Gender News Weekly: Angela Merkel, #HackAHairDryer and More

By WomenAdvancing Archives
Cover image for  article: Gender News Weekly: Angela Merkel, #HackAHairDryer and More

Inspired by Jack Myers' upcoming book "The Future of Men: Masculinity in the Twenty-First Century," this is a weekly blog series focused on gender equality, gender politics and the shift in gender norms in business and culture. Read on for this week's news roundup.

Angela Merkel is the First Woman to be Named Time's Person of the Year in 29 Years

Arguably the world's most powerful woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year, the first woman to be given the honor in 29 years. Citing her responses to Greece's economic troubles, the Syrian refugee crisis, and Putin's action in Ukraine, Time writes of her leadership, "At a moment when much of the world is once more engaged in a furious debate about the balance between safety and freedom, the Chancellor is asking a great deal of the German people, and by their example, the rest of us as well.… For asking more of her country than most politicians would dare, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply, Angela Merkel is Time's Person of the Year." Watch the video below for a full explanation behind the magazine's choice.

IBM Asks Women to #HackAHairDryer and Receives Well-Deserved Backlash

Even tech companies' best intentions to support gender equality often fall embarrassingly short, IBM learned this week when they asked women to "Join the #HackAHairDryer experiment" in a recent campaign to get more women involved in STEM fields, TechCrunch reports.  For obvious reasons (if it's not obvious, then maybe you are part of the problem), women quickly responded over social media with outrage and snarky posts telling IBM that it's not, in fact, the 1950s, thank you very much (see below for some of the best examples). While IBM is actually one of the few tech companies with a female CEO, Ginni Rometty, this isn't the first time the company has been called out for sexism. Last year, the company faced scrutiny after a female coder live-tweeted a lunch conversation she overheard in which male IBM executives were explaining why women make bad hires. IBM has since apologized for #HackAHairDryer and taken down the campaign website. It's worth noting that multiple studies have revealed that one of the biggest reason women in STEM fields leave their jobs is due to "hostile macho culture," The Washington Post reports.

Let's Talk About Men – Online Magazine Matter Releases "The Men's Issue"

In a series running this week, Matter has put an editorial focus on what they are calling the "crisis of masculinity," taking issues often associated with the women's movement -- consent, sexual assault, education, and more -- and asking for men's insights and perspectives. "We see men struggling to define themselves at a time when gender definitions are expanding," the editorial staff writes. "We see men dealing, sometimes gracefully and sometimes not, with the weight of their power. And we learn that what it means to be a modern man is just like everything else: complex, messy, and always changing." What follows are healthy and meaningful discussions on what consent means to men, the new age of unequal partners (when the woman in the relationship is better educated than the man) and even a new (and quite hilarious) email plugin that stops men being horrible to women. Matter will be releasing new pieces in the series every day this week.'s Word of the Year is a Clear Nod to Gender and Sexuality Discussions

Similar to Pantone's "Color of the Year" announcement last week, has acknowledged this year's conversations around gender, sexuality and their fluidity by selecting "identity" as the Word of the Year. "As new paradigms of gender and sexual identity enter the mainstream, so, too, do new linguistic constructs to discuss them," wrote in their announcement.  Throughout the year, the site has added the terms agender, bigender, gender-fluid, sapiosexual, and the prefix their database and saw significant upticks in searches for the terms transgender, pansexual, and cisgender.  Key events that have contributed to the discussion and sparked search upticks include Miley Cyrus' announcement that she is pansexual, the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, and Caitlyn Jenner's transition, reports. As the conversation continues, "no doubt, terms relating to identity will continue to be a theme," the site concluded.


eBay and Netflix Expand Their Family Leave Policies

eBay joins the ranks of tech companies who have recently expanded their parental leave policies, announcing that new mothers will be able to take up to 6 months of maternity leave at full pay, an increase from 10 weeks at 80% pay, CNN Money reports. In addition, new dads are now offered 12 weeks at full pay, up from zero weeks. Netflix, which announced an expansion of their family leave policy in August, is now extending those benefits to employees in their DVD distribution centers, who were previously excluded in the new policy, Business Insider reports. Hourly workers are now allowed four months of leave at full pay. Netflix's most recent announcement comes after months of petitioning from women's and workers' rights groups, including national women's advocacy group UltraViolet.

More Headlines This Week

If you are following the recent discussion about gender inequality in Hollywood, be sure to check out this interview with Barbra Streisand on the plight of female directors, this op-ed from Patricia Arquette on her Oscar speech, and this essay from Jessica Chastain on the set dynamic at "The Zookeeper."

The wrath of Cindy Gallop continues (rightfully so): This week the advertising legend called out Publicis Groupe for their male-dominant corporate restructure. Gallop was also featured in an interview with PowerToFly, in which she discussed the "mommy track" and flaws in current corporate structures that limit women's careers.

The Trans Women Who Say That Trans Women Aren't Women: Slate explores a subset of the trans rights movement, often described as "gender critical."

Pursuing Gender Equality As Competitive Advantage: TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity firm, makes it an imperative to have a 50/50 gender split among their employee base in an industry dominated by men.

Signs of a Truce in the Mommy Wars: New research reveals shifting attitudes in the support for working mothers.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, Inc. management or associated bloggers.

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