The title above is for an article about Delivering Equality: Women and Success, a summit-conference at Cambridge University.  The opening sentences by the article’s author, Alice Atkinson-Bonasio, tell one why both it and the summit are important:

The theme of gender inequality seems to evoke a certain sense of resistance from both men and women, who argue against “radical feminism” and suggest that women nowadays are empowered to follow whatever career path they choose and succeed on their merits.

The battle, in other words, has been won.

Indeed, as a woman enjoying the successful pursuit of my career of choice, it felt strange to be in a room with some of the most outstanding female researchers in the world to discuss how difficult it still is for a woman to progress in her academic career compared to her male counterparts.

The article is full of ideas and information, and anyone engaged in the area will probably find some of the material very interesting.

I’m going to concentrate on two things:  the list of some of the important questions the summit ended up posing, and some of the talks, slide presentations and links to material that are available at the site.  The first seem to me at times quite clarifying questions, one which organize the issues in good ways.  The second will be very useful for a number of reasons.  Entries can help those who haven’t really studied issues like that of implicit bias thoroughly enough to be able to discuss it in challenging contexts.  There are videos that are suitable for sharing at meetings and in classes.  In fact, the presentations and links are numerous enough that I’ve picked just three.  Do go and discover more for yourselves!

There are two contributions by Jennifer Saul, who is a prominent contributor on this blog.  My links to her in this post reflect the fact that she is featured in the article.

The questions:

Some of the many burning questions that emerged from those conversations were:

  • How can we create environments that attract and develop talented women, as well as men, throughout all levels of our institutions?
  • To what extent are we genuinely committed to becoming more inclusive?
  • How can we define, measure and reward success more effectively?
  • How can we reframe the debate away from “women’s issues” to talk about effective, modern workplaces?
  • What policies, procedures, training, metrics and systems can we improve in order to accelerate progress?
  • How can we encourage the emergence of more diverse, visible role models and senior leaders progressing change in academia?

The Presentations:

1. slide presentation by Jennifer Saul.

2.  lecture by Jennifer Saul.

3.  Illuminating interviews with women in STEM

The TransAdvocate interviews Catharine MacKinnon

Really interesting interview with Catharine MacKinnon here. I’ll only quote a few bits (I really am leaving out interesting things though, so do take a look yourself):

MacKinnon on who is a woman:

I always thought I don’t care how someone becomes a woman or a man; it does not matter to me. It is just part of their specificity, their uniqueness, like everyone else’s. Anybody who identifies as a woman, wants to be a woman, is going around being a woman, as far as I’m concerned, is a woman.

And on ‘bathroom panic’:

Many transwomen just go around being women, who knew, and suddenly, we are supposed to care that they are using the women’s bathroom. There they are in the next stall with the door shut, and we’re supposed to feel threatened. I don’t. I don’t care. By now, I aggressively don’t care.

On misrepresentations of her views:

Williams: I know that you were falsely accused of claiming that “all sex is rape” (along with similar variants). What do you think people misrepresent most about your theories and why?

MacKinnon: It having taken about 20 years of litigation to establish that that statement is libel, I learned that people — in this case, originally Rush Limbaugh and Playboy at almost exactly the same time — create defamatory lies so that audiences will not take seriously work that threatens them (their power, ie their sexuality). Because of my analysis of male dominant sexuality as a practice of sex inequality, especially as deployed in the multi-billion dollar industry of pornography, they saw me as the enemy and set out to destroy me by whatever means were at their disposal. Once the New York Times Book Review voluntarily published its longest correction in history in 2006, saying I not only never said this, and my work did not mean this, but I didn’t THINK this (!), it pretty much stopped. Many academics, however, who largely don’t read, I am sorry to say, have not kept up. As you recognize, this is only one such misrepresentation.

France considers BMI restrictions for runway models

Via the facebook page for the Center for Values and Social Policy at the University of Colorado, a story from the Wall Street Journal:

French lawmakers have voted in favor of a measure that would ban excessively thin fashion models from the runway and potentially fine their employers in a move that prompted resistance in the modeling industry.

The country’s National Assembly on Friday approved an amendment that would forbid anyone under a certain level of body mass index, or BMI, from working as a runway model . . .

“The law is to protect models who are getting so thin that they’re in danger,” Mr. Véran said in an interview. “It’s also to protect adolescents. This image of so-called ideal beauty augments the risk of eating disorders.”

Doctors say a healthy BMI, which takes into account the weight and height of a person, is between 18.5 and 24.5. Mr. Véran didn’t suggest an appropriate BMI level for models, saying France’s workplace health authority should determine the number.

France’s move, which follows similar measures put in place in Italy and Spain, could ultimately force top haute couture brands to change the preferred profile of ultrathin models as a showcase for their latest clothes.

What do readers think? I haven’t thought much about this — but I do wonder if there would be a better measure than BMI to target the driving concern behind the proposed law.