the digital giraffe - Y Not

All About Women

Our Woman of the Month Award for May goes to Professor Mary Visser, holder of the Herman Brown Chair of Art at Southwestern University in Texas and Vice President of Ars Mathematica. Visser has been a staunch proponent of women in art and a strong advocate for their recognition. Presently, Professor Visser is collaborating on a book on the history and art of digital sculpture entitled Cybersculpture with Christian Lavigne soon to be published.

Note: Woman of the Month now has its own page in the archives section.

Look for the name Becca Longo this fall, as the young woman becomes the first female to sign a letter-of-intent straight out of high school to play football in college. Longo's scholarship will allow her to play basketball as well. She completed 30 of 33 extra-point kicks and a successful field goal attempt from the 30-yard line.

Berkeley California is about to get its own female-managed mosque, the first in Northern California. Although men will be welcome at the facility, women will fill all of the lead roles. The mosque is called Qal'bu Maryam, meaning heart of Mary, Jesus' mother, in Arabic. According to Rabi'a Keeble, who holds a master's degree in religious leadership and social justice, "The Quran does not say that women cannot do this, so we are doing this."

A new book from the Smithsonian Institution was written to answer the question, why don't we hear about women pirates. Laura Sook Duncombe loved reading about Peter Pan when she was young but couldn't find any historical references to female pirates. Her book, "Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas", speaks not only of the pirates, but of the historical background of these overlooked females. She discovered that the one feature that characterizes all of these women is love of freedom.

Paola Clemente woke up every morning at her home in San Giorgio Ionico in Italy to board the private bus that took her and other women to the vineyard where they worked. Her meager pay was about 27 euros or $29 per day after middlemen skimmed off their share. Recently she died at age 49 of a heart attack while picking and sorting grapes in the fields. It now seems that more than 40,000 Italian women are caught in this pernicious manual labor, which is finally being recognized as a form of modern slavery.

Dawn Fitzpatrick is one of those rare women in finance that runs a $26 billion dollar fund, in this case for the investor George Soros. Fitzpatrick began her career as a clerk on the floor of the American Stock Exchange in 1992, after graduating from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Eventually she advanced to lead the internal hedge fund of Swiss bank UBS. Her predecessors running family wealth are all males. In fact a recent survey by the Financial Times finds that women hold less than 26% of upper-level positions in financial firms and banks.

Federal agents have accused Google of short-changing female employees who do the same work as their male counterparts. Google has "vehemently" disagreed with the findings, which were first reported in the Guardian. Google is one of several Silicon Valley tech companies that historically have given preference to white and Asian men. In Google's case, the company has turned over only some of its compensation records, claiming that the rest would violate the privacy of its workers. It is known, however, that Google's technology jobs are only 19% filled by women, while its entire employee base of 70,000 holds only 1/3 women.

On the eve of Equal Pay Day, President Donald Trump nullified safeguards established by former President Obama that ordered companies receiving federal funds to give equal treatment to women in the workplace. Called the 2014 Fair Play and Safe Workplace act, the policy had also made it easier for women to file sexual harrassment claims.

Does the name Emmanuelle Charpentier resonate for you? She is the microbiologist at Umea Centre for Microbial Research in Sweden who created the technology for gene editing in 2012, along with Jennifer Doudna from the University of California Berkeley. The technology is known as CRISPR-Cas9 and the CRISPR-Cpf1 System and is the focus of intense discussion on the ethics and potential uses of designer genes. Charpentier received the Leibniz Prize from the German Research Foundation in 2016. She has also established two biotech companies to explore issues in gene editing.

The United States has sharply reduced its contribution to programs for women and children at the United Nations. At least one program will receive $32 million dollars less because it works with the Chinese government (the United Nations population fund). Opponents of the reduction fear that it will have a devastating influence on vulnerable women worldwide.

Did you know that the first female Mayor in the U. S. was elected as a nasty joke by men? 130 years ago women in Kansas got the right to vote. Sussana Madora Salter was 27 years of age at the time. Men in her small community of Argonia filled in her name as Mayor, certain that no one would vote for her. The men were known as Wets; Salter, a Quaker, had strong views about alcohol. Instead she received over 60% of the votes.

According to CNN, women in Saudi Arabia are turning to YouTube to learn about the larger world and to share their feelings. It seems that content of interest to women in that nation has increased by 75% since last year. Shows on cooking and make-up are prevalent, although there as those who say that social media have unearthed some more sophisticated viewpoints than are generally assumed for that nation.

A brilliant pianist with advanced vascular dementia has startled the world of science with her masterful piano playing. Now 101 years old, she can barely recognize people she has met in the past 20 or 30 years and often doesn't know where she is. Yet when she sits down at the piano and plays she has an extraordinary recall for music and has recently written a piece of her own.

Kenya's highest court has ruled that one third of MP's must henceforth be women. The legislature has been given 60 days to implememt the ruling. It should be noted that up until now the legislature has been known as a men's club.

In a fertile valley in south west China there exists a Tibetan Buddhist group called the Mosuo, where grandmothers sit at the head of the table, men are considered merely studs, divorce is unknown, and women rule the society. In fact, both women and men can have as many sexual partners as they wish, while extended families care for the elderly and raise the children. Women own property and sow crops, while men repair homes and slaughter animals. With the incursion of tourists and industrialization, it is questionable how long this culture can survive.

A state legislator in Iowa has been criticized for saying that women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant should be forced to carry their dead fetuses to term, even if the fetus has no heartbeat. Representative Shannon Lundgren has proposed such a bill, although the state GOP later said that she was quoted "out of context".

c. Corinne Whitaker 2017

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