Focus on Women

The Good, Bad and Ugly about FIFA Women’s World Cup

July 6th, 2015 . by Cathy Standiford

It was so exciting to see the U.S. Women’s National Team win the Women’s World Cup yesterday.  I watched many Women’s World Cup (WWC) matches over the last few weeks (i.e., not just those involving the US) and noticed some interesting differences between World Cup Soccer as played by women and men.

  • WWC had far fewer yellow cards–and no red cards for flagrant and dangerous fouls
  • No biting (then again, no Luis Suarez playing)
  • WWC had fewer flagrant dives (acrobatic efforts to elicit a foul from the referees, even though no foul was committed)

There were just as many low-scoring games, just as much drama, and just as much excitement as men’s World Cup.  The France-Germany game was particularly spectacular, ending in penalty kicks.

And yet there is a significant, ugly difference between the men’s and women’s World Cup.  FIFA paid the US Women’s National Team $2 million for winning it all–but last year they paid men’s world cup soccer teams $8 million, even if they lost in the first round.  What makes it worse is that FIFA doesn’t see anything wrong with the pay inequity.

Now I get it that the WWC may not attract as many advertisers or as much international interest, despite big gains in viewers this year (highest ratings for women’s world cup matches–ever).  So some could argue that women deserve less money because they bring in less revenue to FIFA.  But given the allegations of rampant corruption in the FIFA organization, even that argument seems weak.  And when FIFA’s General Secretary says paying women the same is “nonsense,” and that it will take 23 more World Cups for them to achieve pay equity (that’s another 92 years), well that’s just wrong.

If you think women soccer teams should get paid the same as men, sign a petition to make a stink about the current pay inequity. Find it here.

 

 

 

Focus on Pay Equity, Not Work-Life Balance

June 26th, 2015 . by Cathy Standiford

Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times highlights another pay equity lawsuit–this one filed by women lawyers who had been working for Farmers Insurance.  The lawsuit claims not only were they paid less than men (some of whom had less experience), they also experienced retaliation just for requesting equal pay.  I’ve read too many media reports that suggest women earn less because they don’t ask for more.  This lawsuit indicates a different reality — asking for fair and equal compensation can have negative, career-detrimental consequences.

Rather than talk about how to achieve work-life balance, perhaps we need to have a different conversation:  how to ensure pay equity for all women in all professions.   And we need to follow Meryl Streep’s lead and advocate for the return of the Equal Rights Amendment on Capitol Hill.

 

The Statue of Liberty and Women’s Suffrage

June 17th, 2015 . by Cathy Standiford

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the delivery of the Statue of Liberty to the United States.  Elizabeth Mitchell wrote about the Statue of Liberty and its creator, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi in her book, Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty.  In an article in American Profile’s Community Table, Mitchell shared 10 interesting things we probably don’t know about this American icon.  My favorite one?  Women suffragettes waged a protest at the unveiling!

“When it was unveiled in October 1866, women’s rights groups lamented that an enormous female figure would stand in New Your harbor representing liberty, when most American women had no liberty to vote….Suffragettes chartered a boat to circle the island during the unveiling. They blasted protest speeches, but those could not be heard over the din of steam whistles and cannon blasts in the harbor. “

The Statue of Liberty remains a symbol of American freedom, and most women in this country have more freedom than they did in 1866.  But when it comes to issues like domestic violence, college sexual assault, the absence of veteran’s services for women, pay inequality, media bias, and other issues that affect today’s women and girls, I can’t help but feel a bit like those suffragettes.  Even when we make a lot of noise, are we really being heard?

Is Your Profession Guilty of “Double-Barreled Bias”?

June 7th, 2015 . by Cathy Standiford

If you’re like me, you have chuckled at Charlotte Whitton’s quote: “Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”  But even though we may laugh at it, the reality is that gender bias at work is not funny.  It remains pervasive in most professions today, along with pay inequity, by the way.  In a recent letter to the editor of the New York Times, Mary Hedley of Piedmont, California responded to an article about the experiences of female American soldiers.  In it she asserted she had experienced the same “double-barreled bias” as a lawyer, as had many of her friends in other professions.  Is your profession guilty of double-barreled gender bias?  It might be if you find the following statement to be true.

Male (insert your profession here) tend to be presumed competent until they prove otherwise, while female (insert your profession again ) are often presumed incompetent until they prove themselves to be capable. 

True gender equality means that women are presumed to be as capable as men, instead of having to prove it by working twice as hard.  Are you as tired as I am about waiting for the presumptions to change?

The Power of Economic Empowerment

April 3rd, 2015 . by Cathy Standiford

When I bought my first car, I needed help from my parents.  In fact, I remember getting the loan from the “Bank of Dad,” because I didn’t have a credit rating worthy of traditional financing.  When I bought my second car, I brought a male friend along with me, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously or treated fairly as a single woman.  The third time I bought a car, I needed the income of my husband to help secure the financing to make the purchase affordable.

Earlier this week, I decided to buy  a new car, after my 10-year old vehicle began showing signs of unreliability.  But this time, I did it all by myself.  I  did the research myself, determined what kind of car I wanted myself, and intentionally went to a dealership owned by a woman (and Soroptimist), because I trusted I would be treated fairly.  I fell in love with the car I wanted and yes, I was able to negotiate a good deal. (My husband was working, but encouraged me to go forth and conquer.)

But here’s the best part.  I was able to get financing using my own income and credit rating–I didn’t need my husband to make the deal work.

That’s the power of economic empowerment.  Wouldn’t it be great if every woman and girl could experience it, not just dream about it?

(P.S. — Thanks to Cheri Fleming, past SIA President and owner of Valencia Acura for making my car buying experience so wonderful!)

 

Dilbert’s Take on Wage Equity

March 4th, 2015 . by Cathy Standiford

The March 3 Dilbert comic would have been more funny if it weren’t so darn true.

See for yourself…..

Darfur, Rape and George Clooney

February 26th, 2015 . by Cathy Standiford

There’s a green hoodie sweatshirt hanging in my closet that says “Save Darfur.”  I bought it a decade ago to draw attention to the genocide there.  This was before South Sudan became an independent state–even before the United States named the atrocities being committed as a genocide.  I remember gathering with people on the beach in Corona del Mar to spell out the word “Enough” with our bodies so it could be photographed for an advocacy postcard.  I remember coordinating presentations and play readings about the genocide, and in particular, sharing the stories of women being raped when they tried to leave the refugee camps to collect firewood.  I remember people being horrified that genocide continued on our watch.  But many years have passed since then–and my attention, and that of the world, has largely shifted away from Darfur to other countries with other atrocities.  I hate to admit that it took George Clooney’s persistent advocacy to grab my attention again.

An op-ed piece in the New York Times by Clooney, John Prendergast and Akshaya Kumar focuses attention back on Sudan, where Human Rights Watch recently documented the rape of more than 200 women and girls in Darfur by the Sudanese army.  It contains tangible, practical actions that can be taken by the U.S. government and other members of the international community to both hold the Sudanese government accountable and put an end to the violence continuing to plague the country.

Ten years ago we said “enough” to the genocide and “enough” to the violence being perpetrated on women and girls.  It’s time to say “enough” again–this time with more than mere words.

Single Moms and Modern Slavery (Human Trafficking)

January 26th, 2015 . by Cathy Standiford

My church hosted an “informinar” on Saturday morning to help our congregation learn about human trafficking in our own community.  Sandie Morgan, Director of the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University, has worked to assist victims of human trafficking for decades.  She reported during her keynote address that a common theme among trafficking victims, regardless of their culture or country of origin, is that either they are single moms, or they were raised by a single mom.

Sandie suggested that one action that would help prevent human trafficking was more “intentional support for single mothers and their families.”  I couldn’t help but smile–isn’t that what the Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award (formerly the Women’s Opportunity Award) has been doing for decades?  Intentional support for women who are the primary source of income for their families, and who are almost always single?

It made me even prouder of the Live Your Dream Award.  Not only does it have a track record for transforming lives, it also can help prevent women and girls from being lured, tricked or coerced into modern slavery.

 

Get Ready for January 11th with Blue Campaign Resources

December 27th, 2014 . by Cathy Standiford

The Blue Campaign is an initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to raise awareness about human trafficking, how to identify potential victims, and what to do if you see the red flags of modern-day slavery.  January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S.  Start getting prepared by taking the Blue Campaign Human Trafficking Awareness Course.  It’s completely on line, takes about 30 minutes, and I guarantee you will learn something.  I’ve been studying this issue for more than 10 years, and even I learned some new things.

For more information on the Blue Campaign and other human trafficking resources, click here.

Let There Be Peace on Earth, and Let It Begin with Me

September 21st, 2014 . by Cathy Standiford

September 21 is the International Day of Peace, established to strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all of the nations of the world.  It’s hard to imagine peace when war and conflict, violence, disrespect and social injustice is so evident all around us.  But the International Day of Peace reminds us that a different world–one without all of those things–should be our goal.

Soroptimist International President Ann Garvie has issued a statement calling on each of us to promote peace and tolerance in our local communities, while encouraging decision-makers around the world to end violence and conflict.  Read her International Day of Peace message here.

To learn more about the International Day of Peace, visit internationaldayofpeace.org

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