Let’s not forget the ladies

Let’s not forget the ladies

Gazette Column
Thanks to Schoolhouse Rock, I can no longer read the preamble to the Constitution. I must sing it. “We the People … in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” As a child, I was quite addicted to the various Schoolhouse Rock videos that aired on Saturday morning television. In fact, “Conjunction Junction” and “Three Is a Magic Number” can be found in my playlists. Still, it wasn’t until they were repackaged in the late 1990s that I realized some of their more subtle lessons. In the “Preamble” video there is a line…
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‘Looker’ offers peek into women’s realities, seeks empowerment

‘Looker’ offers peek into women’s realities, seeks empowerment

Gazette Column
There are certain things women seem to just know. Walk with a buddy. Park under a streetlight. Pretend it’s a compliment. Never leave a drink unattended. Keys can double as makeshift weapons. Despite not being part of school curriculum or “the talk,” such knowledge spans the boundaries of political persuasion, affluency and ethnicity. It’s passed from mother to daughter, sister to sister and friend to friend. Tonight, May 9, this phenomena and more will be on display at Public Space One in Iowa City in conjunction with a community forum. “Looker” is a collaborative project by artists Taylor Yocom and KT Hawbaker-Krohn. Representatives of several area organizations will be hand for the forum, which will explore “the crevices between feminism and art, vulnerability and power.” [caption id="attachment_1134" align="alignleft" width="350"] A…
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Carly Fiorina gives GOP an opening

Carly Fiorina gives GOP an opening

Gazette Column
Merit-based pay structures are key to lifting women up and closing leadership and pay gaps. That’s what Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO, told the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference this week. “If you focus on a pay-for-performance system— a true meritocracy where people are recognized, paid and promoted, not on how long they’ve been there, but what they produced — women will rise to the top — not because women are better than men, but because they have half the human potential,” she said. Fiorina is expected to join the 2016 fray as the Republican Party’s only female candidate. It’s good optics for a GOP that has been ostracized for statements and policies that marginalize women, even if many pundits already have written off a Fiorina candidacy. Even with her anti-abortion…
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Rayhons case reveals law’s flaws

Rayhons case reveals law’s flaws

Gazette Column
Jury selection took place this week in the trial of Henry Rayhons, a former Iowa lawmaker who stands accused of sexual abuse against his ailing wife, Donna. The case hinges on whether or not Donna, who was in a care facility due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, was able to consent to sexual activity and, of course, if sexual activity did occur. The couple, both in their 70s, married in 2007. They each had children from previous marriages and, as it often is in end of life situations, the presence of grown children was not trivial. Early last year, as Donna’s mental capability eroded and safety questions arose, two of her daughters suggested placement in a care facility. Henry balked, later explaining he did not want to be separated and…
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Tweeting for #YesAllWomen

Tweeting for #YesAllWomen

Gazette Column
It is a story we’ve heard before: a young person lashes out, innocent people die and society struggles to understand. It is a story we’ve heard so often it feels overwhelming, as if there is nothing a single individual can do to turn the tide of violence. But this weekend, on the social media network called twitter, I and a few million of my female friends took a stand. The latest bit of violence came at the hands of a young man, Elliot Rodger, who was (by all accounts) an incredibly troubled individual. He left behind several videos and written documents, which he dubbed his manifesto. What is immediately clear upon viewing any of these items is that Rodger both desperately wanted and hated women. In fact, I’d go so…
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Conservatives favor gender typicality in female politicians

Conservatives favor gender typicality in female politicians

Gazette Column
If research from Dartmouth is any indicator, Joni Ernst may have already lost the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. In fact, she may never have had a chance. The white paper, published this week, details how gendered facial cues can predict electoral success for female politicians. In other words, researchers wanted to determine if feminine appearance — especially facial cues of femininity — was correlated to success in political contests. [caption id="attachment_206" align="alignright" width="300"] State Sen. Joni Ernst appears at the Family Leader Forum at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa, on Friday, April 25, 2014. (Alison Sullivan/The Gazette)[/caption] While research has shown political success for male candidates is linked to perceptions of competence and attractiveness, this white paper demonstrates gender cues uniquely predict a female candidate’s success beyond…
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Work flexibility a win-win

Work flexibility a win-win

Gazette Column
Is it too soon to suggest what the Iowa Legislature should discuss in its next session? If you, like me, think it isn’t, then I propose we ask our lawmakers to stop squabbling over equal pay and minimum-wage hikes (at least for now) and turn their eyes toward Vermont. As of January, Vermont business owners are required by law to consider worker requests for flexibility such as job sharing, working from home or alternative schedules. The law protects the workers making such requests from retaliation. It is essentially a legally protected conversation that can have a tremendous impact on single parents, those tasked with caring for an elderly relative or families stretched thin due to child care costs. While the idea is fairly unique in the United States, several European…
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Just asking for it

Just asking for it

Gazette Column
Some things are so intrinsic to our culture they are no longer spoken. For years, as we have sent our young women off to college, we have given them advice. We told them: Don’t run around after dark Don’t leave your drink unattended Don’t walk across campus alone Don’t dress like that Don’t leave a party alone Don’t leave your friend alone at a party Don’t be stupid While said with the best of intentions, the statements are tinged with an implied conjunctive, “or you’re just asking for it.” Ironically, most of us cannot fathom what “it” actually is. Hopefully we’ll never have firsthand knowledge. But we do know that “it” is something bad, nasty, horrific that happens to women who don’t listen or forget what they’ve been told. If…
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The women are coming?

The women are coming?

Gazette Column
More than half of the state’s population is female, yet women hold less than 25 percent of legislative seats in Iowa. While we have seen a trend of female lieutenant governors, no woman has been elected to live in Terrace Hill or to serve on behalf of Iowans in Congress. Yet if we are to believe the latest research on why women are underrepresented at each level of government, blame for the gap falls primarily on the shoulders of women themselves. Once a woman takes the plunge into politics, she is statistically just as likely as any male counterpart to emerge victorious. The reason more women don’t serve, researchers say, is because most stand on the diving platform and refuse to jump. According to a 2013 research study, there are…
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