International Women’s Day: we need more women to stand for local councils

womensdayparade

The parade for International Women’s Day in Te Marae o Hine.

March the 8th is International Women’s Day. This year, there was a big celebration in Te Marae o Hine, the Square in Palmerston North, with a parade and puppets and singing and dancing. And speakers. I was honoured to be invited to give a speech.

I spoke from notes rather than from a fully-written out speech, so here is a reconstruction of what I said.

*********************

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa!

Thank you for the great honour of asking me to speak today.

I’ve got three things to talk about. First, I’m going to celebrate some local women. Then, because I’m an academic, I’m going to tell you about some interesting research about women. And last, I’m going to ask you to do something.

Here are the local women I want to celebrate. From Manawatu District Council, the fabulous mayor, Margaret Kouvelis. She’s someone I really admire. And from her council, three more women who are district councillors, Barbara Cameron, Jo Heslop, and Alison Short. There’s a council of eleven people in Manawatu District, so that’s four women out of eleven councillors.

Here in Palmerston North, five great women who are on council: Aleisha Rutherford, Annette Nixon, Leonie Hapeta, Susan Baty, and of course, Rachel Bowen. (Rachel was the speaker immediately before me.) There’s sixteen people on council in Palmerston North, including the mayor, so that’s five women out of sixteen.

Our local District Health Board is pretty good. There are seven elected positions, and four of them are held by women: Diane Anderson, Ann Chapman, Karen Naylor, and Barbara Robson.

debspeaking

Me speaking at the 2016 International Women’s Day celebrations

Then there’s Horizon’s Regional Council. There are twelve councillors on the regional council. The women on Horizons Regional Council are Colleen Sheldon and Rachel Keedwell and …

And that’s it. Just two women on a council of twelve. If ever there was a council stuffed full of men, Horizons Regional Council is it.

So all up, there are about 46 elected positions on local local bodies, and about one third of them are held by women.

Ladies, sisters, we are under-represented. And we need to do something about it.

There are a couple of research findings that are interesting here.

When it comes to women being elected onto local councils, it turns out that numbers matter. Women are elected in the proportion in which they stand. So if a third of the candidates are women, then a third of the people who are elected will be women.

So we need to get more women to stand.

But here’s the other research finding. You know the old story about men seeing that they can do half the tasks needed for a job, and deciding that they’re a perfect fit, and women seeing one task that they can’t do, so they don’t apply at all? It turns out that for many women, getting them past that “I can’t do that” barrier is just a matter of someone shoulder tapping them. Someone saying to them, “Hey. You would be good at this.”

We need to start doing some shoulder tapping.

Here’s the things you can do to get more women onto local councils.

First up, think about standing yourself. We’re all active and engaged women, and we’d be good! So consider yourselves shoulder tapped.

If standing for council is not the right thing for you, how about shoulder tapping some other women you know. Maybe some of them would be good. Perhaps you know ngā wãhine Māori who have been working in their iwi and on their marae. Perhaps you come from a migrant community, and there’s someone there who would be great. Maybe you know a nurse, a mum, a business woman, a teacher – someone who would do a great job on council. Tell them. Shoulder tap them and ask them to stand.

While we’re thinking about great women, a shout out to some of the local women who had a go at standing last time around. People like Gabrielle Bundy-Cooke and Lorna Johnson and Karen Naylor and Abi Symes. They would all be great on our council.

And there’s one more thing you can do. After you’ve shoulder tapped someone, help her out in her campaign. Perhaps you can manage her campaign for her. Perhaps you can deliver leaflets, or drive her to meetings, or turn up at meetings to back her. She will have a lot of work to do, and she will need your help.

Kia kaha, sisters. Stand strong. And let’s look forward to celebrating many more women this time next year.

Happy International Women’s Day!

*********************

notesmash

For the record, here’s what my notes for this speech look like.  This is why my post is a reconstruction, rather than a copy-and-paste.

Another entry for the “Patriarchy harms men too” files

Reported a few days ago: Flexible work a career killer for men.

Women who are offered flexible working arrangements are more likely to move into senior leadership roles, but men who decide to do the same thing are less likely to excel, an Australian report has found.

The report by Bain & Company and Chief Executive Women found that the stigmas attached to men taking time off work to look after kids has meant there’s been a low uptake of flexible working arrangements in large businesses across Australia.

I’ve worked flexibly, very flexibly, for the last seventeen years or so (that number bears a curious resemblance to my eldest daughter’s age), and it has had quite an effect on my career series of jobs. But I’m just starting to feel that this coming decade will be one of real achievement for me, because I can finally charge ahead a bit, and having taken a fair chunk of time out to be a carer is seen as a reasonable thing to have done. I don’t think I’ll ever get quite as far as I might have done, had I made other choices about having children, and how to rear them.

But it’s interesting, and disheartening, to see that men who opt for flexible work do even worse than women. It must be regarded unmanly, and not showing enough determination, and not being committed to a career – all the sorts of things that might make it difficult for a man to be promoted.

So chalk this one up as another instance of patriarchy harming men too. It’s a rotten world.

The world’s highest paid TV actors: take a wild guess about gender balance

Big Bang Theory cast. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Big Bang Theory cast.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

There’s a list out today of the world’s 15 highest paid tv actors.

Big Bang Theory actors are the world’s highest paid television stars in 2015

Before you take a look at the list, take a really wild, out there guess about the gender balance in that list. 50:50 male female?

Knowing what you do already about pay equity and gender pay gaps, perhaps you’ll go for something a little more skewed in favour of men. 75:25 male female? Maybe even 80:20?

Well, thank you for playing.  Those of you who guessed 100:0 are right.

1. Jim Parsons – $US29 million – male

2. Johnny Galecki – $US27 million – male

3. Mark Harmon – $US20 million – male

4. Simon Helberg – $US20 million – male

5. Kunal Nayyar – $US20 million – male

6. Ashton Kutcher – $US20 million – male

7. Jon Cryer – $US15 million – male

8. Ray Romano – $US15 million – male

9. Patrick Dempsey – $US12 million – male

10. Simon Baker – $US12 million – male

11. Ty Burrell – $US11.5 million – male

12. Jesse Tyler Ferguson – $US11 million – male

13. Ed O’Neill – $US10.5 million – male

14. Eric Stonestreet – $US10.5 million – male

15. Kevin Spacey – $US9.5 million – male

All four main male characters from Big Bang Theory are on the list, but not Kaley Cuoco.

I’m guessing that may be a problem with the way the list was constructed, because reports have said that Ms Cuoco is paid over $1million an episode, like her male co-stars.

But that’s the other problem with the list. If it’s inaccurate, then it’s helping to reinforce the idea that women are worth less than men.

Grump grump grump.

Thank you for playing, but you’re wrong!

My university has an on-going series of quirky ads, presenting young people as innovative and fresh-thinking and deeply interested in ideas and technology and science and study. Some of the creative material puzzles me a little, but I figure I’m not really the target demographic.

The latest ad features a young woman walking on water.

Massey2

I love it. The young woman in the ad is Catherine Cater, a Massey university student. She looks like so many of the young women I see around campus. Happy, confident, focused on their own work, doing some extraordinary things. In the ad, Catherine is very much absorbed in what she is doing. She looks reflective, and deeply engaged. She is not there as decoration to sell something: she is there as an active part of the narrative about the university.

But of course, there’s someone who thinks that the ad is a travesty.

She came to me as if in a dream. She was beckoning and calling to me like a pixie vixen, tempting me to move away from the House of Waikato. She wanted me to surrender and be with her kind. But where was she from? Was she real? A fantasy? A sorcerer’s trick? What game was she on and how could mere mortals play?

She was tempting and titillating. She was feminine and full of grace. She appeared to be from the House of Massey and she was perfect.

My fairy queen appeared as a deity, an academic goddess, the perfect maiden of Massey. She is the temptress. And I was caught by her charms.

Without saying so in as many words, it’s clear that the writer thinks that this ad is sexist, and that it’s all about using sex to sell Massey. He carries on to worry about the way that universities advertise themselves, but it’s curious that he’s only chosen to engage with this advertising campaign now, when it has been running since sometime last year (as far as I can recall).

So, thank you for playing, sir! But YOU”RE OUT!

The writer has totally eliminated the young woman in the ad from his analysis, and dreamed up a fantasy woman instead. Where I see a young woman who is doing exactly what we hope young women will do, that is, focus on their own hopes and dreams, focus on the extraordinary things that they can achieve, focus on achievement, the writer turns her into some kind of sexual object. The objectification going on here is done entirely by the writer. From the writing, it seems that the only way he can react to the young woman is by casting her in a sexual way. He focuses entirely on her as a sexual object, in a way that I think is well beyond the image in the advertisement.

The only problem here is the writer.

Catherine Cater herself puts it so well.

University is evolving, students are changing, and perhaps if you were to step away from the games you seem to enjoy – judging by your use of language – you yourself would see that too. But what would I know? I’m just a stereotypical ‘hot chick’ with no real intelligence and use besides marketing ploys, why would my opinion matter?,” she wrote.

Your aim was to call Massey out on a sexist ad, but in doing so have shown your views to be outdated and sexist all on their own.

For the record, I’ve written this post entirely on my own, my employer has nothing to do with it, and I was only alerted to the opinion piece because a story about it popped up in the local newspaper: Massey University’s new “I am” ad sparks debate. That is where I found Catherine Cater’s own defence of the ads.

On separate swimming hours for women

Hamilton City Council is proposing that up to three hours a week be set aside at one of its community swimming pools for a women-only session.

Man ban at public pool

And the response is…. predictable. Start with the headline, with its overtones of “Begone, ye wicked men!” It’s designed to elicit a negative response.

Then there the usual “PC gone mad” trope.

…the proposal was concerning and represented “separatist thinking”.

Excluding ratepayers from public facilities based on their gender was “political correctness going too far”.

“If we are going to do this for women, what about all the shy men among us. Can we have a couple of hours free from women?”

I’ve gotten very tired of the “PC gone made” trope. I’d like to know exactly what the speaker thinks is wrong with the proposal, and his reasons for thinking it’s wrong. Perhaps he’s concerned that it will lead to divisions in the community. Perhaps he’s concerned that it means that some people will miss out on swimming altogether because they are not able to use a particular facility at a particular time. If he had spelled out his concerns, instead of waving his hands in the air and saying, “PC gone mad”, then at least we would have the beginnings of a conversation.

Of course, it could be that the speaker *did* specify some of those concerns, and they just didn’t get reported.

And, Kiwiblog is onto it. DON’T READ THE COMMENTS. Really, just don’t. (‘Though there are a few people in there fighting the overwhelming tide of, you guessed it, “PC gone mad”.)

How much better to think of this from the point of view of what the community needs. Hamilton is a diverse community, and it includes people from cultures where women traditionally wear loose garments and cover their heads, as well as women who have left countries which are not as peaceful as New Zealand is. Many of these women might like to swim, and would benefit from learning to swim, but do not want to wear the form fitting and really rather revealing clothing that New Zealanders usually wear when swimming.

It’s all very well to say that women should just adapt and fit in and get on with it. The net effect will be to exclude these women from swimming altogether, all for want of a little flexibility. Setting aside this time means that Hamilton City Council is working towards providing for the needs of *all* the members of its community. More to the point, there are plenty of other swimming facilities in the city. No one is going to miss out on swimming, or on swimming at a particular time (there are other venues), or on swimming at a particular place (there are other times).

If we are to live in a tolerant and inclusive society, then we need to find ways to accommodate difference. Yes, there are some differences we must not tolerate (forced marriages and clitoredectomy performed on people who have not consented come to mind, and no doubt there are others). This is a difference that a society can tolerate, and ought to tolerate, on the grounds of being inclusive.

And a big shout out to my lovely friend Anjum Rahman for making the case for setting aside a few hours to allow women to swim only in the company of other women.

How bankers save money

I never knew that you could save so much money through such simple measures.

Twenty money-saving tips from bankers and their wives

So many helpful hints. Like, take the kids to a cheaper ski resort this year, or sell your country home. Or (and this one is very revealing)…

“Stop carrying a wedge of cash around with you,” said the ex-Goldman banker. “It reduces the temptation to tip people so much.”

But I think that this one was my favourite one – Make Your Wife Do The Ironing!

Another banker, who used to work at Goldman Sachs and now runs his own business, said he gets his wife to iron his shirts nowadays. “At Goldman there was a service in the basement where I dropped my shirts off for a fee, but now I ask Jane to do it for me,” he said.

“The wife is doing the ironing,” another banker told us. “She’s not loving it, but she doesn’t want to get a job herself so is having to accept it.”

Alas, I don’t have a wife to do the ironing for me.

H/T: Pharyngula

Shutting down rape culture, one election at a time

The Republican Rape Philosophers lost. (H/T Feministe)

Incumbent Roger Rivard (R), lost his Congressional seat to Steven Smith (D). Rivard was the chap who told passed on his father’s wisdom that “some girls rape easy.”

Todd Akin (R) failed to take what should have been a winnable senate seat for the Republicans. Akin was the chap who told us that if a rape was “legitimate”, then a woman could not get pregnant because her body would shut conception down.

Tea Party backed candidate Richard Mourdock couldn’t win what should have been a wide open race, giving the Democrats one more seat in the Senate. Mourdock was the chap who told us that pregnancy resulting from rape was something that God intended.

But why should we care, here in New Zealand, an ocean away from the United States?

Here’s why. We should care because the anti-women rhetoric coming from conservatives in the US travels down here swiftly. Rape culture is alive and flourishing in New Zealand, and concepts like “legitimate rape” and “can’t get pregnant from rape” and “some girls rape easy” and “God meant for you to be raped” play into it, and sustain it.

I am so very glad that voters in the United States rejected these men who endorsed rape. It’s a push back, a small step towards dismantling the narrative of hatred and contempt for women.

Cross posted