In the News

The 162 Report: September 2, 2016

Posted September 2, 2016

Thanks for reading the ninth 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 info@skdknick.com.

WOMEN IN POLITICS

The First Lady of Pop Culture

Question: Is there anyone who doesn’t love Michelle Obama? Everyone’s favorite First Lady has mastered the art of inserting herself into pop culture to build awareness and public consciousness. From The Late Late Show with James Corden to NCIS, Obama has used television appearances to tap into the influence of the entertainment industry, which reaches a broader audience beyond traditional news programs.

Obama calls herself “a product of pop culture” and has used these appearances to draw attention to her signature policy initiatives, specifically ones tied to healthy eating and exercise, girls’ education, support for military families, and college advancement.

It seems Obama’s entertainment outreach strategy is working. In the week after her Carpool Karaoke segment, which highlighted her initiative Let Girls Learn, digital sales for its anthem “This Is for My Girls” climbed a whopping 1,562%.

The First Lady also discusses the importance of representing different people in pop culture because of entertainment’s ability to change people’s perceptions. She shares: “when I come across many little black girls who come up to me over the course of this 7½ years with tears in their eyes, and they say: ‘Thank you for being a role model for me. I don’t see educated black women on TV, and the fact that you’re first lady validates who I am.’”

Read more here.

WOMEN IN ADVOCACY

ERAsing Inequality

Last week on August 26, we celebrated Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the 19th amendment that passed in 1920, giving women the right to vote. Shortly after, women’s rights advocates expanded their efforts and attempted to codify laws regarding equal rights in the Constitution. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was subsequently introduced to Congress in 1923, but didn’t pass.

The ERA proved to be a polarizing proposal. Eleanor Roosevelt even initially opposed the amendment, questioning what impact the amendment would have on protective labor legislation. The ERA was introduced in 49 consecutive sessions of Congress until it finally passed in 1972. However, it fell three states short in 1982, and remains not ratified. Today, the ERA faces opposition due to questions regarding abortion and women in military service, but the National Women’s Party continues its efforts. Most recently, New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced the ERA to both chambers of Congress in May 2015.

The history of the amendment is a focus at the new Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, which Obama designated this year as part of the effort to commemorate women’s history in national parks. The goal is to educate the public on why the National Woman’s Party is still fighting for the ERA and why it’s so important to guarantee women equal rights under the constitution.

Read more here.

WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Slaughterhouse Rules

Anne-Marie Slaughter became a household name when she wrote her now famous “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” article for the Atlantic Magazine in 2012. The main gist of the article, as the title suggests, was that regardless of a supportive spouse and commitment to an ambitious work-life balance, systemic forces in the workplace prevent women from excelling in their careers while also caring for children.

As a law professor, former director of policy and planning for the State Department, and current president of New America, a major Washington think tank, not to mention possible future Cabinet secretary, Slaughter has remained devoted to her career. In the past, she didn’t think highly of women who chose to forego their careers to be stay-at-home-moms. Slaughter had a change of heart when a relative sent her “On Caring,” which discusses the importance of caring for others.

In Slaughter’s new book, “Unfinished Business,” she points out the lack of value society places on childcare. Caregivers are dismissed and those who take career breaks in the interest of their families are often punished. There is still no national standard for paid leave or universal child-care.

Per Slaughter, “The bottom-line message is that we are never going to get to gender equality between men and women unless we value the work of care as much as we value paid work — or when both men and women do it.”

Read more here.

WOMEN IN SPORTS

Ace of All Trades

After 20 years as a professional tennis player, four Olympic gold medals, seven Grand Slam singles, and five Wimbledon singles titles, Venus Williams is still hitting hard, on and off the court.

Beyond her impressive list of tennis accomplishments and recent Bachelor’s degree, Williams has her hands full balancing her fashion and interior design companies. She sketches the designs for her fitness and athleisure clothing line, EleVen by Venus Williams, herself and runs V*Starr Interiors, a design firm with clients ranging from tennis clubs to luxury residential developers.

Despite her busy schedule on the court and in the office, Venus still makes time to advocate for the fair treatment of women tennis players. She began arguing for pay equity in prize money as far back as 1998, when she was 18, and then more famously took the case to a Grand Slam committee in 2005. As recently as Wimbledon this year, she spoke out for fair court assignments for women, after playing a match on one of the club’s lower-profile courts.

Williams has proven her ability to overcome adversity in her career – she reclaimed her spot in the top 10 and is now ranked sixth in the world after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that leads to fatigue, in 2011.

Read more here.

BONUS

Burkini Ban on Blast

France’s highest court recently suspended a ban on the burkini in the town of Nice; despite the ruling, more than 20 mayors are refusing to lift restrictions. Lawyers who fought against the burkini ban, and won, claim that it feeds public fear and infringes upon personal liberty. However, resistance from mayors has left France’s government unsure how to proceed.

The Guardian asked its readers to share why they choose to wear a burkini or cover up at the beach.

Read their stories here.

WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING

  • Mashable reports that 29 companies, including Facebook, Apple and IBM, joined the White House’s pledge to guarantee equal pay for men and women.
  • The Atlantic highlights a study that examines whether women are more willing to compromise, and asks whether electing more female legislators would change Congress.