Women's History Month Shout Out

“Just as the pioneer travelers of the Conestoga wagon days kept personal journals, I, as a pioneer space traveler, would do the same.” – Christa McAuliffe


(1948-1986) Christa McAuliffe was selected from over 11,000 applicants as a payload specialist astronaut for the Teacher in Space program in 1985. She planned to teach two lessons from Space Shuttle Challenger.  In 1986, the space shuttle experienced a fatal launch, taking the lives of all seven astronauts aboard, including Ms. McAuliffe.  She was previously a teacher from New Hampshire, teaching social studies, American history, and other classes.   

Source: NASA JSC

Women's History Month Shout Out

“If society will not admit of woman’s free development, then society must be remodeled.” – Elizabeth Blackwell


(1821-1910 ) Elizabeth Blackwell was accepted to Geneva Medical College of New York in 1848.  Her story seems to be one of chance.  The story goes that Geneva Medical College did not want to risk rejecting a female applicant so they polled the medical students on what they should do. Under the impression that a rival school had submitted the application, the students voted to admit the candidate.  Elizabeth Blackwell eventually became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Dr. Blackwell later worked with Florence Nightingale to provide training for nurses in the Civil War, and they helped establish the United States Sanitary Commission in 1861, which aimed to improve conditions in military hospitals.  Dr. Blackwell also founded the Women’s Medical College in New York City.  In 1899, Cornell University Medical School began to admit women, and in turn, the Women’s Medical College closed.

Source: NIH

Women's History Month Shout Out

“At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.” – Rosa Parks


(1913-2005) Rosa Parks was born in Tuskeegee, Alabama and attended a school for all African-American children in the 1920s.  Her school only went up to the sixth grade, and at the age of 11, she was sent to Mongomery, Alabama for further studies.  Unfortunately, she had to drop out of school to care for a sick family member.  Ms. Parks is most often remembered by the masses for her refusal to give up her bus seat during an era where this was expected from an African-American.  Many have credited this moment to be the spark for the modern civil rights movement in the United States.  Eventually, Ms. Parks and her fellow civil rights leaders movements led to the 1956 Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation illegal on public buses.

Source: Scholastic for Teachers

Women's History Month Shout Out

It might seem unfair to reward a person for having so much pleasure over the years, asking the maize plant to solve specific problems and then watching its responses. ” – Barbara McClintock

(1902-1992) Barbara McClintock was an American geneticist who discovered transposition of genes through her work on plants, specifically corn.  Genetic transposition is the movement of genes to various positions on the chromosome. This discovery was completely opposite of the genetic understanding at that time, and it was not until her findings were confirmed as molecular techniques improved that she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983.  She became the first woman to win a non-shared Nobel Prize.  She graduated from Cornell University with a doctorate degree and was awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest government award for science.  

Source: NIH

Happy 40th Anniversary, Title IX

Growing up, I heard “Title IX” thrown around almost as often as “movies” or “Beverly Hills 90210”.  It always seemed to be related to the team sports in which I was so involved, but as I grew up, I realized it was about much more.  However, it wasn’t until recently that I really understood just what TItle IX did and how it related to the mostly discrimination-free life I live today.


So this week, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which ensured that any educational program (not just athletics) receiving federal funding could not discriminate on the basis of gender.  It is true that Title IX became known for increasing athletic opportunities for females, which explains the notion with which I grew up.  However, Title IX is also the major reason for equal opportunities for females in our nation’s classroom.  On special anniversaries like this, it boggles my mind that only 40 years have passed since women before my generation endured such a different environment full of vivid boundaries.  Thank goodness that others came before me and took a stand, all to ensure young girls like me could grow up in a world where there were no boundaries.


In some fields, the advances women have made since Title IX are obvious.   There is a marked  increase of women in the legal and medical fields.  The issue is largely focused on discrimination agains females, but in some fields such as teaching and nursing, men benefitted from Title IX too.  In other areas, we know there still exist gender gaps in areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. The National Science Foundation has data showing that in 2009 women earned 57 percent of all bachelor degrees, but they only accounted for 18 percent of engineering undergraduate degrees.  The topic to be addressed at many federal agencies and private organizations is to understand the root of this gender gap-is it a lack of opportunity or is it a conscious choice when weighing out work-life balance?  If the latter is true, what can we do to make work-life more flexible so that women pursue STEM careers?


So while the issues women face since 1972 have changed, Title IX was the crux. The foundation. The necessary action to ensure future generations could reap equality in opportunity.  While we, as humans, have many steps left to take, our path would certainly be different if it were not for this critical action.


Happy anniversary Title IX. I am only one example of the generation of young women who have benefitted from the tenacity of the men and women who created and enacted you. 

Women in History Shout Out

“I threw it down pretty good,” Georgeann Wells said, laughing. “It was a powerful one, because I was all by myself. I had the speed, I had the endurance to get it up there. It was awesome.”

[Historic dunk]

(1964- ) Georgeann Wells was a women’s basketball player at West Virginia University.  In 1984, she became the first women in NCAA history to dunk a basketball.  This feat was noted by opposing player Sherry Winn when she said, “For so long, women played below the rim. We weren’t as fast, and we didn’t have the same dribble moves as men did. For women’s basketball, it was a great event. It was a mark of something else to come.” However, in a time when media capture was more limited, the event was virtually unknown to those outside of the 100 or so fans who attended.  The opposing team’s coach did have a video of the game but refused to turn it over to media.  Years after his death, his son released the tape, which in turn proved the dunk happened. Ms. Well is now a mother of three and runs a summer adventure camp. 

Sources: ESPN and WSJ

Congratulations to the YouTube Spacelab Winners

It is a global challenge to be innovative.  To be smart.  To be cutting edge. 


The reward?  A rarity among Ph.D. and M.D. scientists even.  Fly your experiment to the International Space Station.  This is no zero-g plane (an amazing opportunity in and of itself).  This is the real deal.  And then it’s beamed live onto YouTube.  Could this get any cooler?


It was so cool that even the NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver had to call the American winners and offer her thoughts.  


“I want to congratulate the winners of the YouTube Space Lab contest for their outstanding proposals. I am especially proud of the two winners from the United States, Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma, and look forward to seeing the results of their experiments after they are flown and conducted on the International Space Station during Expedition 32 and 33 this summer. Earlier today, I had a chance to speak with Dorothy and Sara to thank them for their hard work, and salute them on behalf of NASA.  As a national laboratory, our goal is to open up the space station to new paths for the exploration, discovery and economic development of space. Educating and inspiring the next generation of space explorers and scientists are among the most important things NASA can do, and these students are getting the opportunity of a lifetime. A contest like this taps into the passion of so many people who get involved, from the just over 2,000 students who submitted proposals to everyone who voted for them, and we want to encourage that passion and engagement.”


Now if that’s not a dream come true, I can hardly imagine what is!  Congratulations to Dorothy and Sara as well as Amr Mohamed for dreaming big.


For information about the contest and to see the proposals from the 60 finalists, visit YouTube Spacelab.

Women's History Month Shout Out

“By blood, I am an Albanian.  By citizenship, I am Indian.  As to my calling, I belong to the world.” – Mother Teresa

(1910-1997) Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa, was a Roman Catholic nun from Albania who first traveled to India in 1931 when she taught school in Calcutta.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India in 1950, which has since become a worldwide beacon of caring for others. Her observations of the poor in India gave her the motivation to further her reach, and in 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Women's History Month Shout Out

I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.” Eleanor Roosevelt

(1884-1962) Eleanor Roosevelt is most well known as former First Lady when her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was President of the United States.  She was a humanitarian and civic leader, and her work for the welfare of youth, African-Americans, the poor, and women spanned national and international reach. Even after the death of FDR, she became a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, and in 1948, she wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirmed life, liberty, and equality internationally for all people regardless of race, creed or color.  Additionally, she helped establish the state of Israel and attempted negotiations, while cautiously, with the Soviet Union (now Russia).

The White House: Women and the Economy

We are pleased to be able to bring you the latest news when it pertains to women.  Today, the White House released a report on the Administration’s committment towards women and furthering our reach in the economy.  Read the report below.  It’s very interesting! 


Office of the Press Secretary

White House Releases Report on Women and the Economy

Today, at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy, the President will discuss the importance of restoring the economic security for the middle class and creating an economy that’s built to last for America’s women. The President believes we must build an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone pays their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. As part of today’s Forum the White House released a new report entitled Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward, The Key to an Economy Built to Last, which examines the ways in which the Administration has worked to ensure women’s economic security through all stages of life – from young women furthering their education and beginning their careers, to working women who create jobs and provide for their families, to seniors in retirement or getting ready for retirement. View the report HERE.

“As a father, one of the highlights of my day is asking my daughters about theirs. Their hopes and their futures are what drive me every day I step into the Oval Office,” said President Obama. “Every decision I make is all about making sure they and all our daughters and all our sons grow up in a country that gives them the chance to be anything they set their minds to; a country where more doors are open to them than were ever open to us.”

Today, more than ever, women are essential breadwinners in most American families. Yet women in our economy and our work force still aren’t getting a fair shake, earning just 77 cents on every dollar paid to men. Women now make up nearly 50% of our workforce, are a growing number of breadwinners in their families, and are the majority of students in our colleges and graduate schools. The President believes that expanding economic opportunities for women and ending discriminatory practices is critical to building an economy that restores security for middle class families, where hard work and responsibility are rewarded, and everyone who wants one can find a good job.

Highlights from the Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward report include an overview of how Administration policies impact women at every stage of their lives:

Yong Women Obtaining Higher Education and Beginning their Careers

Ø Of the additional 3.4 million students who have received Pell grants since the President took office, approximately 2.3 million are women.

Ø 9.4 million students and families have benefitted from the American Opportunity Tax Credit to help pay for college.

Ø 1.1 million women between the ages of 19 and 25 who would have been uninsured currently receive health coverage under a parent’s health insurance plan or through an individually purchased health insurance plan.

Ø Women and girls across America are benefiting from efforts to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, (STEM) degrees and careers because women who hold STEM degrees and jobs earn 30% more, on average, than women in non-STEM jobs.

Working Women Providing for their Families and Contributing to Economic Growth

Ø More than 16,000 Small Business Administration Loans totaling more than $4.5 billion were granted to women-owned small businesses.

Ø $62.5 million in monetary relief has been obtained for victims of sex-based wage discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since January 2010.

Ø The Payroll tax cut provided an average of $1,000 of tax relief for nearly 75 million women.

Ø An estimated 4.9 million women were kept out of poverty in 2010 because of expansions in refundable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Ø An estimated 20.4 million women are benefiting from expanded access to preventive services such as mammograms, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and prenatal care at no additional cost.

Senior Women in Retirement and Preparing for Retirement

Ø 24.7 million women enrolled in Medicare received preventive services at no additional cost in 2011, including an annual wellness visit, a personalized prevention plan, mammograms, and bone mass measurement for women at risk of osteoporosis.

Ø More than 2 million women enrolled in Medicare who hit the donut hole saved $1.2 billion in 2011 due to improvements in prescription drug coverage.

Ø More than $13.6 billion in payments of $250 each were provided to seniors and veterans as part of the Recovery Act, a substantial percentage of which went to women.

Ø President Obama has committed to protecting Social Security for an estimated 30 million women beneficiaries.

The White House Women and the Economy Forum will address a wide range of Administration accomplishments while focusing on how critical women are to the nation’s economic success. Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett will deliver opening remarks and introduce a panel, moderated by Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe with Senior Administration Officials, private sector and academic leaders participating. Following the opening panel, the President will deliver remarks to an audience of entrepreneurs, academics, stakeholders, business leaders. Following the President’s remarks, Senior Administration Officials including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Munoz, Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls Tina Tchen and Katharine Abraham, Member of the Council of Economic Advisors, will lead a series of breakout sessions on a range of topics including: Women at Work, Education, Health, Women’s Entrepreneurship, and Violence Against Women and Girls.

View more about the White House Council on Women and Girls HERE.