Tuesday, April 29, 2014

City Councillor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley named top leader and idealist by Boston Magazine

Boston Magazine recently named City Councillor-at-Large and former MWPC endorsee Ayanna Pressley as one of the top leaders and idealists in the city of Boston. The article, titled “The Power of Ideas”, highlights what the magazine calls Boston’s new power class of visionaries, idealists, and thinkers who are looking to the change the world as we know it. Pressley’s relentless fight against inequality and social injustice in Boston rightly solidifies her a spot among an impressive list of notable political leaders, including Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of State John Kerry as well as renowned innovators, entrepreneurs, and scientists.

Since becoming the first African-American women elected to the Boston City Council, she has been a champion for LGBT rights and issues affecting women. Although many have called for her to pursue higher offices, she intends to first battle some of Boston’s deep rooted issues including improving the lives of women in the city, overhauling sex education in schools, and fighting economic disparity. We look forward to seeing her powerful social justice agenda  improve Boston, and maybe even the world, for the better. Read the article here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

What We've Been Reading...

We hope you have a happy end of April, MWPC!
Finish your month by catching up on What We’ve Been Reading!

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has recently appeared on numerous media outlets and touring the country promoting her new autobiography “A Fighting Chance.” Senator Warren explains the title refers to her belief that the American middle class deserves a fighting chance during this present era of powerful lobbyists in Washington D.C influencing favorable policy for the wealthy. She describes that her middle class upbringing in Oklahoma fueled her singular academic and political passion: that the economic playing field has become rigged and equal opportunity to upward mobility has diminished.
The release of her autobiography only heightens speculation of a possible run for the presidency in the future. Although she has vehemently denied any plans to run in 2016, many are calling for the progressive senator to reconsider as they believe she is a more populist candidate than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Whatever the case may be, we are looking forward to seeing her fight for middle class families in the senate and beyond! Read more about Warren's book tour here.
This Wednesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton attended a women’s leadership conference hosted by Simmons College in Boston, where she restated her commitment towards the advancement of the rights and opportunities of girls and women.  Clinton also called attention to the issue of the wage gap, and also to the issue of the confidence gap. About the confidence gap Clinton said “It’s always surprising to me how many young women think they have to be perfect. I rarely meet a young man who doesn’t think he already is” (WBUR, 2014). It seems that Massachusetts is eager for Clinton to announce her candidacy for the 2016 presidential election, but she has not disclosed any information related to this possibility. Groups such as Ready for Hillary have already started fundraising efforts for the non-existent campaign.  To read more about Hillary’s visit to Boston, go here.
This Tuesday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart criticized the gender-based double-standards that exist in U.S. politics. With special guest Elizabeth Warren, Jon Stewart criticized the way in which the media portrays male and female politicians, and the fact that women are often seen as “too emotional” and therefore deemed unfit to do their job correctly or to hold powerful positions. To watch this video, click here.

New Hampshire state Rep. Will Infantine (R) explained yesterday that the pay gap between men and women stems from the fact that men work harder, take riskier jobs and are “more motivated by money” during a House speech Wednesday against the state’s paycheck equity bill. The negotiation for the Paycheck Equity Act in New Hampshire mimics our national discussion surrounding the pay gap. Read more about this sexist rhetoric here.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

"Why We Can't Strip Race Out of the Gender Wage Gap Conversation"

This week, Bryce Covert of The Nation wrote an op-ed entitled “Why We Can’t Strip Race Out of the Gender Wage Gap Conversation.” Here, Covert explains why race is often left out of the discussion surrounding the male-female wage gap that undeniably exists in this country. She writes, “In trying to figure out how much of the wage gap is discrimination and how much can be explained by other factors, nearly every statistician conducts regression studies that take measurable factors into consideration by holding them constant and seeing what’s left over...One of those constant factors is race.”

Covert argues that race is often left out because it ends up in the pile of “explained” factors; this is due to the nature of the studies often conducted to determine where the wage gap comes from. These studies attempt to compare the most similar men and women. Men and women who have homogeneous backgrounds, education, titles, positions, marital status, etc. Because the studies attempt to compare men and women on similar levels, they are also often comparing men and women of similar race. Thus, race becomes an “explained” and “controlled for” factor, when it is in reality a hugely discriminatory factor in the wage gap.

What concerns us is the discriminated status of women within this wage gap. This op-ed highlights our society’s ineffective response to women of color in the workplace: “There’s no objective explanation for why black women make less than white women. And when we divorce that fact from the larger conversation about the wage gap, we fail to challenge the fact that women of color are experiencing multiple forms of bias.”

With a new approach to wage gap studies and analysis, one that takes into account racial discrimination as well as gender inequality, effective reform can begin to take place, attitudes can change, and women of every race can feel the impact of parity in their workplace. The MWPC seeks to bring attention to discrimination of all forms while allowing women of all races to succeed in denying the status-quo wage gap.

Brittany Straughn
MWPC Intern

What We've Been Reading...

We hope you had a great week, everyone!
Unwind by catching up on what we have been reading...

A Californian woman intending to work through her pregnancy has been forced into unpaid leave by her employer, causing great financial strain for her and her family. Kimberley Erin Casselman of Pier 1 Imports informed the company of her pregnancy by giving a doctors note outlining her restrictions while at work. Pier 1 responded by first giving her only 8 weeks of light work, but shortly after put her on unpaid leave. Not only will she not be receiving any income before the baby is born, she’ll have exhausted her maternity leave before her due date. Caselman believes she is still fit to work and deserves the right to an income during the duration of her pregnancy.
This case illustrates why pregnant workers need better protection from discrimination on the job. Women are protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act; however, it does not include a clear mandate for how companies must accommodate them. A federal version of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act seeks to change this situation, but has failed to pass in the legislative process. Read more here.

In “pro-family” Phyllis Schlafly’s world, providing women with equal pay for equal work will inhibit them from finding a suitable husband. Schalfly’s comments come just days after Senate Republicans had the opportunity to finally close the pay gap between men and woman with the Paycheck Fairness Act, but blocked the act for the third time citing the bill, “would double down on job loss, all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers.”  Phyllis reasons that men prefer women who make less than them when considering a partner, and says that the best way to empower women, "is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap." After decades of progress in the fight for gender equality, this opinion has no place in 2014. It disparages women’s potential and refuses them the opportunity to be both successful in their professional careers as well as in their personal lives.

Women in the CIA have officially broken the glass ceiling: More than half of the agency’s employees are female, for the first time in history. Eight out of the top ten positions are now held by females, including the Deputy Director, Avril Haines, and Director of Intelligence, Fran Moore. Since the agency’s inception, it had traditionally been a “boys club,” but over the past 20 years there has been significant growth not only for females but also for minorities. CIA director, John Brennan, was quoted telling Ann Curry,  "Women make us better. Minorities make us better. People with diverse experiences make us better. I am so pleased to be able to look around the conference table in the morning and see individuals who represent the best of what this agency has to offer. And more and more of those faces are the faces of women." This progression is promising, and women everywhere should take it as a sign of their worth.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What We've Been Reading...

Happy Friday MWPC friends! We hope you have been enjoying the warm weather as much as we have. Here's a list of what we've been reading this week:

Keeping with his State of the Union promise to champion women's rights in the workplace, President Obama signed an executive order on Tuesday addressing the federal government's gender wage gap by penalizing pay secrecy . The order mandates that all federal contractors must publish wage data by gender and race, and also prohibits retaliation by contractors against employees who discuss and compare wages. This transparency would allow women to recognize pay inequity, and act without fear of retribution.

Many laud the President's efforts, but some say it isn't enough as the order only affects federal contractors and does nothing to protect female employees in the private sector. On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked a debate for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a proposed legislation that would add more safeguards protecting women in the private sector. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell's reasoning behind the filibuster is that the Paycheck Fairness Act would "double down on job loss, all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers."

U.S. Census Bureau data shows women who work full-time earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar men earn a year. Although the executive order signed by the President aids in this fight, persistent pay discrimination against women still exists in this country. Read more about the inequality here.

On a lighter note, Hillary Clinton showed us yesterday that she is quite agile, as she ducked from a thrown shoe, while delivering the keynote speech at a scrap recycling conference in Las Vegas. Clinton not only avoided the shoe, but tastefully laughed off the incident and moved on with grace. Shoes aren't the only thing Clinton is avoiding these days. She has yet to deliver a definite answer as to whether or not she will be running for President in 2016.

filibuster is that the Paycheck Fairness Act would “double down on job loss, all while 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Barbara Gray: Role Model for Female Lawmakers

          Former State Representative Barbara Gray passed away last Friday at age 87. Gray led an influential career on Beacon Hill well before the modern women’s movement for political parity began. In founding the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators, she was a huge driver behind the gender equality movement in government. Gray is remembered as being an “undaunted advocate for a range of social-service causes.”

          Gray’s passion for leadership and dedication to her personal goals while in office should serve as an example for all elected officials today. She represented Framingham in the State House of Representatives from 1973-1996. Representative Ellen Story, who served with Gray in the legislature, described her saying: “She wanted to go full-speed ahead on whatever the issue was.”

          Gray was a life-long advocate, beginning her career in Framingham as a leader on many issues. While working as a legislator, she spoke out about abortion rights, gay rights, protections for victims of abuse, conservation, and recycling legislation. Gray also wrote a biography, pictured above, “A Woman’s Ways and Means.”

          The MWPC would like to continue the work Gray began so many years ago. Our women in the legislature today can use Gray’s passion for change and advocacy as an inspiration to act passionately about their own set of issues. Thank you to Gray for all that she did in paving the way for women in politics; her efforts have a direct effect on the work we do today. Read more about Barbara Gray here.