Women still under-represented in judiciary says study

Research by the Law Society in England & Wales shows that there is some way to go before women are properly represented in the judiciary.

Data from the courts and tribunals show that just 28% of court judges and 45% of tribunal judges are female. Women make up just 22% of high court judges and deputy judges and only 24% in the court of appeal.


And in other UK news:

The Government is to take immediate steps to stop charging employment tribunal fees and refund those who have paid following a “landmark” Supreme Court ruling.

The Ministry of Justice said it accepted a Supreme Court judgment in favour of public sector union Unison which has fought a four-year battle against controversial fees of up to £1,200 for taking a case to a tribunal.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favour of the union, which had argued that the fees discriminated against women and other groups of workers.


Monopoly was invented to demonstrate the evils of capitalism

The game’s little-known inventor, Elizabeth Magie, would no doubt have made herself go directly to jail if she’d lived to know just how influential today’s twisted version of her game has turned out to be. Why? Because it encourages its players to celebrate exactly the opposite values to those she intended to champion. . . .

In addition to confronting gender politics, Magie decided to take on the capitalist system of property ownership – this time not through a publicity stunt but in the form of a board game. . . .

Magie invented and in 1904 patented what she called the Landlord’s Game. Laid out on the board as a circuit (which was a novelty at the time), it was populated with streets and landmarks for sale. The key innovation of her game, however, lay in the two sets of rules that she wrote for playing it. . . .

The purpose of the dual sets of rules, said Magie, was for players to experience a ‘practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences’ and hence to understand how different approaches to property ownership can lead to vastly different social outcomes.

Among the players of this Quaker adaptation was an unemployed man called Charles Darrow, who later sold such a modified version to the games company Parker Brothers as his own. . . .

Once the game’s true origins came to light, Parker Brothers bought up Magie’s patent, but then re-launched the board game simply as Monopoly, and provided the eager public with just one set of rules: those that celebrate the triumph of one over all.


Migrant women forced to stay in abusive relationships, refuges warn

According to Anna Kerr, co-chair of the Women and Girl’s Rights Subcommittee of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights advocacy group, “women’s refuges are frequently unable or unwilling to accept women who do not have a visa status that qualifies them for Centrelink payments”.

A 2016 survey conducted by the Coalition for Women’s Refuges found only 61 per cent reported being always able to take women without residency, with one in five reporting they had no ability to take women in such circumstances.

Julie Stewart, a member of the coalition, has been working in the domestic violence sector for more than 30 years. As CEO of Manly-Warringah Women’s Resource Centre, a service where she has worked since 2011 and which is listed as a specialist homelessness service on the FACS website, she says general homelessness shelters are often “inappropriate” for women fleeing abusive situations.

Stewart has observed a clear difference between the services her centre was able to offer before and after the 2014 reforms, which saw the shelter’s annual funding decrease by $500,000.

In Stewart’s experience, whether migrant women end up receiving any support varies greatly depending on the type of visa they hold, and whether they have children born in Australia.

“We believe that a woman who has arrived in Australia on a spousal visa, mostly on the promise of a better life, and has subsequently been abused, beaten, deprived, kept as a slave, exploited, discarded should be supported by the Commonwealth government who enabled their entry into Australia in the first instance.”


Australia’s female composers are having a moment. We need to harness that energy

Today women make up 26% of Australian composers, sound artists and improvising performers. It’s not close to gender parity but the figures do stack up well internationally – the only country to fare better is Estonia with 30%. Women make up about 20% of American and Polish composers but, for most countries, the average is a woeful 15%.

Sadly, however, the majority of women still struggle with visibility. According to musicologist Sally Macarthur, women’s music represented only 11% of the works performed at new music concerts in 2013. In the concert halls where the more conservative orchestras reside, it is far rarer to hear a work by a female composer – dead or alive.


It’s not just the BBC that must come clean about underpaying women

Here is the real hard fact: women are paid less because we are considered to be worth less. The gender pay gap is a symptom of the structural barriers that women face, which can be seen at every level of working life and across every industry. It thrives on the unconscious bias that goes unchallenged by the surplus of white men in decision-making roles, and is magnified by occupational segregation, unequal caring responsibilities and pervasive stereotypes that intersect with class, race, age, sexuality and disability.

But there is hope, in the awareness raised by the report and the sisterhood of the BBC’s top women, acting in concert, as seen by today’s joint protest letter. Because information is power. And that is why the Women’s Equality party is calling on other public service broadcasters to follow the BBC’s lead in exposing and tackling their pay gaps.


It’s time for Australia’s Forgotten Women to rise

They are our qualified women. Engineers, lawyers, nurses, teachers, economists, accountants, architects, analysts and a wide array of other professionals who we, as a nation, have heavily subsidised so that they can receive a higher education and make a valued contribution to our society.

We have invested a fortune in them. We have told them since they were little girls that they can achieve anything in life. But after they become mothers, they discover the cruel truth: the system is rigged against them.

According to the Grattan Institute, if Australia had the same level of working mothers as Canada, an increase of just 6%, there’d be a $20 billion boost to our economy. We’d dramatically lift the nation’s productivity (without a shred of industrial unrest) and significantly increase the amount of HECS debt that is repaid to the government. Rivers of revenue gold! And we’d be harnessing a massive cohort of educated women, whose contributions to innovation, research, healthcare, education, management, leadership and myriad fields of endeavour would benefit the entire nation.

The solution is surprisingly simple: if childcare was tax deductible for working parents – sensibly capped and coupled with subsidies for low-income earners – childcare would be more affordable and more educated mothers would work, and for longer hours.


Wonder Woman Is Propaganda

Wonder Woman is very strong and beautiful. She fights against an evil woman with a tremulous voice who covers a facial injury with a mask. An American man leads this strong woman into conflict with Germans. Germans are evil and Americans are good. Disability is evil and beauty is good. Weakness is evil and strength is good. Friendship and idealism will win the war, and some immortal demigoddess protects our freedom.

The engine of American ideology drives Wonder Woman, which is in the end a movie about violence.

This movie is a document of political indoctrination. It’s great to watch a hot woman punch through walls. It was also a privilege to witness giantess-fetishes flower in so many young minds at the same time. But the idea that we should debate how “feminist” Wonder Woman may or may not be is, despite its female director and star, laughable.


Pioneering female mechanic Alice Anderson back in the spotlight

In her 29 years, Alice Anderson was many things: mechanic, inventor, owner of Australia’s first all-women garage, chauffeur to the stars and a celebrity of Melbourne’s Roaring Twenties.

She invented a trolley to roll under cars, similar to the one that is now standard in garages around the world, and once drove her “Baby” Austin 7 car to Alice Springs.

Historian Loretta Smith first came across Anderson in a biography of early 1900s garden designer Edna Walling, which described Anderson arriving at a party in 1919 driving a large touring car and wearing a man’s coat, tweed cap and goggles.

She has started a Facebook page, Alice Anderson Garage Girl, to highlight the story of the sassy, exuberant Anderson. And in an as-yet-unpublished book, she challenges the finding that Anderson’s death in 1926 was an accident.

In 1919, aged just 22, Alice Anderson opened the Kew Garage, which sold petrol, repaired cars, was a driving school and 24-hour chauffeur service.

Smith says Anderson should be recognised for her achievements. “She was such an entrepreneur, she was innovative, and didn’t let being a woman get in the way of what she wanted to achieve.”


The Trump resistance can be best described in one adjective: female

Women, of course, have long played key but under-acknowledged roles in the great movements of American history, from the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s to Ferguson and Standing Rock. With the anti-Trump resistance, though, the preponderance of women is so noteworthy and significant that failing to name it obscures the movement’s basic nature – and distorts the larger political conversation surrounding it.

Why have so many articles, blog posts, and tweets invoked the resistance without acknowledging who is doing most of the day-to-day work of resisting? It might be because the majority of pundits, commentators, and advice-givers on the left still come from the very demographic group that’s so strikingly underrepresented among the forces fighting Trump: men.

(ed: not forgetting the role played by women in the abolition of slavery!)


Sweden to cut aid to groups applying Trump abortion ban

A Swedish government agency on Tuesday threatened to cut aid to NGOs which have suspended abortion services over fears of losing US funding due to a decree signed by President Donald Trump.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), which aims to tackle global poverty, said it has decided that “partner organisations that receive aid to work on sexual and reproductive health and rights but also accept the president’s orders, can no longer receive aid”.