Women in Afghanistan fear for their lives and futures. “I felt like I can no longer laugh out loud,” said a female university student in Kabul after the Taliban regained control of the government. The entire world is holding its breath to see if the country will return to the oppression and violence of 1996-2001. Although Taliban leaders have launched a PR blitz assuring the media that women will be treated as fairly as Islamic law allows, most people are understandably skeptical of a group that has publicly whipped women for violating its repressive gender norms. After 20 years of significant progress, women and girls are too scared to leave their homes without a male guardian, making it extremely difficult to attend work or school. All eyes are on Afghanistan and the 14 million women fighting for equality and their right to work. [NYT, Quartz, 19th]
“Patriarchy with a dress on.” Time’s Up, the organization founded to fight sexual misconduct and abuse, is going through a reckoning of its own as questions mount about potential conflicts of interest. Board Chair Roberta Kaplan resigned last week after an investigation reported that she helped Cuomo respond to the sexual harassment allegations against him. In case you missed that part, the allegation is that she helped a sex creep get away with creeping rather than come to the aid of the women he is accused of creeping on. So who’s watching the watchers? Former staff members, it seems, who claim that Time’s Up prioritized its proximity to power and celebrity over the real concerns of survivors. In fact, the organization has deep ties to both business and government that could continue to prove problematic. CEO Tina Tchen has apologized to the Time’s Up community and vowed to do better. Meanwhile, a group of over 100 survivors is calling for a third-party investigation. [Daily Beast, 19th]
Women’s health startup Maven Clinic just unlocked unicorn status with a $110 million raise. Color us shocked (read: not at all) that this is the first startup dedicated to people with uteruses and their health to join the $1 billion valuation club, AKA achieve unicorn status. Maven rose to the top of the heap in a field normally dominated by male investors. Founded by CEO Kate Ryder in 2014, the company aims to provide a more holistic approach to women’s healthcare, including fertility, pregnancy, childcare and mental health. Oprah contributed to Maven’s latest round of funding, so you know it’s probs a good idea. [Fortune]
Would you like peanuts with that “I heart Nirvana” tattoo? Good news for all the rebels, oddballs and free spirits out there flying the (not so) friendly skies — United Airlines is throwing out its old appearance guidelines for flight attendants. Gone are the days of mandated traditional and gender normative makeup and hair. Flight attendants of all genders can sport visible tattoos, loose hair, natural makeup and nail polish if they so choose. Less felicitously, tattoos must be smaller than employee badges and hair can’t fall past the shoulders. Sorry, Jason Momoa. You can’t win them all. [Axios]
We’ll take ‘harassment’ for $500, Alex — er, Mike. News just emerged that the newly appointed and already very controversial host of “Jeopardy!”, producer Mike Richards, was involved in two lawsuits alleging mistreatment of female employees during his time at “The Price Is Right” just over a decade ago. Richards also made derogatory comments about women, Jews and people with mental disabilities on a podcast in 2013 and 2014. What is “fired”? We shall see. [The Ringer]
Don’t call it an internship. Returnships are all the rage again as companies increasingly realize that mid-career professionals returning to the workforce — who are by and large women who have taken breaks for caregiving — are valuable assets to any business. In a global pandemic that saw millions exit the workforce, these programs are even more crucial and a matter of gender equity. Hopefully, taking a break to care for children or family will no longer be considered a detriment to career growth. Relaunchers deserve a chance too. Just don’t ask them to make the coffee. (See our piece on this a couple of years back.) [HBR]
Numbers to know 🔢
101 years since the 19th amendment was passed! (Well, technically yesterday, Aug. 18, was the anniversary.) Raise a glass and let’s keep fighting — voter access is clearly one of the most important U.S. issues of our time.
39 companies founded by all-women or mixed-gender teams have become unicorns in 2021 so far. That’s about 12 percent of all new unicorns this year, on track to match previous rates. So doing the reverse math, 88 percent of the latest additions to the $1B+ club were founded by all-male teams?! Ughs times a billion.
30% of seats on S&P 500 boards are now held by women for a majority of boards — a new record that remains oh so far from parity. Here’s hoping Nasdaq’s new diversity requirements will help push the needle on this.
12 women hold coaching positions in the NFL this season. Assistant coach Jennifer King made history this year as the first Black woman to hold that position.
And, in closing, a quote to think on
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