TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 26

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

1. Al Qaeda and ISIS are locked in an ideological war, and for once, it’s good to be their mutual enemy.

By Daniel Byman and Jennifer Williams in Lawfare

2. For the millions left behind by America’s new economy, disability claims — legitimate or otherwise — are skyrocketing.

By Chana Joffe-Walt in Planet Money by National Public Radio

3. Maybe universities shouldn’t measure prestige by the number of applicants they turn away.

By Jon Marcus in the Hechinger Report

4. When younger women have heart attacks, they’re twice as likely to die as their male counterparts. Is medicine’s gender bias to blame?

By Maya Dusenbery in Pacific Standard

5. Can the triumph and tragedy of soccer help Harvard students appreciate the humanities?

By Colleen Walsh in the Harvard Gazette

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

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME China

Five Feminists Remain Jailed in China for Activities the Government Supports

India China Activists Detained
Altaf Qadri—AP Indian women's rights activists wearing masks of five women's rights activists formally detained in China after Women's Day crackdown, hold placards with their names, to express their solidarity and demand their immediate release, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The line between dissidence and social activism grows ever murkier

It was supposed to be a celebration. This year marks two decades since the world came together in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women. Participants in that event — including keynote speaker Hillary Clinton — set an ambitious global blueprint for gender equality and women’s rights. It was a landmark moment for the women’s movement, and a point of pride for China as it stepped, gingerly, toward post-Mao reforms.

But as meetings to mark the “Beijing+20” anniversary close Friday in New York, things are looking bleak. In the run up to International Women’s Day and the Beijing+20-themed conclave, China detained 10 women for planning activities to celebrate the occasion. Five of those women — Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan and Li Tingting — are still in detention. Their lawyers worry they will be charged with “picking quarrels and creating a disturbance,” an Orwellian turn of phrase used to jail government critics.

The ruling Communist Party has long taken aggressive measures to silence opposition voices, censoring the Internet, banning books, and jailing dissidents. For much of the past decade, though, the line between “dissident” and “critical voice” — that is between prison and the freedom to live your life — was, with exceptions, relatively clear: Do not openly oppose one-party rule. Avoid the “three T’s” (Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen). Don’t take to the street.

However, since coming to power in 2012, Xi Jinping’s regime has taken an even harder line, jailing those who speak out on matters not related to party control or the three T’s. (See, for example, the case of Professor Ilham Tohti, or jailed lawyer Xu Zhiyong.) There are new no-go areas, including the politics of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and calls for government transparency that do not originate from the government itself. Until this month, if you kept a low profile and did not plan protests, you could speak publicly on issues like gender equality and LGBT rights.

Now, advocates fear that too has changed. The women arrested in Beijing this month were not advocating for the overthrow of the Communist Party. In fact, they were, separately, and in their respective cities, simply planning to distribute pamphlets and raise awareness about issues the Chinese government supports: gender equality and combatting sexual harassment. These activists did not organize political rallies, but rather used performance art to challenge societal views.

Their arrest in coordinated raids ahead of International Women’s Day “suggests an escalation of Chinese government paranoia,” says Leta Hong Fincher, author of Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China. “I don’t see how they would have posed any threat to the government in any way — and they did not even carry out the activities. Even under Chinese law, I do not see what they are guilty of.”

That has other feminists worried. The five women are active on a variety of issues, including stopping sexual violence, ending street harassment and promoting gender equality and LGBT rights. Their detentions sent a broad cross section of people, including friends, acquaintances and allies, into hiding, terrified that the merest trifle might now see them caged.

That is not to say people are silent. Their ongoing detention has generated an unusual amount of public support from social groups, students and academics in China, as well as expressions of solidarity from nearly every corner of the earth, and spawned a social-media campaign to #FreeTheFive. Some feminists have floated the idea of a boycott of Beijing+20 events, though there are no firm plans as yet. From the sidelines of the meeting in New York City, Charlotte Bunch, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University, filmed herself reading a statement in support of the jailed women. “We expect more from China,” she says. “The world is watching and waiting for an end to this injustice.”

Waiting, indeed. Though U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power tweeted her support for the activists, foreign governments and U.N. agencies are, for the most part, staying quiet. Perhaps they don’t want to politicize the matter in the off chance they could still be released. Or perhaps, 20 years after the historic Beijing conference on women, the world no longer expects more.

TIME portfolio

Meet the New Generation of Gender-Creative Kids

Lindsay Morris photographs a rural retreat where kids are free to be themselves

Raising a child who doesn’t conform to gender roles is a minefield, for even the most supportive parents. How do you let your children be themselves while also protecting them from bullies? That question led a number of parents to organize an annual four-day camp in the wilderness for their kids.

The result was an annual long-weekend camp that serves nearly 30 families, many of whom met several years ago through a therapy group for gender-nonconforming children in Washington, D.C. It started in a few hotel rooms in D.C. and evolved into a real camp usually held at religious retreats in various rural settings around the country. The children, ages 6 to 12, attend with their parents and siblings.

In 2007, Sag Harbor photographer Lindsay Morris began attending camp. She took pictures of the children and their families to document their camp experience. But as the years passed and her photo library grew, Morris thought about doing something more with the pictures. In 2012, thanks to the courage of some of the families, Morris’ photographs appeared in a cover story for the New York Times Magazine. The book, titled You Are You, is an expansion of that project.

At camp, the children do all the typical camp things. They canoe, they craft, they roast marshmallows. Almost all of the children are biological boys who like to wear girl’s clothing. The weekend culminates in a fashion show with the works: red carpets, a runway, and fans to blow the kids’ hair back. “We try to make them feel fabulous,” says Morris, “I think it helps carry them through the year — the memory of their parents and siblings in the audience clapping for them.”

The kids in Morris’ photographs fall across the gender spectrum. But they are too young to know which category they will grow into — if they fit into a category at all. Some will grow up to be transgender, others will be gender-conforming adults. Still more may decide to embrace a more fluid concept of gender. “Living with ambiguity can be very hard,” writes one of the parents in a reflection in the book. The beauty of the camp is that it allows the kids to live comfortably in the middle, a difficult space to occupy during the rest of the year.

Morris had many goals with the book. She wanted to illustrate gender-creative children in a joyful, supportive setting to counteract the painful things we associate with children who don’t conform. She wanted gender-variant kids and the adults who advocate for them to see that they are not alone. Along with the images and reflections, she has included a list of helpful books and support organizations available to families.

But her work’s greatest value may be in teaching us to see the potential joy of children who are allowed the freedom to be themselves.

For more information about the project and events, visit lindsaycmorris.com and youareyouproject.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 10

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

1. How do we convince Americans that justice isn’t for sale — when in 39 states, it is?

By Sue Bell Cobb in Politico

2. It took pressure from customers and investors to make corporations environmentally sustainable. It’s time to do the same for gender equity.

By Marissa Wesely in Stanford Social Innovation Review

3. London’s congestion pricing plan is saving lives.

By Alex Davies in Wired

4. Libraries should be the next great start-up incubators.

By Emily Badger in CityLab

5. Annual replanting has a devastating impact. Could perennial rice be the solution?

By Winifred Bird in Yale Environment 360

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

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

How To Talk About Gender Bias at Work

meeting
Getty Images

Even the most well-intentioned men have misconceptions about women at work

You may want to sit down for this one. A recent study shows that fewer large companies are run by woman than by men with the name John. In fact, among CEOs of S&P 1500 firms, for each woman, there are four men with the name John, Robert, William, or James.

So in the name of closing the gender gap, and International Women’s Day, this week’s TL;DR has a special theme. We’ll discuss:

  • The biggest mistakes well-intentioned men make without realizing — and how to fix them
  • The surprising path women take to become CEOs and why it takes 50% longer than men
  • Why the way we’re discussing gender bias is actually bad and what we should do differently

1. Women at Work: A Guide for Men

Author: Joanne Lipman

TL;DR: Even the most well-intentioned men have misconceptions about women at work. For instance:

  • It’s not a compliment. Former BAE systems CEO Linda Hudson says: “I hate being referred to as ‘that very accomplished woman leader.’ Why not just say ‘accomplished leader’? Why does it always have to be qualified?” It seems innocent, but research shows that reminding women of stereotypes undermines confidence and performance.
  • It’s not hand-holding. Georgetown Professor Deborah Tannen found that men consider strong leaders to be those who hire good people and get out of the way. Female leaders are more likely to collaborate, treating others as equals and checking in frequently. The result? For many men, the hands-on approach feels like a lack of trust. Resentment often follows.
  • It’s not a question. A man may declare: “We need a meeting tomorrow morning!” Whereas a woman might ask: “Do you think we need a meeting tomorrow morning?” Don’t get it twisted, both are saying: let’s meet immediately.

2. How Female CEOs Actually Get to the Top

Authors: Sarah Dillard & Vanessa Lipschitz

TL;DR: The Fortune 500 only has 24 female CEOs. So what did they have that others didn’t?

It’s not an Ivy League degree. That’s only true for two of the 24 women.

The answer is tough to hear, especially in today’s world where we swap jobs every few years.

It’s about consistency. Data shows that these 24 female leaders spent a median of 23 years at a company before becoming CEO.

In fact, over 20% took jobs right out of school at the companies they now run. For instance:

  • Mary Barra started out as a college co-op student before becoming CEO of General Motors
  • Kathleen Mazzarella began as a customer service representative at Graybar before becoming CEO 30 years later.

For men, however, the median is 15 years. Meaning, a woman’s climb to the top is over 50% longer. So how should we deal with the imbalance and biases at play? That bring us to…

3. When Talking About Bias Backfires

Authors: Adam Grant & Sheryl Sandberg

TL;DR: New research shows that making people aware of gender bias makes them discriminate more, not less. Why? Because stereotyping seems more socially acceptable once we realize it’s common.

So if awareness makes it worse, how do we make it better? The solution isn’t to stop pointing out stereotypes. It’s to go a step further.

Wharton professor Adam Grant’s study illustrates how:

  • In his classes, he presented data on female underrepresentation in major leadership roles. He thought raising awareness would prompt action. But in the next five months, there was no change in the percentage of female MBA students who applied for campus leadership positions.
  • The following year, he shared the same data but added one sentence: “I don’t ever want to see this happen again.” During the next five months, there was a 65 percent increase in female MBA students who sought out leadership roles.

Bottom line: raising awareness isn’t enough. We should explicitly disapprove of leadership imbalance if we ever hope to improve it.

This article originally appeared on Every Vowel.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME United Nations

Violence Against Women Is at ‘Alarmingly High Levels,’ U.N. Says

U.N. Women for Peace Association's International Women's Day celebration
Jemal Countess—Getty Images U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the U.N. Women for Peace Association's International Women's Day celebration in New York City on March 6, 2015

"Uneven progress" 20 years after the landmark Beijing conference on gender equality

Violence against women around the world “persists at alarmingly high levels in many forms,” according to a new U.N. report.

Presented by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, the U.N. Women report marks the 20th anniversary of a U.N. conference in Beijing on achieving gender equality around the world. But the report finds that so far, “uneven progress” has been “unacceptably slow with stagnation and even regress in some contexts.”

The reports findings include these:

  • A World Health Organization study found that 35% of women around the world have experienced either sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner, or sexual violence from a nonpartner.
  • In a study of 42,000 women in the European Union, only a third of victims of intimate-partner violence contacted authorities or sought out support services; of those who experienced violence from someone who wasn’t a partner, only one-fourth did so.
  • That same study also found that more than half of all the women surveyed experienced sexual harassment at least one time since turning 15; nearly a fifth had experienced it within a year of the survey.

The report highlighted that victim-blaming attitudes play a role. In one 2010 study of 15 European nations cited by the report, 52% of all respondents agreed that women’s behavior contributed to domestic violence; in one of those countries surveyed, 86% of respondents agreed with that statement.

The report also outlines a few steps countries can take to combat violence, including improving data collection about violence against, devoting more resources to support services and launching education and awareness campaigns both in public and within education systems.

TIME psychology

Why Men Are More Narcissistic Than Women

Men sitting on bench wearing colourful socks
Noel Hendrickson—Getty Images

Narcissism has long afflicted more men than women — but that could be changing

If there’s one thing you can say for craziness, it’s that it’s not sexist. Across entire populations, males and females face a pretty equal lifetime risk of coming unhinged. Within conditions, however, there may be differences. Women are twice as likely as men, for example, to develop depression. Anxiety disorders such as OCD and phobias also hit women a bit harder.

Narcissism, however, goes the other way. Research has long suggested that if you’re looking for someone who’s preening, strutting, self-absorbed, arrogant, exhibitionistic, conceited, insensitive and entitled, you’ll find more of them in the boys’ camp than you will in the girls’. So it comes as, well, almost no news at all that a new study — hold your applause till the end, please — found exactly that!

The research, in fairness, was sweeping: a meta-analysis of 355 journal articles and other studies going back 31 years. In the behavioral sciences, which lack the tidy, 1+1=2 certainty of fields like chemistry and physics and math, meta-analyses are often the best way to lock down a hypothesis. The paper did that, but it did more too — not just establishing the gender disparity but explaining why it exists.

In my 2014 book, The Narcissist Next Door, I wrestled with the question of narcissism and gender, and came to the conclusion that our still patriarchal society is far likelier to tolerate — even encourage — narcissistic swagger and aggressiveness in men than it is in women. It was hardly a theory I developed de novo, but rather is one many researchers had voiced — thought not yet proved. The researchers in the new study — led by Emily Grijalva, an assistant professor of organization and human resources at the University of Buffalo School of Management — broke down their metadata in ways that highlighted three of the multiple categories of narcissistic behavior: grandiosity and exhibitionism; leadership and authority; and entitlement.

Men ran away with the entitlement category (we’re looking at you, John Edwards, Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen), and led by a narrower gap in the leadership and authority category. “Compared with women,” Grijalva said in a statement that accompanied the study, “men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power.” That too is consistent with a culture in which men don’t merely hold more positions in government and high finance, but seek those positions more as well.

But when it comes to exhibitionism — the basic table stakes for boys and girls dreaming of growing up to achieve their true full narcissistic potential — the sexes start off pretty much equally. As happens so often in a sexist world, however, that potential — O.K., pathological potential — is squelched in girls while it’s encouraged in boys.

“Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations,” Grijalva said. “In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for [them] to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior.”

Gender equality, of course, is a surpassing good, and the arc of history is inevitably bending its way. It will, alas, almost certainly mean narcissistic equality too. Let’s hope that the growing ranks of female narcissists conduct themselves better than the boys have.

TIME gender

Study Says Men Are More Narcissistic Than Women

151082467
Tim Robberts—Getty Images

The study confirms just about every gender stereotype about male entitlement

Men on average are more self-absorbed than women are, according to a new study published in the March edition of Psychological Bulletin.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Management analyzed data from more than 475,000 participants taken over the course of 31 years and found that men consistently scored higher in tests for narcissism, regardless of age.

The scientists studied gender differences in three features of narcissism: leadership and authority, exhibitionism and entitlement. They looked at how people responded to statements like, “If I ruled the world, it would be a much better place.” Researchers found a large gap between the genders in the categories of leadership and entitlement, suggesting that men are more likely than women to believe they deserve privileges and pursue opportunities. But men and women were equally as exhibitionist.

“Compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power,” lead author Emily Grijalva said on the University of Buffalo website. “But there was no difference in the exhibitionism aspect, meaning both genders are equally likely to display vanity or self-absorption.”

The researchers said that the narcissism gap between genders likely stems from ingrained societal gender stereotypes. Women who are taught they are not as worthy of leadership roles as men are less likely to believe they deserve them or are entitled to them.

“Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations,” Grijalva says. “In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior.”

Take TIME’s quiz to determine if you are a narcissist

TIME Asia

Seven Out of 10 Kids Across Five Asian Nations Experienced Violence at School

Indonesia reported the worst rate of school violence, with 84% of children having experienced it

Seven out of 10 children in Asia have experienced violence in school, a study of over 9,000 students across five countries revealed.

Conducted by children’s-rights group Plan under its Promoting Equality and Safety in Schools initiative, the study collected data from male and female students ages 12 to 17, as well as others involved in their education like parents, teachers and headmasters, in Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Nepal.

The study has several disturbing implications, with emotional violence being the most prevalent form of school harassment, followed by physical violence. More boys reported facing physical violence than girls did, and regressive gender attitudes are a significant contributor to school violence overall.

Indonesia showed the highest rate of gender-based violence in schools out of the five countries surveyed, with 84% of students having experienced violence, while Pakistan had the lowest at 43%. “Even the bottom end of the scale — 43% in Pakistan — is unacceptable,” said Mark Pierce, Plan’s Asia regional director.

The prevalence of the problem in the Southeast Asian nation is illustrated by shocking videos uploaded to YouTube, like the one below that shows a girl at a primary school in West Sumatra’s Bukittinggi being kicked and beaten by her classmates.

Another video, uploaded as recently as last month, shows another girl being held in a choke hold by a male peer while another jumps in and out of the frame to punch her and make suggestive motions — culminating in an all-out brawl.

Several other causes and factors contributing to school violence — perpetrated by both peers and authority figures — exist even within the limited scope of the study, such as students’ lack of trust in existing reporting mechanisms, traditional and cultural norms, and a low rate of intervention by observers.

With reporting by Yenni Kwok

MONEY Love and Money

What Fifty Shades Gets Wrong About Money and Sex

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
Chuck Zlotnick—Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

The hit novel turned film suggests wealth makes men sexy to women. That's misleading.

Does money make men more attractive to women? On the surface, both popular culture and social science research seem to say yes.

You can’t take a step into the academic literature without tripping over a study showing that women place higher value than men on a partner’s wealth, that women are more attracted to men with nice cars, or that women orgasm more with rich partners.

The standard social science explanation for this phenomenon gets expressed in evolutionary terms: Because impregnating as many women as possible gives a man’s genes an evolutionary advantage, men are more superficial and promiscuous. Conversely, because of the time and energy required for a single pregnancy, women are choosier and more preoccupied with finding a mate rich with resources to provide for offspring. Or, at least, that’s the theory.

The success of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise certainly does little to dispel all this. The story—for those living under a rock—details the sexual awakening of a young woman seduced by a billionaire, whose physical attractiveness is matched only by his fleet of luxury cars, helicopter, penthouse apartment, and cushy CEO job running his own company. In other words, as author E.L. James has put it, Christian Grey is “every woman’s dream.”

“He’s very good looking, he’s very good at sex, he’s disgustingly rich,” she told TIME.

To be fair, it’s intuitive that a partner with means is more desirable than one without, all else being equal. A recent poll found that 78% of coupled Americans of both sexes say they’d prefer a partner who is good with money over one who’s physically attractive. And if you are a man who feels pressure to impress women with your money, or a woman who felt titillated reading about Christian Grey’s alpha status, you probably buy into the theory without even realizing it.

But as it turns out, this popular narrative about men, women, sex, and money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

A recent study has found that the common depiction of women primarily seeking out rich and powerful men (and men seeking out young and attractive women) is fairly uncommon in practice and—crucially—doesn’t reflect the reality of successful relationships or what actually makes people happy.

The research, by University of Notre Dame sociologist Elizabeth McClintock, has found that gender differences more or less disappear when you discard self-reported attraction scores and instead examine how real couples pursue one another, date, and settle down. In reality, rich women are just as likely as rich men to use their status to snag a more-attractive mate. And across the board, relationships in which people are essentially trading status for sex tend to be uncommon and short-lived.

Instead, McClintock found that the biggest force that predicts a successful match between people is actually how well all of your qualities match up. That means, for example, that people of similar physical appeal tend to pair off, and those with comparable educations and financial means are drawn together.

What’s perhaps counterintuitive, then, is that a woman seeking a rich man is actually better off getting herself a raise than a makeover. Likewise, a man seeking an attractive lady will see higher returns investing in a gym membership than a brokerage account.

So why does the tale of the rich, experienced man seducing the pretty ingenue persist in popular imagination, not to mention the academic literature? McClintock found that many existing studies took for granted the very gender roles they were supposed to be measuring, examining only women’s attractiveness and men’s status or money, while ignoring men’s appearance and the wealth and education of women.

As Northwestern University psychologist Eli Finkel told New York magazine: “Scientists are humans, too, and we can be inadvertently blinded by beliefs about how the world works.”

Indeed, we’re all better off disposing of our blindfolds—even if they’re made of the finest satin.

 

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