The health care bill unconstitutional?

This just came onto my desk from the National Women’s Law Center:

The headline should read, “2 out of 3 judges have found the new health care law constitutional,” but we have a feeling the conservative media machine has something else up its sleeve.

After being unable to stop the passage of the new health care law, opponents decided to try to challenge the law in court as unconstitutional. So far two courts have rejected these challenges — a Michigan court and another court in Virginia which found the law constitutional. However, today a judge in Virginia has handed down the first ruling that one piece of the law is unconstitutional. This judge has no greater authority than the other two but that is no matter to conservative media pundits, who have sounded the alarms for the death knell of the health care law.

We need your help to spread the word — forward this email to five of your friends today.

Millions of women across the country are already benefiting from the new health care law. Since September 23, insurance companies can no longer drop you when you become sick or deny health coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Also, when you enroll in a new health plan, you no longer have co-pays for recommended preventative health care services like mammograms and pap smears. And the law provides even more relief to women, like making it illegal to charge them more than men for insurance. But opponents of the new law just don’t care.

Make no mistake — the minimum coverage provision that was struck down in this one court is an important piece of the new law that will help ensure the success of the important insurance reforms that will end the harmful and discriminatory insurance practices that women have faced. While we are certainly disappointed in today’s ruling, it is not the final word. The conservative media machine shouldn’t use this one ruling — one of three — to undermine the health care law we’ve all worked so hard to pass.

Not so fast — we’ve got the facts. Help us spread the word that the sky is not falling, the insurance companies have not won, and the health care law is alive and well. Forward this email to five of your friends today.

Opponents of the law are not going to stop. We know that they will try to fight the law all the way to the Supreme Court. But we are confident that this important law is constitutional and will be fully implemented to the benefit of millions of women and families around the country.

Interested in the status of the legal challenges to the health care law? Check out this helpful chart from the Washington Post.

The Plot thickens

Sweden has what seem to be well thought out and enlightened views on what constitutes rape and on the duties of authorities to bring rapists to justice.  See Jender’s post here for a good examination of how the law in Sweden applies in this case.

Hence, it seems right to say that the desire to decide the truth in the Assange case, where he has been accused of rape “in the third degree,” is admirable.  And the Swedish authorities said that they were not doing it for the Americans or anything like that.  They are pursuing their own agenda.

So far so good, though honestly it was a bit surprising that they got interpol involved and had an international manhunt.  That in fact may seem to many of us women as entirely fitting, but it is quite rare to go this far with accusations.

But, apparently, Sweden now says it will defer to USA interests if they get hold of him.  At least that’s what Assange’s lawyer says they told him.  So one wonders just how much of a charade is going on.  Suppose the Swedes are really using the rape accusation to hide their collusion with the USA.  That does not make me feel very good.  What do you think?

A final observation:  next time someone gets justly accused of rape, it’s rather nice to think that they’ll be worried that the CIA or Interpol will put them on their wish list.

What about the men in philosophy?

The author of this post, a graduate student, has solicited our views. I won’t try to summarise the post– you should go read it– but it seems to me she is worried that men in philosophy may sometimes be mistreated on grounds of their gender, which she takes to be problematic for projects like the What is it Like blog. She mentions, by way of example, the possibility of false harassment charges or false claims of sexism. She worries that feminism may be viewed with hostility for not paying attention to these cases.

So here’s what I think:

(1) If there was a systematic problem of male underrepresentation in philosophy it would be well worth having a blog devoted to the experiences of men in philosophy. But there isn’t.

(2) Claims of false rape charges are vastly overstated– false rape accusations are made at the same rate as false accusations of any crime. It seems likely to me that false sexual harassment charges would be similarly rare, though I haven’t seen statistics on this. If you look through the examples on What is it Like, you certainly won’t be left with the impression that these charges are easy to make and acted on quickly and decisively by the authorities. So, no, I really *don’t* think feminists should spend time talking about false harassment charges. We are still, unfortunately, struggling to get the true ones taken seriously. (And accusations of sexism that does not count as harassment are even less likely to be taken seriously– and at least as likely to impede the career of the accuser.)

(3) Should feminists talk about problems in the formulation of institutional sexual harassment codes? Absolutely. And feminists who work on sexual harassment are doing this. Vicki Schultz’s work is one excellent example.

(4) But (again) there’s no reason to think that there is any particular problem for men in philosophy.

(5) So I don’t think there is any problem for projects like the What is it Like blog.

What do you think? (If you go over to her blog, do observe our “be nice” rule.)

Beauty, CVs & Job Applications

This New York Times piece (inexplicably filed in the ‘Health’ section) concerns a study about the effect of sending photographs along with your CV when applying for jobs. I was under the impression that this was a pretty unusual thing to do, but the study’s abstract begins by stating: “Job applicants in Europe and in Israel increasingly embed a headshot of themselves in the top corner of their CVs.” Disappointingly, the authors do not cite any evidence for this claim. Other anecdotal evidence comes from this rather messy blog post (which led me to the study in the first place), where the author reports that a student of her’s was advised to attach a photo to CVs by some sort of visiting careers consultant.

If there is any such trend, then it is a worrying and potentially pernicious one, for reasons those of us familiar with the literature on implicit bias can easily guess. Indeed, the findings of the study seem to yield pretty much the conclusions you’d expect given that literature.

Here’s the NYT on how the study works:

The study, conducted by economists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, sent 5,312 résumés to more than 2,600 employers who had advertised job openings. Two applications were sent to employers, each with virtually identical résumés. The only real difference was that one of the résumés included a photograph of the applicant. Sometimes the applicant was an attractive man or woman, and sometimes the photo showed a more plain-looking man or woman. (While sending a photograph with a résumé isn’t typical in the United States, it’s not uncommon in Israel, the researchers noted.)

Given what we know about implicit bias, we’d expect most people to have very weak associations between attractive women and intelligence or competence (and a variety of strong associations that are even more sexist). Thus, unlike the blogger Jourdemayne, the results of the study didn’t strike me as particularly surprising, I quote here from her post, which summarises the conclusions about women thus:

The interesting results come when we get to ‘potential employers’ and ‘women’.

Ready for this ladies?

‘No piccie’ does best of all. Tagging slightly behind – so slightly that the results could come out differently in repeated study – is the ‘plain’. And nearly 6% behind ‘plain’ is … ‘attractive’.

So if you are stunning and female, don’t send a picture to a potential employer, no matter what the one-day consultant twerp at uni. says.

Unsurprisingly the study also shows that attractive men actually benefit from sending photos at 19.9% invited for interview (whereas ‘plain’ men – you have to love the euphemism – do worse at 13.7%). Interestingly though, the men who didn’t send photos did worst of all at 9.2% (which makes me wonder if I should start enclosing photos in future).

Seriously though… Has anyone ever been advised to enclose a photo? Has anyone ever received a CV with a photo? And assuming one is aware of the effects this can have on one’s judgement of a candidate’s merit, isn’t the only rational thing to do to have them removed before sifting through them?