This Week in Women: From 30,000 Feet
To all our sisterhood around the world, Happy International Women’s Day! On the 108th anniversary of the annual event, its significance is being acknowledged with rally cries and protests, concerts and festivals, as millions work to raise awareness and celebrate achievement of women. This year’s theme is about building a more gender-balanced world. “Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage,” said . “Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”
Today we’re also covering Sen. Martha McSally’s harrowing testimony and Virgin Atlantic’s progressive new policy. Read on for more This Week in Women!
Sen. McSally Shakes Committee Hearing with Searing Testimony
US Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) is no stranger to taking big risks. She served in the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1988-2010, rising to the rank of colonel, and is the first woman to fly in combat after the ban was lifted in 1991, as well as the first female commander of a USAF fighter squadron. On Wednesday, the junior senator testified about her sexual assault experience during a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing, revealing that she was “preyed upon and raped by a superior officer” during her time in service.
“Like many victims, I felt the system was raping me all over again. But I didn’t quit, I decided to stay,” said McSally, who decided not to report the incident because she did not trust the system. She voiced the need for a change in military culture to be spearheaded by its leadership.
McSally’s statement brought swift support from her colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as an official statement by the USAF. “The criminal actions reported today (Wednesday) by Senator McSally violate every part of what it means to be an Airman,” USAF spokesman Capt. Carrie J Volpe said in a written statement. “We are appalled and deeply sorry for what Senator McSally experienced and we stand behind her and all victims of sexual assault. We are steadfast in our commitment to eliminate this reprehensible behavior and breach of trust in our ranks.”
Virgin Atlantic Switches Up Make-Up Policy
The UK-based airline announced this week that they are making some changes to their cosmetic and uniform policies — no longer requiring female cabin crew members to wear makeup and offering more freedom of expression for on-the-job dressing.
“We want our uniform to truly reflect who we are as individuals while maintaining that famous Virgin Atlantic style,” Virgin Atlantic EVP Mark Anderson told the . “We have been listening to the views of our people and as a result have announced some changes to our styling and grooming policy that support this.”
The bold red Vivienne Westwood-designed uniforms will still be highlighted, but now there will be more standard options offered to female employees (pants were previously only available upon request). Many are applauding this as progress in a global aviation industry that has long-enforced sexist gender roles and standards for appearance and protocol.
Featured image via Condé Nast Traveler
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women and check out our previous installments here.