Sheryl Sandberg Gives TedWomen Talk on Why So Few Women in Leadership Positions

I came across an article written Anne-Marie Slaughter, who is a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University called “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” when I saw the name of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. Anne-Marie Slaughter had referenced her TedTalk and I was interested in hearing what she had to say about why there are so few women in leadership positions today. The talk is very inspiring and offers a strong message to women to stay in the labor force, even with the difficulties of having children. One of the most interesting parts Sheryl talks about is the study that a researcher at Colombia University implemented [7:33-8:58]. Essentially, he took the case of Heidi Rosen, who was a very accomplished women, and changed her name on the case to say the name Howard. It shows that when students had to choose who to work for, given that Heidi and Howard each had the same qualifications, and the fact that Howard didn’t even exist, Howard was chosen as the person they wanted to work for. Heidi seemed “too selfish, assertive, and highly political.” It’s so interesting to see the bias that still exists today in the 21st century. Perceptions have a powerful impact into how we think and and act and this “belief barrier” that Heidi is seen as “selfish, assertive, political,” has implications that have a huge impact on women and their ability to progress through all levels of society. While America loves assertive and dominant men as leaders, if women possess such qualities, they are seen and depicted in a negative light. It’s not fair and shows how gender stereotypes still persist in our society today.

Furthermore, I think that Anne-Marie Slaughter is right in her article when she states that in this day and age, women just really can’t seem to have it all. She talks about how the company culture in America is “always on,” as a mode of working. She talks about how to be in a senior position, “it is expected that you be available more than five days a week… and available 24-7 with no visible caring responsibilities.” This has made it difficult for women to reach top leadership roles. In fact, her research shows that women have been having kids in their late 30’s or choosing to freeze their eggs because they do not want to lose out on promotions or be forgotten when they are on maternity leave. The work culture in America does not allow for an even balance between being a mother and being in the workforce as I have mentioned in my Nordic Countries Vs. USA blog.

I think that if women want to have a family, then they should have one whenever they want, and not have to put that on hold because of career choices. I think that they should be able to have a family and still have the career they desire. Anne-Marie Slaughter addresses that if more women could “strike this balance” then there would be more women in leadership positions, yet we still live in a society where we believe that good mothers are always with their children. Of course, Anne and Sheryl would have to disagree with this since they are both working mothers who are very successful and powerful women, but they do admit that it is difficult to balance work and family life.

Here is a link to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article on “Why Women Can’t Have It All,” it is a very interesting read! http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-cant-have-it-all/309020/6/

Lorna

Chime for Change and the Incredible Story of Kakenya Ntaiya

Chime for Change is a new campaign, founded by Gucci, whose focus is to “raise awareness and funds for girls and women’s empowerment globally.” Gucci has been committed to girls’ and women’s issues for years now and is currently in a seven-year relationship with UNICEF, which I talked about in a previous post. Chime for Change has three powerful and influential women who happen to be its co-founders. These women are Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Salma Hayek Pinault, and Frida Giannini, who is Gucci’s Creative Director. Together these women have raised awareness for girls and women’s issues all over the world by launching commercials and using different social media outlets and they have helped fund many new projects to females all across the globe.

chimes banner

Earlier this June, Beyoncé dedicated an entire concert to Chime for Change to raise awareness, where she was able to raise $4.3 million in ticket sales. This money will fund 200 projects in 70 different counand the impact will be remarkable. beyonce concert

I was able to find the concert on YouTube and it was spectacular. While performing, Beyoncé referred to Rosa Parks and other famous women who have fought for equal rights for women for decades. When asked about empowering girls and women across the globe, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter said, “I have always felt strongly about equal opportunity for women. Girls have to be taught from early on that they are strong and capable of being anything they want to be. It is up to us to change the statistics for women around the world. I’m honored to be in the company of women who live fearlessly and set an example for the next generation of young ladies.”  Beyoncé has made a huge impact and I admire her for her dedication to girls’ and women’s empowerment.

Chime for Change is based on three pillars: Education, Health, and Justice. The campaign has been inspired from a range of international stories that range from Malala’s personal fight for education in Pakistan and other issues concerning women’s violence in India, Ireland, South Africa, and the United States.

Change would not be possible without its partner Catapult, who is the first “crowd-funding platform.” Chime for Change is “powered” Catapult and they allow Chime for Change to connect to community members directly to different organization and projects on issues that they are concerned with. Currently, they represent over 50 organizations in 38 countries.

What’s interesting about Catapult is that it allows others to support girls and women’s projects in a “personalized and individual way.” Something I love about the way Chime for Change website is designed is that people can chose one of the three pillars that is most important to them, find a project they are interested in and learn more about it. After they read and learn how much money is needed to fund this certain project, they are able to make a donation of as much and as little as fits their own budget. Frida Giannini said, “when you consider that a $50 donation provides vocational training for a girl in India, or that less than $200 can train a mentor who will help refugees adjust to life in America, or that $8,000 is enough to build a water system in Ethiopia that will make it so that girls and women no longer have to walk two hours round trip to collect unsafe water from a river — you realize how much positive impact each of us can have.” This quote confirms that no matter how much people donate, every little bit helps. I just recently donated money to the Kenyan village of Enoosaen, where the first primary school was just built in order to educate girls. The story behind this school is amazing and I came across it in the Chime for Change website and couldn’t resist sharing it in this blog.

While looking at the pillar of Education, I came across the name of Kakenya Ntaiya, who has been named by CNN as Hero of the Year for the powerful impact she created in her Kenyan village of Enoosaen. Katenya was the first girl to leave her Maasai village in Kenya and attend college in the US. She was able to receive her doctorate in education and then returned to Kenya to give back to her community so that these girls have a chance to be educated. She launched the first primary school that serves 160 girls who are the most underprivileged in her village. The school is named the Kakenya Center for Excellence and this video captures Kakenya’s vision and the impact she has made for girls empowerment and education in Kenya. This video is remarkable and I urge you to watch it, because it is so inspirational.

I did not know about Chime for Change before I had to do this blog, but I am so glad that I do now because I can  read about new projects that are helping girls and women worldwide. The impact Chime for Change has made has been incredible and I have made it my personal goal to donate once a month to girls education.

-Lorna

All of the above information came from http://www.chimeforchange.org/about. Visit this site if you would like more information and to learn about new projects being launched this year!

Other information I received from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frida-giannini/let-every-womans-voice-ri_b_2768477.html

Nordic Countries: “Women Friendly” vs the US

Human talent is a very important factor in determining how competitive a country is relative to others (Global Gender Gap Report, v). The Global Index Report defines human talent as the “skills, education, and productivity of its workforce (v).  The way countries utilize its human resource pool is very important in terms of effectively creating a prosperous economy, so with that being said, countries and companies thrive if women are educated and apart of the “fundamental pillar of the economy” as the report states. Diverse leadership helps pave the way for finding new ways of tackling economic challenges and building sustainable growth (Global Gender Gap Report, v). I think it’s important that the government play a role in creating the right policy framework for improving women’s education and economic participation, as the report also hints at. The United States is an entity that needs to implement new and better policies in incorporating women effectively in its economy.

Women serve multiple roles in society. For instance, they are workers, caregivers, mothers and it is spectacular to see how far they have advanced throughout the last 50 years (v). The Global Gender Gap Report of 2011 is a report that “aggregates 6 years of data, keeping track of gender-based disparities overtime”(3).  This report examines the gap between men and women in four categories: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The report as you can imagine, is very extensive and displays a lot of  information about all of the countries. Nonetheless, by looking at the charts and overall message of this report, it is clear that it shows a positive trend countries have taken in closing the gender gap. In addition to the Global Gender Report of 2011, I also looked at 2012 and shown below are the two figures that represent the two different years and  show the regional performance on the overall Index score.

global gender gap 2011 chart        global gender gap 2012 chart

It is clear that the gender gap is closing and we see North America, overall, holding the top spot in closing this gap, but that is measured in population, so it makes sense that the US would hold the top stop (since NA has the most people). When we look at specific numbers, North America is not doing as well as the Nordic countries in closing the gender gap. The next chart clearly displays this and this chart provides the global gender gap index comparisons from 2006-2012.

global gender gap index rankings comparisons 2006-2011

Now, I want to talk a little about the Nordic countries and how they serve as role models for the international community in the way they divide resources between men and women (no matter the overall level of resources they have). These four countries hold the highest position in the world for closing the gender gap and they are:  Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.  It is rather interesting to see how the United States holds such a low spot (22) in the world, compared to other countries in closing the gender gap.  The US thrives on always being the best and most powerful country, yet when it comes in being the most successful in closing the gender gap and coming closer to gender equality, the US does not hold the top spot. While the US numbers have changed quite a bit, the four Nordic countries numbers, in terms of rank, have remained quite steady. These Nordic countries have closed more than 80% of the gender gap, which is a substantial amount compared to other countries and they have held this spot for five consecutive years.

It is important to understand why these specific countries have been so successful in closing the gender gap and how their economies have thrived because of this, which has led them to hold the title of being called “women-friendly” countries. First, the reason is not a question of wealth because although these Nordic economies are high-income, the Global Gender Gap Index takes out overall wealth, and instead just measures how “equitably income, resources, and opportunities are distributed between women and men.” What’s their secret?

Not only have these Nordic countries obtained 99-100% literacy for both men and women, but girls do just as well as boys in terms of access to primary and secondary education (Global Gender Gap Report, 19). In terms of tertiary level of education, the gender gap has been reversed and women make the majority of high-skilled workforce. There countries have very high levels of enrollment for both women and men at the tertiary level (Global Gender Gap Report, 19).To be exact, the Global Gender Gap Index states that in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, there are over 1.5 women for every man enrolled in a university (19). For Finland and Denmark, women actually make up the majority at the tertiary level for education. I would say this is fairly impressive, but int he US, there are also more women in all levels of education today.

Yet,  the Nordic countries, unlike other developed economies, have not only closed the gender gap in education, but they have “maximized the returns on this investment“(Global Gender Gap Report, 19).  These economies have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, which has resulted in more women in the work force, shared participation in childcare, “more equitable distribution of labor at home,” and a better work-life balance for both men and women (Global Gender Gap Report, 22). These possibilities Nordic countries give have actually increased fertility rates. These policies include: “mandatory paternal leave in combination with maternity leave, a generous, state-mandated parental leave benefits provided by a combination of social insurance funds and employers, tax incentives and post-maternity re-entry programs” (Global Gender Gap Report, 22). Together, “these policies have lowered the opportunity costs of having children and led to relatively higher and rising birth rates, as compared to other ageing, developed economies” (Global Gender Gap Report, 22). In essence, these countries do whatever they can to accommodate women and help alleviate some of the work that women do so they can better manage their work and family lives. These countries want to create equality between men and women more than the US it seems like to me.

Yet, what is shocking is that the US failure to implement such changes. I found this excellent research paper titled: “Women and Leadership: The State of Play,” written by Deborah L. Rhode and Barbara Kellerman and it specifically discusses the changes the US has failed to take to in order to accommodate women. The authors state that the US is one of the only industrialized nations that fails to provide paid parental leaves, and only about “a tenth of those eligible for the largely unpaid options currently available take advantage of them” (Rhode and Kellerman, 15).  In addition, “quality, affordable childcare and elder care are also unavailable for many women who desire to work their way up a leadership role,” the authors state (15).  They argue that double standards in domestic roles have been “deeply rooted in cultural attitudes and workplace practices” (Rhode and Kellerman, 16). From their research, these women have concluded that working mothers in the US often face more criticism than working fathers when it comes to how committed they are, both as parents and as working professionals (8). Women are seen as being “insufficiently committed” because they are judged either for sacrificing family needs to their workplace duties or vice versa (Rhode and Kellerman, 8). Taking extended leaves or reducing ones schedule is seen, for a woman in the workforce, as “slacking” and “lacking as leaders” as the authors state (9). Moreover, in the international survey the authors talk about, “female executives were more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to delay marriage or starting a family in order to establish a career, and 12 percent of women, compared with only 1 percent of men, decided not to have children” (Rhode and Kellerman, 12). This makes me question about why women have to be the ones to reduce their career aspirations in order to deal with with family concerns? It is not fair at all and the US needs to begin implementing policies such as the Nordic countries have in order to give women an equal opportunity. There is seriously something wrong with the fact that the US society and companies make working mothers, appear less competent than men and less available to meet workplace responsibilities, yet working fathers are not seen in this light. This paper and research these women have done just confirms the gender stereotypes and gender discrimination that still occurs today in the 21st century.

The authors note that fewer than 15 percent of America’s Fortune 100 companies offer the same paid parental leave to fathers as to mothers, and an even smaller percentage of men take any extended period of time away from their jobs for family reasons (10). This simply confirms the unequal assignment of parental structures, which “reinforce gender roles that are separate but by no means equal” (Rhode and Kellerman, 10). This allows fathers to have unequal role in household duties, and pushes work and family issues on the women.

Furthermore, the Nordic countries have made it their goal to promote women’s leadership and this can clearly be seen in their policies. For instance, since 2008 Norway and other Nordic countries have made it a requirement to have 40% of each sex on their boards for publicly listed companies (Global Gender Gap Report, 22). In the US, this clearly is the case because we have not adopted such generous policies to further progress women’s leadership. In fact, from the research paper titled “Women and Leadership,” the authors state that in the US:

  “We have had only limited success in moving women into leadership roles traditionally occupied by men, and even less in moving men into domestic roles traditionally occupied by women. And we have not yet obtained workplace and social policies that accommodate the needs of both sexes on family-related issues.”

Based on all of the information above, I would have to completely agree with this quote, and there are statistics in their research that completely back this statement up.

  • “Over half of college graduates but less than a quarter of full professors and a fifth of college presidents are female” (2)
  • “In management, women account for about a third of M.B.A. classes, but only 2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 8 percent of top leadership positions, and 16 percent of board directors and corporate officers” (2)
  • “In law, women constitute about half of new entrants to the profession, but less than a fifth of law firm partners, federal judges, law school deans, and Fortune 500 general counsels” (2)

These statistics show a clear depiction how underrepresented women are when it comes to holding leadership positions and the US is just not doing as much compared to Nordic countries in trying to promote and empower women’s leadership. Our culture needs to change so women do not need to experience tradeoffs between being a mother or working. Women should be able to have both.

What’s more is that Nordic countries have given women the right to vote way before others: Sweden in 1919, Norway in 1913, Iceland and Denmark in 1915, and Finland in 1906 (Global Gender Gap Report, 22). In the countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, they wanted to make certain that females were represented over the years, so political parties introduced voluntary gender quotes in the 1970’s (Global Gender Gap Report, 22).  In Denmark, these quotas have been abandoned because women simply participate and run for office, therefore this stimulus is not required anymore (Global Gender Gap Report, 19). This is very different from the US, where women are underrepresented in the political realm.

Additionally, today Sweden holds the highest percentage (45%) of women who are in parliament in the world while other Nordic countries are just as successful (Global Gender Gap Report, 22). In fact, all Nordic countries are in the top 10 for the number of women they hold in parliament. This is pretty amazing because these women have a say in changing the way the government works, which has not been the case in the US. Furthermore, Iceland, Finland and Norway are among the top 10 countries in terms of the years that a women has been the head of state or the government. This is impressive given the fact “the world as a whole does very poorly in this indicator” (Global Gender Gap Report, 23).

All countries should try and implement the policy changes the Nordic countries have carried out. Having a combination of high female labor force participation, salary gaps between the sexes the lowest in the world, and giving women plenty of opportunities to hold leadership positions has allowed these Nordic countries to thrive both economically and politically. I was very surprised by reading this report because I did not know much about Nordic countries had closed the gap in trying to obtain gender equality.

Lorna

The Rise of Women

The Rise of Women: Gender Gap in Education

The Rise of Women: Gender Gap in Education

“The facts of women being more likely than men to go to college, perform better academically, and major in fields other than science, technology, engineering and mathematics are mostly attributable to factors affecting students before – in some cases, long before – they enter the halls of academe. But that doesn’t mean colleges can’t do anything to mitigate the consequences.” These are the conclusions of Thomas A. Diprete and Claudia Buchmann, who are authors of a recent book titled The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What it Means for American Schools. 

 The book discusses the gender inequalities in American society today, specifically in education. The authors talk about the substantial gains women have made in education since the 1960’s and then compare these gains with the inequalities that women still face in the world today. What’s interesting about this book is that it charts performance of both males and females over the course of their schooling, since kindergarden up until college. The graphs are remarkable to look at and see differences. The authors, at every stage in the education process, were able to consider the “gender-specific impact of factors such as families, school, peers, race, and class. Throughout their research, the authors demonstrate how differences emerge as early as kindergarden, where girls show “higher levels of essential learning skills such as persistence and self-control.” By contrast,  boys at this stage are in conflict with their “emerging masculine identity,” and do not work as hard (as girls) in school because of this.

The authors talk in depth about how women surpass men in one arena specifically: EDUCATION. In fact, women actually perform better academically than men in all levels of schooling and they are more likely than men to receive college degrees and pursue degrees in graduate school. I found this excellent pie graph to shows this trend.

pie graph of womens education

What is interesting is that since 1950, the rate of men completing a bachelor’s degree remained the same for years, yet since 1970’s, 14% of women finished college, while 20% of men did the same. A chart below demonstrates these statistics. The graph below demonstrates women surpassing men in attaining bachelor degrees. There are also many other graphs that depict such advances, but I felt this one was relevant in depicting just how far women have come since the 1900’s. Other graphs in the book show how 1980’s up until now the trends have increased and women are attaining higher levels’ of education than men. DiPrete and Buchmann discuss how “the rise of egalitarian gender norms and a growing demand for college-educated workers has allowed more women to enroll in colleges and universities nationwide. Because of this shift that happened, women were able to reverse the historical male advantage in education.”

rise of women chart

In addition, by 2010, women had surpassed men in obtaining college degrees by more than eight percentage points. Women’s graduation rate, says DiPrete have “skyrocketed” to 36%, “while the rate among men grew only 7 points to 27 percent.” Today, women outpace men in college enrollment by a ratio of 1.4 to 1, yet still don’t make as much money as their male counterparts.

Rise of Women talks a lot about how more women have gone into fields such as medicine and the law, and that women “lag” behind men in engineering and physical science degrees, which Professor Eileen Pollack confirmed in her article and in the interview. The authors argue that the high school years, not the college years, are where students, particularly girls, begin to segregate in their choice of majors. Chapter 8 is where most of this information was taken from. This chapter discusses gender differences in all levels of schooling, particularly the “high school intentions to major in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and gender differences in college majors.”

The data in Chapter 8 shows that more girls than boys lose interest in STEM subjects. The authors blame the education system for such gender segregation in the fields. They argue that, “school environments differ in the extent to which they support the idea that majoring in a STEM field can be an attractive choice for women.” The authors address the fact that recent evidence has shown that the schools that have a very strong science and math curriculum are good at “delinking STEM fields from masculine stereotypes,” and these women are more likely to pursue these degrees in college. Yet, many high schools do not emphasize STEM subjects and women lose interest in those majors when they attend college. The authors argue for stronger faculty who will push their students, especially girls, and encourage them to pursue such degrees.

This made me think of Eileen Pollack’s article about “Why Are Their So Few Women in the Sciences?” She emphasizes how women need positive reinforcement to go science degrees and the high school faculty is slacking in this, as the authors of The Rise of Women note. With all of this information, its interesting to see how little has been done to encourage more girls to pursue such degrees. Our education system, especially in high school, needs to change in order to encourage girls to pursue careers in the sciences.

The book has amazing charts and graphs that even breaks down racial differences in education and overall is an excellent book to learn more about the advances that women have made, but also the difficulties they still face in our education system, where they are still treated as gendered groups, instead of individuals.

Lorna

I was able to find the graphs from this book in the publishers pages: https://www.russellsage.org/sites/all/files/diprete_figurestables.pdf

Interview with Professor Eileen Pollack

Interview with Eileen Pollack on Gender Discrimination in Academia and the Workplace

I had the privilege of interviewing Eileen Pollack, who is currently a Creative Writing Professor at the University of Michigan. She has very interesting experiences that pertain to women in education, particularly in the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), and she was able to share some of her experiences in this interview. The interview is tailored around six questions that I felt were necessary to fully capture Professor Pollack’s experiences. It was difficult for me to come up with these questions because there was so much more I wanted to ask, but I think limiting it to these 6 questions (which are shown below) worked very well for the purposes of this blog. As I mentioned earlier in my blog, Professor Pollack currently wrote an article called “Why Are There So Few Women in the Sciences,” so this interview talks about her article as well as her experiences at Yale, while at the same time describing the gender discrimination that still exists in the 21st century for women in the sciences.

I hope you enjoy this interview, I know I did!

Questions for Eileen Pollack:

1. For people that have not yet read your article, can you talk a little bit about your experiences at Yale, while earning a bachelor of science in physics?

2. In the article, you say that many men you wanted to date were put off by your physics degree, would you say this type of bias still exists today?

3. “Perceptions of discrimination are evidence of nothing but subjective feelings.” This is what Judith Kleinfeld said in your article, what is your reaction to this?

4. “The most powerful determinant of whether a woman goes in science might be whether anyone encourages her or not,” is what you emphasize in the article. If you could say a few words to women pursing a degree in the sciences (physics, chemistry or biology), what would you say to these women?

5. In the article, you talk about how you walked away from your dream and why so many other women still walk away from theirs. If you could go back and do it again, would you make the same decisions?

6. You are currently working on a book about women in the sciences. Would you say this is your way of encouraging women to pursue a career in the sciences or to warn them of the hardships?

I would like to thank my group member Gabrielle Valentic,  who was able to capture this interview for me. Also, if you would like to learn a little more about the difficulties women face in academia while at the same time trying to maintain their feminine qualities visit Belle’s Blog here.

Lorna

Videographer/Editor: Gabrielle Valentic

[This is a private interview conducted with Professor Eileen Pollack at the University of Michigan for classroom use in English 340: The Historical Hinge. Usage for other purposes is strictly prohibited].

“Education is one of the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process.” 

 –ICPD Programme of Action of Action, paragraph 4.2

This quote was said by the International Conference on Development Beyond 2014 and they talk about how while education for men is important it is actually even more important for women because it has “far reaching effects within the family and across generations” (UNFPA, 1). ICPD discusses how important it is that women all over the country especially in the countries of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, all have access to education to increase development in these economies. They talk about how women that are educated get married later and as mentioned in the previous post, have smaller and healthier families (UNFPA, 1). These women are able to recognize how important health care is and can provide it for their children.

In addition, a woman’s education is actually more influential than a father’s according to the ICPD (1). Educated women are more likely to join the labour force and help their children with schooling. Also, educated women are less likely to have unintended and mistimed births, which is important in determining what kind of life they will provide for their children (UNFPA, 1). Because educated women tend to have a smaller family, they are able to provide and concentrate more on their kids offer a better support system. I think this is very important because it determines how these children take care of their children also. Additionally, investing in women’s education is also an effective way in reducing poverty, since most of these individuals tend to be women and their children (UNFPA, 1).

With all of the information above, it is essential that women have access to education so that they can take care of themselves and their children. Being able to receive an education is critical because it truly determines the structure of their family and what kind of life their children will have.

Lorna

Impact of Education on Fertility in Latin America

I am very interested in Latin America because I studied abroad in Buenos Aires last semester, so when I found this report I was very interested about what it said. The information was taken from this report: https://guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/2105295.html

There are two main points that I took away from this article. First, according to the Demographic and Health Surveys in Latin America, women who are better educated tend to have fewer kids (2 to 3). Women with less education tend to have larger families, ranging between 6 to 7 kids. What is interesting though is that when it comes to desired family size, preferences do not differ much by educational attainment, according to the data shown. Less educated women share the same norm as educated women and want smaller families, but these women are less successful in implementing such goals because there is such a large gap in contraceptive use (20-50 percentage points).

Table 2 shown below demonstrates how the region of Latin America is where the education-fertility relationship is the strongest. This table confirms “the wide fertility differentials among educational groups.” It’s interesting to see how the total fertility rate (TFR) between the most and least educated women ranges from 3.2 children in the Dominican Republic to 4.9 children in Peru. In addition, table 2 also reveals just how divided society is in Latin America when it comes to “reproductive strategies.” Contraceptive practices are linked to education, so generally speaking, “the lower the national level of contraceptive prevalence, the larger the gap in contraceptive behavior between poorly and better educated women.” For instance, it is shocking to see the wide gap in percentage points between different countries as table 2 shows. The differences range from “20 % in Colombia and Dominican Republic to more than 40 percentage points in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru.”

Based on data, this shows that more needs to be done to make sure that all women receive a proper education because it so important for the future.

Fertility in Latin america

Illiteracy

Definition of Illiterate

The box shown above was taken from a report I found titled The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. I wanted to make certain that everyone knew how the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defined the terms illiterate and literate.

According to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “2/3 of the 774 million adult illiterates worldwide are women” (43). This number is quite shocking and just goes to show the continued disadvantages that women still face worldwide.

The chart below shows how the number of illiterate women declined from about 549 to 496 million, which is roughly a 10% decline; however, this should have decreased more since we are in the 21st century and women have advanced heavily since the feminist movement. Most of the illiterate population occurs in the less developed regions such as South-Central Asia, which accounts for ¾ of women who are illiterate and sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for over half of the total (United Nations, 44). Women in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are being denied the right to be educated and this is the primary reason why the region of South-Central Asia has such a high number of women who are illiterate (250 million) (United Nations, 45). However, even for Europe to have 3.2 million women who are illiterate just goes to show that governments worldwide need to work together to show and promote a stronger “political and financial commitment and attach more weight to literacy in national planning” (United Nations, 45). Women are important to the development of our world and governments cannot turn away and deny women their rights to education. What is rather interesting, as is clearly shown on the chart below, is that men have a lower number than women for being illiterate. This demonstrates how women worldwide are still at a disadvantage when compared to men.

Number of adult illiterate women

http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color.pdf

Lorna

The Colbert Report: Interview with Malala Yousafzai

“Education is very important. Education is a power for women and that is why the Taliban terrorists are afraid of education, because with education, women will become more powerful.” This statement is said by 16 year-old Malala Yousafzai, who is a strong activist for women’s education, and was shot by the Taliban because she became an instant threat to their regime. I am absolutely astonished by the bravery she has shown by speaking up for women’s rights in her country since she was 11 years old in her Pakistani hometown. She spoke to every media channel and newspaper that would listen to her, in order to inform others of the negative impact the Taliban have imposed for the women in her community. She describes the struggle of being confined to the four walls in her house and being forbidden to go to school and learn. Malala shows us how women in the Middle East in general are struggling to for their freedom to be educated and just how much these women want to learn and pursue higher education.

In the United States (US) we are so incredibly privileged because women are able to go to school and are told they can be anything they want to be. However, as Eileen Pollack’s article has shown us, there is still a bias that exists and it not just men that think such things, but also women themselves. There is this mindset that still thrives in our American society that men are more competent than women and at times this prevents these women from pursing their dreams, such as occurred to Pollack and many others in her field. I think that if Malala read Pollack’s article she would be appalled at how many women in the sciences do not follow their dreams because of the lack of encouragement, lack of self-esteem that comes from professors, their families, and others. From seeing this three-part interview, it is clear that if Malala were to speak to these women giving up their dreams, she would say “women are more powerful than men,” which she confirms in the Daily Show. She truly believes that women and men are equal in every aspect of life, and women in the US need to think this also, because anything can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.

Lorna