MONEY wage gap

The 25 Careers With the Smallest Wage Gaps for Women

wage gap careers equal pay day
Robert J. Ross—Getty Images On average, female media producers and directors outearn men.

Plus, 9 fields where women actually earn more

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, intended to raise awareness of the fact that women still earn less than their male counterparts. That’s 22¢ to the dollar less on average, in case you haven’t been paying attention.

This date was not chosen randomly: Equal Pay Day is purposely held in April to illustrate the fact that it takes four months into the year for the average woman to catch up to the average man’s earnings from the last year. And it’s on a Tuesday to show how long into the week it takes to match a man’s previous-week earnings.

Of course, in some fields, getting up to par is quicker than others.

The Census bureau tracks earnings by gender for more than 500 occupational categories; the table below shows 25 fields where, based on 2013 data, the difference in what she makes and what he makes is the smallest. (You can find out what each of these fields entails by typing in the category listed at O*Net Online, and find your own field’s pay differential via this Census table.)

As you’ll see, there are nine fields where the average woman actually outearns her male counterpart, though the margins of error on these are high enough as to possibly undo the findings. Also worth noting: Half of the professions in the top 25 are made up of a majority of women, vs. only six of the bottom 25.

Some have argued that if women simply went into higher paying fields they could eliminate a wage discrepancy, but the data argue against that. After all, physicians and surgeons—who take home very healthy paychecks—suffer among the greatest pay discrepancies, with women in these fields making 69% of what men do.

Instead, Harvard economist Claudia Goldin, author of Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women, attributes a higher salary differential to the fact that some fields disproportionately incentivize people to work long hours and certain hours. That punishes women who take time out from their careers and require some flexibility in their work lives to raise children.

In aggregate, earnings between men and women are not that different until women enter child-bearing years, Goldin says. “But in some occupations, there isn’t a large penalty for time out of the workforce or shorter hours,” she notes.

What often separates those fields, she says, is that another person with a similar title can take over to serve as a perfect substitute. It’s easier for a woman to leave at 5 p.m. to pick up her kids if information systems or a standardization of product makes handing off her duties costless.

Goldin gives the example of a pharmacist (a profession in which women earn a high 93% of what men do). In that role, a computer system provides access to standard data about the customer, so that the customer needn’t always see the same person.

Okay, good to know, but if your field doesn’t allow this flexibility you likely won’t be able to make changes overnight. Nor are you probably interested in changing industries now just to gain the greater equality offered by the jobs below.

So what can you do? Advocating for yourself and asking the right people to advocate for you can help around the edges.

And Goldin suggests that you might work toward getting the men in your company to work less. The less willing they are to put in long hours without phenomenally more money, she notes, the more likely companies will be to put in place systems that allow workers to be more interchangeable.

“Ironically, rather than women leaning in,” she says, “it’s about getting men to start leaning out.”

 

Occupational Category % Women in Field Median Earnings, Men Median Earnings, Women % Women’s Earnings to Men’s % Margin of Error
1. Media producers and directors 37% $62,368 $66,226 106.2 10.3
2. Cleaners of vehicles and equip. 14% $23,605 $24,793 105.0 9.6
3. Wholesale and retail buyers 49% $41,619 $42,990 103.3 5.9
4. Transportation security screeners 36% $40,732 $41,751 102.5 4.4
5. Social and human service assistants 79% $34,967 $35,766 102.3 11.6
6. Special education teachers 85% $46,932 $47,378 101.0 3.5
7. Transportation, storage, and distrib. mgrs. 18% $52,017 $52,259 100.5 5.5
8. Dishwashers 16% $17,302 $17,332 100.2 7.4
9. Counselors 70% $42,299 $42,369 100.2 2.2
10. Industrial truck/tractor operators 7% $31,002 $30,981 99.9 2.9
11. Massage therapists 76% $29,272 $29,240 99.9 11.1
12. Counter and rental clerks 47% $27,449 $27,194 99.1 19.6
13. Biological scientists 48% $57,653 $57,107 99.1 9.8
14. Tellers 89% $25,564 $25,222 98.7 3.0
15. Musicians, singers, and related 20% $42,988 $42,279 98.4 13.7
16. Misc. personal appearance workers 79% $22,047 $21,632 98.1 4.0
17. Meeting and event planners 81% $47,876 $46,973 98.1 12.7
18. Security/surveillance guards 22% $30,546 $29,883 97.8 4.1
19. Computer network architects 8% $96,549 $94,445 97.8 5.7
20. Social workers 80% $42,821 $41,795 97.6 3.9
21. Computer occupations, all other 23% $66,971 $65,329 97.5 5.0
22. Nonfarm animal caretakers 69% $25,025 $24,401 97.5 9.4
23. Dietitians and nutritionists 88% $49,001 $47,717 97.4 7.7
24. Postal service clerks 50% $54,166 $52,574 97.1 1.5
25. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks 65% $21,995 $21,329 97.0 4.8

More from Money.com on equal pay:

The 25 Careers in Which Women are Most Underpaid Relative to Men

5 Ways Women Can Close the Pay Gap for Themselves

The Single Best Thing Women Can Do to Help Themselves in Salary Negotiations

TIME feminism

Here’s the History of the Battle for Equal Pay for American Women

Equal Pay Day
Craig F. Walker—Denver Post/Getty Images Activists gathered on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol in downtown Denver, CO, to mark national Equal Pay Day in 2009

The fight for equal pay dates back to the Civil War

Based on national pay-disparity numbers, a hypothetical American woman would have to keep working until roughly April 14, 2015, in order to make the same amount of money as a man doing the same work would have made in 2014 — which is why the activist group the National Committee on Pay Equity has selected Tuesday as this year’s Equal Pay Day. Though the topic will get extra airtime today, the debate about equal pay is nothing new.

In February, 1869, a letter to the editor of the New York Times questioned why female government employees were not paid the same as male ones. “Very few persons deny the justice of the principle that equal work should command equal pay without regard to the sex of the laborer,” the author wrote. “But it is one thing to acknowledge the right of a principle and quite another to practice it.” The author noted that the U.S. Government employed 500 women in the Treasury department, but that they made only half as much as their male colleagues:

“Many of these women are now performing the same grade of work at $900 per annum for which men receive $1800. Most of them, too, have families to support; being nearly all either widow or orphans made by the war.”

That year, a resolution to ensure equal pay to government employees passed the House of Representatives by almost 100 votes, but was ultimately watered down by the time it passed the Senate in 1870.

In 1883, communications across the country ground to a halt when the majority of the workers for Western Union Telegraph Company went on strike, partly to ensure “equal pay for equal work” for its male and female employees (among other demands). The strike wasn’t ultimately successful, but it was a very early public demand for fair pay for women.

By 1911, significant progress had been made. New York teachers were finally granted pay equal to that of their male counterparts, after a long and contentious battle with the Board of Education.

In the 20th century, war was good for women workers. In 1918, at the beginning of World War I, the United States Employment Service published lists of jobs that were suitable for women in order to encourage men in those occupations to switch to jobs that supported the war effort. “When the lists have been prepared…it is believed that the force of public opinion and self-respect will prevent any able-bodied man from keeping a position officially designated as ‘woman’s work,'” the Assistant Director of the U.S. Employment Service said in 1918. “The decent fellows will get out without delay; the slackers will be forced out and especially, I think, by the sentiment of women who stand ready.”

Since women were doing work that men would ordinarily do, the National War Labor Board decided they should be paid the same: “If it shall become necessary to employ women on work ordinarily performed by men, they must be allowed equal pay for equal work.” The same thing happened during WWII, as more women worked in munitions factors and the aircraft industry. During the war effort, equal pay was championed by unions and male workers, although not for entirely altruistic reasons—they were worried that if women were paid less for the same work, management could dilute male workers’ wages after they returned from the war.

After the war ended, the demand for equal pay seemed to lose some steam. In 1947, Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach tried to get an equal pay amendment passed that would apply to the private sector, arguing, “There is no sex difference in the food she buys or the rent she pays, there should be none in her pay envelope.” But as veterans needed work after the war and women were increasingly expected to stay in the home, Schwellenbach’s bid was ultimately unsuccessful.

National legislation was finally passed in 1963, when John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Law into effect, overcoming opposition from business leaders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who were concerned that women workers were more costly than male ones. When he signed the bill, Kennedy called it a “significant step forward,” and noted that, “It affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes.” The next year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, origin, color, religion or sex.

There have been more legal wins for female workers since then. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protected pregnant employees, and the Family and Medical Leave act of 1991 allowed parents regardless of genders to take time off. But despite the fact that women made up almost 58% of the labor force in 2012, they still made only 77 cents for every dollar a man made, according to the National Equal Pay Task Force. In 2009, President Obama chose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as his first piece of legislation, which restores some protections against discrimination that had been stripped in a 2007 Supreme Court case, and incentivizes employers to make their payrolls more fair.

But progress is still slow. Last year, a bill that would have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who discuss their wages failed in the Senate.

Read TIME’s 1974 take on equal pay, here in the TIME Vault: Wages and Women

TIME politics

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

Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia's mother Sofia, the girl who wrote to Obama asking him to put a woman on U.S. currency

"Why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?"

The little girl who asked Obama last year why there aren’t any women on U.S. bills has finally gotten a letter back from the President — and she’s invited to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

President Obama made waves last year when he mentioned he had received a letter from a little girl asking him to put some women on U.S. currency, which he called a “pretty good idea.” That letter was from Sofia, a Massachusetts girl who was just finishing third grade at the time.

“I was studying Ann Hutchinson, who stood up for women’s rights,” she says. “Almost everyone who chose a boy, on their poster they had pictures of different dollar bills or coins with their person on it. So I noticed, why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?”

Sofia, now 9, knew immediately what she had to do. “I just came home from school and said, ‘I need to write to the president.’” Sofia’s mother provided her letter exclusively to TIME:

Kim B. (Sofia's mother)
Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

For a while, Sofia didn’t hear anything back from the President. She says she “sort of forgot about it” until her dad showed her the President had mentioned her letter in a speech. “I was really excited about it, because I thought that maybe it would actually happen,” she says.

In the months since Sofia wrote to Obama, a campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has gone viral. The W20 movement is hosting an online poll so the public can vote on which woman should replace Andrew Jackson. The group plans to petition Obama and the Treasury Secretary to make it happen. Almost 220,000 people have voted in the online poll so far. And Sofia, who is now in fourth grade, is a junior ambassador for the campaign.

MORE 10 Countries That Put Women on Cash Before the U.S.

Even though she’s a longtime fan of Ann Hutchinson, Sofia wants to see Rosa Parks on the $20. “What she did was really important,” she says. “If it wasn’t for her, we’d still be segregated today.” She got her whole class to vote in the online poll, and her third grade teacher got her class to vote as well.

Last month, Sofia finally got a personalized letter back from the President, along with an invitation to attend this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. Here’s what President Obama wrote to her:

Unknown-1
Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

“The women you listed and drew make up an impressive group,” Obama wrote. “And I must say you’re pretty impressive, too.”

“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 continued. “If you keep focusing in school and trying to help others whenever you can, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.”

Sofia wants to be a teacher or a scientist when she grows up — after a younger friend was diagnosed with cancer, she decided she wants to study cures. But she also has some advice for other kids her age who want to make a difference. “Write a letter to somebody important,” she says, “because something could happen and it could actually change.”

Read next: The Campaign to Get a Woman on the $20 Bill Is Picking Up Steam

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 27

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

1. Why did Saudi Arabia lead airstrikes on the rebels who’ve seized Yemen? The answer isn’t as clear as it seems.

By Frederic Wehrey at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2. Three black swimmers swept the 100-yard freestyle at the NCAA swim championships — and swept away a long-standing stereotype.

By Kavitha Davidson in Bloomberg View

3. Could a Facebook deal to host news content make news brands obsolete?

By Felix Salmon in Fusion

4. A new satellite study reveals the rapid breakdown of Antarctic ice. Low-lying nations should be worried.

By Robert McSweeney in the Carbon Brief

5. Here’s how reproductive health rights for women can help end poverty.

By Valerie Moyer in the Aspen Idea

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 Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 26

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

1. Al Qaeda and ISIS are locked in an ideological war, and for once, it’s good to be their mutual enemy.

By Daniel Byman and Jennifer Williams in Lawfare

2. For the millions left behind by America’s new economy, disability claims — legitimate or otherwise — are skyrocketing.

By Chana Joffe-Walt in Planet Money by National Public Radio

3. Maybe universities shouldn’t measure prestige by the number of applicants they turn away.

By Jon Marcus in the Hechinger Report

4. When younger women have heart attacks, they’re twice as likely to die as their male counterparts. Is medicine’s gender bias to blame?

By Maya Dusenbery in Pacific Standard

5. Can the triumph and tragedy of soccer help Harvard students appreciate the humanities?

By Colleen Walsh in the Harvard Gazette

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 feminism

Pay Cheerleaders What They’re Worth

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform during the game between the Cowboys and Detroit Lions at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Paul Moseley — MCT/Getty Images The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform during the game between the Cowboys and Detroit Lions at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Marina Adshade is a professor of economics at the Vancouver School of Economics a the University of British Columbia and the author of "Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love." David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He is the lead author of "The Wages of Wins" and "Stumbling on Wins."

It's time to guarantee cheerleaders are properly compensated

How would you like it if there were beautiful women whose only job was to keep you entertained? Women who kept their bodies toned to your exact specifications; spent thousands of dollars on their hair, makeup and clothing so they always looked their best for you; and had invested in years of training to do complicated acrobatics designed to bring you joy. Now add to this fantasy that these women brought you hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits and you give them almost nothing in return. Sound like a fairy tale? It should be.

For decades, National Football League teams have skirted the issue of paying cheerleaders fair wages by acting as if cheerleaders were not their employees. This despite the fact that cheerleaders work 42 weeks a year, practice several times a week, attend corporate and charitable team events, are photographed for promotional media and paraphernalia, and, of course, entertain fans during games.

In court case after court case, teams have argued that because cheerleaders are independently contracted through third parties, the multi-billion dollar organizations whose business interests they promote are not obliged to pay them anything close to compensation required by state labor laws. And in court case after court case, judges have disagreed and ordered teams to pay their cheerleading squads millions of dollars in back wages.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently agreed to pay up to $825,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by cheerleaders who were paid just $100 a game. Prior to a lawsuit settled last September, the Oakland Raiders were paying their cheerleaders an hourly wage of just $5. Now, after the $1.25 million settlement, the Raiderettes can look forward to the same income as the team’s other minimum-wage employees.

In California, legislation proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in January would require professional sports teams to recognize cheerleaders as their employees and pay them at least the state-mandated minimum wage. Gonzales, herself a former collegiate-level cheer athlete, has said that it hardly seems fair to pay cheerleaders, with all their specialized training and the risk of physical injury, less than the staff selling beers in the stands.

So are cheerleaders only worth the minimum wage? Standard economic theory indicates that in free markets, workers are paid their value to their employers. Anything less is worker exploitation.

Eric Smallwood, senior vice president at Front Row Marketing, has estimated that the TV appearances of cheerleaders on game days alone are worth about $8.25 million to the NFL, or $317,000 per year for each team in the league. Cheerleaders also provide value by promoting ticket sales and promoting the NFL brand.

So why are they paid so little?

According to National Federation of State High School Associations there are almost 400,000 individuals participating in high-school level cheerleading in the United States. Opportunities for professional cheerleaders are limited, however, given that there are only 26 NFL teams that currently have cheerleading squads (the Buffalo Bills disbanded its squad after a lawsuit last year). This suggests that the supply of cheerleaders exceeds demand. Such a labor market hands bargaining power to the employers, allowing them to negotiate down wages.

You might be wondering why this isn’t a problem for other athletes, many of whom are well paid for their contribution to their teams despite the fact that they face fierce competition from other would-be players. Historically, this had been a problem, and the only reason we no longer hear about it is that those players fought for the fair wages they are paid today.

In the first half of the 20th century, many professional sports leagues used their bargaining power to limit the pay of athletes. In the latter half of the century, though, many restrictions on player wages were eliminated leading to significant increases in player pay. For this reason, the share of its revenue that Major League Baseball paid to its players increased from 17% in 1956 to 53% in 2012. Over the same period, the National Football League increased the share of its revenue paid to players from 32% to 52%. Even the English Football League has had to increase the share of its revenue it pays to players, up from 38% in 1958 to 76% in 2013.

Studies indicate that similar stories can be told today about student athletes at American colleges and universities.

Perhaps you think that cheerleaders aren’t really being exploited for the same reason that people in the past didn’t think players were being exploited: because these athletes really love to play their game. Or perhaps you think that cheerleaders should be willing to work for very little because there are other benefits to the job, such as access to other employment opportunities or even better marriage markets. So what difference does it make if sports teams exploit their workers?

Worker exploitation has nothing to do with how much someone likes their job, or how much that job improves a worker’s other prospects, or whether or not the job can help her fulfill other life goals. If the NFL genuinely wants to address the perception that it has no respect for women (who make up 45% of its fan base), one place to start would be to guarantee that the women who do the most to promote the brand are properly compensated.

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

I Judged Women Using IVF Until I Had Trouble Conceiving

mother-baby-feet
Getty Images

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

I cringe at the thought of how judgmental I used to be

xojane

I began my first and only round of in vitro fertilization in the very house in Atlanta where my mother had died of cancer just a few months earlier. The bureau in the guest bedroom that was once covered with my mom’s cancer meds was now blanketed with the syringes, medicine vials, and alcohol wipes I would need for my fertility treatments.

Starting IVF so soon after losing my mother probably wasn’t the sanest choice. But I’d learned around the same time I found out my mom was suffering from terminal cancer that I had the severest form of a disease called endometriosis. Surgery confirmed the only way I would be able to become pregnant was through in vitro fertilization.

My mom was still alive when my husband Alex and I decided we would go ahead with IVF. Her doctors in California had originally told her she had about a year left to live, and when I moved my mother out to Atlanta, Mom and I both anticipated we would be able to share my pregnancy, and that she would meet her grandchild before she died.

But the cancer had a mind of its own, and my mom died just six weeks after she moved to Atlanta. I didn’t have a lot of time to grieve before I had to make a tough decision. My reproductive endocrinologist made it clear that the scar tissue created by my endometriosis was growing so quickly, soon IVF would no longer be an option.

And, if I’m completely honest with myself, I had another, more tenuous motive, in choosing to undergo IVF so soon after losing my mother. As irrational as it now seems, I was looking for a sign. That she wasn’t gone forever. That part of her still remained close by, watching over me, wanting to make my dreams come true.

I went through the physically exhausting process of injecting hormones three times a day into my belly, getting blood drawn each morning at the doctor’s office along with regular ultrasounds, and afternoon phone calls from my nurse telling me about my hormone levels.

At the end of the first two weeks, my doctor harvested enough follicles to be able to later transfer two embryos into my uterus, ironically on the two-month anniversary of my mom’s death.

A week later, I took a pregnancy test (even though the clinic told me not to, false negatives and all that), and for the first time in my life, I saw two lines on the stick.

I was pregnant.

A phone call from my nurse a few days later confirmed the miracle. From that moment, the most complete form of bliss imaginable enveloped me. Every morning before he left for work, and at night when he returned home, Alex would talk to my belly (even though the creature growing inside me was only the size of a sesame seed) and kiss my stomach, and say “I love you” to what we thought would one day be our child.

But my womb wasn’t built right, not for carrying babies at least, and the rosebush planted in the sand soon died.

My nurse called me to say my pregnancy hormone levels were dropping, and I would miscarry within days.

Whereas the past few weeks had been in euphoric soft focus, now suddenly everything was real and sharp and painful. My baby was gone, and my mother was gone. Forever. Mom wasn’t behind the scenes, orchestrating happy events for the rest of my life. I lost the pregnancy, and with it all the hope I had in the world.

Soon after my miscarriage, Alex and I moved back home to San Diego, the city where we had met and fell in love years earlier. Out of the crucible of pain Atlanta seemed to represent, we had more time to reflect. We didn’t want to try again to get pregnant. I was emotionally wasted. I didn’t think I could survive another loss.

What might surprise you (because it sure surprises me) is how positive I feel about the whole medical wonder that is in vitro fertilization. I’d been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for two years when I underwent IVF, and the process allowed me to take back control of my fertility. With each injection, I was actively preparing my body for pregnancy. I finally felt I had some power and order in a world that, at the time, seemed so chaotic and random.

Word gets around when you’ve had IVF, and I often get asked for advice from friends, and friends of friends, whether in vitro is really worth it – worth the steep price tag, the physical pain, the emotional roller coaster. Despite my less than ideal experience with IVF, I tell these women it is their opportunity to take control of their bodies and their desire for a family.

I cringe at the thought of how judgmental I used to be toward women who had their children through IVF. In my 20s, I viewed celebrities as terribly selfish to undergo expensive fertility treatments when (I believed) there were so many adoptable babies who needed homes.

But there are no guarantees with adoption. A birth mother can change her mind. With international adoption (an avenue we pursued for a year) timetables change and foreign governments can alter the rules in the middle of the process. There’s also the completely natural desire to have a child that carries on your family’s traits. I often dreamed that my baby would have my mother’s warm, cat-shaped brown eyes, or my husband’s fierce intellect.

Ultimately, Alex and I decided to change how we viewed what our family should look like. Now, ours is a family of two adults. My husband and I have a relationship of smudged boundaries, where one of us does not feel whole and complete unless the other is present. Our connection brings me enough comfort and peace to be content with what we have, instead of focusing on what’s missing.

Recently Alex and I went to dinner on a Friday evening with our friends Susanna and David, recent transplants to San Diego from the East Coast. Alex and David had grown up together in New Jersey. And in a case of synchronicity, Susanna is a fertility doctor.

As we discussed our weekend plans, Susanna mentioned she had a birthday party to attend for a two-year-old. I asked if it was for the friend of one of her two young sons.

“Actually, no,” she answered. “It’s for the child of one of my patients.”

It took me a moment to realize what she was saying. “Your patients invite you to the birthday parties of the children you helped create?”

She smiled with humility. “I don’t really think of it that way.” But the answer was yes.

And there it was. IVF helps create families that once did not exist. Just because IVF didn’t work for me, that doesn’t mean it can’t make other women’s dreams come true. The word family can mean so many different things to different people. If medical advances can bring you the kind of bliss I once experienced, it’s a risk worth taking.

Beth Ford Roth 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

UN Women Breaks Off Partnership with Uber

Just weeks after they announced partnership to create 1 million jobs for women

UN Women has cancelled a partnership with Uber that aimed to create jobs for women at the company after objections were raised about Uber’s safety record with women and treatment of its drivers.

On March 10th, UN Women and Uber announced a partnership to create one million Uber jobs for women by 2020, as part of their endeavor to increase economic empowerment for women around the world. But on March 12th, the International Transport Federation published a letter criticizing the partnership, noting that Uber drivers often lack basic job protections like minimum wage and health care. “Women already make up a high percentage of the precarious workforce, and increasing informal, piecemeal work contributes significantly to women’s economic dis-empowerment and marginalization across the globe,” the ITF wrote. Uber jobs, they said, would “not contribute to women’s economic empowerment and represents exactly the type of structural inequality within the labor market that the women’s movement has been fighting for decades.”

So in a speech last week, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka quietly cancelled the partnership. “Not only are we listening, we are aligned,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “I also want to assure you that UN Women will not accept an offer to collaborate on job creation with Uber, so you can rest assured about that.” (UN Women is the branch of the United Nations that works to empower women and girls and to end gender discrimination.)

[H/T Buzzfeed]

TIME women

Why Female Extremists Perplex Us

They seem to reveal a paradoxical entity that, in some ways, empowers women but, by most definitions, is decidedly not feminist

Abu-Baker Al Baghdadi, head of ISIS, probably wouldn’t call himself a feminist. But unlike Al Qaeda or the Taliban – which actively excluded women from their operations – ISIS has recruited women, employing some of them in all-female security brigades. It has lured them with the promise of living a life of purpose and adventure, helping to build an Islamic utopia, and meeting a Muslim husband.

It has also enslaved and raped hundreds more women, often using race to decide who will be a fighter, and who will be a sex slave. Western women tend to dominate, while Arab women and Kurds comprise the underclass.

This is something that we haven’t really seen before: an entity that, in some ways, empowers women but, by most definitions, is decidedly not feminist. After all, while anything feminist may give women agency, anything that gives women agency isn’t necessarily feminist.

In a way, ISIS is “using feminism to cut feminism at its knees,” explained Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American activist and journalist at a recent New America NYC event. Sure, women may exercise a certain amount of agency when they join ISIS. “But agency to do what?” Eltahawy asked. Women can be just as violent as men; they’ve cheered ISIS’ beheadings on social media sites. The question that’s been a lifetime concern for her: “What makes these women become the foot soldiers of patriarchy?”

There are no clear answers. But trying to make sense of violent extremism’s confusing relationship with women – and vice versa – was the frame that drove the evening’s conversation.

MORE Where are all the women peacekeepers?

Part of the reason that this relationship is so vexing is because it seems to reveal a paradox: a terrorist group that’s able to recruit women while spewing ideologies that are antithetical to women’s rights. ISIS recognizes women’s importance in building a powerful Islamic State (primarily as reproductive vessels and as guards who can ensure that enemies don’t exploit gender dynamics to pass through security checkpoints) even as it simultaneously subjugates them.

To understand this relationship better, do we need to relinquish our narrow definition of what “feminism” is and what it is not? Perhaps wrapping our mind around women and extremism necessitates a kind of re-engineering of our vocabulary around women’s empowerment, and this new gray area that groups like ISIS inhabit.

This is a big question that as yet, doesn’t have an answer. So Eltahawy and others started by discussing a few facets of this issue that we are beginning to explain and understand: why some women seem to be choosing to join the organization.

There are some “pull” factors involved in making that choice – in other words, aspects of life in the Islamic State that might entice women to join. Eltahawy joked about “ISIS eye candy” – images of attractive young men that the organization is using to lure European girls. “They’re like the pop stars of the armed extremists.”

And there are “push” factors, or realities of life at home that might make a woman want to leave. Åsne Seierstad, the author of One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacres in Norway, explained that some foreign women that join are radicalized as a result of feeling alienated in the West. One woman, she notes, turned to radical Islam after a religious issue prevented her from getting her high school degree. Prevented from living the life she desired in Norway, this woman sought to start a new one in a place where she was likely told she’d be accepted.

On the surface, these factors are logical, but they don’t explain the paradox of women joining a group with anti-women beliefs. This paradox prompted Lydia Polgreen, the deputy international editor at the New York Times and event moderator, to ask: is violent extremism inherently antifeminist and misogynistic?

The resounding answer from all of the event’s panelists: yes.

Seierstad offered up Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik as an example. Breivik has blamed Islamic extremism and the “Islamisization of Western Europe” on feminists. To him, Europe has been “feminized” over the past few decades – which, by his interpretation, means it has become too weak to stand up to violent Muslims. “He wants to restore a patriarchy to Europe where men rule and women are forced back into their reproductive roles, banned from higher education,” Seierstad explained.

And if we’re trying to make sense of the women-extremism relationship, the role of religion as a motivator of both women and violence is another critical layer to unpeel. Religious extremism follows the same misogynistic pattern, Eltahawy said, pointing to the impact that fundamentalist Christians have had on scaling back women’s reproductive rights in the United States.

“Is the prerequisite to the advancement of feminism a broader secularism?” Polgreen asked the panelists.

“Conservatism of any religion, [its] orthodox elements, are not conducive to feminism,” Eltahawy said, although she noted that there can be exceptions. Last year, she saw both secular and Islamist women in Tunisia working together to push for a clause in the new constitution – the first of its kind in the Arab world – that guarantees equality between men and women.

The beliefs of female Islamists span a wide spectrum. And in fact, female Islamic scholars are using their knowledge of religion to challenge the men who may attempt to use verses of the Quran as rationale to strip women of their rights.

But this activity may be less about religion, and more about men lashing out in response to global women’s empowerment and the changing gender dynamics – both at work and at home – that this movement has spurred. The goal of radical Islamist organizations appears to be to return the world to a time “when men had power over women in their lives,” said Alexis Okeowo, a contributing New Yorker writer. “You can see [this dynamic] even in developed countries where men still threatened by gains women are making.”

MORE Inside the fight to promote women peacekeepers in Afghanistan

In other words, this violence isn’t always tied to religion – but often to shifting cultural norms. “What’s happened in Egypt is that there’s a visceral realization among many men that women have broken down the door,” Eltahawy said. “They’re out there in the public space. [We’re in a] moment in history where men realize they’re being challenged in unprecedented ways.”

Women aren’t backing down anytime soon. So how do we counter the threat of the men who turn to extremism to turn back the clock on women’s rights? By rethinking the way that we punish those who have radicalized, and supporting women and civil society organizations who are on the frontlines of this fight.

Seierstad explained that some radicalized Norwegian citizens want to come home but are afraid that they’ll be incarcerated for rest of their life. “It’s very important to get them back and de-radicalize them” so that they can speak to young people who may be at risk for radicalizing, she said. “It’s not random who goes and who becomes radicalized. There are patterns, clear patterns, whether they are men or women.”

And it’s often women – mothers and wives – who can spot those patterns in their families. Women have long played crucial roles in peacekeeping and countering violent extremism around the world, something that Solveig Horne, Norway’s Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, emphasized. “If we want to effectively fight violent extremists, we should listen to the women on the ground and support their role,” she said. “They aren’t only victims of extremists – they are a force to be reckoned with in sometimes good and bad ways.”

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

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

TIME Research

Women Who Sleep More Also Have More Sex, a New Study Finds

Each additional hour of sleep is found to increase the next day's possibility of sex by 14%

Women who get more shut-eye generally have more sex, according to researchers from the University of Michigan, who spent over two weeks tracking the sleep and sexual patterns of 171 young women.

The study discovered that not only did more sleep for women lead to more sex, it often led to better sex. Good sleep hygiene, which refreshes a person’s mood, energy and concentration, is linked to increased sexual desire and arousal. In the study, women reported higher physical arousal after a longer average period of sleep, with the average sleep duration clocking in at seven hours, 22 minutes. More impressively, each additional hour of sleep increased the next day’s possibility of sex by 14%.

“If there’s anything women or their partners can do to help promote good sleep for one another, whether it’s helping out around the house to reduce workload, planning romantic getaways, or just practicing good sleep hygiene, it could help protect against having problems in the bedroom,” the study’s author David Kalmbach told CBS.

Read next: 8 Ways Sex Affects Your Brain

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