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

0326toonwasserman copyThe nonprofit group Woman on 20’s is running a U.S. campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill. This reminds us of the 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 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 sets a precedent! 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 who has the ‘least sexist banknotes’? As described by the BBC: ‘Chinese notes have Mao Zedong and Indian ones have Mahatma Gandhi, but none of them feature any women. Many other currencies also stick to men, sometimes including a token woman or two.’

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: Should we be satisfied with just one? Wouldn’t banknotes featuring more of the faces of women & ethnic minorities reflect the diversity in each country better? Get involved and vote as every women on the list are worthy of being celebrated!

Why ‘throwing like a girl’ should be a compliment!

Gender equalityWe love the way the feminine hygiene products brand Always chose the dismissive phrase ‘like a girl’ to tackle gender inequality in their latest advertising campaign. Clearly, they are unpicking a former insult to sell more tampons. But we’re engaged as it’s still a big improvement on former campaigns of advertising dancers in white leotards.

Their launch video shows adults & teenagers being asked to ‘throw, run & fight… like a girl’? Depressingly, all give weaker and ineffective versions of these three actions. But not all age groups are equally affected by gender stereotypes. Young girls gave an accurate version of their own strength & ability and demonstrated fierce effort in every action.

When asked ’’What does ‘run like a girl’ mean? A 7 year-old girl answers: ‘Run as fast as you can!’ At Female Breadwinners, we agree ‘like a girl’ should be a compliment – it’s a powerful and positive statement. We love this video because it shows how important puberty is in determining self-image and how this is the age when kids either accept or reject stereotypes.

Share it with your daughter or your son and tell us what they thought!

Dads: ‘Second class parents’ if employers don’t pay equally for Shared Parental Leave

House husbandNew Shared Parental Leave came into effect this week, with parents now able to share up to 50 weeks of leave in total, 37 of which would include statutory pay after the birth of their baby. While we at Female Breadwinners applaud the latest legislation, there are are already signs that some employers will ‘gender’ their benefits by giving a greater proportion of pay to mothers compared to fathers. If this happens it undermines the whole purpose of the bill and re-establishes the attitude that childcare is a woman’s ‘job’ and that ‘responsible fathers’ work for pay.

Currently, 80% of employers top up maternity pay past the statutory requirements. However a new survey from the great organisation, My Family Care. found only 45% of the 200 employers they surveyed planned to top of payments for new fathers.

Families will lose out as men will be more likely to receive just the base minimum, £139.50 per week or 90% of earnings, whichever is lower. Contrast this against what is customary for women who typically benefit from full pay for the first 8-12 weeks, with many employers boosting maternity pay from 12-37 weeks.

If men don’t get the same entitlements, families will opt to keep the old arrangements – not benefitting from the new legislation at all. What’s worse is that the more male dominated your sector – the worse your options. Employers in higher education, public sector, banking, finance, legal, charity and telecoms were the most likely to offer generous packages for both maternity pay and shared parenting leave. However, those sectors with the highest number of men – engineering, construction industrial and manufacturing were least likely to go above the base minimum for men. We at Female Breadwinners were already concerned whether men would feel able to ask for their full rights as defined by the new legislation – but not paying them enough is a real disincentive.

Women as ‘mentors’, but not judges: Reduce bias in organising competitions

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I recently volunteered to give my time over a weekend to an Entrepreneurial start-up event. As an established business woman, I was asked if I’d mentor teams that had formed on a Friday night, on the Saturday and Sunday. The mentoring remit was to help them pull together an idea; establish market viability, and develop a business plan for pitching to a panel of judges on the Sunday night.

In the run up to the event, several drafts of the list of mentors and judges were distributed. I noticed that with each successive mailing, the number of men on the mentors list shrank as would-be mentors pulled out while the number of male judges increased. On the first morning, I arrived to find that no male mentors had indeed arrived, leaving a small team of 4 female mentors and a well-intentioned male organiser. The event went well, and I enjoyed working with my team for 8 hours that weekend. I was especially delighted when my team won on the Sunday night, but I couldn’t help but notice the gender split; men were happier to volunteer their time for ‘judging’ (1-2 hours max) whereas women had been asked to take on the much more time consuming task of ‘mentoring.’

The event organiser is a friend in the business community, and no doubt this gender split was unintentional. However, it is evidence of unconscious bias, and one I’ve seen at other events where women are expected to do a time-consuming event organisation role but men are asked to do jobs that showcase their expertise as judges and headline speakers. Perhaps it also speaks to how men value their time and see their value versus women. In any case, it sends an implicit message women are support, but men are the stars.

Again, no one is ’trying’ to be biased, but it reminded me of when I started out consulting in this field, leaders would sometimes say to me: ‘We have gender balance: 50% of our staff are women. They just happen to be in secretarial roles while the other half are male bosses – so we are balanced!’  Avoid this deadly sin next time you are organising an event to ensure you have a mixed team behind the scenes, as well as on centre-stage.

Christina Hendricks on why the gender pay gap is as outdated as Mad Men

Gender balance We love the tongue in cheek swipe at the gender pay gap in this video of Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks. Showing off her antiquated secretarial skills in a modern office, she demonstrates how far technology and working practices have come since the 1960s. The rub is how women’s wages have stagnated over the same time period.

The latest figures suggest the average full-time pay gap between UK men and women is at its narrowest, 9.4% since comparative records began in 1997 (17.4%). Minister for Women and Equalities and Business, Jo Swinson, said in The Independent: “It’s great the gender pay gap has reduced. We have extended the right to request flexible working and are introducing shared parental leave and tax free childcare from this year!’

However, as the UK fell in global equality stakes last year, we cannot be complacent. The announcement of a less elevated gap is good news but still not equal. Pass on the video to a friend- you know we still have work to do!

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.

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