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Friday, May 03, 2013

Girls and Women - Our Country Needs You

I hadn't meant to write about this but enough stories came across my radar to make it worthwhile.

There are two issues to consider about the U.S. female population.

One is that women are STILL underpaid in this country.  Do you remember this being an issue when you were in high school? I do and I am eons out of high school.  And, apparently, Seattle has the worst gap (.73 cents versus the .77 cents nationally). 

Here's what some of our mayoral candidates said when asked about this at a recent debate (only Staadecker, Burgess and Harrell were asked).  From the Stranger Slog:

As it was, two out of three candidates flubbed their responses, hard.* Staadecker admitted that he didn't know the issue existed: "First of all, I will confess, I was not aware as a city that we were the worst in the United States. Therefore, if women aren’t being paid, if there’s a glass ceiling, that has to be through education and skills."

Worse, Burgess said this: "Well, if everybody had daughters like I did the problem would self correct, eventually." In other words, most women must not be as smart as Burgess's daughters? Or work as hard as them? Or something? 

Only Harrell managed an articulate answer, for which he was rewarded with the biggest applause of the night: "The answer is simple—institutional practices. We haven’t paid attention to the institutional practices. Here’s the difference between the mayor and myself—when I read the report, I immediately went into action. I’ve asked the Seattle Women’s commission to develop a work plan with me to look at the policy changes we have to do."

Keep those answers in mind as you consider your mayoral choices.  As the Slog says, the question will likely come up again and the other candidates who didn't answer will get their chance.

And two, are women not important to the economy and life of our country?

Bless Warren Buffet's heart, here's what he has to say (from CNN Money):

Despite the inspiring "all men are created equal" assertion in the Declaration of Independence, male supremacy quickly became enshrined in the Constitution. In Article II, dealing with the presidency, the 39 delegates who signed the document -- all men, naturally -- repeatedly used male pronouns. In poker, they call that a "tell." 

Finally, 133 years later, in 1920, the U.S. softened its discrimination against women via the 19th Amendment, which gave them the right to vote. But that law scarcely budged attitudes and behaviors. In its wake, 33 men rose to the Supreme Court before Sandra Day O'Connor made the grade -- 61 years after the amendment was ratified. For those of you who like numbers, the odds against that procession of males occurring by chance are more than 8 billion to one. 

Among the scores of brilliant and interesting women I've known is the late Katharine Graham, long the controlling shareholder and CEO of the Washington Post Co.  Kay knew she was intelligent. But she had been brainwashed -- I don't like that word, but it's appropriate -- by her mother, husband, and who knows who else to believe that men were superior, particularly at business. 

When her husband died, it was in the self-interest of some of the men around Kay to convince her that her feelings of inadequacy were justified.

I met Kay in 1973 and quickly saw that she was a person of unusual ability and character. But the gender-related self-doubt was certainly there too. Her brain knew better, but she could never quite still the voice inside her that said, "Men know more about running a business than you ever will."
I told Kay that she had to discard the fun-house mirror that others had set before her and instead view herself in a mirror that reflected reality. "Then," I said, "you will see a woman who is a match for anyone, male or female." 

I'm happy to say that funhouse mirrors are becoming less common among the women I meet. Try putting one in front of my daughter. She'll just laugh and smash it. Women should never forget that it is common for powerful and seemingly self-assured males to have more than a bit of the Wizard of Oz in them. Pull the curtain aside, and you'll often discover they are not supermen after all. (Just ask their wives!)  

I say amen to this - I love men but really, they are just people.  

Buffet goes on to say exactly what Professor Ed Lazaska said (in a Science journal article I wrote in another thread) - it IS in business' best interest and the country's best interest to support girls and women because we need every single smart person there is AND we need to reach out to all POVs. 

Buffet:

Fellow males, get onboard. The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be. We've seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100% can do, you'll join me as an unbridled optimist about America's future.

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