This Week In Women: Increased Wages and Olympic Dominance
In life you win some and you lose some, but this past week has been all about feats for women. Finally some good news, right? From bigger triumphs in Rio to smaller triumphs in the court room, for our mantra this week, we’re taking a line from Beyoncé: “Imma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.” Welcome to this week in women: the Rio edition!
Ladies Kick Ass At The Olympics
The U.S. has a pretty decisive lead at the 2016 Rio Olympics, with American athletes dominating pretty much every sport from gymnastics to swimming—even judo. Much of the Americans’ Olympics successes can be attributed to its women athletes. This year’s Team USA roster includes the most women of any country’s delegation—not just at the 2016 Olympics, but in Olympic history. Of the 555 American athletes competing in Rio, 292 are women, and those women are kicking ass.
Take Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American woman to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab. Muhammad, an African-American Muslim, has been fencing since she was 13 years old and is currently ranked the #2 fencer in the U.S. and #8 in the world. Although she lost to Cecilia Berder of France during the individual Women’s Sabre competition earlier this week, she’ll be competing in the Team Sabre on Saturday. Best of all, she’s using the immense platform given to her by the Olympics to call out American Islamophobia—and Donald Trump, who perpetuates it.
“I’m very vocal about these things because I want people to know I’m not a novelty, I’m not special in any way, I’m a woman who wears hijab and these are my experiences,” Muhammad told The Daily Beast.
There’s also Simone Manuel, who on Thursday night became the first African-American woman to take home the gold for swimming at the Olympics. Manuel tied with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak during the 100-meter freestyle, but as The Washington Post reported, her victory was shared with more than just her Canadian competitor.
“Hopefully it will get [other African-American girls] inspired,” Manuel said of her victory. “The gold medal wasn’t just for me, it was for people who came before me and inspired me to stay in this sport, and for people who believe they can’t do it. I hope that I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. They might be pretty good at it.”
They drained an entire swimming pool because Dorothy Dandridge stuck her toe in it.
That is why Simone Manuel is important
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) August 12, 2016
For black women, Manuel’s win is more than just a move toward greater representation in a white-dominated sport. During the 1920s and ‘30s, cities across the country began to build large, lavish public pools; in an unprecedentedly progressive move, these pools were even gender-integrated. But 20th-century racists used gender integration as a tool to push for racial segregation. By the time public pools were officially desegregated—shortly after World War II—white Americans began to establish private, segregated pools instead of deigning to swim in integrated pools. For black and brown Americans, access to swimming pools has always been about much more than a desire to swim.
Don’t Call Lawyers ‘Baby’
On top of the stress that comes with being a lawyer, women in the legal profession also have to deal with being harassed by opposing counsel, judges, and even clients because of their gender. In order to close the gender gap in the legal field, the American Bar Association voted to forbid “comments or actions that single out someone on the basis of race, sex, disability, and other factors,” The New York Times reported. As it turns out, that includes referring to female lawyers as “honey,” “baby,” and “darling.”
These new harassment stipulations are also extended to “interacting with witnesses, co-workers, court personnel, lawyers and others” and “managing a law practice or law firm” or “participating in bar association, business or social activities in connection with the practice of law.” Those who break these stipulations will have to pay a fine.
NYC Women Will (Hopefully) Be Paid More
New York City Public Advocate Leticia James is advocating a new bill that would prohibit employers from asking applicants to disclose their past salaries and benefits, Gothamist reports. According to James, this practice is often used to reinforce the gender wage gap.
According to Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University, women are often afraid to bring up money in the workplace, or to even ask for raises.
“I tell my graduate students that by not negotiating their job at the beginning of their career, they’re leaving anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime,” Babcock said.
“[Women] wait to be offered a salary increase,” she continued. “They wait to be offered a promotion. They wait to be assigned that task or team job that they want. And those things typically don’t happen very often.”
In fact, when women do these things, they’re often viewed as too aggressive.
James’ office released a report on the national gender wage gap earlier this year, which revealed that Asian women earn 86 cents to the man’s dollar, black women earn 64 cents to the dollar, Hispanic women earn 54 cents to the dollar, and white women earn 77 cents to the dollar.
NYC is a rough place to be a woman, but especially tough for women of color. Hopefully, this bill will change that.
Photos by Peter H. Bick and Damian Dovarganes.
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women and check out our previous installments here.