Tag Archives: female role model

Reasons Why I Love Geena Davis

In between my much-more-serious-than-usual series of posts about combating sexual assault, I’d like to intersperse some more positive posts.  Today I just want to point out that I adore Geena Davis.  She is not exactly a STEM female role model, but she is a terrific role model overall for young people, and actively working to improve the world by using her voice to call out the rampant sexism in the U.S. media.

If you’ve never heard of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, you should check it out here.  The institute points out the disparity in on-screen representation between men and women, as well as how the women are represented.  Following their tagline “If she can see it, she can be it,” the institute pushes for more positive role models and realistic representations of women in all forms of media.

But other than her really great works with the institute, Geena Davis has a lot going for her in the awesome role model department.  Here are just a few of the reasons why I love her (yes, I know I’m resorting to a ‘top 10’ list… sorry, it’s been a busy month):

10. She takes action rather than just talking (see: the institute she formed).

9.  She is seriously talented.  From A League of Their Own to Thelma & Louise to Beetlejuice, she plays diverse characters really, really well.  I’d even argue she made the best out of her script in the incredibly campy cult classic Earth Girls are Easy.  And of course there’s that Oscar and that Golden Globe and… well, yeah, a lot of awards.

8. Did I mention A League of Their Own?

7. She goes for the great roles, even if they are controversial.  She goes for the fun and interesting roles, even if they are not ‘good career moves.’

6. She is a member of Mensa.

5. In addition to fighting inequality in the media, she fights inequality in women’s sports.  She works with the Women’s Sports Foundation to support title IX.

4. She is an activist with more than her own institute and core interests.  She’s worked with USAID, Dads and Daughters, and more.

3. She doesn’t just support sports for men, she’s also a competitor.  She’s a highly-ranked competitive archer and has been in the sport since way before it was cool in the wake of Legolas, Katniss, Merida, Hawkeye, and the Na’vi taking to the big screen with their bows in the last decade.  I mean she’s seriously competitive – she took up archery in 1997 and made it all the way to the semifinals in the trials for the U.S. team for the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.

2. She was a believable, tough, highly effective President in Commander in Chief.  The role fully embodied “If she can see it, she can be it.”  Every person who saw that show saw that it was not only possible, but a really good thing for a woman to be president.  And she won a Golden Globe for the role, plus a bunch of nominations for other awards.  That show was canceled way too early.

1.  She somehow manages to do all of the above while also being a mom of three, avoiding most of the major pitfalls of fame, surviving more than three decades as a successful actress in Hollywood, and… being really, really funny.  Seriously, check this out:

Ok, ten is more than enough.  That’s plenty of fangirl-ing for today.  Now I recommend you go watch Geena Davis as the President of the United States… I’ll apologize in advance for the fact that you will get completely hooked and then wonder why there are suddenly no more episodes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Equality, Opinion pieces, Role Models

STEM Female Role Model Spotlight: Rhea Seddon – Astronaut, Doctor, Mom

Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon was one of six women in the first class of NASA astronauts to include females.  She graduated from medical school in 1973, completed a surgical residency, and worked as an emergency room physician before she was accepted as an astronaut candidate in 1979.  She is an avid pilot and passionate advocate for young women in STEM fields and patient safety training initiatives.

Her first flight into space was on Discovery in 1985, and her second and third flights were on Columbia in 1991 and 1993.  She flew as a mission specialist and as a payload commander for Spacelab, and tallied over 722 hours in space.

After leaving NASA in 1997, she went back into the medical field, working for the Vanderbilt Medical Group in Nashville for eleven years before moving to her current position with LifeWing Partners, LLC.  She is not afraid to stand up for others in her patient safety advocacy work, but she is also not afraid to stand up for herself.  In 2008 she filed a gender-discrimination suit against former employer Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Married to a fellow astronaut, she blazed trials at NASA by becoming not only one of the first women astronauts, but also the first active astronaut to have a baby – in fact, she had three while at NASA.  And she did it all while keeping her medical skills sharp working on the side at the ER and balancing family life with two astronauts in the family.

Rhea Seddon is an impressive STEM female role model, and a good example of how you can work in several fields – medicine, science, safety, advocacy – and tie them all together into a successful career that positively impacts society.

 

Sources:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/seddon.html

http://astronautrheaseddon.com/

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20080152,00.html

http://www.murfreesboropost.com/astronaut-advocate-calls-murfreesboro-home-cms-29698

http://www.saferpatients.com/leadership/rhea-seddon.htm

http://korywells.com/2013/04/interview-with-astronaut-rhea-seddon/

http://www.windows2universe.org/people/astronauts/seddon.html

https://nashvillepost.com/news/2008/8/15/ex_astronaut_sues_vumc_for_gender_discrimination

http://www.tntech.edu/pressreleases/astronaut-rhea-seddon-to-launch-address-at-ttu/

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/aviationspace/ig/Women-Astronauts/Margaret-Rhea-Seddon.htm

http://www.murfreesboropost.com/ex-astronaut-files-suit-against-vanderbilt-medical-center-cms-12539

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1624.html#.UyJ47eewKXc

http://secondandchurch.typepad.com/2nd-church/q3-issue.html

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history/oral_histories/SeddonMR/SeddonMR_5-21-10.htm

 

2 Comments

Filed under Role Models

STEM Female Role Model Spotlight: Mary Walton, Inventor

I love the title “inventor.”  Who wouldn’t want to create new things for a living?  It always sounds so exciting.  Of course, then I remember that it’s sort of what engineers do, too (when we’re not doing things like paperwork and spreadsheets and attending meetings).  You may not be able to major in inventing in college, but most STEM fields are fairly equivalent – computer scientists invent new software, games, even languages.  Engineers invent new technology and apply new research to make things work.  Pharmaceutical researches invent new medicines, and so on.  STEM fields are all creative fields that contribute new knowledge, ideas, and technology to society.

Today’s STEM role model, Mary Walton, was a creative inventor in the 19th century.  Nearly a century and a half later she is also still very relevant.  She was an early pioneer of technology designed to help solve the problem of pollution – and pollution is something we are keenly aware of in this year of record-breaking smog and unusual weather.

In 1879, Mary Walton was awarded a patent for a device to mitigate pollution from smokestacks by sending the smoke into a tank of water, which was then flushed through the sewer system.  Later, she applied the same technology for use on trains, reducing the coal smoke from locomotive engines.

In the 1800s, she shifted focus from air pollution to noise pollution and developed a way to reduce noise from the elevated trains that were becoming so prevalent in most major U.S. cities’ public transportation systems.  The trains rattled and clanged badly on the elevated tracks.  Working in her basement on a model first, Mary Walton found a creative solution to dampen the sound involving a wood box for the tracks to rest in that was lined with cotton, then tar, and finally sand.

Both of her innovative pollution solutions were awarded patents, and she eventually sold the train one to the Metropolitan Railroad of New York City.

Very little is known about the life of Mary Walton, but she seems to me to have been a very practical person.  She was a city dweller in New York who was understandably sick of the air pollution and the noise pollution.  And she did something about it.  I wish we knew more about her, but I chose her as today’s role model because what we do know is that she was a creative, talented, and smart inventor, and the kind of person who saw a problem in her city, tackled it, and solved it.  Who knows how much worse the smog of the industrial revolution would have been without her?  And she must have overcome quite a few challenges to be taken seriously as a woman inventor in 19th century Manhattan.

Have you ever thought of inventing something?  What problem would you like to solve?

Resources:

http://inventors.about.com/od/wstartinventors/a/Mary_Walton.htm

http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/walton.html

http://www.engineergirl.org/Engineers/HistoricalEngineers/4430.aspx

http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00160/a_marywalton.html

http://www.howstuffworks.com/engineering/structural/10-women-in-engineering8.htm

Leave a comment

Filed under Role Models

STEM Female Role Model Spotlight: COL Eileen Collins, NASA’s First Female Space Shuttle Commander

COL Eileen Collins is a retired Air Force Test Pilot and was the first woman to pilot the space shuttle, as well as the first woman to command a space shuttle.  When she first entered the Air Force, women were not allowed to fly combat aircraft, a ban that stood until 1993.  But that did not stop Eileen Collins from flying every aircraft she was allowed to and blazing a trail for female pilots in the Air Force and at NASA.

She has logged over 6751 flight hours.  She is highly educated, holding a B.A. in mathematics & economics, an M.S. in operations research, and an M.A. in space systems management, as well as honorary degrees.  She has been a pilot, a mathematics instructor, and flight instructor, and went through the prestigious Air Force Test Pilot School.  Married to a fellow pilot, she is also a mother of two.  Her awards would take several paragraphs to list.

COL Collins was selected for astronaut training in 1990 and in her sixteen years at NASA she worked a variety of jobs and flew four STS missions, for a total of 872 hours in space.  She made two trips to the Mir space station, twice executing one of the most difficult space piloting tasks there is: docking with a space station.  She also had one of the toughest missions imaginable on her final flight, STS-114, when she commanded the first mission back to space following the Columbia tragedy.

I like her perspective on genders on the job, which reflects my own similar experience in the military:

“Within the job itself, the male-female commander, the male-female astronaut, it’s really the same,” Collins said. “What really matters is how the person does their job.”

And I especially love her life advice for young people aspiring to a similar career:

“My advice to young people is this. Focus on three major areas: academics, activities, and your physical health. I encourage you, especially when you get into high school and you can choose some of the courses you take, to take the tough courses. Don’t just avoid a course because you think you might not get an “A.” Take the tough courses like math, science, and engineering. Learn a variety of things while you have the opportunity.”

COL Collins is an inspiring female role model in not just STEM fields, but also for kids who want to be pilots, astronauts, serve in the military, or really to excel in any chosen field.  

Sources:

http://www.astronautix.com/astros/colileen.htm

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/preparingtravel/eileen_collins_profile.html

http://www.space.com/2360-nasa-female-shuttle-commander-retires-spaceflight.html

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/collins.html

https://www.greatwomen.org/women-of-the-hall/search-the-hall/details/2/40-Collins

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/collinseileen/

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/nasa/astronaut-eileen-collins-on-what-it-was-like-to-fly-the-space-shuttle

http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/rego/interviews/collins.htm

http://www.windows2universe.org/people/astronauts/collins-e.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Role Models