Keeping Score: Why Are COVID Response Teams Dominated by Men?

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Lest We Forget

+ “We need to hold each other accountable for standing up against racism and discrimination of any kind. … We must not let the progress of our ancestors have been in vain.”

—High school senior DayOnna Carson during her valedictorian speech at Central High School in Chattanooga, Tenn.

+ “This moment has taught me a lot. As an entrepreneur, you try to plan out ahead as much as possible, but the reality is this: You never know what the next day will bring. But creating a loyal community and trying your best to be as resilient as possible during times of adversity can put you ahead of the curve.”

—23-year-old Akilah Releford, who started a million-dollar cosmetics business from her dorm room at Howard University, on the lessons the current upheaval can teach us

+ After the remains of Spc. Vanessa Guillén were found near Fort Hood on July 3, an outpouring of support for female service members and veterans to share their experiences of harassment and assault under the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen

+ The world has seen an outpouring of love for actress Naya Rivera following her death. She used her final moments to save her 4-year-old son. She is best known for her role as Santana Lopez on hit musical TV show “Glee.”

+ “I double-dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely.”

—National Education Association president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

Milestones

+ Dana Canedy, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes since 2017, was named senior vice president and publisher at Simon & Schuster, one of the largest names in the publishing industry. She will be the first Black woman to hold this position. 


Here at Ms., our team is continuing to report through this global health crisis—doing what we can to keep you informed and up-to-date on some of the most underreported issues of this pandemic. We ask that you consider supporting our work to bring you substantive, unique reporting—we can’t do it without you. Support our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.


+ Quaker Oats will be rebranding its packaging to remove the depiction of Aunt Jemima. Critics say she, as an icon, represents the racist “mammy” caricature. Family members are calling for the company to do something positive to commemorate the Black women who have portrayed Aunt Jemima for the 130-year-old brand. 

+ Joy Reid will host MSNBC’s new weeknight 7 p..m. show, “The ReidOut.” She is the first Black woman to have a nightly primetime news show. 

Keeping Score: Why Are COVID Response Teams Dominated by Men?
Joy Reid will be hosting a new primetime show—making her the first Black woman primetime anchor in cable TV history. (JoyAnnReid.com)

+ Valentina Sampaio becomes the first transgender model featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. She also is the first transgender woman to work with Victoria’s Secret. 

+ Mary Trump, a psychologist and Donald Trump’s niece, has written a bombshell tell-all book called “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” which chronicles “a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse.”

+ A female soldier, for the first time, has graduated from the elite Special Forces course and will join one of the Army’s Green Beret team. The Green Berets, comprised of more than 6,700 members, are expert combatants. The moment comes after a long campaign to put more women in front-line combat careers in the Armed Forces.

How We’re Doing

+ Florida State University will “no longer allow employees to care for children while working remotely,” effective August 7—a change in the exemption from this policy while working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The university isn’t expected to be alone in its stance, and policies like this one disproportionately impact working women over their male colleagues. According to the National Women’s Law Center and their 2018 analysis of census data, working mothers lose an average of $16,000 per year in wages. If that financial burden was somehow bearable before, the new burden of time—as women scramble to find appropriate childcare during the pandemic—might not be.

+ The Supreme Court recently decided that employers are allowed to deny birth control coverage as part of their health insurance plans, citing the value of religious freedom. The companies do not have to report their decision to discontinue the coverage of birth control—so people taking medicine may discover that they will have to pay out-of-pocket fees once already refilling a prescription. 

+ The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, host of the Oscars, is committed to extending membership (voting privilege) to more women and minorities. The incoming class of 819 film industry experts is 45 percent women, 36 percent racial minorities and 49 percent international. Notable actresses invited to the organization include Yalitza Aparicio, Awkwafina, Zendaya, Beanie Feldstein, Jang Hye-Jin, Natasha Lyonne, Niecy Nash, Florence Pugh and Constance Wu. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCE7geLlpE4/

+ The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group, reports that 34 percent of women are either delaying pregnancy or choosing to have fewer children in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, women also report an increased difficulty in accessing birth control. The conflict between access to contraception and fertility goals is troubling. 

+ COVID-19 response teams are mostly made up of men. For instance, of the 27 members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, there are only two women. There are just 10 women on the WHO’s Emergency Committee on COVID-19, which has 31 members. By contrast, women make up about 70 percent of the world’s health care workers. 

+ Virginia will finally be testing a backlog of 2,665 rape kits. According to Attorney General of Virginia Mark R. Herring, 43 states still have rape kit backlogs. 

+ According to Pew Research, 70 percent of Americans say the feminist movement has helped advance women’s rights. Roughly 40 percent of women say that feminism has personally contributed to their advancement in society. Seven-in-ten say the feminist movement has done at least a fair amount to advance women’s rights

Other highlights from the study:

  • About half of Americans say that women’s suffrage has been the most important milestone in advancing women’s rights.
  • 77 percent identify sexual harassment as a major obstacle to gender equality.
  • 70 percent say the feminist movement has improved women’s station in society.
  • 41 percent of women say feminism has personally benefited them.
  • 76 percent of Americans say that women’s progress has not come at the expense of men.
  • 78 percent are in favor of adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Most Americans say the country needs to do more for gender equality.

The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-movingDuring this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

About and

Sarah Montgomery is a senior at USC. She is passionate about using writing as a tool for social change. Her Starbucks beverage of choice is the iced skinny vanilla latte—personal cup and reusable straw, of course.
Caroline is a senior at Dartmouth College, studying English, Art History, and Religion. She has previously published work in Lady Science magazine and a series of children's books based on scientific research. Follow her on twitter @caroline_e_cook .