By Linda Meric

Each year, on August 26, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day to pay tribute to those brave suffragists, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Ida B. Wells Barnett, who led the struggle for American women to win the most critical tool of democracy -- the right to vote.

Women today not only have the right to vote, but we’ve made significant advances in the world of work, in education, in business, and in many other arenas. Still, Women’s Equality Day 2009 offers the chance for a temperature check. Are we there yet? How close have we come to full equality? And what steps can we take now to come closer?

Women in the U.S. still earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. African-American women and Latinas experience an even bigger pay gap. The pay gap persists despite occupation, despite personal choices, despite income, and despite education. In fact, women earn less than their male colleagues just one year out of college, even when the work is exactly the same. And the gap widens after that.

At the rate we’re going, women will have to wait until the year 2050 to reach pay equity. But we can’t afford to wait that long. We need stronger fair pay laws and vigorous enforcement to end pay discrimination. We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act now.

Click here to read the full Op-ed

Monday, August 17, 2009

Singing the Praises of Youth Choirs

By Ann Meier Baker

Most children, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, will tell you of their dreams to become a football player, a rock star, a doctor, a pilot – even President of the United States. I have yet to hear a child tell me, “I want to sing in chorus.”

And yet when you look at the biography of many successful athletes, singers, doctors, and other professionals – including Beyonce, Brad Pitt, football great Terry Bradshaw, attorney Alan Dershowitz, and yes, even our current president -- you’ll find that one thing they have in common is that as children they all sang in a school or community choir.

A new study commissioned by my organization, Chorus America, confirms what many have long suspected: children who sing in a chorus are more likely to do well academically and develop critical social skills.

Click Here to Read Full Op-ed


By Soo Ji Min

Bianca (not her real name) is a 17-year-old pregnant woman who lives in Chicago and is already raising a 1-year-old child. She has made the difficult decision to get an abortion and cannot tell her mother because if she did, Bianca and her daughter would be thrown out onto the streets.

The state isn’t making things easier either. Recently, the injunction on the 1995 Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act was dissolved by the U.S. Court of Appeals thus requiring notification either by phone or face-to-face, to a person over 21 years of age who is a parent, grandparent, step-parent living in the household or the legal guardian of the pregnant youth. That means if Bianca -- and countless others like her under the age of 18 -- tried to access an abortion after 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, August 4, 2009, the abortion provider would be legally bound to give at least 48 hours notice to an adult family member.

While parental notification laws are intended to protect young women, they assume that all young women can safely involve their family in the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Ideally, young women would freely inform their parents or other trusted adults. And most do.

By Steve Macek and Scott Sanders

The much-delayed switchover to digital TV is now behind us. On June 12, all full power TV stations in the country ceased their analog broadcasts and made the final switch to a digital only format.

In the lead up to the DTV transition, the public's attention focused almost entirely upon ways of mitigating the switchover's effect on the elderly, the poor and non-English speakers who rely on over-the-air television far more than the general population. In response to such concerns, the federal government created a coupon program that subsidized most of the cost of digital-to-analog converter boxes, but then failed to fully fund it. When it became clear that millions of households would not be ready for DTV by the original February 17 deadline, Congress pushed back the transition date.

The extra time -- together with an additional $650 million appropriated by Congress for more converter boxes and more public outreach -- seems to have done the trick. Though some viewers have reported losing the signals of individual stations in certain markets, the vast majority of Americans weathered the shift to DTV without losing service or being excessively inconvenienced.

Click Here to Read Full Op-ed


By Mary Barber, MD, and Serena Yuan Volpp, MD

The other day, our friend Sheila and her daughter Maya were talking about growing up. Sheila told her daughter, "Honey, when you grow up, I promise you'll find a nice boy to marry who will love you." Maya, who is eight years old, replied, "But Mom, I could marry a girl." Sheila stood corrected. They live in Massachusetts.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for five years now, and the law has begun to affect the way children and adolescents are able to envision their domestic futures. Of course, Maya is not old enough to understand what the concepts of heterosexuality and homosexuality really mean. Whether or not she herself grows up to be gay, she already has a wider view of the world’s possibilities than do many of the grown-ups around her.

So, when do kids become aware that they are gay or lesbian? Kids who grow up to be gay don't wake up one day at age 12 or 13 and say, “Hey, I’m gay!” Recognizing one’s own sexuality is a long and often challenging process. When kids grow up in a world that assumes everyone will grow up to be heterosexual, those kids who grow up to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual face extra developmental challenges. Kids taunt each other on the playground with the word "faggot" without fully understanding or thinking about what that word means. That affects a kid’s self esteem when -- sometimes years later -- he connects that word, and the pain of being teased, with sexual or romantic feelings he has for someone of the same sex.

Click Here to Read Full Op-eds