders. The more diverse the country, the stronger the effect. Authors of one study think that women’s collaborative and non-authoritarian leadership style makes the difference. In addition, women seem more trustworthy. With the growing ethnic diversity in the United States, people need to take notice of one solution to our problems.

“The ‘Us versus Them’ leadership mentality is running its course, and collaborative leadership styles are more valued than they were before,” stated the Kellogg Institute study, urging both men and women to see the value in throwing off gender inhibitors and embracing the idea that moving forward depends on more women leaders.

Obviously, not all women candidates fit the description above. An example is Oregon’s GOP senatorial candidate, Monica Wehby, who fits the authoritarian model of her party. For example, Wehby opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act, using the conservative complaint that the federal bill is “flawed,” and claiming that it would cause businesses to not hire women.

The value of women in leadership positions is only when they are able to support gender equality and improve life for everyone.


Rethinking Before Restarting


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