February Roundup

In Politics

In what could have been a landmark year for women in politics, it seems there is still a gender imbalance across the U.S. political offices. Women candidates didn’t even win 25% of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats and the percentage of women legislators is stuck at 24.8 — with almost no change for the last decade.

A recent poll conducted even shows that an unnamed Democrat would beat Trump in the 2020 elections, but that a named woman wouldn’t.

The lack of women in politics isn’t just an American issue. Women in Russia and Asia are fighting a parallel struggle to make their voices heard. Despite the progress for women being made around the world, in some places it seems feminism is taking two steps back for every one forward. How the U.S. moves forward now also has an impact across the globe, with women as far as China joining the fight for equal rights.

This isn’t to say there are no women in politics, in fact female politicians have been a hot topic for a while now, but their role and representation as feminists is constantly up for debate. Even so, aspiring female politicians have a couple good examples to follow in the year ahead.

Takeaway: Feminism and politics have a love hate relationship, but it’s important to recognize the inspiring women who make it possible for future generations to follow in their footsteps despite the current political climate. 

In Business

Equal Pay

The website In Her Sight, which collects information and ratings on women’s work environments, released a study on workplace issues and equal pay was the biggest concern.  Equal pay surpassed flexible hours (28%) and promoting more women to senior leadership (14%) with 31.5%. This was a study of 5,000 working professionals.

Globally, the gender wage gap has been widening. It has now been estimated that it will take 170 years to close, which is 52 years longer than it’s estimated it would have taken only a year ago.

Politicians and others all over the world are fighting against equal pay and their arguments in many cases have been very dated, despite being made in the year of 2017. If equal pay happens, one vice chairman of the GOP in Utah said, “then men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families, which will mean more mothers will be forced to leave the home (where they may prefer to be) to join the workforce to make up the difference.” While that is true that some women may prefer to work at home, which is perfectly valid, that is not a realistic reason not to pay everyone equally. Families come in all forms, including single moms, same-sex couples, different races, etc. Men are not the main breadwinners in many cases. Women and other genders’ work is of no less value than men’s. Women are not less intelligent and too weak for equal pay, as one Polish lawmaker at the European Parliament argued. Women and any human being in general are not lesser beings then men.

While continued misogynistic views like this are disheartening, progress is still being made. Intel released a report saying that it has achieved 100% equal pay for all women and underrepresented minorities. When companies aren’t achieving equal pay themselves, in some cases the employees are stepping up. The leads of the Big Bang Theory are taking pay cuts so that their female co-stars can get raises.

Takeaway: Progress is uneven and that’s typical. Seeing equal pay identified as the biggest issue to many women, men, and other genders means that more time and energy will likely be allocated to fixing the problems.

In Science

Encouraging Women in Science

Two laws proposed by women in Congress to encourage women to pursue science and technology careers were signed into law by President Donald Trump. These laws are the “Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act” and “Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.”

The INSPIRE Women Act authorizes the head of NASA to support initiatives that will “encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics and to pursue careers that will further advance America’s space science and exploration efforts,” according to a White House statement.

Just as the first Latina in space, Ellen Ochoa is to be inducted into the astronaut hall of fame, girls now will also have LEGO characters of woman who played important roles in the U.S. space program. Among the women portrayed are astronaut Sally Ride, pioneering computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, and the first African American in space Mae Jemison.

Takeaway: Having representation and being able to identify with women in powerful positions and fields that have long been dominated by men is vital to encouraging more diversity and equality in science. Laws requiring that women be encouraged in fields and stopping the discrimination they are likely to face in those fields are important right now to get the way things are to change.

In Entertainment

The Oscars dominated the news cycles toward the end of February, so that even if you weren’t watching you were made aware of particularly important stories.

In another example of a man absolutely not having his career ruined by sexual assault allegations, Casey Affleck won the Oscar for Best Actor. As the icing on the cake for this particularly tense story, Brie Larson, known for speaking out against sexual assault, was the one to present him with the award…for the second time this award season.

Earlier in the month at the Maker’s conference, female celebrities expressed their frustration for the lack of change and equality in the entertainment industry. From type casting to racism, unequal pay to workplace harassment, the message was clear: there’s something wrong with Hollywood.

But it’s not all bad! After her Oscars win for her role in Fences, Viola Davis became the first black actor to achieve the entertainment hat trick: wining an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony for acting.

Takeaway: There may be something wrong with Hollywood, but there are more women speaking up about issues in the entertainment industry than ever. Hopefully these strong, unwavering women use their voices and actions to create real change. 

In Other News

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