the digital giraffe - Y Not

All About Women

Our Woman of the Month Award for May goes to Tara Hernandez, a professional software developer and veteran open source contributor. Hernandez was the manager of Netscape Navigator Development at Netscape Communications and worked on the original Mozilla code, leading to the Firefox browser. She also worked at Pixar Animation studios and is currently Engineering Manager for Google at Google Cloud Platform.

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

In 2009 a dozen women gathered at the home of Lisa Kivirist in Wisconsin to share stories and problems involved in being a woman in a farming world dominated by men. One ran a wind and solar power conservation property. Another grew organic vegetables. A third needed advice about dehorning goats. Together they formed the Soil Sisters. Their stories, and photographs of their endeavors, have been shared by the Guardian.

In a move destined to dismay women everywhere, the Trump administration is moving to disallow domestic abuse as an acceptable reason for seeking asylum. Ostensibly the rational is that this ruling will cut back on immigration but its application will drastically reduce an avenue of freedom for abused women. Central America in particular has seen an alarming increase in the number of sexually abused females. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to eliminate sexual or domestic violence as an acceptable reason for asylum. If the ruling is validated upon appeal, it will become binding law on the immigration courts.

Young women in New Delhi, India, are being taught self-defense to protect them from a society that treats them with disrespect. The free 10-day course is being offered to high-schoolers, and combines karate, judo, and taekwondo moves taught by the Police Department as part of an 8-year program. Summer and winter camps are included, as well sensitivity training for young men taught by an attorney. One goal is to educate boys on how to treat women with respect in public, as well as ways to help women in distress. Lesson one for the girls: how to make noise significantly loud enough to call attention to their plight.

The mother of a transgender daughter shares her story about working with school and community to accept the sexual identity of her child. Declared male at birth,the young woman knew from a very young age that she was female. She had first to convince her mother, and then together to find a way to live comfortably in her home town. The support of teachers and professionals made a difficult path possible.

The trump administration is trying to remove the work authorization of H-4 visa holders, a ruling that will jeopardize approsimately 85,000 women. Previously these women had broader choices for employment as entrepreneurs and small business owners. The new ruling will end that. Particularly hard-hit will be women from India, due to the long waiting times to get a green card. The final ruling has been postponed to June by the Department of Homeland Security.

The Guardian is reviewing the subject of masculinity in a modern world and especially the emergence of "psychotic masculinity". An upsurge of male fears has arisen, ranging from fear of foreigners taking their jobs to artificial intelligence rendering them unnecessary. Words like "emasculated", "soft" and "weakling" are occurring with added intensity, led by the bullying language used at the White House. The move is called a "remasculinization" of the male gender and has its parallels in other epochs of human history.

The rise in mortality rates of black women and children has been noted with alarm by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertensive disorders, like eclampsia and pre-eclampsia, have risen dramatically and are 60% more common in African-American women. The lack of sensitivity of some medical personnel has added to the problem. In the year 1850 the United States started keeping records of infant mortality. The deaths were so prevalent that some parents didn't even name their babies until their first birthdays. Even today, black infants in the U. S. die at a rate that is more than double that of white babies. In fact, the U.S. is one of only 13 nations worldwide in which the maternal death rate is worse than it was 25 years ago.

For the first time in its 154-year history, the Social Democratic party in Germany has elected a woman as its leader. Andrea Nahles, formerly the Minister of Labour, commented, "Today, at this party congress, we're breaking through the glass ceiling in the SPD, and the ceiling will stay open."

Ever the optimist, investment guru Warren Buffett praises the ability of the United States to tap into the talent of its women, who have been historically relegated to the roles of wife and mother. Buffett's point is that if we can mobilize the abilities of more women into the workforce, that shifting dynamic holds the potential for tremendous growth in the economy.

Ads for employment in China are coming in for increased scrutiny as they blatantly call for "men only", or include women as mere ornaments in the workplace. Although the official government policy forbids discrimination in hiring and advertising, the persistence of stereotypes in the greater society is revealed in the tactics used to hire men and discoiurage women. Using the physical attractiveness of women as a lure, companies are finding ways to increase the male worker population and decrease the female.

For the first time in its history, Parliament Square in London will have a statue in honor of a woman. Suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett takes her place among 11 men, like Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi, across from Westminster Palace. Fawcett was a champion of women's right to vote.

Investment guru Warren Buffett, the penultimate optimist, sees a bright future for the United States because of the untapped power of women in the workplace. Typically offered marriage and motherhood, women have been shunted out of the workforce, Buffett says. Thus the key to unlocking productivity may be the inclusion of this talented pool, offering at least a 5% to 10% growth potential in the near future.

Laura Aguilar, incisive photographer of the marginalized, has died at the age of 58. Aguilar's powerful photographs, often juxtaposing human figures and landscape, brought hidden subjects to the forefront and made viewers look at what they might prefer to deny. She pictured Chicana women, lesbians, the overweight, and those with learning disabilities. Overweight herself, she did a number of nude self-portraits, insisting that viewers see her body and acknowledge its existence. (Viewers might want to see Whitaker's "Big Beautiful Woman" as a sculptural tribute to the same idea).

c. Corinne Whitaker 2018

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