Women Will Get It Done

Based on data from over a quarter-billion standardized tests, Stanford researchers have found that, across the country, girls perform about the same as boys in math – contrary to the tired stereotype.

However, in school districts that are rich, white and suburban, boys tend to outperform girls. The research suggests that this discrepancy is due to “local norms” that have a larger effect on boys than girls.

In every district in the data, however, girls performed better than boys in English. The study is “one of the most comprehensive looks at the gender gap in test scores at the school district level,” according to the New York Times’ Upshot. [The Upshot, 6/14/18]

Sexual harassment is derailing the careers of far too many women in science, engineering, and medicine. That’s the central message of a searing new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the prevalence of sexual misconduct in those fields.

The report estimates that half of women in science experience some form of harassment. “What is especially discouraging about this situation is that at the same time that so much energy and money is being invested in efforts to attract and retain women in science, engineering, and medical fields, it appears women are often bullied or harassed out of career pathways in these fields,” the report says. [Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/14]

On Friday, June 15th, The New York Times published several accounts that illustrate the kind of bias that exists today.

Take, for instance, the story of Erin Murphy, who had been praised for her work at Glencore, the commodity trading and mining company, until she became pregnant. Murphy says her boss told her that her career would “definitely plateau” because of her pregnancy. In another episode when Murphy asked about future career moves, she claims he told her, “You’re old and having babies so there’s nowhere for you to go.”

After being passed over for several promotions, Murphy has retained a lawyer and is planning to file a lawsuit. A Glencore spokesperson has defended the company as being “committed to supporting women going on and returning from maternity leave.”

The NYT’s piece shows that Murphy is not alone in her experience-as do EEOC statistics. The agency fielded 3,184 complaints of pregnancy discrimination last year-nearly double the number it received when it started keeping track electronically in 1992.

“There are 20 years of lab studies that show the bias [against pregnancy] exists and that, once triggered, it’s very strong,” Joan C. Williams, a professor at University of California Hastings College of Law, told the Times.

The Broadsheet writes a lot about breaking glass ceilings, but it’s vital to remember that many women don’t get that far; as Williams puts it, they’re “[hitting] the maternal wall” first. [New York Times, Business Day]

Women held only about 10% of the top executive positions (defined as chief executive officers, chief financial officers and the next three highest paid executives) at U.S. companies in 2016-17, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of federal securities filings by all companies in the benchmark Standard & Poor’s Composite 1500 stock index. And at the very top of the corporate ladder, just 5.1% of chief executives of S&P 1500 companies were women.

Nor do many women hold executive positions just below the CEO in the corporate hierarchy in terms of pay and position. Only 651 (11.5%) of the nearly 5,700 executives in this category, which includes such positions as chief operating officer (COO) and chief financial officer (CFO), were women. Although this group in general constitutes a significant pool of potential future CEO candidates, the women officers we identified tended to be in positions such as finance or legal that, previous research suggests, are less likely to lead to the CEO’s chair than other, more operations-focused roles. [PEW, 4/18]

Souad Abderrahim, a 54-year-old pharmacist from Tunisia’s moderate Islamic party, has been elected mayor of Tunis, the country’s capital. Abderrahim, who this story describes as “a former lawmaker and militant for women’s rights,” is the only woman ever to hold the position. [NBC News]

Among more than 7,000 female sales professionals, 57% reported receiving unwanted sexual advances or otherwise being harassed by clients. [National Assn. of Women Sales Professionals]

35% of employers said they had received harassment allegations in the past year. 19% of those who answered said the reports involved clients or other third parties. [Society for Human Resources, WSJ, 7/7-8/18]

64% of female writers of the Writers Guild of America West have encountered workplace sexual harassment. [Deadline, 7/26/18]

A new study from the Directors Guild of America looking at feature films released in 2017 that made over $250,000 found that only 12 percent of those 651 films were directed by women and only 10 percent of directors were people of color. It’s a pretty significant step back for minority directors; in 2013, 17 percent of directors were people of color. [David Ng, Los Angeles Times]