Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Saudi Women Organizing to Drive

Acting in the same vein as the activists we've studied who have gathered at the grassroots level to initiate change, Saudi women, many who belong to our generation, are bravely asserting their right to drive amidst enormous pushback from social forces (the insistence on religious convention is maintained predominantly by men). Daniel posted some comprehensive articles about this topic in the past, but in a recent visit to the NPR website I found an interesting interview with some women directly involved doing active organizing on the ground; view it here. "We are driving anyway, you know. The will is there. The momentum which is far more important than anything else is there," remarked activist Madiha Al-Ajroush.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Presentation Tips For Women

The Woman's Committee at Biglaw firm Clifford Chance decided to publish a helpful memo with 360 presentation tips for women. I read through the points and found that there are precisely 3 tips that would be more helpful to women than men.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Equal Means Equal" Film about the ERA

This is Kamala Lopez's kickstarter page for her documentary "Equal Means Equal," where she travels around talking to people about the ERA:

Her website includes lots of facts about the ERA and PSAs promoting equal rights:

Angela Merkel, "A Woman for All Seasons"

This recent op-ed in the New York Times argues that Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, "comes across as a solid anchor of rationality in what is at times a sea of male irrationality."

Janet Yellen at the Fed

As you know, the appointment of Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve is generating much discussion.  Take a look at this piece from the New Yorker for one example. This piece from the New York Times includes her reflections on her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated field.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Helen Thomas interview

Helen Thomas, a former white house correspondent journalist (and very interesting woman), passed away this summer. Bitch Magazine did an interview with her shortly before that covers a lot of topics (though somewhat briefly) that we've talked about in class. Among the relevant questions, she addresses the sacrifices women made for suffrage and professional opportunities; women's employment during and after the World Wars (she got into journalism around the time of WWII) and the professional barriers she faced as a woman later in her career; and first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Kennedy in particular. The rest of the interview doesn't really talk about women in politics, but is interesting and policy-related.

There's a transcript of the interview online ( but the article in the print magazine also includes a section called "Helen Thomas on..." that had a couple of interesting answers -- here are the ones that tied back to things we've read/discussed:

The First Ladies:
They all tried hard. I think they tried their best.

Hillary Clinton:
She was not a First Lady. She was a politician.

Martin Luther King, Jr.:
He was fantastic. Undoubtedly a great man.

Margaret Thatcher:
I thought she was an arrogant, terrible woman. I think the Falklands were terrible. She and Bush were very close.

The Role of Women in the Govt Shutdown

I know by now the government shut down is old news, but here's an interesting opinion article from The Washington Post talking about the role women played in ending the government shut down--a role that went uncredited in the media.

Check it out here:

The Case Against Female Self Esteem

The link below is to an article by Matt Forney entitled "The Case Against Female Self Esteem" that will make every Feminist want to slap him in the face. When I first read it, I felt myself getting very angry at his ignorance and sexism. Today, much of his arguments are absolutely ludicrous. He presents this article as a response to feminism and women empowerment. Although today I'm sure (hope) that this is a minority opinion among men, his desire for a submissive partner was not that uncommon when women were fighting for the vote, and even after attaining the vote. I felt personally offended about this one small article, imagine if this is what women heard all the time from men. If women are constantly told they are supposed to be needy, they must have had major inferiority complexes. It makes what Eleanor Roosevelt says about building up woman's self-esteem all that more important and relevant. This article brought to light for me how getting the vote and gradually the empowerment of women changed how women think about themselves. I feel like I owe my anger and the knowledge that my anger is justified to these leaders.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Veteran campaigners' advice to women seeking office: raise money

A few days ago, I found an article titled "Veteran campaigners' advice to women seeking office: raise money" in the Los Angeles Times. I was very curious about the type of advice that would be given and whether or not that advice would focus on behaving in ways similar to men or behaving in ways different from men. Some of the advice was essentially about being more aggressive. For example, Linda Griego advised that women not take "no" for an answer and be persistent when trying to reach their goals. I thought such advice was helpful, especially in regards to helping to counteract stereotypes about women not being resourceful or commanding enough to successfully work in leadership positions.

Women in the Obama Administration

A couple of months ago, I found an article in the New York Times titled "In Obama's High Level Appointments, the Scales Still Tip Toward Men" by Annie Lowrey. The article discussed the fact that the Executive Branch has a lower proportion of women than the House of Representatives, the Senate and corporate America now have. Although the causes for this dynamic are not clear, it is unsurprising to me considering the fact that the Executive Branch has yet to see a female president. The number of women in the Executive Branch needs to rise do that the American public can conceptualize women as belonging in positions of power and accept this reality in other fields as well. 

This is the link to the article:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Women's network in the Senate

I came across this article today from Time that discusses how the 20 women in the Senate played a huge role in ending the government shutdown, because they always make a concerted effort to form a network, across party lines, and to befriend one another and establish a base level of respect. I thought this was really interesting since we've been talking about how powerful women's networks were during the New Deal. In addition to talking about how these women work together so well (interestingly, they tie a lot of it back to domestic things -- holding baby showers and birthday parties for their kids, talking about how being moms and daughters shaped their life experiences -- but not necessarily in a way as limiting as it used to be), the article also discusses the obstacles that women in high places still face and the long road ahead for gender parity in Congress. Long article but a great read.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ada Lovelace Day & "8 Inventions by Women That Dudes Got Credit For"

Last week it was Ada Lovelace Day, which celebrates a woman named Ada Lovelace who was an early pioneer in computer science. There were a lot of articles celebrating women's achievements in light of the holiday, but one particular piece I came across was especially interesting because it highlighted well-known accomplishments that were women's work but credited to men. Interestingly, though, when I shared this article on Facebook, a friend pointed out that Ada Lovelace - one of the women in the article - is actually pretty well known in the CS community today, which made me think that she must have been denied recognition earlier on (maybe in her time, or maybe the record of her work was misrepresented after her death to take away the credit) but has since been restored. That was nice to think about it, since it makes you realize that even in times of injustice, there is often a more just and fair future ahead. Here's the article:

"8 Inventions by Women That Dudes Got Credit For"

Do we need the ERA today?

Some of you expressed interest on the status of the Equal Rights Amendment today. The Alice Paul Institute maintains a website on the ERA, which it terms "unfinished business for the Constitution." The site includes discussion of why the amendment is still relevant and outlines current strategy in Congress and in the states.  Also take a look at this piece from the National Organization for Women, entitled "Who Needs an Equal Rights Amendment? You Do!"

Phyllis Schlafly, whom we'll encounter later in the course, has long opposed the ERA.  Here's an article she published in the Los Angeles times in 2007.

Powerful Ads Use Real Google Searches Show the Scope of Sexism Worldwide

David Griner published an article today on AdWeek that explores sexism in Google's autocomplete feature. Since Google is the world's most popular search engine, these search results show the popular searches and opinions of people worldwide, leading to a question of the status of gender equality today. See below for visualization of one of the search results:

HuffPost Article About the Perception of "Impassioned" Female Politicians in the United States

Elizabeth Plank wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled, "Why We Love Angry Men, But Hate Impassioned Women." The article reflects aspects of our discussion over the stereotypes of women and how society quickly assigns adjectives like "emotional," "sensitive" or "aggressive" to passionate female politicians. However, men are commended for being assertive and their popularity as political figures often increases. Plank discusses a book entitled Compelling People in which authors John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut argue that women should not abandon the image of being strong and intense in political debates, but rather balance those traits with "warmth" and more compassion. However, I think it is unfair to ask female politicians to change their personality and leadership styles to accommodate and satisfy the needs of a nation that still has many sexist ideologies. Why should they be expected to behave differently than their male counterparts?

The article can be found by clicking here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Geraldine Ferraro; First Female VP Candidate

Garaldine Ferraro was the first woman to be nominated as a vice presidential candidate. She ran with Walter F. Mondale in 1984 against Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr.

The article I’m posting about her is a New York Times Obituary written by Douglas Martin in 2011, the year that she died.

Before being nominated she was first a public school teacher in Queens, enrolled in the night program at Fordham Law School where she was one of two women in the class. For thirteen years she practiced law in Queens doing some work for her husband's business and for the Family Court. She was elected president of the Queens County Women's Bar Association. Three years she later was elected Queens district attorney. She then got a job as an assistant district attorney and led a special victims unit specializing in rape, crimes against the elderly, and domestic abuse. She was elected to congress in 1978 and moved up from there to become secretary of the Democratic caucus, and finally chairwoman of the 1984 Democratic Platform Committee.

As the article points out, it was sixty-four years after women gained suffrage. It wasn’t until another twenty-four years later that the next woman, Sarah Palin, would be nominated for vice president. I think of the impact Sarah Palin had on not only young girls but also society as a whole (albeit mostly negative in my opinion) when she was nominated today and wonder if I had been alive at the time, would the effect have been the same, possibly even greater? How is it that I had never read about Geraldine Ferraro in school? Will we still talk about Sarah Palin twenty years from now or will she be largely forgotten like Ms. Ferraro?

Another interesting detail that this article only touches on is the influence that the National Organization for Women had on her nomination. Martin writes that NOW “threatened a convention floor fight” if the Democratic Party did not nominate a woman. This, to me, echoes the importance of channels outside of the political sphere that women have always used and relied on to gain political leverage. It’s fascinating to me that even in 1984, almost 65 years after the ERA was first proposed and when women were struggling with the decision to enter the political sphere or continue to work outside of it, we were still having to pressure political parties from the outside to even allow us into the political sphere.

Ms. Ferraro also wrote a book called “Framing a Life: A Family Memoir” if anyone is interested in reading more about her.

The article can be found here:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wendy Davis: Misogyny Magnet

Here is a link to an article posted about a week ago that encompasses some of the Wendy Davis backlash. Fellow politicians call her "Abortion Barbie" and the media sexualizes her in a way that would never happen with any male counterpart. The article concludes quite logically that all of this whittles away at the respect and dignity female politicians have not only worked for but also inherently deserve.

Monday, October 7, 2013

President Obama Just Nominated the Very First Native American Woman For Federal Judge

If confirmed, Diane J. Humetewa would be the first active member of a Native American reservation, and the first Native American woman to serve as a federal judge. Read more here.

Jessica Peña

Gloria Steinem and trans-exclusionary feminism

Hi everyone,

I saw over the weekend that Gloria Steinem released a statement in the Advocate apologizing to the trans* community for the hurtful and exclusive positions towards trans women and others that she put forth in her past work. Specifically, she opposed sex reassignment surgery, calling it "mutilation" in an attempt to adhere to oppressive gender roles. In response to Steinem's apology, I've seen a lot of responses from trans women that do a good job of explaining some of the history behind this and explaining why many still think Steinem's statement was insufficient because her past words have already done so much damage. Here are two articles in particular to check out:

I think a really interesting topic that comes up in both of these articles is how inclusive the feminist movement has or hasn't been in the past and the consequences that come from separating the causes of related marginalized groups. These posts talk specifically about straight, cis women's attitudes towards the LGBT communities during the 2nd wave (and 3rd, especially talking about ENDA), but there are also a lot of parallels to the debate over the 15th amendment and later about white women's inclusion/exclusion of women of color in their suffrage efforts and other efforts for women's rights.

Hillary Clinton and the roots of women in leadership roles

This doesn't apply directly to the focus of our class, but I think many of you might find this interesting. In a recent discussion with a friend I was reminded that my advisor, Scripps English professor John Peavoy, was a pen pal to Hillary Clinton in the 60s. Professor Peavoy saved many of his letters, and this 2007 article from the New York Times describes a bit about what Hillary was like in her formative years. Rereading this article made me think about Sisters and the ways we've studied how the upbringing and personal experiences of women in leadership roles throughout American history informed the work they accomplished, their goals, and subsequently, the impacts they made on the course of American history. This brief look at Hillary's private past is interesting to consider as her public role is increasingly being scrutinized in light of her potential 2016 presidential bid (and it's also exciting that this insight is made possible by her personal correspondence with one of our own faculty members!). P.S. I haven't approached my advisor to talk about this, so I'm not sure if he's currently willing to discuss his past friendship with Hillary or not. Regardless, this article is worth looking at!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Elinor Otto

Some of you may have already heard about Elinor Otto's story, but I thought I'd share it because it's awesome. Otto has been working as a riveter ever since WWII when she took the job as a 21 year old. She is now 93 and wakes up at 4 in the morning to go to work at a Boeing factory in Long Beach. Otto is shocked at all the attention she has gotten and says she enjoys work and prefers manual labor over sedentary office work. It's interesting to think about why the public reaction to Otto's story has been so strong. I think this is partly because her work ethic is very inspirational (especially given her age) and many place her in the broader context of the women's movement as a heroic feminist. She avoids framing herself as a hero and states she enjoys her job because it keeps her active.

This is an interview with Otto: