“Women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement heralding the change, which was detailed at a briefing Thursday. “We will continue to open as many positions as possible to women so that anyone qualified to serve can have the opportunity to do so.”
But the move still bans them from key infantry, armor and special operations units, leaving many advocates unimpressed.
Responding to an order from Congress, the Pentagon said it was tweaking the 1994 rules on the issue:
– Women will no longer be barred from jobs simply because those jobs require those holding them to be located with ground-combat units. That means women will be able to serve as tank mechanics, radio operators and in other support billets, opening up more than 13,000 jobs to women.
– Women will be permitted to serve in 800-troop combat battalions, a smaller unit – closer to the front — than the higher-level 4,000-strong brigades where they had been limited to serving in support roles further from the action. More than a thousand jobs will be open to women under this change, although many already have been serving in those jobs as temporary “attachments.”
Some 86% of Fortune 500 firms now ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, up from 61% in 2002. Around 50% also ban discrimination against transsexuals, compared with 3% in 2002. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an American pressure group, measures corporate policies towards sexual minorities in its annual “equality index”. Of the 636 companies that responded to its survey this year, 64% offer the same medical benefits for same-sex partners as for heterosexual spouses. Some 30% scored a fabulous 100% on the group’s index.
Progress has taken place in a wide range of industries. The 100% club predictably contains plenty of talent-driven outfits such as banks and consultancies (including Mitt Romney’s old employer, Bain & Company). But it also includes industrial giants such as Alcoa, Dow Chemical, Ford, Owens Corning and Raytheon. Lord Browne, the boss of BP who resigned after his sex life made headlines in 2007, said he always remained in the closet because “it was obvious to me that it was simply unacceptable to be gay in business, and most definitely the oil business.” Today Chevron, one of BP’s toughest competitors, has a 100% rating.
Companies are competing with each other to produce the most imaginative gay-friendly policies. American Express has an internal “pride network” with more than 1,000 members. Cisco gives gay workers a bonus to make up for an anomaly in the American tax code. (If you are married, the cost of various insurance premiums is deducted from your pre-tax income, but if you are merely a partner it is deducted from your post-tax income.) Some companies vocally support gay marriage. In the past fortnight Lloyd Blankfein, the boss of Goldman Sachs, has accepted an invitation from HRC to become its first corporate spokesman for gay nuptials, and seven big companies, including Microsoft and Nike, have written to Congress to support the idea.
What caused this corporate revolution? Pressure groups such as HRC and Britain’s Stonewall can take some of the credit. But mostly it happened because changing attitudes in society at large have reduced the cost of being gay-friendly, and raised the rewards. A generation ago in the West, creating a gay-friendly workplace might have upset heterosexual staff. Now it probably won’t. But failing to treat gays equally is very likely to drive them to seek employment elsewhere. Since they are perhaps 5-10% of the global talent pool, bigotry makes a firm less competitive.
Being fair to gays is arguably simpler than being fair to women. Women really do differ from men in the amount of time, on average, that they take off to raise children. And there is no obvious answer to questions such as: “how much paid maternity leave should a small firm offer?” From an employer’s perspective, gays do not differ from straights in any way that matters.
The moniker was famously applied in 1992 when four women were elected to the Senate, a high watermark for the chamber that has never been surpassed.
This year, however, a notable number of candidates are running in potentially competitive races in both the House of Representatives and Senate that could send a wave of female lawmakers to Washington in November. If so, it would reverse the 2010 election trend that saw the first dip in female representation in the House since 1978 and only sent one woman, New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, to the Senate.
In the 2012 Senate lineup, there are 10 female candidates — four Republicans and six Democrats — seeking office. Of the six states with female Democratic candidates — Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota and Wisconsin — none has ever elected a woman to the Senate.
Republican women are running in Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico.
"Both parties have made a concerted effort to attract more women candidates," said Jessica Taylor, a senior analyst for the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. Taylor said campaign operations are cognizant of seeking out diverse candidates and female candidates can be particularly appealing because independent female voters are often a decisive voting bloc in elections.
Liberty and justice for all is not yet a reality in America. Despite the election of our nation’s first African American president, black Americans continue to trail behind their white counterparts in education, employment, and overall health and wellbeing. And while some states and the federal government continue to expand protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, more than half of all states still deny them basic civil rights. Such systemic inequities render people of color who are also gay and transgender among the most vulnerable in our society.
Modeled on a national program, the Madison-based nonprofit is training a generation of progressive Democratic women how to run for public office and win.
The program "helped me to consolidate the campaign structure, and it helped me to be more effective in my message," said state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton, who completed the training alongside state Sen. Jessica King, D-Oshkosh, in 2007.
The six-month program covers everything from building a field operations team to the fine print of campaign finance, and each class is limited to 25 women, who must apply for a spot in the program.
As black women watch Michelle Obama on the national stage, they search — sometimes nervously — for nuances often lost on the larger culture. How she handles criticism, how she raises her children, even her style of dress, has the potential to counter negative stereotypes.
In a nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, black women described themselves as relating to Michelle Obama and sensing that she understands them. Nearly eight out of 10 black women say they personally identify with the first lady, and when asked to give a one-word description of Obama, among the words most commonly used were “intelligent,” “strong” and “classy.”
In follow-up interviews, black women say the first lady’s racial and gender identity are essential to the deep connection they feel they have to her. They call her a role model, someone familiar to them — like a sister or aunt.
That emotional stake makes watching Obama navigate the world stage both “thrilling and terrifying,” says Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University who has written aboutthe first lady’s impact on black women.
The United Nations launched a new web portal focusing on helping girls and women access job opportunities, training and career advice in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
The website – girlsinict.org – is designed to inspire and help young women between the ages of 11 and 25 prepare for and pursue careers in technology by providing them with useful resources such as links to scholarships, internships, ICT contests and awards, tech camps and online networks where they can interact with other women working in an industry that is largely male-dominated.
In 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 2010 and an increase of 1 percentage point from 1998.
Women accounted for 5% of directors, a decrease of 2 percentage points from 2010 and approximately half the percentage of women directors working in 1998.
38% of films employed 0 or 1 woman in the roles considered, 23% employed 2 women, 30% employed 3 to 5 women, and 7% employed 6 to 9 women.
In 2012, forty years after the enactment of Title IX, there are an average of 8.73 womenʼs teams per school and a total of about 200,000 female intercollegiate athletes: the highest in history.
In 1970, prior to the 1972 enactment of Title IX, there were only 2.5 womenʼs teams per school and only about 16,000 total female intercollegiate athletes. In 1977/1978, the academic year preceding the mandatory compliance date for Title IX, the number of varsity sports for women had grown to 5.61 per school.
A decade later, in 1988, the number had grown to 7.71 and at the turn of the century, the growth continued to 8.14. Today, in 2012, the average number of womenʼs teams per school sets an all time record of 8.73 giving weight to the adage: “If you build it, they will come.”