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Diversity

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Wins Positive Press for His Perfect Definition of Feminism

proxyThe word “feminism” can be a touchy one, especially given the wildly-varying definitions out there, and celebrities often seem particularly wary of stating their allegiance (or lack-thereof) to the concept. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, however, has no such qualms.

In a recent interview with the Daily Beast that’s now gone viral, the star explained why he considers himself a feminist, and then went on to give the word one of the most clear, simple, and positive definitions we ever remember hearing.

Gordon-Levitt was asked:

I read that you consider yourself a “male feminist,” and you credit your parents who are educators and really taught you about the history of feminism. But nowadays, you have a lot of young stars coming out against being labeled a feminist.

His response (below) has both women and men singing his praises in multiple publications and all over social media: Read more

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LEGO Responds to Demands, Introduces Playset Featuring Female Scientists

lego-1_0

Back in June, we reported that LEGO had approved production of the Research Institute set, designed by a female geochemist, which would feature a female astronomer, chemist, and paleontologist. The announcement came after public demand for equal representation of female minifigures hit an all-time high, one such request coming from a young girl named Charlotte, who wrote a letter to the company that read in part:

“I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

Ellen Kooijman, the scientist who designed the Research Institute set, shared Charlotte’s frustration, and after pitching her idea to the company and earning 10,000 supporters, Kooijman explained on on her blog: Read more

Marvel Targets Women With Goddess Thor

thorThe Thor that we’ve all come to know — the manly blond man throwing a hammer — has undergone quite the makeover. Marvel has announced that the god Thor is now a goddess.

“While details are scarce, we now know that this new Thor was saved by her predecessor, the former male Thor, who is no longer worthy to wield Mjolnir,” writes iO9. “The only other details we have is that this #1 issue will premiere in October under the supervision of Jason Aaron and Russell Dautermann.”

Thor is one of the “big three” characters for Marvel (the other two are Iron Man and Captain America), so this is huge for the company and for the comic book world.

The move also says a lot about how Marvel is trying to grow its audience.

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Nordstrom Ads Feature Models with Disabilities, Generate Goodwill

Image via press.nordstrom.com

Fact: At least one-third of Nordstrom’s advertisements feature models of color and/or models with disabilities.

For Nordstrom, this isn’t just a commitment to diversity—it’s a commitment to accurately reflecting its shoppers. It’s also a smart move.

According to Meg O’Connell, a partner at the consulting firm Global Disability Inclusion, people with disabilities represent a significant marketing opportunity, with $225 billion in discretionary spending.

“Companies that understand this will have an advantage,” she says. “[Nordstrom] is a leader in this space and has been a long-standing supporter of disability inclusion not only in their advertising but also in employment and accessibility in their stores.”

The company has been using models with disabilities since 1997 and regularly advertises in minority publications including Essence, Latina, and Ability magazines.

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The Academy Shakes Things Up With More Diverse Oscar Membership

oscar awardThe Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences — the “Academy” that everyone thanks when they’re accepting their Oscar award — has named its list of potential new members and it’s clear they’re trying to be more diverse. This includes racial diversity, age diversity, diversity of style and diversity of national origin.

Seeming to finally take the persistent criticism that the Academy is just a group of out-of-touch, old white American men to heart, the list of actors that have been invited to join spans across all sorts of boundaries. Some famous names are Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who The Hollywood Reporter notes ticks off the “middle-aged” box at 53 years old; June Squibb, the 84-year-old actress who was nominated last year for her performance in Nebraska; Michael Fassbender; Lupita Nyong’o; Chris Rock; and Pharrell.

It will be interesting to see how the new line up changes who is handed an Oscar on the big night.

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Betty Crocker Redefines ‘Homemaker’ and Re-Brands as Champion of Marriage Equality

Notification CenterThe Betty Crocker brand released its first cookbook in 1942, targeting its tips, tricks and recipes toward the American homemaker — i.e. stay-at-home wives and mothers. Jump ahead to 2014, and the traditional idea of what an American family looks like and how a household is run no longer applies in the majority of cases, so rather than being left in the dust with its old-fashioned sentiments, Betty Crocker is not only transforming itself to embrace the diversity of the modern American family, but is actively pushing for recognition, understanding, and support for families of all kinds.

In its latest ad (after the jump), the brand states that “Marraige and family have changed more in the last 35 years than in the last 350.” For instance, “less than half of all American households contain a husband and wife; the number of same-sex couples living together in the US has increased by 80 percent since 2000; since 1965, the time dads spend with their kids has tripled; 40% of women are the primary providers for their families; and the percentage of new interracial marriages is six times what it was in 1960.”

The commercial goes on to point out, however, that every family, no matter the demographic differences, has something in common: where there is love, there is a family, where there is a family, there is a home, and “at the heart of every home is a homemaker.” The brand even acknowledges that term itself may seem outdated, but the concept actually isn’t; you don’t need to identify yourself as a homemaker to be one — if you are a loving member of a family who actively works to make your house a home, guess what? You’re a homemaker, and Betty Crocker is here to support you.

This is some seriously compelling re-definition and branding. Read more

Mattel Shouldn’t Let The Opportunities From Entrepreneur Barbie Slip Away

business barbieBarbie has had many jobs (150, according to CNN), outfits, homes and houses. She’s lately added a business suit and tech gadgets to her wardrobe with Entrepreneur Barbie, a doll that comes with a smartphone and tablet.

She’s still the same blond bombshell. Still chic in pink. But this time around, she comes with a social network that includes 10 (human) entrepreneurs, who are the doll’s “Chief Inspirational Officers.” Founders from Rent the Runway, One Kings Lane, and Girls Who Code are part of the network and they conducted a Twitter chat last week to launch the doll.

The Atlantic finds it strange that the brand is using the #Unapologetic hashtag for this doll seeing as how it was used for the previous one, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue collaboration. We’ll second that, but there’s actually a little more at stake here than just a wrongheaded hashtag.

This partnership is a real opportunity to jettison Barbie into 2014, with a lesson for young girls that is modern and tied very much to reality. Barbie has the chance to be something more relevant and significant than she has been in the past.

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Coming Film She Started It Highlights Female Tech Entrepreneurs

You don’t have to be a big “Silicon Valley” fan to realize that the tech world currently suffers from a dearth of female stars. Many women within the industry–not to mention the PR firms that represent its biggest names–have addressed the issue: Rachel Sklar started the Change the Ratio group in 2010 and Nitasha Tiku of Valleywag recent published a New York Times op-ed hitting at the heart of the matter: encouraging girls to learn code.

Today, via Fast Company’s “Strong Female Lead”, we discovered that two journalists want to take the matter to the masses with their documentary film She Started It, which follows four female tech founders over a yearlong period.

The full piece is well worth a read. While we can’t imagine that a single documentary can bring dramatic change to an industry established in its ways despite its own love of “disruption”, She Started It will, at the very least, bring some much-needed attention to women following their own path in tech.

It could also be a powerful investor relations tool.

The Indiegogo campaign closed one year ago after raising nearly double its $10,000 goal total, and the trailer debuted online last month; the film is set for release in October.

Disney to Make Princess Leia Toys Thanks to #WeWantLeia Hashtag

leiaBack in May, Disney announced it would be rolling out a new line of Star Wars themed toys, which will be available for purchase in Disney stores. As excited customers browsed through the soon-to-be-collectibles, they quickly noticed the lack of products featuring female characters — Sure, Luke and R2 and Han and Vader were all represented, but where was the no-nonsense heroine Princess Leia?

A mother shopping for her daughter asked Disney that exact question via Twitter, to which the brand responded:

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Eva Longoria Launches a Political Group, PAC to Rally the Latino Community

eva bruno marsEva Longoria has taken her career in entertainment behind the camera as executive producer of the Lifetime hit Devious Maids. She’s also working behind the scenes in politics, as co-founder of the Latino Victory Project and the Latino Victory PAC.

Leading the groups alongside businessman and Democratic National Committee finance chairman Henry R. Munoz III, Longoria is poised to become a major influence in upcoming elections, focused on “a pro-Latino agenda and values.” That includes issues like immigration, healthcare and the economy. She is also focused on getting more Latinas in office.

Longoria has been vocal in her support of President Obama, telling The Hollywood Reporter back in 2012, “The big picture is that people need to stop looking at the Latino community as us vs. them. The Latino community is American; its concerns are the same. The economy is the No. 1 issue, second is education, then health care, and immigration falls fourth or fifth.”

Just as important, she realizes the power that her celebrity has. She also has a sense of how to use that to maximize the impact she can have.

Read more

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