Gender & Human Rights

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In male-dominated subjects, hiring favors women—for teachers in France


Few will dispute the enduring reality that women are underrepresented in many fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Gender discrimination in hiring at various academic levels is often put forward as a major reason, but recent studies have sparked controversy by suggesting that gender bias in male-dominated fields, in fact, favors women. Among the latest evidence going in that direction is a new study published in Science this week showing that, in France, the fewer female academics there are in a given field, the better chance women have of being hired as teachers in that subject. The hiring bias also seems to work in the other direction, though to a lesser extent, with aspiring male teachers being favored in fields traditionally dominated by women. However, the relevance of these results to academia and their generalizability to hiring processes in other countries are subject to some debate.

The hiring of teachers in France offers a unique, real-life setting to investigate the role of gender in skill evaluation. Every year, national subject-specific competitions are held at two levels—for teacher candidates to work at a middle or high school, or to gain the highest-level agrégation qualification to work in a high school, college, or university—to determine who will be offered a teaching position. Candidates are evaluated first by written exams, then oral ones. The identities of the candidates, and thus their genders, are only disclosed during the oral phase. Therefore, by measuring how candidates rise or fall in the rankings between the written and oral exams, the researchers could assess how knowing candidates’ genders affected their scores.

One of the main conclusions of the paper, co-authored by Thomas Breda and Mélina Hillionof the Paris School of Economics, is that in fields as diverse as mathematics, physics, economics, and literature, there is no evidence of discrimination against the underrepresented gender. “We rather find that the gender in minority is increasingly favored” during teacher hiring as the level of underrepresentation in academic faculty positions increases, the authors write in a joint email to Science Careers.

In male-dominated fields such as math, physics, and philosophy, the bias worked in favor of women: The hiring advantage gained by female candidates between the written and oral exams was equivalent to an average of 10% of female candidates overtaking all the men. Meanwhile, there was a subtler yet opposite bias at play in female-dominated fields such as literature and foreign languages, equivalent to 2 to 6% of the male candidates overtaking all the women between the written and oral phases. In most fields close to gender equity, including history and literature, no bias against either gender was found. The highest-level biology exam is however an exception, as female candidates faced a ranking loss of 4% compared to males, even though women represent around 46% of academic faculty in this field in France.

The findings are most directly relevant to aspiring middle and high school teachers, but they are also applicable to those pursuing academic research careers, the authors argue. In France, about a quarter of the candidates who pass the highest-level agrégation exam join colleges and universities, where they are hired primarily to teach but are also allowed to conduct research or prepare Ph.D. theses, the authors explain in their email. This is not the traditional entry route for French assistant professors, but a significant number of Ph.D.-holders take the exam to secure full-time teaching positions at universities while waiting to win assistant professorships. Having an agrégation can also improve aspiring academics’ career prospects in some fields, which makes the results more broadly relevant to academia, the authors argue in their paper. “The main message for female students is that they can enroll in the academic tracks traditionally dominated by men without strong fear of discrimination,” they write in their email.

Some however feel that the results aren’t as clearly applicable to academia as the authors are making them out to be. “[T]he authors did a lot of serious number-crunching and came up with some intriguing findings,” says psychologist Virginia Valian of Hunter College in New York City. But the hiring processes and prestige of high school teachers and university faculty members in France are not the same, and a stronger distinction should have been made throughout the article, Valian adds. The fact that only a minority of agrégation-holders go on to an academic career is “a serious limitation to the study.”

Social scientist Kim Weeden, director of the Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell University, sees another limitation: generalizability to other countries. “In the United States, for example, hiring into professorial positions is based on very local and non-standardized evaluations of candidates’ publications and scholarly potential, teaching record and teaching potential, ‘fit’ with the department, and so forth. Patterns of test scores on standardized exams in France just can’t tell us much about hiring in these systems,” she writes in an email to Science Careers. Even so, Weeden praises the study’s “very rigorous, creative analysis of a unique and high-quality data set.”

The findings are nonetheless in line with recent controversial studies based in the United States. Among them was a 2015 study that found, based on faculty member evaluations of fictitious job candidates, that women are favored 2 to 1 for tenure-track positions in engineering, biology, and psychology. One of the authors of that paper, developmental psychologist Stephen Ceci of Cornell University, thinks the new findings are encouraging for women pursuing STEM. “Young people, particularly young women, should be heartened by these findings because it goes against the common narrative that says the deck is stacked against them from being hired as entry-level professors,” he writes in an email to Science Careers. (Ceci gave Breda and Hillion feedback on their manuscript before submission but otherwise does not collaborate with them.) “If anything, the data reveal that the fields in which they are most underrepresented are the very ones that desire them most. If bias is at work, it is bias in their favor, not against them.”

Valian sees it somewhat differently. “Do their findings suggest that women are going to benefit by being badly represented in a field? Hardly. The authors have to wonder why women continue not to be well represented in math, physics, and philosophy, in universities and research institutes. If the exams are picking those women out at higher levels, why don’t we see them succeeding more?”

The new data don’t provide much insight into the underlying factors behind the skewed hiring. It could be, for example, that rather than reacting to gender underrepresentation across different fields in academia—which, the authors argue, reflects societal stereotypes—examiners were simply trying to redress gender imbalances they saw in the applicant pool, or even in past exam winners. This is unlikely to be the case, however, the authors argue in their paper, because many of the exams were close to parity both among candidates and past winners. The most plausible explanation, they continue, is that examiners were trying to counteract gender stereotypes.

Weeden however thinks that the authors “are a bit too hasty” in concluding an evaluator bias, as “the various checks that they offer against other interpretations aren’t as convincing as the general pattern of results,” she says. In particular, the oral exams seem to be designed to test pedagogical skills as well as subject knowledge, she notes, so one alternative explanation could be that “the very select group of women who pass the written tests in math are better than the very select group of men who pass those tests at explaining complex math concepts, [a scenario in which] they [would] also rank higher on the oral exams in math.”

To help address the continued underrepresentation of women in many fields in academia, in their paper Breda and Hillion call for implementing policies to counteract stereotypes and discrimination at early stages before educational choices are made, and spreading the message to female students that they have equal or even better chances to succeed as teachers and academics in fields where women are the minority—which is an approach that Ceci agrees is the right one. “By forcing the argument back to earlier in development, Breda and Hillion’s results demonstrating that women are not discriminated against in exam scoring and, in fact[,] are advantaged … suggest that hiring-point policies—such as mandating gender sensitivity training for members of hiring committees, or a certain portion of members must be women—are missing the point,” he writes.

But Weeden is only partially convinced. She agrees with the recommendation to counteract stereotypes at early ages, which is consistent with a substantial body of sociology research, including some of her own work, “show[ing] that by early high school, significantly more young men than young women plan to enter engineering, math, and other male-dominated STEM occupations,” she says. But “even among students who show an early commitment to science-related careers, who score well on standardized math exams, and who take high-level math and science courses, young women are much more likely than men to drop out—or be pushed out—of educational pathways that would lead to high-level science careers,” she continues. “Understanding the educational decisions that kids make early in their lives is important, but it’s certainly not the only life stage at which social processes can lead to women’s underrepresentation in science-related occupations.”

Curt Rice, president of Oslo and Akershus University College and head of Norway’s Committee on Gender Balance and Diversity in Research, takes a harder line. On the one hand, he welcomes this large-scale study from France, noting that it is “important to counter the US-dominance of subject pools in this kind of research,” he writes in an email to Science Careers. Also, “[s]tudies which look at significant quantities of ‘real data’ instead of simulations are important and interesting, even though they necessarily will have more variables that have not been controlled for.” But the authors’ recommendation “to bright young women … to study fields in which women are underrepresented … [is] vapid,” he continues. “The test results they discuss tell us nothing about the experience women have in the classroom or workplace when they are severely underrepresented. Of course, I want bright young women to choose STEM subjects, too, but the nuances of the French exam grading system seem to get overplayed in this advice.”


By          :               Elisabeth Pain

Date       :               July 29, 2016

Source    :               Science Magazine

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Earning Less Money Isn’t A Choice That Women Just Make


The pay gap is a complicated cultural stew.

Women don’t choose to make less money than men. But that’s often the criticism leveled when we talk about the gender pay gap, or the fact that women, on average, make only 79 cents for every dollar a man earns.

The argument typically is: Women look for work in lower-paying professions, so of course they make less than men.

Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, has heard that claim a lot since she published research showing that women earn $4 an hour less than men right out of college. Gould and EPI researcher Jessica Schieder published a paper on Wednesday explaining why the pay gap has little to do with real choice.

“People were not understanding the full picture,” Gould told The Huffington Post.

It’s true that many women do not pursue higher-paying jobs in engineering or science ― fields that are dominated by men. But that’s not the main reason the pay gap exists. In fact, 68 percent of the gap can be explained by the fact that women make less than men within the same occupations, as Gould and Schieder note.

“Leaving aside the fact that women’s career choices are shaped by gender norms and expectations, the fact is that most of the gender wage gap can be explained by the fact that women, on average, are paid less than men in the same occupation,” Gould said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Female doctors, for example, earn $51,000 less than male doctors on average, a study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

A few enlightened companies are looking at their payrolls to determine if there’s a problem. Recently, the software company Salesforce found a pay gap among its employees and spent $3 million to rectify it. A few other firms have published the results of internal audits. Amazon recently said that it pays women and men equally, though it didn’t explain how it arrived at that conclusion.

Other industries aren’t so forthcoming. The union that represents reporters at The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that women at the paper make 87 cents for every dollar a man earns there. Though the company has pledged to address the problem, there’s been no action announced yet on this front.

“A company can look at their policies, but the vast majority are not,” Gould told HuffPost. “That’s an easy solution but it’s not happening.”

Of course, there’s more to the gap. Women and men do tend to get steered toward certain educational and professional paths. More men than women become engineers, for example, and more women than men choose social work. Those decisions, Gould and Schieder write, are influenced by cultural forces that cry out for further examination.

For example, at a very young age girls are often steered away or discouraged from pursuing math and science. It happens at toy stores where science kits are stocked in the boys’ aisle, and in classrooms where girls receive less attention than boys and teachers underestimate their female students.

Even if women do make it into the higher-paying tech industry later on, they often feel alienated from a male-dominated culture.

One 2008 study found that 63 percent of women who work in science, tech and engineering experience sexual harassment. Women leave these industries at higher rates than men.

“Decisions women make about their occupation and career do not happen in a vacuum,” Gould and Schieder write. “They are also shaped by society.”

The authors also point to a recent study showing that once women do enter a field, wages in that profession actually tend to fall.

When women come onto the scene, “it just doesn’t look like it’s as important to the bottom line or requires as much skill,” Paula England, a sociology professor at New York University, told The New York Times earlier this year. “Gender bias sneaks into those decisions.”

But wait ― there are yet more layers baked into this cake. Because domestic responsibilities are still overwhelmingly coded as female, women often have to work the equivalent of two jobs ― acting as caregivers of children or elderly relatives while also working for an actual salary. That puts them in a bind when it comes to taking on work that demands long hours.

This, in part, helps to explain why there are so few female partners at prestigious law firms and in demanding fields like investment banking. And even at the highest levels of business, women’s salaries tend to suffer more than men’s when times are tough.


By          :               Emily Pleck

Date       :               July 21, 2016

Source    :               Huffington Post

Posted in Gender and Human Rights, Latest Post | Leave a comment

Gender Policing in Academe


I have graduate school to thank for the years of tension between my queer gender identity and the norms and expectations of academe, writes Eric Anthony Grollman.

Now 31 years old, I am still struggling to figure out my gender identity. I knew by age 5 that I was unlike other boys, even declaring to my mother that I should have been born a girl. I came out as bisexual as a senior in high school, then gay in my freshman year of college. With exposure to feminist and queer theories and activism in college, I found a more fitting identity — queer — to reflect my own sense of gender and attraction to masculinity broadly defined (no matter others’ bodies or sex).

But I have graduate school to thank for my stepping back into the closet, at least in terms of my gender identity and expression — and for nine years of wrestling with the tension between my queer gender identity and the masculinist norms and expectations of academe.

Sociology became a woman-dominated discipline — at least in terms of degrees awarded — before I ever became a sociology major in college. In 2012, women were close to half or more of the faculty in two-thirds of sociology graduate programs in America, representing huge growth over the previous decade. (I imagine this number is much lower for women sociologists at the associate and full professor levels. And gender equity may have stalled, or even reversed, with the over representation of women among adjunct professors.) But in 2012, only 22 percent of graduate departments had more than one-quarter of their faculty specializing in the sociology of gender – and the same number making a genuine commitment to women scholars and the sociological study of gender.

In my own graduate training, I found even some of the faculty members who specialized in gender did not encourage research in this area. The discouragement seemed strongest for those planning to use qualitative methods (too “touchy-feely”), feminist and queer lenses (too “activisty”), and feminist or gender studies approaches (too interdisciplinary). Despite commendable representation of (cis)women in my department and the discipline more generally, I learned that many (men) sociologists appear to hate women and see masculinity as central to good scholarship.

In reading A. W. Strouse’s essay criticizing the inherent heterosexism and queerphobia of American graduate education, I finally realized that I am not alone in struggling with the white heteromasculinist under- and overtones of my graduate training. As Strouse aptly points out, professional (re)socialization of graduate school is centrally a task of eliminating passion, love, creativity and originality from would-be scholars’ lives — or at least presenting ourselves as detached, subdued, conforming — that is, “professional.”

In our writing, we were discouraged from “flowery,” verbose and creative prose, instead getting to the point concisely and speaking with unwavering authority. In fact, it is best to avoid writing in the first person at all costs so as to present arguments as taken-for-granted truths, rather than offered by an individual scholar. There is a reason why the feminist scholarly practice of being transparent about one’s social location never caught on in mainstream sociology; seemingly objective research is the highest form of inquiry, and everything else is suspect.

Masculinist authority was equally valued in how one presents one’s research in workshops, talks and conferences. As one grad school professor warned me, “none of this ‘shy guy’ stuff” — scholarly presentations were not actually spaces to present incomplete projects or uncertainty. (And don’t even think about attempting to shirk male privilege by rejecting an authoritative tone and presence!) Whatever it means to be a “shy guy” was seen as distracting at best, or antithetical to my scholarship at worse. I could not help but assume that this professor’s comment was a more polite way of telling me to “man up.” And, upon comparing notes with a cis gay man in the program, I learned that the professor had, indeed, a reputation for telling queer men students to “man up.” Perhaps I had been pegged as too sensitive for the harsher, more offensive version of this advice.

I have wrestled, more generally, with the demand to strip away all emotion. Well-meaning friends and colleagues have criticized me for becoming increasingly more angry as I present at conferences, that my own rage about oppression and the detriment it has on the health of oppressed individuals is inappropriate for an academic setting. I learned to stop pounding my fist on the podium, but I have not quite mastered the stiff upper lip. Showing emotion is weak; a true scholar would never be so personally invested in the plight of marginalized communities.

To my surprise, the devaluation of femininity is not limited to the erasure of feminine expressions in academics who were assigned male at birth. I have witnessed the policing of femininity in cisgender women academics, even those who are femme presenting.

For example, two weeks in a row in my Preparing Future Faculty course, the cis woman professor chastised cis women students for their “feminine” and “girly” behavior. I agree that beginning a presentation or conversation by apologizing in advance for subpar quality or ideas only serves to undermine what one has to say. But I found it quite troubling that a woman professor so openly, publicly and forcefully berated these women students for their feminine presentation of self, especially in a mixed-gender class. Perhaps a private conversation, wherein the professor could talk more at length about her concerns about the sexist ways in which women scholars are received in the academy, would have been better and less offensive. But, then again, this is the same professor who interrupted my own presentation to ask, “Oh, we haven’t beaten the activist out of you yet?” Clearly, academic training is about beating graduate students into submission and conformity.

I have heard women friends and colleagues note the related practice of rewarding masculinity in women in academe. Short hairstyles and masculine attire appeared to be much more common among my grad department’s most successful women faculty. The more assertive you could be, the better. The more you could do to reject your femaleness and femininity, the more successful you could be in the academy. Women who insisted on having children should calculate pregnancy just right so that they could “pop one out” during a break in the school year. I am often shocked by how openly academics and academic institutions attempt to regulate women scholars’ reproductive choices and sex lives. Some women academics are complicit, unapologetically giving advice to “keep your legs closed,” delay motherhood as long as possible or forgo it all together.

It has taken me three years post-Ph.D. to recognize the role my graduate education has played in stalling my gender journey. I entered the program beginning to embrace a genderqueer identity and reject the restrictive category of “man.” In a different life, I might be well on my way to rocking stylish, colorful outfits, being as fab as I want to be, or at least much more comfortable in my unique skin. But, in this life, I have to first recover from the damage of my graduate training to my sense of self.

I have only recently reclaimed a genderqueer identity, now finding “nonbinary” to better describe who I am as a gendered being. I have slowly dropped the suit and tie as a protective shield and begun to slowly come out publicly as kind of, sort of trans. Another path to my own liberation sadly entails rejecting the femmephobia, queerphobia and transphobia of the academy. Embracing an authentic gender identity and expression entails reconceptualizing what it means to be a scholar. (Why are the two intertwined in the first place!)

No advice to offer to others just yet — my apologies for that. But I hope that more of us will acknowledge, critique and resist the ways in which academe polices the gender presentation of scholars.

Eric Anthony Grollman is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Richmond and the editor of “Conditionally Accepted.” Their research investigates the impact that prejudice and discrimination have on the health, well-being and worldviews of oppressed communities, particularly those who hold multiple marginalized identities (e.g., LGBTQ people of color).


By          :               Eric Anthony Grollman

Date       :               July 29, 2016

Source   :     

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Millions of Women Take A Long Walk With A 40-Pound Water Can


A few years back, while working in Benin, environmental health specialist Jay Graham saw an elderly woman in line at a pump to get water. She looked far too old to carry the water home herself, so he was relieved to see other people helping her — until he realized they were just making sure she had successfully balanced the 40-pound can on her head.

In parts of the world without running water, people must rely on an alternative: walking [to] water.

It’s a physically demanding, time-consuming responsibility and one that almost always falls to females, according to Graham. He and his colleagues from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University have published a new study in PLOS ONE looking at data from 24 sub-Saharan African countries. They found that in all of the countries, in households where a family member had to spend more than 30 minutes to collect water, the primary collectors were women, ranging from 46 percent in Liberia to 90 percent in Cote d’Ivoire. When the chore is a kid’s job, there’s still a major gender gap: 62 percent for girls versus 38 percent for boys.

The research uncovered that in these countries, there are an estimated 13.54 million women (and 3.36 million children) who are responsible for water collection trips that take 30 minutes or longer.

That so many people, particularly children, shoulder this burden is what distresses Graham. “The scale of the problem really sinks in,” he says.

And it highlights the fact that it’s not just the quality of water that’s at issue. The Millennium Development Goal to boost the population with access to safe drinking water was met in 2012. But focusing on safety wasn’t enough, Graham says. “You also can’t be spending crazy amounts of time collecting this water,” he says.

It all starts with who is doing the job. “That’s typically an adult woman, above 15,” Graham says. Because of widespread gender inequality, he explains, females are saddled with most of the unpaid chores.

To collect the water, she likely carries a jerry can, a bright yellow plastic container that was originally filled with cooking oil. It’s been cleaned out and then repurposed for water storage. If it’s full, it holds 5 gallons and weighs about 40 pounds, Graham explains. In many places in sub-Saharan Africa, the woman is probably just holding the can and not using a wheelbarrow or a barrel that could be rolled home.

People ask Graham why more women collecting water don’t simply pick one of these less taxing methods. It’s because they can’t, he explains. “It’s usually uneven terrain” with obstacles along the way, he notes.

The path to the water source may change frequently, adds Ben Crow, a sociology professor at the University of California Santa Cruz, who has researched the intricacies of water collection in Kenya. For one study, he placed GPS units on jerry cans to learn where and how far from home women traveled.

Before setting off, a woman must figure out which pump she can visit to actually acquire water on that particular day, Crow says. There are seasonal shortages and rations that may complicate this decision — and lengthen the trip. “In times of scarcity, the journey time can be quite long. They may spend half an hour coming there and another half hour back,” he says.

Once a woman gets to a water source, she can expect to spend even more time waiting in line. When there’s just a single hand pump, progress is slow. It’s common to leave a jerry can to hold your spot, says Graham, who has seen rows of them stretching out for many feet. If the woman lives close enough, she may return home to do domestic chores. If not, she may just hang out.

Then comes the hard part: taking the water home.

Crow picked up a full jerry can once. “I could just about get it on my head,” he says. “Could I walk with it? No.”

As for Graham, he has lifted a few cans to feel the weight, but that’s it. “It’s hard work,” he says. “If I go backpacking, I can’t go very far with 40 pounds.” And, he adds, he’s a full-grown man who has never gone hungry. Many of the women and girls who regularly carry water are living in poverty.

Long walks with such a heavy load take their toll, notes Jo-Anne Geere, a lecturer at the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia. She has also never hauled a jerry can. As a physiotherapist, she treats neck and back problems, “so I don’t fancy creating my own,” she says.

In her work examining the health implications of water collection in South Africa, Geere has found that carrying these heavy loads on one’s head is associated with a particular pain pattern, with discomfort in the upper back and hands and an increased risk of headaches. (She’s still studying why, although she suspects it’s because of the compression of discs in the neck.) In one survey she collected data from six villages; 69 percent of participants reported spinal pain, and 38 percent complained of back pain.

It’s not necessarily a single trip for water each day that’s causing these consequences. Depending on the size of the family and the household’s needs — like laundry, for instance — women may make this trip multiple times on the same day. If water is available only during a certain window, “they rush, and can’t pace,” Geere says.

Even if a woman finishes her water collection duties without aches and pains, there’s a good chance she’s exhausted, Crow adds. And there are still plenty of other domestic tasks on her to-do list. There usually isn’t enough time to finish it all by bedtime, he says, which is why women often sleep less than men. “There is evidence that women may sleep fewer hours than men in response to the time demands of their various tasks,” he says.

He notes that reducing the time required for water collection has been found to boost women’s economic activity. (One told him that after she had a tap in her home, she was freed up to go to job interviews.)

What Graham hopes people take away from his analysis is that these lengthy water collection times have real impacts on individual lives — typically, the lives of women and girls — and it’s important that they’re considered when measuring progress in access to safe water.

Geere often thinks about one woman she encountered during her research in South Africa. They met at a spring, and Geere asked if she could accompany her — and three kids, ages 9, 8 and 4 — home. The 20-minute walk “was very steep and slippery,” recalls Geere, who was surprised when they were greeted by the woman’s husband and a 3-month-old baby. As the woman explained that she was nursing, another two babies appeared.

“This woman had triplets and was trying to fetch water for her whole family,” Geere says. “She was managing it, but she said, ‘I get incredibly tired.’ I said, ‘Of course you do.’”


By            :               Vicky Hallett

Date         :               July 9, 2016

Source     :               WPSU Penn State



Posted in Gender and Human Rights, Health, Latest Post | Leave a comment

Beyond Orlando Shooting: Homicides of LGBT And HIV-Affected People Rose 20% In 2015, Study Finds


After the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend, many have noted that it was one of the worst mass shootings in American history and have called for stronger gun control and counterterrorism efforts. But as horrific as this incident was, it’s just the latest in a rising tide of killings of LGBT people.

Killings of LGBT and HIV-affected people in the United States have risen 20 percent since 2014, according to a report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs this week. The study found 24 reported hate violence homicides in 2015, making last year the deadliest since 2012.

In Orlando, 49 people were killed and 53 wounded before dawn Sunday morning. Even if no other attacks on LGBT people take place this year, the tragedy would make the 2016 figures 100 percent higher than those in 2015, as the Guardian noted.

Identity played a large part in who was targeted, according to the report. People of color, transgender and gender-nonconforming people made up a majority of the victims of hate violence. Of the 24 reported homicides, 62 percent were people of color and 67 percent were transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals.

The most vulnerable group was transgender women of color, who made up 54 percent of the homicides. While transgender people have become more visible in mainstream media and pop culture in the past few years with figures like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, they have also experienced a sharp increase in violence. Last fall, the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group, released a report showing that more transgender people were killed in 2015 than any other year on record.

Among people who survived hate violence, the NCAVP report found that people of color were twice as likely to experience physical violence as their white peers, and undocumented immigrant survivors were four times more likely than other survivors to experience physical violence.

The report likely represents a low estimate of the violence against LGBT people across the country. The NCAVP collected its data from 13 member organizations in 12 states and used information from public sources or directly from survivors.

FBI hate crime statistics can show a larger number of incidents based on prejudice, the Guardian reported. In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, 1,248 people in the U.S. — or 18.6 percent of all hate crime victims — were targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, the NCAVP report also notes that low reporting rates can affect the reliability of any hate crime statistics. Just 41 percent of LGBT and HIV-affected people who experienced hate violence reported the incident to law enforcement in 2015, down from 54 percent in 2014. Overall, the trends in the report show that the U.S. has not made progress in stopping anti-LGBT violence over time. The number of homicides has fluctuated over the years, but in 2006, the number of killings was 10 — less than half of what it was last year.


By            :               Abigail Abrams

Date         :               June 15, 2016

Source     :               International Business Times



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Rings fall apart


Official statistics vastly understate Nigeria’s divorce rate

JOSEPH ADUWO reckons he is well shot of his spouse. “My wife…fought with nine persons in a day on our street, wearing only bra and underpants. She is a shameless streetfighter,” he told a Lagos court. It duly dissolved their union.

Official statistics suggest that divorce is exceedingly uncommon in Nigeria. Just 0.2% of men and 0.3% of women have legally untied the knot, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. And well under 1% of couples admit to being separated. Yet such counts exclude the vast majority of Nigerians, whose traditional marriage ceremonies are not governed by modern law, says Chief Robert Clarke, a barrister.

In the mostly Muslim north of the country, men may take up to four wives (so long as they obey the Koranic injunction to treat all equally). Often the younger wives are not yet 18. When a husband wants to trade one of his spouses for a younger model, he need only repeat the words “I divorce you” three times to be freed. In 2008 one pensioner split from 82 of his 86 partners to put himself back on the right side of Islamic law.

Regardless of what the Koran says, politicians in Kano, the north’s biggest city, think divorce is breeding “vices in society”. One former governor came up with an innovative solution. In 2013 he married off 1,111 widows and divorcees in a public ceremony costing just under $1m. Another 2,000 brides were lined up by the state government for marriage late last year.

Couples also marry young farther south, but women there tend to be a little more empowered. Olayinka Akanle, a professor of sociology at the University of Ibadan, reckons that when things fall apart they demand separations more readily than in the north. For instance, one Lagos wife had her marriage dissolved on the basis that her drunken husband confused their cooking pots with the toilet. Another woman complained that her banker spouse spent too long stuck in traffic (hardly his fault, he might reasonably claim; Lagos jams are awful).

Other deal-breakers include a wife’s failure to bring cooking utensils from her father’s house. “How will a woman get married without a grinding stone?” her husband lamented. One woman filed for divorce having found her husband to be rather too well endowed. And a trader complained that his wife was not as buxom as he had thought. “I detest those small-size boobs,” he said after a disappointing three months. “It is better to end the marriage.”


Date         :               July 9, 2016

Source     :               The Economist


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U.N. council creates watchdog for LGBT rights


The top human rights body of the United Nations voted on Thursday to appoint an independent monitor to help protect gay and transgender people around the world from violence and discrimination.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, creates an “independent expert” charged with identifying the root causes of violence and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and then talking with governments about ways to protect them.

The resolution that passed was the United Nations’ most overt expression of gay rights as human rights, and is considered a milestone.

The vote on the 47-member council passed only narrowly, with 23 nations in favor, primarily from Europe and Latin America. Though that was not a majority, six countries abstained, including India, South Africa and the Philippines. The 18 votes against it came from Russia, Africa and most of the Muslim countries on the panel. Albania was the only member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to favor creating an envoy for LGBT issues. The seats periodically rotate, and the United States currently does not sit on the council.

In a bow to the sensitivities of those countries where homosexuality is widely frowned upon, the resolution had a last-minute amendment added noting that “the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind.” Nevertheless, it adds, “It is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Randy Berry, the State Department’s Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, called the decision historic, but expressed disappointment that opponents had succeeded in adding wording suggesting LGBI rights may be a cultural imposition.

“It diminishes very slightly something extraordinary that happened,” he said in an interview. “As we look at what motivates that kind of objection, it’s a misplaced fear that the intent of creating an independent expert is to condemn or criticize. All along, it was clear the dialogue is to be informative, a resource for all countries, including our own, to get better on LGBTI issues.”

The resolution was put forward not by the United States but by several countries in Latin America — Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Uruguay. Latin America has some of the world’s most advanced legal protections for gay and transgender people.

Though the resolution was being prepared before the June 12 massacre in a gay nightclub in Orlando, some human rights activists said they thought the mass shooting played a role in propelling the Human Rights Council resolution forward.

The U.N.Security Council condemned the Orlando shooting in a statement that made headlines because for the first time the body had specifically mentioned sexual orientation as a factor, saying 49 victims they had been targeted because of who they are.

“Orlando became part of the conversation around the resolution,” said Jessica Stern, executive director for Outright Action International, a U.S.-based human rights group. “I think it caused some governments on the fence to stop and take their decision much more seriously. You can’t keep your head in the sand after what happened at the Pulse nightclub.”

Under the resolution that passed, all the members of the United Nations are expected to cooperate with the expert, like the experts who already exist to investigate human rights abuses in countries or around themes. The countries are asked to facilitate the expert’s visits, and consider any recommendations that are made.

Shawn Gaylord, an advocacy counsel with Human Rights First, said the position has symbolic and practical value.

“It makes clear that LGBT rights are human rights,” he said. “That’s an essential part of the U.N. moving forward. On a practical level, there are resources that will flow and more staffing for LGBT issues to be researched, reviewed and recommendations made.”

Gaylord said an expert can find room for common ground, even in countries where gay and transgender people face social ostracism.

“If you’re talking about whether LGBT people should be protected from violence, a lot of countries would speak up for that,” he said. “Some countries are more challenging than others. But there’s always room for debate.”

Homosexual activities are illegal in 70 countries, 10 of which treat it as a capital offense.


By            :               Carol Morello

Date         :               June 30, 2016

Source     :               The Washington Post

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How Men Can Pay a High Price for Taking a Part-Time Job


For unemployed men, taking a part-time job may be nearly as damaging to their future career prospects as simply staying home.

David Pedulla, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, sent out thousands of fake resumes to test how gender and work history affected callbacks by potential employers looking to interview the simulated job candidates. He found that women in part-time jobs were more than twice as likely to get a callback as were men in part-time jobs. In fact, part-time male workers fared only a little better than unemployed men.

When it comes to part-time work, there appear to be “penalties for men that are as strong as the penalty for unemployment, while for women we see no penalty,” Mr. Pedulla said.

An estimated one in six U.S. workers lost a job during the recession years of 2007, 2008 and 2009, and unemployment remained stubbornly high even years into the economic recovery. A growing body of research indicates that the financial and psychological damage from a period of joblessness can be significant and long-lasting, especially for people who remain out of work for an extended period.

The health of the U.S. labor market has improved in recent years. But there are more variables involved in finding a job than just the unemployment rate.

Mr. Pedulla’s research, published this spring in the American Sociological Review, involved a field experiment: 2,420 applications submitted to 1,210 job openings in five U.S. cities between November 2012 and June 2013. The resumes described male and female job candidates who had graduated from large public universities in the Midwest and had similar work histories until 12 months earlier. At that point, they were assigned one of five different experiences: a full-time job, a part-time job, a job through a temporary employment agency, a job below their skill level (a sales associate at a retail store), or unemployment.

Among both men and women with a full-time job, 10.4% got a callback from a potential employer. Workers in the low-skill job saw much lower callback rates: 4.7% for men and 5.2% for women.

“For both male and female workers, taking a job below their skill level really results in severe penalties in terms of the job opportunities that are available to them,” Mr. Pedulla said.

Temp work, on the other hand, generated a 7.1% callback rate for men –the highest in the study outside of a full-time job — and an 8.3% callback rate for women.

Employers didn’t seem to see a part-time job as a barrier to hiring women, with a callback rate of 10.9%. But for men, a part-time job translated into a 4.8% callback rate – little better than the 4.2% callback rate for unemployed men. (Unemployed women had a callback rate of 7.5%.)

Why the gender gap? Mr. Pedulla said in an interview that it’s difficult to disentangle underlying causes. Based on a separate survey of hiring managers, he said, “it appears that men are penalized for part-time work in part because of employers’ perception of their commitment.” A part-time job, on the other hand, didn’t seem to raise questions about the commitment of female job applicants.

“While there are certainly good reasons that people take any job they can find — specifically in cases where economic hardship is imminent—the experimental data presented here raise questions about whether all types of jobs actually open up new labor market opportunities for workers,” Mr. Pedulla wrote in the paper. “Indeed, certain types of employment positions appear to send negative signals to future employers about workers’ competence and commitment, penalizing them in similar ways to remaining unemployed.”

Some of his findings echoed research released last year by Princeton University economist Henry Farber, Arizona State University economist Dan Silverman and University of California, Los Angeles economist Till von Wachter. The economists, like Mr. Pedulla, sent out resumes to track callbacks from potential employers, though their fake job candidates were all unemployed women. They, too, found that taking a “low-level interim job,” such as retail cashier, greatly reduced the likelihood of a callback for a job interview.

“It appears that an unemployed worker is better off remaining unemployed and searching for work rather than being employed in a low-level job while searching,” the researchers wrote in their working paper. “Alternatively, if an applicant has taken a low-level interim job, they may be better off not listing this job on their resume.”

Messrs. Farber, Silverman and von Wachter also found that workers age 50 and older were less likely to receive a callback than younger applicants. They did find no relationship between callbacks and how long someone was unemployed, a finding that they noted was at odds with other recent research that has found indications of discrimination against the long-term unemployed.


By            :               Ben Leubsdorf

Date         :               May 31, 2016

Source     :               The Wall Street Journal

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Professor Ruth Rubio Marin has a vision of a gender equal Europe


Europe today is struggling with the social implications brought on by the protracted economic crisis. It is also dealing with a rising tide of intolerance and discrimination that has accompanied the increasing numbers of refugees arriving in Europe. All these challenges could detract attention from Europe´s commitment to gender equality”states Professor Ruth Rubio Marin from the European University Institute.

Professor Rubio Marin gave the keynote speech at this year’s State of the Union conference, with “Women in Europe and the World” as the central theme. Over three days, gender equality was front and centre of discussions, showing that it is still an unresolved and important matter for Europe.

To address the current challenges, Professor Rubio Marin puts forward a new emancipatory framework for Europe, one that brings together gender equality, democracy and social justice.

“This new model for development would challenge gender stereotypes and predefined gender roles. It would also involve the equal representation of women in every site of decision making. It would mean bringing a gender perspective to macro-economic policy and gender budgeting. Work/life balance policies would be seen as good for everyone, not just women”.

She has a very clear vision of the changes needed for this to happen.

“This vision for gender equality would require affordable quality childcare, after school care and care for other dependents, including the elderly and the differently abled persons. It would require flexible working arrangements, such as job-sharing, working from home, flexitime and innovative measures to promote equal sharing of work and care”.

With this scenario, Europe can aspire to close the current gender gaps. As it stands today, the EU’s average score for gender equality as measured by EIGE’s Gender Equality Index is 52.9 out of 100, proving that Europe still has a long way to go before it achieves full gender equality.


Date         :               May 31, 2016

Source     :               European Institute For Gender Equality


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Book Review: Religion, Gender and Citizenship: Women of Faith, Gender Equality and Feminism


Authors                 :              Line Nyhagen and B. Halsaa

Date                       :              2016

Publisher              :               Palgrave Macmillan UK

Reviewed by         :                Haje Keli


While many books about religion and faith discuss theology or focus on the opinions of those who are viewed as spokespersons for their respective faiths, in Religion, Gender and Citizenship: Women of Faith, Gender Equality and Feminism the authors Line Nyhagen and Beatrice Halsaa have chosen to speak to women who identify as Christian (Catholic, Lutheran and Pentecostal) and Muslim (Sunni and Shi’a). This approach is both necessary and rare for a variety of reasons. The spokespersons representing faiths are most often men, and they tend to rely heavily on written sources that say little about religious peoples’ everyday lives.

In contrast, Religion, Gender and Citizenship brings women, both Muslim and Christian, to the forefront of discussions on faith and citizenship, which is highly necessary in times of heightened xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe. Some might claim that religious women are closed off and retreat into their own communities, but in this book we see that women of faith eagerly engage with the researchers and open up about their daily lives and engagements with religion. Nyhagen and Halsaa perceive the lack of representation for women of faith and seek to tackle this by interviewing 61 women of Muslim and Christian faith from the UK (Leicester), Spain (Madrid) and Norway (Oslo).

This book not only allows women to share their own narratives in their own words, but also helpfully focuses on women’s lived religion through enquiring about their multi-layered identities and how they view citizenship within their contexts (see Chapter Four). Since the book goes ‘to the source’ by speaking to religious women directly, the reader is presented with new meanings of citizenship and of what it means to be a religious citizen in the respective countries. The book complements these empirical findings in Chapters One and Two, which describe the histories of Christianity and Islam in the UK, Spain and Norway in relation to immigration and citizenship.

Throughout the book there is a critique of mainstream feminist writing, as the authors feel this has failed to engage with religious women; they affirm that women of faith need to be included in dialogues about women’s position in society. The book advises against accusing religious women of ‘false consciousness’ (223) and shows that, for the women interviewed, religion also serves as a helpful factor in their lives. In Chapter Three, ‘Religious Identities and Meaning Making’, the authors recount how the participants feel that their faith has given them direction at difficult times and has offered them guidance and lucidity in their busy lives (105).

Chapter Six gives an indication of how much of a gap there can be between religious women and secular women, as only one of the participants identified as a feminist (201). The authors present what they refer to as the dominant discourse among the participants, a discourse of ‘anti-feminism’, as the women characterised feminism to be extreme, excessive and immoderate. The participants feel that feminism is ‘man-hating’ and is driven by the aims of promoting gay rights, abortion, divorce and domination over men (202). This particular chapter could be beneficial for feminist scholars as it is telling of how ‘feminist messages’ can be misinterpreted; perhaps a continued dialogue across secular and religious lines could remedy these misunderstandings. However, while the women did not self-identify as feminist, many supported women’s rights and women’s struggles against inequality (204).

Apart from the critique of current feminist scholarship, the book carries another important thread – the marginalisation and experienced ‘otherness’ of the Muslim participants. The authors note that Muslim women, when interviewed, often felt the need to ‘explain’ Islam and were ready to correct or defend any potential misconceptions (27-28). On the other hand, the Christian women often took for granted that the researchers had pre-existing knowledge of their faith and doctrines, and treated the researchers like insiders. The authors discuss the insider-outsider position as they recognise that the research process is informed by the researchers’ own positionalities. The authors state that all the researchers were from Christian backgrounds and were more familiar with Christian practices rather than Islamic ones. Five of the six researchers were from a white non-migrant background, while the sixth was a black woman from a migrant background. Methodologically, this openness is crucial as it informs readers of how the researchers read the field and how the participants were reading them.

The Muslim women’s experiences of exclusion are juxtaposed with the responses of Christian women, who happen to be predominantly white European. The Christian women do not bring up their ethnicity or nationality as important markers of identity. This is highly interesting and relevant as, like the authors state, it indicates that questions of identity and belonging have not been ‘pushed on’ these women as has occurred with Muslim women of migrant backgrounds (78-79). This theme flows throughout the book as a reminder that citizenship and identity for women is fluid, situational and can be contingent on one’s religion and ethnicity.

It is somewhat disappointing that the book did not utilise an intersectional analysis of the material to a greater extent. It is not sufficient to merely write that one is going to make use of intersectionality as a tool: there has to actually be a thorough analysis using an intersectional lens to view women’s privileges and disadvantages. The authors could have written more about the social categories that lie at the base of intersectional analysis, and discussed at what times certain categories come to the forefront while others are pushed back. Each social category could have been further elucidated to explain the intersections of subjugation and privilege. There could have, for instance, been separate paragraphs about gender, class, social status, ethnicity and language proficiency, and a further analysis of how these different categories intersect and to what degree. There could also have been more engagement with the variances and consistencies between the two groups of women, as the authors tend to discuss the Christian women separately from the Muslim women. Ideally, a more holistic view of all the religious women’s views could have been presented. Indeed, when the book does engage with both Muslim and Christian women’s standpoints and looks at their lives comparatively, it adds interesting nuance to the material.

In summary, Religion, Gender and Citizenship is an important intervention in the topic of religious women and their everyday lives. It does not rely on religious texts or rituals to reach conclusions, but rather takes an honest look at religious woman from three European countries and how they identify with faith, how they utilise it and how they position themselves with regards to feminism and gender equality. The book does an excellent job of demonstrating how women negotiate citizenship, belonging, faith and the issue of how to relate to both women of different faiths and secular women. The book begins by clarifying how women identify themselves, and ends with how religious and non-religious women can find common ground through constructive dialogue, all the while being conscious of the imbalance between the status of Muslim women from migrant backgrounds and Christian women from white non-migrant backgrounds.


Haje Keli is a PhD candidate at SOAS, University of London. Her topics of interest are feminist theory, gender theory and religious studies. Her research is on gender-based violence in Iraqi Kurdistan, with a focus on female genital cutting and other forms of violence against women due to familial, social and state involvement.


Source    :       LSE Review of Books

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