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Commenting on Posts: Once your group members post their blogs you should be reading and commenting on them in a respectful and intelligent manner. Hopefully you will discover a lively debate in this space that will both improve your understanding of the material and encourage you to apply the knowledge we are covering in the lecture. Commenting on the post will conclude at the end of the blogging period. Again, do not leave commenting until the end of the period or you will miss the opportunity to be part of the discussion with your group mates.
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#BanBossy: A Misguided Campaign with a Meaningful Cause
Posted by Daniel Boissonneau-Lehner at Monday, March 31, 2014 11:55:36 PM PDT
Lean In, a non-profit organization focused on “encouraging women to pursue their ambitions and changing the conversation from what [women] can’t do to what [women] can do,” launched their flagship campaign – called Ban Bossy – earlier this month. The Ban Bossy campaign is calling for a widespread ban of the word ‘bossy’ to encourage women to increase their adoption of leadership roles at all levels; from the playground to the boardroom. Lean In is founded by Sheryl Sandberg whose TED talk video addressing the subject of gender disparity in leadership was covered in lecture during the “Human Capital Decisions for Women” section of the gender-wage gap unit.
As part of the campaign, Lean In created two videos on YouTube to garner awareness for the cause. The first video (I’m Not Bossy. I’m the Boss) features celebrities like Beyoncé and politician Condoleezza Rice explaining how the word ‘bossy’ is a label applied to assertive girls and women that discourages them from taking on leadership roles to avoid the branding. They argue that by middle school girls are taking on less leadership positions out of fear of the consequences – being called ‘bossy.’
I think the underlying cause behind #BanBossy is fantastic. Sheryl Sandberg highlights some alarming gender inequalities in leadership roles in her TED Talk. In government, 13% of world parliament positions are filled by women. 9 of 190 heads of state are women. In the corporate world, men dominate executive roles, comprising 87% of these positions. In non-profit organizations, 20% of leadership roles are taken on by women. Moreover, women face a hard dilemma between personal fulfillment and professional success. Of married senior managers, one third of the women have children whereas two thirds of men have children. Women have less leadership roles in the world despite being better educated and having higher GPA’s on aggregate. The Ban Bossy campaign aims to stop the disparity by empowering women, but I think the execution fails miserably.
Banning ‘bossy’ addresses none of the issues underlying the causes for women holding less formal leadership roles. The campaign fixates on a word that ‘undermines’ female leadership and fails to deliver the message Sandberg eloquently presented during her TED Talk. It is very doubtful that being called bossy would actually reduce a girls desire to take on responsibilities and leadership. I brainstormed a new campaign based on Sanberg’s talk, potentially titled “Capitalize on your Human Capital,” which addresses women investing in their own human capital to improve the disparity in leadership positions.
First, Sandberg explains women should “not leave before they leave.” She finds that women ‘checkout’ of their jobs, avoiding additional responsibilities and promotions the moment they begin to think about family planning and time commitments. This is a serious problem reducing human capital value of women. By avoiding investments in oneself, like specialized on-the-job training and experience, some women needlessly undermine their labour productivity, wages and potential for attaining leadership roles in the workplace. Investing in one’s education increases potential earnings, but the investment in human capital needs to extend to the workplace until the decision between family and work life needs to be made – if it needs to be made at all. Staying in the workplace, both physically and mentally, is a necessity until it isn’t.
This brings me to the second point: the allocation of housework in married households. If a woman and man both work fulltime and have a child, women do twice the amount of housework and three times the amount of child-related work compared to the man. This sacrifices the woman’s ability to be productive and gain workplace experience, reducing her human capital. I offer no solution to the housework allocation discrepancy, but realize that it must be closed in order for women to systematically achieve more leadership roles.
Capitalizing on human capital, rather than banning bossy, is a message I can get behind. I think it would be more popular than the ban bossy campaign as well. The Ban Bossy video I linked above has 23% more dislikes than likes on YouTube. This is not encouraging for a message that is extremely important, relevant and necessary.
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Prostitution in Decline?
Posted by Saman Foroughi at Monday, March 31, 2014 9:11:09 PM PDT
Having lived in a wealthy Middle Eastern country where illegal prostitution runs rampant, I have come to notice that the industry has come to make increasingly better use of the Internet. This led me to investigate this transition. During the course of my research I stumbled upon several other interesting findings regarding sex work.
My research brought me across an interesting article from the Economist magazine, which examined the pervasiveness of prostitution across six different American cities. In order to overcome the evasive nature of the sex industry in terms of data, researchers had to rely on data collected by the police, hospitals, lawyers and those reported by sex workers, to come up with estimates. According to the article, it has become increasingly prevalent for female sex workers to promote their services through the Internet. This, they claim, is because the women feel that using the internet would reduce their chances of getting arrested, and also because not meeting their clients face to face takes away the physical intimidation that would make price negotiations problematic.
Another interesting finding on the sex industry is that of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in their book “Super Freakonomics”. Levitt and Dubner find that from 1948 to 2006, the percentage of white men who reported having visited a prostitute had fallen from 69% to 15%. Furthermore, the average annual income of street prostitutes has fallen a drastic $7,000 from $25,000 in 1911 to $18,000 in 2007. This is while high-end escorts have seen their annual incomes drop to less than half of $430,000 that they would earn in 1911. Levitt and Dubner use this data to demonstrate that the demand for paid sex has declined over the past hundred years.
While the findings presented by Levitt and Dubner are interesting indicators of how the sex industry has evolved over the course of the twentieth century, I am somewhat skeptical of the accuracy of their data. As previously mentioned, sex work, due to its illegitimate nature in most countries, is very difficult to gather data on. Hence, there is no concrete reason to believe that the wide discrepancy that is observed in their data is solely caused by the decline in demand for sex workers.
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