For many of us, late August brings to mind the smell of freshly waxed classroom floors, the sound of slamming locker doors and posing with our lunchboxes for a first-day photo after the long summer’s break. It’s back-to-school season, a time when millions of schoolchildren everywhere make a fresh new start. With that in mind we offer an assignment for adults who want to ride the back-to-school spirit and hit the books: Read something about women’s equality.
Women’s Equality Day is August 26, a day to survey the landscape, think about a more equitable future for our daughters and granddaughters, nieces and friends, and learn more about the societal costs of inequality and what we can do to make a more just world. The women and men of Pax Ellevate think about and work toward women’s equality every day, so we asked them to suggest reading material that might resonate. Here’s what they recommended.
1. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men — Caroline Criado Perez
This book plucked all the right strings: It exposed all the hidden places where equality is subtly but effectively made more onerous, and it appealed to the nerd in me that always searches out the facts in order to work for solutions. The book’s dedication says it all: “For the women who persist: Keep on being bloody difficult.”
—Julie Gorte, Senior Vice President for Sustainable Investing
2. Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves — Kate T. Parker
I gave this book to my daughter on her eighth birthday. It is filled with amazing photos showing girls being brave, confident, empowered and silly. They are all doing something that they love and appear so comfortable with who they are. My daughter comes back to this book often. I love that it is providing her with empowering images that are the opposite of what she is seeing in media today.
—Jenifer Cannon, Vice President, Business Development
3. The Investment Case for Gender Equality — by Julie Gorte
The case for gender equality has never been stronger, as shown in this research roundup that my colleague Julie Gorte has updated for 2019. It explores recent additions to an already robust body of evidence showing the positive effect of gender diversity in business. This is a great read for anyone who cares about inequality, and it’s a must-read for investors whose portfolios are not yet gender-diversified.
—Barbara Browning, Portfolio Manager, Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund
4. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide — Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
I first read this book when I was in college and it truly changed how I saw the world (and likely led me to pursue the career I have!). “Half the Sky” shines light on the various injustices women face all over the world and the incredible work being done to fight for these women.
—Kelly Coyne, Vice President, Global Women’s Strategies
5. Equality Can’t Wait, No Joke — Evoke.org
“Let’s get equality done faster.” That’s the gist of a new campaign that Melinda Gates helped launch this month, and I’m excited to see it. The World Economic Forum has estimated that it will take 208 years to achieve gender equality in the United States at the current rate of progress. This campaign website is full of facts and figures that will make you want to stand up, raise your voice and do what you can to accelerate progress. @EqualityCantWait
—Heather Smith, Lead Sustainability Research Analyst
6. Across the Board Improvements: Gender Diversity and ESG Performance — Cristina Banahan and Gabriel Hasson, ISS Corporate Solutions
This interesting study found that companies in the S&P 500 with more gender-diverse boards (three women or more) also had superior ESG scores.
—Scott LaBreche, Director, Portfolio Analytics & Index Strategy Optimization and Portfolio Manager, Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund
7. Toni Morrison, Revolutionary Political Thinker — Angela Davis and Farah Jasmine Griffin
This New York Times remembrance of Toni Morrison is worth a read on Women’s Equality Day, or any day. Davis and Griffin remind us that Morrison’s canon “demonstrates the absolute and destructive absurdity of any position that would claim others lesser than or unequal.”
—Joseph Keefe, CEO