Researchers Say Stonehenge had More Gender Equality than Commonly Believed

Researchers Say Stonehenge had More Gender Equality than Commonly Believed

Analysis of remains from the famous megalithic site of Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England, have revealed the relics of 14 wmen. According to researchers, the women were very important to the society of their time and their burials suggest that Stonehenge was a site with more gender equality than most people believe.

During the latest excavation, more remains of women than men were discovered at Stonehenge. In 2008, archaeologists discovered remains of about 200 cremated adults. According to the researchers in the latest study, it was surprising to find hints at gender equality in the burials.

Their results go against the common portrayal of prehistoric man as the one in charge of the site with barely a woman in sight. The newest discovery also confirms the importance of women in the societies which were buried there.

A group of people performing Neo-Druid (Druid) rituals at Stonehenge in 2007. ( CC BY SA 2.0 ) Results of a current study suggest that Stonehenge was a site with high gender equality.

The most recent excavation was focused on the place known as Aubrey Hole 7, one of 56 chalk pits dug outside of the stone circle. It is dated to the earliest times of Stonehenge, in the late 4th or early 3rd millennium BC.

The ring of Aubrey Holes that were excavated in the 1920s are marked with red circles. ( Credit: Adam Stanford )

Mike Pitts, archaeologist, editor of British Archaeology , and author of Hengeworld explained to the press that cemeteries of this period are rare, but Stonehenge seems to be an exception. All the people buried in Stonehenge were likely to have been special in their societies. They could have had a high status, possessed special skills or knowledge, or perhaps they were ritual or political leaders. The discovery was also connected with several other finds supporting the theory that Stonehenge functioned as a cremation cemetery for leaders and other important individuals.

As Mike Pitts told Discovery News :

“In almost every depiction of Stonehenge by artists and TV re-enactors we see lots of men, a man in charge, and few or no women. The archeology now shows that as far as the burials go, women were as prominent there as men. This contrasts with the earlier burial mounds, where men seem to be more prominent.”

A drawing of Stonehenge from 1645. ( Public Domain )

The BBC reports that at least 14 females and nine males were discovered in Aubrey Hole seven, and some of the males were young adults. It is uncertain if the men were linked with the women in some way, but archaeologists have suggested that they could have been relatives.

Radiocarbon dating of all known burials at Stonehenge reveals that they took place in several episodes from about 3100 BC to at least 2140 BC. Christie Willis of the University College London Institute of Archaeology reported that long bone pins, hair pins, and a mace head made out of gneiss were also found with the cremated remains.

Excavating in 2008. ( Credit: Mike Pitts )

Willis told Discovery News that the role of women in society in the area "probably declined again towards the 3rd millennium BC, both archaeological and historical evidence has shown that women’s status has gone up and down quite noticeably at different times in the past."

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  • Healing Energies of Stonehenge

Willis and Pitts agree that a lack of corpses of children means that their remains were treated differently. They suggest that the children were cremated, but their ashes were scattered in the nearby river Avon. Finally, they claim that there is a common association between the sources of the upper reaches of significant rivers and late Neolithic religious centers like Stonehenge.

Some of the areas of Stonehenge that have been excavated. Located cremation burials are shown with a red dot. ( Credit: Mike Pitts )

In 2003, researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada announced that a study by Anthony Perks shows that Stonehenge is it is a giant fertility symbol, constructed in the shape of the female sexual organ. According to The Guardian , Stonehenge could have represented the opening by which Mother Earth gave birth to the plants and animals on which ancient people so depended. There were no proven burials in Stonehenge at the time of this research.

A few years later, in 2008, Mike Parker Pearson, archaeology professor at the University of Sheffield in the UK, and part of the Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project, announced the role of Stonehenge in death as well. As he said to National Geographic :

''Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid third millennium B.C. The cremation burial dating to Stonehenge’s sarsen stones phase is likely just one of many from this later period of the monument’s use and demonstrates that it was still very much a ‘domain of the dead.''

Featured image: Stonehenge, located near Salisbury in the English county of Wiltshire. ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

How To Shake Up Gender Norms

W hat determines your destiny? That&rsquos a big question with what should be a complicated answer. But for many, the answer can be reduced to one word: anatomy. Freud&rsquos assertion in 1924 that biology is the key determinant of gender identity, for instance, was for years a hegemonic idea in both law and culture.

Ever since Freud made this notion famous, critics have been objecting to body parts as central predictors of one&rsquos professional and personal path. Many now believe that identity isn&rsquot solely the domain of nature or nurture, but some combination of the two. Still, Freud&rsquos theory isn&rsquot yet dead enduring gender norms show us that the bodies we&rsquore born into still govern lives of women and men around the world.

But according to some recent research, its influence may be fading. In one new study, a majority of millennials surveyed argued that gender shouldn&rsquot define us the way it has historically, and individuals shouldn&rsquot feel pressure to conform to traditional gender roles or behaviors. Enforcing norms can even have health risks, according to another study. Some women&rsquos colleges are now reportedly rethinking their admissions policies to account for gender non-conforming students. And even President Obama is getting in on the norm-questioning trend: While sorting holiday gifts for kids at a Toys for Tots in December, the president decided to place sporting equipment in the box for girls. &ldquoI&rsquom just trying to break down these gender stereotypes,&rdquo he said in a viral video.

But will continuing to challenge gender norms and document their harmful impacts lead to their extinction? To answer that question, we need to first consider another: What&rsquos so bad about traditional gender norms and the way we currently categorize men and women?

For one thing, the way we categorize gender is far too facile, explained Alice Dreger, a leading historian of science and medicine, in a 2010 TED Talk. &ldquoWe now know that sex is complicated enough that we have to admit nature doesn&rsquot draw the line for us between male and female&hellip we actually draw that line on nature,&rdquo she told the audience. &ldquoWhat we have is a sort of situation where the farther our science goes, the more we have to admit to ourselves that these categories that we thought of as stable anatomical categories that mapped very simply to stable identity categories are a lot more fuzzy than we thought.&rdquo

Fuzzy &ndash and maybe not entirely real in the first place.

&ldquoIf there&rsquos a leading edge that is the future of gender, it&rsquos going to be one that understands that gender is relative to context,&rdquo said author and gender theorist Kate Bornstein at a recent New America event, noting that geography, religion, and family attitudes are all contextual factors that can alter one&rsquos perception of gender as a determinant of identity. As long as we hold onto the notion that gender is a constant, &ldquowe&rsquoll keep doing things to keep the lie in place,&rdquo she said. But the fact is that &ldquoit doesn&rsquot stand on its own, and is always relative to something.&rdquo Bornstein argues that the trick to stripping these norms of their harmful power is to mock and expose them for both their flimsiness and stringency.

Which is what photographer Sophia Wallace attempts with her work. Girls Will Be Bois, for example, is a documentary of female masculinity, featuring women who have traditionally &ldquoun-feminine&rdquo occupations &ndash bus driver, boxer, basketball player &ndash and a sartorial masculinity (baggy pants, and bare-chested). In Modern Dandy, Wallace switches up the way women and men are directed to look at the camera (or not) in photographs &ndash whether to appear submissive (traditionally feminine) or dominant (traditionally masculine). Cliteracy, Wallace&rsquos most recent work, uses imagery of the clitoris and text about female sexuality to illuminate a paradox: we&rsquore obsessed with sexualizing female bodies, and yet the world is &ldquoilliterate when it comes to female sexuality.&rdquo

But it&rsquos not as bad as it once was. Wallace thinks that photography is evolving &ndash that some gender-focused imagery is less tinged with ignorance today. &ldquoThere&rsquos so much that I&rsquove seen that has been hopeful,&rdquo she said. &ldquoThere are actually images of female masculinity, trans-men and trans-women now that didn&rsquot exist when I was in my teens and early 20s. In other ways we have so far to go.&rdquo

Part of the struggle of relinquishing gender norms comes from an uncomfortable truth. &ldquoMen have everything to gain when we overthrow patriarchy&hellipbut they also have something to lose from giving up their traditional masculinity,&rdquo said Tavia Nyong&rsquoo, an associate professor of performance studies at NYU, emphasizing that male rights vary widely across race and class divisions and that white men have even more to lose than men of color. What do they lose, exactly? Privileges (the ability to open carry a gun and not be worried that they&rsquoll be shot by the police, Nyong&rsquoo argued). Control &ndash over political, economic and cultural domains. Access &ndash to networks, jobs and economic opportunities. Put simply, they lose power.

&ldquoYou walk out the door in the morning with a penis and your income is 20 percent higher on average for nothing that you did,&rdquo said Gary Barker, the international director of Promundo, an organization that engages men and boys around the world on issues of gender equality.

When asked whether the future of gender was evolution and extinction, Barker, Nyong&rsquoo, Wallace and Bornstein all said they hoped for extinction. But at the same time, each acknowledged how difficult that goal would be to achieve. Beyond the power dynamics, there&rsquos a level of comfort in well-worn identities. &ldquoIt&rsquos easy to sit in these old roles that we&rsquove watched and to feel a certain comfort in their stability in a world that feels kind of hard to understand,&rdquo Barker said.

But change is not impossible. Barker advises demonstrating how our traditional version of masculinity may not actually be worth the fight. &ldquoMen who have more rigid views of what it means to be men are more likely to suicidal thoughts, more likely to be depressed, less likely to report they&rsquore happy with life overall, less likely to take care of their health, more likely to own guns, the list goes on,&rdquo he said. &ldquoThere is something toxic about this version of masculinity out there.&rdquo

Detoxing society requires ripping off a mask of sorts. &ldquoIt&rsquos about getting as many people as possible to have that Matrix moment, Barker said, when they realize, &ldquowait &ndash [masculinity] isn&rsquot real. It&rsquos all illusory, it&rsquos all performance.&rdquo

Elizabeth Weingarten is the associate director of New America&rsquos Global Gender Parity Initiative. This piece was originally published in New America&rsquos digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

Betty Friedan

With her book The Feminine Mystique (1963), Betty Friedan (1921-2006) broke new ground by exploring the idea of women finding personal fulfillment outside of their traditional roles. She also helped advance the women’s rights movement as one of the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She advocated for an increased role for women in the political process and is remembered as a pioneer of feminism and the women’s rights movements.

A bright student, Betty Friedan excelled at Smith College, graduating in 1942 with a bachelor’s degree. Although she received a fellowship to study at the University of California, she chose instead to go to New York to work as a reporter. Friedan got married in 1947 and had three children. She returned to work after her first child was born, but lost her job when she was pregnant with her second, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Friedan then stayed home to care for her family. But she was restless as a homemaker and began to wonder if other women felt the same way. To answer this question, Friedan surveyed other graduates of Smith College. The results of this research formed the basis of The Feminine Mystique. The book became a sensation𠅌reating a social revolution by dispelling the myth that all women wanted to be happy homemakers. Friedan encouraged women to seek new opportunities for themselves.

As an icon in the women’s rights movement, Betty Friedan did more than write about confining gender stereotypes—she became a force for change. She co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, serving as its first president. Friedan also fought for abortion rights by establishing the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America) in 1969. She wanted women to have a greater role in the political process. With such other leading feminists as Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, Friedan helped create the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

Women’s Representation: The Case for Expanding the U.S. House

Weekend Reading on Women&rsquos Representation is a compilation of stories about women&rsquos representation in politics, on boards, in sports and entertainment, in judicial offices and in the private sector in the U.S. and around the world&mdashwith a little gardening and goodwill mixed in for refreshment!

As I read through the great news clips that I get every weekday from the Ascend Fund, FairVote and RepresentWomen, I am encouraged to see more articles that make the connection between women&rsquos representation and healthy democracy.

While authoritarian governments by definition have more power to ensure gender balanced outcomes, full-fledged democracies&mdashwhere voters have real choice and power and more representative outcomes emerge naturally&mdashare the gold standard.

Susan Markham and Stephenie Foster write about the role of gender equality in the promotion of democracy in this piece in Just Security:

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting that concluded in late March was focused on the theme of &ldquoWomen&rsquos full and effective participation and decision-making in public life.&rdquo Importantly, at CSW, Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the key connection between women&rsquos leadership and strong democratic government: &ldquoThe status of women is the status of democracy. The status of democracy also depends fundamentally on the empowerment of women, not only because the exclusion of women in decision-making is a marker of a flawed democracy, but because the participation of women strengthens democracy.&rdquo

Indeed, gender equality strengthens democracy. Research and on-the-ground experience shows that democratic institutions such as government ministries, elected decision-making bodies, political parties, and civil society organizations are stronger with gender equality. All must include women&rsquos voices. But the world has a long way to go on this front. In national legislative bodies, 22 percent of parliamentarians, and 20 percent of parliamentary speakers, are women. Furthermore, women hold only 10 percent of political party leadership positions.

As Harris noted, women&rsquos political participation results in tangible gains for democracy. This includes greater responsiveness to citizen needs and increased cooperation across party and ethnic lines. Women&rsquos meaningful participation in politics affects the range of issues considered and the types of solutions proposed. Countries with high marks on civil rights and political liberties have higher proportions of women in national legislatures than countries with low marks. Higher numbers of women political leaders also correspond with higher standards of living, better outcomes in access to education, infrastructure and health, and more responsive government.

In addition to bringing their lived experiences to policymaking, women tend to work in less hierarchical, more participatory and more collaborative ways. Globally, women lawmakers are perceived as more honest and responsive than male counterparts, qualities that encourage confidence in institutions.

In the past decades women have risen to positions of executive leadership in Latin America&mdashat a higher rate than in North America&mdashdue in part to the use of gender quotas and proportional voting systems. But there are currently no women heads of state in South America according to this interesting piece by Vanessa Rubio in the Americas Quarterly:

As Latin America wrestles with the pandemic and its worst economic crisis in more than a century, political leadership rests in the hands of male leaders in every single one of its 20 countries. Just as troubling, Latin America has not elected a single woman president in the last seven years.

Amid reports of glaring COVID-19 mismanagement ranging from Mexico all the way down to Brazil, one cannot help but recall Cindy Gallop and Tomás Chamorro-Premuzic&rsquos famous insight: &ldquoThe real problem is not a lack of competent females, but rather too few obstacles for incompetent males.&rdquo

It was not always so. As recently as 2014, the region had four female presidents at the same time. But today, beyond the damage from the pandemic, the lack of female leadership at the highest levels of government cannot be overlooked. It is both a measure of structural exclusion and a flaw in one of democracy&rsquos central pillars: representation. It is no coincidence that, according to the latest Latinobarómetro survey, dissatisfaction with the quality of democracy in Latin America now sits at its highest level since the mid-1990s, and that Latin Americans find themselves once again entertaining the merits of authoritarian models.

It seems reasonable to wonder if, had women been in charge in Latin American countries during this pandemic, they might have followed a path closer to Angela Merkel&rsquos, embracing science while working to build consensus around social distancing and other prudent measures. Perhaps they would have displayed more empathy toward vulnerable groups including women, whom studies show have been forced out of the workforce in higher numbers than men. What is clear is that, when women are left out of political leadership, our governments cannot fully achieve economic, political and social progress.

So: How did we get here? Throughout modern history, Latin America has had 11 female presidents. That is of course 11 more than the United States. But half of them rose to power under extraordinary circumstances and constitutional ruptures. It is instructive to consider their stories, what they have in common, and what they tell us about today&rsquos unfortunate lack of representation&hellip.

A lack of representation

After considering these cases, the number &ldquo11&rdquo must be seen in a different light. Given how many ascended to the job through circumstance and/or for a very short period, perhaps we have exaggerated, or been overly content with, the female representation we&rsquove had and not focused enough on the barriers that evidently still exist. Yes, Latin America has had several remarkable elected women presidents. But not enough, amidst the hundreds of men presidents.

To remedy this, we need a whole-of-society approach. Steps that support women in the workforce may eventually help produce more leaders in every field &mdash including politics. Countries could also expand, and more rigorously enforce, the gender quotas for legislatures and other elected offices that have largely worked in Latin America over the past 30 years.

It is time to support women politicians in their quest to reach the highest political offices, removing barriers and interrupting the unacceptable status quo. It is time to allow women to fulfill their destinies and lead.

Sara Rimer interviewed noted political scientist from Boston University Virginia Sapiro about the state of women&rsquos representation in the United States&mdashread about their discussion here:

BU Today: Why aren&rsquot you more excited about women now accounting for a record 27% of Congress?

Sapiro: A century after the 19th Amendment was ratified, so many people are crowing about reaching the point where a quarter of the people in Congress are women. So, no, I&rsquom not very impressed. I&rsquom very pleased when we get one of those little bumps, which often come for a variety of reasons, mostly when women reach a point of frustration where they start organizing themselves because of things that are going on. A quarter of the members of Congress is pretty good, but if your standard is equality and justice, it&rsquos not terribly impressive.

Why are people so surprised when you tell them how far behind other countries the United States is in terms of women in Congress or its equivalent?

I think most people don&rsquot realize how far behind we are in a lot of places. And of course they&rsquore feeling the experience of one of those little bumps in the election of women&mdashthere were so few women before, so each increase is noticeable. When you get the very first woman in history who is the vice president of the United States, we&rsquore likely to notice that just because we&rsquove never had one before. Someday, if we have a woman as president, we&rsquoll notice that too.

But notice that of the many, many countries that are ahead of the United States, a very large number of them are not democracies. Getting women into office doesn&rsquot necessarily mean that being a country that is not very democratic is now more democratic. If getting into office isn&rsquot based on democratic processes, but just, let&rsquos say, on whether the people in power really like you, or being a relative of the person in power, or being the offspring of the previous leader, then having more women in office isn&rsquot a move toward democracy.

A lot of countries have instituted policies that would facilitate getting more women into office because they see that as an important step forward for their democracy. Consider the Scandinavian countries that in general are less patriarchal than others and that have had more gender equality in a wide range of ways. They were among the earlier countries to extend the right to vote to women, and to develop policies that could support women being in the workforce&mdashchildcare, kindergarten, that kind of thing. They and many countries that followed have adopted various forms of gender quotas that usually specify something like a requirement that the gender imbalance in office should not be worse than 40/60. The reasoning is that because of the way most places&rsquo cultures worked, men were not going to give up their power to women&hellipand that you needed particular policies, not just good words, that would encourage increasing the number of women.

In some countries, gender quotas are not matters of public policy, but of party policy. For example, in party list countries, when they develop their list of candidates, their lists must represent an appropriate gender balance.

Why are other countries accepting and promoting gender quotas and we&rsquore not?

This is what gives political scientists a job&mdashso we can research these questions deeply and figure it out. But even just taking the set of democracies, the different political cultures have different understandings of how we define equality or freedom or democracy. Even different democracies define democracy differently. We have different tolerance for different kinds of problems in the system and we have different ideas about what we have to clean up to make ourselves more democratic. So, for example, people in a lot of democratic countries point out the United States is the only one on Earth that has this crazy Electoral College. They look at our system that allows gerrymandering or the fact that we make it harder to vote than in lots of other democracies. They ask how can Americans possibly think that they&rsquore democratic when they have a system where the majority vote doesn&rsquot win? Or where it&rsquos so hard for citizens to get to vote?

Remember, for most of our history, Americans called ourselves democratic&mdasheven though women were not allowed to vote and Black people could be lynched for trying.

Despite legislative setbacks the conversation about women&rsquos representation and gender quotas continues in Australia. Cristina Talacko&rsquos commentary in The Australian debunks some of the common misconceptions about quotas and makes a strong case for intentional actions to get more women in government:

Electoral gender quotas is one of the most critical political reforms of the last two decades to address these issues, having now been introduced in more than 130 countries worldwide. Some of the myths against their implementation can be easily busted.

Quotas are undemocratic. This is a fallacy. Women usually constitute 50 per cent of the population in any given country, so there is no better democracy than having this proportion reflected in politics. It follows that a 50-50 quota is not only gender-neutral, but it also sets a maximum for women&rsquos representation, in contrast to a minimum requirement for women in politics.

Gender quotas are unfair to men. If anything, quotas will elevate the level of the male playing field, bringing forward the best male candidates. The chances are never equal for women and men, and quotas merely compensate for structural barriers faced by women.

There are not enough qualified women. That&rsquos certainly not the case in Australia, where we have a large number of highly proficient women interested in putting themselves forward, who feel demotivated by the lack of support and the predominant culture in parliament. Also, in a quota system, political parties are forced to do a better job recruiting the best males and females, elevating the quality of MPs.Leaving the debate on quotas aside, it&rsquos important to understand why female voices are crucial for a balanced political environment. In my view, as a general rule, women have natural attributes that are critical to society. Women seem to be less motivated by profit and more motivated by passion, genuinely caring about people, our community, the environment and its effect on health and wellbeing.

Women are usually more empathetic and more giving. We are forced to be resilient, persistent, resourceful and adaptable as, historically, business and political environments have been built by men for men, and women have had to learn how to navigate and negotiate better for themselves.

Women tend to have great negotiation skills, are more prone to listening to both sides of an argument without letting ego get in the way, and we get things done.

I believe the challenge of tackling inequality and issues such as climate change require targets and quotas.

In the case of women, waiting for cultural change to happen organically is as unrealistic as waiting for society to do the right thing for the planet. In both cases, we need positive action for change to happen.

Why? Because the traditional male &ldquopub test&rdquo has been an impediment to progress in gender equality as well as in the climate conversation. Not much good gets done in the world if things are always reduced to the lowest common denominator.

So, ladies, this is the time and the place for us to unite and take unambiguous action. Quotas are the first big step for the cultural change to follow.

There was an encouraging piece by Barbara Rodriguez in The 19th* about Tishaura Jones&rsquos election to be mayor of St. Louis that includes wisdom from Kimberly Peeler-Allen and Brenda Choresi Carter about the recent increase in Black women&rsquos leadership:

Tishaura Jones was elected Tuesday as the first Black woman mayor of St. Louis, the latest in a recent surge of Black women running for and being voted into positions of power in major U.S. cities.

Jones, the city&rsquos treasurer, was making her second run after losing the 2017 Democratic primary by fewer than 900 votes. During a speech Tuesday night after her runoff victory over Alderman Cara Spencer, Jones indicated her intention to address broad inequities as part of her vision for St. Louis.

&ldquoI will not stay silent when I spot racism,&rdquo Jones said. &ldquoI will not stay silent when I spot homophobia or transphobia. I will not stay silent when I spot xenophobia. I will not stay silent when I spot religious intolerance. I will not stay silent when I spot any injustice.&rdquo

Jones&rsquos election is part of an unmistakable trend in American cities: In 2017, Keisha Lance Bottoms became the second Black woman elected mayor of Atlanta and Vi Alexander Lyles became the first Black woman elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2018, LaToya Cantrell became the first woman mayor of New Orleans and London Breed became the first Black woman mayor elected in the city of San Francisco. In 2019, Lori Lightfoot became the first Black woman mayor of Chicago.

This year, Black women are also running for mayor in Boston and New York. As of March 2021, there are 32 women serving as mayors in the 100 largest cities. Seven are Black women.

&ldquoWe&rsquore seeing a reshape of what executive leadership looks like,&rdquo said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a visiting practitioner at the Center for American Women and Politics who has studied Black women&rsquos political power and is also a co-founder of Higher Heights, which seeks to elect Black women. &ldquoBecause we&rsquove seen Black women run and win in legislative bodies, but we have not seen them at the top of the ticket as the ones who are, &lsquoThe buck stops here.&rsquo We have not seen that in concentrated numbers prior to 2017. And I think that is really reshaping how Black women see themselves, and also how the electorate sees Black women&rsquos leadership and the need for Black women&rsquos leadership.&rdquo

It&rsquos not just in mayor&rsquos offices. Brenda Choresi Carter is director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign, which tracks the increasing diversity of people in elected office and released its latest report in February. That data shows that from 2016 to 2020, women of color, including Black women, had large increases in political representation in elected city positions.

&ldquoThe phenomenon of Black women winning mayoral seats isn&rsquot happening in a vacuum,&rdquo she said. &ldquoThere&rsquos actually this real surge of Black women and women of color more broadly in city-level elected offices across the country.&rdquo

Carter said the reasons vary based on the political climate of each city. She noted that the bulk of Black women winning office are Democrats, indicating the work ahead for the Republican Party to recruit more candidates of color.

Peeler-Allen said voters are looking for candidates with lived experiences who can help address inequities exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

&ldquoPeople are really recognizing the value of having diverse voices around decision-making tables and the way that women, and particularly Black women, just lead differently,&rdquo she said, &ldquoIt is an opportunity to make sure that all people are included in the conversation.&rdquo

There is a new report from the Victory Institute that examines the challenges and opportunities for LGBTQ women who want to run for office:

LGBTQ Victory Institute&rsquos The Decision to Run Report set out to uncover the barriers and motivators for LGBTQ women who want to run for office. The findings &mdash a result of an extensive survey of nearly 290 LGBTQ women as well as four focus groups &mdash show six common barriers and four motivators mentioned by respondents. It is a first glance &ndash not a comprehensive account &ndash of the challenges LGBTQ women encounter. Yet it can be a guide for equality organizations, campaign training organizations and candidate recruitment programs that believe in the importance of representation for LGBTQ women, as well as a starting point for future research.

Stay tuned for news about a new relationship between Gender Avenger and RepresentWomen but while you wait on the edge of your seats read this great profile by Gina Glantz about GA&rsquos &ldquoAvenger of the Week&rdquo&mdashMellody Hobson:

Avenger of the Week Mellody Hobson and I share a birthday, a passion for social justice, and an enduring friendship. Mellody, the youngest of six children, graduated from high school in Chicago and went on to Princeton. While in college she interned at Ariel Investments, and today she is Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments, the country&rsquos oldest African American-owned asset management company.

In March, upon becoming Chair of the Starbucks Board of Directors, Mellody became the only African American chairwoman of a Fortune 500 company. She is also a director of JPMorgan Chase. Mellody is actively engaged in the community, serving as Chair of After School Matters, a Chicago non-profit that provides area teens with high-quality afterschool and summer programs, and co-chair of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Her other board memberships include the George Lucas Education Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Mellody is a graduate of Princeton University&rsquos Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy, and she has received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, Johns Hopkins University, St. Mary&rsquos College, and the University of Southern California.

This resume alone makes her worthy of Avenger status. However, it is an insufficient representation of who she is and what she has done with her bully pulpit and resources. Early on in her career, she financially supported educational innovation in Chicago. As her public presence grew, she boldly told a TED audience not to be color blind but to be color brave. Over four million views later, she continues to share that message. Just last year, she was responsible for Princeton renaming a student residential college on campus from Woodrow Wilson Hall to Mellody Hobson Hall. The message of acceptance of a racist president will be replaced with the promise of a great future for students of color and particularly women of color.

And, of course, she is the founding funder of GenderAvenger.

Mellody Hobson, a treasured friend and abiding advocate for racial and gender justice, is our GenderAvenger of the Week.

This black woman designed Jackie Kennedy's iconic wedding dress. Ann Lowe. #BlackWomenDidThat

&mdash Ebony Noor #Revolt✊🏿 (@DarlingEbony) July 29, 2016

Many thanks to RepresentWomen intern Laura DeMarco for sending me this fascinating article from The New Yorker by Judith Thurman about &ldquoconsummate couturier&rdquo Ann Lowe that makes me long to get back to my sewing machine:

In 1953, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier married John Fitzgerald Kennedy in one of those &ldquoweddings of the century&rdquo that seem to occur every few years. She was a twenty-four-year-old former débutante, who had been working for a Washington newspaper as an &ldquoInquiring Camera Girl&rdquo while prospecting for a husband. He was a freshman senator from Massachusetts with his eyes on the White House. But you know all that, and what ensued. You may even recall the pictures of Jackie&rsquos dress&mdashone of the most photographed bridal gowns in history.

Jackie was the architect of her own myth, and pretty much everything she wore after her marriage was chosen to enhance it. Her Gallic ancestry, embellished in the retelling, was a central motif. In that regard, her wedding gown was a disappointment to her. According to Kennedy historians, the young Miss Bouvier had lobbied for something svelte and Parisian. But Joseph Kennedy, the groom&rsquos father and impresario, overruled her. He was wary of sending the wrong message: decadent foreign glamour.

The dress that Jackie got was a chaste confection of ivory silk taffeta with a portrait neckline, a daintily tucked bodice, and a parasol skirt appliquéd with frilly rosettes. She wore it with regal aplomb, though her pique may have simmered. In 1961, Mrs. Kennedy&rsquos first year in the White House, a writer who interviewed her for the Ladies&rsquo Home Journal reported that the gown had been made by &ldquoa colored woman dressmaker&rdquo and was &ldquonot the haute couture.&rdquo

That &ldquocolored woman dressmaker,&rdquo Ann Lowe, was in fact a consummate couturier. Her work was admired by Christian Dior and by the legendary costumer Edith Head. Jackie&rsquos formidable mother, Janet Auchincloss, was a faithful client. Jackie and her sister, Lee, had both made their Newport débuts in a Lowe dress. Marjorie Merriweather Post, the heiress and philanthropist (Donald Trump bought Mar-a-Lago from her estate), chose a silk-faille robe de style, attributed to Lowe, for her portrait by an artist who had painted Queen Elizabeth. Olivia de Havilland accepted her first Oscar in a strapless Lowe number of aqua tulle lavished with hand-painted flowers. Jessica Regan, an associate curator at the Met Costume Institute, compares Lowe to Mainbocher: &ldquoShe was a brilliant example of the American couture tradition&mdasha sculptural designer whose work was a dialogue with the body of the woman who wore it.&rdquo

Lowe&rsquos evening and bridal wear were sold coast to coast in upscale department stores. She owned salons at several locations on Madison Avenue. In her heyday, the mid-fifties, she claimed that she sold a thousand gowns a year, grossing three hundred thousand dollars. (Her math tends to be inflected by hyperbole. Each gown was an original that required hours of intensive labor Balenciaga, by comparison, produced about three hundred pieces of couture annually.)

Yet Lowe commuted to the Upper East Side from a ground-floor apartment in Harlem that she shared with her sister Sallie, who did the cooking. The same millionaires who cherished the finesse of her needlework haggled shamelessly over her prices, and she routinely undercharged them, explaining in interviews that the sheer happiness sewing brought her was its own reward. Retailers profited from her label&rsquos cachet but didn&rsquot advance the costs of her materials or her labor, and the debts she incurred to suppliers helped ruin her. (She was ruined several times, but staged more comebacks than Muhammad Ali.) The Kennedy wedding, for which Lowe also dressed the bridesmaids, was a notable debacle for her. A plumbing disaster in her studio destroyed the gowns shortly before the event toiling sleeplessly, she re-created them at her own expense. She never complained to the family. She did, however, indignantly refuse to use the service entrance at the Auchincloss farm, threatening to take her work back to New York if it and she weren&rsquot ushered through the front door.

Core to RepresentWomen&rsquos mission is to study the best practices that are advancing women&rsquos representation and leadership in the United States and around the globe in order to design policies that can be scaled for maximum impact. Our work is focused on four sets of proposals that address the structural barriers women face as candidates and elected officials&mdashenabling more women to Run, Win, Serve and Lead in politics at the same rate as men.

RepresentWomen&rsquos communications fellow Kaycie Goral and her intern team have produced the videos below that we hope will help to explain our work! It would be grand if you could share them with your networks&mdashthank you!

🏃&zwj♀️ RUN: Women have had the right to hold political office for over ONE-HUNDRED years&hellip So, why do women make up less than 30% of U.S. elected officials, and no woman has served as President?

🏆 WIN: The U.S. continues to be outpaced by most of our democratic allies for #GenderParity &mdash

Allies that don't have better WOMEN running but better SYSTEMS for women to run and win in!

Women Serve:

🤝 SERVE: The barriers women face do not end once elected&hellip

It's time city, state and national legislatures advance their culture and norms, past the &lsquoold boys clubs&rsquo that still dominate politics. It's time we help women SERVE!#GenderEquality #RepresentationMatters #Feminist

&mdash RepresentWomen (@RepresentWomen) March 29, 2021

Is it someone strong?
Someone well connected?
Someone Experienced?
How about a woman?

We must face a sad fact: women in the u.s. are not normalized as #Leaders.

VoteRunLead has a panel at this year&rsquos Skoll World Forum on Gender, Race and Systems in American Politics&mdashwhich looks great! I am glad to see they are talking about systems! Register here.

We are beyond excited to take part in this year&rsquos Skoll World Forum on April 14th with our panel &ldquoGender, Race, and Systems in American Politics with Vote Run Lead&rdquo featuring Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter Fund Latosha Brown, CEO and Founder of Vote Run Lead Erin Vilardi, MN State Senator Patricia Torres Ray, and Chief Program Officer of Vote Run Lead Pakou Hang.

The Skoll World Forum is a premier international platform for advancing entrepreneurial solutions to the world&rsquos most pressing problems. The program is a mix of plenaries, sessions, networking activities, and more! This year&rsquos theme &ldquoClosing the Distance&rdquo examines local and global divides as we work together to build bridges. Together, we&rsquoll explore ways to close the distance between the world&rsquos toughest challenges and the innovative solutions that aim to build a better future for all.

The virtual gathering takes place from April 13-15 on Hopin, a virtual event venue. Registration is free and open to everyone through the forum sign up form.

Remember to check out this week&rsquos suggested feminist reading from the team at RepresentWomen:

Warp speed!

Ah, the warp drive, that darling of science fiction plot devices. So, what about a warp drive? Is that even a really a thing?

Let's start with the "warping" part of a warp drive. Without doubt, Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity ("GR") represents space and time as a 4-dimensional "fabric" that can be stretched and bent and folded. Gravity waves, representing ripples in the fabric of spacetime, have now been directly observed. So, yes spacetime can be warped. The warping part of a warp drive usually means distorting the shape of spacetime so that two distant locations can be brought close together — and you somehow "jump" between them.

This was a basic idea in science fiction long before Star Trek popularized the name "warp drive." But until 1994, it had remained science fiction, meaning there was no science behind it. That year, Miguel Alcubierre wrote down a solution to the basic equations of GR that represented a region that compressed spacetime ahead of it and expanded spacetime behind to create a kind of traveling warp bubble. This was really good news for warp drive fans.

The More Gender Equality, the Fewer Women in STEM - The Atlantic

The article makes a huge mistake by making about abilities and not interests. That's the big difference, I think. When you make it about interests, it becomes pretty clear. The more realistic choices people have, the more likely they are to follow their interests, rather than their needs.

If this is something you want to fix, that's probably where you need to attack. You need to change the socialization of young girls away from their interests, and more towards "needs". I know that growing up, I grew up with messages aimed at girls that they could do anything they wanted to. If you're looking to "fix" this, that needs to end.

That said, I don't advocate for any of this because I think it's horribly destructive and the benefit isn't worth the vast cost in terms of human happiness. It's not that I don't see places where we can do better, (in this case, I see social status competition as being a big issue involving women we should try to do something about that for sure has some effect), but it's NOT about the results. That's the big thing, the results don't really matter. It's the process.

I don't think the oversight when it comes to interest in absolute:

They posit that this is because the countries that empower women also empower them, indirectly, to pick whatever career they’d enjoy most and be best at.

Though I do agree that it certainly deserves looking at.

That's the big thing, the results don't really matter. It's the process.

And I tend to agree rather wholeheartedly here as well. I think the optimal society has the optimal liberty when it comes to discovery and pursuit of ones own interests.

Going into STEM was really difficult, stressful, and generally unpleasant. I don't think I would have stuck with it if I felt I had other easier avenues of life success.

I don't know why it's treated as if by doing it you've been given something.

I suppose that depends on your view of it all. Going into STEM was really difficult and stressful, but I didn't expect it to be anything else and I joined despite those characteristics.

Your comment reminds me of a friend of mine who, upon sharing our first year timetables, looked at mine and said, "You know, university is supposed to be fun." They had a very different view of what university "should" be (university was in fact fun, and I hope it is fun for others, but I certainly wasn't going there with that as my main objective).

I don't know why it's treated as if by doing it you've been given something.

So, I actually really did like the challenge, and the subject, and I feel really privileged to be given the chance to pursue a career that women in the past were often kept out of. I think I’d have been bored following a more traditionally acceptable female profession like secretary (and I’m really shitty at paperwork— I actually have tons of respect for administrative assistants who are good at the job!) It was kinda just lucky that my interests aligned with what also will result in reasonable pay. But I’m also far too pragmatic (and knew I wasn’t hot enough to find a guy to support me, anyways), so I’d have pushed for a career that could support me even if I didn’t like it as much. But anyways, sorry you felt the need to go into a career for the pay more than for passion.

The upshot of this research is neither especially feminist nor especially sad

Women in the most equal places are making the choices that make them happiest. How is this not the most feminist thing ever?

I still don't understand why there is a push for women in STEM, this research only confirms what any person with a passing knowledge of this subject knew that when more choice was available and financial freedom became less important women chose at a lower rate than men to do STEM. This isn't new research and I have been aware of studies with identical outcomes for 5+ years let alone the known differential between developed countries and developing countries when it comes to STEM university numbers which are the basis for this and tell a very clear story unless we think conservative countries provide young women with more choice than the West.

You ensure you have decent science and maths education available to all and let people decide on their careers based on what they enjoy etc. That is all that is needed. I mean if having fewer women in STEM is an issue why is having fewer men in literary and reading based degrees not a similar issue? Where is the push for male history, english, literature etc degrees? If the developed world is missing out on something because less women do STEM then surely the same applies to the men missing from reading based degrees?

Women in the most equal places are making the choices that make them happiest. How is this not the most feminist thing ever?

Because people are choosing the wrong thing.

It's surprising how many people who espouse freedom, and claim to fight for freedom, get upset when people actually use the freedom for what they want, not what the freedom-fighters think they should.

"I didn't fight a war for people to be able to burn the flag!" Well, actually you sort of did.

How is this not the most feminist thing ever?

I can see some feminist arguments that could be made. If, for example, young girls in the most "equal" places are taught "you can be whatever you want, so do what makes you happiest", and young boys are taught "you can be whatever you want, so do what makes the most sense and will keep you as useful and as employed as possible for as long as possible", I could see that as a problem.

Of course individual parents should not be forced to teach either of those specific values to their children, but in an example where parents would teach a boy and a girl two different things because of gender stereotypes, that difference is significant and potentially very impactful.

I can't say with any certainty at all that this difference exists in any general sense, because I don't have any actual data to support it, and because it's often difficult to measure to begin with, but what I'm saying is that if something like this were the case, as a feminist I would see this as an equality issue if young girls are, generally speaking, being raised to have a different set of values than young boys.

Iɽ love it if everyone, regardless of gender could be brought up in a world where just doing what makes them happy is the norm, but unfortunately life has that whole "harsh reality" thing going on, and it's a jungle out there. If we don't teach girls about that harsh reality the same way we teach it to boys, it seems like we're setting girls up to fail.

Again, I'm not saying that's the case, because I have no data to support that this happens, and I would never stand in the way of any individual parent's choice in how to raise their child if their values are such that happiness is a better indicator of success than money, more power to them! What I am saying is that if there is some cultural difference in the way we raise girls and boys, I certainly would consider that a feminist issue.

Let everyone choose what they want to choose, but we shouldn't teach people different values based on their genitalia.

Native Americans’ Views on Gender vs. Those of the United States Today

Gender roles in America have never exactly been a question — rather, the way Americans divide in gender is pretty cut and dried. You’ve got your men, the breadwinners, and your women, the delicate flowers. Then, of course, you’ve got the few strange exceptions, those who don’t fit neatly into this strict gender binary(how dare they!). Anyone who pushes the boundaries of what men and women are supposed to look like cause a little bit of a hiccup everywhere they go. While the gender binary has long been the American standard, the people who lived here prior to the birth of the United States acknowledged a much wider spectrum of gender identity.

Most Americans recognize two main genders — male and female — and both have specific roles and characteristics they are expected to fulfill(1). This is how the American people have been categorized since the birth of this country, and it has only been a few decades since we began to challenge these fixed expectations. However, long before this country was established, its indigenous people had a different idea of what gender meant and how it correlated with a person’s position in society. Before the days of men at work and women at home, Native American civilization was comprised of men and women doing work of equal weight and difficulty, and, in turn, both received equal respect. Additionally, these societies recognized and even honored those who blurred the lines of the gender binary. North American Natives now acknowledge those who were not strictly male or female as “Two-Spirit” people, typically displaying characteristics of both genders. This term often referred to a masculine woman or a feminine man, but it also covers anyone who exhibited traits and behaviors that did not align with their assigned gender identity(2). It replaces the outdated term berdache, which was a label used to describe gay men specifically and did not accurately represent the diverse gender spectrum in Native American culture(3).

While “Two-Spirit” is the most commonly used Native American term for gender-varying people, there were many denominational identifications between tribes. One of the more common labels, Nádleehí(spelling varies), comes from the Navajo culture, and translates literally to “one who is transformed”(4). Navajo people typically used this word to describe people born biologically male, yet expressed themselves as female and often married masculine men. Although, understandings of Nádleehí vary across the wide range of Navajo culture(5), this label often encompassed any gender-variant person whose expression was out of the “norm.”

These transgendered people were not ridiculed or shamed, but rather received the highest respect. They were often considered gifted, as they had the ability to experience the world from the perspective of two genders, therefore possessing wisdom beyond those who fit into one or the other(6). These people could freely express themselves, dressing in the clothing they preferred and even being with the partner they chose, regardless of gender.

Two Spirits were considered holy people(7), revered for their gift of containing the spirits of both a man and a woman. One reason Native Americans held Two Spirits in such high regard is due to their cultural separation between sex and societal role. These tribes would judge people for the work they contributed to society, rather than setting social expectations for them based on their physiological make-up(8).

They performed roles of high honor in their tribes, such as medicine men/women, traditional teachers, and emotional counselors(9). Most importantly, Two Spirits became the caretakers of orphaned children, given the responsibility of loving them like they would their own(10). This view of non-gender-conforming people is far different than that of Americans today. New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser shared her thoughts on transgender people interacting with children in her article titled “The hypocrisy of Springsteen’s transgender bathroom crusade”:

“The thought of allowing anatomical males inside public school facilities used by young girls is enough to keep you up at night”(11).

Lately, as transgender issues are on the rise in America, more and more individuals are encouraging the misconception that non-cisgender people are strange, have a mental illness, or are a threat, as exhibited in the above quote. Knowing there once existed a culture in which transgendered individuals were not only accepted, but highly regarded, proves how far Americans have digressed in this aspect of society.

The Native Americans’ opinion of genderqueer people is unmatched in America today, where they are still considered outside the norm. While we have made significant improvements in the treatment and acknowledgment of transgender people, there is still a prevalent lack of respect and recognition for those who do not identify with their given sex. While many claim to support and advocate for transgender rights, when it actually comes to treating transgender people the same way they would treat cisgender people, they will most likely find a complication. This might be due to our society that ingrained cisnormativity, or the assumption that all persons are cisgender, in American people’s heads for centuries.

There has been an ever-present acceptance of two genders with set societal roles and little wiggle room for those who don’t fit the mold. There is still inequality amongst the two genders society recognizes, let alone the ones who are still struggling to gain acknowledgment. For someone who identifies as a woman, I sometimes struggle with feeling inferior when compared to a man. Just think — if I experience these apprehensions as a cisgender woman, I cannot fathom the struggles that those who are not cisgender endure as they strive to feel respected.

For hundreds of years, people outside the binary were worshipped and honored, until such open-mindedness was lost in the midst of European settlement. Our view of gender roles did not always exist on this soil, it was introduced and ingrained in our minds, allowing us all to accept gender inequality for far too long. Not only does gender equality entail equal opportunities between men and women, it means the recognition that there are human beings who exist outside the binary that have a right to that same equality. It is about time that we take up the outlook of those who thrived in this country long before us, and embrace Two Spirits as the unique, respectable people they are.

7. Gender equality

There is near unanimity in each of the countries surveyed that it is important for women to have the same rights as men. Nearly all people in Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, the UK and Hungary hold this view. Even in the countries with the smallest share saying gender equality is important – Lithuania and Ukraine – roughly nine-in-ten (88%) believe this.

Although most publics think men and women having equal rights is important, the strength of this sentiment varies across the countries surveyed. At least nine-in-ten in Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, France and Germany – as well as the U.S. – believe gender quality is very important.

By comparison, roughly seven-in-ten in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia say it is very important for women to have the same rights as men in their country.

The former Soviet nations of Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia are the least likely to believe gender equality is very important, though more than half in each country hold this view.

Gender equality since the fall of communism

In former Eastern Bloc nations, at least four-in-ten in each country say women have more social and legal rights now than they had under communism.

Yet, substantial minorities in several of the nations surveyed believe women’s rights remain unchanged, even though nearly 30 years have passed. Roughly a quarter or more in Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Poland and Bulgaria believe women have the same rights now as they had under communism.

Since 1991, the share of people saying women’s rights have improved since the regime change has increased significantly in every country where trend data is available. However, few people saw any improvement in women’s social and legal rights immediately following the fall of communism.

Many Europeans prefer egalitarian marriage

At least half in each surveyed country say a marriage where both the husband and wife have jobs and take care of the household is a more satisfying way of life than one where the husband provides and the wife takes care of the house and children.

Publics in Sweden, France and Spain are the most likely to believe an egalitarian marriage is satisfying. And roughly eight-in-ten in Germany, the Netherlands and Greece share this preference.

Though preference for an egalitarian marriage is high in Central and Eastern Europe, roughly a quarter or more in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania believe a traditional marriage would be more satisfying. Roughly three-in-ten in Russia (29%) and Ukraine (28%) agree.

Since 1991, preference for a marriage with more traditional gender roles has dropped substantially in most countries. This change over time is especially pronounced in Central and Eastern European countries, where over half in most countries expressed a preference for this type of marriage in 1991.

For example, six-in-ten in Hungary preferred a traditional marriage in 1991. This year, 25% hold the same view, a 35 percentage point drop. Similar patterns can be seen in Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

In most countries, adults ages 60 and older are more likely than those ages 18 to 34 to think a marriage in which the husband provides and the wife cares for the home and children is a satisfying way of life. For example, 47% of adults 60 and older in the Czech Republic prefer a marriage with more traditional gender roles, compared with only 23% of younger adults.

Russia is the only country where the opposite pattern emerges. Roughly a third (32%) of younger adults say a traditional marriage is a more satisfying way of life, compared with only 19% of older adults.

Education is also related to preferences for a traditional marriage in the Czech Republic, Greece, the Netherlands, Hungary, Lithuania, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, the UK, Bulgaria and Spain. People with lower educational attainment in these countries are significantly more likely than those with higher educational attainment to prefer a traditional marriage.

Gender and employment

The view that men have more right to a job than women in tough economic times is a minority position in nearly all countries polled. Yet, notable shares of the public express the opinion in many Central and Eastern European countries, as well as Greece and Italy, where overall employment rates are relatively low.

Slovakia is the only country where a majority says men deserve preferential treatment when jobs are scarce. But four-in-ten or more share this view in Italy, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, Russia and Greece.

By comparison, fewer than a quarter in most Western European countries, as well as the U.S., think men have more right to a job than women during economic hardship. In Sweden – the European Union’s most gender-egalitarian country, according to the European Institute for Gender Equality– only 7% say men should be given priority for jobs when jobs are scarce.

Those who earn a lower income – less than the median for their country – are more likely than those with higher incomes to believe men have more right to a job than women in nearly every country surveyed. For example, roughly half (48%) of Italians with a lower income think men should receive preferential treatment when jobs are scarce, compared with one-third of Italians who make an income higher than the national median. Similar income differences can be found in the U.S., as well as other countries across Europe: Bulgaria, Hungary, the UK, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany.

A similar educational difference can be found in all countries except Sweden and Lithuania. Compared with people with more education, those with less education are more likely to agree that men have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce.

The largest educational differences on this issue – more than 20 percentage points – are in Greece, Italy, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Roughly half of Greeks with less education (51%) think men should be given preferential treatment for jobs during tough economic times. Only around a quarter of Greeks with more education (24%) share this opinion.

Men and women’s views of gender equality

Overall, men and women tend to have similar opinions about gender equality in their society, but some gender differences emerge.

In most of the Central and Eastern European countries surveyed, women are more likely than men to say that it is very important for women to have equal rights in their country. The largest gender difference is found in Slovakia, where roughly three-quarters (76%) of women view gender equality as very important, compared with 57% of men. The U.S. public follows a different pattern men are slightly more likely than women to think it is very important for women to have the same rights as men (93% vs. 89%).

Notably, men and women generally agree on their preference for a marriage where both the husband and wife work and take care of the house and children. There are only a few countries, mostly in Western Europe, where women show a greater preference than men for an egalitarian marriage. For example, 82% of women in the Netherlands think an egalitarian marriage is the more satisfying way of life, compared with 74% of Dutch men. Similar differences can also be found in France (94% of women vs. 88% of men) and Germany (82% vs. 77%).

Men and women also tend to be similarly opposed to giving men preferential treatment in employment when jobs are scarce. Men are more likely than women to think men have more right to a job in only five countries: Bulgaria, Italy, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.

Researchers Say Stonehenge had More Gender Equality than Commonly Believed - History

New data about the science aptitude of boys and girls around the world inspires me to re-post this discussion from 2010.
Math ability, in some societies, is gendered. That is, many people believe that boys and men are better at math than girls and women and, further, that this difference is biological (hormonal, neurological, or somehow encoded on the Y chromosome).

But actual data about gender differences in math ability tell a very different story. Natalie Angier and Kenneth Chang reviewed these differences in the New York Times. They report the following (based on the US unless otherwise noted):

• There is no difference in math aptitude before age 7. Starting in adolescence, some differences appear (boys score approximately 30-35 points higher than girls on the math portion of the SAT). But, scores on different subcategories of math vary tremendously (often with girls outperforming boys consistently).

• When boys do better, they are usually also doing worse. Boys are also more likely than girls to get nearly all the answers wrong. So they overpopulate both tails of the bell curve boys are both better, and worse, than girls at math.

• That means that how we test for math ability is a political choice. If you report who is best at math, the answer is boys. If you report average math ability, it’s about the same.

• How you decide to test math ability is also political. Even though boys outperform girls on the SAT, it turns out those scores do not predict math performance in classes. Girls frequently outperform boys in the classroom.

• And, since girls often outperform boys in a practical setting, math aptitude (even measured at the levels of outstanding instead of average performance) doesn’t explain sex disparities in science careers (most of which, incidentally, only require you to be pretty good at math, as opposed to wildly genius at it). In any case, scoring high in math is only loosely related to who opts for a scientific career, especially for girls. Many high scoring girls don’t go into science, and many poor scoring boys do.

Now, let’s look at some international comparisons:

• Boys do better in only about ½ of the OECD nations. For nearly all the other countries, there were no significant sex differences. In Iceland, girls outshine boys significantly.

• In Japan, though girls perform less well than the boys, they generally outperform U.S. boys considerably. So finding that boys outperform girls within a country does not mean that boys outperform girls across all countries.

• Still, even in Iceland, girls overwhelmingly express more negative attitudes towards math.

So what’s the real story here? Well, one study found that the gender gap in math ability and the level of gender inequality in a society were highly correlated. That is, “…the gender gap in math, although it historically favors boys, disappears in more gender-equal societies.”

Part of the problem, then, is simply that girls and boys internalize the idea that they will be bad and good at math respectively because of crap like the “Math class is tough!” Barbie (sold and then retracted in 1992):

However, girls’ insecurity regarding their own math ability isn’t just because they internalize cultural norm, their elementary school teachers, who are over 90% female, sometimes do to and they teach math anxiety by example. A recent study has shown that, when they do, girl students do worse at math. From the abstract (this is pretty amazing):

There was no relation between a teacher’s [level of] math anxiety and her students’ math achievement at the beginning of the school year. By the school year’s end, however, the more anxious teachers were about math, the more likely girls (but not boys) were to endorse the commonly held stereotype that “boys are good at math, and girls are good at reading” and the lower these girls’ math achievement. Indeed, by the end of the school year, girls who endorsed this stereotype had significantly worse math achievement than girls who did not and than boys overall.

So, with only the possible exception of genius-level math talent, men and women likely have equal potential to be good (or bad) at math. But, in societies in which women are told that they shouldn’t or can’t do math, they don’t. And, as Fatistician said, “math is a skill.” People who think practicing it is pointless won’t practice it. And those who don’t practice, won’t be any good at it… Y chromosome or no.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture a textbook about gender and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Comments 227

Kat &mdash February 9, 2010

The "Female brain make the most wonderful counsellors, primary-school [note: ONLY THAT!] teachers, nurses, carers, therapists, social workers, mediators, group facilitators or personnel staff [he means HR]."

The "Male brain makes the most wonderful scientists, engineers, mechanics, technicians, musicians, architects, electricians, plumbers, taxonomists, catalogists, bankers, toolmakers, programmers or lawyers."

Tom &mdash February 9, 2010
Simone &mdash February 9, 2010

As a woman math major, all I can say is THANK YOU for posting this.

I think it's true that there are inherent gender differences the genius level. But at the level of garden-variety talented-enough-for-a-math-career folks, there are plenty of women--and perhaps as many women as men. Why is our image of what math looks like dominated by the demographics of the top couple percent? Most people *in any field* are not geniuses, and math is no exception.

Gomi &mdash February 9, 2010

As a male mathematician, all I can say is thank you too.

I've known genius-level female mathematicians (and physicists, engineers, etc), who still consider themselves "lucky" to be as good as they are, simply because they're female. The perception of gendered math ability has been drummed into them to the point that it hurts the brilliance they have.

By the same token, I've known capable (but not brilliant) male math students to scoff at female students, even though their ability is no better.

Maybe I see this most in math because it's my field, but it's a horrible hindrance to what could be great advancements. How many girls have decided to enter another field because "math is hard?" How many possible Fields Medal winners have never even tried?

Mercurianferret &mdash February 9, 2010

Strangely, the only mathematicians I really knew were women, and while neither of them was an out-and-out mathematical genius, they were very competent at their field. Of course, the only reason I knew either of them was because the decided to pursue a different field than mathematics in graduate school. . maybe because of a hammered-home gendered perception of mathematics, or maybe because they couldn't stand male mathematicians. I never thought to ask, but was really grateful that my department was lucky to get solid mathematicians, and knowing that they would learn to apply their knowledge to improving our field in ways that I definitely would be unable to do. (I know that I'm dead-average at math, at least among my peers.)

Missy &mdash February 9, 2010

Thank you! I've always known it wasn't a gender issue inherent to math and more a gender issue geared towards how we treat our girls!

I was awesome at math before puberty, then suddenly my "girlness" was a factor and I remember being confused about why my being a girl had anything to do with my ability to do math, and then thinking "well they must know something I don't know" and suddenly second guessing everything and consistently failing math class. Funny thing was though, I'd always pick up the credit in summer school, in a class full of girls who all said they were "bad" at math and taught by a female math teacher who would yell at us "no one is bad at math, you can do it" and we'd all come out with high 90's.

My Mom's best friend has a PHD in Mathematics, and has tenure at a big university, she still feels like she'll be "found out", like she's tricking everyone somehow and that one day they'll find out she's not smart and will kick her out.

KD &mdash February 9, 2010

According to Kimmel's The Gendered Society, boys are also more likely to overestimate their abilities in math. Even boys that perform poorly in math are more likely to report that they are good at it.

Jean &mdash February 9, 2010

There was a study done a few years ago, in which high school girls were given math tests (I can't remember the name of this- maybe someone else knows). Girls actually performed worse on the tests if they were told that there were boys taking the same test in another room. There were several other tests and aspects to the study, but I think that case really shows the internalization of the stereotype.

One other point- I'm not sure the SATs are the best measure of math ability. There is no calculus on the SAT- which, in a way, punishes the people who have gotten farther along the math track. By the time I took the SAT, it had been more than three years since geometry, which seemed to be a fairly large part of the test. Moreover, my calculus class at the time was overwhelmingly female- so maybe girls are just more advanced at the time of the test (incidentally, I was terrible at math until 11th grade calculus, when I fell in love with the subject).

David &mdash February 9, 2010

There's been a lot of studies recently about education and gender norming and, in my own googling, I have come across more studies/articles/books bending recent findings towards the conclusion that education is somehow 'harming' young men. I have read more than enough studies with statistics showing women graduation rates higher in college and post grad programs than men which then somehow is made to show that education is failing men. While I think this line of thought is off, I am curious if the boys on the low end of the bell curve from the study you link to are working out of the dominant story that "guys that do well in school are nerds". Working in over 100 schools in my community, I have ran into this mentality regularly and seen good kids make poor choices with regards to school all for the ends of being viewed as "too cool for school". I'm convinced this is not education or educators issue as much as it is a societal issue - media included. The problem, however, is not that women are doing better (if they are in fact "doing better" - good for them!) rather the problem is young men (especially those in non-affluent areas) choosing mediocrity for the fear of being viewed as "less manly". I recognize that this isn't so much the aim of your post but is along the lines of how education is gender normed in a harmful way.

Tp &mdash February 9, 2010

This is very interesting! I (female) remember being told by my grade 10 math teacher (male) that I was "a math retard" and that I "should drop any thought of pursuing a mathematics related field". I believed him and almost quit school over it. My parents then had me do an aptitude test to be admitted to a private school, and found I was on the 99th percentile for math. Subsequently, I sailed through grade 12 physics, algebra etc. at my new-found school, went to university where I majored in mathematics, and even took home the prize for placing first overall in calculus in my first year. I ended up doing medicine for a career.

The point I am trying to make is that often it is the teacher who has the bias, not the student, and if this bias is presented at a vulnerable time, it is difficult to redirect.

Theo &mdash February 9, 2010

See also J.S. Hyde and J.E. Mertz, "Gender, culture, and mathematics performance", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2009 vol. 106 (22) pp. 8801-7.

Using contemporary data from the U.S. and other nations, we address 3 questions: Do gender differences in mathematics performance exist in the general population? Do gender differences exist among the mathematically talented? Do females exist who possess profound mathematical talent? In regard to the first question, contemporary data indicate that girls in the U.S. have reached parity with boys in mathematics performance, a pattern that is found in some other nations as well. Focusing on the second ques- tion, studies find more males than females scoring above the 95th or 99th percentile, but this gender gap has significantly narrowed over time in the U.S. and is not found among some ethnic groups and in some nations. Furthermore, data from several studies indicate that greater male variability with respect to mathematics is not ubiquitous. Rather, its presence correlates with several measures of gender inequality. Thus, it is largely an artifact of changeable sociocultural factors, not immutable, innate biological differences between the sexes. Responding to the third question, we document the existence of females who possess profound mathematical talent. Finally, we review mounting evidence that both the magnitude of mean math gender differences and the frequency of identification of gifted and profoundly gifted females significantly correlate with sociocultural factors, including measures of gender equality across nations.

Kristyn &mdash February 9, 2010

In my personal experience, this is partially true. At my school it felt like there was gender parity at the bottom, middle and top in terms of mathematical performance and our final external examination mark. Because so many girls were highly motivated in their studies at my school, i never felt like a freak for being female and good at maths. (just a freak for being good at maths in general).

What was interesting to note is how people who were good at maths went to university - most of the girls good at maths pursued areas not heavily related to maths/science. I studied criminology/law, another studied journalism, another commerce. The boys good at maths all studied business/commerce/economics/mathematics related subjects at university.

Jocelyn &mdash February 9, 2010

I'm 56, female, and possessed of an abiding terror for most computation. Problems that require reasoning or estimation aren't as difficult, and, as a teacher, I worked hard enough to keep ahead of my students.

I came by my attitudes honestly, though. My 7th grade math teacher told my mother that he'd seat me in the rear of the room so that I wouldn't disturb the other students who had a chance of "getting it." In high school my geometry teacher quietly asked that I be moved to something else so that he could concentrate on teaching.

There have also been some humorous moments, like the test company rep who asked my mother to meet with him and the principal. They couldn't figure out how a seventh grader could "rig" a set of standardized tests in such a way as to get 10% on the math, while completing the rest of the test batteries with a 98% composite score.

Basiorana &mdash February 10, 2010

Myself and my siblings all have a natural math aptitude. My sister was a "tomboy," as in she was athletic and liked "boy" things like trucks and trains, so "of course" she'd like math too, and she majored in it. My brother is also a math major. I, meanwhile, was more traditionally "feminine" with my interests-- cooking and caring for animals. Thus, my mother would constantly talk about how it's okay if I'm bad at math, and never pushed me as hard. It wasn't until I was in high school that I realized that this "bad" math student can actually do pretty complex equations in her head-- I just didn't put as much effort in at the earlier stages because I thought I was going to be bad at it.

As a result, I'm the only child in my family who doesn't have a straight-up math degree. Of course, I'm going to be getting my masters in biostatistics and epidemiology. The thing is, my mother herself was pushed into a liberal arts route, and now works as a computer programmer-- still claiming she's bad at math. Yet I've seen her work-- it requires serious math skill. My grandmother was a teacher, and would calculate grades quickly in her head as she claimed she was not good at math. It's interesting that many women will insist women are bad at math and they themselves can't do it even as they excel in using it every day.

I do wonder what happens in all-girl schools, where young women compete against other women. Is this aspect enhanced, because everyone is accepting that girls are bad at math and they teach accordingly? Or is it lessened because girls can't compare their scores to men? I do know that girls on average do better in traditional school environments (probably because they are trained to sit quietly and behave from an earlier age, and to not act out). Interesting.

JDP &mdash February 10, 2010

It should probably be pointed out that the SAT is not a hard test at all the concepts tested are basically all learned by the 8th grade level. The difficulty is that the test tries to convince you that it is harder than it actually is, and trick you into wasting time on a problem that you're not getting anywhere on. So, to a large degree, the SAT (and the GRE, even) rewards confidence, not competence. Since confidence is strongly gendered by society, that could still explain a lot of the disparity.

And a closing thought on that. There's been a lot of talk about "genius" here, but not a lot of deconstruction of the term. Genius in my experience tends to be a combination of proficiency and confidence. Most of the people I know in my field who I would consider "geniuses" are not necessarily more proficient than non-genius members of my field but they are a lot more confident.

Undefined &mdash February 10, 2010

I guess the thing to really watch out for here is the tendency to bias one's scientific opinions on the basis of one's moral/political convictions. Of course, that's exactly what happens with 'common sense' views on the relation between gender and mathematical ability, as demonstrated here, but it can quite easily go the other way of course: a prior (mistaken) conviction that gender equality hinges upon the non-existence of innate gender differences leads one to count evidence in favour of non-difference as unquestionable and evidence against as inherently suspicious. For example, I don't recall the last time I saw a post here entitled 'the truth about x' that reported, for example, the findings of cross-cultural surveys on mate preference that constitute evidence for innate gender differences (e.g., Buss 1989, "Sex Differences in Human Mate Preferences", Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12. obviously quite a long time ago), and I doubt that any would be published without a fair degree of critical scrutiny. Critical scrutiny and scepticism are good, of course: they're the bread and butter of scientific rationality. It's just that given the current state of our evidence, the conviction that there exist no gender differences to speak of is as much an unargued assumption as the contrary and the selection of evidence that favours one's prior assumptions is to be avoided.

Maggie &mdash February 10, 2010

Not a girls in math story, but a girls in science story:

I went to a small, all-girl liberal arts college with a small science program but a HUGE nursing program. There was this chemistry teacher (female) who taught really tough science courses, most of which had a few science majors and a ton of nursing majors who had to take it for graduation. Most of the nursing students found her classes really, really hard, since they focused on building scientific intuition and not memorize-and-repeat, and the nursing majors were already bogged down with clinical training and didn't have a lot of hard scientific background. Her office was always flooded with nursing students crying and/or needing extra help.

Once I asked her why she was so tough on the nursing students, when the other (mostly male) science professors weren't as bent on giving the nurses a gauntlet to pass through. Her response was, "The other professors might be buying into that 'girls can't do science' bullshit. The nurses can handle this."

I did both an undergrad and graduate thesis in biochemistry with her as my adviser. I now work in the biggest biochemical research center in Canada. and about 70% of my (very international) co-workers are female. We're also connected to (very international) public hospitals, and the male/female split for doctors is about 50/50, with the incoming class of med students about 60/40 female. I volunteered in a hospital in Syria for awhile, and the pharmacists and lab techs were majority female, too.

After working in the biochemical/health/research field for a few years, I don't see the effects of the "girls can't do science" attitude at all. In fact, I practically see the opposite. I wonder if "girls can't do science" is a strictly Western thing, thus these international hubs are free of that negative attitude and are flooded with capable females from around the world.

Jeremiah &mdash February 11, 2010

I'm surprised this blog didn't take a moment to address what "math" means in the context of this research, because not all "math" is equal.

I suspect we're talking about skills beyond rote memorization of times-tables - maybe into the realm of maintaining disparate ideas simultaneously or alegbraic functions. These require methods of cognition that are most often instilled in males, although ample evidence shows this is a ridiculous cultural behavior: females are obviously just as capable.

I'm reminded of this exchange at EDGE between Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke:
"As with many issues in psychology, there are three broad ways to explain this phenomenon. One can imagine an extreme "nature" position: that males but not females have the talents and temperaments necessary for science. Needless to say, only a madman could take that view. The extreme nature position has no serious proponents.

There is an extreme "nurture" position: that males and females are biologically indistinguishable, and all relevant sex differences are products of socialization and bias.

Then there are various intermediate positions: that the difference is explainable by some combination of biological differences in average temperaments and talents interacting with socialization and bias."

A Map of Gender-Diverse Cultures

On nearly every continent, and for all of recorded history, thriving cultures have recognized, revered, and integrated more than two genders. Terms such as “transgender” and “gay” are strictly new constructs that assume three things: that there are only two sexes (male/female), as many as two sexualities (gay/straight), and only two genders (man/woman).

Yet hundreds of distinct societies around the globe have their own long-established traditions for third, fourth, fifth, or more genders. The subject of Two Spirits, Fred Martinez, for example, was not a boy who wanted to be a girl, but both a boy and a girl — an identity his Navajo culture recognized and revered as nádleehí. Meanwhile, Hina of Kumu Hina is part of a a native Hawaiian culture that has traditionally revered and respected mahu, those who embody both male and female spirit.

Most Western societies have no direct correlation for this tradition, nor for the many other communities without strict either/or conceptions of sex, sexuality, and gender. Worldwide, the sheer variety of gender expression is almost limitless. Take a tour and learn how other cultures see gender diversity.

NOTE: Some school or corporate domains block custom Google Maps so you may need to log in under a different or personal e-mail address to see the map.