Tough times for gender discrimination cases: A jury in New York decided late last week that Rochelle Cohen, a former portfolio manager at Bank of New York Mellon was not a victim of sex discrimination. Cohen sued for gender discrimination and violations of the Equal Pay Act after she lost her job in a layoff that included ten employees. Nine of the employees who were let go were women. Cohen received strong performance reviews at the bank but said she was targeted after questioning if she was paid equally to men in her department. You can read a more in depth account of the ruling here.
Meanwhile, female employees of Wal-Mart in California sued the retail giant, claiming their male counterparts were paid more and had more opportunities for promotion. However, late last week a judge ruled the suit did not qualify as a class action lawsuit. The suit was an offshoot of a larger suit against Wal-Mart that was rejected as a class action suit in 2011.
When the larger suit was thrown out, I wrote, “The decision leaves women alone in their fight against discriminatory practices, steeling for a long, expensive, and sometimes nasty battle, or merely biting their tongue.” That seems to be what’s happening. Suits in Texas and Tennessee have also been rejected.
Politics continues to be an uphill battle for women. Speaking of California, women in Los Angeles are taking notice that, up until last Friday, no women held elected positions in the city government. This despite the fact, there are 1.9 million women living in the city. On Friday, a woman was sworn in as a member of the 15-person city council.
The New York Times ran an excellent piece on the issue, touching on the concept, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Adam Nagourney at the Times wrote, “The situation is stirring a new concern among many women: that the near-absence of women in office here means hardly any examples are being set for young girls here who might be thinking about going into politics one day.”
Speaking of politics, amid all kinds of bad behavior in that arena, Janet Yellen, who’s been named a potential successor to Ben Bernake as head of the Federal Reserve has been said to lack “gravitas.” Gravitas, of course, is something that comes with being male and having white, or at least salt and pepper, hair. It’s apparently critical to the Fed job much like “looking presidential” is to running the country. How convenient, or inconvenient if you’re a woman, that only men have “the look.” Calling out Yellen for her lack of gravitas falls into the subtle sexism category per “The Hello Ladies Guide to Sexism in Politics.” Paul Krugman wrote about the campaign against Yellen in the New York Times.
And finally, some fun. So much marketing aimed at women just misses the mark. But that’s not the case with Hello Flo’s new campaign called “Camp Gyno.” The ad takes you right back to the days when you read, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” You can watch it here.
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