The First Female IBM CEO

Well, IBM finally did it.  The tech giant stood by their assertion that she is the most qualified candidate with her status as senior vice president and key role in snagging PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Consulting.  For those who haven’t heard, IBM chose Virginia “Ginni” Rometty as chief executive officer (CEO), making her the first female CEO in the company’s century of history. 

It makes me smile to think she wasn’t chosen because she was female but because she was qualified.  Believe it or not, I am SO not a feminist.  My involvement in this site is out of interest to inspire young girls more than anything else.  I pretty much don’t care or think about my gender when it comes to what I do.  I just pursue what I want and get most of it (sans astronaut status and I am sure that has nothing to do with my gender).  However, I will say that as I read my normal media sites, I notice more and more the disparity between men and women in the news.  Especially tech news.  For instance, CNN recently named five fascinating people “we should know” and all five were male. Or how about this:  Forbes named their 20 most powerful CEOs under 40 and not one is a female!  Not a single one.  Does this mean we young women are not good at being high up management or are we simply not in those positions?  I have no idea since the private world and I never talk or meet or have dinner.  I am in my cacoon of governmental protection whilst the world revolves.  Here’s one more rant before I give up on this topic:  Fortune’s 40 under 40 (which is really 44 after ties) has only six women listed.  That’s right-six.  I could almost count them all on one hand. That’s all I will say for now. I mean-really, these are articles we should all read and be proud of the men who have done some amazing work at an age where most people are just getting rolling in life.  However, we should also wonder if our daugthers and sisters and nieces are not being recognized, or not pursuing such dreams, or prioritizing other things over such dreams, or not being given the opportunities.  I can live with some of these reasons, but lack of recognition and opportunity are inexcusable.  Now, if only I could figure out the culprit issue…

After starting this blog and now sub-conciously looking for material about which to write, I take more and more notice of these things.  Part of me wishes I could go back to my world of ignorance and thinking that finally we are in a world (or at the least, country) where men and women are equal.  I mean, from where I stand, we are.  Alas, though, my eyes are opening wide when I read these articles.  And it fuels me more everyday to go and speak to classrooms and show young girls that they can grow up to be successful.  Train astronauts even.  Or perhaps be one themselves.  Or go into finance.  Or management.  Or anything their sweet girly hearts desire.  Sans Hollywood.

What do you think?

Breaking News: Civil Rights Leader Dies

Patricia Due did what most of us are scared to do.  Get in trouble.  For rights we have today because of her courage.  At the ripe age of 20, Due refused to give up her seat at a counter in Florida.  Her defiance led to an arrest and a 49 day stint in jail.  After 50 years of believing in equality for all, she passed away at the age of 72 after succumbing to thyroid cancer. 

“I didn’t know it then, but refusing to back down would be a trademark in my life.” – Patricia Due

The Ultimate Woman

The ultimate woman. That’s the first phrase that came to mind when I decided to write about our Statue of Liberty.  After all, she represents the American dream for so many of our ancestries.  A dream to find a better life.  A dream to escape persecution.  A dream to dream.

On Friday, Our Lady Tis of Thee turned 125 years old, reminding us of the French tribute to American freedom.  For the numerous reasons behinds the gifting to us, she most definitely stands to represent the 12 million+ immigrants who fled the world between 1892 and 1954 hoping that such a perilous journey would come through for the sincere hopes of a better life.  A better future.  She reminds us of the millions more who came before them and after them all in search of the same.  Life. Liberty. And the pursuit of happiness.

Happy Birthday, Lady Liberty!

The World's Population and Women

One of the best books I have ever read is Muhammad Yunus’ Banker to the Poor.  In this book, Yunus managed to make me think twice when bargaining during my around the world travels earlier this year.  As I traipsed through Kathmandu, Nepal or Siem Reap, Cambodia, Yunus’ words reverberated through my brain, and I just knew that some of these shops had to have been started by someone who once never dreamed she could be a shop owner.

You see-this book describes his economic theory and how he practiced what he preached, creating one of the most successful banks (based on repay rate) in the world called Grameen Bank.  Oh but wait-it’s not your typical bank.  It’s not a bank where you or I would go for a car loan or the best rate on a mortgage.  No ma’am.  It is the kind of bank that believes in the poor.  Not college student poor. The real poor.  The ones whose livelihood depends on so little that if one doesn’t fulfill his or her duties, someone dies.  A child dies. A sister dies.  A parent dies.  Yunus takes you through his quest to find the poorest (a feat seemingly easy but proven difficult…finding the truly poor was a task in and of itself) and then begging them for their trust.  All so he could make their lives and the economy of Bangladesh better.  All so he could teach them how to not only survive but improve life. 

Here’s the best part.  Yunus proved to himself by experience and cultural knoweldge (he is Bengali and served as a professor of Economics there after completing his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt) that targeting women is the most successful way to implement his theory of microlending.  The Grameen Bank lends very small amounts of money ($27 for example) in the eyes of a Westerner, but in these developing countries the money amounts to the very number necessary to build a business.  An entire business!  A means to flourish and get ahead.  And women, he found, were selfess.  He observed that women would do anything to ensure the survival of their children.  Morever, albeit scared for their lives, women were willing to risk everything to have the chance at a better life.  Not only for themselves but also for their children.  All the while, the self satisfaction that comes with a better life further fuels them to want more.  To work for more.  To obtain more. 

It was no easy feat considering that women in many parts of these countries are not to speak to men other than relatives and husbands.  Let alone, earn money herself?  Well, that’s a sure fire way to upset your husband.  It’s foreign to many people in the Western world, but there still exist places where women don’t have the rights we are given by simply being born.  It’s always difficult for me to see this when I go back to my parents’ village in India.  It’s no comparison to what he describes, but certainly there are times when I am not allowed to stand with the men or must follow behind them.  There are times when my Gujarati (the spoken language) is corrected because the verb tenses I use when referring to my husband are “disrespectful”.  I take it all in stride because I believe in the saying “When in Rome…”.  However, my own travels remind me that these areas of the world do exist.  And Yunus fought the fight and I’d say he won.  The Grameen Bank has a whopping 98% return rate, and the theory has been implemented in numerous countries, including some segments in the USA.  For his work, he was rewarded a well deserved Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. 

And why am I telling you about this book that is clearly not breaking news any more?  Because this article by Ted Turner, which was written earlier this week, reminded me of the book. It’s about how women are the key to slowing down our rampant population growth.  The book and the article are not even directly related, but somehow my brain tied the two together.  My guess is before reading this book, I would have completely misinterpreted Mr. Turner’s point.  I would have huffed and puffed to my husband about how insane one must be to blame women for the world’s population issues.  When in fact, Mr. Turner isn’t blaming anyone. Now, I read it with a totally different perspective.  Sure, conception requires men too.  No one can argue against that.  But, Yunus proved that educating women in parts of Bangladesh was key to his theory of improving life.  So, maybe-just maybe-Mr. Turner is onto something with this one. 

Mommy Salaries

Oooh…I couldn’t wait to post about this article.  It’s not hot off the e-press, but I just found it and am elated with joy to hear your thoughts.  I will keep mine to a minimum and neutral as I am focused on your opinions.

In this article, we learn about a prominent South African businesswoman’s notion that a stay-at-home mom should receive a paycheck equivalent to 10% of her husband’s salary.  The article doesn’t specify from where the money would come.  So, I leave it to you. 

Do you agree with Ms. Wendy Luhabe and if so, how would you structure such a program?  If not, why?  Please.  Indulge in a venue in which to share your thoughts.

“A mommy salary, as a way of giving value to the work of bringing up children, so that it’s not a resentful choice that women have to make.”

-W. Luhabe

Women small business executives support NASA’s missions

Women not only have strong leadership roles within NASA, but women also lead some of NASA’s strategic partner organizations and businesses. As a new NASA employee, I have been so impressed by the women who are leading in my workplace as well as the women I meet when traveling to the NASA Centers.

Last week, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited Kegman Inc., a woman-owned, veteran-owned small business in Melbourne, Florida. Kegman’s CEO Susan Glasgow started the company in 1999, and along with her team, has led its growth.

In 2011, Kegman earned a contract with NASA to provide operations and maintenance for the Doppler Radar Wind Profiler. The profiler was utilized just this past week to establish safe conditions for launch of the $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover.

Basically, Susan’s company monitored the wind around the Curiosity rover to make sure conditions were right for take-off.

Bolden praised Susan and Kegman during a tour of the company before the successful Curiosity rover launch.

“Curiosity’s mission is to get Mars to give up its secrets. But we can’t get to Mars without companies like Kegman who contribute technology, innovation, component parts and know-how to the project,” Bolden said.

Thanks to Susan and her team for giving us a glimpse into the work they do and for helping get the Curiosity rover on its way to Mars.

First Female Four Star General in the Air Force

I am not even sure what to do with myself.  I can’t believe how many things are in the news that I am positive you will want to know.  For my third post in one day, I must tell you about this story:  The President of the United States has nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger for a promotion to a four star general.  The first four starred female general in the Air Force.  Way to go, Lt. Gen Wolfenbarger.

Now I don’t know too much about the military, but I am fairly certain my excitement is appropriate for this news.

Although, I guess I am also fairly surprised this hasn’t already happened…  This is often my reaction to the many news stories I see about the “first female to…”.  I somehow manage to remind myself that now is better than never.  And to stop wondering why it took this long.

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. 

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.

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.