Bi-weekly Brief: December 1st, 2015
Brought to you by Women's Campaign Fund
The supply of sexism continues to outpace demand (which, to be clear, is zero)
The New York Times Upshot blog has noticed a trend in economics reporting: the media tends to give second billing to female economists who are lead authors on major papers if their coauthors are men. Even Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who’s probably the world’s most powerful economist, hasn’t been immune to this kind of treatment. I guess this is why they call it the dismal science.
We’re number one! And by one I mean 46
Speaking of dismal, according to new data from the World Health Organization, America’s maternal mortality rate is anational embarrassment. Ok, that wasn’t the exact wording they used, but it should have been. After all, the U.S. ranks 46th out of 184 countries, with American women dying during pregnancy and childbirth more than twice as often as women in Canada. We’re also one of the few countries where maternal mortality has increased since 1990. And if it should be called an embarrassment in the U.S., there are no good words to describe the horrifying maternal death rate in poor countries like Mali and Sierra Leone, where women die during childbirth 50 to 100 times as often. Just tears and profanity.
We’re number 28! (Man, we are not doing well on these things)
This month also saw the release of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, and the U.S. has fallen to number 28 in the ranking of equality between men and women, thanks to our growing wage gap and fewer women in senior government positions. Maybe we should be taking notes from Rwanda, which came in at sixth on the list. Turns out that when women make up 64% of a country’s lawmakers (it's just 19% in the U.S.), the laws they make are pretty great, guaranteeing equality for women on a whole range of issues.
Circle the year 2133 on your calendar
The report also points out that progress on closing the gender wage gap has slowed recently. At the current rate, the WEF estimates it will be 118 years before the global wage gap between men and women is finally closed. Meanwhile in some countries-- like here unfortunately-- it’s actually increasing. Also, there’s no country in the world where a woman earns as much as man for doing the same job. The country that’s closest is Rwanda, where women make 88% of what men make. Here's where we point out that the country with the most women in government is also the country where women’s wages are closest to men’s. Just sayin’.
We’re (almost) number 1! Although we really don’t want to be
The U.S. has just 5% of the world’s population, but we have almost a third of the world’s female prison population. According to a new report from the Prison Policy Initiative, 206,000 women are imprisoned in the U.S. today, or 127 per 100,000 women-- a figure that’s rising at double the rate for men. That puts us at number two behind Thailand, but 25 U.S. states have female incarceration rates that are even higher than theirs. Seriously, we are REALLY not doing well on these international list things.
Now I know what the first 20 things on my Christmas list will be
Ok, so clearly those WHO, WEF, and PPI reports are depressing reading. To make up for it, here’s a list of 20 fantastic political books every woman should read. All written by women, the list includes books from women political insiders, books on women in politics throughout history, books on inspirational women in politics today, books on political issues affecting women, and-- closest to my heart-- books with advice for women who want to run for office. (BTW, I can’t tell you how happy it made me to type “books”, “women”, and “politics” so many times in that last sentence.)
File under things that make it impossible not to feel hopeful
If you’re short on time, but still need some inspiration from a woman in politics-- or maybe like me, you’re worried that once you start, you might just binge read all 20 of those books-- I have the perfect essay for you. In it, Cyndi Munson describes how she became the first Asian-American female state representative in Oklahoma’s history (on top of that she’s a Millennial and a Democrat in a very red state), and how she plans to use her office to give a voice to the women and girls she’s worked with her whole life.
Next Step RUN!
I first came across Cyndi’s story in Next Step Run, a documentary that looks at the campaigns of four women running for state legislatures across the country. If you haven’t seen it, then really your first next step should be to get a copy (or even better, host a screening); then next next step run yourself! Or help support the campaigns of women who have already taken that next step with a donation to Women’s Campaign Fund.