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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: women

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October 10, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Microsoft CEO Nadella’s ‘wrong’ comments about women expose important truths

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s misguided advice to women might be “wrong,” but his comments were right on about the challenges women face in the workplace. Reactions to Nadella’s suggestion that women should trust the “system” and allow karma to usher in a better raise quickly dismissed him as completely off-base.  Nadella himself apologized and…


Comments | Topics: Microsoft, Satya Nadell, women

September 18, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Can the Ray Rice domestic violence incident lead to more survivors?

Football player Ray Rice holds hands with his wife, Janay, as they arrive at Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, N.J. The pair have become icons for domestic violence awareness. (Mel Evans / Associated Press) If there’s a bright side to the domestic violence saga of NFL player Ray Rice, it might be that thousands…


Comments | Topics: domestic violence, NFL, Ray Rice

May 28, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Discussion: Isla Vista killings, #YesAllWomen and male privilege

Isla Vista gunman Elliot Rodger’s disgusting, misogynist rants point to a seriously disturbed young man who lacked coping skills. The 22-year-old’s chilling sense of entitlement is outlined in startling detail in a 141-page manifesto I have no interest or time in reading. Thankfully, writer Jeff Yang did (reluctantly), and his analysis for Quartz is a must-read on the roles that race, class and gender possibly played in the motives of a mass killer.

Here’s an excerpt from Yang’s op-ed:

According to Rodger, this is what underscored to him the degree to which women were markers of status:

“Because of my father’s acquisition of a new girlfriend, my little mind got the impression that my father was a man that women found attractive, as he was able to find a new girlfriend in such a short period of time from divorcing my mother. I subconsciously held him in higher regard because of this. It is very interesting how this phenomenon works…that males who can easily find female mates garner more respect from their fellow men.”

Rodger grew up in the shadow of Hollywood, a place where terms like “trophy wife” and “arm candy” and “casting couch” are thrown around with glib abandon. It’s a culture that has mainstreamed the notion that women are accessories, party favors, tools for sexual release, not just behind the scenes, but in front of it, particularly within the genres most likely to shape the worldview of young males.

Now let’s take a look at the storm brewing on Twitter over the #YesAllWomen hashtag. Here’s one example:

The #YesAllWomen hashtag isn’t so much about labeling all men as woman-hating, mentally deranged killers. It’s about acknowledging that at some point in many women’s lives, they have suffered emotional or physical harm at the hands of men. They have every right to name how they felt in those moments. Guys, listen to what they’re saying before you launch your own attacks about how women are just as mean as men. That might be true in some cases, but history matters. Women’s collective voices have largely been squashed in a society dominated by men.


Comments | Topics: elliot rodger, gender, isla vista

December 24, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Ladies, do we still live in a man’s world?

Ladies, are we standing in our own way? Or are we genetically predisposed to hit a glass ceiling while our male colleagues surge ahead? Maybe neither? pew-global-millennial-women’s-views-on-gender-and-work

My wheels are spinning after skimming the results of a new Pew study of more than 2,000 millennial women between the ages of 18 and 32.

Researchers say the good news is the wage gap is closing, women are more likely than men to obtain an education and workplace equality has improved.

And yet:

… there is no guarantee that today’s young women will sustain their near parity with men in earnings in the years to come. Recent cohorts of young women have fallen further behind their same-aged male counterparts as they have aged and dealt with the responsibilities of parenthood and family. For women, marriage and motherhood are both associated with less time spent on paid work-related activities. For men, the onset of family responsibilities has a reverse effect on their career.


Comments | Topics: careers, lean in, motherhood

November 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Langston Hughes theater performs much-needed play about breast cancer

If you haven’t seen the “The Purification Process,” at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, your chance ends this weekend. The dramatic-comedic play tackles everything from breast cancer to work, marriage, friendships and those cringe-inducing mother-daughter tensions – all of this viewed through the lenses of African Americans. There’s a reason to focus on black women. While white women are more likely to get…


Comments | Topics: breast cancer, race, Seattle

October 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Am I my purse? The state Supreme Court thinks so

I greet with some consternation the Washington Supreme Court ruling that police officers’ license to search people extends to their purse, even if the purse is not on their person but nearby. Long story short. Police arrested a woman in 2009 who was a passenger in a car with stolen license plates.  The officer handcuffed her and placed her in the back of the…


Comments | Topics: Meth, washington, Washington State Supreme Court

September 20, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Three women and a charter schools movement

Corrected version

Kristina Bellamy-McClain, Brenda McDonald and Maggie O'Sullivan plan to open charter schools. Photo/Jen Wickens

Kristina Bellamy-McClain, Brenda McDonald and Maggie O’Sullivan plan to open charter schools.
Photo/Jen Wickens

My column this week features three longtime Washington educators preparing to launch three separate public charter schools. Brenda McDonald, Kristina Bellamy-McClain and Maggie O’Sullivan are working with the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

These women are bright, experienced and have strong ties in the communities they’re choosing to locate their schools. McDonald’s entry into the Spokane School District should be made easier by the fact that Spokane was the first district in the state to be approved as a charter school authorizer. The district is obviously open to an innovative new school emphasizing foreign languages and STEM studies. The other two women are considering schools in Tacoma and South King County.


Comments | Topics: 3to23, children, Education

September 13, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Julie Chen, Harvard’s Riptide report: Why bother leaning in?

Corrected version It’s been a week of surreal debate about women and journalism. Julie Chen, co-host of CBS show “The Talk,” revealed that she had undergone plastic surgery on her eyes after a former news director and an agent told her that she looked too Chinese. Earlier, Harvard released a landmark study about why the news industry has…


Comments | Topics: journalism, women

September 9, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Detangling the hair wars fought by African Americans

My recent column sticks up for 7-year-old Tiana Parker, an Oklahoma girl forced to choose between her school and her hairstyle. The Tulsa girl was sent home from school, on the first day no less, because her hair was styled in dreadlocks. She kept her hairstyle but switched to a new school that will hopefully be more interested in what’s in her head, rather…


Comments | Topics: African Americans, Afros, children

July 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Microsoft reorganization, aka its Game of Thrones-style Red Wedding

Game of Thrones (Photo: HBO)

Game of Thrones (Photo: HBO)

A lot happened at Microsoft this morning. Divisions were dissolved, new ones formed, executives were demoted, promoted and excommunicated. It had all the elements of the “Game of Thrones” TV show on HBO, and Thursday morning was its Red Wedding episode where several major characters were killed in graphic, bloody ways at the end of a wedding banquet. (The actual episode’s name was “The Rains of Castamere.” It’s incredibly violent, but you can watch the final scene on Youtube.)

The fiefdoms we were familiar with — the North, the Wall, the Iron Islands — are gone. Lines have been redrawn all over the map.

One thing is clear. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer remains King of Westeros. He proclaimed this era “One Microsoft” in a memo to employees. (The new tagline actually sounds more “Lord of the Rings” than “Game of Thrones,” but I digress.)

The silos of Windows, Office, Xbox, Bing/MSN and Server software no longer exist. The new territories are called Operating Systems Engineering, Devices and Studios Engineering, Applications and Services Engineering and Cloud and Enterprise Engineering. Engineers are the Lannisters of the new Microsoft.

This change-up is long overdue. Microsoft reorganizes itself every couple years, and it had been some time sine the last major one in 2005. What Microsoft had was not working, either in maintaining ground with Windows 8 or in conquering new territories with the Surface and Windows Phone. This one is actually reminiscent of a Bill Gates period when the company was divided into technology focused groups with names such as platforms and applications and interactive media.

Like the aftermath of the wedding episode, where Robb Stark, his wife Talisa, his mother Catelyn and many of his banner men were slaughtered, things are kind of messy right now. Servants are mopping up blood in the dining hall. From the outside, it just looks like a lot of people will report to Ballmer, but it’s unclear where each product, like Windows or Office, will land.

The title “division president” no longer exists. Some were demoted to executive vice presidents. As a result, the playing field was leveled for two women executives, Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller. Microsoft’s head of human resources, Lisa Brummel, and the chief financial officer, Amy Hood, were already women. It’s progress for gender equality in Microsoft’s top leadership ranks because the men above them took a step backward, but I’ll take it.

There’s a lot to decipher in the long employee memo. In fact, the memo doesn’t feel at all simple and singular like the phrase “One Microsoft.” The main takeaway:

Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.

The rest of this post is going to get incredibly geeky, so if you don’t watch “Game of Thrones,” please move on. Also, this video below is also violent, so only press play if you are prepared to see some spearing and dragon breathing:

Julie Larson-Green = Daenarys Targaryen. The former Windows vice president has a high-profile task to lead the Devices and Studios engineering Group. Building devices has not been a strong suit for Microsoft, outside of the Xbox, so she’ll be watched carefully.


Comments | Topics: Microsoft, tv, women

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