Hashtag Feminism Putting #WomenontheMap

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These days, social conversations reverberate quickly around the globe on social media, spawning the term “hashtag activism.” Within that genre, hashtag feminism is alive and well (there’s even a web site, hashtagfeminism.com, that comments on the most viral tags). Earlier this month, I pointed out that the #internationalwomensday theme for 2015 was #MakeItHappen, which thus allowed people to search for this tag to learn about what events were taking place on IWD2015 around the world.

Some of the most popular recent women’s empowerment hashtags have been protests against misogyny (#NotBuyingIt, #GirlsCount, #WomenShould, #YesAllWomen and its corollary #AllMenCan) or calls to support and amplify female voices and change agents (#AllinforHer and #ChangetheRatio are two of the most well-known).

There are three new hashtags, though, that I’d like to point out – as they have the potential to dominate the “airwaves” in the months to come:

1. @UN_Women’s #HeforShe, a call for men to rally and join in on the fight for gender equality. This hashtag campaign was launched by Gen Y’s feminist heroine, Emma Watson. (Check out her eloquent address at a recent United Nations event below.)

2. The Clinton and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations’ recent launch of the No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project report, a data- and video-driven web portal (and, oh yes, a report) launched with great fanfare at a splashy event on March 9, with its accompanying #NotThere social media campaign featuring well-known portraits, magazine covers etc. with women missing – making the point that we’re not there yet with respect to gender equality. Check out the humorous short video illustrating that point.

3. A grassroots, youth-led effort by SPARK Movement to put #WomenontheMap – literally. This group has partnered with Google to map the locations of important women in history around the work on Google’s FieldTrip app. The app will notify users when they are near a landmark location. What a fantastic concept – and there’s room for more. SPARK asks for our help in sharing with them important women (no longer living) to add to the app. Let’s let them have it, shall we? Learn more here.

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Who are the Most Powerful People on the Planet?

woman_icecliff copyNot too long ago, Foreign Policy magazine offered its take on the 500 most powerful people on the planet. Who’s missing? Women. This isn’t FP’s fault, of course – and a great op-ed article in the same issue, The Balance of Power by David Rothkopf, pointed out the glaring absence of gender diversity.

Here’s a link to the list, for your edification. The list includes heads of state, chiefs of enterprise, and movers and shakers in government and civil society. It’s exasperating, yet reflective of reality, that just 10% of the list is female.

What shall we do about it, fellow womenablers? Volunteer, contribute, vote, and run for office ourselves for a start. But continue our steep climb into other spheres of influence as well.

The UK’s Power Women

The Womenabler has long been a fan of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour – we download and listen to many a show on our long womenabling flights around the globe. Last year, Woman’s Hour followed the trials and tribulations of three women entrepreneurs, pairing them up with mentors and discussing their entrepreneurial growth pains at regular intervals during the year. It was fascinating, illuminating and – we would guess – very inspirational for listeners thinking of starting and growing their own businesses.

womenshourlistpicThis year, they’ve set a new high bar – announcing a Power List of the 100 most powerful women in the UK. The build-up to the announcement was interesting to listen to, as they highlighted the advancement – or lack thereof – of women in business, politics, education, science and sport. It was a thoughtful, open process and the list is an interesting mix of the elite and the street-smart. Of course, #1 on the list is Queen Elizabeth, and many of the others in the ranked top-twenty lists are Dames and Right Honorables (position defines clout, in the UK and elsewhere). However, the list also includes such built-it-not-born-into-it women as singer Adele, noted architect Zaha Hadid, author JK Rowling, and a variety of women in sport, business, politics and civil society.

It’s a wonderful mix of women from a variety of walks of life, and generations, but some have commented that it’s not a very ethnically diverse list and that there were political and face-saving motivations for embarking upon this quest. But then, the halls of power are still relatively homogenous. By our eye, this women’s power list is much more diverse on so many levels than a gender-blind power list would be. And, whatever the motivations may have been, it’s a wonderful window on the world of women’s influence in the United Kingdom, a good conversation-starter about who may be missing from the list, and a feather in the cap of a fine radio program that, in our view, deserves more than a moment in the spotlight.

Check out the Woman’s Hour Power List, the stories behind how the list was chosen, and some of the commentary following the announcement of the list – including the chagrin of some that the Duchess of Cambridge was not included in the list.

Well done, Woman’s Hour!

Lean In Sparks Push Back

Leaning in: It began, perhaps, with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s December 2010 TEDWomen talk on why there are so few women leaders (which has now garnered 2.1 million views on TED.com and YouTube). Her ideas were further refined in her May 2011 commencement speech at Barnard College, and have now been expanded and formalized into a new book, Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, which is – in true social media fashion – feeding into the launch of a web-based community, leanin.org.
leanin

All of these missives revolve around Sandberg’s view that too many women shy away from stepping up to the plate at the workplace, muffling their own ambitions and thereby short-changing their careers. On the face of it, not too controversial, but my, oh my what a firestorm of responses her views have sparked! Womenable pointed to the juxtaposition of the TEDWomen talk and Anne-Marie Slaughter’s counterpoint piece in the July/August 2012 issue of the Atlantic, Why Women Still Can’t Have it All, as one of the top womenabling news and events of 2012.

The well-orchestrated March 11th publication of Sandberg’s book has been met with a firestorm of commentary, however, not all of it positive. Here’s just a selection of related op-eds and direct commentary and coverage:

What is our view on all of this? Well, we have a few thoughts and reactions to this recent firestorm:

  1. This is a very western, industrialized economy conversation. In nearly 3/4 of countries around the world (specifically 141 economies investigated by the World Bank in their Women, Business and the Law report), women are at a legal disadvantage compared to men in one or more areas – so no matter how hard they lean in, they may not achieve equality of opportunity;
  2. The “lean in” exhortation ignores the double standard to which many women in the workplace are held. Frequently, exhibiting ambition and leaning in are met with resistance, undercutting, and being labeled a “rhymes with witch;” and
  3. This discussion is very much taking place in a corporate environment. In particular, it ignores the fact that many women (perhaps after leaning in to no avail) are taking their futures in their own hands, and are starting their own businesses. (Of course, in our entrepreneurial world, there is a similar conversation about why more women business owners are not scaling the heights of entrepreneurial success.)

All that said, of course, what may be the most important point is that, by circling our feminist wagons and shooting down a message and point of view from an important and visible woman business leader, we may damage our collective cause. After all, as pointedly observed by former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

So here’s what we say: all views are welcome, and many strategies are needed. We not only need to lean in, we need to push back, raise voices, change laws and change minds to advance the cause of equality of opportunity for all.

Top Ten Womenabling Events of 2011

What events, trends and research reports top our list of the most important of the year? Look no further than Womenable’s most recent quarterly e-newsletter for our insights. Some of the items making it onto our Top Ten list include:

  • the centenary of International Women’s Day
  • the World Bank’s most recent World Development Report, focusing on gender and development, and
  • a welcome upwelling of conversations about growth – not only bemoaning the lack of women at the top (so what else is new?) but finally taking aim at some of the structural barriers impeding their progress.

CLICK HERE to read the full list. Happy holidays and best wishes for a womenabling 2012!

(And, if you liked that e-newsletter and would like to subscribe to our quarterly e-news digest, please CLICK HERE to subscribe!)

Who makes the news? Take a wild guess…

Starting back in 1995, the Global Media Monitoring Project began documenting the extent to which women’s voices, faces and stories were being covered in the world’s news media. From 71 to now 108 countries, researchers gather data on who is covering and reporting news stories, who is being interviewed, and what the stories are all about. As stated in the report, this effort has documented “the deep denial of women’s voices in the world’s news media.”
Who Makes the News? report cover
A fascinating new report, “Who Makes the News? The Global Media Monitoring Report 2010,” has been published tallying up the figures. The result? Some moderate progress has been made, but the faces and voices are still predominately male, and stories focusing on women still reinforce many gender stereotypes.

Here are some highlights:

  • Just one-quarter (24%) of the people that are heard or read about in the news media as of 2010 are female – a small number, but up from just 17% in 1995,
  • The voices and faces delivering the news are also predominately male: 37% of news reporters/readers are female, a share unchanged from five years ago,
  • When women are covered in news stories, 46% of stories reinforce gender stereotypes, and
  • The area seeing the biggest rise in stories about and featuring women are in the area of science and health (rising from 22% to 32% over the past five years). There has been no change (20% in 2005, 20% today) in stories focused on women’s role in the economy – such as women’s entrepreneurship.

The report is a fascinating read, and well worth a look. Visit the Who Makes the News website to learn more. Report highlights are available in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish, and the full report is available in English, French and Spanish.