Re:Gender works to end gender inequity and discrimination against girls and women by exposing root causes and advancing research-informed action. Working with multiple sectors and disciplines, we are shaping a world that demands fairness across difference.
It's been 10 years since researchers of the Women's Health Initiative, a large randomized, controlled trial on hormone therapy sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, announced their first findings: that the health risks outweighed the benefits of estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy (HT) in postmenopausal women. Since then, additional research has advanced the understanding of the benefits and risks. JoAnn Manson, one of the study's lead investigators and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, is the president of the North American Menopause Society. She spoke with USA TODAY's Janice Lloyd about what women need to know to get through the challenging time and to protect their health.
Q: Millions of women stopped taking hormone therapy as a result of the study 10 years ago. Was that a good thing?
A: Although the pendulum may have swung too far, it was a good thing that many women who were inappropriate candidates for HT stopped taking the medications. For example, it was fortunate that many women at high risk of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer stopped taking HT. However, even young, newly menopausal, and healthy women with significant hot flashes and other symptoms became afraid to seek treatment. Also, many, many clinicians no longer prescribe, or know how to prescribe. This isn't a good situation for young women who are having severe menopausal symptoms. They're going to have trouble finding clinicians who will help them make the most informed decision.
Q: Critics fault the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) for using mostly older women who wouldn't benefit from hormone therapy. But what do you think was one of the biggest takeaways from that study?
A: WHI deserves credit for stopping what was becoming common practice of starting hormone therapy in older women who were at high risk for heart disease because we found it failed to protect them from heart disease, stroke or dementia, and actually increased their risk. We also learned there are major differences in the benefit-risk profile of estrogen alone — used by women who have had a hysterectomy — and estrogen plus progestin, used by women who have an intact uterus. The balance of benefits and risk was more favorable with estrogen alone.
High-profile female executives should save their breath and their advice – Millennial women aren’t buying what they’re selling.
Only 20% of Gen Y women say that they want to follow in the footsteps of the female leaders in their workplaces, says new research from Bentley University. The survey of 1000 college-educated Millennials found that while 84% of respondents said that they could identify at least one female leader at their job, most didn’t want to emulate her career path.
This rejection of the current iteration of female corporate achievement also extends to attitudes toward mentorship; only 5.5% of respondents claimed that a colleague, supervisor or role model was their primary source of career cheerleading, with spouses/partners or parents much more likely to be identified as key career supporters. And only 25% of Millennials of both genders give credit to a manager or supervisor for encouraging them to assume a leadership role at work.
Women in countries with great gender inequality are more likely than men to support authoritarian values, according to a new study of 54 countries. The shift away from beliefs in independence and freedom is the result, social psychologists say, of authoritarianism helping such women cope with a threatening environment.
"If a person is authoritarian, they are more likely to follow what group leaders ask them to do, and to follow the crowd more generally," says Mark Brandt of DePaul University in Chicago, a co-author of the paper just published online in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Prior research has found that adopting authoritarian beliefs gives people a sense of connection to others and protection against threats. "It might be one way to compensate for the social devaluing that is associated with being a member of a disadvantaged group."
Brandt and his co-author P.J. Henry thus predicted that the greater thegender inequality in a country, the greater the endorsement of authoritarianism by women compared to men. They investigated this relationship by analyzing survey data from 54 countries, from Argentina to Vietnam. They used the publicly available World Values Survey, which asks participants about their beliefs in authoritarian (e.g. "good manners" and "obedience") values versus autonomous ("independence" and "imagination") ones. They gathered gender inequality data from the United Nations Human Development Report, which has tracked gender inequality around the world for more than 10 years.
As predicted, they found a link between high gender inequality and a support of authoritarian values among women. "I think many people will be surprised to find out that women can be more authoritarian than men," Brandt says. Most past research on authoritarianism has failed to showgender differences, perhaps, Brandt says, because these data were collected in the United States and other developed nations with lower levels of gender inequality. "Step outside that cultural zone to locations of greater gender inequality, and you will find greater gender differences."
The results of Financial News’ recent Women in Finance Survey bear out a similar view: 82% of hedge fund respondents said their gender has affected their likelihood of having a successful career, substantially higher than the 66% of total respondents who felt the same way. So why do women in hedge funds feel their gender makes it harder to succeed?
Most women in the hedge fund industry do not work in portfolio management positions, which create the performance upon which the hedge fund industry is built. Only 12% of the 10,000 members of 100 Women in Hedge Funds work in trading and portfolio management and the largest proportion, 26%, are in marketing roles.
Rachel Stewart, a consultant at global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson, said: “Among some of the experienced women, the feeling is that women coming into the industry now should be led towards more roles than marketing, operations and HR. It’s more difficult to get a seat as a partner or director if you don’t have a background of P&L responsibility, as this is the bread and butter of the hedge fund industry.”
Researchers from the universities of Leicester and Essex looked into the concept of "adulting," which is defined as the attempt by people to be seen as mature and responsible, professionally and socially, and, when looking at a London hedge fund, found that women faced problems at every stage of adult life – from getting started in the company to keeping credibility among colleagues after giving birth.
By contrast, young male staff were given more opportunities to settle into corporate life, and suffered fewer dilemmas in juggling work and parenthood, found Jo Brewis, Professor of Organisation and Consumption at the University of Leicester School of Management, and Dr Kat Riach, Senior Lecturer in Management at Essex Business School at the University of Essex.
"Our in-depth research into life for male and female workers at a busy hedge fund showed women are never the right age in organisational terms," said Professor Brewis, who has borrowed the phrase 'never the right age' from fellow management experts Professor Wendy Loretto and Dr Colin Duncan from the University of Edinburgh Business School, who originally coined it. Professor Brewis and Dr Riach gathered evidence in late 2010 through 53 interviews with men and women at the fund aged between 25 and 37, and 150 hours of observation.
They found that women's problems began when they entered the company. Unlike their male colleagues they were given little or no informal guidance and training as new members of a team.
While opinions on diversity are wide-ranging, the facts are pretty clear. Study after study has shown women to be more risk-averse than men, across a range of activities, including the Wall Street businesses of investing and trading. Study after study has shown that women place greater emphasis on interpersonal relationships, and on nurturing them, than do men. And studies show that female managers are less focused on winning in the short term and are more long-term-oriented than their male counterparts.
Do any of these sound like qualities the big banks could use more of?
Perhaps as a result of the complementarity of differing approaches of men and women, numerous studies, including the annual Women Matter surveys by McKinsey & Co. and research by Catalyst, show that more diverse management teams are more successful management teams; they deliver higher returns for shareholders across industries, including banking. Academic research indicates that more diverse teams outperform even more capable management teams, a real “wow” of a finding.
How can this be? Because adding one more PhD in applied mathematics to a team already full of them has much less effect than adding someone with expertise in, say, managing people or in IT systems. If diversity of color and gender is a proxy for diversity of experience, then adding that diversity to management teams helps bring different perspectives to the table.
To gauge the impact of the popular Atkins-style diets on women's hearts, researchers in Greece turned to a food survey completed by more than 43,000 women in Sweden. The women, who were between 30 and 49 years old, recorded the frequency and quantities of food they ate over six months in 1991 and 1992.
Using the survey, researchers calculated which women were eating the least amount of carbohydrates and the most amount of protein. The women were then followed for 15 years on average to see who became diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. The women's food habits were not tracked long-term but did provide researchers a snapshot in time.
The study found 1,270 women developed heart problems. The incidence of cardiovascular disease was 62% higher among women who consumed the least carbohydrates and the most protein, when compared to women who weren’t regularly eating a low carbohydrate, high protein diet. By eating such a diet, the researchers conclude an additional four to five women out of 10,000 develop cardiovascular disease each year.
The findings, published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, point to a need for more aggressive political action and strategies for reducing smoking by a new generation of men and women in all U.S. states, researchers said.
"Yes, we are making progress in reducing death rates for lung cancer, but there is really a new epidemic and we have to pay attention to increasing death rates in women," said Ahmedin Jemal, the study's lead author and a researcher at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lung cancer currently accounts for about one in four cancer deaths in the U.S., making it the top cancer killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But lung cancer deaths among both men and women have been steadily declining since the 1990s, a trend usually credited to public health campaigns and state policies, like cigarette taxes and smoking bans, designed to encourage people to quit smoking and discourage young people from starting.
Previous research has shown that women born in 1950 and afterwards are an exception to the recent decline.
Ultra-orthodox, or haredi, women are joining the Israeli labor force in increasing numbers and many are choosing to work in technology, attracted in part by the industry’s willingness to accommodate their religious lifestyle.
Ultra-orthodox, or haredi, women are joining the Israeli labor force in increasing numbers and many are choosing to work in technology, attracted in part by the industry’s willingness to accommodate their religious lifestyle. While that has helped keep jobs that might otherwise have gone offshore, their husbands’ joblessness is a drag on economic growth, according to the Bank of Israel and the International Monetary Fund.
“A continued increase in the share of the population which does not participate in the workforce cannot continue forever, and so will have to stop,” Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said earlier this year. The imbalance has to be corrected for the health of the economy, he added. The central bank predicts growth will slow to 3.1 percent this year from 4.8 percent in 2010 and 2011.
While the ultra-Orthodox make up about 8 percent to 10 percent of the population, they will represent 17 percent of working-age Israelis in 20 years because of their high birth rate, according to the bank. By the late 2050s they will account for a quarter of the population, a March 9 IMF report found.
As it has done at least once a decade for the past 40 years, the media seems intent on pitting women against each other in a "Having it All" debate about work inside and outside the home. Author and organizer Ellen Bravo explains why the discussion defies reality.
When Anne Marie Slaughter wrote her article for Atlantic magazine on “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” describing her decision to leave a top job for Hilary Clinton at the State Department, she acknowledged that she’s talking about a small sliver of elite women. “Millions of other working women face much more difficult life circumstances,” Slaughter noted.
But neither Atlantic, nor the New York Times, nor any of the other major media outlets that has run or commented on Slaughter’s article, spotlight these working mothers—the majority, in fact—who are struggling with daily hardships because our country does not provide basic policies that help value families in the workplace.
These women are not thinking about “having it all,” they’re worried about losing it all—their jobs, their children’s health, their families’ financial stability—because of the regular conflicts that arise between being a good employee and a responsible parent.