TIME europe

Only Gender Quotas Can Stop the E.U. from Being a Boys Club

Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission's president has asked that EU member states nominate female candidates. Here's why gender quotas are necessary

Gender anxiety is enveloping the top levels of the European Union. By the end of this month, each of the bloc’s 28 countries is expected to put forward their candidate to sit on the European Commission, the powerful body that drives policy-making and enforces E.U. law.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission’s new president, has instructed member states to send female candidates, saying he wants more women in the top jobs. A social media campaign – #10orMore – is also under way to boost female representation at the E.U. to a record high.

Unfortunately, governments are not playing ball: so far only five countries have nominated women. Nineteen other nations have nominated a man, with four countries still to announce their candidates.

The goal of getting more women into top decision-making posts is simply common sense given that they represent more than half of the E.U.’s 507 million citizens. Right now this is not reflected by their visibility in politics, business or the media, meaning their interests are often sidelined.

The drive to change the status quo at the top echelons of the E.U. has attracted skepticism. On the Facebook page of Neelie Kroes – one of the nine women in the outgoing Commission and a co-founder of the #10orMore campaign – critics question why gender would qualify a person for one of the 28 commissioner posts.

Such knee-jerk accusations of tokenism greet most attempts to introduce gender quotas in politics or the boardroom. But while so many barriers stand between women and senior positions – and these range from sexism in the workplace, high childcare costs and the unequal distribution of maternity and paternity leave – quotas are one of the few measures that actually have an impact.

In 1997 the British Labour party introduced all-women short lists for parliamentary candidates in some constituencies. Later that year, a record number of women were elected, and Labour still has the highest proportion of female MPs in Britain.

Britain’s Conservative party, which formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, does not support all-women short lists, and a U.N. survey of women in ministerial positions earlier this year shows Britain languishing at around the halfway point, below Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire, with women making up just 15% of the cabinet.

There are other poor performers in Europe, with Greece, Cyprus and Hungary faring even worse, reflecting the problems Juncker is having in rallying enough women for his Commission.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, are Sweden and Finland, which are in the top three of the U.N. survey with over 50% female representation in their cabinets. France and Norway are close to reaching gender parity.

What the top performers have in common are long-term and often legislated programs to improve gender equality across society. In Sweden, political parties have since the early 1990s imposed voluntary quotas for election candidates. Norway was the first to introduce quotas for women on company boards, while France has legally-binding quotas for both politics and the boardroom. “Quotas are nobody’s first choice but where they are introduced they do improve representation, they do improve visibility of women,” says Clare McNeil, a senior fellow at the London-based Institute for Public Policy Research, adding that they work best when coupled with penalties for non-compliance.

Given the pool of female talent in the E.U., having just a handful of women in the Commission would be a pitiful performance. It is crucial now that efforts to increase female representation go beyond headline-grabbing promises. Juncker and the European Parliament, which approves the Commission, must make good on threats to reject the line-up if it is too male-dominated.

Hopefully quotas will not need to be in place forever. But right now Europe is so far from being a level playing field that radical measures are needed to kick-start lasting change in society.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson is a writer and journalist based in Brussels.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 4

1. Making the punishment fit the crime: A better way of calculating fines for the bad acts of big banks.

By Cathy O’Neill in Mathbabe

2. Lessons we can share: How three African countries made incredible progress in the fight against AIDS.

By Tina Rosenberg in the New York Times

3. Creative artists are turning to big data for inspiration — and a new window on our world.

By Charlie McCann in Prospect

4. We must give the sharing economy an opportunity to show its real potential.

By R.J. Lehmann in Reason

5. Technology investing has a gender problem, and it’s holding back innovation.

By Issie Lapowsky in Wired

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME gender

Study: Women More Likely to Be Lied to in Negotiations Than Men

Women are deceived more often than men by both men and women alike

Women who think they’re getting a worse deal in negotiations because of their gender have new scientific evidence to back up their suspicions.

Women are perceived as easier to mislead, and are more likely than men to be lied to during negotiations, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania.

“We found that in the role play, people were significantly more likely to blatantly lie to women,” the study’s lead author, Laura Kray, told Slate about one of the experiments. “To women, for instance, the buyer’s agents would say, ‘They will be luxury condos,’ but to men, they would say, ‘I can’t tell you.’”

Both men and women lied to women more often than men. In one experiment in the study, 24% of men said they lied to a female participant, but only 3% of men admitted to lying to a male participant in the exercise. Women lied to men 11% of them but lied to other women 17% of the time.

One of the study’s experiments showed that part of the reason women are lied to more often is that they’re perceived as being less competent but warmer than men in negotiations. The warmer a woman’s personality was in the study, the more she was expected to be easily fooled. But these aren’t exactly secrets — participants in the study, when speculating about other negotiators’ ethics, reported that they believed women were more likely to be lied to in negotiations.

“People are aware of stereotypes, and use them to their advantage when they’re motivated to do so,” Kray said.

TIME gender

My Gender-Neutral Childhood: Lessons in Raising Girls Who Succeed in Tech

Kira Makagon as a child Courtesy Kira Makagon

The co-founder of several successful startups talks about her unusual upbringing and how to inspire a love of math and science

Raised as the only child of Ukrainian immigrants, I never thought much about my childhood. It was certainly different from the way most of the other American kids I met grew up, and in a lot of ways, it seemed harder. (Imagine the wardrobe dilemmas of an immigrant teenager in 1980s San Francisco coming from a Soviet-bloc country, for instance.)

Lately though, I’ve been getting a lot of pointed questions about my upbringing: Did you play with Legos? Did you always love math? Were you allowed to study art, history and literature? The reason for the curiosity is clear. As a female tech entrepreneur in a predominantly male industry, people are interested in how my environment encouraged my academic and professional path toward technical learning.

More than ever, parents of young children are concerned about how to enable their children to succeed in a world where traditional occupations and industries have been upended by technology. Parents of girls especially worry that the best jobs will go to graduates who master science, math and technology education (the so-called STEM disciplines), which tend to attract more boys. We’ve all seen the media stories about the unemployed philosophy majors.

Recognizing that every child is different, I do believe that there are certain elements of my unconventional upbringing that prepared me to be comfortable and happy building a career in a technical field. All parents pour their hopes and dreams into their children, but I now know my parents invested in me in the right ways. From early on, they provided me with the right tools to continue developing myself as an older child, teenager and into adulthood. Based on my experience, below are my top five takeaways on how to prepare a child (and especially a girl) to be prepared for a technical career.

1. Choose gender-neutral toys.

My parents did not encourage dolls, and I didn’t gravitate to them. I liked Legos and building things. My father was an engineer who designed toys in Russia. He and I would build miniature models of houses. We built whole cities with railroads and cars. The floor of my room was always crowded with our playthings.

2. Encourage sports, and not just girls-only teams.

I liked all kinds of sports. When I was younger, it was bicycles, badminton and ping-pong. I was always fast — faster than most boys early on. I loved ice skating, and because I was very fast, I could play hockey with boys. For this reason, I always had a lot of friends who were boys. I grew up comfortable around boys, confident in my natural ability and with very little fear.

3. Treat your sons and daughters as individuals, not as gender stereotypes.

As an only child, my parents gave me lots of attention and treated me purely as an individual — not like a stereotypical girl. My dad treated me the same as he would any son. We played hockey together, and he took me to sporting events.

4. Emphasize the importance of leadership at an early age.

My mother, a Russian-literature teacher, encouraged me to be a class leader and participate in class (even if I found the lessons boring). She and I had long talks about leadership. She impressed upon me the need to excel in school. Even a B was unacceptable. I became class president in elementary school and learned to enjoy leading others.

5. Pursue music, chess and logic problems.

I practiced piano for two hours a day, loved the math olympiad and enjoyed solving logic problems in my spare time. These weren’t treated as nerdy or antisocial, but as valid and valuable pursuits to develop my mind and capabilities.

READ MORE: Cracking the Girl Code — Tech Giants Are Betting on Coding Camps for Girls to Close Their Gender Gap

Makagon leads product, engineering and operations teams at RingCentral, the cloud-based business phone company, where she is Executive Vice President of Innovation. She is a Silicon Valley–based serial entrepreneur who has co-founded several technology companies, including Octane (acquired by E.piphany) and RedAril (acquired by Hearst). Follow her @kiramakagon

TIME gender

Fashion Model Comes Out as Transgender Woman

Jean Paul Gaultier - Haute Couture Spring Summer 2011 Runway - Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week
Andrej Pejic walks the runway at the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week on January 26, 2011 in Paris, France. Nathalie Lagneau—Catwalking/Getty Images

Andreja Pejic was famous for her androgynous runway look.

Andreja Pejic, the famously androgynous Serbian fashion icon who has modeled both men’s and women’s styles, came out as a transgender woman on her Facebook page Thursday.

Pejic, who was known throughout her fashion career as “Andrej” but has changed her name to Andreja, posted a selfie along with an announcement that she said she hoped would inspire other transgender youths:

I think we all evolve as we get older and that’s normal but I like to think that my recent transition hasn’t made me into a different individual. Same person, no difference at all just a different sex I hope you can all understand that.

I would also like to to reach out to all young gender non-conforming youth out there: I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but remember it’s your right to be accepted as what you identify with—you deserve the same respect as any other human being on this planet. As a transgender woman I hope to show that after transition (a life-saving process) one can be happy and successful in their new chapter without having to alienate their past.

The model told People.com that despite her long and successful career modeling both women’s and mens’s fashions, she opted to have gender reassignment surgery in order to identify as a transgender woman. “I was proud of my gender nonconforming career,” Pejic says. “But my biggest dream was to be comfortable in my own body. I have to be true to myself and the career is just going to have to fit around that.”

Like other major transgender activists like Laverne Cox, who was featured in TIME’s cover story on the transgender movement, Pejic declined to discuss the specifics of her surgery with People.com, saying that “what’s in between anyone’s legs is not who they are.”

 

TIME Toys

Your Barbie Can Now Slay in a Suit of Medieval Armor

Dungeons and Dragons and Barbie?

Barbie has plenty of pantsuits and party dresses, but her closet is still missing the one outfit she never knew she needed: A suit of armor. And even better, it’s not pink. Designer Jim Rodda launched a Kickstarter in April to fund a 3D-printed design of a medieval armor suit that’s specifically made for Barbie.

Rodda, who isn’t affiliated with Mattel, wants to make Barbie powerful by outfitting her with intricate battle suits and weapons in his new “Faire Play” battle set. Rodda designs and sells the 3D blueprints, so customers can print the Barbie armor on their own 3D printers. Fans are given the option to buy three different types of outfits: A robe with swords and a Barbie medusa-faced shield; a highly adorned gold suit; and a silver suit of armor.

Rodda says the idea came to him when he was coming up with a birthday gift for his niece. “Back when I started this, my niece was obsessed with My Little Pony,” says Rodda. “So I wanted to make My Little Pony compatible glitter cannons.”

Rodda struggled to 3D print a spring for the cannons, so he turned to the next logical thing in the “little girl toy market:” Barbie. The “Faire Play” battle set is a result of the successful $6,000 Kickstarter campaign that closed with 290 backers. “They are the ones who have actually made this thing possible,” Rodda says.

Barbie may have shown her strength in 1965 when she went through astronaut training, Rodda points out, or her business chops with Entrepreneur Barbie, but he thinks the popular doll is stuck in the past.

“The fashion-obsessed part of Barbie’s personality pervades the collective consciousness,” says the designer. “I think Entrepreneur Barbie’s a step in the right direction, but ‘Babs’ is still carrying a lot of cultural baggage from the last 25 years. People are still bringing up 1992’s ‘Math class is tough!’ debacle, even though Mattel released Computer Engineer Barbie in 2010 and Mars Explorer Barbie in 2013.”

The designer hopes his “Faire Play” set will help young girls learn about 3D printing and foster their interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). “Maybe she grows up to be the one that invents the solution to climate change, or helps get humans to Mars,” Rodda says, “or becomes the nest Neil deGrasse Tyson and evangelizes a love of science for another generation.”

Collectors and 3D-printing enthusiasts alike stand among the ranks of customers eager to see the warrior Barbie, says Rodda. Even Rodda’s daughter, who was, “never a Barbie kid,” is helping design the armor suits.

“If there’s a lesson I’d like my daughter to learn from this phase in Barbie’s career,” says Rodda, “It’s that girls can grow up to do anything.”

Blueprints for the “Faire Play” battle set are available for $29.99 along with other 3D-printed fun..

TIME Media

Jill Abramson to Katie Couric: ‘I Put Out a Terrific News Report’

The ousted editor continues her media tour

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson continued her postmortem analysis of what went wrong at the newspaper during another interview, this time with Katie Couric at Yahoo News.

Abramson, who was abruptly fired from the Times in May amid grumblings about her “management style,” told Couric that during her tenure she was more interested in the quality of the newspaper than in making sure everyone in the newsroom liked her. “As managing editor for eight years and as executive editor for three years, I put out a terrific news report,” she said. “And led the kind of journalism that I believe in. I am hard-charging, I was certainly aware that some people had already described me as tough. I have high standards…I think a lot of people who worked for me found that inspirational, some people didn’t like it. That is how it is at every news organization that makes a difference.'”

“I can scarcely think of an executive editor of the times that wasn’t described in the same way,” she added.

(MORE: Jill Abramson Insists on Calling Herself “Fired”)

But was her firing about gender? “I think that women are scrutinized and criticized in a somewhat different way and that certain qualities that are seen in men as being the qualities of a leader or ambition as seen as a good thing are somehow not seen in as attractive a light when a woman is involved,” she said. “And I’m hardly the first person to observe that.”

But when Couric attempted to drill down into the gendered aspects of her firing, Abramson said her record at the Times was more important than the details of why she lost her job. “I don’t see gender as being the whole explanation by any means… but it’s somewhat irksome to me to see so much focus on the issue of why was I fired. First of all, let’s be honest, how many people in the real world really care about why Jill Abramson lost her job?”

“I think the amount of attention that’s focused on my last days as opposed to the 11 years that I [ran the New York Times] everyday is just out of proportion,” she added.

 

 

TIME energy

Poll: Men and Women Think Differently About Energy

Energy Power Lines
Getty Images

A new global survey for TIME shows how attitudes toward conservation may be guided by gender

More women than men worldwide say energy conservation is a “very important” issue, while men report greater personal concern about global warming, according to the results of a new global energy survey conducted for TIME.

The survey polled online respondents in six countries—the U.S., Germany, India, Turkey, Brazil and South Korea—on their attitudes toward energy. It revealed that conservation habits and perspectives about energy challenges differ along gender lines, and not always in the ways you might expect.

Nearly 70% of women said energy conservation was a vital issue, compared with less than 50% of men. At the same, 65% of males reported that global warming was a very important issue to them, far outpacing the 37% of females who said the same.

The survey suggests that women are more leery of nuclear power (by a 48% to 40% margin), slightly more convinced the earth is warming (60% to 56%) and more likely to report high degrees of concern over rising sea levels, pollution and gas prices. By a couple of percentage points, women also took a more favorable stand on the oil-and-gas industry’s role in the issue.

Men, on the other hand, were more likely to say that rich nations should take the lead in the fight to reduce emissions (50% to 46%), and more likely to lay blame for the global warming crisis at the feet of the United States (45% to 38%), which has long held the ignominious title of the world’s largest carbon emitter.

The sexes were also split in their assessment of their home country’s role in the climate crisis. Sixty-three percent of women say their nation is part of the problem, compared with 54% of men. Men were more likely to say their country was part of the solution, by a 46% to 37% margin.

The survey was conducted among 3,505 online respondents equally divided between the U.S., Brazil, Germany, Turkey, India and South Korea. Polling was conducted from May 10 to May 22. The overall margin of error overall in the survey is 1.8%.

TIME Media

Jill Abramson Insists on Calling Herself ‘Fired’

WIRED Business Conference: Think Bigger
Executive Editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson attends the WIRED Business Conference: Think Bigger at Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 7, 2013 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

"That's what happened to me, and I've devoted my whole career to truth-telling, so why hide that?"

Jill Abramson insisted Greta Van Susteren call her “fired New York Times editor” in her first television interview Wednesday since her contentious departure from the newspaper in May.

“That’s what happened to me, and I’ve devoted my whole career to truth-telling, so why hide that?” Abramson said on Fox News’s On the Record. “And there are an awful lot of people in this country who, like me, have been fired from their jobs.”

Abramson didn’t assign any specific blame for her firing, but did allude to the whispers that her firing was more about her personal demeanor than professional accomplishments. “It was said because my management style. I was a hard-charging editor, and there were some people who worked for me that didn’t like that style,” she said. “Women in leadership roles are scrutinized constantly and sometimes differently than men…there are certain code words: ‘strident,’ ‘too tough.'”

But she doesn’t think it was only about gender. “Plenty of guys get fired,” she said.

Abramson also observed that “it’s mighty strange going from one day being an editor of stories to being the story, but I think actually it’s healthy for journalists to know what it feels like on the opposite end of the probing and questioning.”

 

TIME viral

This Guy Can Make His Voice Sound Exactly Like a Girl’s

Okay, this might not sound all that impressive, but trust us

+ READ ARTICLE

At first, it’s just a regular dude with a regular dude voice. But then, all of a sudden, coming out of this regular dude’s mouth is a completely convincing girl voice.

The dude in question is actor and musician Matt Bittner, who seems to be a bit surprised that a video of him doing his girl voice — until now only famous among his friends — is getting attention on the web:

Hey man, remember: this is the Internet, where weird talents are worshipped.

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