The 162 Report: August 19, 2016

Thanks for reading the eighth edition of the 162 Report, a bi-monthly tip sheet from SKDKnickerbocker’s new Women’s Leadership & Advocacy Practice. Know someone who would enjoy the 162 Report? Anyone can subscribe by emailing us at


The Growing Political Gender Gap

We all know that men disproportionately dominate Congress, and we’re falling further behind the rest of the world each passing year. In 1997, the United States ranked 52nd in women’s representation in government. This year, we fell all the way to 97th. Less than one in five voting members in Congress are women, and less than one in 15 are women of color. Mississippi, Delaware and Vermont have never sent a woman to Congress, along with the majority of districts in Utah, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Ohio and Indiana.

But what sort of effect is this having on our country?

According to Vox, when women have less representation in office, it fundamentally changes the way government works – and even how society views women. One study published in 2012 in Science found that when more women served in government, parents had higher aspirations for their daughters’ futures — and girls had higher aspirations for what they wanted to achieve in their lives. Political scientists say that the only way to change the system is to have more women run of the office, and more importantly, to have political parties actively encourage women to run.

Read more here. And click here to learn more about the diverse group of women who will make history if elected to Congress in November.


Campaign For Equal Rights Takes Off

A group of female pilots is pushing for drastic changes to major airlines’ maternity leave and breastfeeding policies. Some 40 years after the first woman became a pilot, new mothers are still unable to seek temporary assignments on the ground while pregnant or nursing. Other employers have accommodated new mothers by implementing leave policies or setting up lactation rooms. However, a jumbo jet flying at 30,000 feet isn’t a typical workplace and the rules that govern office policy on the ground don’t apply.

Pilots are exempt from a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to accommodate new mothers, which has allowed the issue to remain largely unsolved. Another reason for the painfully slow progress in maternity policy is that women make up only 4 percent of the nation’s 159,000 certified airline pilots.

“The airlines have maternity policies that are archaic,” said Kathy McCullough, 61, a retired captain for Northwest Airlines. Without paid leave, new mothers are faced with the choice of caring for their child or missing out on a paycheck.

At Delta, a group of female pilots have banded together through private Facebook groups to push these issues to the front of union agendas. They’re seeking a leave policy that would allow new mothers to stay at home for six months with pay, with up to two more years of unpaid leave. Together, they’re hoping to “[break] down the cockpit door” and make flying, a job made for men, work for women.

Read more here.


Female CEOs Under Pressure

Indra Nooyi, Ellen Kullman, Meg Whitman and Irene Rosenfeld all run, or have run, Fortune 500 companies-PepsiCo, Dupont, Hewlett-Packard and Mondelez respectively. But they have more in common than being female chief executives. During their tenures as CEO, each was the target of shareholder activism, where investors attempt to put pressure on management through their stake in the company.

A study by the University of Arizona’s W.P. Carey School of Business shows that female CEOs have a one in four chance of being the target of shareholder activism in their careers, while the likelihood for men is close to zero. According to Christine Shropshire, a lead researcher in the study, female executive are more frequently targeted because “female leadership is often stereotyped as interactive, collaborative and engagement-oriented,” while men are seen as more authoritative.

Another theory is that women are more likely to be picked for the top role at a company when it’s in turmoil, a trend known as the “glass cliff.” Activists may then be predisposed to see a company as already being in trouble when it’s led by a woman.

Unfortunately, this study shows that the uphill battle to climb the corporate ladder doesn’t stop when women reach the top.

Read more here.


U.S. Women Go For Gold

It’s safe to say that American women have dominated the Rio Olympics. As of August 16, they had won 41 medals, more than the combined total of any other nation except for China and Britain. They were also beating out the U.S. men with two more medals overall and seven more gold, and perhaps most importantly – have captured the attention of viewers back home.

Simone Biles and Simone Manuel were both awe-inspiring. In the same night, Biles won the overall gymnastics championship (and has since won two more gold medals) and Manuel became the first black American female to win a gold medal, beating out the competition in the 100-meter freestyle. 19-year-old Katie Ledecky set two world records, and 43-year-old Kristin Armstrong won gold in cycling. Gold-medal swimmer Maya DiRado knows that her upbringing is one of the reasons why she has been so successful, saying she was always encouraged and taught to compete.

This year’s U.S. team has the largest female representation in Olympic history, with 292 women and 263 men and a new study shows that through Saturday night, 58.5% of the competition on NBC’s primetime telecasts involved women’s sports However, it remains to be seen whether the popularity of women’s sports in the Olympics will translate to women’s sports during the year. So far, only the WNBA has a stable following. DiRado believes “it’s not perfect….but the more girls can grow up and watch Olympics like this, knowing they’re just as good as the men’s teams, it goes a long way.”

Read more here.


Bonus: Questionable Coverage

The Final Five, Katie Ledecky, Lily King, Kristin Armstrong and many more women from the U.S. and around the world are making history at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, the coverage is making history too.

This week, three members of SKDKnickerbocker’s Women’s Advocacy Practice wrote a piece to bring attention to media bias in coverage of the Olympics.The offenses have piled up over the past two weeks. The media twice celebrated the husbands of female Olympians and referred to record-setting Katie Ledecky as the female Michael Phelps.

Unfortunately, this reflects a deeper trend of the media taking women’s accomplishments less seriously than men’s, and the unequal treatment extends beyond language. Women’s swimming, running and cycling races are shorter than men’s, and there are 137 events for women, compared to 169 for men. It’s time to level the playing field.

Read more here.