thumb pointing up

Studies and events this week pointed to women’s success in the business world, while programs are being implemented to further encourage that success. A new study shows private businesses owned by women have grown in number and hired more workers than male-owned businesses, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The number of companies owned by women grew by 44 percent from 1977 to 2007, compared with a 22 percent increase in firms owned by men.

Meanwhile, President Obama told the Most Powerful Women Summit Oct. 5 that the move toward mobile workplaces and flexible hours is more than a gender issue because it also helps make American businesses more competitive, Politics Daily reported Oct. 6. Many companies led by women who attended the conference in Washington are already embracing policies like telecommuting, flextime and on-site child care. The president stressed that workplace changes are not only a women’s issue.

The Small Business Administration has finally started to implement a contracting program for women who own small firms, one decade after Congress first authorized it, GovernmentExecutive.com reported Oct. 6. The program will focus on 83 industries in which women are underrepresented in the federal contracting marketplace. Program participants will be eligible for set-aside deals of less than $3 million for most contracts and $5 million for manufacturing.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Forbes Magazine released the 2010 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list Oct. 6, with U.S. first lady Michelle Obama at No. 1. The candidates come from four groups: politics, business, media and lifestyle (entertainment, sports and fashion). Following the first lady in the top 10 are: (2) Irene Rosenfeld, chief executive, Kraft Foods; (3) Oprah Winfrey; (4) Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; (5) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; (6) Indra Nooyi, chief executive, PepsiCo; (7) Lady Gaga; (8) Gail Kelly, chief executive, Westpac; (9) Beyonce Knowles; and (10) Ellen DeGeneres.
  • White women with college degrees are now just as likely to get married as their less-educated counterparts, reported the Washington Post Oct. 7. This ends what researchers once thought of as a “marriage penalty” for generations of young women who pursued higher education, as indicated by the Pew Research Center’s numbers. The findings also signaled a decline in the likelihood of marriage among men and women without college degrees across the population.
  • The U.N. Trust Fund announced $10 million in grants to 13 initiatives in 18 countries to curb violence against girls and women, the group said in a press statement Oct. 6. The grants complete a 2009 cycle of disbursing grants totaling $20.5 million for 26 projects in 33 countries and territories. Belarus, the Marshall Islands and Sri Lanka were first-time recipients.
  • As Germany celebrates 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, East German women are thriving despite having faced adversity, The New York Times reported Oct. 5. When the communist East collapsed, women seemed to suffer as they lost their jobs, maternity and child-care benefits and the equality the communist structure had provided them. However, Eastern women are more self confident, better educated and more mobile than West German women, recent studies show. West German women earn 24 percent less than men, and the pay gap in the East is a mere 6 percent.
  • Margot Wallstrom, special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, issued a statement welcoming the apprehension of “Lieutenant Colonel” Mayele, a rebel commander of the group Mai Mai Cheka in the Democratic Republic of Congo, WeNews correspondent Amy Lieberman reported Oct. 5. That group is presumed to be responsible for the mass rapes that happened in North Kivu over the summer. The statement came while Wallstrom was in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “It is a victory for justice, especially for the many women who have suffered rapes and other forms of sexual violence,” Wallstrom said in her statement. “The numerous criminal acts committed under “Lt. Col.” Mayele’s command cannot be undone, but let his apprehension be a signal to all perpetrators of sexual violence that impunity for these types of crimes is not accepted and justice will prevail.” MONUSCO, or U.N. peacekeeping forces, apprehended Mayele.
  • Women who have flu shots while pregnant reduce the chances of their babies getting the flu or being admitted to the hospital with a respiratory infection, especially during their first six months after birth, Medical News Today reported Oct. 5. Young children, especially babies, have a higher risk of flu complications but you can’t vaccinate babies during their first six months. The study, published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, indicated that babies whose mothers had been vaccinated against flu during pregnancy had a 41 percent lower chance of developing laboratory-confirmed flu virus infection and were 39 percent less likely to be admitted to hospital because of a flu-like illness.
  • British scientist Robert Edwards, the man who created in vitro fertilization (IVF), has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for medicine, reported the BBC Oct. 4. His efforts led to the world’s first “test tube baby” in 1978. Since then, nearly 4 million babies have been born following IVF. The prize committee said his achievements had made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition affecting 10 percent of all couples worldwide.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services awarded $155 million in federal grants to programs that have succeeded in preventing teen pregnancy and to test new strategies for addressing the issue, reported Medical News Today Oct. 4. The department’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program will distribute $100 million and the other $55 million will come from the Personal Responsibility Education Program created under the federal health reform law. The grants are the first time in more than a decade that the federal government is funding sex-education programs that do not focus solely on abstinence.


thumb pointing down

Sexual violence against Haitian women who have been living in camps since the January earthquake is increasing, reported Bloomberg Oct. 7. More than 1 million Haitians have been living in about 1,300 camps since the earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 people and caused $7.8 billion in damages. Refugees International said 70 percent of the camps lack proper management and incidents of rape and abortions performed on children as young as 10 years old have tripled in Haiti since the earthquake. The group’s report cited gang-related violence and cases of women trading sex for food.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Last week, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told an audience at the Greater Freedom Rally, held in a church in Spartanburg, S.C., that openly gay people and women engaging in premarital sex should not be allowed to teach in schools, reported Ms. Magazine Oct. 6. He neglected to comment on whether unwed sexually active men should be banned from teaching as well. DeMint has made similar comments in the past, according to a Huffington Post article.
  • The Women’s Media Center caught Tonight Show host Jay Leno making an oral-sex joke about Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell. The center considered the incident sexist and is pressing for an apology from the Tonight Show and asking sympathizers to join its “Name It, Change It” push.
  • Single parents and married couples with a stay-at-home mom will be hit hardest by new child benefit cuts in the U.K., The London Evening Standard reported Oct. 4. A total 1.2 million families will lose money.
  • UNICEF found children’s education in Iraq is suffering, especially for girls, reported Ms. Magazine Oct. 1. The number of children receiving primary education has been declining since the 2004-2005 school year, with girls’ enrollment lower and drop-out rates higher than that of boys. “For every 100 boys enrolled in primary schools in Iraq, there are just under 89 girls,” the UNICEF study found. Families’ lack of approval of girls’ education, difficulties traveling to and from school, early marriages and unsafe conditions and abuse at school are all cited for girls’ lower attendance.
  • A study has determined that female executives are more than twice as likely to leave their jobs–voluntarily and involuntarily–as men, reported Oregon State University Oct. 4. Despite systemic evidence that women are more likely to depart from their positions, the researchers did not find strong patterns of discrimination. About 7.2 percent of female executives in the survey left their jobs, compared to 3.8 percent of men. Lead author John Becker-Blease, an assistant professor of finance at Oregon State University, said that women are more likely to leave a job due to domestic or social responsibility than men, which would explain the higher voluntary departure rate. As for the higher rate of dismissal, Becker-Blease said research suggests that women at the mid-levels of management may not be getting the kind of opportunities and professional support that they need to advance successfully to the top ranks, according to the article.


  • A new study found pregnant women who drink lightly don’t harm their children, reported The New York Times Oct. 6. Researchers at University College in London concluded that children of women who drank one to two drinks a week during pregnancy did no worse on cognitive tests at age 5 than children of mothers who did not drink at all. In fact, these children did slightly better. The children of mothers who went beyond light drinking, however, had noticeably lower scores.
  • The insurance industry is pouring money into Republican campaigns in hopes of scaling back regulations in the new health care law, but preserving the mandate that Americans buy coverage, The L.A. Times reported Oct. 5. Since January, the nation’s five largest insurers and the industry’s Washington-based lobbying arm have given three times more money to Republican lawmakers and political action committees than to Democratic politicians and organizations. This is a change from 2009, when the industry largely split its political donations between the parties, according to federal election filings.
  • Robert Dold, the Republican candidate for the 10th District congressional seat in Illinois, has said he’s pro-choice while also saying he favors placing some limits on a woman’s right to choose. Now Planned Parenthood is criticizing that stance, the Daily Herald reported on Oct. 5. The committee has also called out Dold for supporting some restrictions on abortion rights. Dold opposes late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded procedures and backs parental notification laws.
  • Dilma Rousseff will need to win in a runoff election to become Brazil’s first female president, since she didn’t garner 50 percent of the vote in the first election, reported the New York Times Oct. 3. With 99.6 percent of the votes counted, Rousseff is leading with 46.8 percent of the vote; her closest rival, Jose Serra, has 32.6 percent. The election will now be decided with an Oct. 31 runoff election. Rousseff was unable to achieve a majority vote due to a popular third candidate, Marina Silva, who captured more than 19 percent. Analysts expressed little doubt that Rousseff would prevail in a second round, the article reported.