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Women in the News + Why Women Are Considering Quitting Their Jobs

April 27: Badass women and the news that affects them

Photo courtesy of Nadezhda

Company Culture

  • According to a new report from Business Insider, Whole Foods (3.0 stars) is monitoring its stores for union activity through an interactive data-powered heat map. The map utilizes more than two dozen metrics such as employee “loyalty,” turnover, and racial diversity. Although it’s rarely talked about, this type of data monitoring to squash employee organizing is common in big corporations—U.S. companies spent at least $100 million on consulting services for anti-union campaigns between 2014 and 2017, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute based on disclosure forms filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, Whole Foods’ parent company, Amazon (3.0 stars), has a reputation for aggressive anti-union action. Business Insider 

  • More than 5,000 food workers have been infected with coronavirus, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International union, and workers at large meat processing plants are some of the most vulnerable. In addition to companies failing to provide PPE or barriers until recently, the fast pace of the work often prevents workers from even pausing to cough or sneeze, and close quarters increase risk of transmission among groups of employees. Outbreaks have prompted the closure of at least eight major plans from Smithfield (2.2 stars), Tyson (2.7 stars), JBS (2.6 stars), National Beef, and Hormel Foods (2.4 stars). A now-closed Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, became a hot spot of infection and had nearly 800 workers test positive for COVID-19—the first worker there tested positive on March 24, but the plant didn’t close until April 14. Smithfield is now facing a lawsuit accusing the company “of failing to provide workers with sufficient protective equipment; forcing them to work shoulder to shoulder; giving them insufficient opportunities to wash their hands; discouraging them from taking sick leave; and failing to implement a plan for testing and contact tracing.” VICE

  • Online learning platform Coursera (4.5 stars) has implemented a new initiative to give free access to 3,800 of its courses to people newly unemployed because of the pandemic. The goal of the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative is to help unemployed people develop skills such as coding, machine learning, or accounting so they can find new employment. Government agencies that serve unemployed people can apply for access, and individuals can sign up through the agencies. The Verge

In the News

  • New evidence has emerged supporting Tara Reade’s allegation that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her when she worked as a staffer for his senatorial office. In interviews with The Intercept, Reade claimed her mother made a call to Larry King Live on CNN that made reference to Reade’s assault shortly after she left that post. Video of her mother’s call has been found, appearing to lend credibility to her allegations. In the call, Reade’s mother did not explicitly mention sexual assault, nor she did she identify Biden as a perpetrator, and instead alluded to a problem her daughter had with a “prominent senator” and that she had fruitlessly tried to bring a complaint, but chose not to go to the press “out of respect for him.” So, while the call can’t corroborate Reade’s allegation in its entirety, it does confirm her account that she told her mother of the alleged assault shortly after it happened. The Intercept

  • In the flurry of COVID-19 coverage, here’s a piece of news that shouldn’t be overlooked. The Trump administration is close to finalizing a Department of Health and Human Services administrative rule to remove health care discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The new rule, which was proposed back in May 2019, would scrap an Obama-era interpretation of sex discrimination that includes discrimination against LGBTQ people and allow health care providers to deny care to patients they perceive as gay or transgender. It would also allow insurance providers to deny coverage for gender-affirming health care such as surgeries or hormone treatments. But most frighteningly, in the midst of a pandemic, the lives of LGBTQ folks could literally be in the hands of a bigoted doctor or nurse. Vox 

  • According to a survey conducted by Syndio, 14 percent of women have considered quitting their jobs to meet increased child care demands brought about by the pandemic. Only 11 percent of men said they had considered doing the same and another 10 percent of men and 6 percent of women said their partner or spouse was considering leaving their job. This is just one of the many ways in which the coronavirus is impacting women and exacerbating gender inequality. Women work two-thirds of minimum wage jobs, putting them at higher risk for unemployment, but those who have been deemed essential workers likely lack flexibility in their hours and are thus unable to care for children out of school. Other working moms, even those with higher paying jobs, are likely to make less money than their male spouses, which means if one parent has to quit their job to meet caregiving demands, it’s the mom. Fortune 

Around the World

  • North Korea: Rumors that 36-year-old Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is in poor health have spread like wildfire on the internet. Although these reports are unconfirmed, the rumors have sparked questions about who’d succeed Kim if he died. The North Korean leader has no official heirs, so many have pointed to Kim’s sister, 32-year-old Kim Yo Jong, as his natural successor, even though the nearly seven decades-long Kim dynasty has never seen a woman ruler. Little is known about Yo Jong, but she was a close aide to her father and has taken an active role in her brother’s reign. But before we go celebrating the possibility of a more peaceful, more emotionally intelligent female Supreme Leader, it’s important to remember that some experts, like Sung Yoon Lee of Tufts University, don’t see Yo Jong as someone who will improve foreign relations: “It is entirely possible that Ms. Kim will prove even more tyrannical than her brother or father or grandfather.” VICE

  • Scotland: Although there’s still a lot scientists don’t know about the coronavirus, what little they do can largely be attributed to the work of Scottish scientist June Almeida. In 1964, she identified and photographed a new type of virus, named corona for its halo-like structure. Despite having never finished her formal education, Almeida developed a revolutionary microscopy technique that allowed her to identify this new type of virus when traditional methods failed. National Geographic 

  • Saudi Arabia: According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed a record 184 people in 2019, the highest number recorded by the organization in the country. King Salman has recently ordered an end to the death penalty for crimes committed by minors, as well as an end to the practice of public flogging as punishment for crimes. The Washington Post

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By Mitra Norowzi

Contributor

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