Monthly Archives: February 2010

ATTN Businesswomen: Corporate Wage Gap Starts on Graduation Day

In case you thought you had a little more time before corporate sexism and the ol’ boys’ club kicked in and you hit an very thick glass ceiling, we have bad news for you. A new study by Catalyst, a nonprofit that monitors and works towards gender equity in the workplace, finds that a woman who gets her M.B.A. will be paid less for equal work from day one. What success!

Even with equal work experience to date, women in the same industry and geographic location earn nearly $5,000 less at their first job than men. As Jezebel puts it, “researchers have discovered that simply being male translates to more money and opportunity.” In addition, more women are stuck in entry level jobs out of the grad school gate, while men are trusted with more responsibility. By starting out in a lower position, women will continue to lag on promotions and raises going forward. And it’s not like there’s a glut on women in business to begin with: M.B.A. programs are only about one-third female.

The Catalyst survey looked at 9,000 respondents who graduated from 26 different M.B.A. programs from 1996 to 2007. While defenders of the male-dominated corporate structure often claim that its women’s decision to become mommies and not put in a full day’s work that leave them behind on the pay and promotions ladder, looking at the discrepancies in men and women’s very first job straight out of grad school, Catalyst finds that sexist gender stereotyping is the real culprit.

Photo credit: Unhindered by Talent

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Mass. Immigrants Sue Over Unconstitutional Health Care Cuts

Massachusetts’ state-subsidized health coverage system is the envy of many, but legal resident immigrants aren’t feeling the love.

Last year, the state decided to cut costs by kicking 26,000 immigrants out of the health coverage system; it then restored some partial coverage, with significantly higher out-of-pocket expenses and provider restrictions than non-immigrant residents received. Now, immigrants are suing the Connector Authority, which oversees the distribution of health coverage, for violating their right to equal protection under the MA and U.S. constitutions.

Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, says of state legislators decision to strip immigrants of health coverage, “These people are their neighbors, they pay taxes, they are part of the fabric. But they are being separated because of their immigration status.’’ Plaintiffs in the suit include a 45-year-old architect from the Philippines who cannot find a specialist to treat her breast cancer on the deeply restricted coverage immigrants now have to put up with.

Lawmakers have a habit of seeing immigrants as populations whose benefits can be dispensed with in times of economic crunch, despite the fact that they are legal residents and contributing to the economy, keeping that downturn from being even worse. It will be interesting to see the wider ramifications if the courts agree that this kind of discriminatory policy and segregation of one population violates constitutional principles of equal protection under the law.

Photo credit: christine592

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Trail of Dreams vs. KKK: Walking on for Immigration Reform

Ever walked a mile in an undocumented youth’s shoes? How about 1,500 miles?

To wrap up our coverage of DREAM Act Week of Action, we’re revisiting the four youth who kicked off the New Year by embarking on 1,500 mile “Trail of Dreams” to call attention to the need for immigration reform. All of these young “dreamwalkers” were brought to the United States as children.

Juan is the only one of the four with documented status, which he recently attained through the concerted efforts of a loving U.S. citizen stepmother. Carlos has lived in America since he was two years old, and has roots in the country from before his birth through his grandfather, who was a U.S. citizen. Gaby’s home was raided four years ago, and her family is fighting against deportation back to a country she left when only seven years old. Felipe was accepted to Duke University, yet had to pass up his dream of attending due to the lack of a Social Security number.

The recent KKK rally in Georgia was timed to occur when the Trail of Dreams walkers were passing through the area. The youth joined the NAACP unity rally, a stark difference between the messages of the two groups: one for tolerance and human rights, the other for hatred and racism. How can the Ku Klux Klan, a group that so fervently opposed civil rights, lynched African-Americans, and committed acts of terrorism, even today be able to hold a rally where it is greeted by “white power” cheers? Jumping on the nativist bandwagon puts a very thin veneer on a very racist message.

I think the greatest motivation I have is the history books,“ Felipe says. “That once upon a time the laws in this country said it was O.K. to have slaves. It was O.K. to put people in the back of the bus. But the laws changed.” It’s now the right time for the laws to change again, with the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

Update: Thanks to Joeff Davis for sending me the link to his excellent footage of the KKK rally.

Photo credit: Korean Resource Center

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This Week in Reproductive Rights: Gold Star for Spain, Coal Everywhere Else

Spain gets the gold star for best pro-choice legislation of the week! Under the strict prior legislation, abortion was legal up until 22 weeks if the woman’s life was in danger, and in the first trimester in case of rape — otherwise, the penalty is jail time. Now, the procedure is completely legal until the 14th week, and until the 22nd week if the mother’s health is in danger or the fetus is malformed. While the conservative Catholic bishops are throwing temper tantrums, the majority-Catholic public largely disagrees with their controlling-women’s-bodies agenda, according to a survey by Catholics for Choice. Perhaps some delicious sangria to celebrate?

Elsewhere in the world, anti-choice forces have more cause to celebrate. In Kenya, a new constitution has been in the works for two decades. It’s finally poised to be approved, with an anti-abortion clause that will make it the fourth country in the whole world to constitutionally ban abortion. Kenya already prohibits abortion in all cases except danger to the life of the woman, which leads many women to seek out unsafe, illegal abortions that can land them in the hospital.

Moving into the United States, in Oklahoma, we have a mixed bag. A judge ruled that a law that would have published the private information of women who get abortions online — leaving out their names, but offering more than enough personal data to identify them — is unconstitutional because the package it came in violates state requirements that legislation address only one subject. Unfortunately, four brand-new OK bills are headed to the House to separately pass the lump of restrictions that were struck down. If they pass, as seems likely, it could launch a new round of legal battles based on violations of the right to privacy.

In South Carolina, legislators think rape or incest survivors and women whose lives are in danger should pay for their own abortions, voting in committee on a bill to strip abortion coverage from state health insurance in these cases. (It’s already not covered in all other circumstances.)

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Dignity, Not Detention: ICE Ignores Humane Alternatives

Immigration and Customs Enforcement had planned for the Varick Detention Center in downtown Manhattan to close yesterday, but detainee illnesses and a stubborn unwillingness to accept help from legal and advocacy organizations to implement detention alternatives has delayed the closure.

ICE officials have insisted on transferring Varick detainees to facilities in New Jersey, where they’ll be further away from their families and subject to equally or more intolerable conditions than the mistreatment they already received at Varick. Immigrants are often subject to worse conditions in detention centers than our most violent criminals receive in prison, yet many of these people have nothing bigger than a civil administrative violation on their record. In part, this is due to the fact that ICE, unlike the Bureau of Prisons, doesn’t have any regulations for detention centers — just voluntary suggestions. Human rights: optional.

Since 2003, over 100 detainees have died in the network of prisons, which cost taxpayers more than $1.7 billion to run a year. There’s evidence that, in some prisons, detainees are held longer to suck money from the federal government for other uses, and that the private prison industry is a major beneficiary of immigration injustice. Yet there are viable alternatives to this inhumane and expensive system, and the closing of a detention center provides a perfect opportunity to explore those other options, especially when transfers are proving to be difficult to carry out.

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Rep. Trent Franks: Abortion More Devastating to Blacks than Slavery

Allowing African-American women to exercise their reproductive rights is not more devastating than slavery by any stretch of the imagination.

Sadly, Republican Representative Trent Franks is a little shaky on that point. In an interview with, Frank gets swept up in anti-choice fervor, saying “half of all black children are aborted. Far more black children, far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today, than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.”


This statement comes on the heels of dozens of billboards, which it turns out that CBS owns (what is up with the anti-choice, homophobic messaging from them?), that appeared in Georgia with the message “Black Child are an Endangered Species.”  As Pema Levy wrote in her post on the anti-choice, racist ads, black women do have a higher rate of abortion — and a higher rate of unintended pregnancy. Factors that contribute to this include a lack of access to health services, education, and opportunity. If Republicans were really so concerned about the African-American community, which disproportionately suffers from poverty, passing health reform would be a good start.

Upholding reproductive rights is nowhere near on the same level as enslaving an entire race, and the rape of countless women by the men who claimed to own their bodies. The concept that a woman’s ability to make choices about her own body is more devastating than slavery is deeply offensive. Tell Rep. Franks that he’s gone too far, and to apologize immediately for his racist and sexist comments.

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Police Oppose Immigration Enforcement Policies in Arizona and Texas

Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce (R) defended a wasteful new anti-immigrant bill with the claim: “The greatest threat we have to some of our neighborhoods is the illegal alien invasion.” Maybe Pearce is lucky enough that the only “threat” to his neighborhood is undocumented immigrants trying to eke out a living there, but the state’s police think some other threats are a bit bigger — such as murderers and rapists, to name a couple.

Under the proposed legislation, any nativist Tom, Dick, or Harry who thinks their city or county police department isn’t doing enough to hunt down undocumented immigrants can sue over it. Never mind that, as Rep. Daniel Patterson (D) pointed out, this is an unconstitutional requirement: “The U.S. Constitution specifically gives the enforcement of our nation’s borders and immigration to the federal government.” Sure, everybody’s all “law and order” until it comes to legislatures (or our favorite sheriff, Joe Arpaio) respecting federal jurisdiction.

Never mind that this is an unfunded mandate, which Pearce ludicrously claims will have “no cost.” Local cops don’t currently receive extensive training in understanding and enforcing complicated federal immigration law (you know, because it’s not supposed to be their jurisdiction), so that will have to be paid for. And as Jennifer Allen of Border Action Network points out, skimping on the training is liable to open police departments up to racial profiling and wrongful arrest suits, when untaught cops are forced to enforce laws as best they can without official know-how.

The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposes the proposed law (as the ones who will actually have to enforce it) because rural communities don’t have the funds to defend themselves any time a rabid nativist think they’re not doing enough to enforce civil immigration law. Seriously, how dare police spend their time going after killers and rapists when there are bigger fish to fry?

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Does Someone You Care About Have an Eating Disorder?

When does our obsession with women’s bodies, thinness, and an image only attainable through photoshopping go too far?

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Eating disorders are the most fatal of any mental illness: an estimated 5-10% of people who suffer from anorexia will be dead within 10 years, 20% within 20 years, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Of the millions of Americans who suffer from an eating disorder, either anorexia or bulimia, 90% will never receive treatment. And the vast majority of people afflicted with these eating disorders are female and between the age of 12 and 25, stuck on a risky path to an early death.

In addition to these well-known disorders, a new category of mental illness, EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), has been designed to deal with patients who clearly have disordered eating, yet don’t fit the rigid pattern of anorexia or bulimia, an important step toward getting more women help. A survey by SELF magazine found that the number of women put the number of women who suffer from some kind of disordered eating at a frightening 65%

When fellow blogger Sarah Menkedick wrote about legislation in France that was considering banning pro-anorexia websites, I was surprised by the comments her post received. Not by the opposition to the proposed bill based on free speech grounds, which was anticipated, but by how defensive many commenters were about being thin, seeing criticism of anorexia as an attack on them and their weight.

In some measure, I understand where they’re coming from.

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Jump-Start the Economy with StartUp Visas

The United States is lucky enough to be in a position where many of the best and brightest from around the globe want to come to our country, found businesses here, and employ American workers. I posted recently about some of the awesome companies founded by immigrant entrepreneurs, including two websites I personally cannot live without, Youtube and Google. So how about helping ourselves by giving international entrepreneurs a shot at launching thriving businesses within our borders?

Nathaniel Wittemore writes on the Social Entrepreneurship blog about the introduction of a bipartisan StartUp Visas Act to the Senate, which would provide visas specifically for venture-backed entrepreneurs, luring their talent (and, well, cold hard cash) over to our side. Due to factors such as corruption, over-regulation, and poor infrastructure, often these innovators are set up for failure on their local front, depriving us and the world of their brilliant ideas. With all the praise I’m always hearing about our free market system and how much it benefits entrepreneurs, why not walk the walk and encourage foreign go-getters to ditch their less well-positioned economies and become successful in the U.S. of A.?

To qualify for this new two-year visa, an entrepreneur would have to start out with a quarter million in financial backing, and, before the hourglass runs out, come up with another one million dollars in funding or profits to gain permanent legal resident status. These entrepreneur visas would come from the already existing pool of 10,000 EB-5 foreign investor visas, not even half of which were used up last year.

So, this visa would give international entrepreneurs a chance to fulfill their dreams through America’s innovation-friendly policy, while the U.S. would get an influx of cash from foreign investors and the creation of more jobs, which we desperately need. If this seems like a win-win to you, ask the Senate to pass the StartUp Visas Act.

Photo credit: Josh Rothman

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Colleges Still Failing Rape Victims

If you follow feminist blogs, you’ve probably already seen the horrific opinion column in the Daily Princetonian in which the writer combines victim-blaming (“she knew what would happen if she starting drinking”) with accusations that women make a habit of crying rape without cause. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the woefully misconceived article by a first-year, which her older editors should never have let go to print, but it so happens that this event coincided with the release of a new piece by the Center for Public Integrity on campus sexual assault.

Back in December, I wrote a post, “Concerned About Bad Press, Colleges Provide Cover for Rapists,” about the results of a nine-month investigation by CPI into the “culture of secrecy” surrounding campus sexual assault. The latest piece looks at the University of Wisconsin’s abysmal failure to look properly into a students’ allegation of being raped by her male crew teammates, and “lax enforcement” of Title IX protections of the right to fair treatment in sexual assault cases by the Office of Civil Rights.

Jezebel has a post, “How Colleges Fail Assault Victims — And How Students Can Help,” discussing this case and other massive failures to take sexual assault accusations seriously on college campuses. And one of the commenters on the post offers advice on how to have the fun of consensual sex when a woman is too drunk to consent at night: “If she really wants to have sex, you can have sex in the morning when you have both sobered up. It’s better that way anyway.” What better way to start the morning — and aren’t guys supposed to be into morning sex?


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