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A study published in Developmental Psychology found that boys’ higher math scores result more from better spatial skills than girls’ low self-confidence. Researchers tested 94 high school students on their math self-confidence and their spatial skills, the ability to mentally visualize and rotate 3-dimensional objects. They discovered that 64% of the difference in math scores stems from boys’ better spatial ability, while 36% results from girls’ lower self confidence. M. Beth Casey, a developmental psychology professor at Boston College and the report’s leading author, believes boys obtain better spatial skills because their elders encourage them to play with blocks and toys such as model airplanes at early ages and to participate in sports. Casey says girls’ math skills would benefit from the same encouragement.
The District of Columbia will pay $8 million to settle a sexual harassment suit filed by seven D.C. Department of Corrections employees in 1994. The plaintiffs allege that sexual harassment, including outright demands for sex and punishment for those who refused sex, pervaded the agency.
A federal court jury found for the plaintiffs in 1995 and awarded $1.4 million to six of the eight women. In August of 1996, a federal appeals court voided the 1995 decision and ordered a new trial on the grounds that U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth erred in refusing the defense's request to call non-expert witnesses. Under the terms of yesterday's settlement, the eight plaintiff will share $1.6 million, or about 80% of what was awarded to them in the 1995 trial. Two other plaintiffs will receive $80,000 each and the large remainder of the settlement, minus the attorneys' $2 million fee, will be shared among women who worked at the agency between April 4, 1991 and July 22, 1997 and reported that they were harassed.
On Thursday in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Sgt. 1st Class Gary F. Alford was convicted on charges of sodomy, adultery, conspiring to violate a military regulation and three counts of violating a military regulation. He was sentenced to two years in prison. Alford was found not guilty of committing an indecent act with a trainee, perjury, sodomy, and four counts of violating a military regulation.
Also on Thursday, a military jury in Columbia, S.C., convicted Sgt. 1st Class Gary F. Alford of 15 counts of sexual misconduct and sentenced him to 4 years in prison for those crimes. Alford was acquitted on two rape counts.
Eight noncommissioned officers at Fort Leonard Wood have plead guilty to or been convicted of sex-related charges involving trainees since last November.
8/29/1997 - Mitsubishi Settles Private Bias Suit
Mitsubishi Motor Corporation has settled a lawsuit with 27 women who claim they were subjected to obscene remarks, unwanted touching, and sexual discrimination at the auto plant. Two of the original 29 plaintiffs chose not to participate in the settlement.
As part of the settlement agreement, Mitsubishi has agreed to donate $100,000 to women's causes and to make substantial cash payments to the plaintiffs. The amount of these payments has not been made public. A more extensive lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accuses Mitsubishi of harassing more that 300 women and is not affected by the settlement of this private suit.
8/27/1997 - Women's Advocate Lucy S. Howorth Dies
Lucy S. Howorth, an accomplished lawyer and champion of women's rights, died on August 23rd of a heart attack. Howorth attended women's suffrage meetings with her mother and was known for her independent and determined spirit.
Howorth, as general counsel to the War Claims Commission, became one of the first women to hold this position at a federal agency. Howorth gave the opening address at Eleanor Roosevelt's 1944 White House Conference on Women in Postwar Policy Making and served on President John F. Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women. Howorth was a former president of the Business and Professional Women's Club of Washington and a vice president for the American Association of University Women, where she defeated the AAUW's policy of racial segregation and led a task force on women's post-WWII employment opportunities. Howorth mentored and advised women throughout her long and successful career.
8/27/1997 - Victims of Violence Often Know Their Attackers
A new U.S. Justice Department report released on Sunday, August 24, reveals that nearly half of the 1.4 million people who received emergency-room treatment after a violent attack in 1994 were hurt by someone they knew. Seventeen percent of the victims were attacked by intimate partners such as their current or former spouses or by their boyfriends/girlfriends. Within the group of people abused by their spouses, women were 9 times more likely to be attacked than were men. Relatives composed 8% of the attackers and friends and acquaintances accounted for 23%. Strangers committed 23% of the attacks. The remaining thirty percent of attackers could not be categorized because the victim was not willing to acknowledge the abuse and/or to name the abuser. Bonnie J. Campbell, director of the Justice Department's Violence Against Women Office, stated that the results of this study confirm feminists' claims that domestic violence is highly unreported.
President Clinton announced on August 26 that Audrey Tayse Haynes will serve as his deputy assistant and as director of the White House Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach. Haynes will coordinate the work of women's organizations, federal agencies and the White House staff to ensure that women's viewpoints are integrated into government policies and programs.
Haynes is currently deputy secretary of the cabinet for health services in Kentucky and assists in managing Kentucky's $2.5 billion budget. She was Chief of Staff for Lt. Gov. Stephen L. Henry, M.D., and was an advisor to Gov. Paul E. Patton. Haynes was director for the Kentucky Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and was executive director of the Kentucky Literacy Commission from 1989-1993. As executive director of Business and Professional Women/USA and the Business Professional Women's Foundation in Washington, D.C., Haynes strove to achieve the BPW's goal of "equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information."
On August 19, President Clinton issued a proclamation that marked August 26th as "Women's Equality Day" and highlighted the progress achieved under the 19th Amendment and Title IX. "In large measure, because of the 19th Amendment and Title IX, our Nation has reaped the rewards of women's talents, accomplishments, wisdom, and perspective." The proclamation also speaks to the value of ethnic and cultural diversity, stating "... we are all immeasurably enriched when we choose the path of inclusion and empowerment."
The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 and guarantees women the right to vote. Title IX, part of the Education Amendments enacted in 1972, prohibits discrimination against women in schools and in sports programs.
According to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper of Stockholm, Sweden, as many as 60,000 Swedish people were forcibly sterilized this century because they had "undesirable" racial characteristics, physical impediments and/or psychological problems. In response to the newspaper articles, the opposition Christian Democratic Party demanded a parliamentary investigation of past sterilizations.
A spokesperson for Swedish Social Minister Margot Wallstroem reported that the government is considering the request for an investigation and may begin as early as Tuesday, August 26th. In a statement issued last week, Wallstroem promised to consider compensating victims, despite the fact that Swedish law prohibits compensation for crimes that were legal at the time they were committed. Forced sterilization was legal in Sweden until 1975. It is unclear when the last forced sterilizations took place.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco reported on Monday, August 25 that HIV-positive men were far more likely than HIV-positive women to transmit the virus to a heterosexual partner. In the study, the male-to-female transmission rate was estimated at 9 out of every 10,000 unprotected sexual encounters and the rate for female-to-male transmissions was lower (see published study for figures). Male-female transmission rates were highest among men with a history of STDs and injection drug use. Of the 77 HIV-positive male injection drug users, 22 percent transmitted the virus to their partners. Of the 163 women who had an STD, 25 percent were infected. The results of the UCSF study were published in the August edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Dow Corning, in an effort to recover from bankruptcy, has offered to pay a $2.4 billion dollars settlement for breast implant claims. In offering the settlement, Dow makes no admission that silicone breast implants cause disease, but admits that the implants "can cause local complications" and that "rupture may occur."
A bankruptcy court must approve Dow's settlement documents before the offer is made to 200,000 women worldwide, who will then vote to accept or reject the settlement. The amount of the individual settlements varies, ranging from $1,000 for an expedited claim to up to $200,000 of compensation for medical treatment. At least two thirds of the plaintiffs must accept Dow's offer in order for women to receive their settlement payments. Attorneys for the plaintiffs report that the compensation is inadequate, but have yet to make a recommendation on whether or not plaintiffs should vote to accept the plan.
Last week, a Louisiana state jury ruled that Dow Chemical was negligent in testing silicone for use in breast implants and concealed evidence of health risks.
8/25/1997 - Abortion Rights Defender Mary Louise Smith Dies
Mary Louise Smith, a lifelong defender of reproductive freedom and women's rights, died of lung cancer on August 22. In her 82 years, Smith achieved much and inspired many. Smith chaired the Republican National Committee from 1974-1977 and remains the first and only woman to have served in that post.
Smith was a founding member of the Iowa Women's Political Caucus and served on the board of directors for the Iowa chapter of Planned Parenthood from 1986-1992. In 1991, Smith helped to create the women's archives for her alma mater, the University of Iowa. Iowa State University established a Mary Louise Smith Endowed Chair in Women and Politics in her honor.
The French, who respect and revere their country's long-established principles of separation of church and state and laicism, or religious tolerance, were angered by the Pope's plan to visit an antiabortion crusader's grave on Friday, August 22. A public statement issued by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's governing Socialist Party read "the meaning of such a gesture can only cause discontent and risks encouraging in our country the determination of those who wage a struggle bearing the mark of intolerance." This statement was issued several hours before John Paul, in Paris for the World Youth Festival Days, traveled by helicopter to the nearby grave of Jerome Lejeune, a French geneticist and prominent antiabortion activist. Lejeune, a friend and intellectual soul mate of the pope, founded a prominent antiabortion group called Let Them Live and discovered the extra chromosome that causes Down's syndrome. Ironically, Lejeune's research has led many women to end their pregnancies upon learning that their fetuses hold the congenital defect that causes the disease.
Lt. Col. Michael Child urged Army hearing officer Col. Robert Jarvis to add rape to the many allegations filed against Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney, the Army's top enlisted official. Child alleges that the incident in which McKinney had sex with an enlisted woman amounts to rape because of the abuse of power McKinney used to manipulate his victim. McKinney has denied the allegations through statements issued by his defense counsel.
Jarvis has 15 days to decide whether or not McKinney will stand trial on sexual misconduct charges. Jarvis' recommendation will then be considered by Col. Owen Powell. The final decision on whether or not the case will proceed will be made by Maj. Gen. Robert F. Foley, commander of the Military District of Washington.
8/25/1997 - Citadel Chief Promises Zero Tolerance for Hazing
Twenty women and 538 men entered their first week of basic training, known as "hell week," today at the Citadel. Cadet Commander Emory Mace addressed the incoming class and promised "zero tolerance" for hazing and swift punishment for those who violate this policy.
Two of last year's four women enrollees dropped out due to harassment. The Citadel responded by naming a new president and cadet commandants and by recruiting a woman assistant commandant and a dean of women. Cadet Commander Mace, whose daughter Nancy is one of the two remaining women from last year's freshmen class, has promised to "decrease the tempo" of hell week this year by shortening the period of rigorous military training, using a revised set of college rules, increasing the amount of adult supervision in the barracks and requiring cadets to undergo sexual harassment training.
Washington DC -- "The 9th Circuit's decision not to reconsider the April ruling by one of it panels which upheld Proposition 209 is a tragic reversal of America's promise of equal job and educational opportunitites for women and for racial minorities. We have already seen the devastating consequences of the UC Regents' decision to suspend recruitment and outreach to racial minorities in the admissions results to University of California graduate programs. As a result, California has lost the best and the brightest minority students to out-of-state schools more welcoming to qualified minority applicants.
"For Governor Wilson to claim the court's decision is a "vindication of the the civil rights activism of the 1960s" is disingenuous, at best. The radical right -- which used stealth tactics to launch and fund the Prop 209 campaign and which has taken over the California Republican party -- is anti-women's rights and anti-civil rights.
"Prop 209's constitutional provisions prohibiting affirmative action were passed last November through a well-funded campaign of massive deception. The Proposition was worded to mimic the great Civil Rights Act of 1964, confusing voters as to its real intent and impact.
"Prop 209's backers can only get away with this deception only so long. You can be sure that as Wilson proceeds to implement Prop 209, it will become clear to all that its impact is to slam the door closed to better jobs, business opportunities and education for women and racial minorities in California, returning us to the corrupt "good-old-boys system" of favoritism.
"Whatever happens in the appeal of this latest ruling to the US Supreme Court, the battle for equal opportunities for women and racial minorities will not stop here. The radical right is not going to succeed in pushing women and minorities back. Organizing against Prop 209's successor efforts in other states and in Congress has already begun.
"We predict that as the impacts of Prop 209 become clear, the "Gender Gap" which inflicted damage on the Republicans in the last election, will become nothing short of a "Gender Gulf." Governor Wilson, Mr. Connerly, and their radical right backers should understand one thing: Women will have the last word on our opportunities and our futures."
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed its earlier ruling that California's controversial Proposition 209 is constitutional, the court announced on Thursday, August 22. Opponents of the law had asked the court to reconsider, but their request was denied. Proposition 209, the so-called California Civil Rights Initiative, effectively ends affirmative action policies in the state and guts sex discrimination law. Proposition 209 was approved by voters in November's election but was challenged and enjoined by a lower court after its passage.
The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to appeal the law to the U.S. Supreme Court. ACLU lawyers feel confident that the Court will agree to hear the case, since similar laws are pending in 23 other states. If the Supreme Court does not intervene, the proposition could become law at the end of seven days.
The Clinton Administration has decided not to support the New Jersey School Board of Education in their decision to lay off a white female teacher to keep on staff a black female teacher with equal qualifications. Although the Clinton administration will encourage the U.S. Supreme Court to stand behind the principle of affirmative action, it maintains that the school board failed to prove the need for racial diversity in its high school business education department. Many consider this case to be the most important case scheduled during the Supreme Court's next term because it could set a standard for affirmative action in the workplace by laying out the circumstances under which employers can use race-based policies.
A recent study conducted by the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati suggests that calcium supplements do not prevent bone loss in nursing women and are only slightly effective in replacing lost bone after women have finished breastfeeding. In the study, women who took calcium supplements regained bone density at approximately the same rate as women who took placebos. Dr. Heidi Kalkwarf, lead author of the study, reports that "these findings challenge the long held belief that calcium requirements are increased in breastfeeding women." The recommended dietary allowance for breastfeeding women has been reduced to the recommended dietary allowance for all women: 1,000 mg a day for women between 19 and 30.
8/21/1997 - Girl Sues to Become Boy Scout
Katrina Yeaw hopes to become an Eagle Scout one day, and she feels she has as much a right to achieve this goal as her twin brother, Daniel. Because of her case, the Boy Scouts, who have a policy prohibiting women, atheists, and gay men from being members, may soon have to answer to the California Supreme Court. In a brief order, the California Supreme Court announced that it would consider Katrina Yeaw's bid to open the Boy Scouts to girl members. The case will be deferred until a decision is reached in a case where a gay man hopes to become a Scout Leader in Contra Costa County. The determination the Supreme Court will have to make is whether the Boy Scouts are subject to California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination by business establishments.
8/21/1997 - Compound May Be Used to Cure Cancer
Research suggests that a synthetic compound similar to vitamin A may cure cervical cancer cells while allowing normal cervical cells to survive relatively unscathed. Scientists announced that the compound, called N-(4-hydroxyphenyl-)-retinamide, or 4HPR, may be used to cure other types of cancer as well. In the study, 90 percent of cultured cervical cancer cells died after being exposed to 4HPR for 24 hours, while 80 percent of normal cervical cells survived. The drug works by activating one of the body's natural cell suicide mechanisms. This mechanism is interrupted in cancerous cells.
8/21/1997 - Sixth Woman Testifies in McKinney Hearing
Sgt. 1st Class Rita Jeczala, the sixth and final woman scheduled to testify in the pre-trial hearing of Sgt. Major Gene McKinney, alleged that McKinney made improper sexual advances toward her. Jeczala testified that McKinney had grabbed her arm and asked her if she would kiss him. McKinney has been charged with solicitation to commit adultery and one count of assault on a commissioned officer in the execution of her duties. He is the Army's highest-ranking enlisted man.
8/21/1997 - Megan's Law Upheld by U.S. Appeals Court
A federal appeals court upheld New Jersey's controversial Megan's Law on Wednesday, August 20. The law requires local police to notify residents if a convicted sex offender is considered a threat to the community. The court, however, did specify that the process used to determine whether or not an individual poses a risk to the community must be reformed. Currently, authorities look at a number of factors, including the offender's original offense, his/her record in prison, and whether or not s/he has a job or other ties to the community. The law was challenged on the grounds that requiring convicted sex offenders to register with authorities at the end of their stay in prison violates the "ex post facto" clause of the constitution. Both courts rejected this argument.
8/21/1997 - Man Sues to Join Women's Health Club
Christopher Cox filed a discrimination complaint with the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights because he was denied entry into a woman's health club. Cox wishes to join the Anchorage, Alaska Women's Nautilus Club because of the location and low prices. Cox states that "we live in a society today.... where the bottom line is the one who is stomped all over is the male, especially the white male." Owner John Sanky said "I don't think [Cox] is a crusader for male rights," and alleges that Cox had offered not to complain if Sanky gave Cox's girlfriend a free membership to the club. Cox denies this.
Paula Haley, director of the Commission for Human Rights, states that it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of gender in a place of public accommodation. The Commission will investigate whether or not a health club is such a place.
Nora Marzouk Ahmed's punishment for eloping was death. Her father killed her for corrupting the family honor seven days after she had married. This incident, which took place on August 19 in Cairo, is not unusual in Egypt. On August 18, a man in a village 40 miles north of Cairo was arrested for setting his daughter on fire for eloping. According to Egyptian feminist activists, fathers, brothers and husbands kill and abuse women every year for having pre-marital sex, eloping, going outside with a man who is not a relative or going out without a veil.
Nawal Saadawi, an Egyptian feminist author, says, "Honor and integrity in Egypt have become warped. For many Egyptian men, integrity is now linked to the actions and behavior of the women in the family." Saadawi argues that most of these murders occur in lower-income families, where men use family honor as an excuse to beat women.