A new report is reiterating an already obvious fact: It's hard to be a woman in Washington, D.C.
Researchers at the Center for American Women in Politics and Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University interviewed 83 out of 108 women serving in the 2015-2016 Congress about how they view their roles as lawmakers and role models through the lens of their gender. In responding, some female policymakers shared especially frank feedback.
Sen. Susan Collins (R–Maine) commented on how women must meet a higher bar than their male counterparts:
“My experience has been, and sadly I think this is still true today, that when a woman is elected to the Senate, she still has to prove that she belongs there, whereas when a man is elected to the Senate, it’s assumed that he belongs here. I will say once you pass that first test … then you’re a member of the club. But I think there still is a barrier that men don’t face, and I think that’s true of Democratic women as well as Republican women.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D–Wis.) remarked on how looks matter more for female politicians:
“They still are more judgmental about women’s appearance than male appearance, [and these comments] are still … in abundant supply.”
And Rep. Kathleen Rice (D–N.Y.) said gender is seen as limiting the scope of a female lawmaker's work:
“I think the biggest challenge for a woman is not to be kind of painted into a corner of, okay, so you’re a woman, so you can care about these issues that are women’s issues.”
It's important to note that these interviews took place before the election of President Donald Trump, and it's safe to assume that the climate has not improved under a commander-in-chief who has derided women as "crazy" and responded to their criticism of him by insulting their looks.
But there is a positive message in the report; that despite the challenges they face, the lawmakers feel as though their unique perspectives have helped shape policy so it serves women as well as men.
“I believe that women look at issues differently than men do, and that’s just the way we are," said Rep. Diane Black (R–Tenn.) "We come at things in a different way, and since 52% of the population is female, it behooves us to make sure that we have a voice, a woman’s voice in the discussions.”
Britney v. Bibi
Britney Spears arrived in Tel Aviv this past weekend for a concert that, when announced in April, prompted the Israeli Labor Party to postpone its leadership vote so the balloting didn't conflict with her show. The pop star's visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem incited such a mob scene that Spears decided to skip an anticipated meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Her reps have stressed that the sit-down was not a done deal, and they're reportedly “furious” at the prime minister's team for implying that it was set in stone.
Going for broke
Lucinda Chambers worked at British Vogue for 36 years, including 25 as fashion director, until May when the magazine said she "stepped down." But in a new, remarkably candid interview, Chambers says she was fired by new editor in chief Edward Enninful and admitted to not having read the publication she worked for "in years." She said fashion magazines have "lost the authority they once had" and now feature clothes that are "irrelevant" because they are "so ridiculously expensive."
A fine line
In Liberia, local jurisdictions are threatening fines to entice pregnant women to give birth in a hospital, rather than at home, as a way to curb maternal deaths in the country where 725 women die for ever 100,000 live births. Local clinicians say they're seeing more women deliver in hospitals as a result, but some outside experts fear that the coercive measures will spark negative opinions of the health care system.
The U.S. Justice Department's compliance attorney Hui Chen has left her job because she felt she could not hold private companies to the same ethics standards the White House itself has failed to meet. "To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic," said the former Pfizer and Microsoft lawyer, who'd served in the compliance counsel office since November 2015.
Venezuela's voice of opposition
In the past year, Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega has re-invented herself, from loyal servant to unpopular president Nicolas Maduro to government opponent. Since the protests against the Maduro regime began earlier this year, she has become the single most potent voice speaking out against the government from within what's known as the “Chavismo,” the socialist movement founded by the country’s late leader Hugo Chávez.
Closing the death divide
Mothers in the U.S. are more likely to die during or shortly after childbirth compared to moms in any other developed nation, and it's largely African American women who are passing away. Black moms are three and a half times more likely to die in childbirth than white Americans. Vox explains how the state of North Carolina managed to close its racial gap in maternal deaths.
Standing up Down Under
A group of prominent figures in Australia's tech community released a statement on Monday in response to the industry's discriminatory and sexist attitudes that were on display in recent news reports, (most notably in the New York Times piece that revealed sexual harassment allegations against 500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure; he has since stepped down.) The Australian executives, many with close ties to Silicon Valley, called on the entire industry to take “a long hard look” at itself to “make it clear we do not condone sexual harassment in the Australian startup community."
In an op-ed on U.S. Independence Day, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D–Wash.) recalled her path to American citizenship and her journey to the House of Representatives, where she became the first Indian-American woman to serve. She also called on President Trump to remember America's history as a haven for immigrants. "What makes America great is our commitment to our values of inclusivity and opportunity for all," she wrote.
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"Let’s take a pledge all together to raise especially our sons in a way in which they’re going to respect their female colleagues, because until we get men’s help in this mission, it’s not going to change."
—Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson on combating sexist workplace culture.