American astronaut Sally Ride monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the flight deck in 1983. Photo by Apic/Getty Images, via PBS NewsHour.
Tonight, PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien will serve as master of ceremonies in a Kennedy Center gala honoring the life and legacy of astronaut Sally Ride. The tribute will highlight her impact on the space program and her lifelong commitment to promoting youth science literacy.
Her Sally Ride Science organization reached out to girls, encouraging them to pursue careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, where a gender gap persists.
At the PBS NewsHour website, read the column Miles wrote immediately following Ride's death in July 2012, 17 months after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
"To become a scientist is hard enough. But to become one while running a gauntlet of lies, insults, mockeries, and disapproval — this was what my mother had to do." Mother's Day was yesterday, but you'll still want to read this fantastic essay from 2002, written by journalist Charles Hirschberg about his mother, geophysicist Joan Feynman.
Medium just launched Lady Bits
, a new collection hosted by former Wired.com editor Arikia Millikan. The goal: Provide a space for the kinds of stories and perspectives that get left out of traditional magazines because of advertising profiles that say tech readers are all dudes. It's a worthy idea and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
More importantly, it's not a compliment to make a Facebook page dedicated to talking about how you would totally bang a specific woman who f(ing loves science and it's definitely not okay to cut-paste her head onto softcore porn screencaps
. I'm posting this because I want you to understand the distinction. We live in a world where sexism is ingrained and damn near all of us grew up learning biases that might make us surprised to find women enthusiastically promoting science and math. That doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a person who lives in a bad system. Really, the moment of surprise should be an opportunity to re-think the biases we grew up with and create change. But when you take that news and, instead, use it to objectify and harass those women, then you have a huge personal problem. And, also, you suck.
In November 1322, Jakoba (or Jacoba) Felicie stood trial in her native Paris for the crime of practicing medicine without official sanction. Over the course of the trial, it became clear that her work as a doctor had been excellent. But Dr. Felicie was stuck in an unfortunate catch-22. She could not legally work as a doctor without first getting professional training. And she could not get professional training because she was a woman. The ScienceZest blog tells her story
Gisella Perl was Romanian and Jewish. She was a gynaecologist at a time and place where very few women went into the medical professions. In 1944, she and her entire family were shipped off to Auschwitz, where Perl was instructed to provide medical care for her fellow inmates — medical care that was supposed to happen without even the most basic medical supplies.
In this position, she was officially employed by Josef Mengele, and she saw what happened to women who entered Auschwitz while pregnant. The short answer was death. The long answer was that those deaths were often horrifying and drawn-out. So Gisella Perl gave herself a new job — protecting women by helping them hide evidence of pregnancy and by performing abortions with her bare hands.
I'd never heard Perl's story before. It's heartbreaking. And it's riveting. The Holocaust History Project has a long and well-cited version.
The Italian neurologist and "senator for life" Rita Levi Montalcini, who won the Nobel Prize winner for Medicine in 1986, died in Rome. She was 103. Rome's mayor says the biologist, who conducted underground research in defiance of Fascist persecution, and went on to win a Nobel Prize for helping unlock the mysteries of the cell, died at her home in the city. More at the Associated Press
. (HT: @csanz)
Why are women first to pay for every crisis? In every society, capitalist, socialist, or transition? It's because the bodies of women are expendable.
I always noticed how women over eighty in Turin looked incredibly well, beautiful and loved and taken care of: desirable, because old and valuable. I connected this to Italy's long-established and sophisticated health care system. Italian hospitals were famous for methods which preserved the dignity of the patients, in tumor cures, especially breast cancer: the "invisible mastectomy" was invented in Milan. Rather than simply intervening in crisis, they were good at illness prevention and attentive follow-ups.
The economic crisis and financial harassment of Italy has reached this safe haven of health and dignity. In Turin, one of the best clinics for cure and prevention of breast cancer is about to be closed. The patients are on the streets, their appointments cannot be scheduled, they are paying for their urgent operations because their doctors cannot help them. The doctors are on the streets too.
Read the rest
Rebecca Onion is the curator at a new Slate blog that showcases nifty finds from America's historical archives. So far, she's got a photo of the be-loinclothed winner of a eugenics-inspired Better Baby Contest; a breakup letter written by Abraham Lincoln; and this specimen of 1950s-style STEM recruitment toys for girls.
What's interesting about this chemistry set is that you can't really say it's more or less sexist than the types of science kits you see marketed heavily to girls today. Sure, it's in a pink box and heavily insinuates that the best job a woman can hope for in science is as somebody's assistant. But, on the other hand, it's apparently the exact same chemistry set sold to boys, just with different packaging. Whereas today, pink-colored science kits trend heavily toward "girl" things, like teaching you how to make your own scented soaps — but at least you're in charge of the soap-making lab.
The set, which is preserved in the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s collection of chemistry sets, is a product of post-WWII anxiety over the nation’s lack of what was called “scientific manpower.” Having seen what a difference science made in the war (the bomb, radar, penicillin), and realizing that the amount of work to be done in labs and industrial R&D was limitless, Americans worried that insufficient numbers of young people wanted to be scientists. Some called for young women to be included in recruitment efforts. Women had been largely shut out of scientific careers up until that point. But they had a major point in their favor: They were undraftable. If girls got the right training, future wartime labs could be staffed by women, who were naturally bound to the homefront.
But all science jobs are not alike, and women didn’t get the plum ones. Historian John Rudolph, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has written about postwar efforts to upgrade the science curriculum. He found that girls were recruited to science careers after the war, but only for jobs that were to the side of the main show: lab technician, science teacher.
Read the rest at The Vault
occurs in about 7% of breast cancer patients who have undergone sentinel lymph node biopsy (to see if disease has spread to these lymph nodes), and in greater percentage of patients whose nodes end up being removed (because one or more contain cancer) and patients who receive radiation therapy after breast surgery. Lymphedema is basically a chronic swelling of the affected arm, caused by trapped lymph fluid. It can be disabling, disfiguring, and extremely painful.
"Once lymphedema develops, it is permanent," says my friend Dr. Deanna Attai, a breast surgeon in Burbank, CA. "Physical therapy can help minimize swelling and other complications, but there is currently no cure. Early recognition and prompt treatment definitely makes a difference."
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A wonderful article by Liz Szabo in USA Today on "I heart boobies," "save the ta-tas," and all those other horrible sexualized breast cancer campaigns that raise dubious funds for dubious goals and leave those of us who have the disease feeling demeaned. There is nothing sexy about breast cancer, and Szabo does a fantastic job in this piece explaining why. Above, one of the worst such campaigns I have ever seen.
Read the rest
At left, the new Honda Fit She's, a car available in predictable pink or what the maker calls "eyeliner brown." The vehicle is designed for the female market in Japan, and costs around $17.5K USD at current exchange rates. Official website here, in Japanese.
The Honda Fit She's features a “Plasmacluster” climate control system the maker claims can improve skin quality, a windshield that prevents wrinkles, a pink interior stitching, "tutti-frutti-hued chrome bezels," and an adorable heart instead of an apostrophe in “She’s.”
Read the rest
Fantasy author Cassandra Clare, writing about
her experience at the receiving end of some fairly serious and organized internet bullying.
These sort of attacks are so shocking/upsetting because they break the social contract we have come to expect decent people to adhere to: that people don’t attack your personal relationships, that they don’t sneer not just at your friends but at the idea that you might have friends, that they don’t attack the way you look or your family or your ethnicity/religion. The thing is, to the hate bloggers, and to the kind of people who send anonymous hateful messages, the object of their hate isn’t a person. To them, I am not a human being. My family are not real people.
Been there. It sucks. (via Maureen Johnson)
An Australian Department of Trade document listing the reasons women should not be hired to be trade commissioners
. "A spinster lady can, and often does, turn into something of a battleaxe with the passing years. A man usually mellows." (HT: @christinelhenry)
"One in three American Indian women have been raped or have experienced an attempted rape
," according to a Justice Department statistic cited in the NYT
. The rate of sexual assault among indigenous American women "is more than twice the national average," and it's particular grim in "Alaska’s isolated villages, where there are no roads in or out, and where people are further cut off by undependable telephone, electrical and Internet service."
Really fascinating talk coming up at the Royal Society in London. Sharon Ruston, a professor of 19th century literature and culture, will be talking about the scientific texts that influenced Mary Wollstonecraft—the pioneering feminist who wrote Vindication of the Rights of Women
in 1792. Wollstonecraft isn't known for a connection to science, but during the time she was writing Vindication, she was also reading and reviewing books on natural history for a journal called Analytical Review
. Ruston says those books played a role in shaping Wollstonecraft's philosophy. Sounds cool! Event is September 28 at 1:00 pm. Recorded audio will be available online a few days later
. (Via Alice Bell)