Entries in Women (29)


Warren Buffett: ‘Tough to Watch’ Washington Gridlock

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- During an interview on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett bemoaned the political gridlock in Washington, telling chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis that it is “tough to watch.”

“It’s tough to watch what happens in Washington. It’s gotten more and more partisan, but now so many elections are determined by the primaries and not the November elections, that it does tend to push both sides to the extremes and to cause them to dig in and feel that they can’t bend from positions ’cause they’ll get primaried.”

Buffett, an iconic investor, also weighed in on the economy, saying it has improved since the recession of 2008, but made no predictions about where the stock market is headed.

“I think to some extent it takes time. We’ve had a lot of fiscal stimulus. We’ve had an extraordinary amount of monetary stimulus. And I think those were the right things to be doing, considering the incredible situation that existed in 2008. I generally approve of what the latter stages of it hit, what the Bush administration did. I approve of what the Obama administration has done. Nothing is perfect, but we had some huge problems in 2008, and our country is doing reasonably well coming out of that. It’s a lot slower than people would like, but it was a lot bigger problem than any of us had ever seen,” he said.

 “I don’t know the answer to what the market will do next week or next month or next year. But the economy generally has gotten better over the last four years. The stock market got very depressed. I wrote about it in late 2008, and said the stocks are very cheap. They’re not as cheap now. They don’t look overpriced. They certainly look more attractive than fixed income investments to me. But I have no idea what the stock market will do next week or next month or next year,” Buffett said.

During the interview, the “Oracle of Omaha” also highlighted the importance of fully utilizing women when it comes to the economy.

“I think we have made a terrible mistake in this country and a lot of other countries too in not using all of our talent. I mean, if we said we were only gonna let people — men five foot ten or below engage in three or four occupations, it would be regarded as totally nutty. And for decades, centuries, we relegated women to just a few occupations. We did not fully use the talent that’s available. And we’re making progress, but we’ve got a ways to go,” he Buffett said.

“I think there should be more pushing forward in terms of both the outer structure, but then I was also encouraging women to not hold themselves back.”

Buffett, who said he joined Twitter to help draw attention to an article he had written in Fortune about women in business, joined the social network amid much fanfare. Still, he called himself a technophobe.

“You’re still looking at a technophobe who’s kind of pathetic in all things new, but I felt it would give additional distribution, particularly to an article I wanted to have wide distribution about women. So I joined Twitter and it seems to be working,” Buffett said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Researcher Questions Whether Women More Risk-Averse Than Men

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While previous academic research has shown women to be less willing to engage in risk than men in situations like gambling, a new economics paper released this week finds men can be just as risk-averse, if not more.

Julie Nelson, chairwoman of the economics department at University of Massachusetts-Boston, wrote “Are Women Really More Risk-Averse Than Men?” as a working paper this week.

“The paper finds a lot of the economics and finance research in behavioral differences between men and women is vastly exaggerated,” Nelson said.

Nelson and a research assistant reviewed more than 24 published articles about the subject, many of which studied men and women’s gambling habits and often concluded that women were less willing to gamble.

“My paper goes over the literature and says ‘not so fast,’” she said.

Nelson often found small differences in the averages of the two genders that measured how willing they were to take risks.

“Academic articles hide that there is a lot of overlap between men and women,” Nelson said.

Nelson pointed out that it should be difficult to generalize on risk just from studies about lottery-like games, upon which is what much of the research is based.

“That’s easy to do with a bunch of undergraduates in a psych lab,” she said of much of the research methodology about the subject.

Either there are problems with studies themselves or some people over-interpreted the results, Nelson said.

Kimmo Eriksson, a Swedish scholar, co-authored a paper called “Emotional reactions to losing explain gender differences in entering a risky lottery” in 2010. However, after reading Nelson’s paper, he acknowledged in a blog post his error in citing a previous risk-related gender study.

Eriksson and his co-author had written that “females’ lower risk preferences and less risky behavior is robust across a variety of contexts.”  However, the previous study he cited concluded that the majority, 60 percent, of the research subjects supported “the idea of greater risk taking on the part of males,” and, “a sizable minority,” 40 percent, were either negative or close to zero.

A loose translation of his blog post included, “Julie Nelson is of course right that robustness was too strong a word.”

As an economics professor, Nelson pointed out that generalizations based upon gender about risk-aversion can lead to broader cultural bias in financial decision-making and the workplace. She argued out that the cultural perceptions of what is masculine and feminine may be more influential on one’s risk aversion than a biological difference.

“Could the financial crisis that began in 2008 be attributed, at least in part, to issues of sex and gender?” she wrote in the paper. “In the wake of the crisis, several commentators asked whether women leaders would have prevented it or whether it would have happened ‘if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters’. The evidence reviewed in this essay suggests, however, that the biological sex of the financial decision-makers or regulators is likely not the most important factor.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Evolution Drives 'Lipstick Effect' During Recessions, Researchers Say

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A group of psychologists have added a twist to the so-called "lipstick effect" -- the idea that women will buy less-expensive luxury goods in hard economic times -- saying women spend more on beauty products to increase their attractiveness when there are fewer "high-quality men in a woman's mating pool."

But at least one economist questions whether the finding has less to do with human nature and more with over-generalizing gender stereotypes.

The researchers, which included professors from Texas Christian University, University of Minnesota, University of Texas at San Antonio and Arizona State University, presented five studies in the paper.  It's entitled "Boosting Beauty in an Economic Decline: Mating, Spending, and the Lipstick Effect" and was published last month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Guided by evolutionary theories, the group hypothesized in the paper, "Because economic recessions are reasoned to prompt women to expend more effort on mate attraction, is it possible that they may spur women to spend more on products that make them more attractive?"

In one study, the researchers had 154 university students, including 82 women and 72 men, read fictitious news articles describing harsh economic conditions, including staggering unemployment with no end in sight.  The participants were then asked if the reading material caused them to think there were fewer people in their social circle with a good job, steady income, a lot of money, who are physically attractive, "have a sexy body" and a "nice-looking face."

As the researchers expected, the article "led people to perceive that there are fewer people in their local environment who have good jobs, a steady income and a lot of money."  However, the two articles did not alter people's perceptions of the numbers of people who are physically attractive, have a sexy body, or have a nice face.

The participants were then asked based on their gender about their desire to purchase six products.  Three products enhance physical appearance: form-fitting jeans for both genders, form-fitting black dress for women or form-fitting polo shirt for men, and lipstick for women and facial cream for men.  The other three products were a wireless mouse, stapler and headphones.

While the researchers found no main effect of product type on purchasing desires for the men, they found a "significant interaction between priming condition and product type" for women.

"As predicted, women in the recession condition reported a significantly greater desire to purchase products that could enhance appearance compared with women in the control condition," the paper stated.

Julie A. Nelson, chairwoman of the economics department at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, questioned the study's hypothesis.

"It claims to find that spending more on beauty-enhancing products during recessions is an aspect of "women's psychology," and strongly suggests that this is an evolved response to competition for mates in hard times," she told ABC News.  "The first part of this is a gross over-generalization, while the second is speculative."

Nelson said the "findings come from study of only a narrow sub-class of women," young university students within the U.S.

In another study, the researchers hoped to study "general feelings of uncertainty" and predicted that feelings related to a recession "would lead women to report being more concerned with their physical attractiveness."

The researchers asked 36 unmarried female university students to view a slideshow summarizing a news story about the dire state of U.S. unemployment.  Another 40 participants were shown a slideshow summarizing "stringent academic requirements imposed by college administrators" as a control for the experiment.  The women were then asked a series of questions.

The recession slideshow led women to report wanting members of the opposite sex to think that they are pretty, to report that it is important to look good, and to report caring more about how attractive they look.  But the two groups did not differ in the degree to which they made women feel that the future is out of their hands, that the world is an unpredictable place, or that they feel uncertain about what tomorrow may bring.

Nelson said it is "plausible" that the purchase of beauty products is an evolutionary outcome of competition for mates, "but an explanation being plausible is a far cry from it being scientifically demonstrated."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Don't Stand So 'Clothes' to Me at Work

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "Dress for success, go easy on the excess" should be a rule of thumb on the job, according to a digital media company Captivate Network’s survey of 600 white collar workers.

Women who think that flaunting their cleavage will get them noticed might be right about that but in the wrong way, with 87 percent of senior managers stating that it’s more of a distraction than anything else.

Just over three of four senior managers say that short skirts shouldn’t be worn at the workplace, while 91 percent of women surveyed say that see-through clothing is particularly distracting.

Also on the list of women’s clothes bordering on being inappropriate at work are spaghetti straps, tight dresses or blouses, and hot pants.

Close to half of senior managers aren’t keen on their female employees wearing flip-flops, while 55 percent of women think that men should eschew this informal kind of footwear.

And there’s the issue of tattoos, which appears to me largely a generational thing. Just over six in ten people 50 and older feels that ink should be covered up while two-thirds of 35-to 49-year-olds don’t see any problem with their fellow workers showing their tats.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Scarcity’ of Women Leads to Costlier Dates, Engagement Rings

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that sex ratios, or the percentage of men and women, have a larger effect on our decisions than we think, including finding that men may pay more for a date or engagement ring when there are fewer women around.

In the first study, “The Financial Consequences of Too Many Men: Sex Ratio Effects on Saving, Borrowing and Spending,” published in January 2012, lead author Vlad Griskevicius, marketing and psychology professor at University of Minnesota’s Carlson’s School of Management, and his co-authors conducted two experiments.

In a laboratory study of about 600 people, when male college participants were told there was a scarcity of women on their campuses and in other areas of their lives, they were willing to pay $6.01 more on average for Valentine’s Day gifts and $278 more for an engagement ring than men who were not told of a supposed scarcity of the opposite sex.

“What’s always been interesting to me is people in the study are unaware that sex ratio has any affect on their preferences,” Griskevicius said. ”They just feel like an engagement ring should cost a particular amount, but they have no idea what’s causing them to feel that way.”

In a second analysis in the paper, the researchers conducted a data study of 143 U.S. cities. In places where women were more “scarce,” men cut their savings rate by 42 percent and they increased their credit card debt by 84 percent.

However, the researchers found that sex ratios did not seem to correlate with women’s financial practices.

Though women’s finances did not directly seem to be related to sex ratios, Griskevicius hypothesized that the scarcity of the opposite sex has an effect on women’s other choices, such as career decisions.

In a follow-up study published last month, called “Sex Ratio and Women’s Career Choice: Does Scarcity of Men Lead Women to Choose Briefcase Over Baby?” Griskevicius and his co-authors asked female college participants about their career and family decisions.

To one group, the researchers told the participants that there were fewer men in their communities, showed them photos with more women than men and altered news articles to show a scarcity of men. Those women more often chose high-paying careers than the women who were not shown a scarcity of men.

The Labor Department’s list of top paying careers for females includes medicine, law among other lucrative careers.

“Accordingly, this low-male sex ratio produced the strongest desire for lucrative careers in women who are least able to secure a mate,” the paper said. “These findings demonstrate that sex ratio has far-reaching effects in humans, including whether women choose briefcase over baby.”

Griskevicius said the second paper received a more “fiery” reaction than the first.

“People are going to be offended by this,” he said, adding that some women have called the research “sexist” and claimed that their career choices have nothing to do with potential mates.

On the other hand, he said some “career women” have acknowledged the research may have a grain of truth.

The “underlying response,” Griskevicius said, “is that people are often unaware of how … number of men and women in the workplace or on campus [is] changing their preferences.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Breaking New Ground: Oil Boom Draws More Women to Industry

Comstock/Thinkstock(LIBERAL, Kan.) -- Even before she suits up in her overalls and laces up in steel toe boots to head out to a drilling rig, Linda Trujillo is breaking new ground as one of the pioneers of America's gold rush.

The single mother of three says she first heard about the good paying jobs available in the oil fields from her older sister.

Trujillo made the decision to quit her job at a fast food restaurant in New Mexico, and move her family to Kansas -- one of the states experiencing an oil boom.

She says she spent the money from her tax refund to earn a license to drive heavy construction equipment.  Today, she's the only woman on a six man drilling crew.

"It's really stressful to work around a lot of men, and being the only woman. It's kind of awkward, but I manage.  They've adjusted to me," she says.

Trujillo's bold move was once unheard of, in what has mostly been a man's world.  But that world is beginning to show dramatic change.

According to Rigzone, a group that analyzes data for the oil and gas industry, approximately 48,900 women worked in America's oil fields in 2004.  The latest numbers from 2012 show 78,400 women working in the industry -- an increase of 29,500 in just seven years.

Todd Seba, Trujillio's supervisor, calls her one of his most valuable employees.

"We're a team, so as long as you're part of the team, you fit in," Seba says.  "She's good, she's good, she's part of the team and that means a lot."

For Trujillo, the gamble to start a new career has paid off.  She's now making $14.65 per hour with plenty of overtime pay.  She says she has moved her family from a "run down trailer" to a three-bedroom house.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama's Three Pieces of Advice for Barnard Grads

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- President Obama on Monday delivered his first commencement address of the year at Barnard College in New York City, offering three pieces of advice for the fawning crowd of women graduates who are part of a key constituency for his re-election campaign:

  • “Don't just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table.  Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

Obama encouraged the young women to be bold activists -- leaders and organizers -- for causes of social justice.  “It's up to you to stand up and to be heard, to write, and to lobby, to march, to organize, to vote,” he said.

  • “Never underestimate the power of your example.”

Urging grads to ignore a “pop culture obsession over beauty and fashion,” Obama said the Class of 2012 must become role models for future generations of women who are needed in key professions like science and technology.

“You can be stylish and powerful too,” Obama said. “That's Michelle's advice.”

  • “Persevere. Nothing worthwhile is easy.”

Obama invoked the story of his mother and the mother of Michelle Obama to covey the importance of keeping at it, even when faced with daunting setbacks as his parents had. “No one of achievement has avoided failure, sometimes catastrophic failures, but they keep at it,” he said. “They learn from mistakes.  They don't quit.”  

The advice – aimed clearly at mobilizing and energizing young women voters -- comes at a time when fresh graduates face a gloomy job market, high unemployment and mounting student debt. Obama acknowledged those facts, which Republicans had underscored ahead of the address, as similar to what he faced as a young graduate in 1983.

“In many ways you have it even tougher than we did,” Obama said. “This recession has been more brutal, the job losses steeper, politics seems nastier, Congress more gridlocked than ever.”

But, he seemed to ask the crowd to suspend any belief in the idea that their difficult personal economic situations can’t be overcome or that he could be to blame.

“My job today is to tell you don't believe it, because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher,” he said.

“The question is not whether things will get better. They always do.  The question is not whether we've got the solutions to our challenges.  We've had them within our grasp for quite some time. ...The question is whether together we can muster the will in our own lives, in our common institutions, in our politics to bring about the changes we need.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Working Women: What Happens as They Age?

JupiterImages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As women get older, many want to – or have to – continue to work, just as many men do.  Still, a new report from the advocacy group OWL indicates that middle-aged and older women may have a tougher time working as they age compared to men.

“What surprised me was the number of older workers, women, over 50, over 60, over 70 who considered themselves unemployed and looking for work,” said Margaret Huyck, president of the Older Women’s League National Board.

The report found that for women between the ages of 55 to 61 who do have a job, nearly 21 percent of them are underemployed, compared with only 7 percent of underemployed men the same age. “We just have a long history of discounting older women as productive workers,” according to Huyck.

OWL, which calls itself “The Voice of Midlife and Older Women,” in its report found that the pay gap for women grows wider as a woman age.  For workers between the ages of 16 to 19, women earn 95 percent of what men do; between between the ages of 35 and 44, that drops to 80 percent and by age 65, women are making 76 percent as much as men the same age.

Part of the reason for this pay gap is that women are more likely than men to leave the workforce for a time. The report finds “most caregivers are female and middle-aged and drop out of the workforce for an average of 12 years to care for young children or aging parents.”

Working fewer years, and earning less money, can make it difficult for women when they retire.  According to the report, almost twice as many retired women (12 percent) live in poverty as retired men (6.6 percent), and that without Social Security benefits half of women aged 65 and older would live below the poverty line.

The report makes dozens of recommendations, including tougher anti-discrimination laws to discourage age and gender discrimination, incentives for companies to hire older workers and support for women entrepreneurs.  They also suggest changes that could help all workers, such as more flexible work schedules.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Women Pay More for Credit Cards, Study Finds

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Women pay more for their credit cards than men do, according to new research.

A FINRA Foundation study found that, on average, women pay a half a point higher interest rate on their cards than men do.  And that's after factoring in things like income level, education and even financial literacy.

The study also found more discouraging news for women.  They were:

-- five percentage points more likely to carry a credit card balance;
-- four percentage points more likely to make only the minimum payment;
-- and six points more likely to be charged a late fee.

However, among financially literate men and women, these last three stats disappeared.  Men and women, instead, were equal.

"For women, having a high level of financial literacy appears to pay off," said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh.  "Becoming more financially literate is a great step that any woman can take to keep more of her hard-earned money in her pocket."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kiva Offers Free Loans to Women Entrepreneurs

Creatas/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Kiva is offering 4,000 free loans to women borrowers in celebration of International Women’s Day. connects lenders to mostly low-income entrepreneurs and families around the world for “micro-loans” of as little as $25. Kiva lenders receive the amounts they lent without interest at a repayment rate of 98.91 percent, according to the non-profit organization.

Over 1 billion people live in extreme poverty, 75 percent of whom are women and girls, Kiva said, and women produce half the world’s food, but own only 1 percent of the world’s farmland.

Kiva said skin-care company Dermalogica will provide free trial loans to the first 4,000 registrants, allowing lenders to make a loan of $25 free of charge.

These 4,000 free trial loans are disbursed to borrowers in the same way other loans are disbursed on Kiva, headquartered in San Francisco. However, since Dermalogica is funding the free trial, any repayment funds from the free trial loan will go back to Dermalogica, not to the free trial lender.

Kiva lenders are usually paid back their loan in a manner of months from a loan recipient whom they choose on the Kiva site.

“New lenders invited during the promotion dates may use their own funds to make a loan, in which case repayments will go back to the lender,” Kiva said.

Since Kiva was founded in 2005, it has arranged $291 million on loans to 698,064 people in 61 countries. In 2009, Kiva made its lending network available to borrowers in the U.S.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio