Long-overdue recognition of pain and how we might do better

by Vivian Diep in May 6th, 2022

Polish gaming company wants to remove the stigma around periods

Thu Apr 26

Does instituting a menstrual leave policy hurt or help women? Gaming company GOG is putting it to the test, announcing a paid leave policy that allows those who menstruate to take as many days off as needed when period pains occur. GOG is owned by CD Projekt, one of the most famous game development companies in the world — which means, if this policy is successful, this could become the new standard for the industry.

How do experts foresee this panning out? A survey in the Netherlands found that most women work through horrible symptoms, resulting in nine days of productivity lost per year. Under GOG’s new policy, estimates say only one day off per quarter would be taken. The company plans to evaluate how the policy impacts the well-being of menstruating employees by the end of year, at which time they will also consider expanding the policy in 2023.

While we focus on remaining hopeful, such efforts have failed in the past:

  • South Korea: In 2001, men’s rights activists pushed back against a national policy allowing menstrual leave on the basis of reverse discrimination.
  • Taiwan and Russia: In 2013, both countries instituted menstrual leave policies based on false reasoning and sexist notions. For example, one line of reasoning claimed that women who don’t rest during their cycles will have difficulty with future childbirth, demonstrating concern for women as “ future baby-vessels” rather than as valuable employees.
  • Indonesia: While Indonesian women are entitled to two days of menstrual leave per month, most companies ignore the law or, much worse, force women to prove their need for time off by pulling down their pants.

Harvard puts $100M towards understanding how bad their history is

Thu Apr 28

Harvard is owning up to its ties to slavery. A committee of faculty members have released a 134-page report spotlighting the institution’s heavy hand in racial history.

  • Harvard itself had 70 enslaved Black and Indigenous people serving presidents, professors, and students.
  • Many Harvard donors acquired their wealth through the slave trade and off the labor of enslaved people.
  • Harvard used the bodies of the enslaved to make false conclusions that led to “race science.” Theories that stemmed from this were later used as tools to justify racial segregation, including Nazi Germany’s extermination of “undesirable” populations.

What’s coming next as a result of the report? A $100 million investment in, basically, funding more research. The exact recommendations in the report include non-measurable, general suggestions to engage and honor the descendants of slavery and native communities. Critics say that this large amount of funding could instead be used to pay reparations (direct compensation) to living descendants of enslaved people at Harvard.

And the descendants of the enslaved want the school to make pathways for those from low income communities to attend college and reinvest in the earlier stages of education, such as putting the institute’s resources into public schools. Other universities, such as Georgetown University and University of Virginia, are raising or have raised funds to directly benefit the descendants of those enslaved by the respective institutions.

Below the Fold Bytes

Forget the Atom! Split Oreos! 

Rheology (aka the study of gooeyness) is the official field of research for Crystal Owens, an MIT PhD candidate. Her recent work? Oreology. That is, using her research chops and lab for testing ink for 3D printing flexible electronics to also answer whether or not it’s possible to split an Oreo and get an even amount of cream on both sides. She found that by hand, by rheometer, and even by custom 3D-printed “oreometer,” it is impossible to make the perfect split due to the physics of Oreo’s cream. And that’s not all. Other Oreo mysteries were solved such as optimal dunk time (5 seconds) to ensure the milk gets absorbed but the cookie remains intact. >> Read More

Weather at Home VS Work?

Extreme, bad weather is increasing in frequency, unpredictability, and volatility. Pair that with older cities whose infrastructure won’t be able to handle a sudden record-breaking storm and you have worried governments shelling out for hyper-local weather forecasting. In response, more startups are getting into the game and promising granular forecasts that stir skepticism in experts. But for some cities, the bet has already paid off. Brockton, Massachusetts saved $120,000 last year with the $90,000 Tomorrow.io service. The service more accurately predicted a storm’s arrival than other forecasts, which meant the city’s plows avoided getting stuck. >> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

When it comes to women’s health, we count ourselves amongst those looking for ways to do something in light of this week’s news from the Supreme Court. Liberate Abortion has a newsletter sharing regular updates on ways to take action.


Ascii-ing About the News

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Weather prediction startups have us covered.
 Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive 

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