Friday, May 30, 2014

What We've Been Reading- May 30th

Please enjoy the first "What We've Been Reading" post from our summer interns!

In a similar vein to one of the articles explored in our last  post, this week a PolicyMic article titled “New Research Reveals The Troubling Reality Women Face After High School” further confirms the wage gap faced by women. In this research, the correlation between a high GPA and future earnings is studied, and the results are troubling. The findings from this research, conducted by a team at the University of Miami, shows that a female high school student who graduated with a 4.0 GPA is predicted to earn as much as a male high school graduate with a 2.0 GPA. Past high school, a female must receive a Ph.D. to earn as much as a man with a Bachelor’s Degree. This study also showed that although women begin their careers earning 93% of what males at the same level make, the gap only widens as women ascend the rungs of their career’s ladder. Clearly, the institutional inequalities women are subjected are evidenced by many factors, and the issue of gender discrimination must be confronted at multiple levels.
According to a Washington Post blog article, women aren’t projected to reach political parity until 2121. This assertion is based on a new report conducted by the non-partisan group Political Parity, which contains a survey with responses from 200 female participants whose careers are in politics. While there is no male statistic to provide a means of comparison, a lowly 18% of those female state legislators surveyed said that they would consider running for a higher office, even though they would certainly have the proper credentials. The previous statistic can perhaps be explained through examining the discriminatory challenges faced by women that were most cited in the survey. These were found to be political parties, legislative colleagues and peers, and the “old boys” political network. Perhaps most telling is a graph in the report depicting the representation of women in both Congress and in State Legislature. Although the number of women in State Legislature is still rising albeit at a slow pace, since approximately 2005, the number of female politicians in Congress has remained virtually the same.
The Association of Psychological Science recently published a study linking fathers’ involvement in household chores to their daughters’ future career ambitions, and Jezebel outlines this connection in a recently published article. In households where fathers completed a share of chores, their daughters were more likely to covet jobs in traditionally male dominated fields. Conversely, when mothers completed the majority of household tasks, their daughters were more likely to aspire to be stay-at-home moms, nurses, or other jobs in more traditionally female dominated career paths. Although this correlation doesn’t provide a definitive means by which to break down gender barriers, it provides interesting insight into subtle and everyday ways in which families can work to disintegrate these barriers. released the 100 Most Powerful Women in Politics celebrating a group of people that is often overlooked. 20 women were involved in  international politics and three of the top five women are politicians. German Chancellor Angela Merkel ranks first, a spot she has held for nine of the past ten years. Janet Yellen, new to the list, received the number 2 spot for her new position of Chair of the Federal Bank. Other women to note: First Lady Michelle Obama (#8), President of South korea Geun-hyke Park (#11), Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (#26), and Minister of International Cooperation and Development of the United Arab Emirates Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi (#55).

CNN and Time Magazine both covered the tragic story of Farzana Parveen, a 25 year-old woman from Pakistan, was killed in Lahore on May 27th, 2014. She was stoned to death by members of her family in an extremely public place - outside a courthouse - with a group of 20 people watching. The articles describe how she was murdered because she chose to marry the man she was in love with instead of marrying her cousin, who her family chose to be her husband. Her father made chilling remarks regarding the incident: “I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it” (TIME). Her death is considered an “honor killing” in Pakistani culture, which means she was killed because she brought shame upon her family. The “so-called honor killings often originate from tribal traditions in Pakistan, but are not a part of Islam” (CNN). Her death, therefore, represents a greater culture that allows for violence against women. Farzana Bari, a human rights activist, spoke to CNN and explained her opinion: “I think honor killing has nothing to do with religion; I think it’s all about patriarchy, it’s all about men control over women’s bodies, all about male domination in culture and tradition.” These articles offer insight into what her death really represents in terms of the disempowered position women in society.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


#YesAllWomen as a Strong Contribution to Feminist Efforts

The #YesAllWomen hashtag has sparked a huge movement on Twitter to recognize and discuss women's experiences of misogyny, including sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. Sparked by the comments and actions of 22 year-old Elliot Rodger, the gunman who killed six people in Santa Barbara on May 23rd, the hashtag has come to represent an ongoing effort to show our patriarchal society that yes, all women experience varying degrees of harassment and sometimes domestic violence, assault, and rape. Rodger was undoubtedly a misogynist who felt he deserved the love and sex of women just for being a man. Since he did not receive such, he believed that women were lesser beings who must be destroyed. Moreover, the men they did choose to be with should be destroyed too. In his 141 page manifesto, he explains that he will “punish” all the girls who are not attracted to him, and he will “take great pleasure in slaughtering” them. He also wrote, "Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with. That choice should be made for them by civilised men of intelligence." His comments reflect his extremely misogynistic attitude. While Rodger is an extreme case, he is representative of the society we live in that denies women the right to make their own choices and continues to ignore their everyday struggles. He is one more example of a prevalent rape culture within our country that “tolerates, trivializes, excuses, or even promotes rape” (Tufts ASAP).  
    The #YesAllWomen hashtag is a way for women to speak out about their experiences and to raise awareness about the female experience. While some men were surprised by the hashtag, confused by its prevalence on Twitter, or even hateful towards people using it, it has mostly received a strong, positive reaction. A main theme throughout the tweets is that while not all men are as extreme as Rodger, all women experience the negative effects that come from a society that disempowers women. Politicians and celebrities have been using the hashtag as well as thousands of others:

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    The hashtag also necessities a discussion about race and how the experience of women of different races greatly differs. Some women of color have been using the hashtag #YesALLWhiteWomen in order to show that white women do not have the same experiences or share the same stereotypes as WOC. However, when white women use #YesALLWhiteWomen, some WOC react negatively because they see this as white women utilizing their privilege to speak for a marginalized minority. In order to effectively discuss the womens issues, it is critical to understand how white women benefit from this white privilege and how their feminist narrative may be different from WOC, who cannot and should not be represented by white voices. It is also necessary to recognize the ways in which racism has existed in the history of feminism. Intersectionality must be recognized as an extremely important part of feminism and activism:

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    While it is certain that the #YesAllWomen hashtag will continue to thrive, there must be continued, united efforts from both women and men to combat misogyny within the country and around the world. This hashtag is a great step in a long process that will hopefully make tangible change in society.

Further readings:




Maya Angelou- a continuing inspiration

Maya Angelou; a continuing inspiration.


Maya Angelou passed away on May 28th in her home. She lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and was 86 years old.

Most famous for her 1969 New York Times bestseller novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou was one of the few African American women who had such success in literature in the 1970s. She was successful in spheres other than literature as well. She taught at Wake Forest University for 40 years, was nominated for a Tony for her performance in Look Away, and delivered countless lectures and interviews about life as a young, African American girl living under Jim Crow laws in Arkansas. Angelou dedicated her life to retelling her past, a narrative that used to be deemed unworthy of discussion. The great strides she has made in race and gender equality won her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian medal in the United States, in 2011.

Her six memoirs, all written before the age of 40, explore the effects of Jim Crow laws and structural racism on African American individuals. Her writing was influenced African American oral tradition, for she wrote in a lyrical yet lucid way. Angelou told a Los Angeles Times reporter,  "In my work, in everything I do, I mean to say that we human beings are more alike than we are unalike, and to use that statement to break down the walls we set between ourselves because we are different..." Her message of celebrating differences while treating each other as equals encourages all of us to be better citizens. She will continue to inspire through her books and poems.

It is imperative as a society we continue Angelou’s legacy by forgiving each other, an act of kindness Angelou repeatedly emphasized, and remembering that there is more to gain by acting in love and equality than hatred and segregation. In 1993 Angelou spoke at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration, acknowledging that America has come a long way since her youth, but still has so much more to do in promoting civil rights.

Here are some of Angelou’s inspiring quotations:

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude about it.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Friday, May 16, 2014

What We've Been Reading May 16, 2014

Happy Friday Everyone! Here is what we have been reading this week:

On Wednesday, the New York Times announced executive editor Jill Abramson would be leaving her post and would be replaced by Dean Baquet. The paper didn’t disclose a reason behind her departure, however the New Yorker is reporting Abramson found out she was paid significantly less than the former executive editor, Bill Keller. The New Yorker is also reporting she made less than a man who reported to her when she was managing editor. Immediately following the announcement, the media was fast to call Abramson “brusque” and “polarizing” but women at the paper admired her leadership qualities. This story highlights two issues affecting women across our country; penalization for demanding equal pay for equal work, and society’s
portrayal of women in high leadership positions against their male counterparts. Many women who reach the top are still paid less than their male peers. The highest paid female executives at S&P 500 companies still make 18 percent less than the men in these roles, on average. We hope successful women across all spectrums will stand up in a similar fashion as Abramson, and will push to change this inequality.

Speculation of presidential nominees for the 2016 election is already a main topic on multiple media outlets, and potential women candidates are no where to be found on the GOP roster. Republicans have failed to double their female ranks in the past three decades, while Democrats have six times the number representing them since 1980. This is a systematic problem in the GOP as studies have shown their outreach to women has been a weakness in elections mixed with a lack of qualified women running for state and federal legislature positions. The party currently has a  limited infrastructure that is designated to specifically recruit and support women. However many in the GOP believe that this is not enough. The party says they’re working to change this, but their progress has been stilted.Click here to learn more.  

According to The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, women who look more traditionally feminine have a better chance of being elected to political office. He claims that, "Whether a female politician was going to win or lose an election could be predicted within just 380 milliseconds after participants were exposed to her face." The outcome of this research is unfortunate and proves that voters place increased importance on the physical aspects of a woman in comparison to that of a man. Such a focus on normative femininity in American politics should stand as motivation for women everywhere to prove their worth through action instead of physical appearance.

We love this article from PolicyMic entitled “Dear American Women, You Are Being Lied To”. Zerlina Maxwell of PolicyMic debunks negative stigmas that surround women in our society and serve to limit their accomplishments. She explains that, “These pernicious inaccuracies have been perpetuated by a society still steeped in the sexism of years past. But better data and forward-thinking research, not to mention the examples set by women in countries around the world, are proving these stereotypes wrong. And it's high time we started paying attention.” We agree, and continue to work to prove that such impoverished ideas must come to an end.  

In International News, the Women of the Senate officially banded together  to help find the almost 300 missing Nigerian schoolgirls.  On Tuesday evening, all 20 female senators gathered for a private dinner with Secretary of State John Kerry during which, according to several present, they pushed to have the United Nations designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization and urged the State Department to consider assistance to the Nigerian government by providing a team of Special Forces to locate and rescue the girls; and to coordinate the search for the girls on an international front. We hope this bipartisan initiative is effective and helps to “Bring Back Our Girls.”  Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and we hope for their loved ones’ safe return.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

What we've been reading...

Happy Friday! Here’s a list of what we’ve been reading at MWPC this week:

Around 270 Nigerian girls remain in captivity in the hands of extremist group Boko Haram, after they were abducted on April 15th (exactly 24 days ago) from the school they attended. The Boko Haram group is extremely anti-Western, and have been classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. U.S. First lady Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, other world leaders and celebrities have declared their support for the girls through the use of the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. It is feared that if the girls are not rescued soon, they could be sold into the sex trade, or become child brides. Read more about this here.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to study the feasibility of creating a National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C. As ongoing efforts to expose women’s triumphs in the Capitol have been unsuccessful, Joan Wages claims that women, “have essentially been left out of the telling of our nation's history”. Also according to Wages, “In a survey of today's history textbooks, only one in 10 people in the texts are women. In national parks, less than 8 percent of the statues are women. Of more than 200 statues in the U.S. Capitol, only 15 women leaders are depicted.” To read more about the bill, go here.

The organization Planned Parenthood announced that they are endorsing Martha Coakley (D) for Governor of Massachusetts. The organization stated that Coakley is a, “tireless champion for women’s health” and that “Massachusetts can count on Martha to be a leader for health care access, family planning funding, and comprehensive sexuality education”. Read more about Planned Parenthood’s statements here.

As a way to help stay-at-home mothers return back to the workforce, ReacHIRE, along with Fidelity Investments, Panera Bread, Boston Scientific and other companies, has started hiring women for short-term projects as a way to help the women “freshen up” their work skills. The participating companies also benefit from these partnerships, since the  “return-to-work internships” participants have extensive professional experience. To read more about these internships, and the companies participating, go here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

What We've Been Reading...

Happy May MWPC friends! Here’s a list of what we’ve been reading this week:

After a studied presented earlier this year about sexual assault on college campuses, the White House has recently launched a nationwide campaign spreading awareness about sexual assault prevention. The statistic that one in five college females will be sexaully assaulted while in college has been used as a talking point the President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden many times. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler looks at where this statistic comes from in an article this week. Initially derived from the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study commissioned by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice, the data comes from a single study conducted at two large universities. The response rate of the surveys was very low and responses from seniors were kept separate from university responses as a whole. These results produced different statistics than those reported, but have been combined by public officials to create the one in five figure.

Time Magazine’s Jessica Bennett published an op-ed explaining why we need to stop worrying about emasculating men. Bennett explains the existence of, “Women who subtly downplay their accomplishments in order to protect their boyfriends’ egos.” She writes that this is a feminist by day, traditionalist by night mentality. Under thirty women who are accomplished, driven, and self-assured are “outearning” their male counterparts in every major city in America. This is nothing to be ashamed of or hide. No, woman should feel that she must downplay her achievements in order to maintain a healthy relationship. And yet, Financial Advisor and Journalist Farnoosh Torabi acknowledges this paradigm: “When a woman makes more than her man, the odds are stacked against her in many ways: she’s less likely to get married, more likely to be unhappier in marriage, and there are many psychological and sexual costs.” Hopefully, women in our society can push the traditional boundaries and bring their checks home with confidence.

This past Monday, Annette Bosworth, a GOP U.S. senate candidate for South Dakota caused controversy by associating “food stamps recipients to wild animals”. The candidate shared a “lesson in irony” where she criticized the logic of the food stamps program. She stated that since park rangers advise people not to feed animals because then the animals will not bother to look for food on their own, the same should be done about people. Read more about these statements here.

In a series of emails and text messages, American University students that are allegedly associated with an underground fraternity made their way onto an anonymous Tumblr page.  These messages discussed rape in graphic detail as well as how to keep their illicit behavior a secret.  The explicit nature of these text messages has caused widespread outrage.  In response, a group of women and men attend American University started a photo campaign calling for an end to rape culture on their campus and expressing why they need feminism. Click here to see this inspiring and thought provoking campaign.  American University is unfortunately not the only offender. Facing mounting pressure from lawmakers, sexual assault survivors and activists, the U.S. Department of Education on released a comprehensive list of colleges and universities under Title IX investigation. Fifty-five higher education institutions are currently under review for allegedly mishandling sexual assault and harassment on campus in violation of Title IX.  

Enjoy this weekend’s beautiful weather!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

W.H Releases Report on Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

White House Releases Report on Sexual Assaults on College Campuses
Just yesterday, April 28th, the Obama administration released a new 20 page report outlining the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, as well as, new steps to combat the issue. The project was conducted by a specialized White House task force called “Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault” geared towards opening college administrations eyes to the violence and bureaucratic injustice that has plagued young survivors across the country.
The report also launched a new website,, that provides victims with clear, easy-to-read information about their legal rights and description of how to file a complaint. The new White House report explains how the website “will help students wade through often complicated legal definitions and concepts, and point them toward people who can give them confidential advice — and those who can’t.” The report also contains a multitude of recommendations in how colleges can improve sexual assault prevention. The report mentions the implementation of campus wide surveys measuring students’ and administrations’ awareness of the issue, the promotion of ‘bystander intervention’, and the addition of new, trained first responders on college campuses.
Vice President Biden also released a statement to the Washington Post saying, “Colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye or pretend rape and sexual assault doesn’t occur on their campuses. We need to provide survivors with more support and we need to bring perpetrators to more justice and we need colleges and universities to step up.” The report was ultimately driven by the recent outrage that has arisen against some of the country’s most prestigious universities stemming from the lack of action and aid survivors have been given in their recovery and prosecution processes.
Just recently, an anonymous op-ed was released in the Harvard Crimson detailing a student’s horrific sexual assault experience and the school’s extremely outdated policy addressing sexual assault. Stories such as these have brought sexual assault to the center stage of the college reform. Since then, students across the country have launched campaigns at their colleges pressuring the administrations to adopt new sexual assault policies that include the hiring of a trained sexual assault responder dedicated to aiding students in the legal process.
The MWPC recognizes that sexual assault on college campuses is an issue that affects both men and women, and applauds the Obama administration for finally taking action in pressuring schools to adopt more progressive policies against sexual assault.
To read more about the Washington Post or Harvard Crimson articles follow the links below: