May 29, 2018

A global women’s liberation movement

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A record number of women running for office in America. The #MeToo movement taking down men worldwide. Ireland voting two-to-one to legalize abortion. Some Silicon Valley companies promising to make 50% of their workforce female. Young women increasingly dominating men in high school and college classrooms. 

Why it matters: Everywhere you look, women are rising and forcing results. It's sparking debate about whether this is a landmark, '60s-style liberation and empowerment — but on a global stage. 

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who successfully pushed for legislation mandating sexual harassment training in the Senate, tells Axios: "[T]here was bound to come a moment when the unfairness of it all bubbled over into electoral success. ... [W]hy does it suddenly feel like a mass movement — a.k.a., a global juggernaut? I would say that a lot of women have been waiting in the wings wondering if they can do it, and suddenly they are."
  • Katie Couric, who recently examined gender equality in a National Geographic episode called "The Revolt," adds: "It feels like a historic, watershed moment. ... Think of what we can accomplish when more than half the population has a real seat at the table.”
  • Tech companies are trying to improve their perpetual gender imbalance, the Financial Times reports, by "training staff in unconscious bias, ... insisting that shortlists include women, improving referral incentives, ... enhancing maternity rights and showcasing female role models on social media."

The data:

  • After upsetting headlines about harassment in Silicon Valley, women feel increasingly empowered and hopeful. Tech companies are taking steps to improve figures for women in their workforces, which range from 45% at Pinterest to 35% at Facebook to 26% at Microsoft, according to Recode.
  • Women will account for 55% of the full-time undergraduates in U.S. colleges this fall, according to a Department of Education projection, a trend that led The Atlantic to call men the "new minority on campus."
  • A record number of women are running for Congress this fall, and the N.Y. Times calculates that roughly half of the women running in primaries have won so far. Cook Political's David Wasserman says this Democratic primary season "is defined by women trouncing men," with women winning in 69% (45 of 65) of races where they faced a male non-incumbent.
  • From the Senate, Klobuchar cites this stark statistic: More than 1,900 men have been U.S. senators. Only 52 women have been senators in the history of the country — and 23 are serving today.

The trend looks like a third spike in the century-long women's revolution:

  • The themes — the rise of women politicians, outrage against sex crimes, the secularization of Europe — aren't new. If you include Anita Hill's 1991 Senate appearance during the confirmation hearing for Justice Clarence Thomas, they go back decades. But they are a culmination. 
  • Leandra Zarnow, a history professor at the University of Houston, traces it back four decades, "reflecting persistent activism by women to make inroads into politics and policy, before and ever since women leaned on the United Nations to declare 1975 International Women’s Year."
  • Zarnow tells us that what we are watching is different, a long time coming, and around the world — "a global upsurge of outrage and engagement around women’s rights that feels different because of its hefty volume and tone."
  • The first wave, going back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, brought women the right to vote. After the suffragettes, the second acknowledged wave started in the 1960s and took up pay, sex, reproduction, abortion and general equality. 
  • After that, gender historians divide, identifying third and even fourth waves. But we're clearly witnessing a distinct and powerful societal shift.

Be smart: Despite the promising current surge, equality for women remains elusive and distant. As Zarnow put it: "The 21st century is not a post-feminist era. More work needs to be done." 

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 62,300 U.S. health care workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 291 have died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. COVID-19 had infected about 9,300 health professionals when the CDC gave its last update on April 17.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 5,589,626 — Total deaths: 350,453 — Total recoveries — 2,286,956Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 1,680,913 — Total deaths: 98,913 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases after days of zero new infections. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).