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Winner of First Female UFC Fight: The UFC

It would be hard to overestimate how little I care about nearly all sports, including MMA, so Ronda Rousey’s victory over Liz Carmouche means next to nothing, considered as an isolated event. Since it seems to have justified the inclusion of women in the UFC from a financial standpoint, though, I’m willing to rejoice for a moment.

Why Women ­in Hollywood Can't Get Film Financing

Want to be angry? Of course you do! Then enjoy reading this article about how women totally can’t be trusted with the vote money to make movies. Here’s a sample to get you psyched for it:

Dori Sperko, who’d been dabbling in Hollywood funding since selling her Florida-based payroll services company several years ago, told the table about three films she’d considered investing in that morning. “I automatically passed on the movie with the woman producer team attached,” she said. “I just feel like you can’t trust women you don’t know, but you can trust a man.” Sperko shrugged and sipped her cocktail. “It is what it is.”

More seriously, while that—along with several other choice bits from the article—is infuriating, some of the female filmmakers Sandler quotes need to grow up. Exhibit A: Jill Soloway, director of Afternoon Delight, about a “bored housewife looking to spice up her sex life”.

“Currently, if the [moviegoing] experience doesn’t make a man feel necessary, then there’s the feeling it’s going to be a boner kill at the box office,” says Soloway, who won the director’s prize at Sundance for Afternoon Delight, a film about, yes, another bored housewife looking to spice up her sex life. To help financiers widen the definition of what might be in their self-interest, she says, “we need to show that women actually want to see movies about unlikable women.”

I’ve got news for you, Jill: you could make that exact same movie with a man in the lead role and still no one would want to see it. The market for indie dramas about bored suburbanites is niche at best, and it’s not just women who hate movies featuring unlikable people. We’re fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.

If directors want big box office results and resultingly bigger budgets for their next projects, they need to make movies with more mainstream appeal. This applies to both men and women.

On flipside of the nonsense coin, we have Christine Vachon, producer of several critically-acclaimed indies (Boys Don’t Cry and Far From Heaven, for example), asserting Hollywood’s level playing field:

She’s not convinced the barriers to female filmmaking exist. She agrees that “good work rises to the top,” and adds: “Listen, I can’t do what I do with a chip on my shoulder.”

I’ll agree about the chip on her shoulder, but Hollywood is not a true meritocracy, and it’s nonsense to suggest that it is. I suspect Vachon’s own success is blinding her to the barriers other women face when attempting to make their own movies.

The film business has a woman problem, no doubt. I just wish Lauren Sandler had put a little more critical analysis into her writing of this article.

Via Women and Hollywood.

The Biggest (And Smallest) Pay Gaps

More numbers, this time showing income disparity between men and women by occupation. Cheat sheet: if you are a woman, do not go into sales; do go into health or medicine as anything but a doctor.

Part of the gap in pay is driven by choices, even within single job categories. Among physicians, for example, women are more likely than men to choose lower-paid specialties (though this does not explain all of the pay gap among doctors).

And among all workers, women are more likely than men to take a significant time off from work to raise children, and they tend to be re-hired at lower wages than their counterparts who remained in the workforce.

This suggests to me that if employers don’t want to disadvantage themselves long-term by perpetuating a lack of gender diversity they should swallow the short-term costs of better accommodating working women who want to start families.

Via The Jane Dough.

"'Smart' Is Not Optional"

Kellan Elliott-McCrea, CTO of Etsy, recently spoke at the First Round CTO Summit about his company’s creative solution to recruiting more women to their engineering team. Finding many women reluctant to leave their current jobs for a company that claimed to care about gender diversity but boasted few actual women, Etsy branched out by sponsoring scholarships to Hacker School and recruiting from its graduates.

Via The Mary Sue.

Radical Woman of the Day: Anna Mae Hays

On this day in 1920 was born Anna Mae Hays, the first woman in the United States Military to be promoted to the rank of general. Graduating from Allentown General Hospital School of Nursing she joined the American Red Cross and volunteered for the Army Nurse Corps when the United States entered World War II after the events of Pearl Harbor.

Deployed to India, Hays spent over two years supporting the U.S. troops building the Ledo Road through the Burmese jungle into China. In April 1945 she was promoted to First Lieutenant, and at the end of the war she decided to remain on active duty. After the outbreak of the Korean War she was stationed at Inchon with the 4th Field Hospital, which saw over 25,000 patients.

Returning from Korea, Hays was assigned as Head Nurse of the ER at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, where she was one of three nurses assigned to President Eisenhower during the 23 days he spent in the hospital for surgery; they remained friends until his death in 1969. By 1963 Hays had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and in September of that year she became the Assistant Chief of the Army Nurse Corps. Four years later, having been promoted to full Colonel, she was sworn in as Chief. She would remain in that position until her retirement.

During her time heading the Nurse Corps, Hays instituted new training programs and increased the number of nurses deployed internationally, attended the signing of a law that permitted women to be promoted to the rank of general, and saw the end of a policy that automatically discharged female officers when they became pregnant. On June 11, 1970, she was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, along with Elizabeth P. Hoisington, Director of the Women’s Army Corps. Hays retired in 1971. She is currently 92.

Mary Walker's Quest to be Appointed as a Union Doctor in the Civil War

Alexis Coe tells the story of an abolitionist surgeon eager to serve in what she was convinced would become a “war of liberation”. Denied a commission in the Union army, she took to dressing as a man, working without pay alongside less-qualified male doctors.

By 1861, the Sanitary Commission recommended amputations be conducted when a limb had serious lacerations or compound fractures, but the practice was controversial, with disconcerting mortality rates: Nearly 60 percent of leg amputations done at the knee resulted in death, while less than 20 percent survived hip-level amputations. Walker observed her colleagues senselessly amputating for want of practice. She wrote, “It was the last case that would ever occur if it was in my power to prevent such cruel loss of limbs.” She began double-checking their work, surreptitiously counseling soldiers against the surgery when appropriate. Many wrote her thankful letters after the war, reporting their limbs to be fully functional.

Great story, and the money quote is here:

The [New York] Tribune continued to criticize the military’s reluctance to recognize her efforts, asking “What ‘ism’ is more absurd than Conservatism? If a woman is proved competent for duty, and anxious to perform it, why restrain her?”

The Second Shift

Alexis Coe at The Atlantic reports on sociologists’ finding that women who earn high wages do not necessarily outsource the cooking or cleaning at home either to paid employees or to their husbands or children.

Housework has a performative quality to it, and conforming to traditional gender norms may produce social and psychological rewards. This is true for [sociologist Alexandra] Killewald, who said while she and her husband often cook meals together, when her mother-in-law is expected for dinner, she not only cooks the meal, but urges her husband to make it clear that she was the chef. “That’s important to me because I’m showing [my mother-in-law] that I’m a good wife,” she said. “Those expectations don’t fall on fathers and men.”

I work fewer hours than my wife, but if she sees me washing a big stack of dishes she’s still all too likely to engage in some sort of self-condemnation.

Plato Does Not Apply

Now that the Army has decided women may serve in combat situations, someone has dug up this old post on the subject by John Piper from 2007. In it, Piper expresses the following death wish:

“Suppose… Jason and Sarah were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened [them]. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.”

Jenny Rae Armstrong takes this nonsense apart piece by piece, and it’s a beautiful thing.

The Face Of A "Computer" From 1946

Great profile of Eleanor Kolchin, who started working as a computer programmer for IBM in 1946, using a calculation machine the size of a sofa that could only do arithmetic.

“The machines could only add, subtract, divide and multiply, and that’s what we’d do. When someone gave me a differential equation—which you couldn’t put directly into the machine—I could tell you how to solve it arithmetically and then enter it into the machine. The machine would punch out answers on a punch card.”

Kolchin also worked from home during the 1950s, writing out Fortran programs by hand and mailing them on paper to NYU. Let me tell you, as an IT person… that is no joke. Debugging a program relies heavily on trial and error; I can’t imagine the frustration of trying to do it through mail.