TIME United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

The reports findings include these:

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

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

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

TIME women

A Lesson From Asia’s Unsung Female Activists

Aung San Suu Kyi attends an event in Yangon, Myanmar on Jan. 10, 2015.
Khin Maung Win—AP Aung San Suu Kyi attends an event in Rangoon, Burma, on Jan. 10, 2015

They play an enormous role as agents of reform who can help hundreds of millions of their fellow citizens

After 11 years behind bars in Burma — nine in solitary confinement — human-rights activist Zin Mar Aung emerged from prison in 2009 to face a new obstacle: she couldn’t obtain a passport to travel overseas at the invitation of a small human-rights group. The government had released her from confinement, but continued to limit her movements.

That changed in 2012, when she discovered she’d won the U.S. State Department’s International Woman of Courage Award for her groundbreaking efforts to empower women in her country and beyond. Within days, Zin Mar Aung received her passport and headed for Washington, D.C.

But when she returned to Burma, authorities revoked her passport once again. When she informed the State Department, they assured her they’d just keep inviting her over, Zin Mar Aung recounted at a recent New America/Radio Free Asia event. They weren’t the only ones offering invitations; for the past six months, she has been a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and just completed her tenure.

Read more: Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS.

This week, Zin Mar Aung returned to Burma to continue fighting for human rights and women’s political empowerment. But if history is any indication, she may once again face opposition from the powers that be.

Zin Mar Aung’s story serves as an important reminder for all of us as we approach this year’s International Women’s Day: recognition helps. It’s true that in some parts of the world, taking support from American or Western governments can be a detriment to local activists. But we can’t forget that in many cases, our support can shorten prison sentences, galvanize broader humanitarian efforts and reduce torture.

We are most effectively persuasive when we recognize the voiceless, especially women activists who live in Burma and other Asian countries under strict authoritarian rule. While fighting for their rights, these fearless individuals must contend — at great cost to themselves and their families — with rigidly gendered social norms, negligible representation in government, disenfranchised civil societies and few legal protections.

In Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam, for example, the vast majority of ordinary women lacking family connections or wealth are grossly underrepresented in government and cannot access other key institutions that might substantially improve their lives and communities.

Read more: Where are all the women peacekeepers?

In Burma, even though Nobel laureate and iconic democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi now holds a seat in Myanmar’s parliament, women hold less than 4% of the seats in that legislative body — a total of a meager 25 out of 652.

Women like Suu Kyi who have achieved name recognition in the West have a distinct advantage. Their high profiles span their home countries and the world, putting them and their families in a better position to avoid imprisonment and abuse. Their popularity also translates into widespread support, helping to advance their cause.

But how many of us have heard of Sivanxai Phommalath or Nurungul Tohti? Sivanxai Phommalath, from Laos, was detained for three months after protesting the totalitarian government’s unfair seizure of and inadequate compensation for her family’s property. Tohti, a Uyghur mother in China’s northwest, sought answers from authorities about the abduction and suspected sexual abuse of her son. Her campaign for information ultimately led to her being jailed.

And yet, these are the women who are fighting not only for women’s rights, but for the rights of all of the dispossessed. “We’re working for our whole community, our whole society,” Zin Mar Aung confirmed.

Asian women make up a rapidly growing group of activists fighting for their families and communities. They are factory workers whose pay has been withheld by human- and drug-trafficking gangs, mothers whose children have been kidnapped with the complicity of the police, and lawyers who refuse to accept political complacency. And many of them are under the age of 30.

“The younger generation has seen how their parents were incapacitated by the government and they don’t want to suffer the same fate,” said Binh Nguyen, M.D, the director of the Human Rights for Vietnam Political Action Committee. “Encouraged by the Arab Spring … they realize that they are able to reach out to the international community much more than in previous generations.”

Across Asia, this new generation is already rising up and taking its human-rights battles global, with the weapon of digital literacy in its arsenal. Take Vietnamese blogger and rights advocate Tran Thi Nga, who uploads videos of citizen confrontations with authorities to YouTube. Or the Umbrella Movement’s Yvonne Leung, a student leader who masterfully debated Hong Kong officials on live television. Time and again, these and other fierce women have demonstrated enormous media and web savvy to engage their fellow citizens and the world.

In observing International Women’s Day, it’s essential for the international community to meet these unsung Asian female leaders half way by recognizing their contributions. They play an enormous role as agents of reform who can help hundreds of millions of their fellow citizens. Action, in the form of international pressure and attention, is instrumental to their survival and success.

And yet, as Zin Mar Aung points out, government action is only part of the solution. Policies often exist only on paper. When Burma’s military government petitioned to be part of the Association of Southeast Nations, or ASEAN, in the late 1990s, it had to agree to certain gender-equity stipulations.

“They signed CEDAW, but they haven’t implemented it,” Zin Mar Aung said, referring to the international U.N. treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. They founded a government-sponsored women’s organization — but put the wives of its despotic generals in charge of it.

“We need to empower and encourage women’s groups that balance the government-sponsored women’s organizations,” Zin Mar Aung declared. That empowerment should begin by sharing in these women’s struggles (and breakthroughs) through media and political channels.

It’s been over a century since International Women’s Day began at the turn of the 20th century and 20 years since Hillary Clinton made her “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” speech in Beijing. As we take stock of how far we’ve come in the fight for women’s rights in all that time, we’d be wise to listen to — and wherever we can, amplify — the voices of the women who are fighting battles around the world every day. They are the ones who can identify the biggest holes in the fabric of justice.

Slaughter is the president and CEO of New America. Liu is the president of Radio Free Asia. 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 @NewAmerica 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 society

How ‘Fat Monica’ on Friends Stuck With Me All These Years

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

The fat girl doesn’t get to be the protagonist


Friends has a few recurring backstories — Phoebe’s shady past, Ross’s divorce — but one seems to come up again and again: Monica used to be fat in high school.

We actually get to see it in Season Two. Mr. and Mrs. Geller drop off boxes from Monica’s childhood bedroom. The friends all happen to be over when they unearth a video of Monica and Rachel prepping for prom. The tape clicks into the VCR, and there’s Monica in a fat suit and a billowy maroon dress, clutching a sandwich.

“Some girl ate Monica!” crows Joey. And the audience laughs.

I thought grown-up life would basically be a Friends rerun. As a kid, I clung most to that image of adulthood. ’90s New York life seemed so fun and glamorous — the impossibly large apartments, the casually fashionable overalls, the Hootie & the Blowfish concerts.

My family wasn’t hopelessly devoted to the show, so I watched syndicated episodes on the tiny, static-y TV propped on my bedroom dresser. Reruns came in a never-ending stream. A lot of nights, I fell asleep to the soothing chords of Smelly Cat.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I look at my life now, it echoes back to these episodes. Maybe Friends is just a great look at mid-20s life, or maybe I drifted off to Ross’s whine so often that these ideas sunk into my subconscious.

I didn’t move to New York, but I did move to a big U.S. city. I spend way too much time in coffee shops. I have a group of friends who are here for me whenever my life’s a joke, I’m broke, my love life’s DOA.

When Friends hit Netflix in January, I was ready. Now I could stream episodes all day and night, until my roommate begged me to shut it off. So much of it was how I remembered. Certain scenes made me scream-laugh so hard that I was afraid the neighbors would complain.

But I’d forgotten about the relentless fat jokes. They pop up every few episodes. Skinny, beautiful, OCD Monica used to be fat — and her friends will never let her forget it.

Maybe the jokes didn’t register with me when I was younger. In high school, hating my body was the norm. But I have to wonder, as I formed my opinions on lattes and boyfriends and the merits of having a capuchin monkey as a pet, what ideas about fatness versus success crept into my head during that formative TV-watching.

Because when everyone taunts Monica about the girl she used to be, I begin to suspect something: If Monica was still fat, they wouldn’t be her friends.

In flashbacks, Monica exists only as a punchline. What effect did this have on me at 13, 14, 15? To see women defined only by their bodies. To know that only when you get skinny do you star in your own show.

Monica becomes real only when she loses the weight. Before that, she’s just a caricature. I was a fat kid; I am a fatter adult. What does this mean for the girls like me who never become thin? Are we relegated to side roles and stereotypes in our own lives? Of course, this isn’t true. But I think it sometimes, dark and secret: The fat girl doesn’t get to be the protagonist.

What does the opposite mean, then? To stay fat or — horror of horrors — get fatter? Does this lessen my successes — the stories I’ve told, the friends I’ve made, the life I’ve built? Sometimes I hear my friends dismiss people we knew as teenagers with, “Oh, he got fat,” and my stomach flips as I wonder what other people say about me.

That’s what the fat jokes on Friends feel like to me, like someone I know and trust is leaning over to whisper, “You matter less because of your body,” then expecting me to laugh.

I know the simple solution is to just stop watching. I boycotted How I Met Your Mother when the fat jokes got too vicious. Maybe it’s because I fell in love with Friends young, before I knew the possible damage.

But I love so much about the show, and I just don’t want to turn it off. I wish there was some edited version where I could skip over the worst of the jokes. I know Friends has other problems with diversity and homophobia, and I never expected it to be a perfect show. But when those Monica jokes come up, they always feel like a punch to the gut.

It’s not just Friends either. The “formerly fat” story line shows up often enough to be considered a trope. The heroic skinny person earns their TV life by shedding the weight.

A recent example: In New Girl, the fit and fastidious character Schmidt used to be chubby (and shlubby) in college. He briefly reunites with his college girlfriend Elizabeth, who remains heavier. But instead of the skinny girls on the show, who wear Peter Pan collars and sleek cocktail dresses, Elizabeth dresses like a slob. She doesn’t know how to present herself in social situations. The joke is that Schmidt is embarrassed by her. I could barely finish the season.

I didn’t need these reminders about how the world views women’s bodies, then or now. You never forget being a fat teenage girl. When my skinnier friends ran into certain stores at the mall, I lingered by the accessories, sliding bangles up and down my wrist and avoiding the eyes of salesgirls. I wanted to apologize for the space I took up, to confess that I knew they didn’t carry my size.

But it was worse when my mom took me to the designated plus-size stores, where I stood back as far from the door as I could in case a classmate wandered by. Walking out of the mall, I’d keep the label of the shopping bag turned towards my leg. At home, I’d cut the XXL tags from every shirt collar.

Since then, I’ve read so much about feminism and body positivity and the fat acceptance movement. I know that bodies are not inherently good or bad. My fatness is a part of me — both my history and my everyday — but it is not the only part of me.

The Monica in the prom video is maybe a size 18 or 20. In high school, I wore a 16 or 18. When I look at her, I see myself. That chubby teenage girl afraid of her own ambitions, because who could she ever be besides the fat girl? I look at photos of my teenage self now and I think I look beautiful. I wish I could reassure her that she would grow past these insecurities.

I’ve learned to celebrate the good things my body can do. Walking through Europe after college, dancing to Talking Heads albums in my apartment now. I try to remember that there are good days and bad days; that loving my body isn’t a one-time goal but an ongoing process.

One joke hit me particularly hard — and it’s a joke Monica makes at her own expense. She wants to go on a date with Rachel’s high school boyfriend, Chip, and she argues her case. “The fat girl inside of me really wants to go,” says Monica. “I owe her this. I never let her eat.”

A life of withholding. This is the joke. The scene ends.

I bet Fat Monica was a great friend. I bet she kept meticulously organized Trapper Keepers and got really competitive over pop quizzes. She probably spent a lot of time in the kitchen, trying out recipes for her family while she dreamed of being a New York City chef. I bet she was just as funny and intense and neurotic and loyal as the woman she grows into. I bet she just went by Monica, and I bet she was fantastic.

Megan Kirby wrote this article for xoJane.

Read next: Why I’m Glad I Was Bullied

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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.

MONEY women

5 Ways Women in Tech Can Beat the Odds


The biases many female technologists face are unfair — but women in STEM fields can still get ahead by using smart, unintuitive strategies.

These are tough times for women in technology. Female workers are flooding out of tech company jobs, a phenomenon blamed in part on the industry’s patterns of sexism.

A recent Center for Talent Innovation study found that women in science, engineering, and technology are 45% more likely than male peers to leave their industries. Many cite a feeling of being stalled in their careers and excluded from their workplace’s culture; a whopping half say their coworkers believe men have a genetic advantage in math and science. And 44% agreed with the statement, “A female at my company would never get a top position no matter how able or high-performing.”

Meanwhile, a gender discrimination trial now under way has highlighted the ways female employees can be shut out of high-level positions in Silicon Valley. Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao is suing her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, alleging that senior managers systematically excluded her and other women from promotions available to less-accomplished male colleagues.

Though it’s unclear whether Pao will win—the bar is high to prove gender discrimination, and the firm is arguing that she simply was not qualified for the role—her story has undoubtedly struck a chord among many women with experience in the tech world.

If these scenarios resonate with you (or someone you care about), there’s still some good news: Despite the odds against women in technology, both research and anecdotal evidence suggest there are approaches female techies can use to rise up. Here are five of them.

1. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive

Most women in tech are pretty used to holding minority status at work. But that doesn’t make being the only female among many male peers any easier, says Kellye Sheehan, a Hewlett Packard senior manager and president of professional association Women in Technology.

“A lot of times I would be the only woman in the room, and I would notice patterns of male colleagues testing me,” Sheehan says. “One once tried to steal my employees and give me bad business advice.”

Being put in that sort of situation can feel like a Catch-22: If you fight back, you might be seen as overly sensitive or shrill, but if you do nothing, you could come off as weak.

Indeed, a recent study suggests that women with more “masculine” traits like self-confidence are seen as more competent than stereotypically “feminine” women—but they are also seen as less “socially skilled” and therefore suffer backlash effects.

The good news? The researchers found that when a “masculine” woman also exhibits social grace and self-awareness, she gets more promotions than other women and men. So while both men and women should of course keep it classy when they stand up for themselves, women have even more to gain by doing so.

As for Sheehan? She held off on responding right away and chatted with her husband, a fellow engineer, about how he’d handle the situation. He suggested she “throw a brushback pitch,” a move pitchers make in baseball to get batters to stop crowding the plate. That advice worked out, says Sheehan.

“In front of the group I said, ‘No, you can’t have Joe and Tom, and here’s why your advice doesn’t make sense,'” she says. “I spoke plainly and wasn’t overly aggressive and he stepped back immediately and said, ‘No harm meant.'”

2. Dream Big

A common mistake that female entrepreneurs make, says Women Who Code CEO Alaina Percival, is getting too hung up on the plausibility of their ideas. It makes sense: Being prepared with facts and figures seems like an important defense against those who don’t take you seriously.

“Women pitching to investors can be overly analytical, focusing more on reality than their vision,” says Percival. “The truth is you have to embrace a kind of ‘fake it til you make it mentality’ in tech. If you say your idea is worth 100 million dollars, an investor won’t ever imagine it as one billion.”

In fact, pitching yourself as a risk taker can really be a great move for women leading startup companies, a new study suggests. Researcher Sarah Thébaud of U.C. Santa Barbara found that switching a male name for a female name on a business pitch made people rate the idea lower, suggesting a bias against female entrepreneurs. But when she did the same experiment using proposals for especially unusual or novel startup companies, that bias was reduced significantly.

Such a finding is not immediately obvious. You might think that if a woman presents “a business idea that’s particularly risky, it might further undermine her ability to gain credibility and support,” says Thébaud. But instead, she found, “innovation signaled possession of the stereotypically ‘entrepreneurial’ traits and abilities women are otherwise perceived to lack.”

The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to share your bigger visions—they might just earn you big money.

3. Don’t Promise—Surprise

Conventional career wisdom is that you should always underpromise and overdeliver when trying to impress at work. That may seem especially true for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, who already have to overcome beliefs that they are less competent as leaders.

“You’ll often see, in a meeting of equal engineers, that women are asked to take notes,” says Percival. “Or when discussing a new position, people will use gendered language and say, ‘We need to hire a really awesome layout guy.'”

As a consequence, women may feel they have to do additional work to get the same recognition a man would get. But all extra effort is not created equal: Recent research suggests that you aren’t helped by going above and beyond what you commit to doing. That’s because the very act of making a promise mutes the potential happiness your boss or client will feel when you deliver—even if you exceed expectations.

The solution, according to study authors Ayelet Gneezy of U.C. San Diego and Nicholas Epley of University of Chicago: When you really want to impress, hold back on making any promises and just surprise people with your finished product.

4. Brag Better

It is often said that women in technology need to be better at “selling themselves” to compete with male peers, who typically find it easier to trumpet accomplishments. But that is easier said than done.

“Women are culturally expected to still come off as especially humble,” says Percival. “That makes it hard to overcome the embarrassment associated with bragging.” Sheehan agrees: “We stay quiet and hope that if we work hard and have lots of output, we will get promoted.”

The problem is that staying silent about your accomplishments often means you’ll get passed over, as others are rewarded with more responsibility and higher salaries.

Of course, the idea of boasting might make you uncomfortable—and rightfully so. (One of the criticisms Ellen Pao faced from her employer was that she was arrogant.)

One way to overcome your discomfort with bragging is to do it in writing, suggests Sheehan. You could send your boss an email, for example, documenting your team’s successes for the year, making it clear that you played a leading role. The benefit of email is that you can have a few trusted friends or colleagues read over it first, to help you fine-tune your tone.

And worst-case scenario, if you ever find yourself having to prove you were the victim of discrimination, it can’t hurt to have messages about your accomplishments—as well as your boss’s response—in writing.

5. Find Sponsors, Allies, and Resources

Many accomplished women in tech cite mentors and “women-helping-women” channels as key factors in their success. But getting ahead takes more than a little networking or advice. Having good relationships with your colleagues in general and garnering support from higher-ups makes a huge difference, says Sheehan.

“A mentor is someone who will teach you and help you learn and grow,” she says. “A sponsor is someone convinced of your abilities high up in the organization who will advocate for you when you are not there.”

A key factor in winning the support of bosses and coworkers is showing you are a team player and have a thick skin. Society teaches women to be sensitive to criticism, Sheehan says, so it’s especially important to show you are the bigger person after a disagreement. You might even want to take a page from the stereotypically male playbook and invite a difficult colleague (plus a group, if that’s less awkward) to grab a beer after work, which could allow you to hash things out in a more laid-back way.

Finally, consider the power of new female-friendly initiatives sprouting up all throughout the tech world. Half of women who leave the science, technology, or engineering industries keep using their training, whether at a startup, government or nonprofit job, or working for themselves. That suggests that opportunities outside of the box are growing more common.

For example, there’s PowerToFly, a company that matches women in technology with jobs they can perform remotely. Cofounder Katharine Zaleski has explained that she created the business in part because she felt biased against mothers in the workplace—until she became one herself.

“There’s a saying that ‘if you want something done, then ask a busy person to do it.’ That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now,” she wrote this week in a FORTUNE commentary. “If they work from home, it doesn’t matter if a kid gets sick.”

If you have tech skills you want to improve or showcase, there are engineering schools explicitly for women, such as Hackbright Academy, and contests like a new hackathon restricted to female entrants—starting today, March 6—in which women can compete for prizes like a MacBook Air or iPhone 6.

And when all else fails, don’t overthink it.

As Kelly McEvers at NPR wrote, perhaps the best way for women in tech to approach obstacles isn’t to “Lean In,” but “Lean To The Side, And Let It Pass By.” If you’re tired of all the unsolicited advice given to women in tech—as well as the balancing acts you’re asked to perform—just take a breath and remember you’re already beating the odds.

Read next: The 5 Best Ways Men Can #LeanInTogether to Help Women Get Ahead


5 Best Ways Men Can #LeanInTogether to Help Women Get Ahead


Be an ally—and benefit from your altruism, says Sheryl Sandberg.

Supporting women in the workplace is just a decent thing for men to do. But there’s also a selfish reason for men to care: Helping a woman get ahead on the job can help your career, too.

That’s the message from #LeanInTogether, a new campaign from Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s career empowerment organization LeanIn.org.

Coming on the second anniversary of the launch of Sandberg’s Lean In initiative, the campaign makes the case that changing women’s roles in the workplace can’t happen without a change in behavior from their male colleagues and partners. #LeaninTogether kicked off this week with PSAs from NBA and WNBA stars on ESPN (which has mostly male viewership) and an editorial in The New York Times.

“From stronger marriages and healthier, happier children to better outcomes at work, the benefits of men leaning in for equality are huge,” Facebook COO Sandberg and Wharton Professor Adam Grant wrote in the Times.

So, guys, are you ready to lean in together? These are the five best ways to be advocates for women—and indirectly, yourselves—in the workplace.

1. Be a Mentor.

Women often seek out other women as mentors. But research shows that women who also have male mentors get more promotions and make more money than those who have only female advisors.

A study of MBAs by Harvard Business School found having a mentor raised a man’s salary an average $9,260 vs. just $661 for women. That’s because the mentors for men tend to be male and higher up the corporate ladder (where there are fewer women) than women’s mentors, who are more likely to be female.

Offering to mentor an up-and-comer has some kickback for you as well: “Mentoring is a great way to identify future leaders, which can raise your profile,” says Anna Beninger from Catalyst, a nonprofit that works to expand opportunities for women in business.

2. Be an Advocate.

Look for ways for female employees to be better seen, heard and recognized, says Kathy Caprino, who runs a women’s career success and leadership coaching business.

For example, if you see female colleagues get interrupted in meetings, interject and say you’d like to hear them finish. Openly ask women to contribute to the conversation.

If you manage a team with women, give them chances to lead, present projects and manage others.

Women are less likely to toot their own horns, so help make sure your colleagues get the credit they deserve. So look for opportunities to acknowledge women when their ideas are implemented, both publicly and to higher ups. When you introduce female coworkers, emphasize their accomplishments.

3. Recruit women.

Hiring women can be a good thing for your company. One study found that start-ups that had more women on staff have greater odds of success. For start-ups with five or more females, 61% were successful and only 39% failed.

But know that some of the most promising candidates won’t come to you: Men will apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the hiring criteria while women wait until they meet 100%. So go after them, finding qualified candidates using LinkedIn and references.

Also when you see a job listing you think would be a slam dunk for one of your former colleagues, send it to her. She might not otherwise think of herself for it. Consider it good karma.

4. Promote women.

Make sure you’re helping to give the women who are already a part of your organization an opportunity to rise.

When it comes to performance reviews, be specific about what constitutes top performance so that both men and women equally know what to do to get ahead. Also get to know your female employees’ ambitions and make clear to them what they need to accomplish to get to the next step.

When you think a woman is ready for the next step and you’re not in control of the promotion process, tell her manager.

Tell her, too, so that she can advocate for herself. And push back when she says she’s “not ready” or “not qualified” for an opportunity—or when others say that about her.

5. Share the office housework.

Changing gender stereotypes about duties isn’t just for the home front.

Women often take on more “office housework”—things like taking notes at a meeting, organizing the office parties and training new hires. Those tasks steal valuable time away from core responsibilities and can keep a female colleague from participating fully, says Sandberg.

“The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point,” she writes on the LeanInTogether website.

Two-thirds of women in Fortune 200 companies are in support roles, but line roles with profit-and-loss responsibility more often lead to senior leadership positions.

Don’t fall into the trap of expecting women to take on stereotypical support roles like note taker. Raise your own hand. Not only will you make sure that a woman doesn’t get held back, but you may find yourself having new opportunities to collaborate with different coworkers and develop new skills.

Above all, understand that your actions can help set the tone for other men in the office. Be aware of your subtle biases when it comes to gender. You may not realize it about yourself – or others who work with you. “Walk the talk, be a role model,” says Caprino.

Read next: 5 Ways Women in Tech Can Beat the Odds

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Women With Disabilities Are Three Times More Likely to Face Abuse: Report

Violence against women with disabilities is often ignored in several countries

Women with disabilities are three times as likely to be raped, physically abused or sexually assaulted, according to Human Rights Watch.

A resource on gender-based violence designed for people with disabilities, released by HRW ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday, states that women and girls with disabilities are increasingly susceptible to violence but are often ignored when it comes to prevention programs.

The organization documented several cases across Zambia, India, Uganda and Turkey, finding a host of problems related to discrimination, vulnerability, accessibility and awareness.

“Women and girls with disabilities are too often the victims of violence, yet get too little information on where to go for help,” said Shantha Rau Barriga, HRW’s disability-rights director.

TIME Opinion

The Problem With Dolce and Gabbana’s Motherhood-Themed Runway Show

Dolce & Gabbana - Runway RTW - Fall 2015 - Milan Fashion Week
Catwalking/Getty Images Models walk the runway at the Dolce & Gabbana Autumn Winter 2015 fashion show during Milan Fashion Week on March 1, 2015 in Milan, Italy.

The designers' Milan Fashion Week show celebrated mothers — but not in the way our culture needs

Mother’s Day arrived early this year in Italy, where Milan Fashion Week is currently taking place. Sunday’s Dolce and Gabbana show, named “Viva la mamma!,” was entirely dedicated to celebrating motherhood. A handful of models walked the runway with their children and babies, while “Mama” by the Spice Girls played. Model Bianca Balti, heavily pregnant with her second child, even walked in the show. Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have said the show was an homage to their own mothers.

The collection on display matched the mother-loving theme: ultra-feminine shapes — think full skirts and cinched waists — with loads of lace and florals. Many of the garments were emblazoned with the word “Mamma” or had children’s drawings printed across them, in the same vein as Angelina Jolie’s wedding veil.

It’s hard to deny the actual collection is stunning, but the idea of the show itself left me cold. Celebrating motherhood is all well and good, but this display was an entirely shallow endorsement of women that smacks of a gimmick. The theme might be sweet and largely inoffensive — after all, who doesn’t love moms? — but it also stuck to a particularly narrow definition of mothers. In D&G’s world, motherhood is the most limiting archetype of all, where women are radiant and impossibly beautiful, but not truly sexual.

Of course, it was nice to see a shape on the runway that falls outside the runway norm and isn’t pin-thin. One of the most justified and enduring criticisms of the fashion world is its reliance on ultra thin and, in some cases, unhealthy bodies. So props to Dolce and Gabbana, who asked Balti, clad in a form-fitting pink dress, to walk the runway. Alas, Balti was the only one on the runway who offered anything different, size-wise. (And, as others have pointed out, the models were mostly caucasian.) The rest of the models — even the new mothers — shared the typical model dimensions we’ve come to expect from fashion week.

But there’s a destructive side to flashily incorporating mothers-to-be and new mothers in a fashion show. In many ways our culture fetishizes mothers — and pregnancy — and the fashion and beauty industries are no different. Many women’s magazines and fashion websites have dedicated plenty of space to cataloging pregnant celebrities and their growing “bumps.” The very same publications devote even more attention to those women’s bodies after they give birth, either celebrating the return of a “pre-baby body” or tracking the struggle to bounce back to a so-called ideal.

Unfortunately, much of our culture’s focus on new motherhood and pregnancy ends up revolving around women’s bodies and how they look. That context is hard to separate in a fashion show — which displays women’s clothing on women’s bodies — that also tries to honor motherhood, no matter how well-intentioned.

Read next: World’s Most Famous Baby Photographer on the Power of Motherhood

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TIME politics

Here’s What Barbara Mikulski Told People Who Said She Didn’t Look Like a Senator

Barbara A. Mikulski
Terry Ashe—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski speaking during a Senate Labor Committee hearing in 1987

In her winning 1986 campaign, the Maryland Democrat spoke out against 'code words' that held people back

When Barbara Mikulski — the 78-year-old Maryland Democrat and longest serving woman in Congress, who announced Monday that she will retire in 2016 — ran for Senate in 1986, some people told her she didn’t look like a Senator.

Though she had already spent a decade in Congress, and though she had gotten her start as a community organizer and councilwoman in Baltimore, and though her run for Senate was one of three national contests that year in which both major candidates were women, gender and appearance still played into coverage of the race.

But, as Mikulski made clear, conversation about whether she or any of the other female candidates looked like voters’ ideas of what a politician should be was just a way to keep that image from changing. As TIME wrote then:

In Maryland, Mikulski and [Republican nominee Linda Chavez] are waging tough, no-holds-barred campaigns. Although both women come from ethnic, working-class backgrounds, “we are as different as two people can be,” says Chavez, 39, a cool Hispanic American who is married and makes much of being the mother of three sons. Mikulski, 50, is single, a self-styled scrapper with the sturdy perseverance of a tugboat. She sharply turns aside comments that she does not “look senatorial.” Says the candidate: “A lot of Americans, black or white or female, are always told that they don’t look the part. It’s one of the oldest code words.”

Mikulski won and became the first female Democrat to hold a seat in the Senate not previously held by her husband. As TIME put it back then, she had abandoned “petticoat politics” — an appropriate tactic for the woman who brought the pantsuit to the Senate.

Read the full 1986 story, here in the TIME Vault: No More Petticoat Politics

Read next: How Barb Mikulski Paved the Way for Hillary Clinton’s Pantsuits

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MONEY Love and Money

What Fifty Shades Gets Wrong About Money and Sex

Chuck Zlotnick—Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


TIME career

6 Reasons Professional Partnerships Are Powerful for Women

Getty Images

Female partnerships are an underutilized and effective tool

I’ll ask you the same question Betsy Polk and Maggie Ellis Chotas ask readers at the beginning of their book: Who comes to mind when you think of male partnerships? Surely you’ll think of successful duos like Ben and Jerry, Lewis and Clark, Penn and Teller, Watson and Crick, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the list goes on and on.

But what about famous female partnerships? Personally I can come up with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, Mary Kate and Ashley, Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer from Broad City, and….I’m out. In Power Through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together, Polk and Chotas investigate the lack of female power duos, and demolish many of the myths that keep women from going into business together. Drawing from their own 12-year partnership and interviews with 125 female business partners, Polk and Chotas prove that women can and do work together successfully. Female partnerships, in fact, are an underutilized and effective tool for female power. Here’s why.

1. Flexibility

Considering that 66 percent of family caregivers are female, most women need workplace flexibility in a unique way. “Whether it’s balancing a job share, adjusting dynamics in a client meeting, or filling in for each other when a sick child is at home, women in partnership know how to step up or step back depending on what’s needed in the moment,” Polk and Chotas write.

2. Confidence

As experienced leadership coaches, Polk and Chotas have studied self-doubt and the dreaded imposter syndrome up close, and know that they tend to affect women more deeply than their male counterparts. They think that female partnership can be the antidote: “When you say yes to combining your skills with those of a respected peer, you need to first acknowledge that you’re bringing valuable skills and perspectives to the partnership: after all, your partner is choosing you for good reasons.” Even by deciding to partner, you’re beginning to build confidence.

3. Freedom

By this, Polk and Chotas mean the freedom that comes from being allowed to bring all aspects of yourself to work. By partnering with a woman, there’s less pressure to act a certain way: namely, not too harsh that you’re at risk of being called a B, but not too emotional, God forbid. You can simply be yourself.

4. Support

“Support, the secret sauce of partnership, is often difficult to ask for,” Pol and Chotas write. “This can be especially true for women, who may feel that by needing to ask for help, they are falling short of the giant expectations they’ve set for themselves.” Sound familiar? Me too. “But the beauty of a partnership is that reciprocal support must exist for the partnership to work. Partners know that to achieve their goals, they must be there for each other, each of them giving and receiving support.”

5. Mutual Accountability

The only way I ever started a project early in school was if I had a friend depending on me: wanting to work on it together, asking me for help, or otherwise motivating me to get going. Partnership means having that accountability to fall back on when you don’t feel like doing something or are simply tired. You may not do it for yourself, but you’re certainly not going to let your partner down.

6. Happiness

It’s so heartening to read that one of the most consistently cited benefits of partnership is the happiness that comes from the partners’ personal relationship. “We’ve found in our interviews that it’s the relationship at the center of women’s collaborations that makes them tick,” Polk and Chotas write. “When the connection between the partners is healthy, the overall entity is healthy; and when the relationship is suffering, results often suffer as well. Generally speaking, the same is not true for male partners, who tend to measure success by revenue and results.”

Convinced that female partnership works? Pick up a copy of Power Through Partnership for more fascinating information on finding the right partner, preparing for risk, dealing with conflict, and most importantly, to watch Polk and Chotas destroy those ridiculous myths about women working together.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

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