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Women in Numbers

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Facts and figures on females from throughout the world. 

By Sarah Holcomb, Illustrations by Jessica Wetterer

20 Pastry Chefs

At Abu Salha Sweets, a large sweets factory in West Bank, Palestine, 20 Palestinian women are pioneering pastry chefs. These women now hold more than half of the factory’s jobs, the majority of which are traditionally reserved for men. When the women first went to work, they faced some critics, but silenced them with their superior baking skills. Female employees currently receive a salary of about $420 a month—half a male pastry chef’s paycheck—but factory managers say they plan to provide pastry courses that will enable the women to sweeten their salaries. In Palestine, women often work in the education or banking industries, but are legally prohibited from entering certain career fields. While more women now graduate from Palestinian universities than men, a 2017 survey found more than 80 percent of the country’s female population is unemployed.

2,000 Female Characters

According to a new study by the University of Southern California, researchers examining more than 1,000 film scripts collected from the past few decades found sexism is still alive on the silver screen. The study revealed a number of gender gaps in the acting industry: Only 2,000 characters in film scripts were female, compared with 4,900 male characters, and the female characters were usually five years younger and less central to the plot than their male counterparts. Women apparently don’t get in as many words either. While men participated in 37,000 dialogues, female characters spoke in only 15,000 dialogues. Although most screenwriters are men, the study suggests that, with a woman writer in the room, female representation in film scripts increases by 50 percent, on average. Cue the next Wonder Woman.

3 Top Jobs

This fall, Renee Hall became the first woman and the first African-American woman to hold the position of police chief in the Dallas Police Department’s 136-year history. Hall joins two other women of color in the Dallas law-enforcement community, Sheriff Lupe Valdez and District Attorney Faith Johnson. The three women now hold the top three law-enforcement positions in Dallas County. Hall previously served at the Detroit Police Department, where she helped the department deal with city bankruptcy and slashed salaries. Now she’s taking on new challenges in Dallas: lifting department morale and working to recruit and retain more officers. With extensive experience matched with her “infectious presence,” city leaders say Hall is the right woman for the job.

23 Years Old

Suzanne Silantoi is not Kenya’s average senatorial candidate. Not only is she a woman and an accomplished pianist with a degree in music, but she’s also just 23 years old. Looking to serve others, Silantoi took a job at a Kenyan health-care nonprofit in 2014. Realizing her neighbors were deeply underserved, she dove into state budgets and records for an explanation. After she discovered wasted resources and mismanagement, Silantoi threw herself into the running with a crowdfunded budget as the youngest and only female candidate vying for Nairobi’s spot in Kenya’s Senate. Although Silantoi is young, she’s optimistic that her age will be an asset to her win. After all, more than half the city’s voters are younger than 35.

275 People Pampered

When Vanessa Howard opened Giving Hands Hair Salon in Tampa, Fla., she set out to use pampering to pay it forward. Once a homeless single mother of three with only $1.75 to her name, Howard overcame depression and desperation with help from a stranger’s kindness. Now, on her Sundays off, Howard, her five daughters and a small team of volunteers serve homeless women and children in the community by providing free trims, facials and manicures. So far, they’ve impacted the lives of 275 people, and counting. This fall, before the first day of school, Howard and her team threw Back-to-school Princess Parties, pampering elementary-age homeless girls with tiaras and school supplies, and providing free makeovers for moms. “All of us have a story,” Howard told CBS News, “and I believe that we should use what we’ve been through to help others.”

 

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