Kickass Women

History is filled with women doing all kinds of kickass stuff.

Smart Girls

Watch these girls... they're going places!


Need a dose of inspiration? Here you go.

SRPS Entertainment

Some of my entertainment recommendations with awesome female characters and stars.

She's Crafty!

Some of the awesome items made by kickass women!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Kickstart This: magnifiqueNOIR

If you don't already know about Briana Lawrence, then do yourself a favor and look her up on Facebook or Twitter right away! You won't regret it, I promise! I featured Brichibi (Briana's cosplay stuff) on a Follow Friday post a while back. I love following her on social media because she shares so much really fun and geeky stuff. She's one of the people I think of whenever I imagine what a self-rescuing princess looks like.

As soon as I heard about her newest project about magical queer black girls, magnifiqueNOIR, I was immediately on board and ready to throw my money her way! She's already the living embodiment of a magical queer black girl, so of course I already know her story of other black, queer, magical girls saving the world "with the power of friendship, glitter, and fantastic hair" is going to be absolutely fantastic!

I'm so glad she took the time to chat with me about this project and about her love of anime, games, and cosplay! As I'd long suspected following her online, she's a truly remarkable woman doing really amazing geeky stuff that just warms my heart and inspires me and countless others to go do our own thing, loud and proud!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Kickstart This! Science Wide Open

It seems like every other week there's another awesome project celebrating women in science! And you know what? I love them all! I really do. They're all so great and I just have to back as many as I can afford. This week's amazing project I can't help but put my money behind is Science Wide Open, a series of beautifully illustrated children's books designed to teach basic scientific concepts -- chemistry, biology, and physics -- and featuring important women in each field.

I absolutely love everything I've seen about this project. The illustrations are colorful and clear. The text is simple and leaves room for questions, allowing the kids to explore on their own, following their interests. And, what really appeals to me, each woman featured is shown in full-on science-mode. Active shots are so important for the littler kids to imagine themselves doing the same things. And the focus is on resilience and curiosity -- two qualities every little self-rescuing princess needs to be successful in whatever she pursues.

When I first heard about this project, I just had to know more about it. Fortunately I was able to chat a bit with Mary Wissinger, the author of Science Wide Open, and John Coveyou, editor and founder of Genius Games, about the importance of getting kids interested in science early, and some of the important women in science history who have inspired them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

SRPS Movie Night: The Barefoot Artist - the life and work of Lily Yeh

I was visiting my local library a couple of weeks ago to pick up a book I'd ordered through inter-library loan, when I just happened to see the DVD case for The Barefoot Artist on the shelf. I don't know what about it exactly caught my eye, but I knew I was going to be taking it home with me. And I'm so glad I did!

What a beautiful film! This documentary is a loving tribute to a truly remarkable artist, Lily Yeh. After watching this film, I am heartened to know such a woman exists, and also a bit sad that I hadn't heard of her before. I can't help but feel as though I've lost out on so many years of being inspired by her work.

Created by her cinematographer son, Danial Traub, and producer Glenn Holsten, The Barefoot Artist is a thoughtful and moving telling of her life's story and the inspiration behind her magnificent works of art in communities around the globe.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Nobel Women - Chemistry

In honor of the 2016 Nobel Prizes announced this last week, this post is the second in my series of Nobel Women, highlighting the women who've won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. You can also read my previous post about the women who've won a Nobel Prize in Physics.

There have been twice as many Nobel Prizes awarded to women for their work in chemistry than for physics. While that might sound impressive, it's really not when you consider that only two women have received a Nobel Prize for physics, meaning that only four have gone to women for chemistry. And even less so when you realize one remarkable woman appears on both lists.

Who were these women and what made their research noteworthy to the Nobel Committee?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Nobel Women - Physics

The 2016 Nobel Prizes are being announced this week, and so far it's still a dude-fest. So, while we don't have any new women Nobel winners yet to celebrate, I figure maybe it's time to celebrate some of the women from history who've taken home the gold medal.

The post about women who've won the Nobel Prize in Physics is depressingly short. In the 121 years since Alfred Nobel created his award, only TWO women have won for their work in the field of physics. The most recent was Maria Geoppert Mayer, in 1963. And before that? It was Marie Curie in 1903.

Sixty years between the first and the second. And nearly that many years between the second and today. The snarky part of me wonders if we'll actually have to wait again until 2023, and for someone named Maria?

But seriously. I know it's still incredibly tough for women to find academic success in Physics, for a multitude of reasons. Here's hoping that starts to change quickly. In the meantime, we can celebrate Marie and Maria and encourage other young women to follow in their stead.

Marie Curie
Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics 1903 along with Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel."

Marie was the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize, and it almost didn't happen. The prize committee had originally only intended to give the award to the two male scientists. It wasn't until Magnus Goesta Mittag-Leffler, himself a scientist and an advocate for women in science, made a formal complaint that they included Marie Curie in the nomination.

Maria Goeppert Mayer
Maria Goeppert Mayer won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 along with J. Hans D. Jensen and Eugene Wigner "for their discoveries concerning nuclear shell structure."

Maria, like many other female scientists married to male scientists at the time, did much of her important work in unpaid or part-time positions because of anti-nepotism rules at most major universities. Despite this ridiculous limitation, she still maintained a stellar record of research and publication, and developed a mathematical model for the structure of nuclear shells, explaining the reasons behind her "magic number" of nucleons that result in stable configurations.

Like Marie, she earned her Nobel by applying her brilliant mind through diligence research in order to answer the age-old question of "why?" Fortunately for her, the committee did not need to be convinced she deserved it. Even they could recognize magnificent contribution to science.

Perhaps as more women are seeking advanced degrees in physics, we'll start to see more women winning Nobel Prizes. One can hope.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Rosalind Franklin on Vacation

For the last year or so I have kept a copy of this photo on my computer desktop. When I first found it on some trip through the rabbit hole that is the Internet, I was so intrigued by it I had to keep a copy for future research. I don't know much about the short life of Rosalind Franklin, other than what one picks up here and there in books and blog posts about the history of women in science. This photo didn't seem to match up with the image I had of her in my head as a serious, somewhat frumpy scientist locked in a laboratory, and locked into a history where she was denied her rightful place as the person who figured out the shape of DNA.

This picture reminds me of Roman Holiday -- the film with  Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. What first drew my attention was the bicycle. It's a life-long dream of mine to ride a bike around Europe. I can almost feel the warm sun on her back and the roughness of the stone beneath her arms. I imagine the view from this spot and the bike ride she took to get here making it all the more beautiful. She looks relaxed, pensive, almost ordinary.

Rosalind Franklin looking out over the Tuscan scenery while on vacation, Spring 1950. (source: U.S. National Library of Medicine)

On a bike ride recently, when I stopped to take a picture of an autumnal vineyard in its full glory of ripe fruit and golden leaves, I thought about this image again. I wanted to know more about this Rosalind Franklin. Who was she with? What were they doing? What was she thinking about?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Kickstart This! Super Cool Scientists Coloring Book

There have been so many really great "women in science" Kickstarter projects lately, it's hard to keep up! So many are about the influential women in history who've contributed to their scientific fields but who've been left out of the history books. This kind of re-writing history is, of course, very close to my heart. But I also think it's important to share the stories of contemporary women who are doing super cool science stuff right now!

Sara MacSorley agrees! And that's why she came up with the fantastic idea for her Super Cool Scientists Coloring Book. Sara, a science-lover herself, wanted to share the stories of some of the amazing women out there working hard in their fields as a way of inspiring other young science-lovers to pursue their dreams. Of course, I wanted to know more about her inspiration and this project. She was kind enough to chat with me about the importance science plays in her life and a couple of stories about the women she's been inspired by.

SRPS: First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself? What's your background? What inspires you?

SM: I studied marine biology in college, thinking from a young age that I wanted to be a research scientist "when I grew up". However, when I had my first independent research project, I realized it wasn't really for me. It was nerve wracking because no one had ever told me what else you could do with a science degree besides research.

Luckily for me, I had some great mentors that got me into science outreach, education, and communication. Turns out there is a whole lot you can do with a science degree that takes place outside of research/field work and with out a lab coat.

After college, I got into higher education work which included a tuition waiver. At that point, I completed a Masters in Business Administration in the evenings while working full time. Eventually, I got more into project administration and am still working in higher education.

I'm inspired by the stories of dynamic people making incredible scientific discoveries. It's amazing to me how much we still have to learn.

SRPS: What is it that attracted you to marine biology, and science in general?

SM: I've always been a planner and organizer, my brain works very analytically so the scientific process made sense to me. I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, surrounded by rivers, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. Trips to Ocean City and the National Aquarium sparked my love for the oceans and all the creatures in them at an early age.

SRPS: Why is it important to you to share your love of science with others?

SM: Science is around us every day and it helps us to understand so much about how systems work - from technology to our own bodies. Plus, there are an influx of science and technology careers out there and we need the full diversity of our communities to help solve today's global challenges. Different perspectives and creative thinking help us come up with new ideas.

Science can also be intimidating. We tend to be uneasy about things we're unfamiliar with so that is why I think science communication is so important. We can start breaking down those barriers by sharing the stories of individuals to make scientists more relatable and by explaining scientific concepts and issues in ways that non-scientists and non-academics can relate to and care about.

Friday, September 30, 2016

SRPS Movie Night: Queen of Katwe

It's been a while since I have been able to make it to a new movie on its opening day, but I made it a point to clear my schedule for today. I absolutely had to go see Queen of Katwe today! I even went to the every first showing just so I could come home and tell you all what I thought about it.

Short version: I loved it! Go see it!

Long version: Queen of Katwe is the captivating story of how Phiona Mutesi became the first female chess champion of Uganda. It's the inspirational story about how miraculous things can happen when the right people are in the right place at the right time, as well as the painfully honest accounting of exactly how much hard work and determination is required to make those miracles happen.

I honestly never thought I'd find a film about chess so compelling, but here I am raving about it online. My favorite scenes are those where Phiona is sitting across the table from someone who underestimates her, and the look she gets on her face when she knows she's going to win. It's the look of ultimate secret delight knowing they just walked into her trap, and now all she has to do is squeeze. Before the even know what's happening, she's finished the game in her head and is just waiting for real life to catch up.

Of course, this film is about more than chess. Or, more accurately, it's about how chess is a metaphor for life.