The 162 Report: August 5, 2016

Welcome to the seventh edition of the 162 Report. As part of SKDKnickerbocker’s Women’s Leadership & Advocacy Practice, this bi-monthly newsletter tracks the stories affecting the 162 million women living in the United States who inspire our work.

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The Feminist Fight to the Finish Line

Last week, herstory was made in Philadelphia: Hillary Clinton officially accepted the Democratic nomination for President, becoming the first female nominee of a major U.S. political party.

“We have never, ever had someone who has walked in our shoes, we have never had someone who understands what it means to be a woman in America, and we have never had the kind of champion that we are going to have in Hillary Clinton,” said former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis at the woman’s caucus.

Regardless of your political affiliation, last week was an enormous victory for women in our country, and that is something that every person in our society—regardless of gender—should celebrate. Come November, we’ll all be listening to that glass shatter.

Read more here. For more takes on what Hillary’s historic nomination means for women of all ages and backgrounds, read this.


Serving Up Equal Pay

We all know Lily Ledbetter, but does Dorothy Simonelli ring a bell? She was a staunch advocate for equal pay long before it was a key tenet of a major political party. In 1989, Dorothy, along with the 40 other lunch ladies in the Everett Public School System in Massachusetts, fought to receive the same pay as the male custodians in the district. They argued that they cleaned, scrubbed, and lifted just as hard as the men, but were paid half as much.

Recalling the backbreaking work today, Dorothy says, “Let me tell you, when you get home and fall asleep at the table, it was work. We worked hard, and we deserved more.”

20 years after Simonelli and her colleagues challenged Everett Public School, the Massachusetts legislature passed an equal pay bill and the historic bill was signed into law.

“I have 10 grandchildren – five boys, five girls,” Simonelli said in a toast to her victory. “This is for them and all the future women in the workplace. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Read more here.


The Forgotten Inventor

The inventor of the first at-home pregnancy test, Margaret Crane, has earned new attention recently. Margaret decided to take action after an article on the history of the at-home pregnancy test didn’t mention her crucial role. She auctioned off her original Predictor home pregnancy test prototype and garnered a flurry of media attention that cemented her rightful place in history.

In 1967, Margaret was a product designer at Organon Pharmaceuticals when she came across the pregnancy tests doctors would use in their offices. They would then send the test to a lab and relay the results to their patients – the process took days. Margaret realized that she could cut out the middleman, and empower women to quickly make decisions about their reproductive health from the comfort of their own homes.

She designed a prototype home pregnancy test and presented it to her managers, who promptly rejected her idea. However, when one of her (male) bosses suggested the concept to Organanon’s parent company, they green lighted the project. Without invitation, Margaret brought her design to a product meeting. Her prototype beat out others with flowers and frills meant to appeal to women. Margaret was listed as the inventor when the company applied for the patent, but was forced to sign away her rights for $1. Now, home testing is a $40 million market. Women across the country can thank Margaret for her innovation, and persistence.

Read more here.


An Olympic First

One team competing in the Rio Olympics is unlike any other in Olympic history. One competitor on this team stands out even more. Yusra Madini will be swimming for the first Olympic refugee team this summer.

If you had told her less than a year ago that she would be heading to Rio, she would have been in awe. Back then, her main concern was escaping her war-torn country of Syria. Last August, Mardini and her sister Sarah set out on a month-long journey to safety. When their boat broke down between Turkey and Greece, she and Sarah jumped out, swam for three and a half hours, and led the boat and its passengers to shore.

Mardini, the daughter of a swimming coach, has been training since the young age of three. Next week, she will be competing in the 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly. While most athletes focus on going for the gold, Mardini is more interested in using the attention she receives in Rio to help other refugees around the world. Her story, a rare uplifting tale in an otherwise harrowing global refugee crisis, is sure to make waves.

Read more here.


She Wolf of Wall Street

There’s a new film out that finally shows women’s role in finance.

Unlike Wall Street and the Big Short, where women play a supporting role to high-powered men, Equity centers on a senior banker trying to land a major deal and rise to the top of her company. The movie not only stars women, but is written, directed and produced entirely by women. Although the film is fictional, top female bankers from Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Citigroup advised and invested in the film. “I think the story is powerful. It tells the story from the unique lens of women,” said Barbara Byrne, a vice chairman at Barclays and a co-producer of the film.

If you’re not convinced, Equity has an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. Seems like a worthwhile way to spend money this weekend.