TIME health

Why I Love My IUD

Paragard IUD
Photo Courtesy of Paragard; Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME

It is completely and totally worth it

Last summer, my family and I attended the wedding of a close family friend. As the guests filed out onto the dance floor, my mother walked over to me while I was deep in conversation with some of the bride’s college-age cousins. The girls immediately turned red upon seeing an older adult approaching, and sensing their trepidation, I quickly changed the topic of conversation and excused myself and my mother.

“What were they so embarrassed about?” my mom asked as we walked away.

“Oh,” I said laughing, “We were all discussing IUDs, and I was telling them how much I love mine.”

I’m completely and totally obsessed with my IUD, and no, I frankly don’t care who knows about it. As women, we are taught from a very young age that our sexuality is something to hide, and that health matters that pertain to our reproductive systems are somehow less serious or important than those of our male counterparts. We are taught to hide our tampons, to covertly take our birth control pills, and to explain away any relevant health issues as “female issues,” lest we offend anyone by discussing how our bodies fundamentally work.

Yes, my IUD hurt when it was inserted. Yes, my cramps are moderately worse now. And yes, in my opinion, it is completely and totally worth it. Getting my copper IUD last year ended a 14-year saga of failed acne treatments and less than ideal birth control methods. I love my IUD so much I literally want to tell everyone about it.

I have always been self-conscious about my skin. For some women, the societal pressure to be thin hits them early, but I — as a gangly, over-tall preteen — was consumed by another perceived aesthetic, failing as soon as I entered middle school. I keenly remember slathering thick and sticky drugstore concealer all over my face and scouring the aisles of CVS for any new over-the-counter acne product that I thought might help eradicate the fledgling breakouts that continued to angrily appear on my face. When I finally got up the courage to ask my mother to see a dermatologist, I thought that the doctor would perform magic on all of my skin issues. But, the plethora of different topical ointments she prescribed always destroyed my sensitive skin and not my acne. I ended up on oral antibiotics for the later part of high school, as basically a last resort.

MORE The IUD Answer

Almost a year after I first started oral antibiotics to treat my acne, the medicine was finally working despite a host of negative side effects, and I — as a sexually active, but perplexingly responsible young person — got myself a birth control prescription from my family doctor. It was then that my skin truly went off the rails. My face was covered with cystic acne, I began to slowly gain weight, and my moods became increasingly unstable. And, I quickly discovered that it was extremely difficult for me (a self-confessed Type B person), to remember to take a pill at an exact time every single day. Moreover, some types of antibiotics — so far the only type of acne treatment that had worked on my skin — had been found to also possibly leave birth control less effective. Meaning, in short, what the heck was I doing to myself, and why?

When I entered college I was told for the first time ever that maybe my acne had something to do with my hormones — I broke out around my mouth and chin — and my hormonal birth control was making it worse and not better. What followed was a lot of experimentation, as I was slowly exposed to different birth control options that I had never heard of before (hello, birth control patch!), to find a method that I could both remember to take and that didn’t destroy my face.

When I explained this saga to my gynecologist post-college, she looked at me with a bit of surprise on her face.

“Well,” she said, “why haven’t you considered getting an IUD?”

I was confused at first — weren’t IUDs only for women who had already had kids? Didn’t they hurt a ton? And couldn’t they make you sterile?

Apparently, no. My doctor patiently explained to me that a lot of the myths that used to be pervasive about IUDs were completely untrue. It turns out, more and more doctors were recommending them to patients like myself — young women who had tried many other birth control methods and who had responded badly hormones in the past. According to the Mayo Clinic, the copper IUD, or ParaGard, “offers effective, long-term contraception [and] it can be used in premenopausal women of all ages, including teenagers. Among various benefits, ParaGard can remain in place for up to 10 years and can be removed at any time, followed by a quick return to fertility.”

It didn’t take any more convincing; I was sold. I opted for the copper IUD — which doesn’t have any hormones — instead of the low-hormone Mirena, because I wanted to start treating my acne again with a completely clean slate. I also wanted to avoid the weight gain and mood shifts that had doggedly occurred whenever I used hormonal birth control methods. After a quick and relatively painless insertion process (seriously, it wasn’t that bad, eyebrow threading is worse), I left the office with moderate cramps and a brand new IUD chilling in my uterus.

I won’t lie, the first few days of cramps were not fun, and for a couple of months my period decided to act like I was in middle school again (according to the Mayo Clinic, “the side effects associated with the ParaGuard [copper IUD] include bleeding between periods and cramps,” but no acne, yay!). However, after about 3 months, I felt totally normal, and I was super pumped about two things: One, I never had to take birth control again for 10 years; and two, my skin had already started to clear up… without any antibiotics.

It’s been almost two years now and I’m still thrilled with my decision. Yes, not all women have trouble with hormonal birth control, and not all acne-sufferers will find that removing hormonal birth control from their lives will help them regulate their acne. But, for me, the copper IUD was that elusive magic bullet that helped me both manage my reproductive choices and my acne. My skin is infinitely more clear and I get to have sex without worrying about having a kid any time soon (yay!). I’d call that a win-win.

This article originally appeared on MIMI.

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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

Cecile Richards: We Need to Talk—Really Talk—About Abortion

Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

America has an urgent need for authentic public dialogue about abortion

When Jemima Kirke, an artist and star of HBO’s Girls, recently talked openly about her personal experience with abortion for the Center for Reproductive Rights, media took notice. Her story made it plain that, too often, women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health care is seriously limited due to their economic circumstances and because of the part of the country where they live. Jemima’s story was also a reminder that the ability to decide when or whether to have children is key to women’s opportunity to be financially secure and pursue their dreams. In recent years, spurred on by the reproductive justice movement, young people are refusing to be shamed or silenced about their personal decisions around abortion.

Celebrities, including Jemima Kirke and rapper Nicki Minaj, and elected officials such as Representative Lucy Flores have come forward on Facebook, Twitter and in the media to talk about their abortion experiences. Last fall, in Elle magazine, I did so myself. I had an abortion and it was the right decision for me.

In the current political environment and with so much shaming in popular culture, women get the message early and often that, while they may have the legal right to get an abortion, there’s still something wrong with that choice. We are seriously overdue to have a public dialogue about abortion, a need reflected by the fact that nearly one-third of American women will have one in their lifetime. However, women should share their own stories only if they choose to, and no woman should ever have to justify her personal medical decisions — about abortion or anything else.

Silence about abortion means that the void is filled with myths, stereotypes, and stigma.

For decades, there have been few honest portrayals about abortion in film and television. Fortunately, a new generation of television and film producers is writing and casting roles where abortion is a fact of life. Last summer’s Obvious Child and the upcoming Grandma deal with abortion in a refreshingly honest way. The crazily popular television shows Girls, Parenthood, The Fosters and Friday Night Lights depict women making the decision to have an abortion and finding support from their family and friends. The characters and the storylines reflect the reality of what we see at Planned Parenthood: that abortion is a reality of women’s lives, and it is most important that all women can get high-quality medical care, no matter what.

It’s time we talk openly about the caring and compassionate doctors and clinicians who provide abortion services. We also need to educate the public about how safe the procedure is, and about the consequences for women in need when more burdensome and unnecessary restrictions are passed by politicians. From 72-hour waiting periods to mandatory ultrasounds, there is real harm to women when legislators begin to take the place of doctors.

At Planned Parenthood, we believe that a woman’s decision about her pregnancy should be hers. We support the women who come to us, we make sure each woman has the information she needs to make a decision for herself, and we work hard to make sure she does not face political hurdles or financial hardship because of the decision she has made. We believe in providing nonjudgmental care no matter what, and that’s why one in five women in America has come to us for care at some point.

What I’ve found is that sometimes when you share your own story, other people find the courage and the comfort to share theirs. Women are increasingly feeling supported to share stories that have, in some cases, been kept silent for years. As a result, we’re having a different conversation about abortion today. Yes, it’s louder and bolder. But most importantly, it’s an authentic conversation with women at the center.

 

Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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 work

U.N. Report: Women May Need ‘Different Treatment’ to Achieve Economic Equality

2015 International Women's Day March
Mark Sagliocco—Getty Images Assistant Secretary General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka attends the 2015 International Women's Day March at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City on March 8, 2015.

It's just like Sheryl Sandberg said: paid leave and affordable child care would help achieve gender equality on a global level

Equal opportunity is not enough to ensure gender equality, according to a groundbreaking new report from U.N. Women. Instead, governments must commit to social policies that treat women differently in order to help them achieve economic parity with men.

“We must go beyond creating equal opportunities to ensure equal outcomes,” the report says. “‘Different treatment’ may be required to achieve real equality in practice.” This report, called Progress of the World’s Women 2015–2016, is one of the first major international reports to acknowledge that legal equality for women does not translate into actual equality, and that governments must make substantial social-policy changes that enable the redistribution of domestic duties in order for women to play a truly equal role in society.

It’s the global version of what Sheryl Sandberg has been saying all along with Lean In — women will never be equal unless workplace policies adjust to fit their needs, and men need to step up to help at home. The report highlights the gap between the laws that protect equal rights for women and the realities of inequality in most of the world. The way to close that gap, according to the report, is by implementing social policies that provide paid work opportunities for women, protect domestic workers, provide affordable child care and establish paid leave for working mothers. Removing legal barriers to female employment is not enough, the report says, noting that “we also need measures that free up women’s time.”

“Governments should take actionable steps to reduce the burden of unpaid care work — which is carried by women — and create an industry of jobs and employment for services,” U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka tells TIME. “Child care is an issue in every country, but more often than not borne by mothers. Government policy should work to professionalize this industry as much as possible, and make it affordable and accessible to all.”

Lack of resources like these may explain why 77% of working-age men are in the global workforce, compared with only half of working-age women. Globally, women earn 24% less than men, yet do 2.5 times as much child care and domestic labor as men. In developing regions, 75% of women’s employment is insecure, unprotected and poorly paid, if they’re employed at all. Only 5% of women in South Asia have formal work, and only 11% in sub-Saharan Africa.

The U.N. is calling for more “decent work” for women, which they define as a job that is well paid, secure and “compatible with women’s and men’s shared responsibility” for children and housework. The report also says redistributing household duties is “critical” for achieving substantive equality worldwide.

Child care is the thorny problem that’s hampering women’s economic advancement, both at the individual level and on a global scale. Forty-four percent of mothers in poor countries raise their young children almost entirely on their own, compared with only 29% of mothers in rich countries. In poor countries, 18% of mothers entrust child care to a female child, while in rich countries, 15% of moms have hired help and 10% have access to organized child care or a nursery. The study found that in every country, women were less likely to work when they had small children, which helps contribute to the global pay gap.

And the income women lose can have repercussions throughout their lifetimes. Lack of money often translates into lack of control over their own health decisions: 69% of women in Senegal, 48% in Pakistan and 27% in Haiti say they do not make the final decisions about their own health care. And in most countries, women are less likely to receive pensions — in Egypt, 62% of men get pensions, compared with 8% of women. That’s partly because of legal constraints, but also because women have different labor patterns then men (i.e., they’re more likely to work in informal settings), they contribute less (because they’re paid less) and they live longer. That means women make up the majority of the 73% of the world’s population with little or no social protection in old age.

And all that income women are losing to child care or domestic work adds up to a lot of money. The time women spend on unpaid work amounts to 39% of India’s GDP, 31% of Nicaragua’s GDP and 10% of Argentina’s GDP. Gender equality and economic growth are like squares and rectangles: gender equality leads to economic growth, but growth doesn’t always lead to equality.

The need for paid leave and affordable child care is well-trod ground in North America and Europe, leading to charges that those kinds of social policies are more for rich women than for poor ones. But this report is one of the first to link female-friendly workplace policies like those to gender equality in the developing world. Rich or poor, policies that help working mothers help elevate all women.

TIME Careers

Women Earn 24% Less Than Men on Average, U.N. Report Finds

New report shows gender pay gap remains sizeable

Women are still earning significantly less money than men, despite working longer hours when paid and unpaid work is taken into account, a new U.N. report reveals.

The U.N. Women report shows that even though more women are in the workplace and taking on leadership positions worldwide, pay levels are nowhere near reaching equality worldwide. On average women around the world earn 24% less than men, the report says, and earn just half of the income men earn over a lifetime. Women in South Asia experience the greatest gender pay gap, earning 33% less than men. The Middle East and North Africa have a 14% pay gap.

Women do nearly 2½ times more unpaid and domestic work compared with men and are less likely to receive a pension. Only half of working-age women are in the workforce compared to three-fourths of working-age men.

As a solution, the report suggests creating an economy that prioritizes women’s needs. It provides 10 recommendations for governments and other key players to adopt, such as creating more and better jobs for women, reducing occupational segregation, and establishing benchmarks to assess progress in women’s economic and social rights.

TIME Culture

Now There’s a Barbie of Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay barbie doll

As part of Mattel's "Sheroes" collection

Now there’s Barbie doll of Selma director Ava DuVernay as part of Mattel’s new “Sheroes” collection.

The collection, which was unveiled at Variety’s “Power of Women” luncheon Friday, includes Barbie version of other famous women like Broadway star Kirsten Chenoweth, actress Emmy Rossum and country singer Trisha Yearwood.

“Barbie has always represented that girls have choices, and this spring we are proud to honor six Sheroes who through their trade and philanthropic efforts are an inspiration to girls,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, general manager of Barbie, in a statement. “Started by a female entrepreneur and mother, this brand has a responsibility to continue to honor and encourage powerful female role models who are leaving a legacy for the next generation of glass ceiling breakers.”

DuVernay said on Twitter that she loves her Barbie, which comes complete with her trademark braids and sits in a director’s chair:

TIME Congress

Congressman Proposes Putting a Woman’s Face on the $20 Bill

"It is time to put our money where our mouths are, literally"

The push to put a woman’s face on American currency got a bump Tuesday from a Congressman in Illinois.

Representative Luis Gutiérrez, a Democrat, introduced a bill calling for a woman’s portrait to appear on the $20 bill. The “Put a Woman on the Twenty Act” would direct the Treasury Secretary to convene a special commission that would ask the American public for their suggestions and then make recommendations on who would replace former President Andrew Jackson on the note.

“If this is a country that truly believes in equality,” Gutiérrez said in a statement, “it is time to put our money where our mouths are, literally, and express that sense of justice and fairness on the most widely used bill in circulation.”

The move comes in the wake of the viral Women on 20s campaign, which hosted an online poll of 15 potential faces to appear on the bills. Voters can now pick one of four women finalists: Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief.

And it follows a comment on the matter from President Barack Obama, who, after a little girl asked in a letter to him why there weren’t any women on U.S. currency, said having female faces on American bills sounded like a “pretty good idea.”

“I’ll keep working to make sure you grow up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men, and I hope you’ll stay involved in issues that matter to you,” he said in a reply to her.

Read next: Read a 9-Year-Old’s Letter to Obama About Putting a Woman on U.S. Currency—and His Response

TIME women

The Grass Ceiling: Women’s Changing Role in Weed Culture

Eliana Dockterman is a culture writer for TIME in New York City.

Marijuana's stereotypes and gender issues evolve

For years, the world of cannabis has been associated with bros. From The Big Lebowski to Seth Rogen movies, popular culture has depicted the common weed smoker as a lazy dude. While all pot smokers have been caricatured, the female smoker has been particularly marginalized and infantilized—when she shows up in movies and TV at all. And, overwhelmingly, the marijuana industry has taken a similarly sexist approach to try to appeal to men: trade shows abound with so-called “booth babes” hocking wares, and trade magazines like High Times feature women in bikinis with strategically placed marijuana leaves smoking large, phallic bongs.

“One of the problems marijuana culture has had is sexism that is built into the industry —everything from product labeling to product advertising,” says Bruce Barcott, author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America (recently out from Time Books).

But as the legalization movement has begun to pick up steam, women are finally coming out of the cannabis closet. In just this last year, Sarah Silverman has shown off her pot stash on the Emmys red carpet, the women stars of Broad City were regularly shown smoking weed and an all-female dealer team featured in an episode of the online show just picked up by HBO about a New York dealer called High Maintenance.

As the pop culture versions of female smokers have expanded, women have proved to be serious and quantifiable marijuana users. The marijuana industry is quickly realizing it needs women’s support to succeed in legalizing the product building a viable business. They are even changing their strategies to attract female consumers.

“In the not-so-distant future, women are going to become the dominant purchasers of cannabis products,” says Jane West, who co-founded a networking and trade association for women in the industry called Women Grow just last summer. She believes women will fuel the market by buying wellness products to replace prescription anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants and sleep aids.

But to tap that market, the industry will have to convince women to feel comfortable picking up a habit that has stereotyped all users as deviant and lazy.

The Cannabis Closet

“Women are more often than not the primary caregiver or parent, and even for a woman who doesn’t have kids yet there is a stigma that you would be encouraging your children to use drugs, things like that,” says Cheri Sicard, author of Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women.

In popular culture, the stereotype of a stoner endures, and he’s nearly always been a he: Cheech and Chong, Bill and Ted, Dazed and Confused. Comedies like Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and This Is the End double down on the stereotype (often embodied by Seth Rogen) by questioning how stoners will deal with disasters like murderous drug dealers, the apocalypse or fatherhood.

Examples of women casually smoking in films — Annie Hall, Nine to Five — have been the exception rather than the rule. They have quickly discovered that responsibility and weed don’t mix: Lindsay on Freaks and Geeks learns she can’t indulge like her male friends can because she has responsibilities as a babysitter; Nancy loses her perfect suburban life after she starts dealing on Weeds; even the girls on That ’70s Show knew to keep their smoking habits to the basement, unlike their male counterparts.

Whether cultural depictions of weed affected women’s choices, or these examples were simply mimicking real life, it’s a fact that many more men than women use marijuana. Almost twice as many men as women (9.6% vs. 5%) consistently consume weed, according to a 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. And while 47% of American men have tried marijuana at least once, only 30% of American women have done the same, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.

But now that medical marijuana is legal in four states and D.C. and decriminalized in an additional 14 states, the cultural gap may be closing. Last year, Comedy Central successfully paired Broad City, which follows two unabashed female weed smokers’ shenanigans in New York City, with its more stereotypical stoner show, Workaholics about three slacker dudes struggling in the workplace. High Maintenance, the Vimeo-turned-HBO show about a weed dealer, also pushed the conversation by quietly proposing that first-time smokers, casual tokers and full-fledged potheads come in all types. Even the last Seth Rogen summer blockbuster, Neighbors, featured a female character (Rose Byrne) just as reluctant to put down the bong and pick up the baby toys as Rogen.

In real life, stars like Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus have spoken openly about their pot use. A group that calls themselves the “marijuana moms” in L.A. are working to reverse the stereotype that smoking weed automatically makes for bad parenting. Even Martha Stewart half-joked she knows how to roll a perfect joint.

“I think women have always used it, but now thanks to pop culture, they’re just more comfortable actually talking about it,” says Sicard. “Now you’re seeing accomplished women — both on television and in real life — using it like it’s a glass of wine. It doesn’t make them a failure. It doesn’t make them a bad parent. Things like that will educate people.”

Ladies Legalize

Women openly discussing marijuana has had a major impact on the legalization movement. According to recent research, women have been the deciding vote in most states where marijuana has become legal.

Data collected by the Global Drug Policy Observatory shows that female support of the 2012 amendment to legalize marijuana in Colorado went up seven percentage points in the last month before the vote, while support from men decreased in that same time frame. Female support of Washington’s marijuana ballot shot up from 48% to 53% in the last few days before the vote.

“Society seems to take notice more when women say it’s okay,” says Sicard. “So I think marijuana use in general is gaining more acceptance because of powerful women driving the movement.”

A Budding Business

Traditionally, marijuana has been packaged for men — think beautiful babes adorning little baggies — but as more states legalize marijuana, savvy business owners are beginning to recognize that they can gear new products to women.

“Some of the best retail shops are those that are very aware they both have male and female customers, and changed that culture over just over the last year or two,” says Barcott. As he researched his book, Barcott ran across several dispensary runners in Denver who refused to stock any product that had skin on the label, for fear that it would push away female customers.

The change can be spotted in one of the first public ads for marijuana in Seattle. Instead of advertising in what Barcott calls “the old stoner way,” the ad for Dama Oil showed a healthy couple hiking together. “It could have been an R.E.I. ad,” he says, referring to the outdoor gear company. “That’s a huge difference from the way people advertised just a few years ago.”

Dama Oil is just one of the many companies aiming to sell weed to women as a healthy lifestyle choice. “Many women use marijuana differently than men,” says West. “They’re not using it to get high, but for its therapeutic effects. They use it for relaxation, pain management and think of it more as a wellness addition.”

“Previously, inhaling combustible cannabis was really the only way you could consume marijuana, but now the wide variety of products out there — from sublingual strips to pomegranate sparkling beverages to skin creams to vaporizing pens that really minimize any negative health benefits — more and more women are going to start trying it when there’s more product options,” she adds. It’s just about marketing — West uses the term “flower” instead of “leaf” to refer to the plant.

West estimates that only about 10% of industry workers are women, with those numbers dropping drastically at higher-level positions. After months of attending industry events at bars where she felt outnumbered, she decided to create a network for women.

“We want women to be designing those products, creating those companies, building the facilities and running the grows that all of the flowers are coming from,” she says. “For women, by women.”

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 women

The Facts on Women in Science Show Why We Don’t Need the Diversity Bureaucracy

Hiring bias runs in favor of women, not against them

A new study finds that females are twice as likely to be hired as tenure-track faculty in the sciences as males. This finding undermines the claim that faculty hiring is biased against females. It also shows that the ever-growing bureaucracy to support diversity on college campuses is a waste of resources.

Researchers at the Cornell Institute for Women in Science asked faculty in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology from 371 American colleges and universities to evaluate three hypothetical applicants to their departments. The job-search packages for the applicants included a search committee’s report, quotes from letters of recommendation, and an overall numerical score. The academic qualifications of two of those hypothetical candidates, a male and a female, were equal. A third male candidate was slightly inferior to the other two.

The nearly 900 faculty members, half male, half female, from all four fields preferred female applicants over identically qualified males by two to one. Only male economics professors showed no gender preference; female economics professors chose the female candidate by a ratio of two to one. The marital and family status of the candidates had no consistent or significant effect on their likelihood of being selected, and when it did, it did so in a way that contradicts the usual gender bias narrative. Male evaluators preferred mothers who had taken a year of maternity leave over mothers who had not, whereas female evaluators preferred mothers who had taken no maternity leave.

To make sure that the faculty subjects were not guessing the nature of the experiment and choosing female applicants to please the researchers, some faculty were asked to evaluate just a single candidate. Those professors evaluated the solo candidate more favorably if the name attached to the resume was female.

The result of this study, authored by Cornell psychologists Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci, and published April 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is hardly surprising. Since the 1980s, females have been interviewed and hired at a higher rate than their representation in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) applicant pool would predict, as documented by the National Research Council and other investigators. Pressure from campus administrators to hire a female candidate over a more qualified male peer is relentless and overwhelming. If a STEM faculty resists that pressure and hires the most qualified candidate regardless of his gender, the administrators may force the obstreperous department to hire an additional woman anyway.

Yet the myth of a sexist science hiring process has persisted, even though it is contradicted every day by the observable characteristics of faculty searches. And that myth has given rise to a stupendously expensive campus bureaucracy tasked with increasing diversity and combating alleged faculty bias. Last month, the University of California at Los Angeles hired its first vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the jaw-dropping salary of $354,900 — enough to cover the tuition of nearly 30 underprivileged students a year. That vice chancellor will be expected to ride herd on the faculty and make sure that it hires according to gender (and race). The Berkeley, San Francisco, and San Diego campuses of the University of California have long had their own vice chancellors for equity, diversity, and inclusion at salaries ranging from a “mere” quarter million to nearly three hundred thousand dollars a year. Each such vice chancellor presides over a princely realm of bureaucrats, all sucking up vast amounts of taxpayer and student tuition dollars.

Private universities are just as committed to the myth of faculty bias. Harvard created the position of senior vice provost for diversity and faculty development in 2005. That senior vice provost reviews faculty appointments to ensure that they contribute to “diversity in faculty ranks across the University” — in other words, that new hires be selected on the basis of gender and race, not their academic accomplishments.

The university should be the one place where reason and evidence rule. For years it has been apparent that hiring bias runs in favor of women, not against them. It’s time to shut down the costly diversity bureaucracy and allow faculty to hire on merit alone.

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 Kingdom

Chess Master Says Men Naturally Better Players Than Women

British former World Chess Championhip finalist Nigel Short looks at a chess board in his home in Athens November 4, 2005.
Yannis Behrakis—Reuters British former World Chess Championhip finalist Nigel Short looks at a chess board in his home in Athens November 4, 2005.

"Rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact”

One of Britain’s best chess players has sparked controversy after he said that women were inherently not as good as men at chess and suggested that women were worse drivers.

Nigel Short, who lost to Garry Kasparov in the 1993 world championship, told New In Chess magazine that we should “gracefully accept it as a fact” that women possess different skills than men, the Telegraph reports.

“I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do,” he said. “Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to maneuver the car out of our narrow garage. One is not better than the other, we just have different skills.”

“It would be wonderful to see more girls playing chess, and at a higher level, but rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact.”

The comments from the sometimes provocative player drew a swift response from the chess community.

Amanda Ross, the head of the Causal Chess club in London, told the Telegraph that his statements were “incredibly damaging when someone so respected basically endorses sexism.” Russ also observed that Short lost to Judit Polgar, the former women’s world champion.

[Telegraph]

TIME

Girls Who Escaped ISIS Describe Systematic Rape

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Bilgin Sasmaz—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech during a press conference at UN headquarters in New York on April 9, 2015.

Girls are forced into marriage and sold as gifts, aid group says

As they destroy antiquities and capture cities, ISIS fighters have also been engaged in a systematic campaign of rape and sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls in Iraq and Syria, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday.

According to the report, the widespread rape of girls and women from the Yezidi Christian minority group—is part of a organized system of abuse that includes slavery, forced marriage, and giving girls as “gifts” to different men. According to a recent U.N. report, about 3,000 people are currently in ISIS captivity, many of them Yezidi women. Last year, ISIS published an article that lays out its defense of sex slavery on religious grounds, despite the fact that sex slavery is condemned by the international community. “The confluence of crises wrought by violent extremism has revealed a shocking trend of sexual violence employed as a tactic of terror by radical groups,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said earlier this week.

One 20-year-old Yezidi woman told Human Rights Watch that ISIS held her and about 60 other women in a wedding hall in Syria, to be raped at will. They were told to “forget about your relatives, from now on you will marry us, bear our children, God will convert you to Islam and you will pray.” Here’s how she described the scene:

From 9:30 in the morning, men would come to buy girls to rape them. I saw in front of my eyes ISIS soldiers pulling hair, beating girls, and slamming the heads of anyone who resisted. They were like animals…. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls. The girls’ ages ranged from 8 to 30 years… only 20 girls remained in the end.

As horrific as these stories are, they’re not quite new. Human Rights Watch published a similar report detailing ISIS’s forced marriages and conversions of Yezidi people last year, which focused less on specifically sexual abuse and more on widespread devastation of Yezidi communities. Still, international outrage has done little to stop the violence. “People feel quite powerless in the face of a group like ISIS,” says Liesl Gerntholtz, Human Rights Watch Executive Director for Women’s Rights. “Traditional tactics like naming and shaming just don’t work for them.”

ISIS is not the only Islamist militant group to use sexual violation as a tool of terrorism. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from a school in northeast Nigeria. Based on how Boko Haram has treated other female captives, many fear that the schoolgirls have been forced into marriage or sold into sex slavery. Shortly after the kidnapping, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau boasted that he had taken the girls and planned to “sell them on the market.”

More: Boko Haram Has Fled But No One Know the Fate of the Chibok Girls

But despite the atrocities, there is a glimmer of hope in the latest report on ISIS and the Yezidi women. Yezidi religious leaders have issued statements welcoming abused Yezidi girls back into the community after they escape from their captors, a move that may ease the widespread social stigma against girls who have been victims of sexual assault. “That is unusual, and for me personally, that was a heartwarming part,” says Gerntholtz. “They need to be accepted back, they need to be supported. This was very important and very influential to make sure there were no honor killings or honor-related violence.”

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