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1/14/1997 - Postmenopausal Health Study Needs Volunteers
The National Institutes of Health and the Women’s Health Initiative are seeking participants for a study on postmenopausal women’s health that could lead to discoveries about preventing heart disease, breast cancer, and other diseases. After three years of recruiting efforts, only 87,782 of the expected 163,500 slots were filled as of November, one year short of the recruitment cut-off. Areas with the most need in women to take or forgo hormones, women over the age of 65 and minority women. Interested women aged 50 to 79 are invited to call 1-800-549-6636.
Although fetal sex identification and abortion are against the law in South Korea, women continue to feel pressure to abort girl fetuses in order to try for sons. Compared to a natural ratio of 105 boys born for every 100 girls (which later evens out to 1:1 since boys die earlier), some regions in South Korea have rates of 125 boys born to every 100 girls resulting in 30,000 fewer girls born each year than would be the case without sex-influenced abortions. The overall ratio in Korea is 116 boys to 100 girls. A Chinese government report in 1992 found the ratio in China at 118.5 boys to 100 girls, statistics which embarrassed the government enough that it never formally released the results.
Korean families are often disappointed when women produce daughters while news of boys is cause for celebration. “My mother-in-law called up my sister-in-law three times to tell her it was a boy,” said Lee Tae-rim, already a mother of two girls. “Soon after I delivered my son, my parents-in-law moved us into a larger apartment. They figured we needed an extra room for the baby boy.” Since women traditionally marry into the husband’s family, Koreans see a sonless family as one that will die when the father dies. However, women have recently made other gains in the country whose government legally removed discrimination against women in the inheritance of property. The government has also banned “males-only” job advertisements. Despite a 1994 ban on aborting female fetuses, however, the act remains common.
1/14/1997 - For the Record: Statement of Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal on Clinton v. Jones
"What is before the Supreme Court today is the power of the presidency, not sexual harassment law," said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. However, the attorneys for Paula Jones have been casting things in a different light. Gil Davis and Joe Cammarata have taken the time the weekend before and day of the Supreme Court hearing to attack feminists on charges of hypocrisy. This strategic attack on feminists has been pursued since the beginning of this case.
Since Jones' press conference in 1994 when she levied her charges against Clinton, Jones has been surrounded by right wing opponents of women's rights who have attacked feminists. Supporting Jones have been a plethora of right wing organizations including the Landmark Legal Foundation, which supported Clarence Thomas' nomination to the Supreme Court and the Legal Affairs Council, which raised $300,000 for the defense of Oliver North during the Iran-Contra scandal.
"Hypocrisy," exclaimed Smeal, "look at the people who brought Jones to the public eye -- Floyd Brown, director of Citizen's United and developer of the Willie Horton ad; David Brock, writer for American Spectator and author of The Real Anita Hill; and Pat Mahoney, director of Christian Defense Coalition and one-time spokesperson for Operation Rescue. These people are not champions of women's rights."
"The feminist track record on the issue of sexual harassment is irrefutable. Sexual harassment should be treated seriously, and feminists have never wavered from this position. However, the born-again feminists of the right wing dismissed Anita Hill and were stridently anti-women's rights and anti-discrimination laws including sexual harassment laws. Now, who is the hypocrite?"
Anita Hill and Paula Jones are very different cases. In the 1991 Anita Hill case, feminists fought for a hearing on charges of sexual harassment before Clarence Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court, and feminists demanded Anita Hill be heard publicly after the Senate's decision to close the hearings. In 1995, although Senator Bob Packwood (R-O) was pro-choice and a supporter of women's rights, feminists fought for the Senate Ethics Committee to open hearings on the sexual harassment charges brought against him. "Jones vs. Clinton, from the beginning, has been a court trial because Jones filed within the statute of limitations. Paula Jones will be heard," stated Smeal.
1/13/1997 - Affirmative Action Hires Are As or More Qualified than White Male Counterparts, Study Finds
A new study conducted by two Michigan State researchers has found that persons hired through affirmative action programs are as qualified, and in many cases more qualified, than their white male counterparts. Economists Harry Hgolzner and David Neumark studied more than 3,200 randomly-selected employers in Detroit, Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles. The researchers found that, "Black females hired under affirmative action obtain higher performance ratings than white males hired in similar firms." Furthermore, "The evidence for white females, black males, Hispanic females, also indicates that their performance is not lower than that of white males in similar firms." The researchers concluded that, "There is essentially no performance shortfall among most groups of women and minorities hired under affirmative action
1/13/1997 - Two Citadel Women Won't Return for Second Semester Among Allegations of Severe Harassment
Kim Messer and Jeanie Mentavlos, citing severe hazing and the school's failure to protect them, will not return to the Citadel to finish their first semester. Kim Messer commented, "It is apparent to me...that while I might be physically safe on campus, I would not be welcome...I never asked for special treatment at The Citadel, I received special treatment...of criminal assaults, sadistic illegal hazing and disgusting incidents of sexual harassment." The two women and their families allege that the chain of command at The Citadel did not respond when the women told them that male cadets were harassing them. Knowing no one believed them, Mentavlos at one point put a tape recorder in her pants to record the incidents, but a male cadet ordered her to drop her pants, behind a desk, and turn over the tape recorder. Messer went on to comment, "[The Citadel's administration] is incapable of impressing on some of its cadets what is expected of every member of the United States military - the requirement that they obey the law and follow orders...When the criminal investigations are complete, it will be shown that The Citadel's administration either knew or should have known...of the complete failure of its command structure." Mentavlos' brother, a senior cadet at The Citadel only three credits shy of graduating, will also not return to complete his degree because of "current circumstances."
1/13/1997 - Employee Job Discrimination Suits Increase
While the federal government is cutting back on anti-discrimination efforts, employees are joining together to sue companies themselves for persistent discrimination. Federal lawsuits alleging discrimination have doubled in the past four years and now involve approximately 100,000 employees. These cases are coming before the courts as class actions and thus represent an entire class of employees, not just individual complainants. Recently, Texaco Inc. agreed to pay a $140 million settlement to employees who claimed race discrimination, and companies including State Farm, Shoney's Inc. and Lucky Stores have had to pay a combined total in excess of $100 million for discriminatory practices. Pending cases include sex discrimination cases against Home Depot Inc., Publix Super Markets, and Glorious Food. Pending race and sex discrimination cases include Motel 6 LP, Dun & Bradstree and Smith Barney Inc.
Evelyn Davis who founded the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women and was a former vice-president of the Children's Television Workshop, died of cancer on January 9, 1997. Ms. Davis led efforts to make "Sesame Street" known to inner-city parents and children since its inception in 1969. She saw Sesame Street as an innovative program, a sort of televised Head Start, and oversaw staff members who visited inner-city communities to bring the show to the areas. In the early 1970's she founded the New York Coalition of 100 Black Woman which urges black women to become involved in politics. The group's projects include holding voter registration drives in Harlem and helping young black women establish personal networks.
A recent study by Uniglobe Travel (International) Inc. has found that women still feel biases when traveling. Michelle Desreux, senior vice president of the company, said that security issues were a major concern. Women should specify with their travel agents that they would like secure rooms, near elevators, with no outside ground floor access and not in a remote areas of hotel properties. She also said that gender biases remain in various formats and that travel companies often give men better attention than women, "This attitude permeates everything from supplier advertising that focuses only on men to face-to-face client service. No doubt, service across the board has improved but women travelers report that gender biases by suppliers continue."
1/13/1997 - Judge Appoints Lawyer for Inmate's Fetus
Jailed on drug charges, a pregnant New Jersey woman is scheduled to be temporarily released so that she may have an abortion. Judge Leonard Arnold, however, has appointed an anti-abortion lawyer to represent the woman's fetus in court. The ACLU and the Morristown Legal Center for the Defense of Life have been in court over the woman's fourth month old fetus and Judge Arnold appointed the fetus a lawyer because, "I have decided that this unborn child requires representation." David Rocah, a lawyer for the ACLU commented that this appointment completely stepped beyond the bounds of judicial power; "New Jersey courts have held over and over that a fetus is not a person," Rocah said. The ACLU will appeal the court's decision to appoint the lawyer.
Ward Connerly, the University of California Regent who led the fight to pass the California anti-affirmative action Proposition 209, plans to start a national organization dedicated to ending equal opportunity programs for women and people of color. Though a judge has continued the injunction on 209 in California, over 20 other states are introducing anti-affirmative action legislation.
Columnist Judy Mann returned to The Washington Post to work with a column on January 9, 1997 entitled Discovering Cancer, Embracing Life. In it she discusses breast cancer, her diagnosis and treatment. She wrote, "I have always thought that a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy would be a woman's worst nightmare...But perhaps the most important thing I can share with you now is that it is, in the immortal words of my friend and fellow cancer veteran, Susan Lowell Butler doable. You can get through it." She also warns women to get yearly mammograms, "Let me and my sister be a warning: A disease-free family history means nothing. I am now convinced that environmental toxins, combined with a Western diet, overexposure to estrogen, and the tremendously stressful lives most women lead, are contributing to an epidemic attacking younger and younger women. Every woman is at risk, and early detection provides the best chance for recovery."
Mann is a longtime feminist who has written extensively for the Post and in 1994 published a book entitled, The Difference: Growing Up Female in America.
Marcia Clark, one of the lead prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson criminal murder trial, has resigned from the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. In announcing her resignation, Clark commented, "I hope to continue to champion the causes of truth and justice in other arenas, and to focus on lending my support to the advancement of women." Along with working on a book detailing her work on the Simpson case, Clark will host a half-hour daily show about women in law enforcement. Clark commented on the show, "I'm honored to have been chosen to help present the stories of the admirable and distinguished women who have chosen to accept the challenges of a demanding yet fulfilling career in law enforcement." Producers of the show commented, "From cops on the street, corrections officers, parole officers, Border Patrol, DEA, FBI, Secret Service and military personnel to judges and prosecutors, the series will be a tribute to dedicated women in all fields of law enforcement."
1/10/1997 - Ellen Producers Working on Outing Episode
Producers for the television show Ellen have confirmed that they are working on a show revealing that the main character, Ellen, is a lesbian. The producers have not, however, made a final determination as to whether or not that show will air. Jamie Tarses, president of ABC entertainment, said on January 8, 1997 that it's "wait-and-see" on whether ABC will air the episode. Tarses told reporters at the semiannual Television Critics Association meeting that, "We are very seriously considering about going in the direction that everyone's speculating on." The show will go off the air in March and April and will return in May.
1/10/1997 - Virginia State Senator Claims Men in Military Training Can't Keep themselves from Sexually Harassing Women
Warren E. Barry, a 63-year-old Republican Fairfax, Virginia Senator has claimed that the Virginia Military Institute should not admit women because the coexistence of women and women in the military inevitably results in sexual harassment. Barry also commented that admitting the women will overburden courts already flooded with sexual harassment suits. Senator Janet Howell, a Democratic Senator from Fairfax responded to Barry’s comments by saying that, "It's hard not to be offended when someone insults your gender and they try to limit your potential...the [teenage Senate pages] are coming up to me and saying they couldn't believe he said what he did." Former State Senator Emilie F. Miller pointed out that only 30% of graduates from military institutes go on to careers in the Armed Services and said, "The only barrier is the intellectual one, which is, men are scared that when women go in there, they are going to best them intellectually."
Two women Citadel cadets and their families who alleged that the women were hazed during their first semester at the South Carolina school met with a federal judge on January 8, 1997. Federal Judge C. Weston Houck is overseeing the integration of four women cadets into the formerly all-male Citadel met privately with the women and families to discuss security if they return to the school. He assured them that, "We will be able to put into place some reasonable measures to make sure it's likely they won't come to harm."
New research, conducted in Denmark, shows that women who have early-term abortions are not more likely to get breast cancer than women who do not have abortions. In the largest study of the relationship between abortion and breast cancer to date, a study, published in the January 8, 1997 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, reviewed all cases of breast cancer and abortion in Denmark among 1.5 million women born between 1935 and 1978. Early studies conflicted on whether or not abortions led to a risk of breast cancer. Those that did find a correlation were often criticized, however, because they relied on women disclosing their medical histories. Women who had already been diagnosed with breast cancer were more likely to disclose having had an abortion in the past. Therefore, the number of women who had abortions and breast cancer might seem artificially higher than those women who had breast cancer and did not have abortions. The Denmark study avoided such a discrepancy because all persons in Denmark receive medical identification numbers and have records with their entire medical history on them. Thus, the researchers went through files which accurately reflected all women's medical histories.
One of the eleven cadets suspended in alleged hazing against two female cadets at the Citadel has admitted to the harassment. The male cadet admitted to throwing fingernail polish remover on two of the four female cadets; the polish remover is a flammable substance and the women claim that their clothes were also set on fire. The cadet also admitted to threatening to cut one of the women's "heart out" if he ever saw her off campus. The FBI, school officials and South Carolina state police are all continuing their investigation of the hazing allegations. The two women, who have not reported being harassed, have corroborated some of the details of the other women's allegations.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who had earlier accepted an invitation to speak at a Delaware Boy and Girl's Club youth banquet, has withdrawn his offer to speak after the NAACP threatened to protest the speech. The NAACP issued a statement that Thomas was not a good role model for the youth, citing his opposition to affirmative action and other civil rights for people of color.
Madeleine Albright became the first woman on January 9, 1996 to go before a Senate Confirmation hearing to become U.S. Secretary of State. Secretary of State Warren Christopher introduced Albright by praising her as a "magnificent choice...master of the one-liner...[and]...Her contention that 'at times Warren Christopher seems almost lifelike.'" Albright emphasized that her priorities included human rights world-wide, an effective United Nations, and the continued involvement of the United States in world affairs. She commented, "We must be more than an audience, more even than actors. We must be the authors of the history of our age." Albright also pledged full cooperation with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Albright is expected to easily gain confirmation, perhaps as early as January 20.
1/8/1997 - Women Break Barriers in Japanese Workforce
Soon, a Japanese sport dominated by men for over 1,000 years will open up to women athletes. The sport is sumo wrestling, and women's entrance is an indicator of the move Japanese women are making into many different facets of Japanese work life. Most recently, Naomi Sakuma, 23, became the first woman to make it onto the floor of the Tokyo Securities Exchange as a trader and Kyoko Shimura became the first woman in more than 1,000 years to perform the sacred Knife Ceremony, relating to sushi, at the Hashirimizu temple. Japanese women are entering blue-collar jobs in increasing numbers; the Ministry of General Affairs states that women now fill approximately 30% of these jobs, representing an 11% increase in the last decade. Women in white-collar jobs, who have grown increasingly frustrated by an institutionalized glass ceiling, have left the corporate world to become entrepreneurs or specialists. However, Japanese women continue to face lower wages and continued expectations that they quit before they reach thirty so that they can marry and raise a family, forcing them into lower-paying track jobs.
Maribeth Graybill, a former art history professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has received a settlement of $113,000 after being denied tenure, allegedly because of her gender. The U.S. Department of Justice pursued the case on her behalf. Assistant Attorney General Deval L. Patrick commented that the settlement, "paints a clear picture for all employers that the Justice Department will not tolerate discrimination." UC Berkeley officials denied wrong-doing, citing their desire to avoid a lengthy trial as the reason for the settlement. In 1990, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had found sufficient evidence to warrant a sex bias suit and forwarded it to the Justice Department. Graybill, who is now a tenured professor at Swarthmore College, commented, "The impact of this ruling takes on special significance because it is the last in a series of cases brought by women against Berkeley, and every one of us won in one way or another."
Recently, the UC Berkeley has settled other sex bias suits. Margaretta M. Lovell won tenure at the art history department in 1992; Eleanor Swift won tenure at Boalt Hall Law School in 1989; Jenny Harrison was awarded tenure in the math department in 1993; and Marcy Wang won a $1 million settlement after claiming bias against her because she is an Asian woman.
The Catalyst Group has announced that it has awarded Allstate and Avon its annual prizes given to companies which work on the advancement of women. Paul Allaire, a member of the Catalyst board and the CEO of Xerox Corp. commented, "To win the Catalyst Award is to lead the nation in taking advantage of the rich talent now available." The Group looks at companies' senior management commitment to the advancement of women and their originality in meeting these criteria. Allstate Insurance accomplished these goals by setting and reaching diversity goals and by evaluating workers six months after they have taken diversity training. Women comprise 19% of corporate officers at Allstate compared to the 10% they comprise, on average, at the 500 largest U.S. Companies. Avon Mexico actively searches for qualified women in Mexico and reviews all employees annually to search for talent and track women's progress within the company. Women now make up 31% of top managers in Avon, as compared with 26% in 1993. Avon Mexico also supports breast cancer research, women's sports and cultural activities involving women outside of the company.
The awards will be presented by John F. Smith, chairperson of General Motors Corp., at a March 25, 1997 dinner.
Hearing arguments January 7, the U.S. Supreme Court concentrated most of its questioning in the United States vs. Laniersexual assault case on the "under the cover of law" aspect of the dispute. The question before the court is whether federal prosecutors can use a law which states that those working "under the cover of law" cannot harm someone else's bodily integrity to try sexual assault cases, i.e. does "bodily harm" include sexual assault. The law is most often used in civil rights trials to protect prisoners from abusive prison guards. Most recently, it was used to try police who abused Rodney King in Los Angeles. The Court spent most of its time, however, questioning the Justice Department as to whether or not Judge Lanier was acting in his official capacity as a judge when he assaulted the women, a point necessary to meet the law's "under the cover of law" requirement.
Judge Lanier had been convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison under the federal law after eight women accused him of assaulting them, in his chambers. Some women worked for him, and others had cases pending before him in his court at the time they were assaulted. One also alleged oral rape. Lanier was tried in federal court because his close connections to state prosecutors (of which his brother was one) and his family's strong political connections prevented an unbiased trial on the state level. An appeals court overturned his conviction on the grounds that sexual assault was not covered by the federal law's "bodily integrity" requirement. The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a ruling by this summer.
1/7/1997 - Women Make Slow Progress in Russian Politics
The traditional role of women as the family's backbone continues to dominate Russian society. Nonetheless, women are beginning to enter into the political and career-track doors as the country reshapes itself. Irina Khakamada, a rarity in that she is a female member of the Russian parliament and a political party leader, recently commented, "Politics is not a fair game, and gender is a great obstacle. But Russia is doomed to success. It will definitely, eventually, start accepting the values of the civilized world if it wants to avoid isolation." Another woman moving up Russia's political ranks, Galina Starovitova also commented that progress will be slow. "The current price of participation is just too high [for women]. For most of us, it is still a choice between a career and a family, because men here still expect their wives to cook dinner for them, and the 20 hour days of a politician do not allow that," Starovitova said. In the 450-seat Duma, there are 44 women (10%); in the 189-member upper house, only one woman serves (.5%); most recently, Yeltsin has not appointed any women to his top level posts.
A recent law enacted to curb the continuing spread of domestic violence has begun to affect police officers. The law makes it a crime for anyone convicted of domestic violence to carry a gun. Many officers who had been convicted of such a crime have been reassigned to desk positions which do not require the use of a gun. While some police groups and officers have criticized the law, many others continue to support the law as necessary for the protection of abuse victims. Dallas Police Chief Ben Click commented, "I don't want people on this police department that don't have the maturity or self-control that is necessary to do this job." Jan Langbeing, also of Dallas, who works with domestic abuse victims commented, "If my husband hits me, and I call the police, it doesn't affect his job at all. If my husband is a police officer and I know that they would also by involved, maybe I wouldn't make the call, maybe I'd stay in that violent home just a little bit longer.
In the past five years, Sports Illustrated's women readership has increased by fifteen percent and now constitutes more than five million women. To meet the demand of the new readers and of a society which is increasingly interested in women's athletics, Sports Illustrated will issue a female version of its popular sports magazine in April. It will print two editions in 1997 and decide based on response how many to issue in 1998 and beyond. The magazine will target the "Title IX Generation" - women who have grown up with legislation requiring that males and females they have equal access to sports in schools receiving federal funding. The magazine will cover the personalities and issues in female athletics.