Christine Lobosco ’14 Women in Leadership
Undoubtedly the biggest headline last week in world news was the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Of course, this event always marks the commencement of exciting competition for the athletes, but this time, it means much more to female ski jumpers. These games will signify their long-awaited inclusion to the prestigious games.
Liz Clarke of The Washington Post reported that ever since the inaugural Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France in 1924, the ski jump event was only for male competitors. Ninety years later and after a decade long struggle, women won the right to compete in the event for the first time in Sochi. Women should have been able to compete much earlier especially because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1991 announced that all future Olympic sports must have events for both males and females. But, the ski jumping event and the Nordic combined event still only allowed males to compete.
It was not until 2006 when the International Ski Federation stood behind its female ski jumpers and asked the IOC to add women’s ski jumping to the 2010 Vancouver games, but the IOC again did not comply. Canadian lawyers, along with 13 female jumpers from Canada, the US, Germany and Norway, sued the Vancouver Organizing Committee. With US ski jumper Lindsey Vonn as the frontrunner of this fight, the group pushed for the 2014 games to include ski jumping and they at last saw victory.
Why have women never been able to compete in this event? Vonn told The Boston Globe that one of the reasons might be because the sport is considered very extreme. Ski jumping is sometimes called the original extreme sport because one wrong movement while mid-air could make the competitor’s results extremely damaging. Vonn believes that officials may have not wanted to add women in the event because if women were involved it may make the sport “less extreme.”
Vonn also told The Boston Globe that ski jumping was traditionally male dominated and they did not want women “coming to the party.” Vonn has felt inequality in her sport for as long as she has ski jumped. She said in a press conference prior to the Sochi games that while the men competed in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, she could test the slope for the men but not compete herself.
Officials have even said that women could not handle the intensities because ski jumping is a medical concern for women. But not a medical concern for men, apparently. NBC translated a quote from a men’s ski jumping coach from Russia for the Sochi games about women ski jumping. Alexander Arefyev said that if a woman was seriously injured from the sport, it would be much worse than if a man was. He continued to say that, “women have a different purpose – to have children, to do housework, and to create a family home.” Surely this comment pushed female ski jumpers to prove themselves last Tuesday in Sochi even more.
And it did. The first ever Olympic women ski jumping event was thrilling to watch; anyone watching knew it was an important day for women’s rights. Although the medal ceremony did not display any Americans, the ski jumping that occurred that night was not about winning individually, it was about winning for women. American skiers Lindsey Vonn, Jessica Jerome, and Sarah Hendrickson simply wanted to be accepted and recognized as athletes at the World Games in a sport they have trained for all their lives. They gained this recognition on Tuesday. No matter what country they came from, the women rooted for each other, all knowing that they were making history. On the hill that night, Jerome told USA Today that she felt a special camaraderie among the other female competitors. With no medal in hand, it was more than enough to share the experience with the other women.
Although the Sochi Olympics mark a huge step forward for gender equality, there are still inequalities left for the IOC to change. USA Today’s Kelly Whiteside highlighted that even though female skiers can now jump, they cannot jump at the same height as men. Women can compete on the 95-meter hill, but not the 125-meter hill that men can. Additionally, there still exists one male-only event: the Nordic combined. As soon as the Sochi games are over, women skiers will start pushing for these inequalities to be changed.
But for now, let us applaud the huge barrier women skiers broke last week. Thanks to them, there is one less inequality for women to fight in the world today.
Amelia Smith ’17 Women in Leadership
Women’s issues are at the forefront of public discussion today. Much has been said about “breaking the glass ceiling,” pay equity, and gender roles. Despite the confidence that gender equality is on the upswing in the workplace, Julie Zeilinger of the Huffington Post wrote an enticing article about where women’s rights actually stand. “4 Women’s Issues That Haven’t Changed Since 1911” discusses prominent women’s issues that have not changed in over 100 years.
The four issues raised in this article are:
1. Men continue to dominate the most powerful job positions, and also get paid more for their work.
In a recent Catalyst poll, statistics showed that only 19.5% of law firm partners are women and a mere 14.6% of Fortune 500 executive positions are held by women. To make matters worse, women continue to only receive eighty-one cents for every dollar made by a male for the same job. Emphasizing the importance of this issue, President Barack Obama made a point to address the gender wage gap in his latest State of the Union. According to Laura Bassett, most women do not realize that they are being paid less than their male coworkers. U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, along with 56 other Democratic congresswomen, are pushing for President Obama to enact an executive order regarding this issue.
2. Women are more impacted by work stress than men.
Unfortunately, women tend to be more stressed at work than men. Political activist Emma Goldman wrote that in order to succeed at the work place women, “generally do so at the expense of their physical and psychical well-being.” This is possibly because women feel they need to work harder in order to prove their worth and success. The American Psychological Association also found that 37% of women feel they are stressed at work whereas only 33% of men feel the same.
3. “Freedom” in the workplace sometimes does not feel so free to women.
The facts above contribute to the idea that the workplace is not a free place for both men and women. With the wage gap based on gender and the fact that men continue to dominate higher positions, how are women supposed to feel free? I believe that only when women begin to stand up to men in the work place will there be a sense of freedom.
4. Women are taking double shifts, at work and at home.
The unpaid work that women do at home is often referred to as the “second shift.” In addition to providing a source of income, women are also expected to maintain the house so that it can remain a “home.” Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 20% of men reported helping with housework. My mother was a single mother with a full time job. She managed to keep our house a home and put meals on the table, even if that table was at a restaurant. Marriage is a partnership. Men who marry women with careers should not expect them to drop everything to make a meal or clean the house. My mother taught me the importance of finding a mate who respects you and wants you to succeed. I believe that marriages are successful when both parties understand the other’s commitments and are willing to make compromises.
As a young woman in this day and age, I am absolutely appalled at the fact that the issues listed above have not changed. Women were granted the right to vote nearly seventy-five years ago. Why have we not continued the fight for equality? Why isn’t every woman in America fighting for what is rightfully ours? Joss Whedon, an American writer said, “Equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now.” I believe that only when every woman AND every man in America begin to realize that we have not reached total equality, will we gain what we have worked so hard for.
Natalie Young ’16 Inside Politics
Though the start line for the race for 2016 presidential election seems distant, the questions are running rampant: Who will show up? Who is practicing their footing and timing? Who is building their fan base? Who will be our next president?
As displayed by a CNN/ORC poll reviewed last week, while the Republican Party does not have an obvious candidate, the Democratic Party has several frontrunners.
Though Hillary Clinton has not yet committed to the race in 2016, a large portion of the population has committed to voting for her. According to the Washington Post in reference to a poll published last week, Clinton is taking a lead larger than any other recorded by early primary matchups in the past 30 years.
Several possible reasons persist for Clinton’s refusal to run in the race. First, she has already been considered the favorite among her party’s candidates in an election and been denied the nomination. Second, on Election Day in 2016, Clinton would be 69. This is the same age as Ronald Reagan, the oldest president to date. Third, she has spent most of her life in the political spotlight. Being the first woman president would be the climax of the current political life, demanding a similar climax in commitment and ability. She may not be prepared for this undertaking. When Clinton resigned from Secretary of State last year, she told ABC in an interview, “It sounds so simple, but I’ve been, as you know, at the highest level of American and now international activities for twenty years, and I just thought it was time to take a step off…maybe do some reading and writing and speaking and teaching.”
According to CNN, there are other possible candidates for the 2016 presidential election. In an interview with CNN’s “New Day” last week, Joe Biden commented that there was “no obvious reason” he should not run for president. Nevertheless, on Election Day in 2016, Biden would be 73. This would make him the oldest man to run the race, cross the line, and lead the country.
Some other possible candidates include Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. However, CNN included a comment from a political strategist experienced with Democratic Party presidential elections which asserted, “The truth is that, if Hillary doesn’t run Biden becomes the class of the field by far. It’s got to be Hillary or Joe or we’re in trouble.”
Conclusively, in the interview, Biden stated, “For me, the decision to run or not run is going to be determined by me, as to whether I am the best-qualified person to focus on the two things I’ve spent my whole life on—giving ordinary people a fightin’ chance to make it and a sound foreign policy that’s based on rational interests in the United States…”
So, which Democratic candidate knows the racetrack best?
Kelly McGrath ’15 Women in Leadership
This past week kicked off with President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, which addressed women’s issues within our country. He stated that it is time for our country to move away from “Mad Men like policies,” and start focusing on ending gender inequalities. He addressed the difficulties that women face when it comes to balancing work and childrearing, as well as the continuing inequalities in the workforce.
One of the most powerful statements that President Obama made during his speech was that women make only 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. Unfortunately, that statement has generated a lot of controversy. Christine Hoff Sommer of the Daily Beast agrees that women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes when comparing the average income of men and women. However, when comparing men and women within the same profession, who work the same number of hours, the difference in earnings is reduced to five cents.
In her article, Sommer examines one of the factors that cause the earnings disparity between men and women; comparing the college majors of women to the college majors of men, Sommer found that men overwhelmingly populate the most financially lucrative majors, which tend to be science, math and engineering, as opposed to the humanities. For example, 90% of mechanical engineering majors are men (earning $80,000 a year), while 97% of early childhood education majors are women (earning $36,000 a year).
Instead of focusing on controversial statistics, which can be easily manipulated and disparaged, it might be more fruitful to explore why women choose to go into less lucrative fields: is it the result of different interests, or is it the result of a sexist society that perpetuates the view that men are better at math and science and women are better in “helping” professions?
In contrast to stereotypical gender roles, Janet Yellen was sworn in as the first female Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve on Monday, February 3. The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States and is responsible for monetary policy and the stability of our financial system. Her job is an incredibly important one given the present state of the United States economy.
Dr. Yellen serves as an extremely fine role model for women. The Washington Post discussed her groundbreaking career, including that she was the only woman in her economics Ph.D. program at Yale. Upon graduation, she issued a statement saying, “Economics is not exclusively a man’s field.” The Post article also details her struggles as a female economist. First, as one of two female faculty members in the Department of Economics at Harvard, she faced an overall attitude that women were inferior to men. That attitude came from other women as well as from men. In addition, women were expected to hide so-called “female” tendencies and to act more like the men. Second, despite her brilliance, Dr. Yellen spent most of her life being overshadowed by her more extroverted husband (who won a Nobel Prize in economics). It was not until 1998 that she became recognized on a national level, with her study called “Explaining Trends in the Gender Wage Gap”, which examined the discrepancy in pay for women and men. Third, like many successful women of her generation, having a child complicated her life. At the time, she was a Berkeley professor and the University had few women and no maternity leave policy. Therefore, she felt she had no choice but to work throughout her son’s first year of life.
What might be the sweetest victory for women in Janet Yellen’s appointment to the Federal Reserve is that she beat out Larry Summers for the job. Larry Summers is also a brilliant economist and the President of Harvard University. In a controversial speech in 2005, Summers suggested that women were underrepresented in science and engineering because of their lack of aptitude for those subjects “at the high end,” rather than because of societal pressures or discrimination.
One of the greatest achievements of Dr. Yellen’s appointment is that she did it on her own; she battled through to become a huge success. She serves as inspiration that women can break through societal barriers. While it is important to eliminate barriers for women, it is also important that women as individuals rise to the challenge of leading the lives they want to have.
Rachel Fazio ’14
The names of sports teams have long been a source of pride, spirit, and even a way for the country to unite as a whole. But what happens when the name of a beloved sports team, rooted in the nation’s capital, is causes Native Americans to step forward and voice their anger? The Native American community has largely been oppressed and silenced throughout US history, beginning with colonization. When 104 settlers arrived in America it changed the lives of millions of Native Americans. This group of people has since faced racism, oppression, and violence which would continue for generations. Today American Indians are calling for a stop to the racism toward an entire ethnic group. “Our heritage, our culture, traditions and skin color are all being taunted” Charlene Teters, a Native American activist says. “If you saw a caricature of an African American you would be appalled. Yet the same type of horror is not expressed when one hears the name redskins or look upon other mascots or names of equally harmful or derogatory natures” says Teters.
President Obama, self-proclaimed sports fan, has publicly said that if he were the owner of the Redskins he would “seriously consider changing their name”. This lack of conviction from the leader of the United States provoked a heated debate among politicians across the nation, but even more notable are the reactions from people on both sides of the argument. “If they change the Redskin’s name, I won’t be a fan anymore,” John Meccner proclaimed at a rally held before a Redskins game to promote keeping the name and all of the branding that accompanies it. Similarly, many Americans share a sense of bewilderment and confusion over the movement and the pressures to change sports teams’ names. Although over eighty percent of Native Americans support changing the name of the Redskins, as well as offensive names of other teams across the country, only twenty-three percent of Americans agree. Perhaps the confusion, or want of desire to change the name, stems from a lack of understanding and historical context.
There are so many misconceptions about Native Americans that continue to perpetrate in present day society. Many Americans believe that Native American’s do not pay taxes, do not follow United States laws, have been adequately repatriated for their losses, and have been largely accepted into mainstream society. Would we ever use other racist slurs as the name of a sports team? No we would not. The outcry would be widespread, and justifiably so. “Maybe the name didn’t start out to be derogatory or hurtful. But that’s what it’s doing now. Isn’t that enough reason to change it?” Teters asked at a rally in 2012. The Native American population has been subjected to racism and oppression, and deserves the right to not have to experience such racism on a day to day basis.
The film In Whose Honor was created by Native American activists who wanted to speak out against racism and appeal to the US government to advocate for changing the name. The film illustrates how it is still acceptable in American society to be racist toward Native Americans. The stereotyping, and subsequent capitalization in the wake of it, has been described by the Native American community as “appalling and unjust”.Only time will tell how this controversy will resolve itself, but maybe both sides need to closely examine how a name can be so much more than a name, and how what we call our sports team is a larger reflection of American society and identity as a whole.
Chris Lasek ’15
On December 5 a new report in Fox News stated that the NSA collects an astounding five billion phone records, per day, for analysis. Alarmingly, details in these records include the location of the caller. The NSA claims this is to track individuals interacting with targeted suspects. The data collection is said to further inform the NSA of suspicious activity, particularly intelligence from foreign targets. With this data, trends in movement are built, allowing the NSA to view a group or cell’s interactions with other actors. Highlighted in the report is the fact that most of the data collected is not relevant to the NSA purposes. While there is no information on as to what extent this process is efficient, analyzing and collecting mainly useless information gives reason for constitutional concern.
The amount of data the NSA is collecting for “national security” purposes is astounding. There exists a constitutional right protecting against unreasonable search and seizure, and with the improvements in and blessings of technology, the boundary lines drawn by the founding fathers are becoming harder to see. According to the news report, most of the data collected is not relevant to matters of national security, giving the impression the NSA’s procedures go against the constitution. Reform of these procedures should be enacted to bring about greater efficiency of data collection.
The method in which the information is collected should be questioned. Collecting a mountain of ‘dirt’ only to find a few pieces of gold is less efficient than collecting a smaller, more targeted heap of ‘dirt’. The latter method strikes me as a lot more efficient than the former and constitutionally compliant as well.
Backing Down From Our Own Demands: President Obama’s Acceptance of Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Program
Alan Osborn ’15
Early Sunday, November 24th, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders from France, Britain, Germany, China, and Russia reached a deal with The Islamic Republic of Iran on its nuclear energy program. According to the White House it stipulates that Iran will commit to halting the enrichment of uranium above the 5% mark, as well as neutralize its stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium. Iran has also pledged to cease progress on its enrichment capacity. It will also halt work at its plutonium reactor and provide full access to nuclear inspectors. In return the U.S. and its allies have agreed to “modest relief” from economic sanctions. The easing of sanctions, which President Obama refers tough, are $6-$7 billion. Not very modest when you consider that Iran’s GDP in 2011 was $514.1 billion. Further still, President Obama and the rest of the P6 delegation seem to be the only ones who see this deal as a win for international security. In Congress, both sides of the aisle, as well as staunch regional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, see this deal as a “historic mistake.” When the United Nations and President Obama agreed to implement certain economic sanctions on Iran for their nuclear enrichment program it was highly criticized for not being tough enough, and not able to enact change quick enough. However, President Obama and proponents of the plan insist that a red line had been drawn; Iran will comply with the agreement or face severe economic punishment. As it turns out President Obama was right: economic sanctions brought the Iranians to the negotiating table. But according to former CIA head Gen. Michael Hayden, (USA Ret.) the deal President Obama struck was nothing sort of an “acceptance of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.”
The fact that the Western powers were able to sit down with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and begin meaningful nuclear program discussions is remarkable. However, the following deal was nothing short of extremely disappointing. Iranian enrichment has been accepted as part of the endgame; the clock on the uranium and plutonium programs continues to tick, albeit at a slower pace. Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium -enough for at least five bombs- remains intact. The Iranian concessions are all reversible, while International Atomic Energy Agency concerns about the military dimensions of the program have not been addressed. The P6 nations had the bargaining power to take a hard line against Iran and force them to halt their uranium enrichment program; instead they chose to cut it a break. As New York Senator Chuck Schumer points out, “It was strong sanctions, not the goodness of the hearts of the Iranian leaders that brought Iran to the table. And any reduction relieves the pressure of sanctions and gives them the hope that they will be able to obtain a nuclear weapon.” The sanctions finally worked and yet instead of sticking to the original plan of demanding that Iran halt uranium enrichment the U.S. gave in.
Iran views this deal as a window of opportunity to negotiate with an administration that has shown that it really doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude of other administrations. If President Obama and our European allies are serious about stopping the countries uranium enrichment they will have to stop compromising with Iran. Yes there is a lot at stake. Iran could launch a military strike or try to start a war, but at some point their bluff will have to be called. President Obama and the U.N. put the world into this position by taking such a hard, uncompromising tone with Iran when the sanctions were implemented. Now it is time to follow through with our demands instead of compromising. This impasse was inevitable. At some point the decision was going to have to be made of what to do when Iran finally asks for sanction relief. Instead of doing what he promised, President Obama took a soft compromising approach in giving Iran economic relief and continued uranium enrichment capabilities.