5 victories for women this past week ahead of International Women’s Day

The skies got a little friendlier for some of the women who work in the clouds and in a few other places. And just in time for International Women’s Day!

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International Women’s Day isn’t until March 8, but there have been significant and exciting victories for an interesting mix of women in the last week, and we couldn’t wait to tell you about them – from a top symphony musician who won gender pay equity to a bartender to fought sexual harassment at her workplace and won, to wins for women who work both in the skies and in space.

Take a look at their stories.


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Virgin Atlantic allows its cabin crews to work without makeup and wear pants

The skies just got a little friendlier for some of the women who work in the clouds.

Virgin Atlantic told their female cabin crew that makeup is no longer mandatory. Not only that, but they’ll provide them with pants as part of their uniform if they wish to wear them – instead of only providing them upon request, as was the case before.

“Our world-famous red uniform is something all of us at Virgin Atlantic are incredibly proud of,” a statement from the airline noted. “As an airline, we have always stood out from the crowd and done things differently to the rest of the industry. We want our uniform to truly reflect who we are as individuals while maintaining that famous Virgin Atlantic style. We have been listening to the views of our people and as a result, have announced some changes to our styling and grooming policy that supports this.”

Welcome to the 21st century, Virgin Atlantic! We’ve been waiting for you.

An equal pay win for Boston Symphony Orchestra flutist

Elizabeth Rowe, a principal flutist at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, finally settled her equal-pay lawsuit against the orchestra. The settlement is especially significant because the BSO is one of the country’s “big five” orchestras.

She had sued the orchestra for equal pay to that of its principal oboist under Massachusetts’ new equal pay law, plus $200,000 in back pay. She was the first woman to file a gender pay-equity claim under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act. She told the Washington Post she earned nearly $70k per year less than principal oboe player John Ferillo.

She had argued that they should make an equal salary since they were both principals and that her gender was the reason she didn’t. (The orchestra had argued that “the flute and the oboe are not comparable.”) Ferillo, the oboe player, wrote in a court filing that Rowe was “every bit my match in skills, if not more so.”

The terms of the settlement are confidential, although according to a joint statement from the orchestra and Rowe’s attorney,“all those involved in the process are satisfied with the result.”

A bartender who was told to dress “date-ready” gets an $80k settlement

A bartender sued her former Orlando, Florida, restaurant for sexual harassment and retaliation and won an $80,000 settlement, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The unnamed bartender was fired for complaining about a sexually-hostile workplace – an environment where she was subjected to being asked on dates, as well as described by management to patrons as available to date them and single, subjected to sexual innuendo, and told to dress “sexy” and “date-ready” for work.

Perhaps just as significantly, the restaurant will provide a positive job reference for the bartender.

In addition to the settlement to the bartender, the consent decree settling the suit provides for significant court-ordered actions to help make the restaurant into a workplace free from harassment and retaliation in the future. That will mean, among other things, mandatory anti-harassment training for the owner and all employees.

The restaurant will also have to develop and distribute to all its employees a written anti-harassment policy. The restaurant will also have to hire an independent third party to man a telephone hotline for employees to report any discrimination or harassment. To make sure that the restaurant is in compliance with these obligations, it will have to submit to an anonymous “workplace climate” survey provided by the EEOC.

A thoroughly just course of action.

NASA’s first all-female spacewalk is scheduled for March 29

Thirty-five years after the first female astronaut ever performed a spacewalk, astronauts Christina Koch and Ann McClain will exit the doors of the International Space Station on March 29 and take a step into the void of space. The three people who will guide them from the ground will be women as well, according to CNN.

No special favors here – these ladies just happened to be the people most qualified to do the job. While NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said that the upcoming spacewalk would indeed be “the first with only women,” she added that “it was not orchestrated to be this way.

A step towards equal pay: Judge rules to end a freeze on requiring companies to report pay by gender and race

Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan in D.C. ruled on Monday ordered that the presidential administration re-instate a rule requiring government data collection of what companies pay, broken down by gender and race, according to the Washington Post.

“This is a really important victory for equal pay,” said Maya Raghu, senior counsel and director of workplace equality at the National Women’s Law Center.

The policy requires employers with at least 100 workers to disclose pay data by race and gender to the EEOC, in addition to what they already report to them.

Let’s keep the good news going.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.