Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Women are Unfit to Fly"

So recently I substituted for a second grade class. For reading we read this short true story about a woman I had never heard of before. I have been meaning to write about her, but for some reason just have not gotten around to it. I can honestly say there is no good reason as to why I have not posted in almost two weeks, I just have not. I have wanted to write about her, so I figured I should work on it today, since I had my computer out anyways!

Ruth Bancroft Law was born May 21, 1887 in Lynn, Massachusetts. Her parents were Sarah Bancroft Breed and Frederick Henry Law. She had at least one older brother, Rodman, who eventually went on to become one of the first stuntmen. There is not much information about Ruth's childhood, but there is evidence that she was a tomboy growing up and was adventurous. When Ruth was still young she fell in love with flying and airplanes. She purchased her first airplane from Orville Wright. While Wright willingly sold her the plane he refused to teach her how to fly it, claiming that women were unfit to fly.

In the summer of 1912 she started flying lessons at Burgess Flying School and took her first flight a month later in July. The next month she took her first solo flight and in November 1912 she received her pilot's license. Her adventurous streak rolled over into her aviation career. Ruth became a competitive daredevil and was making as much as $9,000 a week doing exhibitions. After three years of flying she announced that she would be performing a loop the loop for her audience. No woman had yet completed a loop the loop. Her husband, who apparently was always nervous when she performed, was against her completing this daring feat. However, Ruth was quite capable and not only successfully completed a single loop the loop, but did two loops!! This made her the first woman to complete the loop the loop. That same year, 1915, she also became the first woman to fly at night.

The next year would prove to be another record breaking year for Ruth. One was an altitude competition, where after competing multiple times and being judged unfairly she insisted that she be judged the same as the men and at Sheepshead Bay in New York set a new record of 11, 200 feet. However, her greatest endeavor was a cross country distance record, which is is the story I read about in the class I substituted for. The former record was 462 miles, she completed a flight from Chicago to New York state, a distance of 590 miles. . The next day she flew to New York City, but had to make an emergency landing while flying over Manhattan as her engine cut out due to lack of fuel. She made this flight in November of 1916, in freezing cold weather. She wore multiple layers, with a skirt over it all, as she was a "proper lady". Crowds celebrated her record breaking flight and President Woodrow Wilson toasted her at a dinner held in her honor in December of 1916.

When the United States entered World War I the following year Ruth promptly enlisted as a pilot. She learned that she would not be allowed to fly in combat and wrote an article for the "Air Travel" magazine entitled "Let Women Fly". She was informed that she would not be allowed to fly, but would receive a uniform and could help with recruiting. She was the first woman to wear a United States Marine NCO uniform and continued to do exhibitions to raise money for the Red Cross.

After the war Ruth continued flying in exhibitions and breaking records. She once again broke an altitude record by reaching a height of over 14,500 feet in 1919. Three years later Ruth announced her retirement from flying. She stated that she had been in the limelight long enough and now it was her husband's turn. She explained by saying, "Why? Because I'm a normal woman and want a home, a baby, and everything else that goes with married life. Why, I've been married almost ten years to Charlie Oliver, the man who has managed my exhibitions, and scarcely anyone knew who he was. And the poor boy was so worried about me all that time that every time I went up he lost a pound. It was a matter of choosing between love and profession. Of course, I'm just crazy about flying, but one's husband is more important!"  

After her retirement Charlie and Ruth moved to California where they lived for almost fifty years. Ruth died on the first of December, 1970 at the age of 83.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Historical Women on United States Currency

Ever since I heard about the Women on 20's campaign last week, the idea has been on my mind. I have read several articles, as well as some of the comments on them, about women on currency. There is obviously a wide range of opinions about whether or not women should be on currency. For some reason some people seem to think that individuals who are featured on currency must be white males. Or if they are not, they must have done something in their life like cure cancer, end world hunger, AND end poverty. Simply doing one of those things would not be enough to get *gasp* a woman on U.S. currency. A woman?? INCONCEIVABLE!

Now, I have great respect for the men on our United States currency, were they perfect? Most definitely not, but each of them did things worthy of respect, some more than others, and they each helped shape the United States in one way or another. They played a vital part in shaping our country into one that is the "land of the free and the home of the brave", but sometimes it feels like there is an addendum to that *as long as you are a wealthy white male*. Should they be removed from currency and simply forgotten? No, but perhaps it is time for new heroes on our currency.

What is interesting is that if you look back 120 years ago, before women in the United States even had the right to vote, you can find Martha Washington, wife of President George Washington on the $1 bill. That's right folks, the United States actually put a woman on currency before women could vote! Even more "shocking" is that 20 years before Martha Washington showed up on the $1 bill another woman was featured on the $10 and $20 bills. And guess what, she was not related to a president in any way, in fact she was not even a white woman. Pocahontas was once upon a time, featured on United States currency.

I wonder if some people see this movement as saying that women are better than men, that those who are pushing for this want to "kick" off all the men on United States currency and replace them with women. For me, personally, it is definitely not about that. It is about recognizing that there should be equality for men and women, that women have done amazing wonderful things that have benefited our country. That women who have truly changed the world deserve to be recognized, just as men who have changed the world have been. It is showing our society that we recognize that men are not better than women and that women are not better than women. That society benefits from an equal partnership between men and women, and that this is just a step in that direction.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Are You A Feminist?

My 19 year old brother recently asked me after a conversation we had, "What are you one of those FEMINISTS?" "No!" I instantly replied, but immediately thought, "Yes!... No, well not THAT kind of feminist."
Do you know the kind I mean? Those "feminists" who have been coined femi-nazis. The man hating, burn your bras, I can do everything better than a man, men should be locked up and only used for breeding purposes, feminists. I feel like that is the sort of feminism we now associate with the word. It has gotten a whole new meaning and that meaning is not something I identify with. The definition I identify with is that straight out of the dictionary.

Feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

I identify with equal opportunity for men and women. I identify with equal freedom for men and women, the idea that women are just as capable as men. The idea that men and women are compatible and should work together. I identify with the fact that women are powerful, that sometimes they have gifts and abilities that men do not. How many quotes are there out there about this? "If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family/nation/generation." Or one of my favorites:

I do not identify with the man bashing, raising women to trample on top of men "feminism". I will admit I have had my moments of saying things such as, "I hate men. Guys are dumb." etc. This is usually during a frustrated rant with friends about some sort of dating/men drama of mine or theirs. I have tried to be a lot better over the past few years about trying to correct myself when I saw things like this. I don't hate MEN, sometimes I hate the dating, guy/girl drama, miscommunication stuff, but some of the best people I know are men. I've got a whole family full of great guys. Are they flawless? No, but neither are the women. (Although, to tell you the truth I've got a few family members who I swear come pretty dang close.)
So, am I a feminist? Yes, but a by the dictionary definition of feminist. If you were to look at the pages I "like" on Facebook, you would see, (amongst the German Shepherd kennels, dog training, animal rescue, Idaho, horse barns, beautiful world, etc. pages) several pages about strong women. Pages like A Mighty GirlFit is a Feminist IssueGirls Are Not For Sale, etc. So, yes I am a Feminist. 

With that being said, there will definitely be some posts on here that are more strictly about feminism, and not just featuring powerful women. After all, isn't sharing powerful women who broke barriers, defied the odds, and proved that she could do anything feminism? 

Seven Continents Visited- Where Do I Go From Here?

With my post yesterday on the first female scientists in Antarctica I wrapped up my project of featuring a woman from every continent. It was a project I enjoyed and learned a lot from. For me it was a great introduction into the world and the amazing women that inhabit it. It has been a great experience for me to see viewers from all over the world, I hope that continues and grows. Like I have stated before my eventual goal is to feature women that I know, and then eventually my dream is that readers will contact me about women they want to see featured. I would love to be able to highlight women across the world who have been nominated by people in their life. I know it may take awhile to actually get to that point, but it is where I want to end up. That means I need a wide audience and people willing to share what they read and share my mission. Thanks for joining me on this journey so far, and I hope you will stick with me as I start my next project.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

First Female Scientists in Antarctica

It seems that many people agreed with Darlington when she stated that she did not think women belonged in Antarctica. It was long believed, by both sexes, that the female sex, the "weaker" of the two, would not be able to endure the rough Antarctic continent. Antarctica became, in many ways, the last, great "boys club". It was as if Antarctica was a giant tree house with an even bigger "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" hung up above it. Sure, the occasional "girl" got it, due to special circumstances such as being married to a member of an expedition, but they were not allowed in based on their own merits. In fact, the United States Navy REFUSED to transport women to Antarctica. Even if American scientists, who happened to be female, were able to somehow get to Antarctica, they would not be allowed to work on the ice, as the National Science Foundation (NSF) forbade women from working on the ice.

*Now, for the past several days I have been trying to figure out for sure who the first woman was to actually be allowed on Antarctica as a scientist. I keep finding articles and such that state who the first American female scientist, or Australian female scientist, etc. but not just the flat out first female scientist.*

It wasn't until the 1950's when Marie V. Klenova, a Russian marine geologist, was a part of an oceanographic team that was mapping uncharted portions of the continent that we see the first woman as an official part of scientific team in Antarctica. Russian women had sailed aboard whaling ships for years in the area, which made it a bit easier for her to break into the Antarctic scientific world. Klenova's work was part of the first atlas of Antarctica which the Soviet Union published.

Besides Marie Klenova, women did not do much work on the ice in the 40's and 50's as many countries, like the United States, did not allow women on the ice. In fact, it was not until the very end of the 1960's, after the Women's Liberation Movement, that we begin to see women actively participating in scientific endeavors on the Antarctic continent. The first woman to become a member of the United States Antarctic Research Program was Christine Muller-Schwarze, a psychologist with her Ph.D. from Utah State University. Alongside her scientist husband she studied the behavior of penguins on the Antarctic.

After Muller-Schwarze was able to break into the scene, the floodgates opened, and more women came to work on the frozen continent. Just a few weeks after the study of penguin behavior started, an all women team from Ohio State University arrived, headed by Lois Jones. Among the four women team was a 19 year old undergraduate student, Terry Tickhill Terrell, who joined the team after despairing at the idea of spending her entire college career inside of a chemistry lab.

The team from OSU, Kay Lindsay, Terry Tickhill Terrell, Lois Jones, and Eilenn McSaveney. 

Terry Terrell, who had never traveled more than 300 miles from her home, was now traveling to the bottom of the world, not quite knowing all of the barriers that had always stood between women and the place she was now headed to. There was a concern, or maybe a belief, that these women would not be able to make it down in the Antarctic. Their every move was watched, would they mess up? Would they come off weak, needy, inept? Knowing that they were under extreme scrutiny, the women kept to themselves, taking care of every issue they could on their own, and did what they came to do.

After awhile everyone came to accept that these women were there, and not only were they there, but they were doing their jobs quite well. Eventually the Navy decided to "cash in" on this novelty of women on their continent. Up to this point no woman had ever stepped foot on the South Pole. The Navy took the women down to the South Pole and organized the moment of the first woman to step foot on the very bottom of the Earth. The only problem was, who would be first? Rear Admiral D.F. Welch who was the commander of the naval forces in Antarctica at the time decided with Solomon like wisdom that the solution was for all six women to jump off the back of the plane at the same time, so they could all be the first woman to step foot on the South Pole. 

November 12, 1969 LtR Pam Young, Jean Pearson, Terry Tickhill Terell, Lois Jones, Eileen McSaveney, and Kay Lindsay.

Woman had arrived at the South Pole. It was a momentous occasion and was an event that was a long time coming. While women are still not in equal number as men on the Antarctic continent, they are at least now represented, and more so than they have been in past years.