August 26, 2016; No. CCXLVI

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No. CCXLVI; August 26, 2016
THIS ISSUE’S HIGHLIGHTS:
I.          WOMEN’S SUCCESS AT RIO OLYMPIC GAMES
II.         RUNNING A MEGALOPOLIS:FIRST FEMALE GOVERNOR OF TOKYO
III.       QUOTAS FOR WOMEN ON BOARDS WORKING IN FRANCE
IV.       FIRST U.S. STATE BANS ASKING APPLICANTS SALARIES
V.        MOST TECH JOBS GOING TO MEN

I. WOMEN’S SUCCESS AT RIO OLYMPIC GAMES  

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In Jamaica, despite all the attention given to male track star Usain Bolt, Jamaican women also brought home more medals than their men.  In addition, Chinese women continued their dominance over their male peers, winning more medals in their events as they have done in every Olympics since 1988 (New York Times, “The Countries Where Women Won More Medals Than Men,” 8/24/2016)For anyone following the recently-completed 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the skills and talents of women athletes were clearly on display.  Women athletes from the U.S. not only participated in every sport and outnumbered male athletes (292 to 263), they also won the majority of medals for the second consecutive Summer Olympics. Beyond the U.S., women won more medals than their male colleagues in 29 countries at the Rio Olympics. 

The success of the women Olympic athletes can often be tied to opportunities for women in their home countries.  In the U.S., a law passed in 1972 known as Title IX guaranteed women’s and girls’ access to education at all levels.  One of the outcomes of this legislation, co-authored by Japanese-American Congresswoman Patsy Mink, resulted in opening doors for women in sports.  When the law passed in 1972, only 90 of almost 500 U.S. Olympians were women; there were no college scholarships for female athletes; and women’s athletics received only 2% of funding.  With equal opportunity now required for women athletes through Title IX, the gap shrunk dramatically in ensuing years and people throughout the world can now witness the athletic skills of the dynamic women athletes in the Olympic Games and beyond.

Since 1900, when women first appeared in the Olympics, participating only in five sporting events, the world of sports and society has changed.  How women have reached these pinnacles and the government policies which have supported them should be remembered as the struggles for gender equality continue.

II. RUNNING A MEGALOPOLIS: FIRST FEMALE GOVERNOR OF TOKYO

4The Host City of the next 2020 Summer Olympics, and the Host of the 2017 Global Summit of Women – Tokyo, Japan – now has a female governor for the first time in its history.  Yuriko Koike, a former Minister of Environment and Minister of Defense as well as news anchor and national security advisor, bested 20 candidates to be elected to lead the world’s largest city this month whose population at 14 million is larger than many countries and whose economy is larger than Sweden’s.  Facing this new leader is a daunting list of challenges, but she comes to office with a strong mandate given her landslide victory.

Among her priorities:  Restore order to the 2020 Olympics preparations;  bring about more transparency to the Tokyo government beset with corruption charges; and eliminate the day-care shortage preventing women from remaining in the workplace.  As both the financial and governmental capital of Japan, Tokyo brings a complex set of issues to be addressed by anyone who heads it.

To resolve the issues surrounding the 2020 Olympics, which include an escalating budget, faulty construction designs, and questionable awarding of contracts, Koike plans to take control of the leadership of the planning for the Games and has already established an Olympics headquarters within the city government.

Coming into office as an independent following two governors who were forced to resign over financial scandals, Koike expects opposition as she puts forth new proposals. “In Japanese society, you try to build consensus and try to keep harmony, but I would like to convince people to change for the sake of society,” she said in a recent interview (Washington Post, “She’s a Renegade Conservative.  Now She’s Running Tokyo,” 8/10/16)

The Global Summit of Women is pleased to hold its 2017 Summit in Tokyo on May 11-13, 2017, in a city led by a woman.  To see highlights of the prior 2016 Summit in Warsaw, Poland, visit www.globewomen.org/globalsummit.


III. QUOTAS FOR WOMEN ON BOARDS WORKING IN FRANCE

 

The deadline for French companies to reach the legal mandate of 40% women’s representation on corporate boards looms at the start of 2017.  A look at the most recent figures show companies doing well in complying with this quota.

3When the law, known as Zimmerman Cope was enacted in January 2011, the percentage of women board directors of France’s blue-chip companies — the CAC40 — stood at 14.4%.  Current research shows CAC40 companies closing in on the quota law’s requirement at 39.6% women directors.  Beyond the blue chips to a larger pool of companies, the SBF 120, the news is equally good with women directors reaching 38% representation.  As of July, 57.5% of CAC40 and 44.2% of the SBF120 companies had already met the 40% goal.  After January 1, 2017, any board appointments not meeting this threshold of 40% representation of either gender will be made null and void, a sanction that will ensure compliance among remaining companies.

Critics of legal mandates often claim there are few qualified women and as a result certain individual women receive a large number of the appointments.  According to the France-based Ethics and Boards organization, women average 1.55 appointments on CAC40 boards, compared to men holding an average of 1.38 board seats.  The slight difference shows that companies are not having difficulty finding different women to place on their boards.

Companies, though, are looking beyond French citizens as they consider additional women board members.  Among the CAC40, 34.1% of women directors are non-French nationals.  This is higher than the 24.1% of male directors who are non-French.  It can be said that the extranationals make the board more diverse in the global economic environment, though it is done at the expense of more opportunities for qualified potential French women directors. (Source: www.ethicsandboards.com )

IV. FIRST U.S. STATE BANS ASKING APPLICANTS SALARIES

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In a move to address the gender pay gap, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to prevent employers from asking about applicants’ prior salaries before offering them a job.  By barring companies from asking prospective employees how much they earned in previous jobs, the law ensures that the historically lower wages paid to women do not follow them for their entire careers.  Employers must now offer a salary based on the applicant’s skills and experiences.

U.S. women are currently paid 79 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  The legislation in Massachusetts signed by Republican Governor Charlie Baker includes additional measures to reduce the gap, such as requiring equal pay not just for workers whose jobs are alike, but also for those whose work is of “comparable character” or who work in “comparable operations.”

As the issue of the pay equity receives more attention in the U.S., other states have increased protections for women workers.  Earlier this summer, Maryland passed a law that requires equal pay for “comparable” work, and California last year enacted a law requiring employers to prove that they pay workers of both genders equally for “substantially similar” jobs. (New York Times, “Illegal in Massachusetts: Asking Salary in a Job Interview,” 8/2/16)

These state efforts are laudable but it is a piece meal approach that actually requires a national solution.  However, while it may take years for these measures to reduce the pay gap substantially, they do raise the bar for other states and the federal government to address this critical issue that afflicts not only women, but the families that depend on this income.  The 2017 Global Summit of Women in Tokyo will take a global look at policies enacted by countries and companies which have been successful in reducing gender pay inequity

V. MOST TECH JOBS GOING TO MEN

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While women workers have made advances in many industries over the past decade, men continue to take a greater percentage of jobs in the Information Technology industry in the U.S.  The percentage of women workers in IT peaked in 1990 at 31%.  Since then, the percentage has declined to about 25%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

More jobs continue to become available in the IT field as technology grows into more avenues of daily life.  In 1970, there were just 450,000 IT jobs in the U.S., compared to 4.6 million jobs today. However, these jobs are going increasingly to young males.

For women who are employed in the IT field, the gender pay gap persists.  In 2014, the median wage for women working in the field was $70,385.  For men, the average was $80,895.  A breakdown of wage and gender on a specific job level reveals that the wage gap tends to be bigger where there are more women employed.  For example, in the job of database administrator, which has a relatively equal number of men and women employed, the gender wage gap was the highest.  (Washington Post, “IT Now Accounts for 4.6 million Jobs – and Most of Them Are Going to Men,” 8/19/2016 .)

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BE A PART OF THE 2017 GLOBAL SUMMIT OF WOMEN

TOKYO, JAPAN

MAY 11-13, 2017

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