Women's History Month - Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman to receive a medical degree in the US.

Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar

The last Ruler of Madagascar.

She's Crafty - Microscopic Edition!

Some really cool science inspired crafts!

Happy Birthday - Septima Poinsette Clark

The "Queen Mother" or "Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Music Break - Iyeoka

I saw this video shared on my personal Google+ page, and have completely fallen head over heels for this song, this video, and this woman. I don't know anything about her, or what other songs she's done. But I want to know more. A lot more!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kickstart This!

Chainmail Bikini is another Kickstarter project that doesn't actually need your help but still deserves your attention.
Chainmail Bikini is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers! 40 cartoonists have contributed 200+ pages of all new stories about the games they're passionate about—from video games to table-top role-playing to collectible card games. Help us pay for the printing costs and reward the artists by pre-ordering the book!
Potential $100 reward: character image by Kori Michele Handwerker

I absolutely love this project! In one fell swoop, you can support two causes near and dear to the hearts of all of us: women in gaming and women in comics!
The comics in Chainmail Bikini explore the real-life impact of entering a fantasy world, how games can connect us with each other and teach us about ourselves. Alliances are forged, dice get rolled, and dragons get slain! We believe that gaming should be open to all, regardless of gender. Chainmail Bikini shows that while women are not always the target market for gaming, they are a vital and thoroughly engaged part of it, and are eager to express their personal take as players, makers, and critics of games.
Potential $100 reward: character image by Molly Ostertag

Gaming is such an integral part of my life. I cannot imagine going any serious length of time without playing some kind of game, whether it be just a quick puzzle game on my phone, leveling up my Redguard Nightblade in ESO, or checking in with my Descent crew.

I also love that their stretch goals aren't for more amazing stuff, but instead will go toward paying the artist over and above the original fees. How cool is that?

So do yourself a favor and consider supporting this project. You'll be helping promote a positive view of women in gaming, and you'll be supporting these great artists! Plus, you'll get an awesome new book! What could be better than that?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TV Night - Madam Secretary

I sat down and made a list of all the TV shows with amazing female characters that I'm watching, and my first thought was, "There are so many great shows out there right now!" And then, my second thought, "How in the world am I going to be able to pick just one to review?"

So, here starts a new semi-regular blog series wherein I discuss my favorite shows, one at a time, not necessarily in any kind of order or even in a timely fashion.

So, I know I've already raved about Madam Secretary in another post, but it's such a great show and well worth a closer look (and a longer rave).

Just some of the things I love about this show, with no spoilers for those who aren't caught up:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Weekend Reading

Norman Garstin, In A Cottage By The Sea, 1887

Here we are at another weekend! I'm so excited because I've found loads of great stuff to share with you. We've got two very different stories about women in sports, showing how different prevailing attitudes can have dramatically different effects. There's a beautiful piece about the amazing Jane Goodall. And Linda Holmes of NPR goes in-depth in trying to understand the fascination with the Cinderella story and how each new re-telling tells us more about ourselves than it does about the actual princess. Then there's a piece about how a science academic writing a romance about a science academic taught her more about herself and her colleagues than she had expected. And finally, a wonderful conversation between two of my favorite modern feminists!

So let's dive right in!

Photo: Kate Warren

Regardless of how you feel about the sport of boxing, you have to admit it takes a special kind of bravery to get into the ring for one round, much less to try and make a career out of it. And women boxers have to have the most bravery of all -- not just to face their opponents, but to face the uphill battle of winning over coaches, promoters and the public. Kate Jenkins' piece for The Atlantic, The Real Knockouts of Women’s Boxing, digs deep into the life of one boxer trying to make it, and the battle that switches between foes of blatant sexism and cool indifference.
That’s exactly what today’s women fighters are doing: staying light on their feet, waiting for the perfect opening. They’re struggling to maintain their balance and their sanity. Nelson has found hers in God, and she keeps training, keeps delivering pancakes, with the faith that her dedication will give way to an answer. If she could eat title belts, Nelson wouldn’t have a care in the world. But undefeated or not, there’s no clear strategy for turning her athletic success into financial success just yet.

Meanwhile, Douglas struggles to keep her anger from controlling her. She once thought boxing could help her overcome a past filled with abuse and foster homes, but after she debuted as a pro, a bad experience with a promoter left her jaded. “They told me, ‘You need to change the way you dress, you need to put on makeup, do this, do that,’” she says. “They were trying to change everything about me, and I wasn’t having it.” The promoter also dragged her out to nightclubs, where they’d hang around with wealthy men who frequently propositioned Douglas, implying that they’d take sex in exchange for financial support. “It really used to bother me. I used to cry. Now I’m like, ‘How ’bout I break your jaw?’”
Courtney Force greeting her fans. Photo: NHRA

Tony Fabrizio's great piece in ESPNW, How the Success of Women Drivers in NHRA Engages, Inspires Fans, shows that if nowhere else in racing, at least in the NHRA there are excellent opportunities for women racers, which is fueling the overall success of the brand, as well as attracting whole new segments of the population to the races.
Anecdotally, though, anyone can clearly see a difference in the NHRA pits and grandstands.

"The women are out there," [Gary] Darcy said. "The young girls are out there. And when you see somebody like a Courtney Force, a Leah Pritchett, both boys and girls are paying attention, but certainly you see the young girls and the moms that are there trying to get a glimpse. Because it does become very inspirational, and they see somebody doing what they could maybe do one day.

"That's the great thing about our sport. Those barriers don't exist."
Jane Goodall on Lake Tanganyika. Photo: Michael Christopher Brown/Magnum
Paul Tullis' article Jane Goodall Is Still Wild at Heart is as amazing as you would want it to be. Last summer he traveled with her to visit her old research facilities in Gombe, making note of her interactions with tourists and officials alike, and perfectly capturing this remarkable woman's talent for patience and determination.
But if her interactions with government officials from the United States, France, Tanzania and Burundi, as well as executives from Silicon Valley, are any indication, the skill sets are not so different: patience, purpose, perception. It took her only a few months of observing chimps before Goodall noticed that some of their behaviors were remarkably similar to those of humans. Now, perhaps, it has come full circle: Her understanding of people has been informed by her time spent with chimps, giving her an intuitive power of persuasion that even she does not seem to consciously grasp.
Photo: Disney
You think you know the Cinderella story, but do you really? I love Linda Holmes, and this piece she wrote for NPR, A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella, is just plain brilliant. In it, she discusses the background of the Cinderella story and its variations from around the globe, and why it still has such a powerful hold over our imaginations.
The actual Cinderella tale, while a nebulous thing that can be hard to pin down with precision, is more than that. There's very little that's common to every variant of the story, but in general, you have a mistreated young woman, forced to do menial work, either cast out or unloved by her family. She has an opportunity to marry well and escape her situation, but she gets that chance only after being mistaken for a higher-status person, so she has to get the man who may marry her to recognize her in her low-status form, which often happens either via a shoe that fits or some kind of food that she prepares.
In this fantastic guest post over at Tenure, She Wrote, Physicist T.K. Flor writes about her experience writing her novel Initial Conditions, about a female scientist pursuing a career in academia, and the problems so many women in that world face.
For me is was very valuable. It gave me a broader view about professional compromises and personal choices. Moreover, a novel-length format provides something unique: it gives the readers (and the writer) an opportunity to experience the situations emotionally. One can then get a richer impression of what is going on and what kinds of pressures a woman-scientist feels, and what drives those around her. It is such understanding, rather than any practical advice, that may help women in science.
Oh yes! You absolutely have to watch this conversation between Tavi Gevinson, founder and editor in chief of Rookie Magazine, and Anna Holmes, founder of Jezebel.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Kickstart This!

I just love the idea of Girls Driving for a Difference! These amazing young women from Stanford will be crossing the U.S. to share the concepts behind the design thinking process with young girls with the hope of empowering them as leaders of social change.
We believe that instead of asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, we should be asking them, "What kind of change do you want to create in the world, and how can you start achieving that dream today?"

It's super important that we teach young people the skills they'll need to function in society -- math, science, coding, writing, etc. But the thing that is so often forgotten is the idea of learning leadership skills, which is the key to affecting real and lasting change.

I love that each girl who takes part in this project will come up with an idea to improve her community, and then learn HOW to do it. I'm more than a little jealous that something like this didn't exist when I was a kid. Not only will this help these future leaders build the skills they'll need, but it also inspires them to look around and recognize what needs to be addressed, and empowers them to actually do something about it. How wonderful is that?

Follow Friday - Sally Le Page

You may have seen the interview with Sally Le Page that I posted on social media last week. While this isn't the first time I'd heard of her, I realized that while I had been watching some of her videos, I wasn't following her on any social media channels. Oops!

So I fixed that straight away. And went and binge watched pretty much every video she's made. She's so great at making science talk not just interesting, but down right funny!
Science communication is a big part of my life as in my opinion, there's absolutely no point doing science if no-one hears about it and can use it.
So true!

You should also be following her! Check out her own stuff on Google+, Twitter, and YouTube. And then be sure to check out her new Creator-in-Residence videos on GE's YouTube channel!