TIME pay gap

Millennial Women Are Still Getting Paid Less Than Men

And millennial men are totally smug about it

Naive millennials thought that the pay gap was only for mid-level executives, but new research shows that even the youngest generation of women are more financially vulnerable in the workplace. Despite an earlier Pew report that showed women gaining parity with men, new research from Wells Fargo shows that college-educated millennial men made $20,000 more per year than women with the same education level. The median annual income for millennial men was $83,000, while women made only $63,000.

The Wells Fargo data didn’t mention anything about a breakdown by occupation, but other research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that even in occupations that are dominated by women, men still tend to earn more. But the most recent findings also contradict the notion that the pay gap can be attributed to women slowing down at work because they’re on the mommy track– this data shows that women are making less than men far before they start to think about having families. This goes with other research that finds that the pay gap starts with the first job a student gets out of college which can put them behind for their whole career.

Some attribute the wage gap to women’s failure to negotiate, but recent studies have shown that no matter how a woman negotiates her salary, it can often have negative consequences. As Maria Konnikova wrote recently in the New Yorker:

The effect held whether they saw the negotiation on video or read about it on paper, whether they viewed it from a disinterested third-party perspective or imagined themselves as senior managers in a corporation evaluating an internal candidate. Even women penalized the women who initiated the conversation, though they also penalized the men who did so. They just didn’t seem to like seeing someone ask for more money.

More: There’s Even a Wage Gap in Kids’ Allowances

There’s also a disparity between men and women when it comes to savings. Of the 55% of millennials who say they’re saving for retirement, 61% are men and only 50% are women. And 58% of men feel “satisfied” with their savings, while only 41% of women do. And millennial women are far less confident about their financial futures, since only 62% say they’ll be able to afford the lifestyle they want in the future. 80% of men say they’re confident they’ll be able to live the life they want.

Millennial women get the shorter end of the stick when it comes to debt too. 45% of millennial women said they felt “overwhelmed” by their debt, while only 33% of men felt that way. One in five millennial women is “worried” about making ends meet, while only one in ten men is.

Moral of the story: millennial dudes are not only making more and saving more, they’re utterly confident about it.

TIME relationships

This Is the Definitive Phone Number to Give Sketchy Guys Who Demand Your Digits at Bars

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Smart phone webphotographeer—Getty Images

Texts and calls prompt automated feminist quotes

In a perfect world, a woman would be able to politely deny a man’s request for her number and go back to peacefully drinking her gin and tonic. But any woman who has, say, stepped out of the house or interacted with strangers in public places, knows that sometimes rejected advances are met with machismo vitriol, and even violence.

That’s why the Feminist Phone Intervention hotline number was created. The next time an unwanted suitor demands your number, and you want to escape the situation, give him the following: (669) 221-6251. “Because,” according to the project’s Tumblr, “(669) UGH-ASIF, WTF-DUDE, and MAJR-SHADE were taken.”

All calls and texts prompt an automated quote by feminist writer bell hooks. Choice words of wisdom include:

“Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power — not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.”

and

“If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”

This is way better than the “Rejection hotline.

TIME Internet

Facebook Lifts Ban on Exposed Nipples in Breastfeeding Pictures

The social media site said the ban was quietly lifted about two weeks ago. It does not apply to other images of female nipples

It appears Facebook has withdrawn its ban on female nipples in photos of breastfeeding mothers.

Facebook has drawn heat from feminists for considering images of topless women as violations of their policies against nudity and obscenity —even when the photographs depict breastfeeding mothers.

Feminist writer Soraya Chemaly brought attention to the policy change on The Huffington Post, noting that the social media company had quietly changed its policy on obscene content in regard to breastfeeding mothers. Images that include the exposed nipples of breastfeeding can now be posted on the site without the risk of removal.

“The female nipple ban no longer exists for breastfeeding mothers, which should make many people who have been pushing the company to address a nudity double standard at least partially happy,” Chemaly wrote on Monday.

The ban drew the attention of women last year who took the site to task over the policy, which they said is an example of gender-based discrimination. A campaign led by Chemaly called on Facebook to combat both hate-speech and “obscenity” double standards. It garnered over 60,000 tweets, 5000 emails, and a bundle of disgruntled advertisers, and led Facebook to respond with an explanation of its policy.

A year later, the breastfeeding ban has been lifted, though bans on artistic displays of female nipples remain in place. Facebook has not yet acknowledged that the ban was lifted for breastfeeding women.

[Huffington Post]

TIME feminism

The Surprising Countries With More Women in Corporate Leadership Than the U.S.—Or Even Scandinavia

Female Manager
Thomas Koehler—Photothek via Getty Images

Why Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, and Armenia (among others) are doing a better job with executive gender equality.

Where’s the best place to live if you’re female? For years, the answer has remained: go north, young woman. The Nordic region consistently ranks highest on the global gender parity charts, which grades nations on bridging gender gaps in political and economic empowerment. Some experts attribute the region’s success to gender quotas, which are used to boost women’s leadership on corporate boards and in government. The basic theory: more female boardroom directors mean more female CEOs.

It’s not quite working out that way.

A recent Wall Street Journal article offers a gender quota reality check: only 3 percent of 145 Nordic large-cap companies have a female chief executive. In Norway, the first country to pass legislation on corporate gender quotas (women must comprise 40 percent of corporate boards there), none of its 32 large cap companies has a female CEO.

This means it may be time to find a new set of nations to put on our gender parity pedestal; some new models are emerging in places you wouldn’t expect.

How did Scandinavia become a women’s empowerment mecca, anyway? Gender parity became known as a Scandinavian novelty back in the 1970s, when the region implemented its first successful legislative gender quotas as a response to pressures from women’s groups and female politicians. The government never employed a law or constitutional mandate to recruit women into politics; instead, political parties incorporated voluntary quota targets to improve female recruitment. “The pressure to increase women’s representation was applied to all political parties in Scandinavia,” says Professor Drude Dahlerup of Stockholm University, creating the illusion of a uniform gender quota program. Today, Scandinavian legislatures boast roughly 40 percent female political participation, the highest in the world.

Success in bridging the political gender gap encouraged countries within the region to tackle the next area of female disempowerment – the corporate sector. Unlike legislative gender quotas, corporate gender quotas arrived via national legislation.

Beyond the boardroom, the law seems to be having little effect: Female leadership at the managerial level is low and virtually nonexistent at the executive level. Proponents of gender quotas contend that quotas are necessary to overcome the systemic discrimination that has prevented women from reaching the C-suite. By helping women gain access to opportunities once elusive to them, they can then proceed to climb the proverbial ladder of success. Yet, quotas have seemingly failed to promote women in this way; as one Swedish banker points out, “even with a 50/50 division of male and female employees, all my managers are male.”

If the use of corporate gender quotas in the region most adept to bridge the corporate gender gap produces only marginal results, quotas may not be the solution to the problem – or at least not in the corporate realm. The irony is that “highly-developed” countries that have also implemented corporate gender quotas perform similarly to the Nordic countries. Spain (22 percent), Germany (14 percent), and Switzerland (13 percent) have some of the lowest proportions of women in senior management roles in the world, despite their own domestic policies addressing this issue.

Things aren’t much better in the United States, where female executive growth has remained stagnant. Although women comprise nearly half of the workforce, according to Catalyst, only 14.3 percent hold top executive office positions at Fortune 500 Companies and only 20 percent are in senior management roles.

So where are women climbing the corporate ladder? In countries you would probably least expect. The highest proportions of women with senior roles are in the BRICS nations–Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. There, women comprise 30 percent of senior management positions, which is higher than the global average (24 percent). What is more surprising is that none of these countries have enacted compulsory quotas or legislation addressing this issue. Russia has the highest proportion of women in senior management globally (43 percent) without this type of gender programming. The same applies for the neighboring Baltic States—Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, and Armenia– which boast 30 percent or more. Between 2012 and 2013, China doubled the number of senior management roles held by women from 25 per cent to 51 per cent.

Why are women in emerging markets becoming business leaders faster than those in the developed world? Increased investment in women’s education is a major catalyst. Women are graduating from universities and graduate programs at higher rates than men and are better positioned for senior management positions when they open up. For Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, this growth can also be traced back to the promotion of women within Communist regimes. In the former Soviet Union, Communist leaders promoted women within rapidly expanding services sectors, such as health, education, and accounting. Equal opportunity is deeply embedded in Chinese society, which has helped boost gender equality (Mao Zedong famously said that “women hold up half the sky”). This plus rapid urbanization and low childcare burdens from China’s one-child policy enables more women to work.

Child planning and work-life balance challenges continue to be the most common reasons why women turn down senior positions within companies. Even among the Nordic countries where social and economic policies are especially supportive of working mothers, women typically begin to drop off in the middle of management trajectories, coinciding with the time they begin to have families.

That illuminates a flaw of the corporate board quota system: too much emphasis is placed on boosting numbers of women on top, instead of the middle. The theory that more women at the top will inspire women to strive to the top is problematic if there are no women to promote. The mid-career space is where companies need to find solutions to keep female talent strong. According to Sofia Falk, founder of Swedish company Wiminvest, companies would be wiser to offer management incentives to women in the form of private child care, grocery shopping, shared management responsibility, or technical solutions to work from home instead of more money or a company car.

Despite these mixed results, support for corporate gender quotas continues to grow. According to the 2014 International Business Report the proportion of business leaders who support the idea of quotas rose from 37 per cent to 45 per cent in the past year; this support includes businesses in regions that have yet to implement corporate quota policies, like Southeast Asia (55 percent) and Eastern Europe (43 percent). Gender quotas are a start, but smart companies will recognize that it will take a lot more – mentoring programs for women, stronger family support policies, and equal pay structures – to finally shatter those glass ceilings.

Maria Saab, J.D., is a research fellow at the New America Foundation, and a contributor to New America’s Global Gender Parity Initiative. This piece originally appeared at The Weekly Wonk.

TIME faith

Meet Riverside Church’s First Female Pastor

Dave Cross

Rev. Amy Butler talks about feminism, her salary, being a single mom, and what it means to lead one of the country's most storied congregations.

Update added on June 12, 2014 at 4:15 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, who has been the pastor at Washington, D.C.’s Calvary Baptist Church for the past eleven years, was chosen Monday to be the first female senior minister at The Riverside Church in New York City. The Riverside Church has been a pillar of faith and activism in New York since its first service in 1930, with its famously diverse congregation participating in political issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to immigration. TIME sat down with Rev. Butler to talk about her upcoming transition.

Your emphasis at Calvary has been on unity and coming together, but Riverside’s congregation is more than twice the size of Calvary’s, and it’s interdenominational. Are there challenges that you think will come with that and do you have a plan for how you’re going to approach the new congregation?

There are many challenges ahead, and this is a diverse community. If you think about doing and being a diverse community together, this is the perfect place to try to do it because all of the pieces are there. And this is a community that has valued diversity for all of its history and, as we all do, struggled with what that means in day-to-day life. I’m really looking forward to trying to figure out how we can make that diversity into an asset and something that is really a compelling and attractive expression of our community. Diversity doesn’t always have to be hard and terrible. It’s a challenge, always it’s a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity for modeling what the church can be in the world.

Not only is the Riverside Church diverse, but also it is politically active. What do you see as the intersection of religion and politics, and what do you hope to do with that at Riverside?

The role of the church in society is changing very radically. Fifty years ago the church had a loud and compelling voice at many of these conversations. Increasingly, the church is becoming marginalized. And I think that at this point in history it’s a great opportunity for us as people who claim the message of Jesus, the gospel of loving God and loving each other, as this radical and prophetic place where we can be the church together. So I think the opportunities are boundless and endless, and I think increasingly we’re going to be feeling opportunities to be prophetic and speak truth to power in ways that we may not have had when we were part of the group sitting around the table.

You wrote in an Associated Baptist Press column in April that, “The church is not as vibrant in our society as it once was. In fact, the question of whether church as we know it is viable for the long term is a question begging to be asked.” So I’m going to ask it – do you think the current institutional model is viable? What are you going to do at Riverside to make it relevant and sustainable?

I think the church of the past is not the church of the future, and I think we don’t know what the church of the future is yet. I think the church is not going away because people are looking for community and people are looking for a place to ask the big questions. And if the church can provide a place in which both of those things are present, it’s going to be a place where people are going to want to come and be part of it. So I don’t know what the future of the church looks like, but it’s going to look different. I think at the Riverside Church we could be a place where some of those future expressions of church start to emerge, and that’s one of the things I find so exciting about this opportunity.

You’ve been open about your own struggles with faith. How do you navigate the relationship between your own personal questioning and your role as a leader of the church?

I think traditionally people have expected clergy to be the ones that have all of the answers. Here’s the truth: nobody has all of the answers. We’re all on this journey of figuring out what it means to be human in this world and to understand God’s role in our lives and in the world at large, and I think questioning together is a much more powerful experience. That’s the kind of leadership approach that I take.

I have to ask after the controversy over your predecessor Rev. Brad Braxton’s resignation [related to his more than $450,000 compensation]. What is your salary going to be?

I’ve always heard that it’s not polite to talk about what you make, but I’ll be earning a salary of $250,000. It’s quite a generous salary and it presents an opportunity for me to think about how to be a good steward of the tremendous resources that I am becoming a recipient of. And it’s also a good model for the church as a whole. The Riverside Church has many, many resources, so how do we, as a faith community, think about how to best be stewards of that tremendous gift?

What do you see as the biggest fiscal challenges ahead for Riverside?

I think the future of the church probably does not include building big cathedrals like this in major cities. But places like the Riverside Church are a gift, and can be a gathering place for people who are seeking God in the middle of a very busy and powerful city. So I think our place is important, and I think one of our challenges is going to be moving into the future thinking about how we preserve that and how we make it accessible to as many people as would like to be part of it.

You’re a single mother, you were the first female senior minister of Calvary, and now you are going to be the first female senior minister at Riverside. Where do you see yourself fitting in the modern feminist landscape?

I really recognize the significance of my call. I really want to commend the Riverside Church for taking the step of hiring a woman. That said, there are many, many gifted women around this country who are leading churches and who are doing all kinds of amazing professional roles and being mothers at the same time. And so hopefully this can be a recognition of that fact. It’s not something new; it’s happening everywhere and has for some time. Because this is such a public decision, I hope that it can be affirming of the many different roles that women play.

Do you have anything else that you want to add about the upcoming transition?

Having been the pastor here at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., for 11 years has been such a great time of preparation and growth for me, and I’m leaving behind this amazing, amazing community here. And that is giving me a lot of the courage to move into this new, big role.

[Update: After the story was published, Butler asked to add additional context to her description of her salary. The following question was asked and answered by email.

Your salary sounds different from your predecessor's. How did that figure into your decision?

The Riverside Church made it clear that they wanted to ensure equity in what they offered me. As their first female pastor, I felt that was an important message to send. And I felt that exact numbers—especially for such a humbling offer--were less important than the witness of equity. So the overall compensation won’t be the same, but we agreed to keep the same salary of $250,000 and for the church to provide for my housing, health insurance, and contribute to my retirement. I’ve found it is easy to think in terms of what we are owed or what we own, but it’s important to ask instead how we can use the resources we have, and how we might be used by God through them. Riverside has blessed me and given me quite a responsibility with their offer.]

TIME feminism

Feminism Has a Bra-Burning Myth Problem

Steinbrueck Holds Rally At Brandenburg Gate
A flag with the female gender sign waves at an Equal Pay Day rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate on March 21, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Adam Berry—Getty Images

Bras were never burned at the 1968 Miss America protest, but that the image persists shows how full of holes our knowledge is of the Women's Liberation Movement.

Imagine an America where women had the right to vote but could be rejected for a job because of their gender. Imagine an America where women were refused admission to colleges and technical schools and denied access to credit cards. Imagine wanting to buy a house and being turned down for a mortgage because you’re a woman. Imagine being a teacher and being fired for being pregnant.

This is what America was like before the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Women’s Liberation Movement changed women’s lives socially, economically, and politically. It was described as “the revolution that will affect everybody” on the September 4, 1970, cover of LIFE magazine. And it did. So why do I always get the same question from younger audience members at screenings of my independent documentary, Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation: “Why didn’t I know about this?”

The first time I got the question was in a letter from a first-year college student who had watched the film in her classroom. The information in the film was new to her and she wrote that it made her angry that she didn’t know this history.

I began making my film, Feminist, in 2004 as a straightforward documentary about historical facts, but I learned so much that I finished the film a different person. My feminism strengthened to the point where I can easily talk with people who reject the term feminism because the facts of the movement are within reach for me and I can share the reasons why feminism changed our country for the better. I understand now that not remembering this movement preserves a male view of American history that values male leaders of history over female ones.

Ten years ago, a co-worker at my film-editing job at Technicolor whispered to me: “Are you a feminist?” She was putting distance between herself and the word—something I had been observed other women do over the decades. I reached into my memory for images and quotes to help explain why I was a feminist and I couldn’t grasp any.

I knew I had positive feelings toward feminism. My family had discussions about women’s movements at the dinner table. When I was a teenager in the 1970s, I lived in Little Five Points in Atlanta, the area where the political activists, gay women and men, filmmakers, theater people, and feminists lived, and I was immersed in the counterculture of that time. I even volunteered at the feminist bookstore Charis Books and More.

At the time I had the discussion with my co-worker, there were no documentary films about the entirety of the women’s movement, so I decided to make my own. (Many years after I started the project, PBS, in partnership with AOL, aired a series on the Women’s Liberation Movement in 2013.) My film is an independent film born out of a need to tell a story that hadn’t been told. My budget was 90 percent financed by me.

One of the things I realized in making this film was that the movement does not figure prominently in history textbooks. My daughter’s 4th-grade textbook History-Social Science, California Studies (Houghton Mifflin) includes a six-page chapter, “A Call for Equality,” that covers the years 1960 to 1975. There is a discussion of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Act, and Cesar Chavez. Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers, is only mentioned briefly. There is just one sentence about the Women’s Liberation Movement: “Women also spoke out against unequal treatment in the 1960s.” The message to students: You don’t need to remember these women.

That message is also conveyed in our public memorials where we don’t honor the women of the Women’s Movement. Only nine of the 100 statutes in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building are of women. Not one of them is a woman from the Women’s Liberation Movement. I have never seen a park or an elementary school named for a feminist from that time. Moreover, there is not even one federal holiday in the United States named for a woman.

When I started the film, I figured we don’t celebrate the Women’s Movement like we do other social movements because it was too complex—encompassing issues of class, religion, race, and language, among others. The feminists of the 1960s and ’70s also prided themselves on not having leaders: Every woman had a voice in the movement. I thought it might be hard to pull out individual successes to honor. But I was wrong: As I worked on the film, I discovered many concrete successes—including ones that weren’t included in textbooks or honored in public memorials.

Here’s one: the annihilation of segregated employment listings in newspaper—the Female Help Wanted and Male Help Wanted sections—in 1973.

Then there’s Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, which gave a name to the discontent of middle class housewives and the rigid social roles they were pressured to fulfill. She and others went on to create the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, which differed from other women’s organizations of the time because it took political positions.

I learned about other heroes of the movement, like Aileen Hernandez, the first female commissioner for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her relentless work to include gender discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act led to the founding of NOW. She was joined in that contentious fight by Pauli Murray, whose insight and actions helped to propel the Women’s Movement forward. Murray also helped write NOW’s mission statement.

My film also explores an important day in women’s history: Aug. 26. In 1920, it was the day that women’s right to vote became law, and, in 1970, NOW organized the Women’s Strike for Equality on August 26. Many worried about a low turnout, yet there were 50,000 people in attendance. In 1971, a joint resolution requested by Congresswoman Bella Abzug made Aug. 26 “Women’s Equality Day”—a commemorative day, not a federal holiday.

The feminists of the Women’s Liberation Movement—who considered themselves second-wave feminists following in the footsteps of the suffragists—saw that women’s history was a necessary part of their movement.

When they marched in 1968 to protest the Miss America Pageant, they held posters with images of 19th century suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth that read: “Our Heroines.” The stories of these early feminists were minimal in textbooks of the time, even though suffragists were very disruptive – they were arrested, jailed, and force-fed when they went on hunger strikes. When I interviewed feminist Shelia Tobias for my film, she told me: “One of the great travesties of growing up in the ’50s was not knowing about women’s history except for a brief moment in time in which there was suffrage.”

By the 1970s, feminists were trying to correct the historical record to include women’s history. They began women’s studies programs in universities and instituted Women’s History Month in March.

It’s important to note that the feminists made up the Women’s Liberation Movement as they went along—there was no guidebook. No one had protested these ideas before—including the fact that a recorded history that focuses on men alone helps to maintain an unequal society.

And now we have problems with our cultural memory of the Women’s Liberation Movement. I think our failure to honor the movement is rooted in our conflicted feelings about women as major players in American history.

The way we remember the Miss America Pageant protest in 1968 in Atlantic City, New Jersey is a good example. There is no statue on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to commemorate an important protest about standards of beauty for women and a contest tied into capitalism, war, and race. Instead, our cultural touchstone from that day is the negative and trite association of feminists as “bra-burners.”

Bras were just one of the items protestors were encouraged to bring that day that signified how the male-dominated culture was keeping women locked into rigid ideas of beauty, but they weren’t burned. Starting a fire on the boardwalk was illegal, so protestors opted to Playboy magazines and other items in a Freedom Trash Can. Still, the bra-burning image remained—a symbol that was easy to belittle as women focusing on something trivial. Misinformation and myths sometimes serve as placeholders in our memory when facts are not remembered.

I consider myself a person who actively fights for women’s reproductive rights and many would expect that my partisan walls would harden after making the film, but they actually softened. I was surprised to find out there were many conservative women who were feminists during the women’s movement: One of the artifacts I collected during the making of my film is a badge that reads: “GOP for ERA” (the controversial Equal Rights Amendment). I now listen to women who have different political opinions than I do about very controversial topics such as reproductive rights.

Recently, two conservative women who are actively anti-abortion—whom I might have gotten into pointed arguments with in other circumstances—came to a screening of my film. At the end of the film, I asked who would consider themselves feminists. One raised her hand. The other pinned on the button I gave audience members that read, “Proud to be a Feminist.”

Jennifer Lee is the Los Angeles-based filmmaker who made Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation. This piece originally appeared at Zocalo Public Square.

TIME career

A Letter to America’s CEOs: Gender Parity Is an Economic Imperative

Dear CEOs and business leaders,

As the size and global span of corporations have grown over the years, so too has their commitment to social change. Heightened competition coupled with a more sophisticated and demanding consumer has led to increased innovation, enhanced corporate social responsibility efforts, and in turn, greater value for both business and the communities they serve.

From poverty to education – our global corporate community has made significant inroads to drive social awareness and inspire a call to action for greater progress and prosperity. But for all the good we have accomplished together, it seems that some of the biggest challenges still left to tackle can be found within the walls of our own institutions.

When it comes to gender equality and cultivating a stronger foundation for female leadership, have we gone far enough? If we are to be candid, I am afraid I’m not so sure.

A simple Google search reveals a lot about the current thinking about women. If you type ‘women should’ into the search bar, Google’s autocomplete suggestions offer insight into what people think women shouldn’t do rather than what they should: ‘women should not vote,’ ‘women should not work,’ and ‘women should be seen and not heard.’

Because humans take their subliminal cues about how to behave from whom they perceive to be the majority, this is a powerful way to reinforce negative social norms – in the home, in our communities and in our places of work.

The benefit and value of female leadership in the workplace is clear. In fact, a 2010 global survey of executives found that 72% agree there is a direct connection between gender diversity and business success. Yet only 28% say it is a top 10 priority for senior leadership.

These numbers suggest that it may not be as much about shattering the glass ceiling but rather an onus for all of us to prime the pump along the way. The best outcomes are had when change comes from within – and in the case of gender empowerment, it needs to start at the top.

Our company takes no moral high ground to lecture others. We too have much work to do when it comes to improving gender equality and reducing barriers to success throughout our own institution. But as a global organization with employees across 85 offices worldwide, it’s an issue we cannot afford to ignore.

What we have found at Ogilvy Public Relations is that by engaging both men and women on this issue, we can achieve greater gender equality across all levels of leadership.

Men have a critical role to play in advancing diversity and inclusion efforts, particularly in the realm of gender equality and bias. Yet too often, men stay firmly affixed to the sidelines – not necessarily because they don’t care, but because they don’t see it as their place or responsibility.

Last year, Ogilvy launched a Women’s Leadership Professional Network, sponsored directly by our executive team as an opportunity to facilitate mentorship, sponsorship and training programs for gender bias and empowerment within the organization.

Today the WLPN group has more than 200 participants in our New York office alone – and many of them are men. Together these men and women are helping create a new narrative to effectuate change and make meaningful improvements to our corporate culture.

To be sure, crafting a great narrative is no substitute for genuine action. But if we can couple that real work to change gender bias with stories that prove a new majority of males has arisen – we can redirect social norms.

Warren Buffett famously said that one of the reasons for his great success was that he was only competing with half the population. Today fortunately that couldn’t be farther from the case – and we are all better for it. The competitive landscape is filled with bright women and men ready to tackle our future challenges. But if we are to maximize this potential, we must reframe the gender gap – not as a women’s issue – but as a moral and economic imperative that must be solved together.

 

Christopher Graves is the Global CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations and serves on the board of its parent company, the Ogilvy & Mather Group. Mr. Graves is a member of the UN Women’s Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council (PSLAC), a CEO-level taskforce designed to advance global work in the areas of economic empowerment, violence against women, and closing the women’s funding gap.

TIME health

Louisiana Bill Would Require Women to Stay on Life Support if Pregnant

The bill would require doctors to keep women on life support regardless of family's wishes

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon decide on a bill that could require hospitals to keep pregnant women on life support, regardless of her family’s wishes.

The bill, which passed the Louisiana State House of Representatives last week, specifies that if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant, she must be kept on life support.

State lawmakers say the law would protect healthy fetuses from meeting an untimely demise as a result of the mother’s condition. Abortion rights groups oppose the legislation, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

A state Senate version of the bill allowed family members to request that expectant mothers be taken off of life support, Huffington Post said, but the provision was scrapped in committee. Jindal is expected to sign the bill into law.

A similar law faced scrutiny in Texas earlier this year, when a 14-week pregnant woman was kept on life support for weeks after her husband found her unconscious. A judge later ruled the family’s request to remove her from life support must be granted.

TIME movies

The Obvious Question About Obvious Child: How Do You Make a Rom-Com With an Abortion?

Obvious Child
Chris Teague

How a funny movie on a controversial subject made it from page to screen

Last month, following a Maryland Film Festival screening of the new movie Obvious Child (in theaters June 6), an audience member asked what many in the room were probably wondering: Considering the fact that the entire plot of this romantic comedy revolves around an abortion, was it hard to get the movie made? Who would fund such a controversy-magnet? Who would distribute it?

But writer-director Gillian Robespierre — who, due to the success of Child, her first feature film, was scheduled to have her last day at a desk job the following Tuesday — shrugged off the assumption that such a feat would be particularly difficult. In fact, as she told the audience that day, the abortion plot line was less of an obstacle than the abundance of fart jokes were.

The line drew laughs, but Obvious Child didn’t exactly have a quick path to the big screen.

It started in 2007, when movies like Knocked Up and Juno, as well as the Gloucester pregnancy pact, had put unplanned pregnancy in the public consciousness. Robespierre found movies like Knocked Up funny, but didn’t think they depicted a realistic version of what unplanned pregnancy would be like for a real young woman. She and her friends decided to make a short film in which the unplanned pregnancy would lead to a result that they thought real-life women they knew would choose. The movie wouldn’t be glib about abortion, but would treat it as a safe and legal procedure that happens in the world and can be taken seriously without seeming like a tragedy. “I didn’t want to see a movie where she was riddled with guilt. I don’t think we make light of that emotionality,” Robespierre told TIME just before that Baltimore screening. “It’s a heavy moment in a person’s life and it’s not like she’s super excited about this, but she knows from the beginning that she’s not in the right place, emotionally or intellectually. All of those reasons make it an easy choice for her.”

That 2009 short, which starred a then-unknown Jenny Slate, was positively received in the feminist blogosphere, which encouraged Robespierre to move forward with a feature-length version, which would also star the now-better-known Slate, who is profiled in this week’s issue of TIME. Elisabeth Holm, who produced the film, had no hesitations about the controversial content. “It’s just a very empathetic portrait of a complex human experience,” she tells TIME. “So to me it was kind of a no-brainer.”

Not everyone was sure it would work. “I think for the first couple of years of talking about this project to people there was this reaction of: ‘Interesting. We’ll see if you can pull that off,'” she recalls. But when Holm and the other executive producer on the film, David Kaplan, began a concerted effort to seek financing, they found it easier than they had expected given the hot-button topic. They quickly cobbled together money from three companies and from grants. For those who passed on the too-controversial proposition? “I guess if the topic scared people off, they weren’t the people we were meant to work with.”

Those who weren’t squeamish knew what they were getting into. Expanding from a short to a feature meant more time to address the subject of abortion head-on, and making the effort to take steps like working with Planned Parenthood to ensure accuracy; the healthcare organization vetted the script for a scene that involves a consultation with a nurse, to be sure the dialogue was realistic. Robespierre was even allowed to film at a clinic, an experience that ended up being Robespierre’s favorite part of making the movie, the part where it felt like “everyone clicked together.”

“We always say that it’s not an agenda-driven movie,” says Robespierre, “but it is.”

The finished product premiered at Sundance this year with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign and was quickly snapped up by hip distributor A24 (the company behind films like Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring and Under the Skin) for a reported “low seven figures.” A24, no stranger to controversial films, may have seen an opportunity where others may have seen potential for scandal. Holm says: “They felt that [abortion] was for sure going to be a part of the conversation, and that was in part why they were excited to pick up the movie.”

Robespierre and Slate both say that reaction at festivals has been overwhelmingly positive — as has critical reaction — but exposing the movie to the world beyond feminist bloggers and film-festival attendees has, naturally, come with some negative feedback. Its creators and stars are prepared for that, but remain undaunted.

It helps that Obvious Child isn’t really a movie about abortion. It’s really about a life that gets messy, and the struggle to find confidence. To that end, the movie may just sound more controversial than it actually is. The film works hard to strike a balance between gravity and humor; Holm recalls that she and her colleagues decided in the ending room to keep a particularly uncomfortable joke toward the end of the movie in the film. “It is putting that toe over the line, and that’s an okay thing to do especially in moments of tension — we all just find relief in humor and laughing about these things. The film hopefully has enough heart and sincerity and humility that it earns those moments. But it was never our intention to just make something provocative for the sake of being provocative,” she says. “A24 felt that the film was really funny and sweet and relatable. Abortion was just one unique element.”

It was that realism and honesty — realistic characters, realistic friendships and, yes, a realistic look at the possible options a pregnant woman faces — that propelled the film from funding to filming to distribution. As Gaby Hoffmann, who plays the heroine’s best friend (and who recently made public her own real-life pregnancy), puts it, “Most of the women I know [have had an abortion] and it’s sort of despicable the way it’s been skirted around again and again and again and again, in culture, in media, where we have no problem showing gratuitous violence and sex — not that those two things are equal, because they’re not, but certainly plenty of sex scenes — and not the consequences of such. I didn’t give it a second thought at all. I think it’s so weird that it’s standing out as being a film that actually addresses abortion in a straightforward way. I can’t believe that that’s the case. It is, but it’s baffling to me.”

And standing out never hurts. So, back in Baltimore, Robespierre suggested a possible reason why it was easy to find financing: “It seemed,” she told the crowd, “like people were waiting for this story.”

TIME Television

Cosmos Writer Ann Druyan Talks Sexism in Science, Saving the World

Plus: an exclusive look at Ann Druyan and Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing Carl Sagan's legacy, from the 'Cosmos' making-of documentary

The 13-episode arc of the revamped version of Cosmos — this year’s take on the classic 1980 Carl Sagan docuseries — draws to a close on June 8. But, as Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow and a writer, producer and director of the new Cosmos, tells TIME, there’s still a long way left to go — both in the field of science, and in the world.

With respect to the big picture, Druyan says that she was surprised that negative response to the show’s forthright discussion of controversial topics like evolution and global warming was so “limp.” Cosmos has “torqued the zeitgeist,” in her words, making science seem cool and worth talking about. (Seeing astronomer Jan Oort trending on Twitter was a highlight of her experience this season.) But there’s work to be done, she says.

“I’m really optimistic. I was born that way, but I also feel that there’s so much reason to hope,” she says.

And there’s work to be done on a human scale, too.

One of the scientists featured in the finale will be Vera Rubin, an astronomer whom Druyan describes as a personal hero. Rubin, as Druyan relates in the video above, couldn’t even get an application for graduate school because she was a woman; she went on to make important discoveries about dark matter.

Druyan experienced a lesser version of that same bias in her own life, but that’s another thing she’s optimistic about. “I certainly experienced a huge amount of sexism. I was very lucky to have a valiant champion in Carl Sagan, who didn’t have that kind of attitude, but I remember routinely being dismissed, interrupted — I’d say something and people at a meeting would turn to Carl or someone else and say, that was a really great idea you had,” she says. “One of the reasons I’m so optimistic is I have seen major changes in that blindness and so many other forms of blindness in my lifetime, and some of the most optimistic people couldn’t have anticipated them.”

Cosmos, she hopes, will be a way to convince girls and boys to keep opening science to different kinds of people. That’s why the show is structured the way it is: relaying the stories of the lives of scientists rather than just their discoveries. “So many of the stories of the heroes of knowledge that we tell in the series were people who were written off because they were too poor or because they were female or for other reasons. The community of science has a lot to answer for because for so long it was so exclusive,” she says. “It’s only in recent times that it’s changed.”

The Cosmos team has provided TIME with a first look at the Cosmos making-of documentary special feature that will come with the Blu-ray of the show, which will be released June 10:

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