What happens when women are over half the workforce?

While looking through the archives of The Economist at work (stagiaire) , I saw on the cover for Jan 2nd – 8th 2010 the popular poster of Rosie the Riveter  saying “We Did It”, an update of the original poster that said  “We Can Do It ” . Although I have my reservations about the picture, I was more interested in the question the article asked “What happens when women are over half the workforce?” Is this happening all over the world or in certain countries? Are we going to notice any significant change in terms of productivity?What are your thoughts?

See article below written by The Economist in 2009 here http://www.economist.com/node/15174418

Posted in Ukwori Onuma | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Hilary Clinton: Empowering Women & Girls Through Sports

Sec. Clinton

On June 6th, United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton launched the Women’s World Cup initiative: Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports.  This program run by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Secretary Clinton’s Office of Global Women’s Issues will promote cross cultural exchanges through sports.  According to Secretary Clinton sport exchanges are some of the most popular form of bilateral exchanges.  The fact that these sport exchanges will now be expanded to promote the participation of women in sports is a tremendous coup for gender equality and bilateral relations across the globe.

Secretary Clinton cited the passing of Title IX as a key reason for the passage of this initiative.  Title IX states

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” Cornell

Its a direct result of Title IX that the Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports initiative was made possible. Title IX and this exchange ensures that the participation of women in sports is given equal prominence and funding at the Federal level.  Not only does this help girls in the United States it encourages other countries to promote the participation of girls in sports.

Below you can find the video of Secretary’s speech

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

LG: Improving IT Education for Women in the Middle East

LG Electronics recently announced the launch of the LE Electronics IT Academy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to train women in IT skills which they can use to pursue skills in the electronics industry.

As part of LG’s CSR campaign, they have teamed up with the Jeddah chamber of commerce to ensure that the courses meet the IT needs of businesses in Saudi Arabia.   These courses will provide women students with a theoretic and practical understanding of the IT sector in order to more competitive on the labor market.

This training academy will be held in the same premises at the LG cooking Academy, which promotes nutrition and healthy living through educational program.

The women’s IT Academy launched on May 15th and all of us at WIPA look forward to hearing more about this exciting new program.

To learn more about LG and sustainability click the logo below.


LG Sustainability

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Working for Advancement – Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)

A few months back I came across a great organization called Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW).  WOW works across the country to

to build pathways to economic independence for America’s families, women, and girls.

WOW also has a large public policy branch that works actively to promote gender equality at the legislative level. Two programs that WOW currently has in action are the Work4Women and Workplace Solutions [information to be released soon] initiatives, which help women gain access to non-traditional high paying jobs in addition to technical and vocational skills to achieve economic advancement.

Click here to read more about their extensive public policy outreach.  On this page I’d recommend exploring the resources in the Women and Family Economic Security section.  There is lots of economic data and research on the advantages of promoting equity at the individual and household level.

Finally you can click WOW’s logo below to learn more about their impressive and commendable work

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women & Revolution: What Does Media Coverage Mean for Eman al-Obeidy?

I had originally been intending to write about a NYTs article entitled After Rape Report in Libya, Woman Sees Benefit in Publicity.  This article details the plight of Eman al-Obeidy [or Iman al-Obeidi] and examines her experience through the lens of media exposure.  Despite my reservations, I thought that increased publicity for Eman al-Obeidy would help to ensure her safety and raise greater awareness of the human rights violations occurring in Libya.  This morning that notion was shattered when I came across a post on CNN journalist Nic Robertson’s Facebook fan page entitled,

READ this CNN article: “Qatari expulsion of alleged Libyan rape victim upsets U.S.

Eman al-Obeidy. Photo from CNN

In light of this article, I find it hard to argue that global publicity is helping the case of Eman al-Obeidy.  Its true that many people, governments and organizations are actively lobbying for her free passage.  But in spite of this collective pressure, her safety and freedom have yet to be secured.

On Thursday, after previously offering her sanctuary, the government of Qatar sent Eman and her family back to Libya citing her “expired visa” as justification for their actions.  This occurred despite the fact that Eman al-Obeidy was protected under refuge status according to the UN High Commission on Refugees.  According to the UNHCR this would negate the need for a visa.

It seems that during the time that Eman al-Obeidy was being held by authorities in Doha, both she and her family members were kept against their will and beaten.  During this time Qatari officials told Eman that Libyan rebel leaders were pressuring them to deport Eman and her family to rebel held Benghazi.

This leads me to wonder, to what extent has the publicity received by Eman al-Obeidy actually helped her case?  True, a multitude of government and supranational agencies are working to secure the safe passage of Eman and her family.  Additionally, on the individual level, people across the globe have expressed their collective shock and horror at the trials endured by Eman and her family.  Nevertheless, we as a global community have been unable to protect her from bodily harm and deportation.

Rebel authorities in Libya have stated that Eman al-Obeidy and her family are free to move about the country and leave whenever they wish.  I hope that this is case, but as time goes on my reservations unfortunately grow.   In the increasingly likely case that she will not be allowed to leave Benghazi, I hope that this media coverage can eventually be transformed into an effective political tool which international authorities can use to secure her release.  In the mean time it seems that the best that we can do as individuals is continue to write and speak out in support of Eman.

UPDATE: Within seconds of publishing this article I saw that Eman al-Obeidy is being flown out of Libya to the US as we speak.  You can read the AP announcement here.  This is great news, all of us at WIPA are ecstatic to hear that Eman and hopefully the rest of her family will now be safe from deportation and physical harm.

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Role Models: Mona Sutphen, former Obama deputy chief of staff for policy

When President Obama was first elected into office, I voraciously read every single piece of news I could get my hands on about his new staff, cabinet decisions and initial days in office.  During that period of frenzied research I read about a women named Mona Sutphen who been selected to be the deputy chief of staff for policy.  What I found so inspiring about Ms. Sutphen was that her career path reminded me of what I hope to eventually accomplish.  I saw her career path as inspirational for it’s diversity, drive and passion.  In our last post we touched on the importance of mentorship.  Despite the fact that I have never met Mona Sutphen, I, nonetheless, find her to be a personal role model and ‘mentor’ when it comes to my own professional choices.

READ this WSJ profile of Mona Sutphen: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen Has a World of Experience – washingtonpost.com.

Mona Sutphen. Photo from BusinessInsider.com

Mona, grew up in a biracial household and attended Mount Holyoke College with a BA in International Relations.  Right out of college she completed the very impressive feat of passing the US Foreign Service exam but instead chose to pursue a career in advertising.  Deciding she wanted more from her career and she eventually returned to the Foreign Service where she worked on the Dayton Peace Accords and worked with former Gov. Bill Richardson.  During her time with the State Department, Mona worked on many issues relating to Asia, eventually coming to speak five languages, including Mandarin.

READ this Business Insider profile of Mona Sutphen: REVOLVING DOOR WATCH: UBS Just Hired Obama’s Former Deputy Chief Of Staff To Head Macro Analysis

Mona receive her MS.c. from LSE and was soon chosen by the Obama administration to join the team.  During her time in the Administration, Mona was voted  ”one of seven behind-the-scenes economic players you need to know in the Obama administration” by Portfolio.com.

In addition to being a public policy savant, Mona is also a published author and member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  You can watch a Authors@Google interview with Mona Sutphen and Nina Hachigian on their book The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise in the video below.  Its a bit long but highly worth it.

Mona recently left her position in the White House to join the USB Macro-Analysis team.  It will be exciting to see what she accomplishes next in her inspiring career.

Examples like this remind us that mentors and role models do not necessarily have to be individuals that we know or interact with personally.  While this sort of connection plays an important role in one’s professional career, identifying women that one admires and respects in the public sphere can be just as inspirational and encouraging in the long-run.

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mentoring: Taking on the Upgrade Problem

Despite the fact that women make up the increasing majority of undergraduate college graduates the executive level glass ceiling remains firmly in place in many corporations.  In the video featured on WIPA’s coverage of the Harvard Kennedy WAPPP program it was stated that women make up roughly 3% of senior-level executives in Fortune 500 companies.

READ this NYTs article: For Women in the Workplace, an ‘Upgrade Problem’ – NYTimes.com.

Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

Companies such as Siemens and Deutsche Telekom are working actively to try and shift the gender disparity at the executive level through a wide variety of means, including hiring quotas and services such as child care and mentoring.

Mentoring is an essential tool to close the gender gap at the corporate level.  According to the NYTs article that inspired this post:

Having a high-ranking mentor seems to bring significant payoffs — for men and women. A study performed by Catalyst in 2010 with the same 4,500 business school graduates it studied in 2008 found that both men and women who had mentors at the top of their organizations got promoted at comparable rates — and faster than those who had no active mentoring relationship.

WIPA recognizes the value and importance of mentorship, which is why we try to highlight the stories of women who are making meaningful and active contributions to their community.  Interviews with individuals like Gayle Lemmon and Dr. Suellen Miller are valuable because they show that women can make a difference in their community through a variety of different means.  Upcoming interviews with individuals like Anja Manual, principal of the RiceHadley Group further reinforce the importance of women in public policy and set positive examples for future generations of leaders.

Kudos go out to companies like Siemens and Deutsche Telekom, who recognize that breaking through the glass ceiling goes well beyond hiring quotas.  Setting positive examples and giving women the tools to achieve professional success are essential resources if the ‘upgrade problem’ is to be fully addressed.

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Harvard Kennedy School’s Women & Public Policy Program is Working Hard to Close the Gender Gap

I recently came across the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program website.  WAPPP is a dedicated program that works toward the advancement of women and encourages the full participation of women in policy making.

One way that WAPPP does this is through a Fellowship program that brings together researchers and practitioners, actively committed to issues of gender.  This year-long program promotes academic exchange, discussion and research.  At the conclusion of the fellowship participants are expected to complete a significant publication.

This video was produced by WAPPP and outlines the challenges that women face in achieving equity and some of the work being done to close this gap.

You can read all about this year’s WAPPP fellows here and you can submit your application for consideration here.  Keep in mind that the deadline for the 2012-2013 fellows program will most likely be around the end of January of 2012, though this date has yet to be announced.

Victoria Budson

Finally, you can read all about Victoria Budson, the founding Executive Director of WAPPP on the Harvard Kennedy School site.   A politician and activist herself, Ms. Budson is committed to encouraging the participation of women in politics.

You can also read Ms. Budson’s comments for the Voices Unabridged article, “Nancy Pelosi: Breaking through the ‘Marble Ceiling” on the e-magazine’s website.

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Interview with Dr. Suellen Miller, Director of Safe Motherhood Programs at UCSF

This week WIPA had the pleasure to interview Dr. Suellen Miller, Director of Safe Motherhood Programs at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global and Reproductive Health and Policy.  Dr. Miller is currently conducting a Randomized Cluster Trial of the Lifewrap, an easy-to-use device that helps to stem postpartum hemorrhaging.  A device like the Lifewrap is a perfect example of a public policy solution that recognizes the limits and conditions that contribute to the problem that the device is attempting to address.

The following is an edited transcript of this interview:

What inspired you to you create Lifewraps?

Dr. Suellen Miller

I didn’t create Lifewraps, I adapted an old, out moded piece of ambulance equipment to be something that would be useful to women dying of childbirth-related hemorrhage in developing countries. The reasons so many women die in poor countries are multi-layered and complex, but have a lot to do with lack of education, lack of power, lack of resources and infrastructure and lack of political will. Women die for a multitude of reasons including unskilled and uneducated birth attendants, an inability to recognize the signs of excessive bleeding, lack of decision making authority to move from home to the hospital, lack of access to vehicles/fuel to get to the hospital, far distances between impoverished regions and hospitals, etc. The Lifewrap buys time, helping women survive during the long delays these challenges present. I was inspired to do something to help poor women survive childbirth.

What do you think makes Lifewraps so successful?
Simplicity and efficacy. Lifewraps are so simple that anyone can learn how to save a dying/bleeding woman and they work.  They can keep a woman alive for days until she can get to skilled care.

In your work do you encounter many female health policymakers? Do you think that women policymakers bring a different perspective to international health policymaking?
Yes, I do meet many female health policymakers.  Individuals vary, but many women recognize the inequities other women experience in trying to obtain their basic human rights to a safe delivery. In any room full of women policymakers I often hear women say, about obstetric hemorrhage, oh, that happened to me, if I had been in a different setting, I would have died.

Can you share an example of a moment in your professional career that you think significantly influenced your approach to your work?
Absolutely, my turning point was when I was 20 and working as a social worker in a home for young women in the juvenile justice system.  One young woman, maybe 15, contracted a pelvic infection, and nearly died from an STD.  When we discovered what had happened, I took the other young women to purchase condoms to protect themselves if they would have sex.  I was brought before the board of directors and nearly fired for making sex easier for the residents.  When I asked what else should be done, they replied that if the, “Girls got STDs from having sex it was their punishment for having sex!” That day I decided to become a midwife and work for women’s health rights.

What advice would you give to women who are embarking on a international health policymaking career?
Keep your eye on the prize, remember your sisters, and work for dignity and humanity.

To learn more about the Lifewrap and Dr. Miller’s work visit www.lifewrap.org You can also download the latest published paper on the Lifewrap by clicking the following link, Assessing the Role of the Non-Pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment in Reducing Mortality from Postpartum Hemorrhage in Nigeria.

Suellen Miller, PhD, CNM, MHA.  Dr. Miller, Professor Department of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, is Director of Safe Motherhood Programs, UCSF Bixby Center for Global and Reproductive Health and Policy. Prior to joining the MCH faculty in January 1997, she was a PEW Health Policy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Dr. Miller is an experienced maternal health clinician, having practiced as a certified nurse midwife for over thirty years. She received her Ph.D. in Family Health Care Nursing, University of California, San Francisco in 1994.

The author of many articles, she is co-author of the second edition of Hesperian Foundation’s, A Book For Midwives, which was the winner of the American College of Nurse Midwives, 2006 Notable Book Award.  Dr. Miller serves as an adviser on Safe Motherhood to the World Health Organization’s Partnership for Safe Motherhood, Newborn, and Child Health, as a Senior Technical Adviser to the Gates Foundation, “Feasibility of Technologies for Prevention and Management of Obstetric Hemorrhage Project,” was appointed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Postpartum Hemorrhage in Low Resource Settings, and advises the Millennium Development Village Projects on Obstetric Hemorrhage.

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Can M.I.T. Imagine a World Without Gender Quotas?

Twelve years ago M.I.T. acknowledged that it had discriminated against women in ways that stymied equality between female and male colleagues on campus.  Since that time M.I.T. has worked hard to reverse this pattern. They have accomplished this through a series of steps and measures designed to promote women to leadership positions and to ensure that women have equal access to research and professional advancement.

Despite this positive reversal, some individuals now claim that these measures are ultimately more harmful than beneficial to women at M.I.T.  The New York Times article which inspired this post, states that many female students struggle with how to respond to accusations from their male colleagues that their admission to M.I.T. is due primarily to affirmative action.  According to the NYTs, even M.I.T. seems to acknowledge this,

But the primary issue in the report is the perception that correcting bias means lowering standards for women.

READ this NYTs article here: At M.I.T., Success Comes With Unexpected Consequences – NYTimes.com.

During the WIPA: Women & Public Policy Essay Contest one of the questions posed revolved around the question of gender quotas.  We received some very insightful responses to this question and I was pleased that so many contributers found themselves similarly struggling to come to terms with the consequences of such a system despite their obvious benefit.  Quotas at M.I.T. have clearly helped to ensure a minimum level of equity, allowing women to move forward on par with their male colleagues. However, other changes to the M.I.T. infrastructure, such as ensuring that female professors have equal lab and research space have demonstrated to the community that female faculty members are highly valued by M.I.T. not because of their gender but because of their intellectual capabilities and on-going research.  Subtle changes in the organizational norms at M.I.T. have a much greater and more lasting impact on curtailing the pervasiveness of discrimination in the community by ensuring that the culture does not tolerate discrimination in any form.

Dr. Susan Hockfield President of M.I.T.

I also applaud M.I.T. for appointing someone as accomplished as Susan Hockfield as President of M.I.T.  This appointment clearly refutes those naysayers who argue that women in leadership or academic positions at M.I.T. are there only as a result of  quotas. Dr. Hockfield is clearly an accomplished researcher in her own right,

Dr. Hockfield’s research has focused on the development of the brain and on glioma, a deadly kind of brain cancer. She pioneered the use of monoclonal antibody technology in brain research, leading to her discovery of a protein that regulates changes in neuronal structure as a result of an animal’s experience in early life. More recently she discovered a gene and its family of protein products that play a critical role in the spread of cancer in the brain and may represent new therapeutic targets for glioma. [Source: M.I.T.]

Despite this concerted effort by M.I.T. to ensure that quotas are not the sole cause for female leadership advancement at M.I.T. it is hard to erase the subtle distaste that quotas inevitability leave.  This is not due to the false claim that women are in leadership positions only because of quotas, but instead due to the fact that quotas are even necessary to begin with.  Gender quotas signal that there is an obvious and entrenched flaw in the institutional structure that discriminates against women.  Furthermore, this discrimination is so ingrained that merely acknowledging its existence will not ‘fix’ the problem.  Instead, the pervasiveness of the discrimination is such that a gender quota is necessary to begin to remedy the situation.  This is what I find distasteful about gender quotas.

In light of this, it seems that quotas are indeed a necessary evil until organizational culture and structure are such that discrimination against members of the community become an almost unimaginable act.  In this environment, simply unveiling discrimination would be sufficient to halt it is its tracks as a singular and egregious occurrence.

I truly believe that such a reality and environment is possible.  My colleagues at SciencesPo and the interviews conducted by WIPA demonstrate that not only is gender discrimination an increasingly foreign concept, women do not even consider it as a significant obstacle on their future career trajectory.  I hope that as the next generation of leaders begins to assume their place in the public policy sector we will see the need for these types of systems to slowly become obsolete.

Nevertheless, I would be curious to hear what our readers & members think.  What have your experiences shown you? Is this future vision for gender equality merely a rosy pipe dream or do you see similar trends happening in your own environments?

Posted in Board Member Contributions, Sophie Guerin, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment