Burns Takes Xerox Helm; Court Nixes Maternity Claim

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cheers & jeers

(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

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Ursula Burns was announced as the new president of Xerox Corps. this week, making her the first African American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Burns’ appointment, effective July 1, follows the eight-year run of CEO Anne Mulcahy. This tranfer of power is the first to feature female-to-female CEO among the large corporations, reported Forbes.com.

Burns was appointed to this position three decades after joining Xerox as a summer intern in 1980, reported Bloomberg Press. By 2000, Burns, who received a degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University, was in charge of the company’s manufacturing and supply chain, reported Forbes.

In response to her success Burns told Forbes: “I came from a very poor single-parent household but [had a mother] who was extremely confident and had nothing but outstanding expectations of me and my siblings. There was no expectation that I would be anything but great at whatever I did.”

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • On May 20, the United Nations Committee against Torture demanded a change in Nicaragua’s abortion laws. Over the past three years Nicaragua has eliminated any exceptions to the ban on abortion, even when the pregnancy is a risk to the woman’s life.
  • Four women won seats in the Kuwait Parliament last weekend. Women gained the right to vote and run for office in 2005, and this marks the first time women have won any posts. For weeks strict Islamists in the country urged voters away from electing women, reported The New York Times.
  • The Los Angeles City Council has approved an increase in funds for testing the physical evidence in rape kits. These funds will make it possible to hire 26 employees and finance the use of private crime laboratories, reported Human Rights Watch. The funding will allow for immediate changes and a decrease in the estimated 5,000 rape kits that are sitting and waiting to be tested. The current process of testing the DNA in collected rape kits is lengthy, meaning a longer period of trauma for the victims and more time for accused to evade law enforcement.
  • The Financial Times announced a goal to have 30 percent women on its board and in senior leadership positions. “Many boards, especially in financial services, are in flux after the testosterone-fueled excesses that led to financial disaster,” said an editorial by the Financial Times. “There is a desperate need to rebuild trust, more easily achieved if boards better reflect customers and the public.”
  • Heather MacRae has qualified for the Scottish Professional Golf Association championship, making her the first woman in 76 years to qualify and compete in the tournament, reported the BBC. A woman has not participated in the event since Meg Farqhuar in 1933.



Jeers

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The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Monday that women who took maternity leaves before Congress outlawed pregnancy discrimination in 1979 could not include the time towards their pension credits. The 1979 Pregnancy Discrimination Act barred companies from treating pregnancy leaves differently from other disability leaves. This ruling reversed a lower-court’s decision last year to treat decades-old maternity leave as any other temporary disability when pensions were calculated.

The decision was a victory for the communications giant AT and T and a defeat for the four female AT and T employees who were suing the company over the maternity leaves they took between 1968 and 1976, reported the LA Times.

In a dissent, supported by Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, argued that the ruling effectively allows continued discrimination based on pregnancy, reported USA Today.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • The United Nations is facing a large number of sexual harassment claims reported the Wall Street Journal, and women are complaining about the investigative procedures and outcomes of their claims. Some women who complained about sexual harassment said their contracts weren’t renewed. In some cases accused men either retired or resigned before they faced any consequences.

Kayla Hutzler, a journalism major at Manhattan College, is an editorial intern with Women’s eNews.

Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at editors@womensenews.org.




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