Today’s Lady News: France Suggests Forcing Quotas For Women In The Board Room

  • France has introduced legislation to bring 50/50 gender parity to French board rooms by 2015. All companies listed on the French stock exchange would be required to stock their boards with 50 percent women. The affirmative action-like plan would begin with women on 20 percent of board seats in 18 months and 40 percent of board seats within four years. Presently, women comprise only 10.5 percent of board members in companies listed on the French stock exchange. Norway enacted similar legislation in 2003. [Guardian UK]—I love this idea of diversifying talent by overcoming institutional obstacles with quotas. And by way of comparison, the percentage of female board members on U.S. Fortune 500 companies—considering it is the year 2009—is a paltry 15.2 percent. What do you think?
  • Hooray! There are lots of women on The New York Times’ “Best Books of 2009″ list! Do you think the diverse offerings are helped by the fact that two of the Times’ three daily book reviewers, Janet Maslin and Michiko Kakutani, are women? [New York Times]

  • In a teaser for his “Good Morning America” appearance, Chris Brown talked to Robin Roberts, saying he understands how domestic violence leaves more of a mental wound than it does a physical one — and he actually sounds sincere. Brown also said he still “has love” for Rihanna, even after he beat the crap out of her. [Jezebel]
  • Scientific American magazine named its first-ever female editor-in-chief, Mariette DiChristina. [Media Bistro]
  • Why hasn’t Tiger Woods spoken up about whether his wife, Elin Nordegren, hit him? Because if he admits an act of domestic violence occurred, she might head to jail, even if he doesn’t want to press charges. Such is the way the justice system works! [Slate]
  • Two women have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Battery Park Swim & Fitness Club in New York City which claims the gym’s human resources personnel ignored the complaints of five employees that a male manager was snapping their bra straps and making sexual innuendos. The lawsuit, filed by two former trainers, Courtney McCallion, 25, and Maggie Alexander, 23, also claims human resources told the complainants to try to “get along” with the manager who was allegedly harassing them, yet they all were eventually fired. “Five of them complained to human resources and within months they were gone,” said Jack Tuckner, Alexander’s lawyer. “It was so blatant. And the manager is still working there.” Reps for the gym refused to comment. [New York Daily News]
  • Boston Globe op-ed columnist Joan Vennochi has called out the political “old boys’ club” in Massachusetts in the race to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate. Seven male State Representatives endorsed colleague Michael Capuano, while one male Rep has not endorsed anyone; the only female State Representative in MA backed the female state general, Martha Coakley. Hmm, men backing the men and a woman backing the woman. Sounds like third grade! [Boston Globe]
  • Oh, but there’s more crap lady news out of Boston. Another op-ed columnist for The Boston Globe, Alex Beam, saw fit to write a column about how attractive he finds attorney general Martha Coakley. “Someone has to say it: Martha Coakley is a very good-looking woman, and by far the handsomest candidate among the four Democrats running for Ted Kennedy’s seat,” Beam wrote, adding that Coakley is a “babe” and a “knockout.” Really, someone had to say it? Ugh. Please don’t tell me that just because there is a lot of media focus on how Sarah Palin is attractive that all conventionally good-looking female politicians will be subjected to all this nonsense. You can write well-thought out yet pissy emails to Beam here: beam [at] [Boston Globe]
  • Yesterday, New York State voted down legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. New York magazine has a good explanation of how that happened in New York, of all places. []
  • Very few people have been prosecuted for sex trafficking, despite a 2007 New York State law promising stiff punishment for traffickers. There have only been 18 arrests and one conviction since the law went into effect. Unfortunately, these low stats are common across the country. Some prosecutors say police are to blame for not asking victims the right questions, which could lead to convictions. However, some victims are also fearful of fighting the trafficking because they are in the country illegally. [New York Times]
  • How cool is this? There’s actually a co-ed trade high school in L.A. called Rosie The Riveter High, named after the World War Two icon for women in the workforce. [L.A. Times]


  • An ad to raise awareness about domestic violence in Germany is pasted over windows and depicts a man and woman engaging in a “fake beating scene.” Sounds kind of like the in-your-face-beating PSA that Keira Knightley starred in. [copyranter]
  • A health report in Australia calls for compulsory lessons for students about preventing violence against women from elementary school through high school. The report, “Respectful Relationships Education,” calls for more discussion in health classes, for example, about how violence erodes the family dynamic. Unfortunately, one critic, John Morrissey, from the ironically named Australian Family Association, said, “Strident feminist propaganda won’t wash with boys.” []— Well! I suppose in the interest of keeping the classroom pleasant and entertaining, we should avoid uncomfortable subjects then! Also, since when is health teachers talking to kids about non-violent methods of conflict resolution “strident feminist propaganda”?
  • A celebrity couple in Zambia, actor Owas Ray Mwape and his wife, Saboi Imboela, have spoken publicly for the first time about how he once beat her. But the crazy part of the story is how police reacted! “It was the police who begged me not to take it further,” Imboela recalled. “They told me: ‘We know how you women are. We’ll lock him up and in a minute or two, you’ll change your mind and want him released.'” In retrospect, Mwape said the culture he grew up in taught him he needed to “discipline” his wife and he now believes he should have gone to jail. The couple is speaking out about the incident as Zambia drafts an anti-violence-against-women bill. [BBC]

In yesterday’s Today’s Lady News, we learned a 13-year-old girl committed suicide after a “sexting” incident, songstress Susan Boyle is breaking debut female album records, and Iranian state TV has banned makeup.