Around the Web this Week

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January 29 - February 4

Around the Web this Week
A study commissioned by Girl Scouts USA shows that only 1 in 5 girls believe she has what it takes to lead… Among these girls, aged 8 to 17, 59% of them also agreed with the statement, “Women can rise up in a company or organization, but they will only rarely be put at the very top.” What does that say about our society? Well, if a woman’s status is a direct measure of that society’s success, it doesn’t bode well for young girls at the moment… But things can change! Girl Scouts believe the answer lies with people, it’s a grassroots thing.

To celebrate their 100th anniversary, Girl Scouts USA are launching a national campaign for gender-balanced leadership within a single generation by investing in girls and their futures today. The campaign is kicking off with a 12-month awareness campaign that includes a website,, as well as public service announcements on posters and television (see the campaign video below). The Girl Scouts also has set a $1 billion fundraising goal for programs to support leadership development for girls.

“People generally associate Girl Scouts with cookies, camping and doing crafts, but the reality of what our brand stands for is we’re the nation’s largest leadership development organization for girls,” said Timothy Higdon, chief of external affairs for Girl Scouts. “What we’re asserting is that the country would be in a much better position if women were represented in leadership all across the country.” So take the pledge and start taking down the barriers that are keeping girls from reaching their potential as leaders.

Around the Web this Week
It’s been said that 58% of Facebook’s users are women and that women spend more time than men making status and profile updates and commenting on others’ posts. And within Facebook’s own ranks, COO Sheryl Sandberg has emerged as a powerful advocate of women leadership. Yet, despite all of this, Facebook's newly appointed board directors are all men. A surprising move for a company who aims to be an agent for equality and openness

This oversight, if that's what you want to call it, sets Facebook apart from other social media companies: LinkedIn has one woman on its board, Google has three. Only 11.3% of Fortune 500 companies don't have a woman on their board… 

In a Bloomberg article, Susan Stautberg, co-founder of New York-based Women Corporate Directors, which promotes female board membership said : “It doesn’t make sense for a company that claims to be so forward looking to not have any women directors. If they just have an old boy’s network in the boardroom, they won’t have access to diverse ideas and strategies.”

2020 Women on Boards, a campaign to increase the percentage of women on U.S. public company boards to 20% or greater by 2020 has called Facebook to take the 2020 Challenge. Malli Gero, executive director of 2020 Women on Boards,  said “It’s surprising and disappointing that Facebook has zero female directors because Sandberg is so powerful at the company and so outspoken in favor of women advancing.”

In a letter to investors Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future.” I guess he didn’t include women… “Unlike”! 

Around the Web this Week
A highly commented article was published this week in a New York Times editorial. The journalist takes a look at the situation of pregnant workers in the United States where some employers are using a gap between discrimination laws and disability laws to fire pregnant employees... As a result, thousands of pregnant women are pushed out of jobs that they are perfectly capable of performing — either put on unpaid leave or simply fired — when they request an accommodation to help maintain a healthy pregnancy.

The article argues that if we classify pregnancy as a disability, it might help stop these women from losing their jobs simply because they need to sit down every couple of hours.

This sparked a debate online as to whether employers should have to accommodate pregnant workers. Some prize comments include “it was a woman’s choice to get pregnant, and she simply has to deal with consequences”. Apparently, lots of us are okay with women losing their jobs because they chose to have kids. Would it be different if men were losing their jobs because they chose to be parents?

Another article said that adding pregnancy to a list of covered conditions may just make it more difficult for women in general to be hired -- as most women will, at some point, be pregnant. Clearly, employers need to start thinking more about how they want to manage employees with children.

Should employers have to accommodate pregnant women, within reason? Absolutely. Bottom line is: No pregnant woman should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy.

Around the Web this Week
The United States and the United Kingdom have both taken steps to make the workplace a bit more woman friendly.

In the UK, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone announced that £2million funding will soon be allocated to support women entrepreneurs seeking to set up or expand their businesses in rural areas. “If women started businesses at the same rate as men, it is estimated that there would be 150,000 extra start-ups each year in the UK.” she said. 
Last year, the government announced funding for the recruitment and training of 15,000 volunteer mentors from the small business community. This funding ensures that training and support materials for mentor and mentee reflect the specific needs of women, covering issues such as raising confidence, access to finance, work life balance and working from home.

In the U.S., the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act celebrated its third anniversary as the first piece of legislation signed into law by President Obama.  The Act was initiated by Lilly Ledbetter who realized that she was unfairly compensated for doing the same work of her male counterparts.  The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act marked a significant step in addressing ongoing wage disparities that exist between men and women, and it has helped some victims of discrimination pursue their compensation claims in the courts, women’s rights advocates say.

President Obama just released a new video asking for support of the Pay check Fairness act, which would protect women who try to find out if they’re receiving equal pay and would make it easier for them to take action if they’re not. You can view that video below. 

Around the Web this Week
Do women in Brazil, Russia, India and China have different goals than us? What is their career path like? What do they aspire to? Research conducted by Harvard Business Review’s Sylvia Ann Hewlett   shows that women professionals around the world aren't all cut from the same cloth. Her data show significant differences between geographies and generations, especially for those now beginning their careers (18 to 30 years old) and the next generation on (31 to 45 years old).

For example, Although the majority of emerging markets women dream big, younger women in Brazil and Russia are more likely to aspire to the top job in their profession. Reflecting work satisfaction, loyalty, too, is also markedly stronger among Chinese and Indian women in their 30s and early 40s: 93% versus 85% in China, and 98% versus 90% in India.

Among both generations, the top three priorities in their work are job securitybeing highly compensated, and having the opportunity to work with high-quality colleagues. But there's a growing drumbeat for something more: work/life balance. Over 90% of women in Brazil, China, and India value flexible work arrangements as important. 

It’s critical for companies to understand these generational differences so that they attract and retain well educated, highly ambitious women in developing economies

In other interesting news, in India, Google is piloting a project  aimed at helping women-owned businesses grow their online presence. In a press release, Google said  : “The large number of women entrepreneurs in India made it a natural decision for us to pilot this initiative.” Good luck ladies!

Around the Web this Week
Let’s finish this week’s web review with a study that’s sure to spark debate in countless homes! British research suggests that women are better parkers than men. Although we didn’t need research to prove this, it seems that while women may take longer to park, they are more adept than men at maneuvering into a parking space, and when they park they are more likely to leave their vehicles in the middle of a parking bay…
Ha! We knew it! 

Posted by on 02/05/2012

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