"We’d love to have a gender lens, but we’d have nothing to invest in.” I rocked back on my heels, absorbing this statement from the head of the Africa division of a large social investment fund.
Yet he is not alone. Two years ago, when I first talked with the head of a domestic fund investing in women entrepreneurs, she said, “Jackie I don’t have a gender lens.” Her concern was that a “gender lens” made her appear soft, not return-focused.
For the last two years, I’ve led Women Effect Investments, a field building initiative for gender lens investing. In the process I’ve discovered multiple challenges talking about gender in the investment world. It surfaces concerns about quotas and quality, culture and stereotypes. It is seen as soft, unnecessarily feminist, or limiting. I see a huge opportunity in transcending these concerns. Given women’s centrality worldwide to economic development, health, education, and a strong civil society, investing with a gender lens illuminates opportunities and highlights risks. Take, for instance, the need for electricity in maternity clinics or the challenges that emerge when loan officers are all men. If more investment vehicles employed a gender lens, we could accelerate change for everyone.
To clarify what I by lens—I mean the point(s) of view by which we can analyze investments. There are at least three different lenses that highlight investment opportunities, and they can and often do overlap.
The Girl Scouts have set a goal of increasing membership by 1 million in the next five years, said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO for Girl Scouts of the USA. Hispanic membership, which has risen 55 percent in the past decade, would be a key driver of that growth.
“To be here today to talk about where we are now as a movement brings me almost to tears, because for 100 years, we have taken our mission to heart,” Chávez told about 300 people gathered at SeaWorld for a Hispanic community breakfast.
Before her speech, Chávez chatted with a group of scouts who served as color guard during the morning event. Chávez gave each girl her personal patch, which bears her name and nickname, “Eagle 1.” The girls said they couldn’t wait to add them to their uniforms.
“She said that only the girls who meet her get the patch,” said Melanie Kellis, 10, of Troop 5260.
Just a week ago, Chávez was in Washington, D.C., where thousands gathered on the National Mall to celebrate the Girl Scouts centennial.
She also met with President Barack Obama in the White House. Chávez pointed out to him that several Cabinet members and 70 percent of the women in Congress had been Girl Scouts. She also told him that the U.S. currently has 59 million Girl Scouts alumni, a number that seemed to surprise him.
“Absolutely, Mr. President. Not only that, they vote,” Chávez remembered saying to Obama.
Since reporting to their boats in November, 25 women who broke one of the Navy's final gender barriers have gone on patrol and been accepted among their crews.
"The men adjusted to us being there, and we adjusted to them," said Lt. j.g. Megan Bittner of the USS Ohio gold crew. "It was quick. There were no big problems. No stumbling blocks along the way. It was just learning as a junior officer how you fit on the boat."
Forty years ago this month, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 became law, requiring an end to gender discrimination in admissions at educational institutions that receive federal money. Since then, progress in attaining gender equity for women has been heartening, but there is still considerable work to be done, particularly in the areas of faculty and leadership.
In the 1980s—in little more than the blink of an eye—women surpassed men in admissions on most college campuses. And now, unlike their parents and grandparents, these women are increasingly likely to be taught by women. This is good news, and we have Title IX to thank.
Women—and their dollars—are the lifeblood of today's colleges. But who decides how those dollars are spent? Men, largely—and that's not all they determine. As far as students are concerned, men are the dominant minority, but male administrators hold a lopsided percentage of university power and the most senior leadership positions. What's more, men make most of the decisions that control women's educational lives and futures, without much input or oversight from women themselves. This includes decisions about curriculum, co-curricular programs, the nature and scope of health and benefit programs, and faculty hiring. Women have unprecedented access, yes, but they have little influence.
Critics of Title IX often say that it has harmed male athletics in its insistence on increasing opportunities for females in school sports. Here, from the report (with footnotes removed), are some myths about how the law has affected school athletics:
What the Law Says
Title IX requires that schools treat both sexes equally with regard to three distinct aspects of athletics: participation opportunities, athleticscholarships, and treatment of male and female teams.
Myth 1: Title IX requires quotas.
Title IX does not require quotas; it simply requires that schools allocate participation opportunities in a nondiscriminatory way. The three-part test is lenient and flexible, allowing schools to comply even if they do not satisfy the first part. The federal courts have consistently rejected arguments that Title IX imposes quotas.
You've heard about Title IX and athletics, but Title IX is about much more! In honor of the 40th anniversary of the law’s passage, NCWGE published a comprehensive report to help give educators, parents, students, and lawmakers a better understanding of Title IX’s impact and challenges that remain in many areas of education, including:
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Career and Technical Education
Bullying and Sexual Harassment
Pregnant and Parenting Students
From the National Coalition of Women and Girls in Education
The mission, announced just a few days ago, is moving forward rapidly: The Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft to be used in the mission has already been strapped to its carrier rocket and the rocket already moved to the launch pad at a satellite launch center in northwest China.
All that remains is to choose the woman who will be on board when spacecraft shoots skyward.
On Tuesday, in what may or may not be a sign that the decision has been made, the state-run China Daily published a profile of 34-year-old fighter pilot Liu Yang, one of the two candidates tipped as the most likely to go where no Chinese woman has gone before.
You'd think that since 1916—the year a woman was first elected to U.S. Congress—there would have been some serious progress.
Women in the workforce, after all, have been on a steady rise.
Not so in Congress, where women hold less than 17 percent of seats to this day, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. In 2010, the number of women elected to the House actually declined.
Palmer and Southern Methodist University professor Dennis Simon have been studying the political glass ceiling for over a decade. Voters, they said, mostly aren't to blame for the lack of progress. But they shared five other very real reasons more women aren't in Washington:
Desire and gender are brought alive through the ways lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and intersexed people use their bodies; desire and gender are made poignant and meaningful by the ways we construct or deny our erotic passions and gendered identities in the course of daily life. People will take risks—facing marginalization, isolation, and even violence—to identify and act upon their desires. And they will live out their unique understanding of gender—no matter how dangerous or costly the results. This report represents the integration of joint efforts by the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) and Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), beginning with activist and academic convenings that took place from 2005-07 under the name “Desiring Change,” and culminating in a daylong gathering in 2007 with 21 social justice organizations.
Reshaping a time-worn narrative isn't easy. Social revolutions rarely are, especially when you're a woman trying to break into the boys' club that is Silicon Valley.
But an emerging class of early-stage tech start-up executives is helping dispel the notion that there isn't a leading role for them in the male-dominated valley.
Company founders and leaders are coming out of Google, Salesforce.com and elsewhere for the excitement of shaping a young business.
The emergence of young female tech founders and executives reflects sweeping change in the worlds of start-up companies and angel funding, where wealthy investors give money in return for a stake in a company. It underscores the enormous purchasing prowess of women online that is transforming the Web economy. As more consumers reach for their smartphones and tablets to shop and communicate, there is a pressing need for commerce sites that cater to women, who control 70% of online purchases worldwide, according to Lisa Stone, CEO of BlogHer, a digital media company.
Many of these inroads are being made by female-led start-ups that are fueling innovation and the digital economy. Women will influence the purchase of $15 trillion in goods by 2014, according to Boston Consulting Group.