Movement toward Female Equality?

Movement toward Female Equality?

I’ve written on more than one occasion that women’s rights are the most important business ethics issue before us. These last few days, there have been a series of news stories that suggest changes are happening. There is a tremendous range here in terms of importance. For symbolism, I would point to the Miss Teen USA’s abandonment of the swimsuit competition. For importance, I would point to the Marine Corp willingness to allow women to access combat positions. And for sheer practicality (and it is about time) the New York City Council has voted that women will have access to free tampons and pads in schools, prisons and shelters.

Here is a list of five items with the links and short quote from each:

The few, the proud, the fit: Women strive for combat jobs

Six months after the Pentagon ordered all combat jobs open to women, seven female Marines are either serving in those posts or waiting to serve, and 167 are performing noncombat duties in front-line units, according to new data obtained by The Associated Press.

‘Game of Thrones’ effect sees female knights jousting at English castles

Female knights will battle against male counterparts at Bolsover, Kenilworth, Pendennis and Carisbrooke castles.

The grand medieval joust competitions see the knights on horseback, dressed in full armour and armed with a lance.

Traditionally, no women took part in jousting tournaments as all the elite knights were male.

But following in the footsteps of Game of Thrones’ Brienne of Tarth, English Heritage said it had made the decision to allow visitors to see the “most accomplished knights on the circuit”.

New York City Council Approves Free Tampons and Pads in Schools, Prisons, and Shelters

The new bill, which passed 49-0, will establish tampon and pad dispensers in the bathrooms of public schools with female students in grades six through 12 in an extension of a pilot program launched last year. It will also require prisons and jails operated by the city to give inmates menstrual supplies as soon as possible after they ask for them. Current prison systems for tampons and pad distribution vary widely across states and facilities, but in many places, incarcerated women are given an insufficient monthly supply or must buy products with their own limited funds from the commissary.

Movement toward Female Equality?

“Pinklining”: How women of color are disproportionately hurt by Wall Street’s predatory practices

“Pinklining: How Wall Street’s Predatory Products Pillage Women’s Wealth, Opportunities & Futures,” details how sexism and racism are “increasingly exploited and exacerbated by Wall Street and the financial sector.”

The report, which was written by scholar Suparna Bhaskaran, shows how “Wall Street takes advantage of women’s precarious economic position and marginalization to push them deeper into debt,” in a practice Bhaskaran calls “pinklining.”

Structural sexism and structural racism make women and people of color more susceptible to pinklining, the report stresses.

It looks at three primary financial practices in which these inequalities are visible: subprime home mortgage lending, payday lending and higher education lending.

Here is a link to the full report –

Miss Teen USA Ditches The Swimsuit Competition It Should Never Have Had

Miss Teen USA just got a lot less creepy.

Teenage contestants will no longer compete wearing swimwear in the Miss annual competition, pageant officials announced Tuesday. Starting at this year’s event on July 30, the 14-18-year-old contestants will instead model athletic wear before judges.

The change is part of a commitment to “evolve in ways that celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty for years to come,” Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart wrote in a letter to the pageant’s state directors. 

“This decision reflects an important cultural shift we’re all celebrating that empowers women who lead active, purposeful lives and encourage those in their communities to do the same,” she continued. “Our hope is that this decision will help all of Miss Teen USA’s fans recognize these young women for the strong, inspiring individuals they are.”

These stories vary in importance and impact. If we compare the Civil Rights movement of the sixties to Women’s rights today, we are struck by the substantive changes in the law for the first and the miserable to and fro actions of the law in regard to the latter. Suddenly almost overnight the law changed to protect blacks in interstate commerce but for women the right to equal pay, to contraception and even to avoid victimization is a grueling backwards and forward fight with no permanent victories.

But change is happening and I am heartened that in some sense progress is being made.

James Pilant