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.

TIME indonesia

Indonesia’s ‘Virginity Tests’ Obsession Highlights Its Truly Rotten Armed Forces

Indonesian Air Force female soldiers par
AFP/Getty Images Indonesian air-force female soldiers parade during a ceremony in Jakarta on April 9, 2007

Institutions grounded in sense and equality would never employ such a ghastly procedure, say activists

For decades, Indonesian women wishing to join the armed forces and police force, and also those planning to marry military officers, have had to quietly undergo a humiliating procedure known as the “virginity test.”

It’s a dirty secret that wasn’t made public — until Human Rights Watch began highlighting the practice. In a report released last week, the New York City–based advocacy group called for Indonesia’s military to stop imposing virginity tests on female recruits and fiancées of military officers — six months after revealing that Indonesia female police candidates were required to take the test.

“They argue that they want the physically and mentally best candidates to join the armed forces,” Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher at HRW, tells TIME. “It’s the same logic in seeking military wives. They consider a virgin is mentally healthier than a nonvirgin. They reportedly often say, ‘How could you defend the honor of our nation if you cannot defend your own honor?’”

General Moeldoko, the military commander, sees nothing wrong with the practice. “It’s a good thing, why criticize it?” he told journalists last Friday. The virginity test “is a measure of morality. There’s no other way,” he added.

His reaction echoed that of a high-ranking police officer. The head of the national police law division, Inspector General Moechgiyarto, said the test was necessary to maintain the police force’s moral standards. “If she [a candidate] turns out to be a prostitute, how could we accept her for the job?” he said last November. (Other police officials denied the practice, though. Then national police chief General Sutarman said that same month that female recruits were required to undergo medical examinations, not virginity tests.)

The invasive two-finger virginity test, which the World Health Organization slams as having “no scientific validity” and which Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence Against Women condemns as a form of sexual violence, is a recurring topic in Indonesia. Public officials and legislators frequently float an idea to impose virginity tests, particularly on schoolgirls.

Last February, a city councilor of Jember, in eastern Java, suggested that graduating middle-school students should be required to take virginity tests. “If she is not a virgin, she can’t graduate,” he said. In late 2013, the education chief of Prabumulih, in South Sumatra province, proposed the test as a requirement for female students to enter high school. Both ideas, as with others, were shelved following public outcry.

But why is Indonesia so enamored of the idea of virginity? The authoritarian New Order regime may be gone, but its idea of women as a symbol of the nation’s moral guardian is still very much alive, says Lies Marcoes, a women’s-rights activist and medical anthropologist. In the democratic reform era, the rise of religious conservatism and the sense that moral values are under siege have made the idea even stronger. “Virginity has become more sacred,” Lies says. “For state institutions like the military, virginity test is a ‘moral’ symbol to cover up what is rotten.”

It is estimated that female officers comprise just 3% and 2% of the police and the armed forces, respectively. Male police and military officers far outnumber their female counterparts, but no officials have ever mentioned what test is required to gauge the men’s morality.

The use of virginity testing has been documented in several other countries. In Afghanistan, women and girls accused of “moral crimes,” such as running away (often from an abusive home or forced marriage) or extramarital affairs, are often subjected to the test. Despite a court ruling condemning the practice, virginity tests are still illegally used in Egyptian detention facilities. India has not yet systematically put in place a new protocol banning the test on rape survivors across the country.

It is unclear when Indonesia’s police and armed forces began conducting the virginity test, but HRW interviewed women who took the tests from as far back as the 1960s. Female military candidates are usually tested en masse at military hospitals, in large halls that are divided into curtain-separated examination rooms. “Those who defend the virginity test believe in junk science,” says Harsono of HRW. “They believe if [a woman’s hymen] is torn between 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock, it’s due to accidents. If it’s torn at 6 o’clock, they believe the woman has had active sexual activities.”

Irawati Harsono, commissioner at the women’s commission and a retired police officer, had to take the test when she joined the police force three decades ago. “As a woman who experienced it, I felt the test was very discriminatory and degrading,” she says. “Nobody could forget it, which means it is a traumatic experience.”

One retired air-force officer recalled she couldn’t have sex with her newlywed husband during their honeymoon, four years after she took the test. “My body was so stiff. I couldn’t open my legs,” she said, as quoted by HRW. “It was because of the trauma that I had with that ‘virginity test.’”

Following the HRW report last week, several lawmakers called for an end to the virginity test, saying there is no connection between virginity and morals. Interior Minister Tjahjo Kumolo had promised in December that he would scrap virginity tests for women joining the civil-service colleges.

Activists urge President Joko Widodo to abolish it, but the Indonesian leader, a social conservative, has so far been reticent on the issue. And there is little expectation of a major reversal on the attitude or policy. “The more the public thinks the nation’s morals are in disarray,” Lies says, “the stronger is the pressure on women to guard the symbol of purity, which is measured with the most ancient parameter that lies in the subconsciousness of patriarchal men: ‘virginity.’”

TIME women

I Don’t Want to Have Children and That’s OK

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There are as many reasons to not have children as there are to have children

I have known that I didn’t want to have kids for a long time. Like, a long time. My determination to eternally keep my womb as empty and barren as the surface of the moon predates the birth of both of Britney’s babies, the premiere of Gilmore Girls, and the entire existence of nearly-adult human being Elle Fanning.

But I never felt like not wanting kids made up the core of my identity or anything — it was just a thing, like enjoying The X-Files or having an strong aversion to mayonnaise; a small aspect of my overall self. I never felt the need to consult with other women who didn’t want kids because, well, who needs a support group for not liking mayo?

That was, until I hit my 30s — a time when many of my peers were, if not already actively reproducing, at least engaging in some extremely focused pre-planning regarding the wee people who would eventually come sliding out of their lady parts. What had been a small element of my personality was suddenly in the foreground, simply because it was different than most other people’s choices. I was suddenly, shockingly, in need of a support group.

And so, I just as suddenly became obsessed with reading anything written by women who had also made the choice to skip having kids. Sure, we’re an increasingly common species — 19 percent of American women are childless by the end of their reproductive years, a massive jump from decades past — but women in their 30s without kids still get such a hard side-eye from the culture at large, that I felt desperate to learn how other women had dealt with it.

I loved the variety of voices in these pieces, the rainbow of reasons given for deciding one’s own reproductive fate. But even in the essays that I’ve loved, I noticed that many of the authors made a point of specifically noting that they’re not skipping out on having children because they themselves had a bad childhood.

In comedian Jen Kirkman’s amazing book about being childfree, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, she notes that her decision has nothing to do with her childhood, which featured loving, supportive parents. A 2009 Maclean’s piece on the growing phenomenon of childfree women noted that assuming a “bad childhood” was to blame for a woman’s decision to not bear children is an old-fashioned explanation, one that barely plays a role today compared to factors like increased educational opportunities for women. Lilit Marcus, a fantastic writer who frequently comments on issues relevant to child-free women, even wrote an entire essay about her own ”idyllic childhood,” in response to those who assumed her reluctance to breed must have had to do with some deep-seated childhood trauma.

On one hand, I am thrilled that so many writers are challenging the assumption that the only women who chose to take a pass on motherhood are “damaged.” Many people instantly make a lifetime’s worth of assumptions about you the second that you mention that you aren’t having kids, and the biggest of those is often that you have “problems” — problems that keep you from functioning like a normal (that is, child-bearing) member of society. I understand, and support, the fight to normalize a childfree life as something that any person, with any kind of background, might choose for herself for any reason.

And yet, as a woman who chose not to have kids for those very “old-fashioned” reasons —I had a bad childhood, and boy howdy, do I have problems because of it! — I sometimes feel like I, and women like me, are being written out of the new narrative of healthy, happy childfree womanhood.

I want to make clear that I’m not blaming any of these writers, or any other woman, for being honest about her happy childhood, or any other aspect of her life. I am, however, blaming a society that is still so absolutely suspect of childfree women, that we often feel that we need to develop airtight, logical, precise arguments for why we don’t want to have kids — arguments which we can efficiently whip off at a moment’s notice to parents or friends or some busybody who sits next to us on the train.

The typical airtight narrative goes a little something like this: I never liked dolls; I adore children but don’t have the temperament to be around them all the time; I have never felt the tug of my biological clock; I’m not having children because I like my life as is, not because I’m afraid of them or avoiding something larger.

This script is similar in my mind to how, if you have an abortion, convention dictates that you’re supposed to express some half-hearted regret about how it wasn’t “the right time,” but then confirm that you have never faltered from believing that it was the right decision in the end. It places your experience firmly inside the walls of “normal,” and proves that nothing extraordinary or weird led you to your decision — that it’s a decision anyone could make.

I understand the need for these scripts. A woman’s right to bodily autonomy is still under constant fire — legally and socially — and there is a feeling among childfree women like we need to circle the wagons, to protect ourselves by agreeing to tell a story about our choices that doesn’t make us seem like damaged wrecks making the only choice we could handle, but rather cool, smart, dispassionate thinkers making an informed decision.

I wish I was a cool, smart, dispassionate thinker in any aspect of my life — but I’m not. I do love my life the way it is, but that isn’t why I decided not to have kids. I didn’t look at life’s bountiful options — all the possibilities that are supposedly open to me as an educated, middle-class woman — and choose the one that was most sensible and seemed like it would benefit me the most. Figuring out my life choices has not been like purchasing a pair of hiking boots. I am definitely not having kids because I am avoiding something. I am a wreck, making the only choice that I can handle.

On my mother’s side, I’m the end product of at least three generations of child abuse (that I know of) — abuse that tapered down from booze-fueled violence a hundred years ago, to just the intense verbal abuse, mood swings, and gaslighting that I grew up with as my mentally ill, untreated single mom’s only child.

I did not articulate my decision to not have kids until my late teens, but long before then — before I realized that you were allowed to go through life without procreating — I knew that any talk I engaged in about my future offspring was just going through the motions, trying to keep people from thinking I was even weirder than they already did. When people asked what I would name my kids, I always made something up on the spot, because I had spent zero moments daydreaming about being a mother, and thousands of moments gritting my teeth at the idea of eventually having to become one. The day that I realized that women were allowed to choose to not have babies, I literally wept with joy.

My mother’s mothering was like a hurricane, knocking me every which way during the years we lived together, and once I left her, I knew I was going to have to devote the rest of my life to trying to feel like I was standing on solid ground. Raising kids didn’t mesh with the idea of trying to give myself a sense of constancy — hell, when I first moved to New York, I didn’t leave the city proper for two years straight, just because I needed that feeling of consistency, that feeling that I wouldn’t wake up to a new world with new rules that I could barely understand and had already somehow broken, as I had so often in my mother’s house.

I didn’t want to be a mother because I had seen motherhood in one of its darker iterations, yes, but that wasn’t the only reason. I knew that, should I be so lucky to rebuild my life into something that eventually felt stable under my hand, there would never be any room in it for midnight feedings and tantrums and a person who couldn’t always explain themselves and their actions to me in clear, well-reasoned English.

It was as surely as if my womb had been taken out of my body and placed on a shelf. I had never even bothered to spend a moment contemplating whether I felt that maternal tug these writers were always talking about, or if I liked kids but didn’t have the temperament to be around them all day. My childhood had already made the decision for me. I would never have children. And I felt fine about it. It was a fact, just as true as the color of the sky or the temperature outside.

The urge to distance childfree narratives from the “bad childhood” explanation isn’t just because it’s “old-fashioned” and invokes a lot of ugly, publicity-unfriendly emotions — it’s also because it’s the one reason for not having kids that even people who believe that all women should bear children understand. Those who spend their free time obsessed with the contents of strangers’ wombs give women who grew up with maternal abuse something of a pass — often a pass with a comment like “But you could learn from her mistakes!” but a pass nonetheless.

They are the same kind of people who believe in anti-abortion rules with clauses for rape victims only. They want women who don’t have children to have really suffered for it, to be so potentially deformed by trauma that they are bad risks for motherhood. Older women who would otherwise talk my ear off about how I should freeze my eggs shut down when I casually mention having spent my own childhood alone with a mother who picked fights with strangers, who suspected that she was under secret surveillance, who believed that if I was not in the room and listening to her I did not love her. It gets me off the hook.

I do not want their pass. I want all reasons for being childfree to be respected, not constantly interrogated and undermined. I want to make sure that, as the public conversation about childfree women rolls on, we who have chosen the childfree life because of abuse and trauma don’t get left behind, as “old-fashioned” examples, people who have nothing to in common with the cool, independent, modern role model women who are choosing to not have kids.

Not only because child abuse will always exist, even among elite Millennials (and to pretend that it’s an outdated as a history textbook is insulting) — but because we need to show how many reasons there are for women to pursue childfree lives. It was never exclusively about bad childhoods in the past, and it isn’t just about being happy with your life and loving your disposable income now. It’s always been both, plus a million more narratives. There are as many reasons to not have children as there are to have children — and just like the decision to have children, sometimes the decision to not have children comes from a place of joy, and sometimes it comes from a place of trying to correct trauma. And we need to open our arms up to all of them.

This article originally appeared on Bustle.

More from Bustle:

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 feminism

Austin Held Sexist Training on How to Deal with Women, Outraged Leaders Say

Members of the Austin city council listen to city manager Marc Ott during a news conference at City Hall, on May 13, 2015, in Austin, Texas.
Eric Gay—AP Members of the Austin city council listen to city manager Marc Ott during a news conference at City Hall, on May 13, 2015, in Austin, Texas.

"I heard about it last night and was speechless"

Women aren’t interested in math, ask a lot of questions and process ideas differently from men.

That’s what members of the Austin city council staff heard during a recent training session on how to work with female leaders, which the city manager organized in March after Austin elected a majority female city council (seven women out of 10 members) for the first time in the city’s history.

The training, billed as a diversity meeting entitled “The Changing Dynamics of Governance: Women Leading in Government,” sparked widespread outrage in the city’s government and beyond after it was recently reported in the Austin-American Statesman, shocking the female members of the city council, who had not been invited to attend a meeting that was designed for staff. The training was so offensive that the city removed the video of it from its website, saying in a press release: “the training was not consistent with the City’s culture, philosophy, and management approach.”

Fox’s local station in Tampa Bay has a link a snippet of the video, depicting one speaker, Jonathan K. Allen, the city manager of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., who has since been fired, saying: “If you use or attempt to use the same communication or management techniques that you used or attempted to use in a predominantly male-dominated environment, you will be making a serious error in your professional development because they don’t process things the same way.”

Allen also said women ask a lot of questions, citing conversations with his 11-year-old daughter, according to the Austin-American Statesman, which broke the story on Tuesday night. “My daughter taught me the importance of being patient,” he said, and added that women weren’t much interested in financials, paraphrasing female leaders he worked with: “Mr. Manager, I don’t want to hear about the financial argument, I want to hear about how this impacts the whole community.”

“I heard about it last night and was speechless,” Leslie Pool, an Austin city councilwoman, told Fox, adding: “Oh math is hard, right. Well I took Qualitative Analysis in my master’s degree class at the LBJ School a decade or more ago, and I actually did pretty darn well.”

Several female council members addressed the controversy in a press conference held Wednesday.

In a joint response to the controversy over the training session, speakers Jonathan K. Allen and Dr. Miya Burt-Stewart issued a statement published by the Austin-American Statesman: “Any interpretation that we do not support and appreciate the growing number of women executives and elected officials in both the public and private sector is absolutely not true.”

Austin City Manager Marc Ott indicated that the training had been a mistake. “I take responsibility for this,” he told Fox. “The buck stops at the city manager so I take responsibility, it should not have happened, it should have been vetted.”

TIME Innovation

How the Navy is Taking the Lead on Maternity Leave

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

These are today's best ideas

1. Here’s how the U.S. Navy is leading the way on maternity leave.

By Alexander LaCasse in the Christian Science Monitor

2. What if growing up “color-blind” means white millennials don’t see racial injustice either?

By Mychal Denzel Smith in the PBS Newshour

3. Jailhouse informants are a leading cause of wrongful convictions. It’s time for them to go.

By Jordan Smith in the Intercept

4. Spend two minutes per hour walking — just walking — to cut your risk of dying by one third.

By Christopher Wanjek and LiveScience at Scientific American

5. Fruit and vegetables worth billions are left to rot because they’re ugly. Now we can eat them at a discount.

By Lorena Galliot in Grist

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

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

TIME Business

3 Ways Women Can Overcome the Sexist Contradictions of Dressing ‘Professionally’

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

Pinning down exactly what one should wear to work isn't a simple task for a woman


I used to email my sister before I’d change my profile picture on Facebook. I sent her the latest photo I was considering, and she’d tell me if it was okay or talk me out of shots in which my “intellectual side-gaze” read more like a vacant zombie stare.

At that time (my early 20s), I just wanted to look pretty without seeming like I was trying too hard. (Read: as hard as I was actually trying.) That was back before my perception of how I looked was further complicated by the opinions of people who had power over my career.

I co-created PhotoFeeler, a website that crowdsources first impressions of people in photos, with the best of intentions in late 2013. While the site handles all kinds of prospective profile pics now, our original focus was on LinkedIn photos. It was and still is a much-needed tool for job seekers, whose livelihood depends on making a positive professional impression.

Unfortunately, most women already feel they need to live up to many contradictory standards. Be smart, but not so smart that men feel you don’t need them. Be sexy, but without seeming like you know you’re attractive or appearing attainable. Be confident, but not so confident as to appear challenging.

“Looking professional” is yet another one of these contradiction-laden assignments — albeit one that rarely registers as discriminatory because the sexist thought behind it isn’t overt.

This was so clear to me recently when I came across a story about a young programmer who got turned down for a job because she was told her interview outfit — a black tee, red skater skirt, and long sweater — was “unprofessional” and more suited to “clubbing” than the office. When you consider the company she was interviewing for was a dressed-down startup where suits are frowned upon, the outfit seemed innocuous. Or so I thought, but the Internet largely seemed to disagree with endless tweets and blog comments arguing, “This is just not professional dress. Common sense. Duh.”

It’s easy to label something as unprofessional, which is no doubt why so many were quick to pile on this girl. It’s harder to pinpoint what “professional” means exactly or why we see “professional” and “unprofessional” as we do.

At first blush, one conjures up pictures of women’s business suits. But haven’t we all seen the “sexy secretary” look as well? If wearing a business suit alone doesn’t do it, what more does one need to know? While following “common sense” would be the popular advice, I think we need to decode the definition of “professionally” dressed.

Since I happen to run a website that crowdsources first impressions of people in LinkedIn photos, I know better than anyone that there are complexities to hammer out in terms of looking respectable as a woman. As they stand, I would define the ambiguous rules of traditional professional dress for women this way:

A woman must wear a version of the popular menswear (1), and it must fit her in a way that is feminine (2), without being sexually appealing (3).

1. Wear a version of menswear.

The fact is, we collectively understand menswear to be the definition of “professional.” But a woman who dresses “like a man” is found off-putting by her superiors according to research, so…

2. Exude enough — but not too much — femininity.

Back in the day, elementary school taught us that the pronoun “he” is to be used by default, unless a person or thing is explicitly female. The idea is that “he” is neutral, whereas “she” carries feminine baggage. Clothing works this way too.

Menswear is neutral. “No-fail” work choices such as suit jackets, button-downs, and polo shirts all look and fit the same.

In womenswear, there’s no such thing as neutral. To make traditional men’s styles okay for a woman to wear, women’s clothing designers add feminine touches. Put just enough femininity into a piece and a woman appears “professional for a woman.” Get a smidge too feminine, and she risks veering into “ditzy” territory, or worse, becoming a sexy “distraction.”

So a woman can wear a pantsuit, but as Hillary Clinton can attest, she might be characterized as uptight or aggressive due to her masculine choice. Instead, she can swap in a pencil skirt, assuming she doesn’t look too attractive in it. If she does, she might be trivialized by her co-workers or called into an awkward talk with HR. If she wears a button-down blouse, she should be sure it’s not too boxy (as to look sloppy) but avoid it being too flattering to her figure.

Makeup is an additional burden in this area. Studies have shown that a woman who wears makeup is seen as more competent, but that effect is reversed if she wears “too much.”

Then there is the complication of heels. Wearing flats is often seen as sloppy and unprofessional for a woman, despite the fact that she is better able to physically function this way. At least a small heel is required to denote formality, but a too-high heel can become defamatory. Here, the balancing act is literal.

To add insult to injury, “just enough femininity” or “too much makeup” are standards that fluctuate according to every coworker and boss on earth, meaning a woman is open to scrutiny no matter what. This is not the case for a man, for whom the rules are incredibly clear-cut and obvious.

3. Don’t be sexually appealing.

Of course, women’s bodies are so varied in shape that an outfit deemed “appropriate” for one woman won’t be for another. A “busty” woman understands this better than anyone, because there is no item of clothing yet known that can make a large-chested, small-waisted woman look “put together” (or simply “not sloppy”) without reading as sexy at the same time. As it is, this woman may never get the respect she deserves at work.

Merely having a woman’s face and body to begin with means that the simple act of leaning on a table can also move the needle from “appropriate” to “sensual” in record speed. This is not the case for a man, whose features are not as readily translated this way, nor is he punished as severely when it happens.

All this to say, in doing my job, it’s disheartening to see the word “unprofessional” used like a get-out-of-jail-free card for discrimination. The reality is that pinning down exactly what one should wear to work isn’t a simple task for a woman.

Women seeking approval walk many precarious tightropes. Though looking professionally respectable is yet another one of these contradiction-laden assignments, I hope we can learn to exercise compassion for ourselves and sympathy for other women whose outfits don’t meet our precise ideals of professionalism.

If you judge a woman as “unprofessionally” dressed, remember that she’s doing the best she can in the face of ambiguous guidelines and the body she’s been given. Remember that she’s attempting to navigate the professional world while striving for the most honorable thing of all — staying true to herself.

Ann Pierce wrote this article for xoJane.

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 movies

Carey Mulligan: ‘There’s Nowhere Near Enough’ Complex Roles for Women in Film

_D3S5020.NEF Carey Mulligan as "Bathsheba Everdeen" in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD.
Alex Bailey—Fox Searchlight Pictures Carey Mulligan stars as Bathsheba Everdeen in Far from the Madding Crowd

“People do want to see great female stories," the actress tells TIME

What’s in a name? Sometimes quite a bit. The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has said that the protagonist of her series, Katniss Everdeen, “owes her last name to Bathsheba Everdene, the lead character in Far From the Madding Crowd.” Audiences of the lush new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 19th-century novel, starring Carey Mulligan, will find it easy to see why. Like Katniss, Mulligan’s Bathsheba is determined and independent—though she’s often unsure of her own feelings.

“She’s a real contradiction,” Mulligan tells TIME of her character, who runs her own farm and grapples with multiple suitors. In fact, it was those very traits that attracted Mulligan, who has shied away from British costume dramas in recent years, to the part. “I was never that interested in playing the girl who starts the story looking for a husband,” she says. But Bathsheba “starts the story saying that she doesn’t want one and nor has she given it any thought. I loved that in the first few chapters of the book she’s already turned down a marriage proposal from [Gabriel Oak] who is, in the film, a good-looking hunky man.” (Oak is played by Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts.)

“She was just such a forward-thinking modern woman,” says Mulligan. That’s surprising, considering the fact that the character was written more than 140 years ago.

Though Mulligan has played a range of nuanced characters throughout her career, with starring turns in An Education, Shame and The Great Gatsby, the actress still says that quality roles for women in Hollywood are limited. When mention of the Bechdel Test comes up, Mulligan asks for a clarification of the rules. (Created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the test asks whether a film has a scene with two or more women who speak to each other about something other than a man. If the answer is yes, the film passes.) She thinks for a moment. At last, she says, “I’m literally going through all the roles I’ve done and seeing which passed the test.”

Like most Hollywood films, not many of Mulligan’s pass the test. Even Far From the Madding Crowd, with its progressive heroine, just barely squeaks by with a passing grade. Modern as she is, Bathsheba spends a lot of time in a male-dominated world. That’s not to say that stories about women moving alone in a man’s world don’t have value, as Mulligan’s own career shows—yet she thinks that Hollywood desperately needs more, and better, roles for women.

She says her next project, the turn-of-the-century era film Suffragette, starring Meryl Street and Helena Bonham Carter and directed by Sarah Gavron, gave her the “thrilling” opportunity to “be working with a bunch of women. I’m so used to being a girl sitting in a room with 15 men and there [seems like] there are always very few girls in the room. This was the complete opposite experience and you could just see everyone relishing it.” Still, she says, the experience was a rarity.

“The public have expressed a real desire and a hunger for female-driven stories in the way that they’ve gone to the cinema to spend billions on The Hunger Games, or Blue Jasmine,” she points out. (According to Box Office Mojo, the Hunger Games films brought in a combined total of more than $2.3 billion at box offices across the world; Blue Jasmine pulled in a more modest $97.5 million at the box office, but earned an Oscar for its star, Cate Blanchett.) “People do want to see great female stories, but it’s like the industry hasn’t caught up yet. It’s sort of limited to one enormous franchise or Cate Blanchett, who is extraordinary.”

Citing films like Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids, Mulligan says that comedy especially is a place where audiences want to see more women-leading roles. Change is happening. Yet when it comes to meaty, complex roles for women in film, “there’s nowhere near enough.”

TIME Research

This New Drug Might One Day Cure Even the Most Painful UTIs

Desperate lady toilet door sign
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More and more women are getting antibiotic-resistant UTIs

Antibiotic resistance is becoming a growing global problem, and for many women that’s having an unexpected effect. One very common infection among women, the urinary tract infection, is becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs used to treat it. New research published in the journal PLOS Pathogens sheds light on the rise of the antibiotic-resistant UTI and hints at a potentially new treatment that may one day offer women some relief.

More than half of women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime, and between 30 and 40% of those infections will come back within six months. UTIs account for around eight million visits to the doctor’s office every year, totaling about $450 million in medical costs. Most UTIs are caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli), and recent surveillance data shows a significant rise in cases of UTIs caused by E. coli that are resistant to the antibiotics most commonly used to that treat them. One study that looked at cases of UTIs from 2000 to 2010 found that the number of UTIs caused by E. coli that were resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin increased five fold, and the number of UTIs resistant to the commonly used antibiotic trimethoprim-sulfame-thoxazole rose from about 18% to 24% during the same time period.

UTIs typically cause women to have a severe urge to urinate, and to do so frequently. It’s also often very painful when they do, and many experience a burning sensation in their bladder or urethra. Uncomplicated UTIs usually go away with drugs within two to three weeks, but in some cases women may take antibiotics for 6 months or longer if their UTIs keep coming back.

“It’s definitely a growing problem,” says Dr. Victor Nizet, a professor of pediatrics and pharmacy at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. “Some women get them over and over again, year in and year out.”

In the new study, Nizet and his colleagues looked at an alternative way to treat UTIs. The researchers tested an experimental drug—not an antibiotic but an immune-boosting agent. The drug stabilizes a protein called HIF-1alpha, which was shown to protect mice and human bladder cells from infection with a common UTI pathogen, a kind of E. coli. The researchers found that using the experimental drugs in healthy human urinary tract cells made the cells more resistant to infection by the pathogen. The researchers also discovered that using the stabilizers directly in the bladders of mice protected against infection and that mice who were treated saw a 10-fold reduction in bacteria colonization in their bladders compared to untreated mice.

“A classic antibiotic is something that targets the bacteria directly,” says Nizet. “This [new drug] would be a treatment that would stimulate the body to produce its natural antimicrobials, which are many.” Nizet says the next step is to explore testing in humans and learn more about the effectiveness of oral versions of the drugs.

Dr. Mamta M. Mamik, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (who was not involved in the study) says she’s seen more and more women with UTIs that are resistant to drugs. In those situations, physicians will sample and isolate the bacteria to see what it’s sensitive to and then recommend a drug based on those results, she says. In a worst-case scenario, they may need to give women intravenous antibiotic therapy.

“I think use of antibiotics should be monitored strictly,” says Mamik. “Very judicious use of antibiotics is really necessary or we will end up in a situation that’s really terrifying. If everyone starts attracting these bacterial-resistant infections, we don’t have the resources. We can’t give intravenous antibiotics to everybody—that’s not a solution.”

Mamik says that women who think they have a UTI should schedule an appointment to see their doctor in person, and not to ask their physician to call them in a prescription for antibiotics. Doctors should insist on seeing their patients too, if they want to cut down on the risk, she says. “It’s uncomfortable but not life-threatening, so [women] don’t go in,” says Mamik. “That’s a practice that has to stop. It perpetuates the problem. You don’t know what you’re treating.”

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

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Kristen Stewart Calls Hollywood ‘Disgustingly Sexist’

Kristen Stewart attends the Film Independent at LACMA screening and Q&A of 'Clouds Of Sils Maria' in Los Angeles on April 3, 2015.
Araya Diaz—Getty Images Kristen Stewart attends the Film Independent at LACMA screening and Q&A of 'Clouds Of Sils Maria' in Los Angeles on April 3, 2015.

The actress calls Hollywood "disgustingly sexist"

Actresses like Helen Mirren and Patricia Arquette have openly spoken out against sexism in Hollywood, and now Kristen Stewart is chiming in as well. In a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, the actress noted that “women inevitably have to work a little bit harder to be heard. Hollywood is disgustingly sexist. It’s crazy. It’s so offensive it’s crazy.”

Stewart’s comments come on the heels of similar ones made by Carey Mulligan, who decried the lack of female-driven films in a recent interview. Mulligan, who called Hollywood “massively sexist,” lamented the fact that her forthcoming film Suffragette took so long to get to the big screen. “It’s such a reflection of our film industry that the story hasn’t been told yet,” Mulligan said of the feature, which focuses on women fighting for the right to vote in Britain.

For more on Stewart, head to Harper’s Bazaar UK.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

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