A women-focused restoration, Nikki Haley’s selection and a farewell

Hi, everyone! I have some news: Today will be my last day as the writer of the Women Rule newsletter. I’ve been so honored to helm the newsletter over the past nearly two years as we reinvented it and nearly doubled our reach. Working on this project has changed the way I view the world — and not just because I know it’s literally been designed for men or because I have “don’t marry your glass ceiling” in the back of my mind everytime I go on a date. I now see more clearly how much gender bias permeates our lives.

Now, I’m very excited to be turning over the keys to my colleague and friend Katelyn Fossett, a fellow editor at POLITICO Magazine. She’ll introduce herself to you next week, so don’t miss next Friday’s email.

You won’t be getting rid of me entirely, though! I’ll be editing the newsletter now and continuing to work within the Women Rule platform to make sure POLITICO’s gender coverage is relevant and engaging. You can always reach me at [email protected].

Finally, I want to thank my newsletter partner Maya Parthasarathy, who is and will remain an expert curator of interesting Women Rule news, my ace WR editor and pal Margy Slattery, and the tireless Ruairí Arrieta-Kenna, who produces the newsletter.

NOW BACK TO WR BUSINESS: We’ve heard the refrain over and over: Women are bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 recession — so much so that some have started calling it the “Shecession.” More than 2.3 million women have left the workforce in the past year, compared to 1.8 million men, dropping women’s labor force participation rate to 57 percent, the lowest it’s been since 1988.

But are we doing enough to fix it? This week, I talked to gender economist Katica Roy, who says that Congress isn’t thinking enough about gender in its Covid-19 recovery plans. Roy, the CEO and founder of Pipeline, a software company that helps businesses be equitable when it comes to gender, race and age, had stark warnings about the future: When women get paid less and work less, the whole economy loses billions, even trillions. But, she stressed, government programs should help fix that, with our input: “We all pay for it [through our taxes]. … We have a right to say how that should happen.”

Here are excerpts from our interview:

On what the current discussion around the Covid-19 recovery is missing:

“None of the stimulus that’s gone out has been gender-mainstreamed — essentially a gender lens applied to it. … When I interviewed President Biden and Vice President Harris and then Secretary Buttigieg and Senator Booker [during the primaries], they committed to applying the gender lens to all policy. Particularly Biden — I was struck by how strong he was in that regard.

“[On] this $1,400 [stimulus check]: We did a research study in 2018 [that found] breadwinner moms — so those moms that [bring in] the majority of an income in a family — have the largest gender pay gap of any cohort in the U.S. workforce. It’s 66 cents on the dollar. … You then do that through a racial lens, and Black breadwinner moms have the largest gender pay gap of any women in the workforce: It’s 44 cents on the dollar. … And Black breadwinner moms support 51 percent of all Black children, and they have for the last 38 years.

“So, if we want to make these [stimulus] payments equitable, we should make up for the shortfall in their income. $1,400 when you’ve got a 44-cent pay gap or a 66-cent pay gap is not going to go as far. … We don’t reduce people’s expenses by their pay gap; their expenses are all the same.

Other things she’d like to see in Covid-19 recovery plans:

“Pre-pandemic, in 2019 … there was a $11 billion [gender] gap in VC funding [and it’s gotten worse during the pandemic]. We need to shore up female-founded businesses now. As part of provisions in the American Rescue Plan, we need to create roughly $11 billion that would be equity grants to female founders — it essentially offsets the shortfall. …

“The other thing we need to do both short-term and long-term is forgive student loans: This is a gender issue because women hold 67 percent of all student loans, yet they’re 57 percent of all college graduates.”

On how to bring women back into the workforce:

“It’s multipronged, right? … We need paid leave. We need universal child care. … We need to not continually rely on women. …

“The other piece of it is equity of pay and opportunity at work. Let me step back and talk about the mom penalty. What we know is that women who have children — actually who are even of childbearing age — get ‘mommy-tracked’ or they experience … ‘the motherhood penalty,’ which is essentially this underlying bias that if you are a mom, you are less committed to your work. …

“There’s two things about that. First, the majority of all women actually stay in the workforce … when they have kids. And what the research shows is they are the most productive employees over the course of their career. So if you want to invest in a cohort of employees, you should invest in moms. … They experience time scarcity. And because of that, they’re more productive.

“The other piece of that is, of … the minority of women that actually leave the workforce when they have children, the reason for 90 percent of them … is not because they’re moms. … They leave for other reasons — typically lack of opportunity at work. … If we want to get women back into the labor force, we need to make sure the labor force is more equitable.”

On why we all need to care:

“The labor force participation of women has been set back by 32 years. And just to give people [a sense of] why that matters is that … since 1970, women added $2 trillion to the U.S. economy through their increased labor force participation. At pre-pandemic levels, we could still have added $789 billion to the U.S. economy through closing the labor force participation gap for women. We’ve now been set back over a trillion dollars by losing that 32 years of progress.

“Second, the gender pay gap is projected to have been set back over 22 years. … Closing the gender pay gap adds $512 billion to the U.S. economy. So even if you don’t care about that issue, it actually expands the U.S. economy. That’s good for everybody.”

— “Progressive groups call on Pelosi, Schumer to prioritize women in COVID-19 relief package” The Hill

— HARRIS INTERVIEW — Errin Haines of The 19th interviewed Vice President Kamala Harris about how to launch an equitable response to the Covid-19 crisis. “As the lone Black woman in the Senate, Harris proposed legislation last year aimed at addressing systemic inequality exacerbated by the pandemic. This week, the administration announced members of its COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force — a body initially proposed by Harris.” The 19th

TOP TALKER — “Nikki Haley’s Time for Choosing: The 2024 hopeful can’t decide who she wants to be — the leader of a post-Trump GOP or a ‘friend’ to the president who tried to sabotage democracy,” by Tim Alberta: “We sat in the shadow of a twinkling 15-foot Christmas fir inside the parlor of the Kiawah Island Club, an exclusive lair nestled between two golf courses and the Atlantic Ocean where [Nikki Haley] has lived since returning to private life. I had come to talk with Haley about her future; about how the antics of the outgoing president might complicate her plans to pursue that very office in 2024. Knowing that she did not believe Trump’s conspiracy theories, I asked Haley whether she had attempted to persuade the president that he was wrong — that the election wasn’t rigged, that he had lost legitimately.

“‘No,’ she replied. ‘When he was talking about that, I didn’t address it.’

“Since January 20, 2017, the Republican Party has become defined by its unwillingness to confront — and, in many cases, its willingness to enable — an out-of-control president. Here was Haley, someone with a reputation for speaking candidly to Trump, someone who had the courage as governor to remove the Confederate flag from her state capitol, admitting that she hadn’t bothered to challenge him — even in private — on a deception that threatened the stability of American life. Why not?

“‘I understand the president. I understand that genuinely, to his core, he believes he was wronged,’ Haley told me. ‘This is not him making it up.’” POLITICO Magazine

TRANSITION NEWS — “Tanden pays for belittling Bernie,” by Jennifer Scholtes and Caitlin Emma: “Neera Tanden’s ruthless tweets continued to haunt her confirmation process Wednesday as she faced the scorn of Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders, another target of her public criticism.

“In Tanden’s second confirmation hearing for her nomination to lead President Joe Biden’s Office of Management and Budget, senators in both parties dredged up her longtime beef with Sanders, a political nemesis during her 2016 push to get Hillary Clinton elected president. Now the Vermont Independent controls Tanden’s professional fate and made clear her nomination would not skate through the Senate without scrutiny. …

“While Sanders did not rehash specific tweets, he noted that Tanden has publicly disparaged him and other prominent political figures. ‘Your attacks were not just made against Republicans,’ he said. ‘There were vicious attacks against progressives, people who I have worked with — me personally.’

“Tanden expressed regret for her harsh words. ‘I feel badly about that,’ she said. ‘My approach will be radically different.’” POLITICO

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION — “HUD to pursue gender identity-based discrimination complaints, reversing Trump policy,” by Katy O’Donnell: “The Department of Housing and Urban Development will begin investigating complaints of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity under the Fair Housing Act, in a pointed reversal of Trump administration policy. The new policy … applies to all complaints filed after Jan. 20, 2020 — one year before President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing agencies to ‘prevent and combat’ such discrimination.

“The directive requires state and local jurisdictions that receive funding through HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program ‘to prohibit discrimination because of gender identity and sexual orientation.’ The agency cited the Supreme Court’s ruling last June that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination on the basis of sex. A senior HUD official told reporters Wednesday that the agency believes a ‘significant’ share of fair housing complaints it receives involve sexual orientation or gender identity.” POLITICO

IN HEALTH CARE — “Fauci: 20,000 pregnant women have had COVID vaccine without complications,” via Axios … Opinion: “We need to enroll pregnant women in clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccines,” via WaPo

ON THE HILL — “‘We all know somebody’: Rep. Lauren Underwood on the fight to stop pregnancy-related deaths,” by Shefali Luthra: “The rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States is double that of other wealthy nations, according to the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund. Per government data, Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely than White, Latina and Asian-American women to die within a year of childbirth. Disparities between Black and White women exist even when factors like income are accounted for — a finding that researchers say points to deeper concerns of systemic racism in birth-related care.

“The updated Momnibus Act, which includes 12 separate bills, would take aim at those gaps, which experts worry have only been amplified because of the coronavirus pandemic. The bill, reintroduced Monday, expands on previous proposed legislation to include measures to tackle the relationship between pregnancy and COVID-19. Pregnant people are more likely to experience complications from the virus, and Black people in particular are more likely to work or live in places that put them at risk of exposure. (They have also been far less likely to receive the nation’s limited vaccines.)

“For Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood, one of the bill’s sponsors, the issue is personal. Underwood, a registered nurse who previously served in the Department of Health and Human Services, wrote her college thesis on the pregnancy crisis. In 2017, one of her own friends — Dr. Shalon Irving, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps — died soon after giving birth.” The 19th

NEW DATA — Now that the Covid-19-related emergency paid leave provisions expired at the end of last year, unpaid leave through the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act is inaccessible to 61 percent of workers in the United States because they either are not covered by the law or cannot afford to take the unpaid leave provided, according to a new analysis by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The five states with the lowest percentage of workers with access to paid family and medical leave are Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, South Dakota and Alaska.

TACOMA, WA - FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Colleen Fanning, Amy Miseli, Kaitlin Riggan, and Tayler Thomas participate in a ceremony recognizing the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts at the Creighton Scouting Center, home of the Pacific Harbors Council of the Boy Scouts of America, on February 8, 2021 in Tacoma, Washington. Nine young women from the region were recognized at the ceremony, which was held on the 111th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Nine young women from the Tacoma, Washington, region participate in a ceremony recognizing the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts on February 8, 2021, the 111th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America. | David Ryder/Getty Images

AROUND THE WORLD — “Saudi Arabia Releases Activist Who Fought for Women’s Right to Drive,” via NYT … “India’s spending on women’s safety ‘grossly inadequate’: Oxfam,” via Al Jazeera … “Tokyo 2020 Olympics president to resign following sexist remarks,” via CNN … “Women’s rights activist charged for role in Polish protests,” via ABC News

WOMEN AT WORK — “Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome,” by Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey: “Imposter syndrome took a fairly universal feeling of discomfort, second-guessing, and mild anxiety in the workplace and pathologized it, especially for women. As white men progress, their feelings of doubt usually abate as their work and intelligence are validated over time. They’re able to find role models who are like them, and rarely (if ever) do others question their competence, contributions, or leadership style. Women experience the opposite. Rarely are we invited to a women’s career development conference where a session on ‘overcoming imposter syndrome’ is not on the agenda.

“The label of imposter syndrome is a heavy load to bear. ‘Imposter’ brings a tinge of criminal fraudulence to the feeling of simply being unsure or anxious about joining a new team or learning a new skill. Add to that the medical undertone of ‘syndrome,’ which recalls the ‘female hysteria’ diagnoses of the nineteenth century. Although feelings of uncertainty are an expected and normal part of professional life, women who experience them are deemed to suffer from imposter syndrome. Even if women demonstrate strength, ambition, and resilience, our daily battles with microaggressions, especially expectations and assumptions formed by stereotypes and racism, often push us down. Imposter syndrome as a concept fails to capture this dynamic and puts the onus on women to deal with the effects. Workplaces remain misdirected toward seeking individual solutions for issues disproportionately caused by systems of discrimination and abuses of power.” Harvard Business Review

— “Women in tech are networking through Clubhouse, an invite-only app. But these Black women say it’s ‘not a place for us,’” via The Lily … “Milestones, interrupted: These women were on the cusp of something big. Then came coronavirus,” via WaPo … “Research: Men Get More Actionable Feedback Than Women,” via HBR … “Bumble’s IPO may be a feat — but venture capital funding for women is still an uphill battle,” via CNBC

THE NEW NORMAL? — “For Some Single Women, Pandemic Means Rethinking Route to Motherhood,” via WSJ

SPOTLIGHT — “Reintroducing Sonia Sotomayor,” by Irin Carmon: “A dozen years into her tenure, Sotomayor’s voice is resounding far beyond the audience of Court watchers. She has won over those skeptical of her nomination, among them law professor and journalist Jeffrey Rosen, whose 2009 New Republic story infamously quoted anonymous doubters calling her ‘not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench.’ Rosen told me, ‘In 2019, I had the opportunity to apologize to Justice Sotomayor for that piece, which was rightly criticized. Justice Sotomayor has proved to be a powerful voice of liberalism on the Court, and her role has become all the more central since Justice Ginsburg’s passing.’

“Sotomayor is also poised to take over Ginsburg’s role as the functional minority leader. There are calls for 82-year-old Stephen Breyer to retire while a Democratic president and Senate can replace him, and Joe Biden has promised to nominate the first Black woman to the Court. On a Court that runs on seniority, Breyer’s move would anoint Sotomayor as the most senior justice in what is usually, in the most heated cases, the resistance — the true heir to Ginsburg and, before her, John Paul Stevens and Thurgood Marshall.” Intelligencer

PERSPECTIVE — “The Women Who Paved the Way for Marjorie Taylor Greene: She’s the latest descendant in a lineage of Republican women who embrace a boffo radicalism.” via NYT

NAME CALLING — “Southern Baptist leaders called Kamala Harris a ‘Jezebel.’ That’s not just insulting, it’s dangerous, experts say,” via The Lily

HISTORY DEPT. — “We Were the Last of the Nice Negro Girls,” by Anna Deavere Smith: “My high-school counselor at Western High School, an all-girls public school in Baltimore, was a rotund white woman with a pleasant but less than energetic countenance. She was wholly absent from my education until one day, after rumblings about affirmative action in colleges had begun shaking the ground that Negroes traversed to higher education, she suddenly summoned my mother and me for a meeting. My mother, a veteran teacher in Baltimore’s public schools, took the afternoon off. We sat in the high-ceilinged counseling office, prim and proper as can be, while the counselor showed us one pamphlet after another with images of white girls in sweater sets relaxing in bucolic environments.

“I knew nothing about the multitude of small colleges across the U.S. that had been founded, many by religious institutions, for the specific purpose of educating white women. Nor did I know anything about ‘suitcase schools,’ some of which had reputations as glorified finishing schools where girls were focused on meeting boys attending nearby institutions. (They were called ‘suitcase schools’ because on Fridays the girls took off to spend the weekend with their prospective husbands.) But in 1966, as my counselor put it to my mother, many of these all-girls colleges were ‘looking for nice Negro girls like Anna.’” The Atlantic

BOOK CLUB — “In ‘Bina,’ an Old Woman Dares You to Ignore Her,” via The New Yorker … “’Love’s labours should be lost’: Maria Stepanova, Russia’s next great writer,” via The Guardian

ON SCREEN — “‘Women in Blue,’ and Redefining What It Means to Protect and Serve,” by Pierre-Antoine Louis: “Long before George Floyd was killed during an encounter with Minneapolis Police officers last May, the department was struggling with a history of police misconduct and allegations of racism and sexism within its ranks. A documentary that debuts this week on PBS takes viewers inside the police force, offering insight into the inner workings of the department and its efforts to connect with residents.

“Filmed between 2017 and last year, the documentary, ‘Women in Blue,’ follows the first woman to serve as chief, Janeé Harteau, and focuses on four female officers, each trying to redefine what it means to protect and serve. After a high-profile, officer-involved shooting forces Chief Harteau to resign, the new, male chief selects only men as his top brass.

“The film, which airs on Monday, reveals the limitations of police reform through incremental changes and asks — and tries to answer — questions that apply well beyond the city of Minneapolis, including whether increased gender equity and more women, particularly Black women, contribute to better public safety. Deirdre Fishel, the film’s director, talked about the challenges — and the importance — of making ‘Women in Blue’ at this time.” NYT

— “Hmmm, Why Do All the Movie Lesbians Exist in the Past?” via The Cut … “‘Sisters With Transistors’: Pioneers Of Electronic Music,” via NPR

VIDEO — Is Biden’s idea of unity possible and what does unity even mean?

TRANSITIONS — Suzanne Clark will take over the U.S. Chamber of Commerce next month as its president and chief executive. … Lauren (Ren) Gaffney is the new general counsel of Convergent Energy + Power, an energy storage asset developer. … The New York Times elevated deputy managing editor Rebecca Blumenstein to the new role of deputy editor, publisher’s office.

NEW LAUNCH — On February 9th, Chief, a private network designed to support women on their way to the C-suite and to help them stay there, will launch in the Washington D.C. area. Interested applicants can apply here at chief.com. To be considered, applicants must be C-level or rising VP within their organization (or equivalent, as we recognize that titles vary across industry), and and diversity is valued in every measure — including background, industry and role. Learn more and apply here.

Comments are closed.