Wilma Mankiller or Harriet Tubman: Who’s your pick for the US Currency Cover Star?

0326toonwasserman copyThe nonprofit group Woman on 20s is running a U.S. campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill. This reminds us of the recent UK controversy when the Bank of England decided to replace Charles Darwin with Jane Austen on the £10 note. It’s disappointing that women and ethnic minorities still haven’t featured on currency in either country – other than the Queen, who is only ‘entitled’ to the honour because she holds a hereditary title.  This campaign highlights a great opportunity as the US will soon be marking the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

At Female Breadwinners, our vote in the US is for Wilma Mankiller, first female Cherokee chief. Her name alone sends a strong message! It would be poetic justice for her to replace Andrew Jackson, who sponsored  the Indian Removal Act which led to massive Native American genocide. Harriet Tubman would also be a fantastic choice, as one of the earliest American heroes who led escaped slaves to their freedom – under the nose of Abraham Lincoln administration, who sits comfortably on the $5 bill.

So far, being a ‘currency cover star’ has been a ‘boy’s club’, most often politicians. At Female Breadwinners, we applaud this latest campaign but ask: Why should we be satisfied with just one woman? Wouldn’t banknotes featuring more women and ethnic minorities reflect the diversity in each country better? Get involved and vote as every woman on the list is worthy of being celebrated.

Baby coming after this weekend? How new family leave will affect you

dad's sharing parental leave, female breadwinnersOne of our Female Breadwinner readers, Lily Donaldson, helped Money.co.uk write a guide on Shared Parental Leave (SPL) after she missed out on the benefits afforded parents having a child after April 5 of this year. In her article she explains: ‘Until now, partners were entitled to two weeks of standard paternity leave, and while additional paternity leave of 26 weeks was also available, only one in 50 used the additional leave. With the introduction of SPL couples will now be able to share 52 weeks of leave between them when they have a baby or adopt.’

This is a boon for female breadwinners in particular as mothers can share their allowance with their partners and return to work more quickly. Before, mums had to wait until 20 weeks after the child was born before passing leave on to her partner. SP Fathers will still be able to take two weeks of paternity leave straight after the child is born that won’t count towards your SPL entitlement. However, additional paternity leave has been replaced by SPL. Let’s watch this space to see if this enables men to actually take more leave…and for employers to understand that families are raised by more than just mothers.

‘Higher expectations for women’, not ‘work/life balance’ as main barrier to female career success

Women in leadership

According to a recent poll of over 1,800 American adults by Pew Research Centre, most Americans now find women indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and capacity for innovation, with many saying they’re stronger than men on compassion and organisation. While that’s a sign of progress, what’s most interesting is instead of blaming that old chestnut of ‘work/life balance issues’, the highest proportion (nearly 40%) point to a double standard for women seeking to climb to the highest levels of either politics or business, where they have to do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves.

Recognition of this double standard is a big shift away from continuing to blame work/life balance and a much needed turning point. It’s perhaps not surprising about two-thirds (65%) of women say their gender faces at least ‘some discrimination’ in society today, compared with 48% of men who believe women face some discrimination. It’s promising that nearly half of men agree. Historically, it’s been convenient to blame women’s reproductive choices for their lack of career progress. This research suggests that if both women and men understand the system is biased, we’ll make quicker progress.

Women and even ‘feminine-faced’ men assumed to be poor negotiators

women negotiators

Women’s reticence to negotiate is often blamed for part of the gender pay gap, with naysayers claiming ‘you get what you ask for’. Yet more research shows that stereotypes about women who do attempt to negotiate are often a bigger part of the problem. The Journal of Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes reported that people of both genders were more likely to want to negotiate against women - and even men who had feminine facial features.

This implies women, and even men with more feminine faces, are poor negotiators and therefore more appealing adversaries. The researchers at Cornell University found ‘people were systematically more aggressive to feminine featured faces – they were more demanding and would send in offers that compromised less. The only upside for women? Become a good negotiator and you’ll surprise the other side of the table – who clearly expect less from you.

What ‘Coder Barbie’ should have said

Barbie I can be... booksMattel’s Barbie’s new range of “I can be” books has high hopes; featuring career choices such as presidents or sports players but still falls wide of the mark. We could potentially forgive ‘computer engineer’ Barbie needing help to reboot her computer, a skill she should’ve mastered by now? We’d even turn an eye at the pink heart shaped USB stick hanging round her neck, but when she utters those fatal words: “I’m only creating the design ideas,” Barbie says, laughing. “I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” Needless to say, the twittersphere was hot with ‘suggestions for improvement’.

We love ‘Barbie Remixed’ by Casey Fiesler, which features suggested amendments to the book which has Barbie narrating: “Really good games are made by a team of people. I’m doing some of the coding now, but Stephen and Brian are helping, too. There are lots of pieces to making a game, like art and music and storyline. Brian drew that puppy. You’re a good artist, Skipper. Maybe you could be a graphic designer when you grow up.” Skipper grins.“I love art, but I really love science, too. Physics is my favourite class. I think I want to be a physicist.”

Like all good code, we hope Mattel’s version of their story is an ongoing work in progress.

‘Advice to my daughters: Why young women need feminism more than ever’

Emma Watson UN speechNow I’m working with InclusIQ, I notice more to share with my daughters. The recent Emma Watson speech at the UN certainly was a great springboard for discussion, as it might be for your own children. I tell my three daughters to aim high; with hard work and commitment they can achieve anything. This is true, but sadly it’s not just their attitude and zest for achievement that will affect their path.

Recent research by Girl Guilding shows 87% of female 11-21 year olds feel they are judged more on appearance than ability. Three out of 4 (75%) say sexism affects most areas of their lives. This is disappointing, but all the more reason to support girls who get involved in campaigns such as the Everyday Sexism Project and No More Page 3. Girls are taking a stand and ensuring their future is one they have a say in.

Julie Bentley, Girl Guiding CEO told the BBC, girls: “can do anything that they set their minds to”. They produced a short film and dedicated it to all party leaders, explaining why girls and young women play a vital role in society. They want the support of parliament to ensure a ‘future that truly sees parity between men and women’.

Ellie Dibben, also of Girl Guides explains: ‘People are beginning to understand society isn’t as equal as we thought and young women are no longer content to remain a silent group within society. We are the voters of tomorrow and government needs to take our views into account’.

Girl Guides are taking on a more proactive role calling directly on politicians to:

  • Listen to their concerns about harassment.
  • Requesting schools teach body confidence and gender equality.
  • Address harmful sexualised content in mainstream media.
  • Guarantee women will be equally represented in parliament.

Girl Guides give young women aspirations; with initiatives such as ‘Camp CEO’ which partners them with female executives from a range of sectors. It’s a great way to help girls consider leadership roles.

The best advice for my daughters? Be true to yourself, work hard in all core subjects – and get plenty of exposure to strong women. If they feel inspired into action by Emma Watson’s speech all the better. At the end of the day our children shape our future.

By guest blogger Wendy Rundle

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