Tag Archives: women

Girls Sweep the Google Science Fair

Winners of the first Google Science Fair (from left to right): Lauren Hodge, Shree Bose and Naomi Shah. (Courtesy of The Official Google Blog)

From NPR’s Here and Now with Robin Young

The first-ever Google Science Fair ended last month with females winning all three age categories.

The grand prize went to 17-year-old Shree Bose. The soon-to-be senior at Fort Worth Country Day School in Texas won for her groundbreaking findings into how to prevent resistance to the ovarian cancer drug Cisplatin.

Could this be a sign of the strides women have made in science and engineering?

Statistics show though they’re competing equally with men in terms of receiving science degrees, they still make up a significantly smaller percentage of the science workforce.

The key to advancement, some experts say, is what Shree Bose found in the university scientist who supervised her research: a strong mentor.

Bose told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that finding that mentor wasn’t easy.

“I was a 15-year old girl just randomly asking professors if I could work in their lab, and I got rejected,” she said. “The one who actually accepted me was a woman herself.”

Read about their winning projects here.

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On the Table: Reproductive Health

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the US Health and Human Services Department just announced new guidelines requiring insurance companies to offer free birth control:

Developed by the independent Institute of Medicine, the new guidelines require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services such as well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening, and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible.

According to the HHS Department website, the following will be included in all health insurance plans at no additional cost by August 1, 2012:

  • Well-woman visits: This would include an annual well-woman preventive care visit for adult women to obtain the recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their providers determine they are necessary. These visits will help women and their doctors determine what preventive services are appropriate, and set up a plan to help women get the care they need to be healthy.
  • Gestational diabetes screening: This screening is for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. It will help improve the health of mothers and babies because women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. In addition, the children of women with gestational diabetes are at significantly increased risk of being overweight and insulin-resistant throughout childhood.
  • HPV DNA testing: Women who are 30 or older will have access to high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing every three years, regardless of pap smear results.  Early screening, detection, and treatment have been shown to help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer.
  • STI counseling, and HIV screening and counseling: Sexually-active women will have access to annual counseling on HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These sessions have been shown to reduce risky behavior in patients, yet only 28% of women aged 18 to 44 years reported that they had discussed STIs with a doctor or nurse. In addition, women are at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. From 1999 to 2003, the CDC reported a 15% increase in AIDS cases among women, and a 1% increase among men. 
  • Contraception and contraceptive counseling: Women will have access to all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling. These recommendations do not include abortifacient drugs. Most workers in employer-sponsored plans are currently covered for contraceptives. Family planning services are an essential preventive service for women and critical to appropriately spacing and ensuring intended pregnancies, which results in improved maternal health and better birth outcomes.
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling: Pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their children’s and their own health. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.
  • Domestic violence screening: Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence should be provided for all women. An estimated 25% of women in the U.S. report being targets of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes. Screening is effective in the early detection and effectiveness of interventions to increase the safety of abused women. 

This historic victory for women’s rights (almost 4 decades after the invention of the birth control pill), came with its critics.  

Colbert comically sums up the retort to the new initiatives:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

CNN reports about the guidelines and their conservative critics:

The decision to offer contraception at no additional cost was not supported by everyone. For example, the Family Research Council claims the decision “undermines the conscience rights of many Americans.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of Committee on Pro-Life Activities with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says “pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible.” They feel the decision forces people to participate who may have moral or religious convictions that oppose contraception use.

The Obama administration released an amendment to the prevention regulation that allows religious institutions offering health insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services.

Here’s a link to the guidelines, with pdfs at the bottom.  Happy Friday!

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On the table, 7/28

Today I got to volunteer for a couple of hours at the Boys and Girls Club.  It was really awesome!  Those girls totally schooled me on playing pool!  They also, sadly, were out of ping-pong balls, so I’m going to donate some this week.  If you find yourself taking old board games to Goodwill, take them to your local youth club instead.

I have lots of stuff for you this week!  Here it goes:

Read more:

  • Christie Thompson at Ms. Blog argues that the new ads not only condescendingly argue that “strong women douche” (while adding to the tradition that vaginas are dirty), but also essentialize women by using racial stereotypes.
  • At AdWeek, Stan Richards explains Summer’s Eve’s defense: “After listening to thousands of women say they want straight-talk and lighthearted communication on a historically-uncomfortable topic, Summer’s Eve gave us license to be bold, irreverent and celebratory across a multitude of mediums and to different audiences….” [Read the rest of Tim Nudd’s article here.] 
  • Nudd later reported that in light of bad press, the company decided to pull the online videos: “Richards PR executive Stacie Barnett told Adweek that the criticism had begun to overshadow the message and goal of the larger campaign—to educate women about their anatomy and break down taboos in talking about it—and that the online videos had to go….” [Read on]

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  • Slut Walks
Slut Walk London

Read more:

  • Raymond Kwan at York Univesity’s student paper Excalibur describes how a Toronto cop told a group of college students women could deter rape by not dressing like a slut.
  • Needless to say, women have responded in droves in the form of Slut Walks – a march to decalre women’s “constitutional right to a freedom of expression and a freedom of assembly,” according to Slut Walk Toronto.com.
  • The movement has even expanded transnationally – making a profound impact in India says Nikita Garia at The Wall Street Journal.
  • Some feminists, however, have responded questionably.  Rebecca Traister at the NY Times makes a great argument: “To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous. But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial) to what society already expects of its young women. Scantily clad marching seems weirdly blind to the race, class and body-image issues that usually (rightly) obsess young feminists and seems inhospitable to scads of women who, for various reasons, might not feel it logical or comfortable to express their revulsion at victim-blaming by donning bustiers. So while the mission of SlutWalks is crucial, the package is confusing and leaves young feminists open to the very kinds of attacks they are battling….” [Read on]

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a battery of tests and evaluations to go through before it will again allow gay men to donate blood. As midsummer shortages hit the nation’s blood supply, BBJ health care reporter Julie Donnelly writes that the process should proceed expeditiously.  [Read more here.]

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See the video here, or read the transcript below.

“Every empire in history has either failed or faltered, but for some reason – be it our arrogance, our hubris, or our nationalism disguised as patriotism – we turn a blind eye to the growing chasm between the have gots and the have nots. One percent of the population owning and controlling more wealth than ninety percent of Americans, is both dangerous and unsustainable.  At the heart of the problem is political cowardice….” [Read on]

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On the table – 6/28

Most of the time I don’t feel like commenting on anything.  In fact, my act of including it on this blog is a comment – I care and, therefore, I share.  And most of the time I have tons and tons of things to share.

So, here begins a new bi-weekly-ish assortment of interesting things.  And because it’s current, it’s “on the table.”  It’s like a “Blog Post Blizzard,” only less lazy.

Each bullet point will have the beginning of the article or a short blurb about the piece, with both a “Read on” link which will take you to the source and a “Read more” for thirsty minds.

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In 2000, Sports Illustrated named its 100 top athletes of the 20th century. There are names you no doubt are familiar with — Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and of course Michael Jordan. But there’s also a name that might slip by: Babe Didrikson. She is the only woman in the top 10.

In the 1920s and 30s, Babe Didrikson proved a girl could be a phenomenal all-around athlete. After mastering basketball and track and field, she eventually turned to golf — and won three U.S. Women’s Open championships before she died of cancer when she was only 45. This weekend, Babe Didrikson would be 100 years old…. [Read on]

 Read more: Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias by Don Van Natta Jr.

 

 

 

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The "Buranovo Babushkas" watch video, for the first time, of two of their members appearing on Russia's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? program.

In Russian culture, one iconic image is the elderly woman — in Russian, she’s called a “babushka” — sitting on a roadside, selling vegetables from her garden.  One group of babushkas from the village of Buranovo, 600 miles east of Moscow, is blowing up that stereotype.

The dozen or so women — mostly in their 70s and 80s — have become a musical sensation, charming audiences across Russia. They sing Beatles tunes and songs by iconic Russian rocker Viktor Tsoi. They fly around the country for concerts. They made it to the Russian finals of the Eurovision music contest. And they have a Facebook page.  These women are sending a message loud and clear: It can be hip to be a babushka…. [Read on]

Read more: Watch them on Youtube

 

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This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments… [Read on]

Read more: Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World by Lisa Bloom

 

 

 

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When his toddler comes home to say that she wants her hair straightened, Chris Rock takes to the street to understand Black women’s hair and the physical and emotional dangers of straightening it.

 Read more: Rent Good Hair on Netflix!

 

 

 

 

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Photos of Child Brides

Photos by Stephanie Sinclair, as part of her co-authored project in National Geographic, “Too Young to Wed.”
Listen to her interview with Michele Norris at NPR here.
Also, see her photo essay “The Bride Price: In Afghanistan some daughters to be married are just children” in the New York Times Magazine (see the third page – it is precious).

“I strongly believe there is not just a need for awareness-raising and prevention work, but we must find ways to help these girls who are already in these marriages — be it through giving financial incentives to their families to let them stay in school, or vocational training so they can have more say in their lives and households. Quality medical treatment is also needed for girls who are giving birth at these young ages. These girls need long-term solutions. There is no quick fix.”  (Sinclair)

Stephanie Sinclair/National Geographic "Whenever I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him," Tahani (in pink) recalls of the early days of her marriage to Majed, when she was 6 and he was 25. The young wife posed for this portrait with former classmate Ghada, also a child bride, outside their mountain home in Hajjah, Yemen.

Stephanie Sinclair/National Geographic Although early marriage is the norm in her small Nepali village, 16-year-old Surita wails in protest as she leaves her family's home, shielded by a traditional wedding umbrella and carried in a cart to her new husband's village.

Stephanie Sinclair/National Geographic Asia, a 14-year-old mother, washes her new baby girl at home in Hajjah while her 2-year-old daughter plays. Asia is still bleeding and ill from childbirth yet has no education or access to information on how to care for herself.

Stephanie Sinclair/National Geographic Long after midnight, 5-year-old Rajani is roused from sleep and carried by her uncle to her wedding. Child marriage is illegal in India, so ceremonies are often held in the wee hours of morning. It becomes a secret the whole village keeps, explained one farmer.

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NY Times – Undermining Title IX in College Sports

These are some juicy excerpts taken from “College Teams, Relying on Deception, Undermine Gender Equity,” April 25, 2011, by KATIE THOMAS.

 

Ever since Congress passed the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX, universities have opened their gyms and athletic fields to millions of women who previously did not have chances to play.

Title IX, passed in 1972 at the height of the women’s rights movement, banned sex discrimination in any federally financed education program. It threw into sharp relief the unequal treatment of male and female athletes on college campuses…

Over the next 40 years, the law spawned a cultural transformation: the number of women competing in college sports has soared by more than 500 percent — to 186,000 a year from fewer than 30,000 in 1972.

Universities must demonstrate compliance with Title IX in at least one of three ways: by showing that the number of female athletes is in proportion to overall female enrollment, by demonstrating a history of expanding opportunities for women, or by proving that they are meeting the athletic interests and abilities of their female students.

But as women have grown to 57 percent of American colleges’ enrollment, athletic programs have increasingly struggled to field a proportional number of female athletes. And instead of pouring money into new women’s teams or trimming the rosters of prized football teams, many colleges are turning to a sleight of hand known as roster management.

According to a review of public records from more than 20 colleges and universities by The New York Times, and an analysis of federal participation statistics from all 345 institutions in N.C.A.A. Division I — the highest level of college sports — many are padding women’s team rosters with underqualified, even unwitting, athletes. They are counting male practice players as women. And they are trimming the rosters of men’s teams.

According to the most current federal numbers, women make up 53 percent of the student body at Division I institutions yet only 46 percent of all athletes. And that discrepancy does not take into account all the tactics used to boost the numbers artificially.

  • At Marshall University, the women’s tennis coach recently invited three freshmen onto the team even though he knew they were not good enough to practice against his scholarship athletes, let alone compete.

    They could come to practice whenever they liked, he told them, and would not have to travel with the team.

  • At Cornell, only when the 34 fencers on the women’s team take off their protective masks at practice does it become clear that 15 of them are men. Texas A&M and Duke are among the elite women’s basketball teams that also take advantage of a federal loophole that allows them to report male practice players as female participants.
  • Roster management came under scrutiny last year when a federal judge ruled that Quinnipiac University in Connecticut had violated Title IX by engaging in several questionable practices, including requiring that women cross-country runners join the indoor and outdoor track teams so they could be counted three times. The judge found earlier that Quinnipiac had been padding women’s rosters by counting players, then cutting them a few weeks later.
  • At the University of South Florida, more than half of the 71 women on the cross-country roster failed to run a race in 2009. Asked about it, a few laughed and said they did not know they were on the team.
  • Sarah Till, who graduated from South Florida in 2009, was a more extreme case. She said that she quit and returned her track scholarship in her sophomore year, but her name was listed on the rosters of all three squads through her junior year.  “They wanted to keep me on the roster because the more girls they have on the roster, the more positions they have to give for the guys’ teams,” she said, adding that a former assistant coach had told her she would receive running shoes and priority class registration as a reward for staying on the rosters.

Read the rest of Thomas’s article here at the NYTimes.

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Ladies That Rock(ed): Fanny

My capstone paper of my senior year at Agnes Scott College was on representations of women (mostly female musicians) in Rolling Stone in 1975.  I started this project due to my love for Joan Jett…

who many of you don’t know was a part of the all-teenage-female rock band The Runaways in the mid-70s.  If you saw the recent film adaptation of their lives, you would probably like the documentary Edgeplay which I felt was a more raw and authentic retelling of those few years spent together.  (Likewise, Joan Jett does not take part in Edgeplay, but co-produced The Runaways…)

The band was not only just a bunch of women who wanted to rock, but a symbol of the rejection many women felt from the hypermasculine rock scene.  Similarly, the band also represented how women were sexually objectified by the rock music industry and also sexualized themselves in order to maintain popularity in the male-dominated and controlled music industry. 

Exhibit A) The Runaways

One of the many things that interests me about female musicians during this time period, is how little all-female bands knew about each other.

June Millington from the all-female rock band Fanny describes her experience as a female musician in the 70s:

We were painting our music on cave walls for a decade, beginning in the mid-60s, and it was a full-time job. I remember my sister Jean’s first song on electric bass–The Beau Brummel’s “Laugh, Laugh”–which we rehearsed with our first all-girl band, the Svelts, in our drummer’s living room in Sacramento, Calif. We’d gone from playing imes as kids in the Philippines to taking up acoustic guitars after arriving in the US in ’61, and then into electric guitar, bass and drums by 1965. I say cave walls because where were all the other women rock musicians in 1965? It was awfully dark in that cave. We didn’t know about Goldie & the Gingerbreads or other all-girl bands starting up and doing it for themselves. No peers, no mentors, no women’s centers, no support anywhere. As far as we knew, we were making it up. Jean and I sort of had an imperative from above–we just knew we had to play live and electric. I don’t think either one of us could have done it alone. We figured it out, and faced the world together.

Women have been part of music – as singers, musicians, djs, producers, journalists – since there was a music industry.  However, decade after decade the media described their success as trends which both isolated female musicians from one another and continually othered them from more mainstream, masculine rockers.  Likewise, many women felt forced to choose between identifying as feminist musicians and allowing all forms of sexual discrimination within the industry.  But that’s another post for another day. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s current exhibit, Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power, features more than 70 artists, highlighting “the flashpoints, the firsts, the best, the celebrated — and sometimes lesser-known women — who moved rock and roll music and American culture forward.”  Roadtrip?

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Interested in reading more stories about the long lost tales of women in the music industry?  Check these titles out:

Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin by Alice Echols

She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll  by Gillian Gaar

Electric Ladyland: Women and Rock Culture  by Lisa Rhodes

Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Rosetta Tharpe  by Gayle Wald

Swing Shift: “All Girl” Bands of the 1940s  by Sherrie Tucker

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