Inequity, not to be confused with inequality, is the result of injustice and cultural exclusion. Cost of Inequity explores how and why inequity persists in the institutions that govern daily life in America while illustrating the real economic cost to society.
From education to the workplace, banks, healthcare and more, this series examines the historical causes, current policies and societal norms that perpetuate unfair, avoidable differences for marginalized groups.
Insider also conducted a survey of over 1100 American workers to examine the challenges businesses face in fulfilling DEI programs. Detailed results of the survey will be published in the coming weeks.
Anna Kern, a 33-year-old nurse practitioner in Ferndale, Michigan, didn’t expect to get COVID-19 after being vaccinated. She got her shots in January, but then in April, she tested positive after being exposed to the virus through an unvaccinated coworker. She has had chills, fatigue, and a racing heart ever since.
“You feel lots of guilt – like, what did I do wrong? How could I have been more cautious?” Kern told Insider, adding, “It feels weird to be a statistical anomaly.”
Breakthrough infections – cases of COVID-19 diagnosed at least two weeks after someone is fully vaccinated – are indeed rare. Just 0.01% of vaccinated Americans had developed breakthrough infections as of April 30, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the CDC data suggests that women represent a majority of these cases: 63%.
That’s consistent with clinical trial data, which suggests that coronavirus vaccines are slightly less effective among women. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was found to have a 96.4% efficacy rate in men, but 93.7% in women. Its widely cited 95% efficacy rate is an average of those two results.
Moderna’s vaccine, meanwhile, was found to have a 95.4% efficacy rate in men, but 93.1% in women. And Johnson & Johnson’s shot reduced the risk of moderate to severe COVID-19 by 68.8% in men, but 63.4% in women.
Together, these results are “a bit perplexing,” Sabra Klein, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Women’s Health, Sex, and Gender Research, told Insider.
Normally, women mount stronger immune responses to vaccines than men do, which often leads to greater protection. Scientists suspect that higher levels of estrogen play a role in this, since estrogen stimulates the immune system.
Klein has a theory as to why that same pattern isn’t playing out for the coronavirus vaccines: It’s possible the shots might be less effective against coronavirus variants for women than for men. Five “variants of concern” have caused the majority of breakthrough infections in the US.
Vaccines train the body to recognize the original coronavirus identified in Wuhan, so they might still work well against that strain in women.
“The whole basis of vaccination is to have some memory cells so that, should you get infected with the virus, if it’s even possible to get for you to get infected, you would be asymptomatic as opposed to being symptomatic because your immune system’s already been trained,” Klein said. “So it might be that some of that training and the specificity of that training is greater for females than males.”
There are, of course, other possible explanations. More women than men have been vaccinated so far, and women could be more inclined to seek out COVID-19 tests or report their illness if they’re experiencing breakthrough symptoms. Women also represent the majority of healthcare workers, who are regularly screened for coronavirus infections at work. So it’s possible that the vaccines won’t turn out to be less effective among women after all.
But it’s hard to determine the answer, Klein said, without more data on how each sex is responding to vaccines.
“The biological differences between males and females and how this could be playing out in response to these vaccines has really not received adequate attention,” she said. “I definitely don’t think these kinds of things should be ruled out – and that’s often what happens because it’s easier to think this is reporting bias than something real.”
Age could also influence vaccine efficacy in women
Few real-world studies have examined the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines among men versus women in great detail, so scientists are hesitant to say whether women are more likely to develop breakthrough infections.
“While the overall percent of reported breakthrough infections was higher in women, we do not know the sex-disaggregated numbers for the severity of these infections,” Vaishali Moulton, an assistant professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told Insider.
Researchers also don’t know whether vaccine effectiveness is particularly low for women in a certain age bracket.
On average, people who have experienced breakthrough infections are between 40 and 74 years old, the CDC report found. Most women undergo menopause between 40 and 60 – so that could partly explain why vaccine efficacy was lower in that group.
“We know that some of the female immunity definitely declines post-menopausally and is associated with a reduction in estrogen,” Klein said.
Since no mRNA vaccine had been authorized before last year, scientists are also considering whether the platform itself might stimulate different immune responses in each sex.
A new study suggests that men and women may respond differently to the lipid molecules that mRNA vaccines use to deliver coded messages to the body. The researchers found that natural killer cells – a type of immune cell that helps fight off infection – absorbed fewer lipid molecules in female blood samples than in male samples.
Klein said it’s important to explore these sex-based differences quickly, since more breakthrough infections could allow the pandemic to stretch on.
“If we don’t have good efficacy of this vaccine in all people, two things are going to happen,” Klein said. “You’re going to have these breakthrough cases and we are not going to be able to really stop the spread as much as we hope we will. You’re also going to start to lose public trust.”
Vaccine trials have a history of focusing on men
Vaccine trials have a long history of focusing on male participants. US trials weren’t legally required to enroll women until 1993, when Congress passed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act.
Prior to that, women were often left out of medical research because doctors and scientists were concerned that experimental drugs could pose a health risk to babies if a woman became pregnant during a study. Researchers also worried that women’s fluctuating hormone levels could complicate trial results. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration even recommended excluding women of reproductive age – as well as women who were single, used contraception, or whose husbands had gotten a vasectomy – from early-stage drug trials.
In general, today’s clinical trials often prefer to enroll women taking birth control due to similar concerns about pregnancy, Klein said. Many early-stage vaccine trials also default to using exclusively male mice to avoid having to factor in hormonal differences between the sexes. But even when female participants are included in trials, Klein said, there’s no requirement that the results be analyzed separately for men and women.
That often means that women don’t receive the ideal vaccine dose: Women only need half the standard dose of the seasonal flu vaccine, for instance, to generate the same amount of protective immunity as men do. As a result, women are more prone to adverse reactions from drugs or vaccines. A report last year found that women experience adverse drug reactions nearly twice as often as men do.
Some of these issues could be playing out now with coronavirus vaccines.
The vaccines’ early-stage trials included female animals, and human trials enrolled a relatively equal share of men and women. But the trials didn’t separate data for the sexes when it came to side effects, and pregnant women were excluded.
“Whether you’re talking about male-female differences, or you’re talking about pregnancy, a lot of this could have started in preclinical studies in order to just test some of these things,” Klein said. “All too often, the dogma is that biological sex isn’t important in this context.”
Real-life data has also revealed that women tend have more severe side effects after their coronavirus shots than men do. A February report found that roughly 79% of instances of vaccine side effects reported to the CDC came from women, though just 61% of doses were administered to women overall.
Women also represent the majority of people who experience adverse reactions to coronavirus vaccines, including rare blood clots and anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction).
Still, biologists like Klein are hopeful that vaccine researchers will begin studying female subjects more closely in the near future.
“If there’s one silver lining of the pandemic for people like myself who work in the broader area of women’s health, it’s that it’s finally making it very clear that women’s health extends beyond our reproductive tract and that we really should be studied and compared with men,” she said.
President Joe Biden promised his Cabinet would be the most diverse in history. Recently released data revealed his progress.
After saying he wanted his administration to “look like America” in December last year, the 78-year-old president has mostly succeeded in his plan to diversify the executive branch, according to an analysis by Insider in February.
As the country tries to emerge from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, Biden has installed a diverse team to forward his economic and business agenda, which includes tackling entrenched inequities.
Last week marked the first 100 days of the Biden administration. We take a look at some of the actions taken since his January inauguration to promote diversity in business, the workplace and support communities disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A $2 trillion infrastructure plan that targets funding towards underserved neighborhoods
Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill sets out to repair the country’s dilapidated road and bridge network, expand access to high-speed broadband and accelerate the clean energy transition.
The American Jobs Plan targets infrastructure projects towards historically underserved communities. The plan includes proposals to replace lead pipes that disproportionately harm Black children and a $20 billion investment to “reconnect” previously cut-off areas to affordable public transportation systems.
However, Republicans have opposed the bill, citing its “far-left” priorities and the corporate tax hike Biden has said will finance the plan.
Proposed funding to build a diverse clean-energy workforce, with investments targeted towards historically Black colleges
Biden’s administration is pushing for more solar panels to be installed in communities disproportionately affected by pollution, as part of his American Jobs Plan.
The Department of Energy announced on Tuesday that $15.5 million would go into installing solar panels in underserved communities and training a diverse clean-energy workforce.
The DOE also committed $17.3 million to fund internship and research programs, with a focus on training more students of color in STEM fields. More than $5 million will be directed to 11 colleges, including historically Black universities Howard and Florida A&M.
Historically Black colleges have long been denied equal access to federal funding opportunities, DOE secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a roundtable discussion at Howard University on Monday.
“This administration is really committed to making the transition to clean energy an inclusive transition, offering benefits to every community,” Granholm said.
A plan to introduce 12 weeks of paid family leave – and Biden hopes it will encourage women to stay in the workforce
The plan is estimated to cost $225 billion over 10 years.
The Biden administration hopes that introducing 12-weeks of paid family leave will help mothers to keep working, reduce racial disparities in lost wages, and improve children’s health.
Biden’s plan also commits to providing support for low- and middle-income families to access childcare, ensuring this does not account for more than 7% of their income, and investing in the childcare workforce.
The new order instead advances a “whole-of-government” approach to addressing racial inequities, and asks federal agencies to consider whether their policies and programs create barriers for underserved communities to access their benefits and services.
Targeted Covid-19 relief, including protections for those in insecure work
The landmark $1.9 trillion stimulus package includes funding commitments to help communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
In the law, signed in March, $5 billion is provided to farmers of color to invest in their business, buy equipment and repay loans.
“This is a big deal for us,” John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, told CBS. “We see this as a great opportunity to help thousands.”
In the package, unemployment insurance for self-employed and gig workers, such as ride-share and takeout delivery drivers, has been extended until September.
In announcing the plan, Biden called on businesses to provide back hazard pay to frontline workers – who are disproportionately Black, Latino and Asian American and Pacific Islander – in retail and grocery sectors. It was employers’ “duty,” the proposal stated, to compensate workers who had risked their lives to keep businesses running.
Biden still faces a challenging road ahead
The president’s administration has taken bold and swift action in its first 100 days, even winning praise from more left-leaning members of his own party. But the impact of Biden’s policies will only be felt in the coming months and years.
Biden still faces an uphill battle to get his Jobs Plan and Families Plan through Congress in the face of Republican opposition and with a razor-thin majority.
As the petals drop to the pavement and shots slip into arms, we’re rolling inexorably toward Hot Vaxxed Girl Summer. We, the immunized, survivors of the plague, are supposed to emerge from our Covid quarantines without hesitancy. The problem with this is that I was never Hot in the first place and this Summer is no different.
It’s still just me, blinking hesitantly and shaking a little, sweating under my shapeless clothes and knowing that there are still people dying at war with their own lungs.
The truth is I am a Blob Girl. I am part of a vast middle sector of womanhood who are pretty bad at Being Women in the way that involves an arsenal of products and a wealth of knowledge to address every detail of our femininity with attention and care and perform it with the practiced grace of dancers. My je ne sais quoi is a literal translation: I don’t know what it would take to have such a quality.
This summer, the humid air will press down on me like a sweaty hand and I, in the middle of it, will be as limp and unluscious as a two-day-old funnel cake. In a world of curation through layers of screens-in which even I, stale dough pinched into the rough approximation of a human woman, know my best selfie angles-it is difficult to admit it and still more difficult to hope that somewhere I have a tribe.
There is so much expectation, after more than a year locked inside. We were supposed to improve ourselves during our time away from the world. In a social milieu shaped by the bright relentless self-optimization of capital we are supposed to come out of our bedrooms-slash-workspaces thinner and shinier.
Except I didn’t. For me, what’s coming is Blob Girl Summer.
I know I am not alone, that there’s a secret legion of grieving and unimproved femmes who have tried and failed to enter the halls of a kind of womanhood that is locked off to us. Somewhere there is a place, I imagine it to be not unlike the Temple of Dendur in the Met, where the Hot Girls sleep at night in their sarcophagi. I could get my ticket my life would change, and since I can’t, I live an unchanged life. The last time I tried to sit on a stoop on a sunny day I sat in dog piss and I didn’t even know, for hours.
For years I have tried to enter the temple, but I haven’t tried hard enough, and I have a big furrow in my brow and wrinkly hands. So much of what Being A Woman is supposed to be is the ability to transfix and enchant, glances sticking to you like cobweb.
I was built for gazes to pass over, an awning is more exciting than me, a hot dog cart is more exciting than me, the little creatures in the rainwater coming out of the gutter that you can’t see with the naked eye are nonetheless more visually arresting than I am. Am I a woman still? I have tried to be.
So many people have died this year, millions, and I have survived to take into my body a miraculous shot that is the very flower of medical science, a code written in my genome to lock out the great threat. And I, imbibing this, have the temerity to not even be sexy. If Vaxxed Girl Summer is meant to be a kind of pan-cultural Rumspringa I ought to be someone that transcends schlubhood under its thrilling aegis. And yet.
A SUGGESTED RITUAL
The proof of my failure is all around me, entombed in the room I rent. Somewhere in my possession is a pale blue container of Tatcha’s The Water Cream, a moisturizer that goes for $68 for 1.7 fluid ounces. Within the pale unguent, the advertising copy states, are wild roses, and leopard lilies found “on the cool hillsides of Japan.” The cream is thick and white, and the luxuriant vessel that holds it is accompanied by a gold-colored spoon, with which to smooth the pricey goop onto your face. There is a “suggested ritual” to accompany the cream: Camellia Cleansing Oil, Rice Polish, The Essence – $286 worth of salves and scours meant to alchemize one’s face and decolletage into youthful, glowing perfection. I bought it, all of it, in a manic phase in the last year of my twenties.
I was a Blob Girl convinced I could be a Hot Girl and so I was attuned to the chatter all around me about skincare routines. There were articles about it – The Cut runs a repeating feature interrogating how various women “Get Her Skin So Good” (most are very rich or very young or both). I wanted in, and I read the articles, bought the best, as far as I could determine, among a blizzard of beauty guides laden with an intricate web of affiliate links. For a few nights I bathed my skin in these things, titrated them drop by drop onto the bags under my eyes, the sallow tops of my breasts, my unspeakable neck. But I had no discipline; it was just another dilettante’s sally into a kind of femininity I had no real business taking part in.
By now I’ve mostly mostly hidden the serums away, feeling a vague shame about the whole thing.
I’m now 31, and I grew up when Heroin Chic was still the ideal of womanhood, hipbones protruding from low-rise jeans. The belated acknowledgement that flesh belongs adjacent to bones came late in my twenties, too late for me, and I continue to await a great cultural reset that hallows a body that looks like mine–an overstuffed couch dropped from a great height, a knockoff Venus of Willendorf made of plasticine. Somehow and somewhere (many somewheres, or everywhere) I learned that a perfect woman is a mirror that shows you precisely what you desire.
Nonetheless I stand in my sack dress and Walmart sandals and tilt up my bare, pore-heavy face with its incipient jowls and admit with chagrin and little grace that I am not among the blessed. I am a Blob Femme, a creature half-made of envy and shame, whose breasts are incidental and pendulous. A woman sure she is a woman, but sure of little else.
To be a woman and do it properly is a job that requires both effort and skill. It can involve cash, yes, but also work – testing and curation, a keen awareness of audience and effect. Much can be done with simple and cost-effective material, and while its primary cultural exemplars are wealthy, looking fantastic isn’t solely the provenance of the bourgeois. There is value to this work: learning the mysteries of the contour, differentiating foundations, finding the just-right nook of bone that blush ought to be applied to; assessing one’s palette, knowing hair milk from hair gel from hair cream. There is work in building looks each day out of the raw material of simple clothing, and it is work I admire, and at which I lack talent and initiative. There is unimaginable amounts of work involved in sculpting a beguiling figure out of simple flesh. I do not denigrate it; I long for it, strive for it when I’m flush in mad dashes of acquisition.
I never learned how to be flat enough, silent enough, to be all winking, passive chrome. During the pandemic I was lucky enough to be cloistered; this privileged solitude left me alone with a mind that wouldn’t stop buzzing, alone with a body that kept manufacturing its own insistent and extraneous desires. I know that there are many women who excel at both the labor of performed femininity. Who lust and take with grace, and who are as skilled in attaining their own pleasure as they are at giving pleasure away. Still, after this wearing year, a year of morgue-trucks and uncertainty and pain, I am still a woman unskilled at womanhood, not new to its arts but still humbler than an apprentice: A supplicant at the door of the temple.
The world calls me out into the light of Hot Vaxxed Girl Summer, to be warm and poised and lush, but the spring is still cold and I am frightened and frozen at the threshold. Each step I take from an isolation in which my body, being alone, had no locus of comparison, is a step back into a world of all-too-familiar shame. Forgiving myself for every untoward fold and hair, every lemurish attempt at eyeliner, every clumsy waddle on thighs like boiled dumplings, forgiving myself for being me, or even just for being, is its own ongoing labor.
Having survived through a plague I want to live every inch of my survival, the world my oyster and I, its irritant little pearl, the gem at the lip of the mantle, to be plucked out and buffed to shining nacre. Instead I’m the oyster, all slime in the throat, eating grit. Still, I lived. My body allowed me to hide and survive and, surely, for this it has earned a little grace.
Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, undid her weaving each night to ward off suitors and buy herself time. I too have much to unthread each time I close my door on the world. From the poor material of myself, I have to spin patience and a little kindness. Hot Vaxxed Girl Summer is coming, and all I can do is set my fat hands to the loom.
Shortly before Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill that would make Arkansas the first state to block transition-related care for trans youth, he sat down with two trans women to better understand its impact.
On Tuesday afternoon, the state legislature voted to override Hutchinson’s veto, paving the way for it to take effect if the law survives legal challenges. Still, the governor’s veto a day earlier came as a surprise to many LGBTQ advocates around the country, as Hutchinson had already signed two other anti-trans bills, one banning trans girls from girl’s scholastic sports, and the other a sweeping religious exemption for health care providers who can now turn away LGBTQ patients for non-emergencies.
An account of the meeting between the Republican governor, the state’s only openly trans elected official, and an 18-year-old trans women may shed some light on Hutchinson’s surprising opposition to the bill.
The meeting, on March 30, was expected to last 30 minutes, according to Evelyn Rios Stafford, a Justice of the Peace in Fayetteville, who is openly trans.
But the governor had so many questions that it ran 10 minutes long, she said.
“He had a lot of questions,” Rios Stafford told Insider. “I could tell that this was not an issue that he was super familiar with at all.”
A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to questions about the meeting, but Hutchinson has said that he met with trans people and healthcare providers before reaching his decision. The young trans woman who was also present was not immediately available to discuss it.
Rios Stafford said that, as she watched the governor’s press conference less than a week after they had sat across from one another, she heard him echo some of what had come up in their closed-door meeting.
“The bill is overbroad, extreme, and does not grandfather those who are under hormone treatment,” Hutchinson said during his press conference. “I want people in Arkansas and across the country that whether they’re transgender or otherwise, that they’re loved, they’re appreciated, they make part of our state, and we want to send the message of tolerance and diversity.”
The message meant a lot to Rios Stafford, who said she can’t remember a southern Republican governor ever saying that trans people are loved, important members of the state.
Arkansas’ bill, HB 1570, bans puberty blockers and other transition-related care for trans minors. But it is not just limited to harming trans kids, and introduces a host of further restrictions on care for trans adults. It bans state funds, such as Medicaid, from being used towards transition care for trans people of any age.
The March 30 meeting was set up by Nicole Clowney, a Democratic state Representative from Fayetteville, Rios Stafford said.
She said that while she was used to meetings with other elected officials being super policy-focused, she was a bit nervous to speak with the governor about an issue that was so personal to her. But she was encouraged that the governor asked specifically how the trans community has been feeling, given all of the hostility of this legislative session.
“He asked how the trans community is reacting to all the bills that the legislature is sending his way,” she said, and told the governor about the community’s anxiety. “Honestly, they’re worried,” she explained. “They don’t know what else is coming down the pipeline.”
Rios Stafford said she explained to the governor that the bill would make life unlivable for a lot of trans people in Arkansas, and that she had been hearing from a lot of folks who are planning to flee the state as soon as possible. “I think that pained him a little bit to hear that,” she said.
The young trans woman told her story of coming out and transitioning in her Arkansas high school, and how she worried the wave of bills passed by state lawmakers would signal a green light for cisgender kids to bully and alienate trans kids.
The governor brought up specific medical questions about the treatments given to trans kids to treat gender dysphoria, Rios Stafford was able to answer some of those questions, but said she deferred to medical experts on others.
At one point during the meeting, Rios Stafford tried to appeal to the governor’s political values as a libertarian and a conservative.
“I was like, ‘Governor, I thought Republicans were supposed to be the party of small government,'” she said, noting that the governor smiled at that comment. “A lot of these bills are reaching down into the classrooms between teachers and their students. They’re reaching down in between families and their doctors. They’re reaching in between coaches and their teams. This is big government.”
Rios Stafford said she emerged from the meeting cautiously optimistic, but prepared for the governor to sign the bill anyway.
“The fact that he asked how the trans community is reacting, at least shows that he acknowledges the existence of the trans community,” Rios Stafford said.
Achieving global gender parity will take an extra 36 years because of the coronavirus pandemic, a World Economic Forum (WEF) report said.
Previously, the WEF estimated that the gender pay gap could take around 100 years to close. It’s now increased its prediction to nearly 136 years.
“Preliminary evidence suggests that the health emergency and the related economic downturn have impacted women more severely than men, partially re-opening gaps that had already been closed,” the report said.
The WEF calculated worldwide gender parity through economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, health and education across 156 countries.
It will take around 146 years to attain gender equality in politics, and 268 years for men and women to get the same salary for similar work, the report said. It added that the data doesn’t yet fully reflect the impact of the pandemic, which could extend the gaps further.
Gender parity has improved in the education sector, taking another 14 years to completely close, and the gap in health between men and women will take a similar amount of time.
The WEF report cited the International Labour Organization (ILO) that said 5% of all employed women lost their jobs during the pandemic, compared with 3.9% of employed men. There was also a decline in hiring women into senior positions, according to LinkedIn data.
“There is a persistent lack of women in leadership positions, with women representing only 27% of all manager positions,” the report said.
Sectors such as cloud computing, engineering, data and AI are more likely to have gender gaps as the uptake of women for these kinds of jobs is fairly low, the WEF added.
WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi wrote in the report: “The hardest-hit sectors by lockdowns and rapid digitalization are those where women are more frequently employed.”
“Combined with the additional pressures of providing care in the home, the crisis has halted progress toward gender parity in several economies and industries,” she said.
Zahidi added that she hoped the report would be a “call to action” for countries to focus on gender equality in the post-pandemic recovery.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average weekly earnings for men who were older than 16 and working full-time was $408 compared to $251 for women – that’s 61.5% of a man’s weekly earnings. This has increased to 81.7% in the third quarter of 2020.
Insider reported in March that the gender wage gap in the US varies widely by state, city and race, with Black and Hispanic women facing the largest pay gap in comparison to non-Hispanic white men’s earnings.
Social media platform Pinterest on Monday paid $22.5 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by Francoise Brougher, its former chief operating officer.
After two years in the COO role, Brougher suddenly left Pinterest in April, without explanation. Four months later, she filed a lawsuit against the company in a San Francisco court, claiming she “was treated unfairly because of my gender.”
Brougher said in the lawsuit that she was paid less than her male peers, that the company excluded her from meetings, and that she wasn’t invited to attend the corporate road show in the runup to Pinterest’s IPO in 2019.
The photo-sharing site and Brougher said Monday they planned to jointly donate $2.5 million of the settlement to organizations that support women and underrepresented minorities in tech, with a focus on education, funding and advocacy, per The New York Times. The donations are expected to be made by the end of 2020.
Brougher and her attorneys will receive $20 million.
In the suit, Brougher, 55, claimed she was fired following a heated exchange with Pinterest’s chief financial officer, Todd Morgenfeld, about her treatment at the company.
The lawsuit said Morgenfeld made disparaging comments about her in front of colleagues and gave her feedback that she considered sexist, saying she wasn’t “collaborative enough.”
After she complained about Morgenfeld’s comments to the head of human resources, and to CEO Ben Silbermann, Brougher said Silbermann fired her over a video call.
A Pinterest spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that the company is investing $2.5 million in programs to advance women and underrepresented communities in tech.
The company admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.
“Francoise welcomes the meaningful steps Pinterest has taken to improve its workplace environment and is encouraged that Pinterest is committed to building a culture that allows all employees to feel included and supported,” Pinterest said in a joint statement with Brougher.
“I’m glad Pinterest took this very seriously,” Brougher said in an interview with the Times. “I’m hoping it’s a first step in creating a better work environment there.”
Brougher is one of the most prominent female tech executives to file a gender discrimination lawsuit against a former company.
Pinterest’s feuds in 2020
This isn’t the first time Pinterest has been criticized for alleged discrimination in the workplace.
Pinterest shareholders sued the company, its top executives, and board of directors on December 2 over allegations of discrimination against women and employees of color.
The lawsuit claimed top executives failed to address claims of workplace bias by doing nothing to monitor unequal pay.
“Pinterest’s leadership and Board take their fiduciary duties seriously and are committed to continuing our efforts to help ensure that Pinterest is a place where all of our employees feel included and supported,” a Pinterest spokesperson told Business Insider at the time. They said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Pinterest told Business Insider: “We took these issues seriously and conducted a thorough investigation when they were raised, and we’re confident both employees were treated fairly. We want each and every one of our employees at Pinterest to feel welcomed, valued, and respected.”
It added that “we’re committed to advancing our work in inclusion and diversity by taking action at our company and on our platform. In areas where we, as a company, fall short, we must and will do better.”
The same month, Business Insider talked to 11 former employees who said Pinterest was a toxic and difficult place to work. Some Black former employees who worked on Pinterest’s ad-sales team said they were fired or “pushed out” of the company without any explanation.
Other employees said they were yelled at by managers in front of colleagues, which made them feel humiliated and upset.
The same week, CEO Silbermann acknowledged that some of Pinterest’s “culture is broken” and said he was “embarrassed” that he didn’t understand the “depth of the hardship and hurt” employees went through.