the digital giraffe - Y Not

All About Women

Our Woman of the Month Award for June, 2021, goes to a group of resistance fighters in Nazi Germany known as the White Rose, a non-violent student group formed to fight the Nazis using pamphlets and leaflets. Among them we honor Sophie Scholl and Traute Lafrenz. One White Rose pamphlet stated: "Our current ‘state’ is the dictatorship of evil. We know that already, I hear you object, and we don’t need you to reproach us for it yet again. But, I ask you, if you know that, then why don’t you act? Why do you tolerate these rulers gradually robbing you, in public and in private, of one right after another, until one day nothing, absolutely nothing, remains but the machinery of the state, under the command of criminals and drunkards?” Sophie Scholl was killed by guillotine in February of 1943. Lafrenz eventually became the last surviving member of the group and the only one to escape execution. She was sentenced to a year in prison, and was liberated by the Allied Forces before she could be retried and killed. (Thtanks to DM for this.)

It appears that women graduates take jobs more quickly and for lower pay than men do. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, women on average earn about 10% less than men after graduation. One partial explanation appears to be that women choose jobs with fewer risks, and are less willing to wait and see what other offers arrive. The finding seem to reinforce previous reports that women have borne the major burden of the pandemic, with roughtly 4.5 million women still unemployed vs 3.7 million men. The scarcity of day-care centers re-opening has meant that women have to stay home to take care of their children.

You may have heard about the uproar in Florida, when the yearbook photos of some 80 women high-school graduates were altered to look more "modest". Bertram Trail High School offered refunds for the $100. USD cost of the yearbook, but parents and students were not mollified. One parent wrote "I think it sends the message that our girls should be ashamed of their growing bodies".

The Swiss National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs)decided to promote Women's Day 2021 as well as the 50th anniversary of women's right to vote in Switzerland by producing videos of women researchers at work. The videos are aimed at young women thinking of entering the sciences by showing what it means to work in fields like math, engineering, physics and microbiology. Both YouTube and Instagram are offering the presentations in German, French and English.

A group called Girl Gang Garage encourages women to work on automobiles, typically a male-dominated industry. Currently more than 200 women are participating in build projects and learning about professional development. The group's current project, their third so far, is to rebuild a 1960 Volvo, which will then be shown in November at an auto show in Las Vegas. The rebuild is taking place in Phoenix, Arizona, and will include roughly 200 women. Their goal is to change opinions about gender biases in the field. Begun in 2017, Girl Gang Garage now finds themselves working in 3D printing with Stratasys, the result of a referral by Jay Leno.

In Dallas, Texas, more than 100 3D printed statues of women are on display at the city's Northpark Center, The project was initiated as a protest against the predominance of male statues and monuments throughout the city, and is meant to encourage women to enter the STEM fields. Called "If/Then", the display also allows visitors to envision themselves as statues.

We have written previously about the tragedy of Mother and Baby homes in Ireland. Now a novelist named Esther Freud describes how she felt when she learned that her own mother came very close to being confined in one. The author's father was the painter Lucien Freud, who apparently fathered dozens of children. When Esther Freud learned about the 9,000 children that had died in these institutions and the many thousands of women who were violently abused, she decided to investigate her own family's history, and uncovered the previously hidden background.

It is becoming clear how many women artists remain unknown, often because their life stories appear dull next to the rather outrageous escapades of male artists. One such woman, now being re-discovered, is Julie Hart Beers, who belonged to the Hudson River School of painting. Beeers' painting, "Birches by a Woodland", is now in the collection of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. The artist lived in New Jersey and commuted to her studio in New York City. One curious question remains about this particular painting: why is there a set of initials carved into a heart on the trunk of the tree?

USA Today reports about the case of a black homeowner whose home doubled in value when she got a white friend to stand in for her. Initially Carlette Duffy in Indianopolis got two appraisals on her home, with quotes of $125,000 and $110,000. For a third appraisal, Duffy, who is African-American, stripped her home of any cultural references, and asked the husband of a friend to represent her when the appraiser visited. The result was a valuation of $259,000.

Very few women are honored with their portrait on any U. S. currency. Now American quarters will see the portraits of Sally Ride and Maya Angelou. A new legislation mandates that, starting in 2022, five designs, each showcasing a different woman, must be minted every year. Last year, a proposal to put the likeness of Harriet Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill was killed by the Trump administration. President Biden's press secretary has just announced that the Tubman image will be done in 2026. At the moment, the only woman shown on U. S. currency is Sacagawea, who replaced Susan B. Anthony. At one time, Pocohantas was shown on the twenty dollar bill, followed by Martha Washington on the one silver dollar note. During the confederacy, Lucy Pickens, a proponent of slavery, was picured on several bills. The public has been invited to suggest women for the new quarters.

It seems that suicides among young Black women have risen sharply in the years from 2007 to 2018. Young girls ages 10 to 24 were especially affected, with the rate rising by 57%. The increase is noted also in high school students. Many reasons have been suggested, like bullying, childhood trauma, and racism, but no definitive conclusions have been reached. An additional complication arises from the fact that medical statistics are unknown or unreported about people of color generally. Another factor appears to be that young black women are afraid of being seen as "crazy" or "weak" and lack family and community support to encourage a strong self image.

According to the Washington Post, women seem to be more vulnerable to chronic pain than men. Although women tend to live longer than men, they also suffer more long-term disabilities. In general, females seem to respond differently to pain than males, experiencing it more quickly and more acutely. Apparently, testosterone reduces sensitivity to some stresses. Differences in the immune system also appear to be a factor.

Recently, Apple Computer hired a technical specialist and quickly fired him when they learned that his book, "Chaos Monkeys", containted a significant amount of sexist statements. At issue were statements like "Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive", and "the reality is, come the epidemic plague or foreign invasion, they'd become precisely the sort of useless baggage you'd trade for a box of shotgun shells or a jerry can of diesel".

A recent study indicates that women with chest pain have to wait longer and get less treatment than men do. Younger women are also less likely to be given standard tests to diagnose a heart attack. Apparently there endures an old truism that heart attacks are a "man's disease". Although women were just as likely to arrive by ambulance, their cases were less often considered an emergency, with their symptoms frequently ascribed to indigestion or stress. Additionally, when faced with nausea or shortness of breath, women are less likely than men to call 911. They tend to call for others, but not for themselves.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2021

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