Men have floated out the hatch on all 420 spacewalks conducted over the past half-century. That changed recently with spacewalk No. 421.
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir ventured outside the International Space Station before 8 a.m. ET Friday and spent over five hours replacing a broken battery charger, or BCDU. NASA’s livestream of the historic spacewalk features astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson as one of the female narrators.
The units have previously been replaced using a robotic arm, but the newly failed unit is too far away for it to reach.
The units regulate how much energy flows from the station’s massive solar panels to battery units, which are used to provide power during nighttime passes around Earth. Three previous spacewalks had been planned to replace lithium-ion batteries, but those will be rescheduled until the latest BCDU issue is resolved.
The hardware failure does present some concern, especially since another BCDU was replaced in April and there are only four more backups on the station. In total, there are 24 operational BCDUs.
The battery charger failed after Koch and a male crewmate installed new batteries outside the space station last week. NASA put the remaining battery replacements on hold to fix the problem and moved up the women’s planned spacewalk by three days.
All four men aboard the ISS remained inside during the spacewalk.
The spacewalk is Koch’s fourth and Meir’s first.
Continue on to USA Today to read the complete article.
Get ready to swoon. Berkley, a Penguin Random House imprint, is rereleasing three Stacey Abrams romantic suspense novels that have been out of print for many years. Originally published under the pen name Selena Montgomery, Rules of Engagement, The Art of Desire, and Power of Persuasion will be out in hardcover and audio in 2022. According to a release, each of these novels, which were her first published books, features “international espionage, page-turning action, a core love story, Black heroines, and a diverse cast of characters.”
While the Democratic political leader and Team Spike fan has since written bestsellers on topics from voter suppression to leadership, she has never shied away from her romance-novelist roots. “As my first novels, they remain incredibly special to me,” Abrams said in a statement. “The characters and their adventures are what I’d wished to read as a young Black woman — stories that showcase women of color as nuanced, determined, and exciting. As Selena and as Stacey, I am proud to be a part of the romance-writing community and excited that Berkley is reintroducing these stories for new readers and faithful fans.”
Originally posted on Axios by Lachlan Markay, Alayna Treene, Jonathan Swan
Former Olympic decathlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner has filed her initial paperwork to run for governor of California and will officially announce her bid later today, her campaign tells Axios.
The big picture: Jenner, a longtime Republican, is seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election, hoping her celebrity status and name recognition can yield an upset in the nation’s most populous state.
But in deep-blue California, she’s decidedly not branding herself as a Trump Republican even as she’s counting on some of the former president’s advisers to drive her strategy.
She’s assembled a team of prominent GOP operatives including Tony Fabrizio, the top pollster on Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, Ryan Erwin, founder of RedRock Strategies, and Tyler Deaton, president of Allegiance Strategies.
She’s also hired Steven Cheung, a former Trump White House and campaign communications hand who worked on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful 2003 recall campaign. Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale, a personal friend of Jenner’s, has helped her assemble her team but doesn’t plan to take an official title on the campaign.The campaign’s website and WinRed donation page are set to go live today.
Jenner said in a statement that “Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision” and that “for the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people.” The statement decries California’s taxes as “too high” and criticizes an “over-restrictive lockdown” response to the COVID pandemic including on in-person schooling.
“This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes out to dinner with his lobbyist friends.”
A campaign adviser tells Axios that Jenner has greater name ID than Newsom and can command the kind of earned media that “will go to every possible demographic you could think of.”
Jenner, a trans woman, “is very socially liberal,” the adviser said. “She’s running as someone that’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative.”
Don’t forget: Jenner publicly voiced support for Trump until 2018, when he rolled back federal guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice. “My hope in him … was misplaced,” she wrote.
“Certainly she has not seen eye-to-eye with [Trump] on a lot of things,” the adviser said. “I think that Caitlyn will talk to anyone, Democrat or Republican. Donald Trump is not going to be the deciding factor for the state of California.”
The big picture: Jenner’s team is convinced that the race is “totally winnable,” but recent polling shows the scale of the challenge.
President Biden will nominate Christine Wormuth to be the next secretary of the Army, the White House announced Monday. She would be the first woman to serve in that role if confirmed by the Senate.
Wormuth has an extensive background in foreign policy and national security, and notably served as undersecretary of defense for policy — the third most senior civilian position in the Department of Defense — during the Obama administration.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin described her in a statement as a “true patriot with a dedicated career in service to America and our nation’s security.”
“As the former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Christine advanced the department’s counter-ISIS campaign and the rebalance to Asia, and her deep expertise will be critical in addressing and deterring today’s global threats, including the pacing challenge from China and nation-state threats emanating from Russia, Iran, and North Korea,” Austin said. “I have no doubt that, if confirmed, she will lead our soldiers and represent their families with honor and integrity as the Secretary of the Army.”
Wormuth joined the Obama administration in 2009 as the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and civil support, and also served as the senior director for defense policy on the National Security Council.
Currently, she is the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit think tank, and teaches as an adjunct professor in Georgetown University’s graduate program in security studies.
Wormuth led the Biden-Harris Defense Agency Review team during the presidential transition in January, the White House noted, and is a two-time recipient of the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
She also serves on the honorary advisory board of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security, a coalition established in 2019 to “promote concrete solutions to the national security gender gap.”
Wormuth’s nomination is being cheered by many as a milestone in the notoriously male-dominated field.
In March 1944, shortly before Joye Hummel graduated from the Katharine Gibbs secretarial school in Manhattan, she was invited to meet with one of her instructors, a charismatic psychologist who had been impressed by her essays on a take-home test.
Over tea at the Harvard Club, professor William Moulton Marston offered her a job — not in the classroom or psych lab, but in the office of his 43rd Street art studio. He wanted Ms. Hummel to help him write scripts for Wonder Woman, the Amazonian superhero he had created three years earlier and endowed with a magic lasso, indestructible bracelets, an eye-catching red bustier and a feminist sensibility.
Ms. Hummel, then 19, had never read Wonder Woman; she had never even read a comic book. But Marston needed an assistant. His character, brought to life on the page by artist H.G. Peter, was appearing in four comic books and was about to star in a syndicated newspaper strip. He was looking for someone young who could write slang and who, perhaps most importantly, shared his philosophy and vision for the character.
“You understand that I want women to feel they have the right to go out, to study, to find something they love to do and get out in the world and do it,” Ms. Hummel recalled his saying. She was “astonished and delighted” by the job offer, according to historian Jill Lepore’s book, “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” and soon began writing for the comic. “I always did have a big imagination,” she said.
Ms. Hummel worked as a Wonder Woman ghostwriter for the next three years, long before any woman was publicly credited as a writer for the series. As invisible to readers as Wonder Woman’s transparent jet plane, she was increasingly recognized after Lepore interviewed her in 2014. Four years later, she received the Bill Finger Award, given to overlooked or underappreciated comic book writers at the Eisner Awards.
Ms. Hummel, who was known in recent years by her married name, Joye Murchison Kelly, died April 5 at her home in Winter Haven, Fla., a day after turning 97. Her son Robb Murchison confirmed the death but did not know the precise cause.
“Joye was absolutely a pioneer in bringing her own voice into these stories,” Lepore said in a phone interview. “She was then pretty much entirely forgotten. … I sort of think that people hadn’t bothered to find her. I called her up and said, ‘Are you the Joye Hummel who wrote Wonder Woman in the 1940s?’ She nearly dropped the receiver — she was delighted but surprised. It was a story she had told her grandchildren, but they didn’t believe her.”
By the time Ms. Hummel started writing for Wonder Woman, the comics had an audience of 10 million readers. The character debuted in a 1941 issue of All-Star Comics, three years after Superman first lifted a car on the cover of Action Comics and two years after Batman leaped across the pages of Detective Comics.
Together, the three superheroes became linchpins of DC Comics, with Wonder Woman emerging as arguably the world’s most famous female superhero. She appeared on the cover of Ms. Magazine’s first issue (“Wonder Woman for President”), inspired a hit 1970s TV show starring Lynda Carter and was revitalized for the big screen beginning in 2016, played by Gal Gadot
The character was “created by a whole series of women” who were never publicly credited, Lepore said. Marston — whose psychological research contributed to the development of the lie-detector test — received help from his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, as well as their partner, Olive Byrne, the daughter of radical feminist Ethel Byrne and niece of birth-control activist Margaret Sanger. Both women worked behind the scenes, forming a fruitful creative triad and secret domestic arrangement: one husband, two wives.
After Ms. Hummel became the first woman hired to write for Wonder Woman, Byrne gave her a copy of Sanger’s book “Woman and the New Race,” which advocated for legalized birth control, and told her it contained everything she needed to know about the character.
Ms. Hummel at first typed Marston’s scripts before writing more than 70 scripts of her own, with detailed instructions for the artists. She developed stories that were often more innocent than her boss’s, which showed Wonder Woman fighting fascism while also being bound, tied, lassoed or gagged. Years later, she recalled that when she brought her scripts to editor Sheldon Mayer, “He always OK’d mine faster because I didn’t make mine as sexy.”
All of the early comics were published under a pseudonym, Charles Moulton, invented by Marston. Individual writers were credited in later anthologies by DC, which revealed that Ms. Hummel was behind some of the series’ more fantastical stories, involving beautiful mermaids and winged maidens. “They’re like fairy tales,” said cartoonist and historian Trina Robbins, who later worked on Wonder Woman.
Ms. Hummel stopped writing the comics in late 1947, shortly after she married, deciding to stay home and raise her stepdaughter. Marston had died earlier that year, and the series passed to writers who did away with much of the comic’s feminist messaging, including a regular centerfold feature chronicling the lives of influential women.
The changes infuriated Ms. Hummel, who remained loyal to Marston’s original vision of Wonder Woman as an emblem of free and courageous womanhood. Decades later, she wrote in an email to Lepore: “Even if I had not left because of my new daughter, I would have resigned if I was told I had to make [Wonder Woman] a masculine thinking and acting superwoman.”
Joye Evelyn Hummel was born April 4, 1924, and grew up on Long Island. Her son said that she rarely spoke of her upbringing; at various times, both of her parents apparently managed a grocery store chain.
The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The vote is a history-making one: Levine is the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.
The vote was 52-48 in favor of her confirmation.
Levine was previously Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, where she led the commonwealth’s COVID-19 response.
Before the vote, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., urged her colleagues to support Levine’s nomination, calling her a “trusted voice” for Pennsylvanians on matters, including opioid prescribing guidelines, health equity and LGBTQ health care.
Murray also noted the significance of the vote.
“I’ve always said the people in our government should reflect the people it serves, and today we will take a new historic step towards making that a reality. I’m proud to vote for Dr. Levine and incredibly proud of the progress this confirmation will represent, for our country and for transgender people all across it who are watching today,” she said.
Levine began her medical career as a pediatrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and she is a professor at the Penn State College of Medicine, where she teaches on topics such as adolescent medicine, eating disorders and transgender medicine. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine.
In a statement in January about the nomination, President Biden said Levine “will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their ZIP code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond.”
Last month’s confirmation hearing for Levine included combative questioning by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in which the lawmaker demanded to know if Levine believes minors are capable of making “such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex,” comparing sex reassignment procedures to “genital mutilation.”
Levine replied, “Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed and, if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the assistant secretary of health, I will look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine.”
Continue to NPR to read the full article
Photo by CAROLINE BREHMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
After her mother-in-law had difficulty signing up for a Covid-19 vaccine, a Massachusetts woman created a website to make it easier for her — and she made it easier for everyone.
Olivia Adams built a website that pulls in vaccination appointments from across the state, including government sites as well as ones operated by private businesses. She called it macovidvaccines.com.
Photo Credit: CNN
The 28-year-old software developer from Arlington, Massachusetts, says she spent three weeks and about 40 hours building the website — and she did it while on maternity leave caring for her 2-month-old son, she told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Monday.
“I thought I’d take a look and I was surprised at how decentralized everything was and how there are a thousand different websites to go to,” Adams said. “I thought, ‘How can I put my software skills to use to make this better in my free time?'”
Free time usually happened when her newborn is sleeping, Adams said. She said her 2-year-old son is at day care, so she’s lucky not to be caring for both during the day.
The inspiration came after listening to her mother-in-law, who had a tough time signing up for an appointment. Her mother-in-law is a dental hygienist who qualified for the first phase of vaccinations, she said.
“She had a little trouble figuring out where to go and how to get signed up,” Adams said. “She was able to do it, but it took a little while and then she had the same problem when she was able to sign her father up when he became eligible at the beginning of our phase two.”
Her family isn’t alone in their vaccine sign-up struggles. People across the country, from senior citizens to others in the early vaccine phases, have faced with hours waiting on the phone and logging online to see no spots available.
She said she is used to making complicated software related to health care needs in her job as a lead member of the technical staff at Athenahealth, a health care technology company.
But, she’s never created a website quite like this.
“This was my first time making a complicated website myself,” she said. “The hardest part about it is that every website that has availability information I have to kind of tell my computer how to read that website like a human. That’s where all the man hours went in.”
The vaccine appointments are available at a number of sites, from those run by the state to those administered at grocery stores and pharmacies. Parsing all that information for each provider is where it got a bit time consuming, she said.
Adams has a script that runs every five minutes across about 20 different vaccine sites, she wrote in an email.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was asked about Adams’ vaccine website at a press conference on Friday. “Send us her name, we’ll talk to her,” Baker said Friday.
History was made and made again during the 2020 election. From the most votes cast in a presidential election in U.S. history to a wave of new, young, novice, minority, and LGBTQIA+ representatives in Congress, the litany of firsts made an immediate impact, widening representation among our elected leaders and laying out a new landscape of inclusion and diversity.
It was the election of Kamala Devi Harris, however, to the second-highest office in the country –
making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of American politics – that tipped the scale and underscored its historic relevance.
Though undeniably her highest accomplishment, Harris’ newest title, Madam Vice President, is just the latest in an enduring, ceiling-shattering career of firsts.
This trailblazer is no stranger to making history.
Paving the Way
Long before her ascension to the vice-presidency, Harris’ resume of firsts had ensured her place in the history books several times over.
First African-American, first South Asian-American, and first woman elected district attorney of San Francisco. First African-American, first South Asian-American, and first woman attorney general of California. First Indian-American woman and second Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
Focused, determined, and passionate, her accomplishments can be traced back in part to her upbringing, her education, and a piece of life-shaping advice offered by her mother: “Don’t sit around and complain about things, Kamala. Do something.”
Armed with Education
Harris’ monumental career is rooted in an educational foundation that provided a unique perspective and experience to her journey. As the daughter of academically inclined parents – both earned doctorates in their respective fields – the expectation was to excel.
She earned a degree in political science and economics from the illustrious Howard University (chosen largely due to the fact that her hero, trailblazing lawyer and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, also attended). Immersed in and influenced by the unmatched cultural atmosphere offered by a historically Black college, she credits the experience as formative to her personal evolution.
“I became an adult there,” the former senator shared in a Washington Post interview. “Howard very directly influenced and reinforced – equally important – my sense of being and meaning and reasons for being.”
Surrounded by a common-place sense of political awareness and activism, Harris’ credence in the value of racial representation in government and corporate institutions was stoked during her tenure, alongside a keen sense of argumentation and an overarching belief that the best way to change a system is from the inside out. Internships with Senator Alan Cranston of California and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as jobs at the National Archives and the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, provided a pathway to do so.
By the time she graduated in 1986, she had made her mark: chairing the economics society, leading the debate team, participating in campus activism, and joining Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (the first African-American Greek-lettered sorority).
Her postgraduate journey led her to the University of California Hastings College of Law, where she attended as part of the Legal Education Opportunity Program and served as president of the Black Law Students Association before graduating in 1989 and being admitted to the California Bar the next year.
If Harris’ varied collegiate experience was the catalyst for her career of service, then her family was the incubator. Years before she ever pursued higher education, she was surrounded and influenced by a familial tradition of public service.
“Growing up, there was no question in my family that you must serve,” she said during a lecture at Spelman University in 2018. “There was simply no question.”
Her maternal grandfather, P.V. Gopalan, was a high-ranking government official who fought for Indian independence; her grandmother, Rajam, was an activist who traveled the countryside teaching impoverished women about birth control.
In fact, her decision to enter the legal field was influenced heavily by her grandfather, who she frequently overheard discussing politics, corruption, and justice while visiting India during her childhood.
“The lessons I learned from my grandfather are a big reason I do what I do today,” she said during an event supporting India’s Independence Day. “Lawyers have a profound ability to be a voice for the vulnerable and the voiceless, and that’s what I wanted to be.”
Raised to Make a Difference
To understand the trajectory of Harris’ life and her journey to the White House, you have to understand where she comes from. The daughter of two immigrants, her upbringing centered and solidified her identity and desire to be engaged and aware of the politics, organizations, and struggles of the Black community – and beyond.
Her father, Donald Harris, an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford, was born in Jamaica’s St. Ann’s Parish and came to the University of California at Berkeley in the early 60s on a scholarship from the British colonial government. Drawn to the civil rights movement, he joined the school’s Afro American Association, a building block of the Black Power movement that would help build the discipline of Black studies, introduce the holiday of Kwanzaa, and establish the Black Panther Party. An astute academic, he viewed the US as a “lively and evolving dynamic of a racially and ethnically complex society,” and was the first Black scholar to receive tenure in Stanford’s economics department.
It was her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a renowned breast cancer research scientist, however, whom Harris credits with being most responsible for shaping her into the woman she has become.
“I’m the daughter of a mother who broke down all kinds of barriers,” she shared last Mother’s Day. “Shyamala was no more than five feet tall, but if you ever met her, you’d think she was seven feet. She had such spirit and tenacity, and I’m thankful every day to have been raised by her.”
The oldest child in a high-achieving Brahmin family from Tamil Nadu, India, Gopalan relocated to the states in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at UC Berkeley, receiving her PhD the same year Harris was born. She, too, was drawn to the energy of the civil rights movement, and as a former colonial subject and person of color, found herself wholly accepted into the Afro American Association.
It was against this backdrop of activism and change that she and Donald met, married, and began expanding their family (with Kamala in 1964, followed by sister Maya in 1967).
Harris fondly recalls her early grounding in the movement for equality: the energetic waves of bodies and voices as she attended protests with her parents; hearing Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to mount a national campaign for president, speak in 1971; and being part of the second class to integrate her elementary school.
“My parents would bring me to protests strapped in my stroller, and my mother raised my sister and me to believe that it was up to us and every generation of Americans to keep on marching,” she divulged during her first campaign appearance as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.
“It’s because of them and the folks who also took to the streets to fight for justice that I am where I am. They laid the path for me.”
When the couple divorced in 1971 (Harris was seven), Gopalan settled in Oakland, California, and took on the sole role of raising her daughters, simultaneously balancing a growing research career, protesting and advocating for civil rights, and bringing up her biracial children with an understanding and appreciation of both of their cultural identities – especially their Blackness.
“My mother understood very well that she was raising two Black daughters,” Harris wrote in her 2019 autobiography, The Truths We Hold. “She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as Black girls, and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud Black women.”
To that end, Gopalan herself adopted African-American culture, ensuring her daughters attended a Black Baptist church with neighbors and a preschool with prominent photos of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, as well as surrounding them with the supplemental love, guidance, and support of her fellow Afro American Association members.
The culmination of this conscious and nurturing upbringing resulted in Harris’ fully realized and unapologetic acceptance of her multicultural identity. In her words, both her Black and Indian heritages are of equal weight in terms of who she is.
“The point is: I am who I am. I’m good with it,” she told the Washington Post while on the campaign trail. “You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it.”
For the People
The impact of Harris’ appointment to the second-highest office in the nation is – much like the former senator herself – multifaceted. Americans who have never seen themselves represented in the country’s absolute highest echelons now have the chance.
It is a responsibility she does not take lightly. Time and again, Harris has proven through her words and actions that she is acutely aware of her ability to engage with and appeal to many American identities, and committed to her duty of ensuring they are seen and heard.
She is a source of pride for the children of immigrants and the Black, Indian, and South Asian communities, expanding the beliefs and perceived potential of how high they can ascend and how much they can influence the American story.
She embodies the fighting spirit of women and girls of all races, backgrounds, creeds and political affiliations, encouraging them to speak up as they make their ways through life.
“What I want women and girls to know is this: You are powerful and your voice matters,” she told Marie Claire. “You’re going to walk into many rooms in your life and career where you may be the only one who looks like you or has had the experiences you’ve had. But you remember that when you are in those rooms, you are not alone.
We are all in that room with you, applauding you on. Cheering your voice. So you use that voice and be strong.”
She personifies the grit and legacy of Black women like Shirley Chisholm and Carol Moseley, and is reflected in the millions of little girls of color who see their faces in her, challenging them to stand firm in their identities and what they bring to the table.
“There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane,’” she told participants of the 2020 Black Girls Lead conference. “They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don’t you let that burden you.
Don’t be burdened by their perspectives or judgement, and do not let anyone ever tell you who you are. You tell them who you are.”
She, along with her husband, Doug, and step-children Cole and Ella (who lovingly call her Momala), are a shining example of the beauty of family – no matter how they are constructed. All you need, she posits, is love.
“The thing about blended families is this – if everyone approaches it in the way that there’s plenty of love to share, then it works,” she said about her modern-day brood. “And we have plenty of love to share within our extended family.”
And, perhaps most importantly, she is an enduring reminder that while breaking barriers may be painful, the fight is worth it to ensure that the next generation will have a path. It is the immortal lesson given to her by the most important role model of her life: her mother.
“My mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last,’” she recalls often. “That’s why breaking those barriers are worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.”
Guided by this life motto, Vice President Harris knows one thing for sure – she may be the first woman to hold the office, but she won’t be the last.
Days before leaving office, the Trump Administration has created a new network of women in business that aims at implementing the Abraham Accords, a series of normalization agreements that were signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and subsequently Bahrain and other countries, backed by Washington.
The initiative, called “United Women’s Economic Development Network” is part of Ivanka Trump’s flagship work in the White House, the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative, and was spearheaded by Kelley
(Photo Credit – MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Currie, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and Aryeh Lightstone, a recently-appointed Special Envoy for Economic Normalization.
The network is one of the Trump Administration’s last efforts to promote the Abraham Accords and its work in the Middle East before the end of the Presidency—but it’s unclear what is going to happen to the initiative once a new administration is in the White House.
“Following the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020, signatory parties have worked to establish across the region a warm peace, inclusive of all, and to develop new cross-country economic partnerships,” a press release issued by the White House on Thursday said. “In pursuit of those goals, the advancement of women’s economic empowerment has come to occupy a role of central importance.”
According to the White House, women entrepreneurs from the United States, Bahrain, Morocco, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Uzbekistan, and Kosovo took part in the launch of the initiative. A group of about 40 women attended the event, including Dr. Shaika Rana bint Isa Alkhalifa, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, and Netta Korin, co-founder of Israel’s largest blockchain infrastructure company Orbs.
by Danielle Ferguson, Ed.D., Researcher, American Institute for Research (AIR)
Dr. Danielle Ferguson, now a researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), focused her dissertation on African American Women in STEM: Uncovering stories of persistence and resilience through an examination of social and cultural capital.
In this article, Dr. Ferguson shares some of what she learned from her research.
There have been many calls from researchers to increase the diversity of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field (Archer et al., 2015; McGee & Bentley, 2017), especially including the participation of more African American women. The lack of representation of African American women and other people from diverse backgrounds could be viewed through multiple lenses but diversity could only improve the global competitiveness of the United States. Furthermore, STEM careers provide economic benefits for individuals because they are amongst the fastest growing career path and provide higher salaries than other careers (Pew Research Center, 2018).
Many teachers, professors, researchers, and others have answered this call to action by creating programs at the institutional level to increase the interest, participation, and retention of African American women in the STEM field, such as the Defense STEM Education Consortium program at Morgan State University. But what happens to African American women after they enter STEM careers? According to the eight successful African American women with a terminal degree in the STEM field, who were interviewed as part of Dr. Ferguson’s research, their experiences in their STEM careers are not what they expected. They feel undervalued, face both sexism and racism, and lack the guidance and support that they need to advance in the field.
In order for African American women to be successful once they enter the STEM field, they need guidance and support. Glen Aikenhead (2001) argued that learning science is a cross-cultural event for non-white students, therefore success in the field requires a cultural broker. A cultural broker is someone who relates to an individual’s culture and the culture of science and can help individuals build a bridge between the two cultures. Cultural brokers offer individuals, including African American women, strategies for success in their field by providing them with specific feedback for how to advance in their field, introducing them to key people, and helping them navigate cultural borders by showing them how to leverage their cultural capital in the STEM fields. They encourage African Americans to bring their full selves to their careers while also assisting them in being successful in STEM.
Cultural brokers spend time building relationships with African American women. They offer them authentic opportunities for professional growth. For example, instead of only suggesting that these women attend professional conferences, cultural brokers provide them opportunities to participate in projects that they can present at conferences. Additionally, cultural brokers help African American women understand the importance of attending professional conferences is networking with prominent researchers in the STEM fields and assist them in making important connections with these individuals. Cultural brokers assist African American women in getting articles published in peer-reviewed journals by modeling the process and connecting them with others with whom they can collaborate, since publications help individuals build prominence in STEM fields. Cultural brokers listen to African American women. They do not downplay the hardships that they face but work with them to find solutions to overcome the barriers. Furthermore, they advocate with and for African American women. In summary, the role of a cultural broker is to go beyond providing African American women with information but to assist these women in building bridges between their experiences and perspectives and the experiences that are valuable in STEM fields.
If we truly believe that increasing the diversity of STEM fields is beneficial to individuals and our nation, we cannot continue to encourage African American women to pursue STEM careers then leave them scrambling for opportunities once they arrive. We cannot continue to provide mentorship that requires these women to detach from their identities and culture. We have to become cultural brokers for these women to help them bridge the gap between their culture and the culture of science by providing genuine opportunities, support, and listening to these women. Trial by fire can no longer be a rite of passage in STEM, especially for African American women.
Aikenhead, G. S. (2001). Integrating western and aboriginal sciences. Cross-cultural Science Teaching, 31, 337-355.
Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillion, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2013). ‘Not girly, not sexy, not glamorous’: Primary school girls’ and parents’ constructions of science aspirations. Pedagogy, Culture & Society 21(1), 171-194. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681366.2012.748676
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Kamala Harris addressed Americans for the first time as vice president-elect of the United States, making history as the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to win the nation’s second highest office.
At an event in Wilmington, Delaware, with President-elect Joe Biden, she nodded specifically to the work of the women who came before her, adding: “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”
She spoke about an America under the Biden administration that focused on equality and justice, and reminded supporters that “America’s democracy is not guaranteed — it is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.”
The Associated Press called the 2020 election for Biden after calling the race in Pennsylvania, giving him more than the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency. “We the people have the power to build a better future,” she said.