Weekend News & Commentary — January 13-14, 2018

Published January 14th, 2018 -  - 01.14.1816


The Trump administration has announced that millions of people will have to use a new Internal Revenue Service online calculator to make sure their new paychecks are accurate.  This change comes in the wake of administration issuing guidelines for the implementation of the new tax law.  The new calculator will be used to determine how much should be withheld in taxes from employees’ paychecks.  Employees could start seeing differences in their paychecks as early as next month.  An IRS official said that the new calculator will be necessary for millions of people to make sure they are not overpaying or underpaying their taxes.  If paychecks are inaccurate, employees must notify their employers to make corrections.  The Treasury Department and IRS also plan to design new W-4 forms that will make tax withholdings more accurate going forward, but the new form will not be ready for next month’s paycheck adjustments.

Women continue to face systemic bias in the economics field, the New York Times reports.  At an American Economic Association panel, female economists presented papers that showed the barriers women face in entering the field and achieving professional success once they do enter the field.  While economics departments across the country have been increasing female faculty, progress has stagnated in recent years.  Only one in five tenure-track economics professors are women, and less than one in three assistant economics professors are women.  Women in the field face hurdles in getting their papers accepted to and published in prestigious economic journals, and their work is rarely cited in economics textbooks. The American Economic Association expressed its desire to address and eradicate gender bias, but many feel that measures the AEA suggested are unlikely to alleviate the longstanding gender bias in the field.

The Writers Guild of America East has become the official union representative of approximately 400 Vox Media employees.  Vox’s agreement to recognize WGA East as its employees’ representative is the culmination of three months of organizing efforts. WGA East, which has about 4,000 members, has become a key player in representing employees of digital news sites in recent years.  The union represents approximately 1,000 members in the digital news field from platforms such as HuffPost, Gizmodo Media Group, and Salon.  The move towards unionization at Vox is part of a larger unionization movement among digital publishers.

Women’s-only co-working spaces are emerging as safe alternative work spaces.  Startups like Wing and Quilt provide members with access to either exclusive, members’ only spaces or to hosts who open up their homes to other professional women.  Founders of these women’s only co-working spaces feel that the spaces are especially conducive to developing crucial professional connections. One of the cofounders of Quilt likened the co-working spaces to networking spaces and activities that are typically male dominated.  Co-working spaces give women the opportunity to develop lasting professional relationships outside larger work environments.

A number of male models and assistants have alleged that prolific fashion photographers Bruce Webber and Mario Testino sexually harassed them.  Fifteen male models have said that Webber engaged in coercive sexual behavior.  Thirteen male models and assistants that worked with Testino have described a pattern of making unwanted sexual advances that goes back to the mid 1990s.  Those who have come forward said they feared professional retribution if they declined advances or spoke out.  Models have very few protections, with agencies and fashion houses putting the onus on each other to protect models from potential predators.  There is no union for models, so models are often left to advocate for themselves during shoots and casting sessions.  For more on sexual assault within the modeling industry, read here.

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