TIME Viagra

A Female Viagra is One Step Closer to Reality

A tablet of flibanserin sits on a brochure for Sprout Pharmaceuticals in the company's Raleigh, N.C., headquarters.
Allen Breed—AP A tablet of flibanserin sits on a brochure for Sprout Pharmaceuticals in the company's Raleigh, N.C., headquarters.

FDA advisory group gives its go ahead to the drug for women with low sex drives

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel gave its stamp of approval to a first-of-its-kind drug to treat lagging sexual desire in women–albeit with some warnings.

The advisory committee voted 18 to 6 to approve the drug, flibanserin, as long as steps are taken to minimize the risk of side effects.

The little pink pill–a fitting companion to Viagra’s memorable blue hue– would be taken every evening and would be approved for use in premenopausal women with what’s known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder. It’s a condition said to affect 7% of premenopausal women that results in an unusually low sex drive that’s not being caused by any disease or other condition, according to Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which owns the drug.

It’s unclear exactly how big the market would be for the drug. But, if Viagra is any benchmark, it could be a cash cow. Viagra brought in annual sales of more than $2 billion for Pfizer at the drug’s height.

MORE: Read about Pfizer on the new Fortune 500.

The FDA has already rejected flibanserin twice to date, arguing that its side effects don’t outweigh the risks. Some women’s groups claimed gender bias give that the governmental agency has approved drugs like Viagra for men but left half the population without an option.

However, the FDA countered in its previous reviews that the benefits were “numerically small but statistically significant” and not enough to counter the resulting low blood pressure, fainting, sleepiness, nausea and dizziness.

TIME sexism

8 Sad Truths About Women in Media

Diane Sawyer signs off on her last broadcast as anchor of World News on August 24, 2014..
Ida Mae Astute—ABC/Getty Images Diane Sawyer signs off on her last broadcast as anchor of World News on August 24, 2014..

A new report shows how far women must go in order to achieve real gender parity

The Women’s Media Center’s annual report is out, and the status of women in news and entertainment is as bleak as ever. Little progress has been made in most areas, and there are some places—like sports journalism—where women have actually lost ground. Representation of women in sports journalism dropped from 17% to 10% last year.

And some of the media news in 2014 was particularly discouraging for women. “Two high-profile roles previously held by women — Diane Sawyer of ABC News and Jill Abramson of The New York Times—were changed in 2014,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center. “These veteran journalists were in positions of power at media giants, shaping, directing and delivering news. Both women were replaced by men.’’ The Status of Women in U.S. Media report, released Thursday, shows how far women still have to go in order to achieve real gender parity.

Here’s a list of some of the most depressing insights from the report, which draws on 49 studies of women across media platforms. (This is why some of the numbers are from 2012-2013, even though this is the report on 2014 and 2015).

1. The news industry still hasn’t achieved anything that resembles gender equality. Women are on camera only 32% of the time in evening broadcast news, and write 37% of print stories news stories. Between 2013 and 2014, female bylines and other credits increased just a little more than 1%. At the New York Times, more than 67% of bylines are male.

2. Men still dominate “hard news.” Even though the 2016 election could be the first time a woman presidential candidate gets a major party nomination, men report 65% of political stories. Men also dominate science coverage (63%), world politics coverage (64%) and criminal justice news (67%). Women have lost traction in sports journalism, with only 10% of sports coverage produced by women (last year, it was 17%). Education and lifestyle coverage were the only areas that demonstrated any real parity.

3. Opinions are apparently a male thing. Newspaper editorial boards are on average made up of seven men and four women. And the overall commentators on Sunday morning talk-shows are more than 70% male.

4. Hollywood executives are still overwhelmingly white and male. Studio senior management is 92% white and 83% male.

5. There’s bad news for actresses and minorities. Women accounted for only 12% of on-screen protagonists in 2014, and 30% of characters with speaking parts. There are also persistent racial disparities: White people are cast in lead roles more than twice as often as people of color, and white film writers outnumber minority writers 3 to 1. In 17% of films, no black people had speaking parts.

6. Women are losing traction behind the scenes. Women accounted for 25% of writers in 2013-2014, down from 34% the previous year. Women make up only 23% of executive producers (down from 27%) and 20% of show creators (down from 24%). For the 250 most profitable films made in 2014, 83% of the directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors are guys.

7. The stereotypes persist even in love. Black men are the most likely to be shown in relationships (68% of male characters in relationships are black) while Asian men are the least likely to have girlfriends on screen (29%). Latino characters of both genders were the most likely to be hyper-sexualized on-screen.

8. Latino characters are particularly under-represented. Latinos are 17% of the U.S. population and buy 25% of movie tickets, but have less than 5% of speaking roles in films. There are no Latino studio or network presidents, and from 2012 to 2013, 69% of all maids were played by Latina actresses.

But it’s not all bad news! There’s been some progress made. For example, at the New York Times Book Review, 52% of reviews in 2014 were written by women. At the Chicago Sun-Times, 54% of the bylines were female, and 53% of contributors to the Huffington Post are women. And in the top grossing films of 2013, the number of movies in which teen girls were hyper-sexualized dropped from around 31% to less than 19%.

Read next: See 13 Great American Woman Suffragists

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TIME Heart Disease

Cancer Is Now the Number 1 Killer of Men in the UK

TIME.com stock photos Health First Aid Kit Gloves
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Women are still more likely to die of heart disease than cancer

A new report shows that in the U.K., cancer has surpassed cardiovascular disease as the most common cause of death, but only among men.

The research published in The BMJ looked at the national data on both cancer and heart disease in countries in the U.K. from 2012 to 2013. Among men, fewer were dying of heart-related disease like high blood pressure and stroke than they have been in the past. Thirty-two percent of deaths among men were cancer-related and 29% were from heart disease. For women, 27% of deaths were from cancer and 28% from heart disease.

Overall, in 2012 the researchers reported that the proportion of deaths from cancer was 29% and cardiovascular disease related-deaths came out to 28%. England had the lowest rate of heart conditions and Scotland had the highest.

It’s unclear what precisely is responsible for the drop in heart-related disease, but it’s known that in some cases, heart disease is preventable with lifestyle changes.


More States Tax Tampons Than Candy in America

Image Source—Getty Images/Image Source

Feminine hygiene products are taxed more often than soda too.

Forty states tax tampons and other feminine hygiene products, a new report from Fusion finds.

That’s odd given the fact that the 45 states with sales taxes typically allow exemptions for “necessities” like groceries—and, well, menstrual products are a necessity for about half the U.S. population.

Only five states with sales tax—Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey—have explicitly eliminated sales tax on tampons and pads, the report found.

That compares with 15 states (plus D.C.) that treat candy as sales tax-exempt groceries, according to recent data from the Tax Foundation. Eleven states don’t tax soda or candy, but 10 of those 11 do tax tampons.

The offenders?

1. Arizona
2. Georgia
3. Louisiana
4. Michigan
5. Nebraska
6. Nevada
7. New Mexico
8. South Carolina
9. Vermont
10. Wyoming

And it’s not just about candy and soda: Plenty of states tax feminine hygiene products but allow exemptions for much more seemingly frivolous purchases.

New York, for example, taxes tampons but apparently not dry cleaning, newspapers, American flags, admissions to live circus performances, or “wine furnished at a wine tasting.”

Perhaps we should take a cue from our northern neighbors: Canada’s government just announced that it will stop taxing feminine hygiene products this summer.



‘Women’s Viagra’ to Seek FDA Approval, Again

A pill for female sexual desire goes back to the FDA for a third time

An FDA advisory committee is meeting on Thursday to discuss whether flibanserin — a drug sometimes nicknamed ‘women’s viagra’ — should be approved to treat low libido in women.

If approved, the drug would be marketed as treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, which is said to cause a low sex drive in women. Some supporters argue the drug has a role in gender equality and that women do not have the same resources as men to deal with various degrees of sexual dysfunction.

The drug, owned by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, has been rejected by the agency two times already. The argument being that its benefit is not notable enough to outweigh its side effects which can include dizziness and nausea.

Other pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Procter & Gamble have made attempts at drugs to treat lack of libido among women. So far they have not been successful.

The FDA’s Thursday meeting on flibanserin is open to the public.

TIME Literature

Books About Women Don’t Win Top Literary Prizes and That’s a Problem

Woman reading book in bed
Gary John Norman —Getty Images

Instead, books by men about men or boys tend to get the glory

When it comes to top literary prizes in the English language, books about women or girls, regardless of whether they are written by a man or a woman, rarely win.

Novelist Nicola Griffith (Hild, Ammonite) sought to find out exactly how underrepresented women and girls were in prize-winning books, and trawled through 15 years worth of data from six big literary prizes.

Take the prestigious Pulitzer Prize: between 2000 and 2015, there were no prize-winning books written wholly from a women’s point of view, from either a male or female author, out of the 15 winners.

Male novelists writing about men or boys (8 out of 15 winners) seem to be the Pulitzer’s cup of tea.

Other top awards including the Man Booker Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hugo garnered similar results, with fiction written by men, about men, coming out on top.

The exception was the Newbery Medal that honors writers of children’s literature and is considered to be the least prestigious of the bunch.

“When it comes to literary prizes, the more prestigious, influential and financially remunerative the award, the less likely the winner is to write about grown women,” Griffith wrote on her blog last week.

And according to Griffith, the underrepresentation of women in literature is a big problem, as she says women’s voices are not being heard.

“Women are more than half our culture, if half the adults in our culture have no voice, half the world’s experience is not being attended to, learned from, or built upon,” she wrote.

TIME advice

Words of Wisdom From Maya Angelou

Poet and novelist Maya Angelou at a Sickle Cell Disease Association of America program in Mobile, Ala. on Sept 12, 2006.
John David Mercer—AP Poet and novelist Maya Angelou at a Sickle Cell Disease Association of America program in Mobile, Ala. on Sept 12, 2006.

"Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud"

Dr. Maya Angelou may be gone, but her legacy lives on. She has been immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp, and now, her iconic autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is being re-released, complete with a foreword by her “daughter-friend” Oprah Winfrey. The re-release ensures that her vast wisdom will live on, touching millions of lives and countless generations to come.

  • “I am a Woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal Women, that’s me.”
  • “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
  • “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
  • “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
  • “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
  • “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”
  • I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a b—-. You’ve got to go out and kick a–.”
  • “You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may tread me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
  • “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
  • “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
  • “I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.”
  • “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This article originally appeared on Essence.com.

TIME society

How To Get Everyone on a Bike

Getty Images

How women are changing the world of transportation

Do you want to go on a bike ride?

A simple question with what might seem like a simple answer, especially as spring weather begins to waft across the country.

Dig a little deeper, and it gets more complicated. Your decision to ride a bike is likely informed not just by the temperature and your energy level – but also by your gender, and the influence of a burgeoning movement that’s transforming streets across America.

It’s a movement led in large part by an emerging community of female transportation planners – many of whom have marshaled research that illuminates realities like the biking gender gap (there’s one woman for every three men riding a bike in the U.S.) and America’s dangerous roads to make the case for a radical change in how we think about getting from here to there.

For decades, planners designed streets, and our transportation systems, in ways that inadvertently sacrificed safety to focus on driver freedom. They focused on how to reduce congestion for commuters, often neglecting to think about the population outside of the 9-to-five workforce. The results of this strategy: infrastructure built less for peoples’ holistic needs, and more for vehicles.

“In the past five to ten years, there’s been a big shift in the way we think about designing communities and neighborhoods for bicycling and walking,” said Seleta Reynolds, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation at New America’s annual conference. “When you look at the leadership in the traffic safety movement, there are lots of women doing transformative things because they may see transportation from a different angle or lens.”

In many ways, Reynolds said, women are “changing the rulebook for how we design streets, and how we entice more women and families out to use them in a different way.”

Many of these rulebook changes originate with New York City’s Janette Sadik-Khan, the commissioner of the Department of Transportation from 2007-2013. She pioneered a street design plan that focused on the city’s most vulnerable travelers – and is known as a visionary in the transportation planning industry, even if she wasn’t always a popular one.

Around that time, groundbreaking research came out showing that women and casual bicyclists prefer quieter, slower streets and more separated paths. That research combined with the success of Sadik-Khan’s reforms inspired the construction of hundreds of bike lanes across the U.S. “What Janette did was to create kind of environment where women, children and older adults would feel more comfortable getting on a bike and would feel measurably safer walking,” Reynolds explained.

The push to focus on women and vulnerable populations extends beyond the streets to the Department of Transportation’s Job Access Reverse Commute Program (JARC), which is committed to strengthening transit connections in nontraditional commuting routes and times, typically traveled by women and lower-income communities trying to get to jobs or child care centers that are often located outside of conventional routes. The idea is to make sure that people who work a late shift, or do the reverse commute from city to suburbs, have reliable, affordable transit. In theory, a great program. In practice, says – Robin Hutcheson, the director of the Transportation Planning Division of Salt Lake City, JARC funding can be difficult to come by and “doesn’t always help us as a city do what we need to do.”

Both Reynolds and Hutcheson believe there may be a new role for government to play in increasing access for low-income communities as transportation and commuting shifts to a service-based model – in other words, people ditching their cars to rely more on driverless vehicles, Uber, Lyft, Bridge or car share to get around. Bike sharing and car sharing are not used as much in lower-income neighborhoods, she explained, due to both financial and cultural barriers. To Reynolds, the government could help encourage the shift away from individual car ownership towards a more sustainable model by subsidizing these services for lower-income populations.

Philadelphia’s new bike sharing program, which has focused on bringing the service to low-income neighborhoods, is one new example of how to get lower-income Americans on bikes. The program removes financial barriers by allowing patrons to pay with cash in addition to credit cards.

But the push for more bike-friendly communities hasn’t always been a walk – or a ride – in the park. For instance, in order to boost numbers of female bike riders, transportation planners have learned that it’s important to create a more substantial separation between bikers and traffic. “When there is nothing between you and moving traffic except a four-inch white stripe, you’re not going to put your kid on a bike, nor are you going to go out on a bike,” Reynolds said. But if you build a physical curb, or even flip flop parked cars with bike lanes on the road, more women will pedal.

But “to give space to something, you have to take it from something else,” Reynolds said, acknowledging that we’re no longer in the business of widening our roads. Another example of these tradeoffs: Vision Zero – a traffic safety project with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries. It began in Sweden and has spread globally, with leadership efforts from both men and women. To reduce traffic deaths under Vision Zero, “I have to get everyone to slow down…and people across any discipline don’t do well when it comes to change,” Reynolds said, explaining that speed is a key indicator in how destructive a traffic incident will be. In other words, “saving lives comes at a cost.”

And then there’s the matter of culture change – teaching people to both approach and talk about driving in a different way. One critical pathway to this kind of change, Reynolds noted at the conference, is starting to talk about safety outcomes not as “accidents,” as if they couldn’t have been prevented, but “crashes,” where someone was responsible, and should be accountable for the consequences.

The idea that we all need to slow down is something that parents who witness near-crashes every day near their kids’ schools understand intuitively. But in many cases, that macro-level understanding hasn’t translated into micro-level behavioral change.

Not yet, at least. “When I was growing up, you didn’t wear seatbelts,” she recalled. Today, we may be buckling up more, but in the traffic safety space, there’s still “a real fundamental culture change we have to get to.” Reynolds, however, is optimistic: “I don’t think it’s out of our reach.”

Culture change, however, often requires leadership change. And diversifying the transportation C-Suite may be one of the biggest remaining challenges – as it is for other male-dominated industries.

“It’s one of my biggest frustrations, that I feel like more women are coming into transportation and are succeeding at the low level management and mid-level management, but then the doors still seem closed,” said Swaim-Staley. “We have fewer female DOT secretaries now than we had a few years ago. I see a glass ceiling more than I did when I started out.”

That may be more true in state government than in city government, Hutcheson pointed out. Salt Lake City, she noted, has more than a dozen women in leadership positions. And Hutcheson herself is an example of how even one woman in a leadership role can have a multiplier effect; Janette Sadik-Khan was an inspiration to Hutcheson as she rose into transportation industry leadership.

“Janette showed me – and many of us – what was possible,” Hutcheson said.

Elizabeth Weingarten is the Deputy Director of New America’s Breadwinning & Caregiving Program, and of the Global Gender Parity Initiative. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

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 alibaba

Female Executives are Alibaba’s ‘Secret Sauce,’ Founder Jack Ma Says

Jack Ma, billionaire and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23, 2015.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Jack Ma, billionaire and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23, 2015.

The founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant is proud that women hold 34% of his company's leadership roles, which is much higher than Silicon Valley tech companies.

While Silicon Valley is still chasing its tail when it comes to hiring more women, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, thinks they’re his company’s “secret sauce.”

He made the comment during Alibaba’s first Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship in Hangzhou, China, where the company welcomed high-profile female speakers like the Queen of the Netherlands, actress Jessica Alba, and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington. Alibaba used the event to promote female entrepreneurship and showcase its own gender diversity, which puts most tech companies to shame. As of last summer, women made up almost 34% of Alibaba’s high-level managers, and a third of its founding partners. The company also says that more than 40% of its total workforce are women.

“I feel proud that more than 34% of senior management are women. They really make this company’s yin and yang balanced,” Ma said at the conference, according to The Huffington Post. “Women balance the logic and the instinct. I would say this is the ‘secret sauce’ of the company.”

In comparison, women made up only 31% of Facebook’s total workforce and 23% of its leadership; 30% of Google’s overall employees and 21% of its leadership; and 23% of Cisco’s total workforce and 19% of its leadership, according to reports released by the companies last year.

Ma further elaborated that it’s important for his company to have a balance of leadership and ideas to conduct business most effectively.

“Men think about themselves more; women think about others more,” Ma said. “Women think about taking care of their parents, their children.”

Despite the feminist sentiment, Ma’s choice of words can sometimes be a bit overly simplistic and stereotyping. He also seems to fall short when it comes to ageism. He recently raised eyebrows when he announced that Alibaba Group’s CEO, Jonathan Lu, would be replaced by the company’s younger COO, Daniel Zhang, as part of what he described as Alibaba’s desire to keep younger and fresher blood running its business.

TIME Amazon

A Woman Is Doing This Important Amazon Job for the First Time

It's the role of Jeff Bezos's personal "shadow" at the company

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently named Maria Renz to the position of technical adviser to the CEO.

That’s a fancy title for what, according to Re/code, is basically the job of Bezos’s shadow. It’s a coveted, high-ranking role at the e-commerce giant, and one that has never before been filled by a woman.

Re/code reports that Renz is a 15-year veteran of the Seattle company, and was formerly CEO of Quidsi, parent company of Amazon-owned Diapers.com. She replaces Bezos’s previous shadow Jay Marine, who will now lead Amazon Instant Video’s efforts in Europe.

Bezos’s move comes at a time when many companies have been under increasing pressure for lack of diversity in their workforces—especially technology giants. A mere 51 of Fortune 1000 companies have female CEOs. And at the end of last year, when the Sony hack resulted in a slew of leaked documents, one of the biggest storylines to result was that a female studio president was making nearly $1 million less in salary than her male co-president.

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