Malala Yousafzai: notes from my Girl Power trip to Nigeria

In a few months Ill be starting at university. If only more girls around the world had this opportunity

Three days ago, I returned from my second visit to Nigeria.

Nigeria is the richest country in Africa, but it has the highest number of out-of-school girls in the world. When I first visited the country in 2014, the government spent 9% of its budget on education. This year its only 6%. (The international benchmark for spending on education is 20% of the overall budget.)

When planning where I would travel on my Girl Power Trip this summer, I knew I needed to return to Nigeria and advocate again for the millions of girls fighting to go to school.

In some states, particularly in northern Nigeria, extremism terrorises communities and makes education impossible for many children, particularly girls.

During my trip, I travelled to Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram. In a camp for people displaced by terrorism, I met girls like 15-year-old Fatima, who have faced so much violence and fear in their young lives but are still determined to go to school.

Boko Haram abducted me and wanted to marry me, Fatima told me. I later managed to escape. I was not in school until I came to the camp here.

Malala
Inadequate government spending, corruption and poverty keep girls from getting an education and pursuing their dreams. Photograph: Tess Thomas/Malala Fund

Leaders in this area, like Borno State governor Kashim Shettima, are working against extreme challenges to keep children in school. When we met, Shettima told me hes determined to rewrite history through education for children who suffer so much under Boko Haram.

In other regions of Nigeria, inadequate government spending, corruption and poverty keep girls from getting an education and pursuing their dreams.

Kehinde and Taiwo are 14-year-old twins living in Lagos. In the poor community where they live, there is no public school. When their mother contracted a serious illness and couldnt work, the family could no longer afford to pay $70 per term for their private tuition. Today, Kehinde and Taiwo work 12 hours a day grinding peppers. They earn $2 a day or less, and use the money to feed their family.

Taiwo loves mathematics and wants to be a banker. Kehinde says shed like to be a nurse and help sick people like her mother. But neither of these sisters or millions of Nigerian girls like them can achieve their dreams without education.

Malala
I knew I needed to return to Nigeria and advocate again for the millions of girls fighting to go to school. Photograph: Tess Thomas/Malala Fund

Nigeria has the means to help these girls but the government hasnt prioritised education. Thats why I met with the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, and asked him to declare an education state of emergency in Nigeria. I urged him, the minister of education and other leaders to triple spending on education, make budgets transparent and encourage all states in Nigeria to pass the Childs Rights Act.

Osinbajo said leaders would meet again in the next two weeks to address the education crisis and he agrees Nigeria must invest significantly in education.

Malala Fund and I will keep monitoring Nigerias progress. I hope my next visit to the country can be a celebration of many more girls going to school, learning and preparing for a brighter future.

My ambitions are high, but so are those of Fatima, Kehinde, Taiwo and all the girls I meet on my travels. I will keep speaking out until all girls can go to school. My sisters and I are fighting for a world where all girls can learn and lead without fear. I hope you will join us.

Follow Guardian Students on Twitter: @GdnStudents.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jul/21/malala-yousafzai-girl-power-trip-nigeria-women-education

Tech has become another wayfor men to oppress women | Lizzie OShea

We act as if technology were neutral but its not. The challenge now is to remove the gender bias, says human rights lawyer and writer Lizzie OShea

Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive, despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit, wrote former Facebook product manager Antonio Garca Martnez in 2016. They have their self-regarding entitlement feminism, and ceaselessly vaunt their independence. But the reality is, come the epidemic plague or foreign invasion, theyd become precisely the sort of useless baggage youd trade for a box of shotgun shells or a jerry can of diesel. This is from his insider account of Silicon Valley, Chaos Monkeys. The book was a bestseller. The New York Times called it an irresistible and indispensable 360-degree guide to the new technology establishment. Anyone who is surprised by the recent revelations of sexism spreading like wildfire through the technology industry has not been paying attention.

When Susan Fowler wrote about her experience of being sexually harassed at Uber, it prompted a chain of events that seemed unimaginable months ago, including an investigation led by former attorney general Eric Holder, and the departure of a number of key members of the companys leadership team. Venture capitalist Justin Caldbeck faced allegations of harassing behaviour, and when he offered an unimpressive denial, companies funded by his firm banded together to condemn his tepidity. He subsequently resigned, and the future of his former firm is unclear. Since then, dozens of women have come forward to reveal the sexist culture in numerous Silicon Valley technology and venture capital firms. It is increasingly clear from these accounts that the problem for women in the tech industry is not a failure to lean in, it is a cultureof harassment and discrimination that makes many of their workplaces unsafe and unpleasant.

At least this issue is being discussed in ways that open up the possibility that it will be addressed. But the problem of sexism in the tech industry goes much deeper and wider. Technological development is undermining the cause of womens equality in other ways.

American academic Melvin Kranzbergs first law of technology tells us that technology is neither inherently good nor bad, nor is it neutral. As a black mirror it reflects the problems that exist in society including the oppression of women. Millions of people bark orders at Alexa, every day, but rarely are we encouraged to wonder why the domestic organiser is voiced by a woman. The entry system for a womens locker room in a gym recently refused entry to a female member because her title was Dr, and it categorised her as male.

But the issue is not only that technology products reflect a backward view of the role of women. They often also appear ignorant or indifferent to womens lived experience. As the internet of things expands, more devices in our homes and on our bodies are collecting data about us and sending it to networks, a process over which we often have little control. This presents profound problems for vulnerable members of society, including survivors of domestic violence. Wearable technology can be hacked, cars and phones can be tracked, and data from a thermostat can reveal whether someone is at home. This potential is frightening for people who have experienced rape, violence or stalking.

Unsurprisingly, technology is used by abusers: in a survey of domestic violence services organisations, 97% reported that the survivors who use them have experienced harassment, monitoring, and threats by abusers through the misuse of technology. This often happens on phones, but 60% of those surveyed also reported that abusers have spied or eavesdropped on the survivor or children using other forms of technology, including toys and other gifts. Many shelters have resorted to banning the use of Facebook because of fears about revealing information about their location to stalkers. There are ways to make devices give control to users and limit the capacity for abuse. But there is little evidence that this has been a priority for the technology industry.

Products that are more responsive to the needs of women would be a great start. But we should also be thinking bigger: we must avoid reproducing sexism in system design. The word-embedding models used in things like conversation bots and word searches provide an instructive example. These models operate by feeding huge amounts of text into a computer so it learns how words relate to each other in space. It is based on the premise that words which appear near each other in texts share meaning. These spatial relationships are used in natural language-processing so that computers can engage with us conversationally. By reading a lot of text, a computer can learn that Paris is to France as Tokyo is to Japan. It develops a dictionary by association.

But this can create problems when the world is not exactly as it ought to be. For instance, researchers have experimented with one of these word-embedding models, Word2vec, a popular and freely available model trained on three million words from Google News. They found that it produces highly gendered analogies. For instance, when asked Man is to woman as computer programmer is to ?, the model will answer homemaker. Or for father is to mother as doctor is to ?, the answer is nurse. Of course the model reflects a certain reality: it is true that there are more male computer programmers, and nurses are more often women. But this bias, reflecting social discrimination, will now be reproduced and reinforced when we engage with computers using natural language that relies on Word2vec. It is not hard to imagine how this model could also be racially biased, or biased against other groups.

These biases can be amplified duringthe process of language learning. As the MIT Technology Review points out: If the phrase computer programmer is more closely associated with men than women, then a search for theterm computer programmer CVs might rank men more highly than women. When this kind of language learning has applications across fields including medicine, education, employment, policymaking and criminal justice, it is not hard to see how much damage such biases can cause.

Removing such gender bias is a challenge, in part because the problem is inherently political: Word2vec entrenches the world as it is, rather thanwhat it could or should be. But if we are to alter the models to reflect aspirations, how do we decide what kind of world we want to see?

Digital technology offers myriad waysto put these understandings to work. It is not bad, but we have to challenge the presumption that it is neutral. Its potential is being explored in ways that are sometimes promising, often frightening and amazing. To make the most of this moment, we need to imagine a future without the oppressions of the past. We need to allow women to reach their potential in workplaces where they feel safe and respected. But we also need to look into the black mirror of technology and find the cracks of light shining through.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/07/technology-sexist-society-even-worse-women-potential

How dare she?! The Root decries black Miss USA’s ‘problematic as hell’ comments

Read more: http://twitchy.com/sd-3133/2017/05/16/how-dare-she-the-root-decries-black-miss-usas-problematic-as-hell-comments/

College-educated women earn $8,000 less a year than men as gap widens

The gender wage gap among 2016 graduates has increased, as men make about $4 more an hour than women, according to Economic Policy Institute study

The gender wage gap is not shrinking its growing. Female college graduates now earn $8,000 a year less than their male contemporaries, a gap that has widened in the past 16 years, according to a new report published by the Economic Policy Institute.

Young male college graduates earned 8.1% more in 2016 than in 2000, while young female college graduates earned 6.8% less than in 2000, according to Elise Gould, senior economist at EPI and one of the reports authors.

That gender wage gap has increased in a meaningful way, Gould said. If you just look at their wages in 2016, on average young men who are college graduates are making $20.94 compared to $16.58 for women. Thats a difference of more than $4. Over the year, thats more than $8,000.

According to Gould, this is due to the fact that men in higher positions are driving up wages for men lower on the totem pole as well. For women, however, the wage gap gets wider as they move further up the pay scale.

Overall, women earn less than men. According to the US census, women were still earning just 79% of mens wages in 2014.

Critics of the gender wage gap theory point out that the discrepancy in pay between men and women is due to the types of careers women opt for. Meaning that women are more likely to work in lower-paying jobs like retail, fast food, teaching or nursing.

Its an interesting idea when you say that out loud: Women chose lower paying jobs. Who would chose a lower paying job? How does that even make sense? said Gould. She added that its true women might be likely to select different majors than men and that men tend to end up in higher professions.

Its still remains a fact that even within occupations, even within lets say finance, women are making less than men. So some of it is because of the major or occupation that somebody chose, but those could also be driven by discrimination at younger ages.

According to her, there is a lack of encouragement for women to go into Stem fields science, technology, engineering and math. These fields, which tend to be dominated by men, are associated with higher paid positions.

Some say there isnt really a gender pay gap. Well, that is just wrong, said former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, when she appeared on a panel discussing equal pay last week. She, too, conceded that higher paying fields like engineering, science and mathematics can often be unwelcoming to women.

Gould also pointed out that the economy is filled with people who do not have a college degree. A strong economy caters to these workers usually high-school graduates and provides them with good jobs in which they can build a stable career, she said.

College graduates make up less than a third of US population. In 2014, 29.9% of men and 30.2% of women had graduated college. According to the US Census Bureau, it was the first year that womens college attainment was statistically higher than mens college attainment. Similarly, 65.8% of Americans aged 24 to 29 do not have a college degree, according to EPIs report.

However, female high school graduates are faced with narrower gender wage gap.

Gender wage gap among high school grads has been closing over the last several years. Thats due to the fact that women have been bolstered by minimum wage increases in cities and states, explained Gould, pointing out that women account for 55.9% of workers earning minimum wage. Its growing among college grads.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/21/gender-wage-gap-college-graduates-women-men

Bitches Get Stuff Done: 18 Women On What Its Like To Be The Boss

1. Dont waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when youre the boss. Or they wont. Who cares? Do your thing, and dont care if they like it.


2. If you want to be successful and you are a woman, you have to understand that theres all kinds of horrible stuff that comes with it, and you simply cannot do anything about it but move on.


3. How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice? … Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other womans footprints. I just hit at exactly the right time in exactly the right spot.”


4. The bigger we get, the easier it is.


5. Its also important to realize that its okay to be the first. If you constantly look for role models who look like you, then there wont be any firsts.


6. [Being a boss] is my job…Were all feminists here and I dont think anyone I work with would interpret that being a boss would be like being a bitch or anything.


7. “I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but its pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. Youre not skinny, youre not white, youre a woman. Why on earth would you feel like youre worth anything?’


8. “Be first and be lonely.


9. We should not wait for someone else to come and raise our voice. We should do it by ourselves. We should believe in ourselves. Yes, we can do it. One day you will see that all the girls will be powerful; all the girls will be going to school. And it is possible only by our struggle; only when we raise our voice.


10. Let me take a minute to say that I love bossy women. Some people hate the word, and I understand how bossy can seem like a shitty way to describe a woman with a determined point of view, but for me, a bossy woman is someone to search out and celebrate. A bossy woman is someone who cares and commits and is a natural leader.


11. “There is nothing like a concrete life plan to weigh you down. Because if you always have one eye on some future goal, you stop paying attention the the job at hand, miss opportunities that might arise, and stay fixedly on one path, even when a better, newer course might have opened up.”


12. You could certainly say that Ive never underestimated myself, theres nothing wrong with being ambitious.


13. Whether I am meant to or not, I challenge assumptions about women. I do make some people uncomfortable, which Im well aware of, but thats just part of coming to grips with what I believe is still one of the most important pieces of unfinished business in human historyempowering women to be able to stand up for themselves.


14. “I handle my business and also I speak up for myself. But if I was not like this, so many people would’ve taken advantage of me…I just always felt like, Im never going to let anyone pull me down and make me feel small. Im never going to let a man do that and I think sometimes that transfers over into your career as a woman … Im a businesswoman.


15. If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen.


16. No matter where you are in life, youll save a lot of time by not worrying too much about what other people think about you. The earlier in your life that you can learn that, the easier the rest of it will be.


17. It is pure mythology that women cannot perform as well as men in science, engineering and mathematics. In my experience, the opposite is true: Women are often more adept and patient at untangling complex problems, multitasking, seeing the possibilities in new solutions and winning team support for collaborative action.


18. I think when you start out in your career, you think that everything is fair, and you are getting equal opportunities. And as you move up higher in the ranks, you realize that actually there are fewer positions and its more competitive and its harder to get those opportunities. And then you reach a point where you realize, hey, these opportunities are not equal, and I think thats been the case for many women.

Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/katie-mather/2016/05/bitches-get-stuff-done-18-women-on-what-its-like-to-be-the-boss/