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Drapé de Lumière. Credit: Odile Richer.

“Let’s get her some sex.”

Many of today's progressives are too young to remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show, which brought feminism, sex positivity, homosexuality, birth control, and pay equality to the small screen like never before.
↩︎ New York Times
Jan 26, 2017

A film about women of color working for NASA just overtook a female-led sci-fi action blockbuster at the box office. Awesome.

In space, the future is female—at least according to US moviegoers. Variety reports that Hidden Figures, a biopic about three female African-American mathemeticians who made and checked the calculations needed to safely send John Glenn into orbit—and get him home again—knocked Star Wars sponoff Rogue One, which is about a young woman who leads a courageous and diverse band of misfits on a dangerous mission to change the fate of the galaxy, out of first place at the box office this weekend.

Jan 10, 2017

“All I could think about was how wrong and upsetting and sad it was. I just had to use it to fuel my drive to make sure I honored this woman [in a way] that hopefully will make her proud.”

Janelle Monáe, of the newly released Hidden Figures, on the pain of depicting a woman who had to sue for the right to attend college. The woman she portrayed, Mary Jackson, went on to become NASA’s first African-American female engineer.
↩︎ Entertainment Weekly
Jan 6, 2017

Meet Katherine Johnson, one of three African American women "computers" who helped send John Glenn into space. 

Virtually nobody outside of NASA knew these women's names. Now they're being featured in the new film Hidden Figures, opening this weekend. Here's an excerpt from Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, which inspired the film.

Dorothy took a seat as the women greeted her over the din of the calculating machines; she knew without needing to ask that they were all part of the same confederation of black colleges, alumni associations, civic organizations, and churches. Many of them belonged to Greek letter organizations like Delta Sigma Theta or Alpha Kappa Alpha, which Dorothy had joined at Wilberforce. By securing jobs in Langley’s West Computing section, they now had pledged one of the world’s most exclusive sororities. In 1940, just 2 percent of all black women earned college degrees, and 60 percent of those women became teachers, mostly in public elementary and high schools. Exactly zero percent of those 1940 college graduates became engineers. And yet, in an era when just 10 percent of white women and not even a full third of white men had earned college degrees, the West Computers had found jobs and each other at the 'single best and biggest aeronautical research complex in the world.

Megyn Kelly, who announced this week she will be jumping from FOX News to NBC at the end of the week, will not only bring her unflappable independence to the network, but also some seriously great clothes.

News junkies may remember the Ally McBeal moment had this summer over the spaghetti strap dress Kelly wore at the Republican National Convention. Kelly has never been afraid to blaze her own path, and at the end of the day, she just doesn't give a shit what you think.

My commitment to the public and my commitment to my religion and my community—the two can go hand in hand.

Incoming Brooklyn civil court judge Rachel Freier is believed to be the first female judge in the United States to belong to the ultra-orthodox Jewish Hasidic community, which places strict constraints on women's public lives.
↩︎ Associated Press
Jan 3, 2017

Seven women changing the world

A hijabi beauty contestant in Minnesota. A bipolar woman who founded Kenya's first mental health hotline. A female police chief in Cyprus fighting human trafficking. Women all around the world are changing it every day. Meet seven of them

Jan 3, 2017

I will, of course, use the argument that this will make America great again: if he includes women and makes sure he works for gender equality. Without it, he will not be able to make America great again. It is smart policy. It is not just the right thing to do.

Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's foreign minister and a staunch practitioner of feminist foreign policy, has some advice for Trump.
↩︎ New York Times
Dec 20, 2016

For 30 years, it was just assumed that using male crash test dummies would suffice, even though women are typically smaller than men and the smaller a person is the less force they can tolerate in a crash. That cars were not tested to be safe for female bodies helps to explain why women are killed and injured in car accidents at disproportionately higher rates than men. It’s because women were not included in the analysis—at all.

Including women at high levels of business decision-making can save lives and make money. After all, marketing a women-safe car would have been a business coup for Ford or GM.
↩︎ The Atlantic
Dec 13, 2016

Whose political coverage has been killing it all year?

A whole lot of (mostly male) journalists are working through their feelings after reading Teen Vogue's "Donald Trump is Gaslighting America" and realizing that maybe young women really do care about more than lip gloss and fall fashion—and that publications that cater to them are stepping up. 

But Teen Vogue (and adult Vogue, and Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire, and Vanity Fair, and Elle, and...) have been covering politics like champs for a while now, running excellent pieces that would be right at home in, say, the New York Times Magazine

Hard to believe? Check out Jill Filipovic's "Is the GOP Setting Itself Up for a War on Women II?" in Cosmopolitan and Lyz Lenz's "The Donald Trump Supporters...Who are Secretly Voting for Hillary" in Marie Claire, and judge for yourself. 

Dec 12, 2016

I think what was happening is women weren’t writing the whole truth. Now these young women are writing their whole truth and some of it isn’t pretty, but it’s so real. And people are embracing it. I expect them to have as much or more success than the guys did.

Fifteen out of 20 Grammy nominations in country music went to women this year—a remarkable breakthrough in an industry dominated by men. But the real glass ceiling is country radio, where only three of the top 30 most played artists are female.
↩︎ The Tennessean
Dec 12, 2016

"We must stand to save the Earth. It is the only reason why we live. And we must live for everyone," says LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, former Standing Rock Sioux tribal historian, who is hosting the Sacred Stone water protectors' camp on her land and whose son is buried on a hill adjacent to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline site. "And that probably makes us the meanest people on earth."

Native American women are leading the charge against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A black transgender woman living in rural poverty needs equal pay legislation far more urgently than a multi-millionaire movie star, but if words from Jennifer Lawrence help that happen, so be it.

Prominent women—whether they became famous on purpose or through tragedy—are embracing the open letter to often brilliant effect this year.
↩︎ The Guardian
Dec 7, 2016

During Samatha Power's tenure as the United States' ambassador to the United Nations, there was a period of time in which she was one of six women sitting on the 15-person Security Council. Today, Power is the only woman on the council.

"When we were six women," she says, "we could shape a culture of more interaction, more listening. Now I feel less of that. The fact that so many people comment and are embarrassed by thisincluding, in fairness, the men on the council—is a sign that things are changing, but they're not changing nearly fast enough."

Power, the mother of two young children, often seeks to humanize the Security Council's choices by inviting people affected by them to meet the ambassadors—though she she is aware some dismiss the practice as little more than a manifestation of womanly tenderness. But those doubts haven't stopped her. "I think women should never lose the instinct to listen and to actually hear, but we need to become as unflappable as we can become."

Power says she's learned this lesson from her negotiations with the Russian ambassador, a highly experienced diplomat who is very good at what he does. "The main thing is to just stay focused on what you're trying to achieve and tune out the noise."

With her face unpainted, it’s almost as if Clinton is returning to an earlier iteration, reclaiming her identity as the accomplished, aggressive lawyer Hillary Rodham, who pursued success while rejecting the rules put forth by the patriarchy.

For women in the public eye, makeup is never really “just makeup”—and few are as intimately aware of this fact as Hillary Rodham Clinton.
↩︎ Quartz
Dec 1, 2016

The woman behind Trump's gilded curtain: A brief profile of Rebekah Mercer

The puzzling rise of Stephen Bannon from the internet's frat row to a top office in the West Wing may have less to do with Donald Trump’s personal ideology than that of a little-known hedge-fund heiress and activist libertarian mega-donor named Rebekah Mercer

Mercer, an intensely private woman who manages her family’s political investments and whose family is also a majority investor in the psychographic analytics company Cambridge Analytica, appeared out of nowhere in 2012 when she attended an election postmortem for GOP mega-donors and, according to the Washington Post, “stood up before the largely male crowd and delivered an unsparing critique of the Republican’s technology and canvassing operations.” Disgusted by what she viewed as the ineptitude of the Koch operation during the 2012 campaign, Mercer decided on election night to devote her family’s political efforts to burning the GOP’s house down.

Over the past four years, Mercer has frequently bucked the GOP establishment in order to drive the party ever further right, and originally backed Ted Cruz, whose constitutional originalist approach to governance closely aligned with her tea-party sensibilities. But when Cruz dropped out of the race and Trump emerged as the nominee, Mercer, unlike the Koch brothers, was unafraid to shift her support to the political novice, whom she saw as a convenient vehicle for advancing her populist agenda.

Though the Mercer family's political investments don't begin to approach the Kochs', she amplifies its impact by actively involving herself in how it's spent—including guiding Mercer-funded campaigns to hire Cambridge Analytica to drive their decision-making. But Mercer is not shy about exerting considerably more influence, up to and including influencing staff appointments. Mercer is believed to be behind the replacement of Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort with Bannon—who according to The Hill is “tied at the hip” to Mercer—and Kellyanne Conway—who worked on a pro-Cruz super PAC with strong ties to Mercer—earlier this summer.

Mercer remains closely involved with the Trump operation today, currently serving as a member of Trump’s transition team, overseeing the hiring of lower-level appointees and lobbying for Cabinet secretaries she views as conservative true believers.

In light of this, Bannon’s elevation of starts to seem less surprising. Bannon, as it happens, has served as a board member of Cambridge Analytica and run the Mercer-backed Government Accountability Institute, and the Mercers, as it happens, have a significant financial stake in Breitbart News

If you can’t fathom why your Republican representatives are having such difficulty publicly expressing reservations over the appointment of such a rabid alt-rightist like Bannon to a White House post—maybe it’s because the Mercers have a financial stake in them, too. 

Nov 28, 2016

If you want something done, if anybody wants something done, you go to the person who knows how to get it done. Nine times out of 10, it's the support person—the person that's in the background doing the grunt work. We know who to talk to, and how to make the end result flawless from the outside.

While much attention is paid to women who achieve visible, well-paid leadership, it's important to remember that strong administrative leaders—almost always women—can make all the difference between an organization's success or failure.
↩︎ The Atlantic Monthly
Nov 21, 2016

The heartbreak of this election for Clinton supporters is not just the loss of a tough, smart, and inspiring first female president—though that is wrenching—but also the loss of the idea that this country was so very close to being better, more inclusive, more just, and more representative.

Do we need another election post-mortem? Can we bear it? Rebecca Traister gets to the heart of why Clinton's loss gutted so many.
↩︎ The Cut
Nov 16, 2016

At the time of her death yesterday, at age 61, Gwen Ifill had become one of the most trusted voices in media—no small feat in a world unused to listening to women of color. Her résumé was beyond impressive.

From PBS's obituary: "Gwen covered eight presidential campaigns, moderated two vice-presidential debates and served for 17 years on the NewsHour and as moderator and managing editor of Washington Week. In her early career, she covered politics and city hall for some of the country’s most prominent newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Baltimore Evening Sun, carving a path as one of the most accomplished journalists in US media. She won countless awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award and the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award, and was the best-selling author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama."

In 2013, Ifill and co-anchor Judy Woodruff became the first all-female primetime news anchor team on network television. Of the accomplishment, she said, “I’m very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that’s perfectly normal—that it won’t seem like any big breakthrough at all."

She will be deeply missed. 

If women… underestimate their qualifications for office, then only the most qualified, politically ambitious females will emerge as candidates. The women who are elected to office will perform better, on average, than their male counterparts.

Women govern differently than men, and one of the reasons may be what a political scientist dubs the “Jill Robinson effect”—they work twice as hard and perform twice as well in order to be taken as seriously as their male colleagues.
↩︎ Vox
Nov 7, 2016

“She should smile more,” “her voice is so shrill,” and other sexist highlights of the 2016 campaign season.

What's made Kelly an asset to any network is her ability to remain an unflappable and even scornful authority when confronted with increasingly hysterical Republican men.

Megyn Kelly is rapidly becoming the face of conservative women utterly fed up with the misogynistic diarrhea factory that the Republican Party has turned itself into in order to defend Donald Trump.
↩︎ The Week
Nov 7, 2016

To me, it’s really exciting to have the first mother in the White House. It’s not about the first woman, it’s about the first mom… Because a mother, she’s got it. A mother just does it. She feeds you, she teaches you, she protects you—she takes care of shit.

In his recent appearance on Conan, Louis C.K. somehow managed to both dismantle the patriarchy and reinforce it all in one monologue. Just as the spectre of the “Mommy Track" haunts professional women aspiring to attain senior leadership, so does a stigma of childlessness. In Britain earlier this summer, Andrea Leadsom, the leading contender against Teresa May for the Prime Ministership, withdrew shortly after implying that she, as a mother of three, had a stronger stake in Britain’s future than May, who has no children. One of the great goals of feminism has been a society that defines women by more than their ability to breed—and one of the most important keys to that has been the ability of women to control their fertility

This is not to say that having kids doesn’t infinitely complicate a working woman’s life—they do, and the coping strategies women must adopt to stay afloat in a nation that utterly fails to support new parents and children are legitimately awesome (and should be completely and totally unnecessary, to our national shame). C.K. is right about this: Being a working mom probably did give Hillary a skillset that no previous president has ever been able to claim. But let’s not forget that there is much, much, much more to being a woman than having children—or else we fall into the trap that it’s motherhood alone, or at all, that gives women leaders the edge over men. 

If we read carefully the declaration made by St. John Paul II, it goes in that direction.

Pope Francis reinforced the stained-glass ceiling for Catholic women who feel called to the priesthood, though left the door open to the ordination of women deacons in the future.
↩︎ Washington Post
Nov 3, 2016

Fact: The "Hillary treatment" extends to Hong Kong. Fiction: Coco Austin is the president of Croatia.

A young Hong Kong lawmaker is getting what Americans are starting to see as the “Hillary treatment”—being brutally excoriated online and at demonstrations by opponents with gendered slurs and threats. Yau Wai-ching, along with a fellow pro-self determination Youngspiration Party legislator who is male, have not been shy about using coarse language to speak out against mainland rule of the island. But the pushback against Yau has been much more intense—and sexually aggressive

Not even heads of state are immune, as Samantha Bee recently learned. In Europe, the taboids are full of photos purporting to show the president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Except they're not: It’s Coco Austin, wife of Ice-T. And it turns out that possibly the best place in the world to be a female head of state is a Pacific nation you may have never heard of: The Marshall Islands. 

Oct 26, 2016

"Vagina gonna win the race." Pussy Riot weighs in on the US presidential election with a perfectly timed ode to the ladyflower.

On Friday, the United Nations named Wonder Woman an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, and predictably, not everyone is happy about the elevation of a white comic book superhero most commonly portrayed as a scantily clad, overly voluptuous vixen. To be sure, the outfit is problematic—little more than go-go boots and a strapless armored American-flag-themed swimsuit one rogue jiggle away from toplessness—and it’s hard to see how much traction she could hope to gain in many of the culturally conservative nations where the most gender-oppressed women and girls she’s meant to inspire live. 

But dig into the actual Wonder Woman comic canon, and it’s clear she is much, much more than a crimefighting sex kitten. (In fact, Wonder-Woman-as-UN-ambassador sounds a heck of a lot like the Wonder Woman character Joss Whedon dreamed up for a movie that Warner Brothers scuttled in 2011.) Add to that the fact that while women in the West enjoy an unprecedented level of independence today, there is still plenty of progress to be made here, too—not the least in geek culture itself. So even if Wonder Woman doesn’t quite play in Saudi Arabia, it’s still a big deal to finally see her get her due in the West. 

And if she has to claim her rightful place in the world wearing an uncomfortable outfit that conforms to a man’s vision of what she should wear—doing it "backwards in high heels"—that’s something women anywhere in the world can relate to. 

When it comes to minorities and women, we are only encouraged to run when the demographics are in our favor and discouraged when the demographics are not.

Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Somali refugee, who has been active in politics since arriving in the United States as a child, is poised to win a place in the Minnesota State Legislature, representing a non-Muslim-majority district of Minneapolis.
↩︎ Huffington Post
Oct 25, 2016

Huma Abedin is a very Clinton-specific Google search of a human being

The latest Wikileaks dump reveals that Abedin, whose first job for Hillary Clinton was as an intern in the First Lady’s office, is not so much Clinton's body woman, power-broker, or strategist—so much as she is Clinton’s “external hard drive.” 

Oct 19, 2016

If feminism’s goal is equal opportunity and choice, Michelle makes me feel like every choice is available.

How much does America love Michelle Obama? Chimimanda Ngozie Adichie, Gloria Steinem, Jon Meacham, and Rashida Jones count the ways.
↩︎ New York Times
Oct 19, 2016

The most natural thing in the world.

How an Icelandic member of parliament described breastfeeding her baby while giving a speech. (Iceland elected the world's first female prime minister in 1980.)
↩︎ Jamaica Observer
Oct 19, 2016

ICYMI: Michelle Obama spells out why Donald Trump and Billy Bush’s misogynistic word vomit goes way, way beyond “boys will be boys."

We intend to study conditions and do all in our power to give Yoncalla a good, efficient government. At the worst, we can’t do much worse than the men.

In 1920, frustrated with crumbling town infrastructure and scandalized by how many residents flouted Prohibition and exhibited public drunkenness, the temperance ladies of Yoncalla, Ore., ran for mayor and every seat on the town council, and won.
↩︎ The Atlantic
Oct 14, 2016

“No one has more respect for women than me"

Melania Trump’s demand that People reporter Natasha Stoynoff retract her claim that she had a brief, friendly conversation with Mrs. Trump when they crossed paths in New York after Stoynoff said Donald Trump had groped and kissed her during a photo shoot seems bizarre on the face of it. 

In the request, Melania’s lawyer writes, "The two are not friends and were never friends or even friendly. At the time in question, Mrs. Trump would not even have recognized Ms. Stoynoff if they had encountered one another on the street.”

There’s more to it than just inexplicable Trumpian crazy. In fact, it’s a power grab. In essence, Melania—or, Donald working through Melania—is asserting that Stoynoff, who covered the Trumps often, was so insignificant, so unworthy of the Trumps’ attention, that Melania would never have bothered to acknowledge her on the street. In doing so, Trump not only belittles Stoynoff but also bolsters his argument that he never would have assaulted her because he never would have even noticed her in the first place. Which is an unusual claim for a man who says, “No one has more respect for women than me."

Oct 14, 2016

Donald Trump and the "glass cliff"

Pity poor Kellyanne Conway, possibly the most visible embodiment of the “glass cliff” today. Hired to salvage Donald Trump’s flailing campaign this summer, she’s one of the latest top female executives brought on specifically to turn around a struggling enterprise. (See also: new Britain prime minister Teresa May and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.) Women, it turns out, are most likely to be hired in troubled times—and therefore more likely to be set up to fail than their male peers. Is it because women candidates are more likely to take risks to advance their careers, or because boards become more open to the idea of a nontraditional candidate when all else has failed? If the campaign of misogynist-in-chief Donald Trump is any indication, the answer may be both. 

Oct 10, 2016

Mayer encouraged and fostered the use of (an employee performance-rating system) to accommodate management’s subjective biases and personal opinions, to the detriment of Yahoo’s male employees.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and two other top female executives face a sex discrimination lawsuit from a former employee who claims to have been fired because he was male.
↩︎ The San Jose Mercury News
Oct 10, 2016

She’s a bitch, but he’s just having a bad day.

We’re much more likely to interpret women’s facial expressions as emotions and men’s as reactions, which is why we want our female leaders smile more.
↩︎ New York Times
Sep 27, 2016

Fear of a Female President

The visceral backlash against Hillary’s candidacy for president can be linked to a social phenomenon called “precarious manhood,” which posits that while femininity is biological, masculinity is a behavioral achievement that must be earned and maintained. 

Peter Beinart writes in the Atlantic: “Two analyses of American murder statistics, for instance, suggest that in cities in the South, where men tend to hold traditional attitudes about gender, greater economic equality between men and women correlates with higher rates of male-on-female murder.”

Sep 27, 2016

The Future Is/Should Be Female

There’s a good chance we’ll see a record number of female Senators come November, and that’s great news for anyone aggravated by Washington gridlock. (So, everyone?) Women, recent research has begun to show, just get more done. They’re more likely to sponsor and cosponsor legislation, they’re more bipartisan than men, and when their party is in the minority, they accomplish more than their male counterparts. Time will tell if they remain this motivated once women consistently achieve true parity in the legislature—the same research that shows female members of the minority get more done also shows that this is also true for any legislator holding an unsafe seat.

Sep 26, 2016

My male colleagues are all married. They have kids. Interestingly, it’s only the single women who are here until 9 p.m. Do we carry more of the water? Sure. Are we willing to do it? Yes. Are we complaining about it? No. Because god, it’s delicious!

Though women make up nearly half the CIA’s workforce, they account for only a third of senior leadership, in part due to sexism within the agency, but also because it’s hard to find partners willing to prioritize their careers.
↩︎ Newsweek
Sep 26, 2016

For most of 2007, Clinton’s language is consistently more masculine. By late 2007, however, when she was trailing far behind Barack Obama on measures of likability, Clinton’s language became more feminine, particularly in interviews. Clinton, in response to her likability problem, deviated from her dominant, masculine strategy in late 2007 into early 2008 in order to present herself to voters as a warmer, more feminine candidate

Forget shrill—as Hillary Clinton took on progressively masculine roles, she began to talk more like a man.
↩︎ London School of Economics Blog
Sep 16, 2016

Amplify Thy Sister

Half the battle is just being heard, especially if you’re a woman of color, as Attorney General Loretta Lynch can attest. At one point during her career, it took the reprimand of a male colleague to get a client to direct his questions toward her.   

But not all women have strong male allies at work, and it’s up to them to have each other’s backs. In 2013, New York Magazine writer Ann Friedman coined the term “shine theory,” urging women to befriend powerful women rather than compete with them based on the advice of her best friend Amina, who liked to say, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Female aides in the White House have been using shine theory to great effect in meetings with the president, echoing each other’s ideas while explicitly naming the woman who originated it. They call it “amplification,” and say it’s helped to ensure women are credited for their contributions and has increased the likelihood that they’ll be invited to contribute more.A

Sep 16, 2016

Of course, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

With female backers, they also weren’t subject to the normal demands of studio filmmaking: no gratuitous nudity or foregrounded love stories. “Nobody said, ‘The women are talking to each other too much.’”

“Equity,” a financial thriller written, directed, produced, and financed by women, reflects many truths of professional women’s lives that rarely make it to the big screen.
↩︎ New York Times
Sep 1, 2016

Maybe women are so busy faking it—to be more like a man at work, more like a porn star in bed, more like 30 at 50—that we don’t trust our natural responses anymore. Maybe all that wine is an Instagram filter for our own lives, so we don’t see how sallow and cracked they’ve become.

Why did drinking become the default expression of women’s independence?
↩︎ Quartz
Sep 1, 2016

We will never have a FLOTUS like this again

A deep lifetime affection for pop culture and comfort with the inherent silliness of the medium has enabled Michelle Obama to advance her agenda in ways no other first ladies could imagine. She’s guest-starred on NCIS to promote Joining Forces, her campaign with Dr. Jill Biden to support military families, sang karaoke with James Corden to promote Let Girls Learn, and engaged in a goofy Twitter war with Britain’s Prince Harry to promote the Invictus Games for wounded veterans.

But it might be her intentionally goofy Mom dancing with Jimmy Fallon to encourage parents to cut a rug with their kids as part of her Let’s Move campaign that shows Obama at her least self-conscious. (For the record, Obama really can dance. Check out her moves during National Dance Day.)

Sep 1, 2016

You can quote facts and figures until you are blue in the face; more women on boards, on leadership teams, on creative teams makes sound business sense and study after study proves it. But if any of those facts and figures worked, our industry would look completely different. Rational facts and figures do fuck-all for this issue. You have to make it emotional.

After retiring as chief marketing officer for a top global advertising agency, Cindy Gallop has made a second career out of empowering women—at work and in bed.
↩︎ Ad Age
Sep 1, 2016
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