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In 'Knock Down the House,' AOC’s Pep Talk is a Career Jolt

May 6: Badass women and the news that affects them

 By Beth Castle and Mitra Norowzi

Company Culture

  • Nancy Saltzman, the former top attorney for data analytics company EXL Service Holdings (Rate This Company), is suing the company (and its execs) for $20 million in damages for gender discrimination and retaliation. In the suit, Saltzman, who was the only woman in the company’s executive leadership committee, alleges she was treated differently from her male peers—even asked at one point to serve cake to male junior executives at a company party. When she complained about sexist comments and the culture of disrespect, she says she was fired, which is part of the suit, too. Bloomberg Law

  • The Defense Department released its Report on Sexual Assault in the Military last week, and the data was grim: There was a 50 percent increase in assult on women in uniform and an estimated 20,500 instances of “unwanted sexual contact” in the 2018 fiscal year. This was an increase of 38 percent from 2016, when the last survey was taken. NY Times

  • Last year, Verizon (3.2 stars) worker Tasha Murrell suffered a miscarriage after her request for light duty was denied. Lowell McAdam, then-CEO and the company board promised to investigate Murrell’s complaints about pregnancy discirmination and assault at Verizon’s warehouses. But, a year later and the board’s been radio silent—so Murrell had no choice but to confront them again. Fast Company
  • Whether you’re a salad eater or not, you should get excited about Tender Greens (3.8 stars). The fast-casual chain is currently at 40 percent gender parity, but CEO Denyelle Bruno has a plan to make the company even more exclusive with a goal of filling 50 percent of store leadership and 50 percent of executive chef positions with women by the end of 2020. Forbes

Quick Hits

  • The Journal of Applied Psychology released new findings about pregnancy discrimination last week: According to researchers, working women feel they are pushed out of their jobs when they become pregnant, while new fathers enjoy a career boost. These findings are...exactly what women have been saying for years, but the confirmation is, at least, a step in the right direction. Yahoo! Lifestyle

  • The Court of Arbitration for Sport has officially ruled that women athletes with naturally elevated levels of testosterone will be banned from competing in women’s competitions unless they make efforts to alter their hormones, which could have serious side effects. From a medical standpoint, the ruling is bogus: Testosterone is not an exclusively male hormone, and all bodies contain levels of it. Furthermore, a study by the International Association of Athletics Federations’ found that for most sports, women with lower levels of testosterone actually performed better than women with more testosterone. NY Times
  • Last month, Instagram began demoting posts deemed “inappropriate” or “sexually suggestive” even if they don’t violate community guidelines. Based on HuffPost’s reporting, the move is expected to hit women and sex workers the hardest, as the terms are incredibly vague and subjective. How will Instagram differentiate between, say, a barely-a-bikini model and a fitness fanatic? HuffPost

Pop Culture

  • Last Monday, Sports Illustrated announced that Hamila Aden, a Somali-American model, will be the first woman to wear a hijab and burkini in the magazine’s swimsuit edition. NY Times

  • After Cheslie Kryst was crowned Miss USA last week, we can officially celebrate a new milestone: For the first time in history, Miss USA, Miss America, and Miss Teen USA are all black women. Kryst is a North Carolina lawyer who does pro bono work to reduce sentences for inmates. NBC News

  • Netflix released a documentary called "Knock Down the House," which follows New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign to oust her district’s Democrat incumbent and become the youngest congresswoman in history. Parts of the Twitterverse were unkind to AOC’s boyfriend, but her pep talk before debating her opponent on television is the career jolt we all needed: “I am experienced enough to do this. I am knowledgeable enough to do this. I am prepared enough to do this. I am mature enough to do this. I am brave enough to do this.” NY Mag

  • Speaking of documentaries, HBO also released one called "At the Heart of Gold" about how Dr. Larry Nassar, the osteopathic physician for the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team and other athletes, was able to sexually abuse hundreds of female athletes. The story sheds light on how a culture of abuse and ignoring complaints from young women protected him for so long. Variety 

Around the World

  • England: London marathon runner Jessica Anderson, a nurse at Royal London Hospital, was denied a Guinness World Record on Sunday—and not because she failed to break a record. Anderson was attempting to be the “fastest woman to compete in the London marathon dressed as a nurse.” She beat the record-holding time by 22 seconds but was disqualified because she was wearing medical scrubs, not Guinness-approved nurse attire, aka “a white or blue dress, pinafore apron and white cap.” The Washington Post

  • Ethiopia: On Sunday, the International Confederation of Midwives celebrated Selamawit Lake Fenta, a midwife in Ethiopia, for her advocacy for fair pay for midwives. In 2011, when she was 22, she led a crusade for higher pay, citing occupational hazards like exposure to infected blood and a small midwife-to-patient ratio. After four years of lobbying, the Ministry of Health made it a requirement for employers to pay midwives more. NPR

  • South Africa: In the years following the end of apartheid, South Africa’s women workers have seen more benefits than men from improvements in the labor market. In 1993 (a year before the end of apartheid), the wage gap for South African women was 21 percent, but by 2014, had narrowed to 7 percent. Black women in the country are especially seeing greater work prospects, with their particpation in the workforce rising from 36 percent employed in 1993 to 49 percent employed in 2015. Women have additionally seen a 10 percent rise in attainment of tertiary education, compared to a 5 percent increase for men. Bloomberg
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