The Week in Women: A Googler gets fired, Nepal criminalizes period huts, and France vetoes a formal first lady

Singer Bono U2, Brigitte Macron, French first lady and co-founder of ONE organization, and Gayle Smith, president and CEO of One organization, pose at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 24, 2017. (REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)

Stop right now, thank you very much, because this week’s news cycle was all about endings. And some of them were pretty satisfying (we’re looking at you, Google memo guy). Let’s take a look back, shall we?

Google has fired the software engineer who penned a 10-page memo that questioned the company’s diversity initiatives and posited that the tech industry’s gender gap can be attributed to “biological” differences between males and females. Women, he wrote, are underrepresented because they are inclined to traits like “neuroticism,” and tend to “look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status.” The document, which was posted to an internal network, went viral at Google and soon spread to the mainstream media. In an email to the New York Times, Damore wrote that he has “a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment.” He also compared his former company to the Gulag. All those free snacks and work-sanctioned naptimes must have been pretty rough.

Nepal passed a new law criminalizing the practice of chhaupadi, which sees women banished to menstruation huts during their period. The tradition stems from the belief that menstruating women bring bad luck to their families, but women banished to the huts have died of animal bites, diseases, and fires. The Nepali government banned chhaupadi in 2005, but under the new law, anyone who forces a woman to observe the custom will face three months in jail and a $30 fine.

Taylor Swift testified this week in a sexual harassment trial involving radio DJ David Mueller, who allegedly groped the singer’s rear end during a backstage photo op. Swift firmly shut down the claim that any inappropriate contact between them had been accidental. “He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him,” Swift said, adding, “It was a definite grab, a very long grab.” The singer also said that the ordeal has had a lasting effect on her. “It was a very shocking thing that I have never dealt with before,” she testified. “After this happened, it was like a light switched off my personality.”

Emmanuel Macron’s bid to give the position of first lady legal status in France has been quietly shelved after a popular petition decried the idea of supporting “a statute specifically for the wife of President Macron.” The petition, which amassed more than 300,000 signatures, appeared to prompt a series of tweets from government spokesperson Christophe Castaner, who clarified that there would not be “any new resources nor any remuneration” for first lady Brigitte Macron. Explaining the country’s reluctance to formally recognize the first lady, French pollster Jérôme Fourquet said that the “French elect a man, not a family” and “to give power to a spouse goes back to monarchal power.” Yeah, we can understand why they wouldn’t really want to do that.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is independent of and separate from any views of The New York Times.

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