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Women in the News + The Myth of Cattiness

December 9: Badass women and the news that affects them

Mitra Norowzi
Contributor

Company Culture

  • According to Uber’s (3.2 stars) first-ever safety report, the company recieved over 3,000 reports of sexual assault during rides in 2018. The reported incidents represent a tiny fraction of the 1.3 billion Uber rides that took place in the U.S. over the year, but sexual assault is drastically under reported so the true number of incidents that took place is likely much higher. NY Times

  • While we’re on the subject of sexual assaults at ride-hailing services, 19 women launched a lawsuit against Lyft (3.2 stars) alleging the company failed to enact basic safety measures that could have prevented their sexual assaults and then neglected to follow up on their complaints. 

  • Digital communication tools like Slack can be an asset for modern-minded organizations. But what happens when a company restricts all communication to a channel that everyone can see? In an effort to increase transparency, higher-ups at direct-to-consumer luggage brand Away asked employees to only communicate work information in public channels on Slack and to use email or private messaging for personal needs. According to former employees, instead of fostering inclusivity, the decision created a culture of intimidation, where every single comment the employees made was subject to scrutiny. Verge

  • Does seeing happy wedding photos at former plantations ever feel a little too Get Out for you? Pinterest (3.7 stars) and The Knot, two of the largest digital wedding planning platforms, agree on the ick factor. Both companies have announced changes in their policies to stop promoting wedding vendors that use language that romanticizes Southern plantations. These venues will still be able to list themselves as venues on the platforms on The Knot, but the new language guidelines will prevent them from using words such as “elegant” or “charming” to describe themselves. According to a Pinterest spokesperson, the company is working to restrict plantation wedding content on its site and is working to de-index Google searches for plantation weddings so users who search for them will see a content advisory. BuzzFeed

Quick Hits

  • For decades, a stereotype of catty women coworkers has seemed to persist in popular media—a natural extension of the “mean girls” trope. But according to the Harvard Business Review, this stereotype is merely a myth. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that women treat other women more negatively in the workplace than men treat other men, and when women do clash at work, it can more often be attributed to competition over the few opportunities for advancement that the male-dominated structure has created. HBR

  • A number of states, including California and New York, have laws on the books banning race-based hair discrimination. But Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) want to take the protections ever further by writing them into federal law. Booker and Richmond, along with Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced the bill called the C.R.O.W.N. Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), which is what has passed in some states already, to ban discrimination on hair texture and style. The Hill

  • The concept of “emotional labor” has been a hot topic in more woke social media circles lately, but according to this thoughtful piece by VICE, many of us may not be interpreting it quite correctly. Arlie Hochschild, a sociologist who originally coined the term in 1983, used the phrase to describe the demand placed on service workers to project cheery and pleasant dispositions at all times while on the job. But sometime in the past few years, emotional labor has been used to describe things that might more appropriately fall under the categories of “invisible” or “care-based labor” like various household chores such as cooking, cleaning, and family planning. The inequity tied up in these practices is a worthy conversation, but Marie Solis argues that mislabeling invisible labor as emotional labor can be counterproductive, sending the message that this kind of work isn’t real work, and also ignores the class dynamic where emotional labor is most often expected of women in lower-paying service positions. VICE

Around the World

  • Finland: Sanna Marin, Finland’s 34-year-old transport minister, has been appointed to the role of prime minister, making her the country’s youngest prime minister ever, as well as the youngest serving prime minister in the world. Marin is the third woman to helm Finland’s government. The Guardian

  • United Kingdom: According to 2018 data from the Office for National Statistics, workers who are disabled in London face the largest pay gap in the U.K. On average, they earn 15.3 percent less than abled workers, with workers with mental disabilities earning 18.6 percent less. Bloomberg

  • Italy: The infamous pasta-making nonnas of Bari are legendary in southern Italy, drawing the admiration of tourists far and wide for their homemade orecchiette, the city’s renowned ear-shaped pasta. But their craft, and the income it brings them, is being threatened by government crackdowns on the selling of this “contraband pasta.” NY Times

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