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."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Quote of the Day

"About all you can do is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won't like you at all." Rita Mae Brown
It's true. Anyone who would ask you to be something other than yourself isn't worth your time. And when you find people who love you for you, cherish them.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Latin@ Heritage Month - Latinas in Space!

This is the first in a series of posts about Latinas working in the Space Industry. There is only one Latina who has gone to space (so far), but there are many more working on the ground as engineers and scientists with NASA. Their stories are just as important and inspiring for young women looking at a career in STEM. And, as we saw in the recent LatinaStyle article, we desperately need more young Latinas in STEM careers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a million new jobs are created every year in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math–better known as STEM– and by 2022 there will be nine million STEM jobs available. Although the U.S. Census Bureau states that Latinos are the largest growing minority group in the country, labor statistics demonstrate that Latinas only have two percent of all the STEM jobs currently in the U.S.; it remains a field dominated by white males.
I don't intend this to be an exhaustive list by any means. Simply an opportunity to highlight some of the amazing women working in the space program.

Ellen Ochoa
Ellen Ochoa was the first Latina in space. But that's only one of her many achievements in her career with NASA.

She grew up at a time when space exploration was just beginning. She excelled in school, in both the arts and sciences, but as as a girl she never dreamed of becoming an astronaut herself. She actually thought she'd grow up to be a professional musician. It wasn't until her friends encouraged her to take a closer look at Physics as an option.

She was hooked. Her love of math and science became her route to trying to figure out the world around her. She earned a BS in Physics from SDSU, and then a MS and PhD in engineering from Stanford. It was while she was studying at Stanford that Sally Ride joined the astronaut team, and a whole new world opened up for young women like her. She immediately began pursuing a career with NASA, joining the NASA research team studying optical systems. In fact, she is a co-inventor on three patents relating to optical systems.

In January 1990, she was selected by NASA for the astronaut program. Her first flight was aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1993. By the time she returned from her last mission she'd logged almost 1000 hours in space.

In 2002, she became Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations, and in 2006, she was promoted to Director. She has also served as the Chief of Intelligent Systems Technology at Ames Research Center. But most recently, in January 2013, she became the first Latina and second woman to be appointed as Director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

In addition to being the head of Johnson Space Center, she is also a classically trained flutist and a private pilot.
“I am committed to space flight, human exploration, learning how to do more and more. I like the fact that it is much bigger than myself, important to my country and to the world. I like being able to contribute in this way.”
Ellen Ochoa biography on Wikipedia
Ellen Ochoa biography on NASA website
Ellen Ochoa profile on American Physical Society website

Serena Auñón
Serena Auñón is the second Latina to become a NASA astronaut.

Serena Auñón earned a BS in Electrical Engineering at George Washington University, and then an MD at the University of Texas Health Science Center in 2001. That might seem like an abrupt change in course. She explains she wanted to be able to apply the critical thinking skills she learned as an engineer to helping people. Medicine is her passion. She served her two residencies in internal medicine and aerospace medicine. She also earned a Master of Public Health degree in 2006.

She joined NASA as a flight surgeon, and in 2009 was selected as an astronaut candidate. Although she has yet to have her chance at space travel, she is a key person on the support team for the latest group of astronauts and cosmonauts heading to the International Space Station. She uses her medical expertise to support astronauts in space as well as helping to design equipment and technology.

In 2012, she piloted a DeepWorker 2000 submersible as part of a NASA/NOAA NEEMO 16 underwater exploration mission off the coast of Florida.
"Always follow your passion. If you go down a path you think others want you to follow, you'll be miserable. What you love is your passion, and everything else will work out."
Serena Auñón biography on Wikipedia
Serena Auñón piece on NBCLatino.com

Candy Torres
Candy Torres is a strong advocate for girls, and especially Latinas, pursuing a career in STEM.

She grew up in South River, New Jersey. She knew early on that she wanted to be an astronaut, but being a Puerto Rican girl in the '60s, that wasn't necessarily in the stars. She had to confront the prejudices of the day, but she was determined to not let it get in her way. While she waited for her chance, she devoured as much science fiction as she could to keep her dream alive. She was mesmerized by the use of technology to solve problems in shows like SuperCar, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, and, of course, Star Trek.

At the age of 14, she joined the Civil Air Patrol where she learned marching, drilling and wilderness survival. Oh, and she learned to fly a plane. She graduated from high school in 1971, and attended classes at Douglas College (now part of Rutgers), where she managed to cobble together a self-made major in space sciences from classes in vastly different fields such as geology, engineering, and astronomy. It was her professor in astronomy that helped her land her first job after graduation, working on the Copernicus OAO-3C Satellite at Princeton. From there, she was hired to convert large data files for NASA. The work was being done by hand, and was time consuming and quite boring. Torres, ever the innovator, taught herself FORTRAN so she could write a program to do the conversions in a more systematic way.

In 1983, she drove for 21 hours to be on site when Sally Ride made her historic journey into space. She knew that this would be an important opening for other young women to join the space program. And then, only a few weeks later, she was offered her dream job: a contractor position with McDonnell Douglas working on the software for the Space Shuttle program. Since then, she has also worked on projects supporting the International Space Station.
"I had a very curious mind, and I was not willing to let go of that."
Candy Torres biography on STEMWomen.net
Candy Torres biographical piece on CNN
Candy Torres piece in The Atlantic

Dr. Nitza Margarita Cintrón
Dr. Nitza Margarita Cintrón is the chief of NASA Johnson Space Center Space Medicine and Health Care Systems Office. What started out in 1979 as a two year plan to create the Biochemistry Laboratory turned into a full-fledged career spanning three decades.

Born in Puerto Rico, she traveled often during her childhood, following her Army father around the world. After his retirement, the family settled in Puerto Rico, where she excelled in school, and was a self-driven learner when it came to the sciences and math. Even at an early age, she dreamed of being a scientist. She earned a BS in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, and in 1972 entered the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, earning her PhD there in 1978.

She applied to the Astronaut Corps and passed the finals, but poor eyesight limited her to earth-bound work. But it was her academic credentials that impressed the folks at NASA, and they offered her a position as a NASA scientist. In addition to her work on the Biochemistry Laboratory, she also served as the project scientist on the Space Lab 2 mission as part of the shuttle Challenger launch in 1985.

NASA sponsored her studies at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where she graduated in 1995 with her MD, specializing in internal medicine. She was named the director of the Life Sciences Research Laboratories in support of medical operations, a position that enabled her to continue to focus on both the science and medical aspects of space travel.

She was awarded the Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, the highest science honor given by NASA. And in 2004, she was inducted into the Hispanic Engineer's National Achievement Awards Conference Hall of Fame in Los Angeles.
"In everything you do, always do you very best, be your very best. Everyone has skills and talents, and if you do your very best with them, you will always be a winner."
Nitza Margarita Cintrón biography on Wikipedia
Nitza Margarita Cintrón biography on Latina Women of NASA

Sunday, September 28, 2014

She's Crafty - Birds of a Feather Edition 2

It's starting to feel like autumn around here. And that means the winter birds are starting to return from their summer journey north. I don't think it's much of a surprise to folks who know me, but you dear reader may not have figured it out yet. I'm a bird nerd. So, obviously, that means I am more likely to collect links of cute or clever bird crafts than the average Jane. Here's the latest collection:

Hello my little chickadees! I love seeing (and hearing) my chickadee pals in my trees out back. They're out back singing right now as I type this. So super cute! Just like these super cute little hand-painted chickadee earrings from Kirstin Stride. In fact, her whole shop is filled with adorable earrings, brooches, cards and more. All hand-painted, and all lovely!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekend Reading

Welcome to your weekend! Here are some great longreads for your reading pleasure!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Follow Friday

Here's your weekly list of great folks to follow! Feel free to leave your links in the comments!

I think you already know how much I love great cosplay. And one of my favorite cosplayers in Jay Justice! Seriously, take a look at those photos above? And you know what was probably the hardest part for her making that header there? Picking only 30 photos from her legions of costumes! To keep track of her ever-growing collection, and for some really great geeky posts, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram.

The Scientista Foundation is dedicated to promoting and supporting women in the sciences. As such, they're always posting great, smart content. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

In spite of the name, I really love Princess Free Zone and all the work they do to promote gender equity in media and products for kids, as well as sharing great stories about kick ass girls breaking down gender barriers. Follow them on both Twitter and Facebook.

One of the first people I followed on Google+ was Jennifer Ouellette. She's always posting so many great articles and fostering smart discussions. Check out her blog at Scientific American and follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Have you seen the documentary Miss Representation? If so, you already know how important media literacy is for girls and women and people who love them. For more stories follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend Reading

Welcome to the weekend! We made it! As celebration, here's a collection of longer reads for your pleasure!

Wonder Woman, introduced in 1941, was a creation of utopian feminism, inspired by Margaret Sanger and the ideals of free love. Jill Lepore uncovers the remarkable and complex feminist background of Wonder Woman in her New Yorker piece, The Last Amazon
Superman débuted in 1938, Batman in 1939, Wonder Woman in 1941. She was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard. A press release explained, “ ‘Wonder Woman’ was conceived by Dr. Marston to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; to combat the idea that women are inferior to men, and to inspire girls to self-confidence and achievement in athletics, occupations and professions monopolized by men” because “the only hope for civilization is the greater freedom, development and equality of women in all fields of human activity.” Marston put it this way: “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”

For another fantastic and detailed piece about women in comics, check out Lisa Hix's piece Women Who Conquered the Comics World in Collectors Weekly.
Messick’s sexy and stylish character, which took great inspiration from Nell Brinkley, eluded kidnappers, jumped from airplanes with a parachute, and got stranded on desert islands. “One of my favorites is where Brenda Starr joins this teenage gang,” Robbins says. “The gang leader is a blonde, and all the other members wear blonde wigs. She disguises herself with blonde hair and pretends to be a teenager so that she can join this gang of girl juvenile delinquents. Another time, she’s kidnapped by this albino Polynesian princess and winds up on this island where she discovers that her true love, the Mystery Man, Basil St. John, who is also being held prisoner by the Polynesian princess because she wants him to marry her. Messick came up with great stuff.”

[TW: rape, sexual assault, domestic violence]
Sara Bernard has a poignant story about a group of folks in rural Alaska who are taking on abusers in their midst: Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness
Then, last year, Jane joined the Tanana 4-H club, a newly minted outlet for local youth of all ages to gather and play games and craft things like blueberry jam and beaver hats. It’s run by Cynthia Erickson, owner of Tanana’s general store and native of Ruby, a village 100 miles downriver. Erickson says she started the program because of suicide: Three years ago, there were six in Tanana. At first, she just wanted to give Tanana’s kids a place to do things with their hands, to go on field trips, to feel supported. But what began as a diversion quickly became a safe place for kids to share all kinds of traumas they were witnessing and experiencing: sexual and domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, death after brutal death. The discussions they’d have were rarely prearranged, Erickson says. Instead, the kids would launch the conversation by saying, “Did you hear what happened?”
Joann Weiner has a fantastic interview with up-and-coming Rwandan activists, Nadine Niyitegeka: I’ve seen the future of Rwanda, and her name is Nadine
Spend just a few minutes with a charismatic 22-year-old Rwandan woman with bright, sparkling eyes and a lilt in her voice and you’ll know you’ve seen the future of Rwanda.

That beacon of hope is Nadine Niyitegeka, a woman whose photograph as a shy 2-year-old is displayed on the wall of Kigali’s Genocide Memorial Center as one of the thousands of innocent children slaughtered in Rwanda’s genocide 20 years ago.

“I’m still alive,” Nadine needlessly explained during our hour-long interview. “And I’m going places!”

In his photo essay, The Women of West Point, Damon Winter captures the daily life for the U.S. Military Academy’s 786 female cadets.
From its founding in 1802, on George Washington’s earlier recommendation, until 1976, West Point admitted no women. Since then, more than 4,100 have followed in the steps of the first 62 female graduates in 1980. Many more are on the way, too, now that the American military will be opening combat positions to qualifying women by 2016. The 263 female cadets who started at West Point this year made up 22 percent of the incoming class, a record number, up from 16 percent last year.

They and their fellow first-year cadets, or plebes, reported for Reception Day on July 2, which marked the beginning of six weeks of cadet basic training, a k a Beast Barracks, and the end of their civilian lifestyles. “I knew I was going to need to step it up in the physical realm,” Danilack says, referring to her own early days on campus. “But I never knew it was going to be as hard as it turned out to be.” Upon graduating, she and her classmates received their commissions — and their bars — as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Meet CEO Martine Rothblatt, a transwoman who founded Sirius radio, pioneered AI, and so much more!
In person, Martine is magnificent, like a tall lanky teenage boy with breasts. She wears no makeup or jewelry, and she inhabits her muted clothing—cargo pants, a T-shirt, a floppy button-down thrown on top—in the youthful, offhand way of the tech elite. Martine is transgender, a power trans, which makes her an even rarer species in the corporate jungle than a female CEO. And she seems genuinely to revel in her self-built in-betweenness. Just after her sex-reassignment surgery in 1994, her appearance was more feminine than it is today—old photos show her wearing lipstick, her long, curly hair loose about her shoulders. But in the years since she has developed her own unisexual style. She is a person for whom gender matters enough to have undergone radical surgery, but not enough to care whether she’s called he or she by people, like her 83-year-old mother, who occasionally lose track of which pronoun to use.