A barrier-breaking generation gives context to contemporary female life.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

MIT Tenure Photos - Worth a Thousand Words

Yes, prize-winning girls in science (see previous blog post), but then what? MIT and its female president, Susan Hockfield, had to cope with some awkward publicity today in The Boston Globe. Headline: Tenure at MIT: Still Largely a Male Domain It described how a photo gallery in last month's in-house newsletter Tech Talk showing recent faculty tenure appointments had caused much visceral discomfort. According to the Globe article, of the 25 smiling photos, only one was a woman. Awkwardness comes from MIT's very public 10-year plan to improve the gender ratio in the historically male-dominated university, an effort prompted by Prof. Nancy Hopkins' landmark report in 1999 cataloging how MIT "underpaid, marginalized, and disrespected female faculty in numerous ways, including providing less lab and office space and giving them scant representation on hiring and funding committees." [Globe description]

I went to the Tech Talk site and found instead a Nov. 14 article and photo gallery of 50 recent tenured faculty of whom six were women. As the lineup scrolls down, the visceral effect is nearly the same (try it). Hopkins told The Globe: "It's a shock. I don't have a thousand words as good as that picture. It's a good reminder. We learned a lot about this problem, but good will and time do not solve that problem."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Girls Do Science, What a Crazy Idea

Girls swept the top prizes for the first time at the most prestigious high school science competition, the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. The NYTimes reporting on the awards, which were announced yesterday, went straight to the person you'd want to hear from on this occasion -- Prof. Nancy Hopkins, the biologist at MIT who had walked out in disgust on a talk by Harvard President Larry Summers two years ago when he opined that "issues of intrinsic aptitude" might account for fewer women than men succeeding in math and science careers. Hopkins told The Times she couldn't honestly say it was shocking that girls would win a science competition. Then she had a great quote: “Why do people think girls can’t do science? Where did this crazy idea ever come from?”
Summers, you may have heard, is ex-Harvard president now, his resignation following a cascade of events that were set in motion by that gaffe and by Hopkins' pointed protest.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cosmetic Surgery, Not a Pretty Death

Plastic surgery. Don't even go there. Have you done the cost/benefit analysis? You could die -- for "beauty." It's the most elective of surgeries, but it's still surgery, and it comes with risks of infection, blood clots, blood loss and punctured organs.

Over the weekend, Donda West, the 58-year-old mother of rapper Kanye West died, apparently from complications after plastic surgery. She was former head of the English department at Chicago State University and a big influence on West who wrote the song "Hey Mama" in praise of her.

She allegedly was seeking breast reduction and a "tummy tuck" according to one plastic surgeon who had seen her weeks earlier and refused to treat her unless she got a medical clearance because of a preexisting medical condition. He says he never heard back from her. Another surgeon has just come forward to say he performed the breast and abdominal surgery on West, according to TMZ (count on them to get this sort of LA info first).

"Tummy tuck" is a deceptively cute name for a major surgical procedure where fat and skin are removed; the fat by pumping the body full of fluids containing the anesthetic lidocaine and then vacuuming out the slurry. Not pretty. Risks include embolisms from blood clots and errant fat globules and and then there's lidocaine overdose. Abdominoplasty is the riskiest cosmetic procedure around -- as serious an operation as general abdominal surgery-- and needing assiduous aftercare to be on the lookout for these complications. West had the procedure at an unnamed venue then succumbed in her home, according to her publicist. An ambulance brought her in cardiac arrest to a Los Angeles area hospital where doctors were unable to revive her. [these details are from preliminary news reports]

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, abdominoplasty is one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures performed in the United States, with approximately 172,500 tummy tucks performed in 2006, compared with just 34,000 in 1997. The Society notes that more than 90 percent of cosmetic surgery is performed on women.

Anita Hill on Title IX and Primetime

Anita Hill, professor of law and social policy at Brandeis U., updates the impact of Title IX in the Boston Globe, noting that Rutgers women's basketball's season opener was nationally televised on ESPN yesterday in primetime. (She fails to mention that the NFL swallowed network primetime all day --and night -- yesterday. That's what I was watching, Roethlisberger playing quarterback and running back both, Tony Romo finding Terrell Owens' magic hands and the struggles of the brothers Manning. ESPN was going with the best it had. Still, a benchmark.) She finds irony in how Imus' remarks, and their general repudiation, may have in the end brought more attention and respect to female athletes. Nearly 3 million high school girls play some kind of competitive sports compared with 300,000 before Title IX was enacted in 1972. True primetime interest in women's teams is still a ways off except for women's tennis.

fyi With .1 seconds left on the clock, Stanford beat Rutgers 60-58 with two controversial free throws. Now I'm sorry I missed it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Girl in the Radio Booth!

Just the other day my Google Alerts picked up this article by Red Fisher in the Montreal Gazette mentioning me. Red has a long memory, more than three decades long in fact. After all this time, I got another point of view from that room in the Montreal Forum where the so-called "locker room barrier" was broken in 1975 by a lady (that's how he refers to me -- thank you Red). He describes a startled Phil Esposito.

Red was reminiscing about that event while reporting that the New Jersey Devils of the NHL have just added a female color (colour) commentator, Sherry Ross. "Good move," writes Red. "She'll be a voice of reason in an area where loud is good and louder is better."

FYI The Association for Women in Sports Media has a current membership of more than 400.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

This is My New Location

Moving across cyberspace to here at Blogger. Stay tuned.
-Robin H.