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Women in the News: Women in Leadership, STEM Women, and Maternity Benefits

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Planning to be in Boston on Thursday? Head to this presentation at Harvard’s Kennedy School. The topic is Women-Led Firms and the Gender Gap in Top Executive Pay: Do Women Leaders Matter?The good folks of the WAPPP will be presenting a paper whose conclusion is that women corporate leaders are associated with strong positive outcomes for top women executives in their firms.

Terrible news for the legal profession, courtesy the National Law Journal and Careerist: pay gaps, equity gaps, boardroom gaps, everything gaps. Basically, if you’re a woman and you’re involved in corporate law, expect a maelstrom of infuriating obstacles.

Good news! Women make up a third of China’s millionaires. Somewhat crazy side-effect: female bodyguards. I want one. Anyone who can defend my physical safety while wearing high heels deserves respect.

We noticed an advertisement in Brazil last week that has been banned because it objectifies and commodifies women. And hey, we’re anti-commodification of human beings in any context. But just to help you scrutinize: the ad’s message is that if you show some skin, you’re likely to get more sympathy if you do something to offend someone else (in particular, maxing out your husband’s credit card). Helen Fisher recently proved that men exhibit similar brain activity viewing scantily-clad women as they do viewing a set of power tools. Commodification. Bad! But here’s the hilarious part: women do the SAME THING. Thanks, Scientific American and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology!

Mississippi Rejects “Personhood” Amendment: Last Tuesday Mississippi voters rejected Initiative 26, a ballot measure that would have defined life as beginning “from the moment of fertilization” – making abortion and many forms of contraception illegal. Supporters of the bill have vowed to push for this initiative in 5 more states next year. Kirsten Gillibrand is supporting a petition against these measures.

US Census: Half of working women don’t receive paid maternity benefits: In more difficult economic times, many employers are being more selective about granting maternity leave. A US Census Bureau analysis released last week shows that half of working first-time mothers aren’t eligible for paid maternity benefits. Even more distressingly, women are working later into their pregnancies. 88% of first-time mothers work into the last trimester of their pregnancy, while 65% work into the last month.

Largest World Women in Computing Conference: Last week marked the 11th Grace Hopper Celebration in Portland, Oregon – the world’s largest conference for women and computing. Less than 20% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science go to women. The GH conference aims to showcase innovation and outstanding achievements of women in industry, academia, and government. Sheryl Sandberg gave the keynote address.

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