"Glacial Progress"

Research non-profit firm Catalyst finds that women make up only 14.3 percent of the executives and 16.6 of the board members at Fortune 500 companies.

“The lack of progress toward closing this gender leadership gap is, to put it frankly, troubling,” Rachel Soares, a senior research associate at New York-based Catalyst and lead author of the report, said in a telephone interview. “The companies that are taking deliberate and sustained actions to advance women in leadership are in the vast minority, and all the work that they’re doing is only providing enough momentum to maintain the status quo of women lagging men.”

Those numbers are actually higher than I would have guessed. *Sigh*

The Ambition Myth

Bryce Covert, writing for The Atlantic, aggregates the results of several studies that collectively undermine the argument that lack of female ambition is responsible for the gender wage gap. Here’s a sample:

The research organization Catalyst, for example, found that among MBA grads on a traditional career track, women are even more likely than men to seek out skill-building experiences and training opportunities and to make their achievements visible by asking for feedback and promotions. Women also reported similar rates of negotiating as men: 47 percent of women and 52 percent of men had asked for a higher salary during the hiring process, and 14 percent of women and 15 percent of men had asked for a higher position. No gap there.

Squarespace Climbs The Extra Staircase

Yesterday I posted about the likelihood of Jesus & Venus going offline due to a hurricane-related power outage at the data center that hosts this and other Squarespace sites. So far that has not happened, due entirely to the courageous and tireless efforts of the Squarespace staff.

Here is a selection of updates from Squarespace’s running blog on the Hurricane Sandy power outage:

October 30, 2:07 p.m.

We have an understanding that when the fuel header on the roof stops refilling our tank, we will likely be in a window where shutdown will occur within 2 hours. That has not happened yet, which is good. We have fuel at the building, but cannot tap into the damaged building infrastructure yet.

October 30, 7:39 p.m.

We have been running hour by hour by manually carrying fuel to our generators (17 floors) with support from the building. As the night goes on, this is becoming a bit more difficult to sustain, as fuel trucks will appear more intermittently. For now, we remain online. Thank you all for your patience.

As before, we do not have a sustainable solution to the energy problem, but we persevere in our efforts to get more fuel on site and get a pump connected.

October 31, 1:02 a.m.

We continue to manually provide fuel to the generator, a plan which appears to be working, but is likely not sustainable. The building now has powerful pumps clearing out the basement, which we hope will expose the main pump lines — which would allow us fuel for days. Hopefully our manual efforts, joined with the building, can see us through. We have loaded enough fuel to carry to the morning, at which point we’ll provide another status update.

October 31, 12:40 p.m.

Good news and bad news.

We were able to give the crew 90 minutes off because the tank is full. That’s about 4 hours of power given daytime usage. We’ll start back up at 1:30. Our awesome teammates are hoofing lunch over the Brooklyn Bridge for us. As we’ve said before, this situation is untenable. We can’t keep manpower going 24/7 for days.

The building’s first attempt at an alternative method for pumping fuel to the 18th floor has failed, as the fuel pump wasn’t powerful enough. They believe they have sourced an alternate pump, but given the situation in New York City right now, we’re in a wait-and-see posture. Fuel- and water-pumps are in short supply.

The basement is not draining at all either, despite the large pumps that were brought in late last night. DEP and ConEd have been here for a few hours. They fear a water main has ruptured somewhere and is pushing water (and other stuff) into our basement as we pump it out. This is pure speculation at this point.

Terrific progress this afternoon.

October 31, 5 p.m.

We have a few hundred gallons of spare fuel on the roof along with a full tank, which will take us well into the night. On top of teams from Peer1, Fog Creek, and Squarespace, we were able to hire additional help from Brooklyn and Queens. Special thanks to Mike Mazzei and his team at Peer1 NYC for unprecedented dedication these past days.

We have a big crew teaming up tonight for a midnight bucket brigade, and another in the morning. Traffic is terrible with gridlock everywhere and no public transport, so we are scheduling carefully.

We are cautiously optimistic that fuel will be running to the roof by end of day tomorrow or the day after. Water is being successfully pumped from the basement at a rate of one foot per hour. Fifteen feet of water remain. We have increasing confidence that we may avoid downtime. Of course, there are no guarantees and we are working hour-by-hour.

You can also see some pictures of the Squarespace team in action.

I’m sure I speak for every other Squarespace customer when I say that this is going far above and beyond what anyone would have expected from them. No one could blame the company for allowing some “Act of God” downtime on their servers; people understand that this is one of the greatest natural disasters the country has ever seen.

Instead, though, they’ve worked themselves tirelessly in a so-far successful effort to provide uninterrupted service. Their fanatical willingness to carry buckets of fuel up 17 flights of stairs over and over around the clock just to keep our sites running exemplifies why I want Squarespace hosting Jesus & Venus.

Binders Full of Women Create Cabinets Full of Women

Amanda Hess gets this exactly right. As many shady aspects as there are to Mitt Romney’s story of proactively hiring female executives, his larger point was that business-driven affirmative action for women is not only acceptable but laudable.

Or, as Justin Green at The Daily Beast puts it: Only Mitt Romney could make liberals bash affirmative action.

For Startups, Percentage of Female Executives Correlates Positively With Success

Shea Bennet of Media Bistro’s “All Twitter” section suggests that this could spell bad news for Twitter, which has only one female executive:

Twitter certainly isn’t alone in this shameful display. Foursquare has no female executives at all, and Dropbox only has one. Except… Foursquare has 100 employees, and Dropbox has 170.

Twitter has 1,300+.

Personally, I’m guessing that Twitter could easily be the exception to the rule, since they seem to be doing pretty well. This isn’t the first study to find this sort of correlation, though, so I hope other businesses are paying attention.

Also: Dropbox only has 170 employees?!

Via The Jane Dough.

The Oldest Profession Evolves

Gregory Gilderman writes for The Daily Beast on how the internet has revolutionized prostitution:

While critics have charged classified sites with facilitating sex trafficking, for women like Brittany, who have freely chosen prostitution and whose clients freely choose them, the Internet has made the transactions fast, simple, and discreet. New research suggests it hasn’t merely moved online and indoors those who once worked the street, but done something more transformative: created a different sort of sex worker—more educated, younger—and a bigger market of women selling sexual services in the United States and men purchasing those services.

“Brittany’s” final word on the subject, though? “I would honestly never recommend this to anyone.”

How Tribal Women Stop Witch Hunts

Indian women building businesses courtesy of microlending are using their newfound independence to fight the longstanding practice of witch-hunting. And I do mean literal witch-hunting.

A woman was accused of causing disease in livestock. Group members gathered in a vigil around her home and the home of the accuser. They stated their case to the accuser’s wife, who intervened. The accuser’s husband[1] ultimately recanted his accusation and asked forgiveness.

Give someone a tiny taste of freedom, and watch what she does with it.

Via Jezebel.

  1. I think this must be a mistake on the part of LiveScience, as I doubt the accuser had both a wife and a husband.  ↩

How Both Political Parties Are Lying to Women This Election Season

Anita Finlay, writing for xoJane:

Political pandering is at a fever pitch.

Once again our votes are required. Yet neither party wishes to grant women autonomy because then we’d be free agents. Better to keep us in a perpetual childlike state of want and hope than empowerment.

As one-sided as this article is about feminism (and who here is going to protest?), Finlay stays pretty even-handed in her criticism of both major parties. For reference and good measure, here are the official Democratic Party Platform and the official Republican Party Platform of 2012.

Regardless of politics, I find Finlay’s final point particularly compelling:

The best prescription to guarantee women’s progress and prosperity is to demand it – not pray for a man to be nice to us. Rally. Protest. Get loud. Scare the crap out of both sides. We have seen this work before. Our involvement precludes our suppression.

I’m personally coming more and more to the belief that government has taken us nearly as far as it can toward gender equality. I speculate that the next great surge of feminism will be demanding that businesses take responsibility for their own actions instead of waiting for regulations they would probably only half-heartedly follow.

"We Cannot Stop Progress"

Angela Shah, writing for The Daily Beast, tells the inspiring story of a female Afghani entrepreneur:

Here is a woman less than a decade older than they are who runs her own company and flies in from Kabul on her own for ribbon-cutting ceremonies like the one on this day. She, they can see, has a position of power. Once the men have left and the formal festivities are concluded, the girls congregate around Mahboob in packs of threes and fours asking to take pictures with her.