Amazing Grace (and Katherine, and Sally)


Bi-weekly Brief:
 January 21, 2016
Brought to you by Women's Campaign Fund 

Doing our part for science
Studies show that in the workplace female leaders tend to be better listeners, more collegial, and more open to new ideas than their male counterparts. It’s hard for researchers to say whether the same holds true in politics though, because there just aren’t enough women in executive offices to study: only six current governors are women, and just 36 women have ever served-- not to mention that 0% of U.S. presidents and vice presidents so far have been female. Help us get social scientists a bigger sample size this year, and donate to WCF today.

Amazing Grace (and Katherine, and Sally)
When President Obama talked about how the “spirit of discovery is in our DNA” during his final State of the Union last week, he of course gave shout outs to the usual male suspects, like Edison and the Wright Brothers, but he didn’t stop there. He also named three brilliant women whose contributions to science and technology have long been under-appreciated: Grace Hopper, who invented the first compiler for computer programming (before that computers were basically just big calculators); Katherine Johnson, who did the math that got the Apollo astronauts to the moon; and Sally Ride, a physicist who was literally out of this world.

Civil righteous babes
Of course, science and technology aren’t the only areas where women’s contributions tend to get overlooked. In honor of MLK Day, MTV’s Look Different project featured ten remembrances of civil rights heroines you may not have heard about, each presented by one of the current generation of female activists, whose work is being overlooked today. Two birds, meet one stone.

Tsai won
Tsai Ing-wen won a landslide victory in Taiwan on Saturday, becoming the nation’s first female president. Her victory reflects a long nationwide effort to ensure women are represented in Taiwanese politics that has paid off: women now hold 34% of seats in the country (up from just 21% a decade ago) and the two top candidates for president in this last election were female. How do they say “You go girl” in Taiwan?

Tsai joins a growing list of women who have been elected to lead countries in Asia. Sheesh, I’m going to be busy looking up how to say “You go girl” in South Korea, and Bangladesh, and Myanmar, and...

It takes a village… led by a woman
Taiwan’s not the only country where promoting women’s participation in politics has had a profound impact. In India, the government randomly selects a third of village councils to be reserved for a female chief councilor. Researchers have found that in these villages, girls do better on school exams, fewer crimes against women go unreported, and female child mortality is lower. In other words, electing more women is a lifesaver.

The Feminist Awakens
Somehow Hasbro forgot to include Rey, the new kickass lady Jedi, in many of its toy sets for the Force Awakens. Excluding female characters from movie merchandise is an ongoing pattern, but this time it was particularly glaring. The internet struck back, and after a #WheresRey campaign took off on Twitter, Hasbro changed it’s tune faster than the band in Mos Eisley’s cantina, announcing that Rey will be included in more toy sets soon. I know some women who will be especially psyched to hear it.

$%*^ing sexism
The 2016 presidential candidates are cursing more than years past, but as Adrienne Kimmell, director of the Barbara Lee Foundation points out, it’s really only male candidates who can get away with swearing. Women are often criticized for using foul language, even while getting called “every B-word in the book,” as Carly Fiorina put it. The title of Kimmell’s article calls this double standard beyond words, but I can think of several to describe it-- most with four letters.

More like two thousand sixqueen (because this year is gonna rule)
New York Magazine’s Ann Friedman suggests some feminist resolutions for 2016, and her list includes the most powerful four letter word of all: Vote.



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