October 17, 2018
Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” approach has been largely unsuccessful among women of color, despite her recent efforts to highlight racially based disparities in pay and representation. Instead, women of color are increasingly turning to entrepreneurship, “where they can…be leaders, and create impact in ways corporate America does not offer.” Critics of Sandberg’s Lean In describe it as a “one-size-fits-all” approach that fails to consider the systemic barriers women of color face in the workplace, and organizational issues like pay gaps that “cannot be solved with women just working harder and longer.” That’s why entrepreneur Minda Harts started The Memo, a “digital career education platform” for women of color in the corporate world, and is writing a book by the same name to delve into the challenges these women face. “We sit at a broken table right now,” Harts explains, “…in order to assemble it back together…There has to an intentional structure in place to make sure that women of color have an opportunity to advance.”
Three counties in North Dakota—all of which have predominantly indigenous populations—have had the lowest average voter turnouts in the state between 2008 and 2016, for reasons such as “the pressures associated with poverty, a sense of disenfranchisement and apathy,” and “a lack of trust in government and politicians driven by unjust treatment of Native Americans over generations.” Recently, a court ruling that is being called “discriminatory” changed voter ID requirements between the June primary and the upcoming November elections, leaving thousands of indigenous North Dakota voters unable to vote. The new law requires identification that states a person’s residential address (reservations, however, typically use P.O. boxes), and in order to get the appropriate IDs, most indigenous people would have to travel an average of 61 miles. When asked about their voting habits, many Standing Rock Sioux bring up a centuries-old distrust of the government, in addition to issues like overwhelming rates of poverty and substance abuse. Immediate past tribal chairman Dave Archambault II concisely explained, “The federal government created laws and acts that put us in the situation we are in today,” leaving many wondering what the voter turnout will be among indigenous communities in November.
Historically, women have made up a small fraction of inmates in U.S. prisons, but have nonetheless developed a bad reputation among prison staff. Even as early as 1845, a state auditor reported that “one female prisoner is of more trouble than twenty males.” Current day auditors say that male prisoners either follow an order or they don’t, but rarely do they argue with a guard. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to “talk back.” Researchers attribute some of these behavioral differences to high rates of abuse: as many as 90 percent of female inmates have a history of physical and sexual violence, making it likely they’ll get defensive or shut down when a male guard yells an order. This pattern of male guards disciplining women as if they were men results in women being disciplined two to three times as often as male inmates, and usually for smaller infractions. The same disciplinary measures can also be more severe for women than for men: losing commissary privileges can mean no access to menstrual products, and losing visitation privileges can mean no contact with their children. Fortunately, states are starting to acknowledge the need for special training for guards in women’s prisons—training that accounts for the differences in men and women’s past experiences.