Do Female Actresses Mind a Wage Gap?

By Christina Terrell

Watch some of television’s biggest female stars discuss their experiences in Hollywood.

When it comes to Hollywood stars, most people don’t see money as an issue for anyone – male or female. But what some people do not realize is that in today’s celebrity-focused world, women suffer from the biggest wage gape of all. These women come from different cultures and have varying ages and backgrounds, but that doesn’t matter to the entertainment industry.

In Net-A-Porter’s third annual Women in Television issue, four very well-known and talented female actresses gather to discuss why actresses don’t talk about their worth – and to talk about how they can use their voices to empower one another. These four women include Ellen Pompeo, Emma Roberts, Gabrielle Union, and Gina Rodriquez. Each of these women have held very memorable roles on the television screen. For example, you may know Ellen Pompeo from the hit show Gray’s Anatomy. In the YouTube video, she touches on her experiences with co-stars and crew members from the show, and how she found out that they were not getting paid equally, but still putting in the same amount of work as she was. For this very reason, Pompeo witnessed her hairdresser walk off set in the middle of shooting.

“I’m battling every day.”

Ellen Pompeo

This television debate also touches on some other reasons as to why women in the film industry suffer from such a big wage gap. The talented actresses say that they have experienced cultural discrimination, not just gender-based, and have not been paid equally or allowed to participate in certain projects. Gina Rodriguez, for example, speaks from her experiences and tells viewers how she has taken a job before where she later found out that someone before her was offered the same role, but for much more money. Rodriguez went to the directors of the project and asked for that same amount and was told no. She said that the personally felt as though the people working on the project did not see her as valuable and felt that she could easily be replaced.

“Growing up as a Latina in the United States, I didn’t see us portrayed positively on TV.”

Gina Rodriguez

Throughout the Net-A-Porter video, these gifted actresses go on to share many more experiences that they have had in Hollywood. They also debate ways in which this can be overcome, and share valuable tips about how to empower one another as females working in the entertainment industry.

Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Right to Vote

By Ann Varner

We are less than a day away from the midterm elections for 2018. It seems that everywhere I turn there are political campaigns, and it’s impossible to escape from it on social media, the radio, the TV, or even signs on cars and in people’s yards. As much as the radio ads annoy me, I must remember and be grateful that I have my right to vote, and that the right for women to vote didn’t come easily. One of the people we can thank for helping move the 19th Amendment of the Constitution along is Susan B. Anthony.

Susan B. Anthony was “a pioneer crusader for the woman suffrage movement in the United States and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.” Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15th, 1820 in Massachusetts. She grew up in a family that was active in politics. She became inspired to fight for women’s rights when she was denied the chance to speak at a convention campaigning against alcohol, because she’s a woman. She realized then that no one would take women seriously unless they had the right to vote. She founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Over the years, the two women traveled around the country to give speeches regarding women’s right to vote. Sadly, she would die in 1906, before the 19th amendment was passed giving all women the right to vote. However, she will always be recognized for her efforts. It would not be until August 26th, 1920 that the senate ratified the 19th amendment and American women gained full voting rights. It was the National Woman Suffrage Association that continued to crusade and helped this right for women to happen. Without her, the NWSA would have not existed and it could have been many more years, if ever, that women were allowed to vote.

I am not only to tell you how to vote or for whom, but please always exercise your right to vote. When you haven’t had to fight for a certain right it is easy to take advantage of it or not use it at all. Without the right to vote the people are voiceless, and as women we must always use our voice and our right to vote to push for progress in this country.

Event Preview: May the Book Open: Lessons from the Republic of Gilead

By Nina Cherry

Join us this Wednesday, November 7 for a discussion on the book and HULU series The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This dystopian novel is set in the future in an oppressive, authoritarian state in New England. With the birth rate plummeting due to environmental conditions, fertile women are forced to bear children. These women are at the bottom of the social class structure and are only valued by society for their fertility. The story focuses around one of these women – Offred, who was uprooted from her family and assigned to be a “handmaid” for “the Commander.”

Atwood’s evocative novel, which she began writing in 1984, is her own frightening forecast of the future. The book explores several relevant women’s rights issues that we look forward to discussing.

Lunch will be provided!

Gilead is a tyranny of nostalgia, a rape culture that denounces the previous society — ours — for degrading women with pornography. It controls women by elevating them, fetishizing motherhood, praising femininity, but defining it in terms of service to men and children.”  The New York Times

What: Book Discussion: May the Book Open: Lessons from the Republic of Gilead

Join us for lunch and a discussion on the book and HULU series The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Who: Co-sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center and UMKC University Libraries

When: Wednesday, November 7, 12-1 p.m.

Where: Miller Nichols Library Room 325, 800 E. 51st Street, Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Free!

Please RSVP by November 5th. For more information or to RSVP, call the UMKC Women’s Center at 816-235-1638 or email us at umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Event Preview: Feminist Film Friday

By Nina Cherry

On October 5th, we will be hosting Feminist Film Friday! Come join us at the Women’s Center from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Take some time to unwind, watch Arrival (featuring the fantastic Amy Adams), enjoy some free snacks and start your weekend off right! We can’t wait to see you there!

What: Feminist Film Friday – Hang out and watch Arrival with us!

“When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team–lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams)–are brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers–and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.” –The Bismarck Tribune

Who: This event is sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center

When: Friday, October 5th, 2018 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Where: UMKC Women’s Center, 5120 Rockhill Road, 105 Haag Hall, Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Free!

Parking: Parking is available in the Rockhill Road parking garage across from the Women’s Center.

Please RSVP to umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu or 816-235-1638.

No More Bossy Girls

By Nina Cherry

It seems that I have been taking initiative since the day I was born. I am a natural born leader, a perfectionist, and I like things done correctly and in a timely matter. Growing up, my assertiveness caused me to frequently be labeled as “bossy,” while the boys were always labeled leaders.

But why are girls labeled as bossy? When we use the word bossy to describe girls, we are reinforcing the idea that their strength is inferior.  The negative connotation of the word often discourages girls to pursue leadership and encourages them to be more reserved.

I always thought that I come off as strong, but I only recently realized that I am just assertive and determined, and I am finally unperturbed by that. There have been many times in my life where I have debated whether or not to bite my tongue, to be passive or assertive, or to seem more “ladylike.” But I was not raised to be ladylike; I was raised to be a strong woman. I was raised to be confident. I was raised to be loud. And, as Beyonce says, “I’m not bossy – I’m the boss.”

So let’s not have any more bossy girls. We need to empower our confident, strong, assertive, brave, loud girls and encourage them to be leaders.

Ban Bossy is a movement dedicated to ending the stigmas associated with strong-willed young women. Created by Girl Scouts of America and Lean In, it challenges us to find words other than “bossy.” If you agree with Nina’s thoughts, pledge to ban using the word “bossy” when describing young girls at http://banbossy.com/.

Event Preview: Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ 2018

By Samantha Anthony

Signs are welcome at the march. Here, some students show off their posters from the 2017 event.

Each year, the UMKC Women’s Center advocates for change through our organization and presentation of Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ, a march dedicated to women’s rights and violence prevention. The Women’s Center website states that since 2007, over 1,000 people have participated in the march at UMKC.

What: Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ is “The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence.” It asks men to walk in high-heeled shoes to better understand and appreciate women’s experiences, improve gender relationships, and decrease the potential for violence. To find out more, visit www.walkamileinhershoes.org.

Who: Presented by the UMKC Women’s Center and Violence Prevention & Response Program

When: Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 5:30. A kick-off will take place before the march, which will begin at 6.

Where: UMKC University Playhouse, 51st & Holmes St., Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is FREE for students, but you must register at https://info.umkc.edu/womenc/programs/walk-a-mile-in-her-shoes/

Advance: $25 Staff/Faculty; $50 Community

Walk-In: $30 Staff/Faculty; $55 Community

All proceeds will benefit the UMKC Women’s Center and Violence Prevention & Response Program.

Parking: Ample parking is available at the Cherry Street Parking Structure located at Oak and 50th Street. Metered parking is also available on campus. For more information, visit https://www.umkc.edu/finadmin/parking/default.cfm.

Please note that we have a limited number of heels available for walkers. Ask your friends and family to borrow some heels, or, if you would like to donate a pair of heels, send us an email: umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

A Woman in a Man’s World: Elizabeth Kosko

By Nina Cherry

Kasko is a female percussionist and a student at UMKC.

Elizabeth Kosko began playing drums nearly twenty years ago. Since then, she has attended Emporia State University for her undergraduate degree, University of Southern California for her Masters, and has served as a substitute performer for the LA Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony, among other ensembles. She is a current DMA student at UMKC’s Conservatory and Dance.

Kosko didn’t notice gender discrimination as a female percussionist throughout junior high, high school, and not even during her undergraduate studies at Emporia State, but when she did she was caught by surprise. She started to encounter discrimination when she began playing professionally. Upon moving to Los Angeles, she quickly realized that the freelancing world was a “boy’s club.”

Auditions for professional orchestras are blind, but pre-professional ensemble auditions are not. These pre-professional ensembles, such as the New World Symphony, are crucial in order to be accepted into professional orchestra auditions later on. Kosko informed me that in the past thirty years,  the New World Symphony has had a total of four female percussionists – and one of them was by default. Even after a group of female percussionists petitioned for blind auditions, they refused.

Most female percussionists focus on mallet percussion, such as xylophone or marimba, with the males traditionally playing snare drum or timpani. Kosko believes that this stigma derives from marching band, with the assumption that a girl isn’t strong enough to carry a snare drum or a bass drum.

Kosko told me that she finds empowerment from her friends’ and colleagues’ success. She adds, “Something that I’ve tried to embrace more recently, which is another aspect of what makes me being a percussionist and a figure in entertainment a little bit different, is that I’m queer, but also visibly queer.” When playing in Children’s Concert Series, she believes it is important for young people to see a queer woman in the percussion section among the men.

There is a long way to go in terms of gender equity in the music industry, especially in terms of percussion, but with more women like Elizabeth Kosko, we can bridge that gap.

The Women Behind Walt

By Samantha Anthony

A woman in the Ink and Paint department works on Pinocchio.

The arrival of fall is near, and for me that means finding fun things to do inside when the weather is rainy, snowy, or just too cold for my liking. One of the most popular fall pastimes is watching movies cuddled under a blanket – I’m a child at heart, so Disney’s animated films are a common selection for me on movie nights. Although I’ve been a fan of movies like Sleeping Beauty, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, and many more, it wasn’t until just recently that I learned about the multitude of women that pioneered the Ink and Paint department at Walt Disney’s studio in Burbank, California during the company’s earliest years, which would later be referred to as “The Golden Age” of Disney film creation.

Although they suffered from lack of recognition and lower wages during their time at the production company, the women who worked for Disney have received more attention in recent years.

A portrait of Mary Blair, who would go on to serve as Walt Disney’s art supervisor. (1941)

In a Vanity Fair article by Patricia Zohn, she chronicles the lives of the young women who worked in the Ink and Paint department at Walt Disney Animation Studios from 1930 through the end of World War II. “‘I’ll be so thankful when Snow White is released and I can live like a human once again,’” Zohn quotes from a letter penned by a woman who worked 85 hours a week toward the end of production on the film, which was anticipated to be a huge success. Zohn writes, “During Snow White, it was not at all unusual to see the ‘girls’ – as Walt paternalistically referred to them – thin and exhausted, collapsed on the lawn, in the ladies’ lounge, or even under their desks.’” The all-women Ink and Paint department was responsible for the coloration and line work in Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, and more animated films. In the weeks leading up to the release of Snow White, some women did not receive their paychecks (“Walt joked that he had to mortgage Minnie and Mickey,” Zohn writes), and still they toiled away meticulously at their work, painting characters and scenes precisely as directed. Snow White would go on to become the highest-grossing American film at the time after its premiere, to which none of the women were invited. Still, the girls were honored to work for Disney, sometimes after attending months of unpaid training with no promise of an offer at the end.

Disney’s Golden Age ended, but women were still a vital part of the creativity and talent required to produce the company’s whimsical films. In the mid-20th century, artist Mary Blair became one of Walt Disney’s most respected illustrators. Blair created concept art for a number of films, including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Katherine Brooks writes in a Huffington Post article that Blair’s “…bright designs and modernist style reigned supreme at Walt Disney’s studio for nearly 30 years, during which she created iconic illustrations and drawings.” Today, Blair is commonly credited for her work with colors and character development in a number of Disney films, some of which she worked on as art supervisor, an esteemed position for which Walt Disney appointed her himself.

Art by Mary Blair for the film “Alice in Wonderland.”

Today, Disney recognizes its female contributors with pride. Moana, which was released by Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2016, was the first Disney animated feature film to have a woman serve as the head of animation, according to an article by Julie Hinds for the Detroit Free Press. Watching a Disney film is a special, almost therapeutic occasion, but knowing about the women who worked on these movies somehow makes it even better. Don’t you agree?

Mrs., Miss, and Ms.: The Evolution of “Ms.”

By Ann Varner

Recently, I realized that while I know the differences between “Mrs.,” “Miss,” and “Ms.,” I didn’t know the significance of how “Ms.” came to be. The literary term for these titles are honorificsAccording to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “Mrs.” is “a title used before a surname or full name to address or refer to a married woman.” This is something I’m sure everyone knows. Families and friends have made a huge ordeal about the bride becoming a “Mrs.” in every wedding I’ve been in or attended. Additionally, Grammarly.com states that “Miss” is a title of respect for an unmarried woman.

“Ms.” came about in the 1950’s as a title of respect for women that did not disclose a woman’s marital status. It’s only fair, after all, because “Mr.” is the equivalent to “Ms.” as it also does not disclose a man’s marital status. We can thank

Sheila Michaels, the activist who popularized the term “Ms.” for women.

Ms. Sheila Michaels, a feminist who campaigned to popularize the title “Ms.” in the 1960’s as a way for women not to be defined by their relationships with men.

In 1986, “Ms.” became popular and accepted after the New York Times published that it would begin using the term “Ms.” as “an honorific in its news and editorial columns.”

While we as a society have made many advancements on how we view women, please remember that using “Ms.” (unless you’re told otherwise or they have a doctorate) is the best form of respect when addressing a woman in a professional manner.

Choose Your Words Wisely

Image from Flickr

By Chris Howard-Williams

I believe in the importance of the words we use.  Perhaps this is why, one of my first weeks working in the Women’s Center, I noticed something interesting about our mission statement: “The mission of the Women’s Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is to advocate, educate, and provide support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community at large (emphasis mine).”  It’s a small thing, but for some reason, it struck me that the mission statement used the word equity as opposed to equality, and it immediately got me thinking.  Was there a reason for the specific choice of words?

A quick Google search turned up an article from Forbes that very succinctly describes the difference between gender equality and gender equity.  Gender equality does not mean that women and men will become the same, but rather that their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities will not be dependent on whether they were born female or male.  Gender equity, however, means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. It understands that, while equality is the ultimate goal, there may need to be some “leveling of the playing field” in order for equality to be achieved.  It is the concept that “fair does not always mean equal”.

So, why is this distinction important?  Well, in my mind’s eye, I see it like a road map.  Gender equality is the destination we want to reach, but gender equity is the route we have to take to get there.  As much as we may want equality between the genders, we have to realize that we aren’t there yet and we have to do some work in order to arrive. The Global Gender Gap Report 2017, put out by the World Economic Forum, ranks the United States as 49th out of 144 countries in their ability to close the gender gap in their country. As shocking as this statistic is, it is even more disheartening to learn that the 2013 report ranked the US as 23rd (out of 136 countries ranked that year) on the list. We not only have a gender gap problem … it’s getting worse!  And according to the 2017 report, it will take 217 years at the present course to achieve gender equity!

So, is one little word important?  It absolutely is!  While “equality” is a good reminder of where we want to be, “equity” is the wake-up call that we aren’t there yet.  As Dr. Nancy Southern puts it in a blog post, “most people don’t see how important (gender equity) is to creating a healthy society.”  She goes on to argue that we need to change the conversation in America to “how we can create the institutional, economic, cultural and other conditions so that women can equally contribute their knowledge, skills, and experience to creating a better society.”  The truth is, without equity, we are missing out on a big part of our potential as a society, and that’s a lot of weight bound up in just one simple word.

So, choose your words wisely … they may just be the keys we need to unlock our future!