Friday, May 29, 2015

How Ireland's gay marriage referendum created a wave of hope for LGBT people

by Eilish O'Gara
Originally Published: May 29th, 2015

The Irish referendum on same-sex marriage, held last Saturday, has created a wave of hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality across Europe and indeed the rest of the world.
Last weekend, 62% of Irish voters chose to back gay marriage in what the archbishop of Dublin described as "a social revolution" and what the Vatican's secretary of state, Pietro Parolin, described as a "defeat for humanity".
However, the passing of the law in Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, is already having a knock on effect all over the world, even in Italy, which has long been considered the home of the Catholic Church.
A public opinion poll released yesterday by Italian daily La Stampa found that for the first time over half (51%) of Italian voters would support gay marriage, a major jump in public opinion in the country. Only last October a poll showed support for gay marriage was running at around one third.
Though opposition to adoption by LGBT couples remains high at 73%, in a country of 60 million citizens - 82% of whom are Roman Catholic - public opinion appears to be changing.
In reaction to yesterday's poll, openly gay Italian politician and president of the Apulia region, Nichi Vendola, said: "Ireland is giving us a lesson in civility", while Laura Boldrini, speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, said Ireland had given Italy a much-needed push forward, tweeting: "To be Europeans, means to recognize rights".
On Wednesday, just four days after Ireland gained its long awaited Yes vote, Greenland's MPs unanimously voted to approve same sex marriage and adoption, scrapping its previous laws which were adopted in 1996. Every MP voted for the adopting the new laws, which are expected to go into effect on 1 October later this year. This vote makes Greenland, a country of just 57,000 residents, the 22nd country to legalise same sex marriage.
Interestingly, the Irish referendum has also had a major impact on Australia, a country whose government has long objected to the idea of same-sex marriage. The last time Parliament voted on same-sex marriage was in 2012, the results were 98-42 against same sex marriage in the Lower House and 41-26 in the Senate.
However, in the aftermath of the Irish vote, both sides of the Australian marriage equality debate have vowed to step up their efforts to bring about change in Australia.
On Wednesday, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a Catholic who is openly opposed to same-sex marriage, said that "questions of marriage were the preserve of the federal government". However, he also acknowledged that it's up to members of parliament who are in favour of same sex marriage to decide whether they want to bring it forward and put it to a vote in parliament.
Back in Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out legalising same-sex marriage on Wednesday saying that it was not a "goal" of her government. Although polls show 75% of Germans are in favour of legalising gay marriages, the ruling coalition only agreed to make small changes, expanding rights for registered same sex partnerships. They firmly declined the idea of following in Ireland's footsteps any time soon.
Matt Horwood, communications officer at Stonewall, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity told Newsweek, "Opposition to same-sex marriage is not synonymous with being of faith. What the referendum in Ireland demonstrates is the power of individuals who are willing to take a stand for what they believe in".
"Complacency is a huge issue facing the LGBT community, and it's important that we don't ever assume that one country will see faster progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality than another", he continued.
However, Horwood believed that the Irish referendum has created a "wave of hope" for LGBT people and that grassroot pressure will emerge. He concludes that the decision in Ireland will "speak to governments and people around the world in countries where same-sex couples currently cannot get married".

Read the original article from Newsweek here:

The 24/7 Work Culture’s Toll on Families and Gender Equality

by Claire Cain Miller
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

The biggest obstacle to women in joining the highest ranks of the business world is a lack of family-friendly policies. That, at least, has been the conventional wisdom in recent years, and it has been embraced by progressive companies that offer flexible schedules or allow people to work from home.

But some researchers are now arguing that the real problem is not the lack of family-friendly policies for mothers, but the surge in hours worked by both women and men. And companies are not likely to want to adopt the obvious solution.

The pressure of a round-the-clock work culture — in which people are expected to answer emails at 11 p.m. and take cellphone calls on Sunday morning — is particularly acute in highly skilled, highly paid professional services jobs like law, finance, consulting and accounting.

Offering family-friendly policies is too narrow a solution to the problem, recent research argues, and can have unintended consequences. When women cut back at work to cope with long hours, they end up stunting their careers. And men aren’t necessarily happy to be expected to work extreme hours, either.

Erin Reid, left, an assistant professor at Boston University, and Robin Ely, a professor at Harvard Business School. “These 24/7 work cultures lock gender inequality in place," Ms. Ely said. CreditErik Jacobs for The New York Times

“These 24/7 work cultures lock gender inequality in place, because the work-family balance problem is recognized as primarily a woman’s problem,” said Robin Ely, a professor at Harvard Business School who was a co-author of a recent study on the topic. “The very well-intentioned answer is to give women benefits, but it actually derails women’s careers. The culture of overwork affects everybody.”

The study examined a global consulting firm, which was not named. The firm, where 90 percent of the partners were men, asked the professors what it could do to decrease the number of women who quit and increase the number who were promoted. In exchange, the academics could collect data for their research. The firm was typical in that employees averaged 60 to 65 hours of work a week.

The researchers, who included Irene Padavic of Florida State University and Erin Reid of Boston University, concluded that the problem was not women’s competing demands but that “two orthodoxies remain unchallenged: the necessity of long work hours and the inescapability of women’s stalled advancement.”

The study is being released as part of Harvard Business School’s new gender initiative, led by Ms. Ely, to use empirical evidence to discuss gender issues in business and society.

The time Americans spend at work has sharply increased over the last four decades. We work an average of 1,836 hours a year, up 9 percent from 1,687 in 1979, according to Current Population Survey data analyzed by Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute. Some reasons include a more competitive and global economy as well as technology that enables people to work at any hour and location.

High earners (though not the highest) work the most. Earners in the 60th to 95th percentile worked about 2,015 hours in 2013, up about 5 percent from 1979. Those in the bottom 20th percentile worked far fewer hours (1,497 a year), but their hours increased the most, 20 percent from 1979.

For low-wage earners, the problem is not too many hours but too few. Their schedules are often too unpredictable, and their wages have been rising only modestly. For many workers, a lack of parental leave or child care can create additional strains.

For elite workers, the challenge is the conflict between modern family life and a work culture in which long hours have become a status symbol.

In the study of the consulting firm, which included in-depth interviews with 107 employees, men were at least as likely as women to say the long hours interfered with their family lives, and they quit at the same rate. One told the researchers: “Last year was hard with my 105 flights. I was feeling pretty fried. I’ve missed too much of my kids’ lives.”

Men and women dealt with the pressure differently. Women were more likely to take advantage of formal flexible work policies, like working part-time, or to move to less demanding positions that didn’t involve serving clients or earning revenue for the company. Decisions like these tended to stall women’s careers.

Men either happily complied, suffered in silence — or simply worked the hours they wanted without asking permission. About a third of them, according to another paper about the same firm by Ms. Reid, would leave to attend their children’s activities while staying in touch on their phones. They also developed more local clients to reduce travel or informally arranged with colleagues to cover for them. Decisions like these tended to get men promoted.
Continue reading the main story

The Rise in American Work Hours 

The hours we work vary by business cycle and income, but they have increased for all workers over the last four decades.  
Average annual hours worked by paid workers age 18 to 64, by wage percentile
All Workers
1st to 20th income percentile
20th to 40th
40th to 60th
60th to 80th
80th to 95th
95th to 100th

When women tried the same strategy, it usually didn’t work. When a man left at 5 p.m., people at the office assumed he was meeting a client, Ms. Reid said. When a woman left, they assumed she was going home to her children.

Underlying this disparity are deep-seated cultural expectations about how men and women should act. Men are expected to be devoted to their work, and women to their family, as Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist at University of California, San Diego, has described in her research.

“It’s not really about business; it’s about fundamental identity and masculinity,” Ms. Blair-Loy said. “Men are required by the culture to be these superheroes, to fulfill this devotion and single-minded commitment to work.”

“Women have an out,” she said, “because they have an external definition of morality or leading the good life, which is being devoted to their children.”

These expectations were reflected in the interviews done at the consulting firm. “What do I want people to worry about when they wake up first thing in the morning?” one male partner said. “For project managers, I want them to worry about the project. Women are the project manager in the home, so it is hard for them to spend the necessary time, energy and effort to be viewed here as senior leaders.”

In some cases, women were looked down on for working the hours necessary to succeed. A female associate said: “When I look at a female partner, it does leak into my thinking: How do I think she is as a mother in addition to how do I think she is as a partner? When I look at men, I don’t think about what kind of father they are.”

Stephen Thau, a partner at the multinational law firm Morrison & Foerster, said gender stereotypes also made it challenging for men to juggle family life, because there was an expectation that they had stay-at-home wives managing the home front. His wife is a doctor, and “we absolutely struggle with it,” he said. Technology helps, he said: “I can be out of the office and still connected. If I’m at the baseball game, I’ll go to my car and take a call and then go back.”

The researchers said that when they told the consulting firm they had diagnosed a bigger problem than a lack of family-friendly policies for women — that long hours were taking a toll on both men and women — the firm rejected that conclusion. The firm’s representatives said the goal was to focus only on policies for women, and that men were largely immune to these issues.

The challenge of juggling work and family was not always the dominant explanation given for why few women reached the top echelons of business. Another analysis led by Harvard Business School researchers tracked stories about gender and work in the national and business press from 1991 to 2009. Until the mid-1990s, most focused on sexism and harassment. Then they began focusing on women’s exclusion from the “old boys’ network.” Around 2001, the main theme became children hampering women’s career success.

It is not necessarily surprising that companies prefer to focus on relatively narrow fixes like family-friendly policies, not more broadly on the culture of overwork. They would have little incentive to encourage their employees to work less. And, of course, people who work at these companies chose high-powered careers and are paid well in exchange.

Yet some professions that also had round-the-clock hours have figured out alternatives. Certain doctors have begun working in shifts, so patients see whoever is available. Some law firms are beginning to share work in a similar way. At Boston Consulting Group, one team gave everyone one weeknight off while others covered for them, and the practice spread through the firm.

“Is it really necessary for people to be on call 24/7? The answer is increasingly no,” Ms. Ely said. “These professions are beholden to the whims of the client, and every question has to be answered immediately — but it probably doesn’t.”

Read the original article from The New York Times here:

Millennials want more flexibility in workplace schedule, survey says

by Samantha Masunaga
Originally Published: May 29th, 2015

Some days Jay Greenlinger bounces from his children's plays and baseball games to work and back again.

The 34-year-old has four young children and serves as the director of technology at the Pleasant Valley School District in Camarillo. Greenlinger's flexible schedule, aided by his largely electronic workload, is an example of what millennials now crave in the workplace.

"It shouldn't be an either-or proposition," he said. "I think the millennials' ideas of how and where work gets done is very different than previous generations."

According to a recent survey by accounting firm Ernst & Young, millennials highly value flexible work arrangements, as well as paid parental leave.

Millennials are the most likely generation to say that they would change jobs or careers, give up promotion opportunities, move their family to another place or take a pay cut to have flexibility and better manage work and family life, according to the survey.

"If the senior management or companies decide not to embrace that, you're going to lose talent," said Monica Marquez, Ernst & Young's West region inclusiveness and flexibility lead.

This comes as millennials see an increase in responsibilities at work and at home. According to Ernst & Young's research, workers commonly become both managers and parents between the ages of 25 and 29.

But with more flexibility comes the stigma of the lazy worker.

Nearly 1 in 6 millennial workers said they "suffered a negative consequence as a result of having a flexible work schedule."

"Generation X and boomers have this kind of misconception ... that these people that want flexibility might be less committed to their work, less committed to their career progression," Marquez said. "For the millennials, they're saying we want this flexibility, but we aren't any less aggressive about our career."

For some, the commonly used term "work-life balance" is a myth.

"I think it was a term that previous generations believed in," said Michael Elliott, 28, principal at Dittrick and Associates Inc. in Burton, Ohio. "I know for me and most of the millennials I talk to, work-life balance is nonexistent. There’s only work-life integration.”

As part of his doctoral research, Greenlinger studied the support needs of millennials compared to baby boomers and found similar results as those in the survey.

He used the hypothetical example of millennials leaving work early to take their children to soccer practice.

"While they’re sitting there, they’re on their phone completing work tasks," Greenlinger said. "It was more of a balance of when work gets done."

The survey was conducted by market research firm Harris Poll for Ernst & Young. About 9,700 people between the ages of 18 and 67 were surveyed between November and January across the globe.

Read the original article from LA Times here:

Report: Women are more likely to have serious mental health problems than men

by Lena H. Sun
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

Women in every age group in the United States were more likely than men to have serious mental health problems, according to federal health statistics released Thursday.
The report from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found that more than one-fourth of people age 65 or older who are afflicted with these mental health problems have difficulty feeding, bathing and dressing themselves.
People with serious psychological distress are also at greater risk for certain medical conditions: four times as likely to have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) as men and women without mental health problem and twice as likely to have heart disease or diabetes.
Although it's been known that women generally have higher rates of depression than men, and that mental health problems are associated with higher rates of disease and disabilities, researchers said it was surprising to see the large percentage of people with mental health problems who have difficulty with basic activities of daily living, such as feeding, bathing and dressing.
People age 65 or older with mental health problems were almost five times as likely to have trouble with these daily living activities as their counterparts without serious psychological distress. All of the individuals were living in their homes, not in nursing homes or other institutions.
"That was the chart that blew me away," said Laura Pratt, an epidemiologist and one of the authors. Dealing with either mental health issues or disabilities alone was hard enough. To have them both at the same time, she said, would be extremely challenging.
One of the limitations of the data, however, is that researchers don't know whether the person had mental health problems first and wasn't able to deal with other health issues, or the other way around.
Pratt said she could not explain why women have higher rates of serious psychological distress. “As I’m sure you are aware, we see this in major depression as well, but I don’t know that anyone has ever come up with a definitive answer of why that is,” she said.
The data from the report come from face-to-face interviews conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, collected for the National Health Interview Survey, a continuous survey with results released annually. Part of the survey includes six questions used to identify people with high likelihood of having a diagnosable mental illness. It captures information about people with serious mental health problems, but it doesn't provide enough information to make a diagnosis as to what specific mental illness a person has.

A gender-balanced team makes the best business sense

by Philip Dunne
Originally Published: May 29th, 2015

The business case is clear: to continue to grow, we must strengthen our talent pool by promoting diversity. Gender-balanced teams are better at developing solutions to business challenges. Yet statistics reveal in many sectors, business is not doing enough to reap the rewards.
Grant Thornton’s recent International Business Report 2015, Women in Business: the Path to Leadership, notes that the proportion of senior management roles held by women in real estate is just 18%, compared with 25% of the senior roles available in the financial services sector. It is clear that plenty of opportunity exists for a more balanced representation.
It’s vital for senior leadership to examine how we recruit and promote women. We can have conversations on topics such as gender diversity and unconscious bias and offer training to help build awareness. According to Alexandra Roddy, Prologis’s global head of marketing and vice chair of the board of Professional Businesswomen of California, what we’re seeing is unequal access to opportunity. Because the people at the top have the power to make decisions, they’re the ones who direct the culture of hiring and career development. If we’re aware of how biases, conscious and unconscious, factor into hiring practices, we can make strides toward a better - and more balanced - process.
In 2014 our company’s 13 most senior women launched Breakthrough, a global network that supports the retention and advancement of women, and this now has chapters across 15 countries. It supports career growth and personal development by hosting presentations and panel discussions attended by senior leadership. Areas of focus include work-life balance, networking, personal career planning and development, leadership and negotiation skills. The network is inclusive, and offers tools, training and resources to women and men. It also promotes a culture of mentorship.
The network is especially active in Europe, with team members meeting regularly. Martina Malone, senior vice-president, client relations, and Ellen Hall, former Prologis senior vice-president, fund management, have played a key role in prompting this conversation and raising awareness across our European offices. The response from our colleagues across the globe has been resoundingly positive.
It is equally important we provide the means for women to thrive in their careers. Greater flexibility, for example, does not just help parents and caregivers; everyone benefits from a culture that encourages a healthy balance between work and personal life. Promoting work-life balance boosts employee engagement and satisfaction.
Also, we are highlighting female role models internally among senior leadership and as success stories in the industry. By sharing their experiences, we hope these role models will motivate more women to pursue leadership roles.
Building a gender-balanced team does not happen by accident. We encourage women to stand up, speak out and make their career plans known. This could entail the creation of career advancement plans, focused goal-setting, staying in close contact with supervisors and searching out mentoring opportunities. Both men and women must make an effort to challenge their own biases and find ways to accommodate differences. As the Grant Thornton report points out: “Business growth comes from diversity of opinion; from thinking and acting differently from the competition.”
Prologis is committed to promoting a more gender-balanced workforce and leadership. I’m confident that our efforts, and Property Week’s Open Plan diversity campaign, will encourage more real estate companies to follow suit.

Read the original article from Property Week here:

Why The Law Profession Must Work On Its Diversity Problem

by Ann Brown
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

What is the least diverse profession? Surprisingly it seems to be law. Surprising because Black lawyers seem to be everywhere, from the White House to the new U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch. But looks can be deceiving.
According to Bureau of Labor statistics, law is actually one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation when compared to other professions. In fact, 88 percent of lawyers are white.  And women make up just over a third of all lawyers in the country. And since most people don’t realize the diversity problem law has, not much is being done to solve it.
And the higher one goes–law firm partners, general counsels of Fortune 500 corporations, and law school deans–the less diverse it is. “Women account for only 17 percent of equity partners, and only seven of the nation’s 100 largest firms have a woman as chairman or managing partner,” reports The Washington Post. And according to various studies, men are two to five times more likely to make partner than women.
In the study, a legal memo was given to law firm partners for “writing analysis.” Half the partners were told that the author was African American; the other half were told that the writer was white. The white man’s memo was given a rating of 4.1 with 5 being the best; the African American’s memo received a 3.2. The white man was praise for his potential and analytical skills while the partners said the African American’s memo needed “lots of work.”
Women too are subject to a double standard as some in the industry perceive women as not been aggressive enough for the law profession.Women and minorities are often left out of the networks of mentoring and sponsorship. American Bar Association research found that 62 percent of women of color and 60 percent of white women felt excluded from formal and informal networking opportunities, only four percent of white men did.
The law has a long way to go.

Read the original article from Madame Noire here:

Sleep study raises hope for clinical treatment of racism, sexism and other biases

by Gareth Gaskell
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

Imagine being able to erase the innermost prejudices you are most ashamed of by simply turning on a sound machine before going to bed. It may sound fantastical, but a new study has shown that our biases can indeed be counteracted while we sleep.
Of course, most of us would contend that we are not racist or sexist. But many studies have shown that our actions suggest otherwise. For example, when evaluating applications for a science laboratory position, male applicants were viewed by university science faculty members as more hireable, competent and deserving of a high salary than identically qualified female applicants.
These biases are not surprising. We are often overwhelmed with information that can reinforce race and gender stereotypes.

Implicit association

In a new study, researchers built on our rapidly developing understanding of the way recent memories become ingrained in our mind during sleep. This “consolidation” process takes an unstable new memory and makes it stronger, and more resistant to forgetting, possibly changing its nature in the process.
The researchers were interested in whether implicit gender or racial biases – views that we are not necessarily aware of – could be manipulated. In order to assess people’s biases, they used an implicit association test (IAT). This requires people to make two category judgements by pressing one of two buttons. In a test of gender bias, for example, participants might categorise female faces by pressing one button and male faces with another. They would also have to classify words into “science” and “art” categories using the same keys.
People who implicitly associate women with art and men with science should respond relatively slowly when asked to use the same key for female faces and science words, compared with female faces and art words. There is debate about exactly what this test measures, but it has proved to be a revealing measure of attitudes in a wide array of research areas.
The researchers then tried to counter these biases by requiring the participants to make associations that reversed the stereotypes. For example, participants might be asked to identify only female faces that were paired with science words. These new associations were “tagged” in their memory by playing a particular sound when participants correctly identified the counterexamples. Another IAT showed weaker implicit biases after the interventions.
The experiment in pictures. P Huey/Science
But showing an immediate effect of an intervention is not very useful if the benefits are short-lived. Here’s where the study got really interesting. Participants were asked to have a nap in the lab, while electrodes recorded their brain activity. When deep sleep was observed, one of the sound cues from the association test was repeatedly played.
The idea here is that the sound can reactivate the memories of the recent events and facilitate their consolidation. In effect, the researchers have found a way of picking out particular memories and asking the brain to give them special treatment during consolidation. Similar replay effects in sleep have been found by this group and others using both sounds and odours, and curiously the cueing effect of the sound is more effective during sleep than when people are awake. In this case, the replay was again effective: bias as measured by the IAT after sleep for the cued intervention was less extreme than the bias for the uncued intervention.

How far from clinical practice?

There are of course many more questions one might ask about this type of research. No-one is suggesting that biases developed over many years are going to be eliminated using a short intervention and then giving the natural consolidation process a helping hand. For a start, it is unclear how long such replay effects might last. The research included a test of implicit bias one week after the intervention, but although there was some evidence that the sounds did have a benefit at that point, the evidence was relatively weak.
Another key question is whether training on positive associations and then testing using the IAT is a form of teaching to the test. It would be really useful to know if such bias effects could lead to altered explicit attitudes – those that we are conscious of – and real behaviour change. A recent large-scale study of racial bias interventions showed clear benefits on the IAT but no change in explicit attitudes. However that was when tested straight after the intervention.
The intriguing possibility that the current study raises is that consolidation may lead to more generalised benefits. During sleep, the storage of recent memories spreads to different parts of the brain, and this systems-level consolidation may change the nature of the memory. Sleep has been shown to promote a shift from implicit to explicit knowledge, and work in our lab has found that sleep may lead to the integration of new memories with existing knowledge. Possibly the shift in implicit attitudes is just the starting point for a chain of consolidation processes that can lead to improved explicit representations of gender and racial stereotypes, and even changes in actions or verbal behaviour.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the current study is that it enhances our understanding of the neural mechanisms involved in memory formation and consolidation. It also offers an intriguing new take on the way in which prejudices and stereotypes form, and how they might be malleable. The hope for the future is that our understanding of prejudice and bias may be further benefited by a more unified understanding of these two areas.
However, for this to one day work as a reliable treatment for racism, sexism, or other bad habits we need to know much more about the longevity and generality of changes in implicit attitudes.

Read the original article from The Conversation here:

Fed Up With Hollywood Sexism, a Filmmaker Created Her Own Database of Women Directors

by Jennifer Swann
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

Some people collect stamps or spoons or autographs. Destri Martino collects film credits. Her new website, The Director List, is an extensive database of more than 850 directors who have worked in movies, television, and every screen in between, all over the world. They share one thing in common: They’re all women. 
Martino hopes employers will consider using The Director List as an alternative resource for hiring for their next filmmaker. The database organizes each director by country, medium—documentary, feature, television, etc.—and genre, ranging from action and sci-fi to comedy and biography. Yes, there is a robust rom-com category that includes well-known auteur Nancy Meyers, but Martino wants to show that there are women working in nearly every other genre, too, including horror (see Kimberly Peirce, who directed the 2013 Carrie remake).
“I just think seeing these numbers makes it really clear: You can actually search a database for the people that have qualifications. There’s no way you can say there’s no women directors who are qualified,” Martino says of the “myth in the industry that refuses to die.”
The myth that women directors simply don’t exist is perpetuated by dismal statistics from the mainstream box office. Just 7 percent of directors on the 250 top-grossing films last year were women, according to researchers at San Diego State University. But that number jumps to 28 percent—quadrupling—for independent films that screened in 2014 at high-profile festivals such as Sundance. That suggests, of course, that women directors aren’t quite so rare—they’re just not being chosen to work on top-grossing studio features. 
Martino, a filmmaker herself who recently left a day job in corporate video production to pursue her own projects, says the disparity often comes down to director’s lists—or sheets compiling filmmakers under various genres—that are sometimes distributed to studios during the hiring stages of a film. She remembers leafing through the packets while working at a production company years ago.
“I wanted to try to figure out why there weren’t more women working on films,” she says. “I talked to women directors here in L.A. and talked to producers and managers, and that’s where I found that nobody was talking about the hiring process and how they used director’s lists to bring together their choices for who should be considered for these directing gigs.”
It eventually became the basis of her master’s dissertation at the London School of Economics a decade ago, when Hollywood hiring practices received few mentions in the media. Today the issue is driving newspaper headlines, and the ACLU has even taken it up as a cause. Earlier this month, the ACLU filed letters demanding that state and federal authorities launch an investigation—for the second time since the 1960s—into whether studios are committing gender-based employment discrimination.
“Women have been talking about this for years, women directors and other women in Hollywood, but there’s a strong feeling that concrete action is needed, and that’s why we think calling on the civil rights agencies again is needed,” Ariela Migdal, a senior staff attorney with ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, said at the time of the ACLU’s announcement in early May.  
The Directors Guild of America has since denied the ACLU’s claim that it uses secretive shortlists to recommend directors for particular projects, although the union does provide contact information from its membership database to employers looking to hire a director with specific qualifications, a DGA spokesperson confirmed to Deadline last week. 
In the meantime, Martino hasn’t stopped searching through film credits adding more women directors to her list. “I’ve just been collecting them over the years,” she says, starting with an Excel sheet that morphed into a Pinterest page and, thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Awesome Foundation, became a full-fledged digital database unveiled this week. “I’m doing this as a filmmaker and also as a fan,” she says. “I really love the work [women filmmakers] are doing, and that’s why I keep doing it.”

Read the original article from Take Part here:

Flexible working can make or break employers

by Chloe Taylor
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

A new study by Robert Walters has revealed that four in ten professionals would reject a job offer if it lacked flexible working opportunities. But despite this, barely a third of employers said they promote flexible working policies when advertising job vacancies.

The survey – which had thousands of responses from professionals and hiring managers – also found that almost 90% of jobseekers are more likely to consider a role that allows for flexible working practices. But according to the research, many employees are either not being offered flexible work, or see the option as a taboo. While a quarter of the professionals surveyed said that their company never promotes flexible work policies, many said they were worried that opting into flexible work would be detrimental to others’ perceptions of their work ethic.

“Organizations have sometimes seen flexible working as an employee perk, overlooking the link between the ‘loyalty gains’ generated and increased productivity levels,” said James Nicholson, managing director of Robert Walters Australia and New Zealand. “This approach also runs counter to a number of increasingly influential societal trends – a rise in the number of mothers returning to full time employment, the rebalancing of childcare responsibilities and an ageing population – all of which have pushed flexible working to the top of the jobseeker agenda.”

The report also found that contrary to common belief, family and childcare responsibilities topped the list of male drivers, while women were more driven by health and wellbeing than any other factor.

“Flexible working is not only beneficial for wellbeing, commitment and efficiency in the workplace, it also lends a competitive edge to your recruitment strategies,” Nicholson advised. “Key to successful implementation is a culture of openness and consensus on measuring outcomes and success, so buy-in from the board level down is essential.”

Read the original article from MPA Magazine here:

US start-up activity rises, but women and millennials retreat

by Kate Rogers
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

U.S. start-up activity rose in 2015 with the help of more older workers becoming entrepreneurs, while fewer women and millennials are becoming new business creators, according to new data from the Kauffman Foundation. 
Kauffman's analysis is one of the most comprehensive looks at start-up creators, and the annual start-up activity index rose in 2015—reversing a downward trend that started in 2010. This year's gain also marks the largest year-over-year increase from the past two decades. 
The new data coupled with anecdotal evidence suggests an American recovery that is a work in progress. While prospects broadly are improving, pockets of older Americans haven't been able to re-enter the traditional workforce and have turned to entrepreneurship for their second and third acts. This group sometimes is called necessity entrepreneurs.
Older workers, aged 55 to 64 years old, comprised 25.8 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2014 compared to 14.8 percent in 1996.
small business
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Younger workers, meanwhile, saddled with massive student debt loans may be shying away from the huge capital outlays that new businesses require. And while employed women are leaping into entrepreneurship—a group sometimes called opportunity entrepreneurs—more men generally dive in entrepreneurship, based on Kauffman's yearly analysis.
"There's still a lot of recovery that needs to happen, which is the hard part," said E.J. Reedy, Kauffmann director of research and policy. 

More older entrepreneurs; few women, millennials

Women launching businesses fell to 36.8 percent of new entrepreneurs compared to 43.7 percent in 1996, and close to the two-decade low of 36.3 percent in 2008. 
The kinds of new ventures started by men partially helps explain what's happening among entrepreneurs broadly. Male entrepreneurs specifically are taking advantage of a recovering economy and housing sector. 
"It's staking an opportunity, and the industries we see making a comeback including construction and manufacturing are more male-dominated," said Reedy. 
American workers broadly are recovering, with eight out of every 10 new entrepreneurs not previously unemployed, while two out of every 10 new entrepreneurs started their businesses coming directly out of unemployment. 
For young would-be entrepreneurs, the mounting student debt problem may finally be haunting the pace of America's innovation.
New entrepreneurs, aged 20 to 34 years old, fell to 24.7 percent in 2014, compared to 34.3 percent in 1996, according to Kaufman. New entrepreneurs ages 35 to 44 years old were 22.9 percent compared to 27.4 percent in 1996. 
"It's important to realize there's still not a lot of direct evidence that debt is driving the decrease, but there is indirect evidence to show young households have become less financially stable, meaning their ability to take risk in entrepreneurship is diminished," Reedy said. 

Fewer start-ups as employers

Another troubling trend is a dip in employer start-ups or new businesses that turn around and create new jobs—a lifeline of the U.S. economy. 
"That is 150,000 new employer businesses lost in a given year—more than one million jobs lost from new business," Reedy said. 
The decline in employer start-ups compared to before the recession—coupled with business turnover rates—suggest business owners may be jumping ship and not sticking around long enough to grow into larger businesses and ultimately larger employers. 
Commonly cited roadblocks to entrepreneurship and retention include regulatory hurdles, uncertainty about future sales growth and hesitancy to invest in the near-term.
"In the past few years, there's more turn in new business activity, meaning the concerns that general small businesses have are now affecting the [transition to] bigger businesses," Reedy said.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Smashing the Glass Ceiling: Women in the Law

by Stacy Slotnick
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

"That's because women are paying an even higher price than men for their participation in a work culture fueled by stress, sleep deprivation and burnout," declares Arianna Huffington in her bestselling and instructive tome Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder
Female lawyers have seemingly overcome systematic exclusion, but many still struggle with stress, influence and power as they are paid less and do more on average per week in terms of work (domestic and professional) than men. 
In light of women's entrance into the male-dominated profession of law, women report several frustrations, including a lack of networking opportunities, less desirable cases and bias and rudeness in the courtroom. 
The glass ceiling -- a metaphor describing hidden barriers that prevent individuals from advancing upward in their positions -- exist for many female lawyers. 
"I regularly encounter people who believe that because there may be de jure gender equality there is de facto gender equity. The glass ceiling is real and it persists to this day," reveals the Honorable Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner, who serves as the Director of the Tribal Law & Government Center at the University of Kansas School of Law.
Women in the law remain underrepresented in positions of status (partner), job security, and economic reward. Some of the country's largest law firms have no women on their governing committees. 
Maria Vathis is an attorney with a broad range of experience defending corporate clients in complex business litigation matters, insurance coverage and class actions. Ms. Vathis succinctly outlines the solution to obstacles facing women in the legal profession: 
New lawyers need to make sure they receive opportunities to shine and develop their skills. Women must remember their worth and ask for what they want. As little girls, we are not typically taught this skill, but it is critical to our advancement in the professional world.
Female attorneys fight damaging stereotypes. Katherine González-Valentín is a Capital Partner and Chair of the Labor and Employment Law Department at a law firm located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She estimates that having less family obligations generally means you are expected to put in more hours and be more available for work assignments. On the other hand, being a mother presumes you will not want to stay late in the office "even though," notes Ms. González-Valentín, "you aspire to be a partner and were the first person in the office and the last to enter billable hours after working from home."
Colonel Michelle Hernández de Fraley (Ret.) was the first Puerto Rican woman to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and she presents an original way of using the glass ceiling to one's advantage: Learn the rules, get to know the participants, follow instructions and persevere (and prosper) by being the Most Valuable Player. 
It may be highly advantageous to understand a future employer's expectations regarding billable hours, work schedule, nature of assignments and the effort the employer makes to promote females to top leadership positions to determine if one can fit the mold and then, perhaps, break it. 
The course of true gender equality never did run smooth, which is why we need bar associations, law schools, law firms, legal alumni programs, and other organizations to create access to the same education as well as networking and business opportunities that exist in the male world. The Federal Bar Association's Women in the Law Conference is one such annual event where female practitioners, judges and academics investigate and report on the status of women in the legal profession while celebrating women's progress and empowering them to continue to succeed. The glass ceiling does not have to remain infuriatingly shatterproof. 
The strategy for reform is simple. There must be mentoring and teamwork programs; egalitarian leadership; an examination of the gender gap problem; an exchange of ideas to influence legal culture; and pragmatic plans to facilitate growth and retention of female talent. Analysis and study are powerful tools that will advance women in the law and help smash the glass ceiling.

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The Heroes and Heroines of Workplace Diversity

by Juliet Bourke
Originally Published: May 28th, 2015

As TEDWomen 2015 launches this week, we celebrate how far society has come. We no longer exclude women from attending university or joining certain professions. We don't make our citizens sit in different sections of the bus because of their race, or limit their citizenship rights. We welcome those with disabilities to live in our community and not behind institutional walls. We have made progress towards marriage equality.
But even today we are still talking about how to bring more diversity to our governments, institutions and companies. We don't like to hear statistics that say that in the US, 88 percent of executive and senior level jobs are held by white people; or that there are 65,000 instances of disability hate crimes every year in the UK; or that the pay gap between men and women's average weekly full-time earnings in Australia has hovered between 15-18 percent for 20 years. We are aware that diversity is an issue, but to say we are outraged or actively engaged would be a significant overstatement.
If I fast forward 25 years and imagine myself explaining to my future grandchildren what it felt like to live in 2015, I might tell them: "There was a general discomfort or malaise about diversity, tinged with a sense of resignation. Diversity didn't galvanize global attention like climate change, terrorism or technology, but there were some bright spots."
I will tell my grandchildren about the inspiring leaders who emerged during this period to reshape their organizations and countries from within. In particular, I will tell them about Australia's Male Champions of Change (MCC), a group of 25 senior executives who first joined forces in 2010 under the guidance of Liz Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, to "listen, learn, and lead" through action.
The group includes many powerful and influential men, like Lieutenant General David Morrison, Australia's former Chief of Army; Simon Rothery, CEO of Goldman Sachs, Australia and New Zealand; David Thodey, CEO of Telstra; Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas; Gordon Cairns, chairman of Origin Energy; Andrew Stevens, former managing director of IBM Australia and New Zealand; Mike Smith, CEO of ANZ; and Giam Swiegers, former CEO of Deloitte Australia.
Why men? As Gordon Cairns explained, "Men invented the system, men largely run the system, and men need to change the system." This sentiment was echoed by Broderick: "Relying on women to change the status quo when they don't hold all the levers of power is illogical. Men, in the main, hold those levers. If we want change, we need men taking the message of gender equality to other men."
The MCCs developed bold initiatives, including the "all roles flex", which helped create more family-friendly workplaces. In Telstra, for example, Thodey disrupted the norm of full-time work by mandating that all roles should be flexible. A pilot programin the customer sales and service team at Tesltra saw the number of women in the applicant pool grow by more than 15 percent, and the share of women in job placements increase by 35 percent.
They changed the speaker profile at conferences. The MCCs recognised that the implicit value in speaking opportunities in terms of raising speaker profiles and extending networks, but that these opportunities were biased towards men. As the MCCs looked at their fellow speakers they noticed the dominance of male speakers, and the lost opportunities for women. In order to draw attention to this disparity, and make a symbolic and practical change, every time the MCCs are asked to speak at a public forum, they ask the event organizers to ensure that women are equally represented. In 2015, this bold move is really starting to bite.
The MCCs also developed The Leadership Shadow tool, which aims to help leaders think about their personal impact on diversity and inclusion outcomes. Simple but effective, the tool asks a series of questions to enable leaders to self assess if what they say or do was heard and seen by followers as indicative of a commitment to diversity and inclusion, or whether it was in fact empty words and empty actions.
They also created the Supplier Multiplier Initiative, in which MCCs use their corporate buying power to influence suppliers by requiring them to demonstrate compliance with diversity objectives. And as part of a broad communication campaign, they published reports, guides, action plans and have given 250 speeches around the world. Already, their initiative has established spin-off groups in different industries and locations, and their sponsored events draw in large crowds of executives who now want to be part of a conversation they had previously ignored.
I will tell my grandchildren that the bright spots made a difference, but they were not the only change agents on task. They were stepping up and taking their rightful place beside women to create a better world together, shaping a new reality by using their personal and corporate levers of power.
Juliet Bourke leads the Diversity and Inclusion practice and co-leads the Leadership practice at Deloitte Australia. @julietbourke

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