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Why I Failed to Advocate for Women: Confessions of an Ignorant Man

In Hollywood, Judd Apatow was known as the King of Bromance. He made his name producing comedies like AnchormanThe 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But then he made a radical shift. He championed a script that was written by two women, starring six women.

Bridesmaids became his highest-grossing film at the U.S. box office. Apatow now serves as the executive producer for Lena Dunham’s smash hit Girls on HBO.

We need more men like Judd Apatow to go to bat for women. Sadly, many men don’t, because they’re blind to gender bias. I know, because I was one of them.

When I worked in advertising, a female colleague mentioned that male board members weren’t taking their ideas seriously. I was convinced she was imagining it. She was brilliant, and it was the 21st century. I wanted desperately to believe that we were living in a just world. As Margaret Heffernan puts it, I was willfully blind.

My eyes started to open when my wife and I welcomed our first child, and then our second—both daughters. All of a sudden, I found myself worrying about their future, and noticing how ...

Snow Days: When Government Resorts to Naming and Shaming

The winter of 2015 has set records in Massachusetts. Snow records. Over eight and a half feet have already fallen in Boston. In February alone, over five feet.

With snow come all sorts of inconveniences. From a two-foot storm in January and another two-foot storm in February came big inconveniences. The good news is that the citizens of Massachusetts are stronger. The bad news is that their new, upgraded muscles and stamina resulted from shoveling snow.

Of course, not everyone shovels their snow. This can be annoying. If homeowners don’t shovel their sidewalks, people have to walk in the street. This is dangerous—particularly when the plows have left mountains of snow, preventing drivers from seeing around corners.

Thus, most municipalities require homeowners to shovel their sidewalks. It’s the law. That, however, does not mean that everyone does it. Then what?

In one Massachusetts municipality, overnight snow must be cleared by 10 o’clock in the morning. Daytime snow by 10 o’clock at night. And before this winter began, the municipality increased its fine for the first offense to $50. For the third, it’s now $200.

Fines, however, do not ensure clean sidewalks. So this municipality ...

Americans are Less Productive and Better Compensated Than We Thought

The Bureau of Labor Statistics revised its fourth-quarter figuresfor productivity—economic output divided by hours worked—indicating Americans weren’t as productive as they looked at first blush. In fact, the numbers were a letdown versus the initial estimates for the entire second half of 2014.

But the news from the BLS today is better than it sounds. Although output got revised down, compensation is rising faster than previously thought.

And since sluggish wages have been such a sticking point for Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, this arguably is another sign that the recovery is finally getting felt in more distant corners of the economy.

(Image via Rainer Plendl/

Study: The Gender Gap at Work Starts as Early as Age 15

Teenage boys prepare for their futures with internships and job shadowing. Teenage girls, on the other hand, tend to prepare by researching online. That’s according to data released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. During international testing in 2012, 15-year-olds from 15 OECD member countries were asked about the methods they use to find out more about their future careers or studies.

(OECD: The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence)

It should be noted that this does not include data from the US or the UK. It does include Canada, Finland, Ireland and South Korea, among other countries. Boys were significantly more likely to have hands-on experience, while girls were about 10 percentage points more likely to research on the internet for both career information and further education.

This doesn’t mean that boys were necessarily more likely to seek out these experiences than girls. Some of the responsibility falls on schools and parents: the majority of boys and girls knew how to find a job, but boys said they were better prepared for job interviews.

(OECD: The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence)

Hands-on experience is valuable for a ...

Buried in the Budget: Ways to Rev Up Performance

The administration’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal shows that it is committed to creating capacity and sustainability for performance-and-results based government.

Beyond the dollars in the president’s budget, there are some details buried in congressional justifications that are worth examining. There are three sets of initiatives—which for the most part do not create new programs or spend much in new dollars—that are worth attention:

  • Building the capacity to implement and sustain cross-agency priority goals
  • Creating capacity to conduct meaningful performance-and-results assessments and link them to implementation
  • Extending evidence-based approaches to solving problems

Cross-Agency Priority Goals

The administration continues to implement the 2010 revisions to the Government Performance and Results Act, which requires creation of cross-agency priority goals that span an administration’s four years. The Obama administration last year highlighted 15 priority goals and tracks their progress quarterly on Following are two key initiatives:

  • Fund cross-agency goals. The budget notes: “There is no established means of funding the execution of these cross-agency efforts.” So the president has requested authority to transfer up to $15 million from agencies’ existing budgets to help support these initiatives. The cross-agency goal to improve customer service, for example, aims to ...