You’re familiar with the stereotype: humorless, ever so slightly imperious, Birkenstock-wearing brown-rice enthusiasts. These are the women of NPR, forever etched into America’s collective consciousness by Alec Baldwin, Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon in a classic Saturday Night Live skit known as “Schweddy Balls.” Despite its reputation for earnestness, the organization seems to be in on the joke. Even Nina Totenberg, the longtime justice reporter whose legendarily soothing voice almost surely provided inspiration, laughs about it. “I like that Saturday Night Live makes fun of us,” she says. “It’s better to be noticed than not noticed at all.”
Today Totenberg is the dean of the Supreme Courtpress corps; NPR progamming reaches an audience of nearly 23 million—a 70 percent increase from 1998, the year the skit first aired—and has more foreign bureaus than any other American broadcast network. But it hasn’t always been that way, and Totenberg knows what it means to go unnoticed. She joined the fledgling broadcaster in the early 1970s, when it was carried by just 90 stations (that number has since increased a hundredfold). It was a period in which most news outlets were openly hostile to the very notion of hiring a female correspondent. “All of us have stories of being told, outright, ‘We don’t hire women’ or ‘We have our woman,’” she says.
In part, Totenberg says, NPR had no choice: salaries were so low that few men were willing to take jobs there. The inadvertent result was a roster of young female talent now considered among the most respected names in radio: Totenberg, Cokie Roberts, Linda Wertheimer, and Susan Stamberg, a group affectionately known as the “Founding Mothers.” “It was a novel experience, being looked after [by colleagues] and not being hit on,” Totenberg says. The Old Girls’ Club, as she calls them, sat in a corner of the newsroom the men referred to as “the fallopian jungle,” and swiftly became the broadcaster’s earliest stars. In 1972, Stamberg became the first woman in the country to anchor a daily national news show.
ICRW conducted an evaluation of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative in India to identify early results of the program on women entrepreneurs’ business skills, practices and growth. 10,000 Women, launched in 2008, aims to provide 10,000 women who run small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with high-quality business and management skills training. Research shows that these women are often underserved, in terms of access to business or management training and entrepreneurial networks, despite the enormous potential they have to help grow economies in developing countries.
This brief presents a summary of ICRW’s initial evaluation of the India program, which shows how the 10,000 Women program — in combination with a number of other factors — is making a difference in graduates’ businesses and lives.
In 2008, Goldman Sachs launched 10,000 Women, a $100 million philanthropic initiative, which at the time, was the largest in Goldman’s history. The goal of the five year program is to provide business and management training to 10,000 underserved female entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Four years ago this month, Goldman Sachs invited me to attend the launch of 10,000 Women, a $100 million philanthropic initiative, which at the time, was the largest in Goldman’s history. The goal of the five year program is to provide business and management training to 10,000 underserved female entrepreneurs in developing countries. Why? Goldman’s own research (and that of many others) shows that female education is a driver of macroeconomic growth. Moreover, there was (and still very much is) a stark need to expand access to business education for women in emerging markets. When Goldman launched 10,000 Women, there were only 2,600 women attending MBA programs in all of Africa, a continent of 900 million people. Calestous Juma, a professor of international development at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, has estimated that if African women were given equal access as men to vocational training and technology, the continent’s economy would expand by at least 40 percent.
10,000 Women’s focus is very much on nurturing small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a sector of the economy with significant economic growth and employment potential. Aninteresting report from the International Finance Corporation notes that while there are roughly “8 to 10 million formal women-owned SMEs in emerging markets (representing 31 to 38 percent of all SMEs in emerging markets), the average growth rate of women’s enterprises is significantly lower than the average growth rate for SMEs run by men.” The report identifies several factors that have hindered the growth of women-owned businesses, including: institutional and regulatory issues, lack of access to finance, relatively low rates of business education, risk aversion, concentration of women’s businesses in slower growth sectors, and the burden of household management responsibilities. 10,000 Women addresses each of these issues, teaching its graduates how to recognize and navigate their legal environment, how better to access loans, prepare business plans geared for higher growth, and juggle a business with their family life. While the program does not provide credit directly, it has formed several public-private partnerships to do so. In Liberia, it is working with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; in Tanzania with the Government of Denmark, CRDB Bank, and the U.S. State Department; in Peru with the Inter-American Development Bank and Mibanco.
HERvotes, a coalition of 51 women's groups, vowed to ensure that several decades of progress in health care, education and labor rights will not fall by the wayside in the run-up to the November general election.
"Women are outraged with the constant politicization of theses issues with no regard for half of the population," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
"The gender gap is alive and well," agreed Lisa Maatz, chief lobbyist for the American Association of University Women, who added: "We are mad and we are fed up."
In a campaign year in which the economy and jobs were the initial dominant themes, social conservatives have thrust birth control and abortion to the top to the agenda at the state and federal level.
The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology released a new report that outlines four key areas where companies should focus their recruitment efforts to increase access to a range of technical talent available in a highly competitive environment. Solutions to Recruit Technical Women is the first in a series of reports offering solutions companies can employ to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of technical women.
Hollywood has long had a problem with women, but with Kathryn Bigelow’s historic best director Oscar in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker,” it looked like things might be slowly changing. And in 2011, the box-office success of “Bridesmaids,” a raunchy comedy written by and starring women, led to predictions that Hollywood was finally ready to recognize the reality that female-centric movies could be as profitable as man-centric movies. While no industry that employs Michael Bay can really be considered a safe space, more women in production positions might mean better depictions of women, more roles for older actresses, and more influence at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that awards the Oscars.
That may end up being the case years down the line. But judging from the available evidence, it’s not going to happen any time soon. Bigelow’s movie was released in 2009, but in 2011, only 5 percent of the top-grossing movies were directed by women. And, astoundingly, the Oscars are even worse. None — zero — of the films in the best picture, best director, best adapted or original screenplay, best lead or supporting actor, and best supporting actress categories were directed by women. In the major categories, 98 percent of nominations went to movies directed by men, 84 percent went to movies written by men, and 70 percent went to movies starring men. The only female-centered movies that appear outside the best actress categories are “The Help” and “Bridesmaids.” In the best picture category, there are as many movies about women as there are movies about horses.
Getting beyond basic cast-and-crew details, Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist pop culture media critic and the editor of Feminist Frequency, hasproduced a video putting the 2012 best picture nominees to the so-called Bechdel test. This looks at whether a film has, at any point, female characters having an interaction with each other that’s not about a male character. Only two of the 10 pass. While it’s possible for male directors and writers to produce representative depictions of women (as Manohla Dargis said in a 2009 interview, “Flaubert wrote ‘Madame Bovary.’ That’s all we need to say about that”), they mostly don’t. Female characters aren’t given anything to do besides pine about their (heterosexual) romantic interests.
The Nashville CABLE and Lipscomb University College of Business 2011 Annual Census of Tennessee "Women in Corporate Leadership," released today, shows little progress toward gender diversity since the previous year-as well as since 2007, when Lipscomb University's College of Business first conducted the research. One salient finding is that while women represented 47% of the Tennessee work force in fiscal year 2010, they held only 8% of 566 public company board seats. A snapshot of the Tennessee study results over time is available as a downloadable graphic to the right.
At a stellar gathering of leaders from business, philanthropy, government, and non-profits, the National Council for Research on Women will kick off 30 years of transforming the way the world looks at women and girls at its annual Making a Difference for Women Awards Dinner on Tuesday, March 6th. The Council will honor: Beth Brooke of Ernst & Young; Abigail Disney, Pamela Hogan, and Gini Retiker of the Women, War & Peace series on PBS; Anita Hill of Brandeis University; and Soledad O’Brien of CNN at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.