03.6.14 // PNW Fattitude.
Written by Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator and President of the Board
Fat. It’s such a small word, right? For such a small word, it carries so much baggage and let’s face it, it’s rarely used positively. Even if someone chooses to use plump or pudgy, chubby or chunky, stout or solid, their meaning is inferred. Fat has become this pejorative term, a way to mock someone, or define their value based on their size. Equating someone’s worth because of their size happens often in our society and fat-shaming has become one of the last socially acceptable forms of discrimination.
GeekGirlCon design manager (and I’m proud to say, friend) Rachelle Abellar had enough. As a proud fat girl and self-proclaimed fat activist, she wanted to create a safe space for people of size to celebrate their bodies, have fun, get inspired, find support, and connect with others.
After Rachelle participated in the “Fat Girl: Fan Girl panel” at GeekGirlCon ’13, she spoke with many women who felt like their struggle with being fat and geeky was a lonely one. Many felt intimidated to be fashionable, let alone cosplay for fear of criticism and fat-shaming. It wasn’t until attending that panel that many of them realized they weren’t alone, and these women voiced a desire to continue the discussion and find support in person. Despite Seattle’s progressive views, there was not much in the way of a fat-positive community so she decided to take things into her own hands.
In December of 2013, Rachelle created PNW Fattitude – a fat-positive community with events would be open to all self-identified fats. PNW Fattitude welcomes people of all genders, including those who do not identify with any gender. A couple months after the group began, their inaugural fat fashion swap kicked off on February 1st! The fat fashion swap was going to be a day of body positivity, support, and taking back fat.
It was a typical grey winter day in Seattle – the kind of chilly day where you really would prefer to hibernate while marathoning something on Netflix. But folks didn’t hibernate and when I arrived early to assist with set-up at the Phinney Centre, there were already several women waiting in the lobby, all with overflowing bags of clothing to swap! The excitement was palpable and once the event began, the room teemed with women of all shapes and sizes.
There were swag bags for the first 50 folks and a lovely table laden with nibbles to keep us energized while we sorted and shopped our way through stacks of clothes. Some women found armfuls of stuff immediately and gleefully traded for their new goodies.
Throughout the event, I kept overhearing unsolicited and genuine compliments given freely to the women who were trying on clothing and you know what? It was pretty damned awesome. It didn’t take long to notice the women who cared not one iota about their VBOs as they tested out pencil skirts or dresses with ruffles. I saw women who rocked sleeveless shirts and tank tops without fear of showing their upper arms to the world. And there were women beautifully sporting horizontal stripes proudly!
You see, when you’re fat, you don’t really see yourself represented anywhere, much less in geek culture. When you do see a plus-sized female character, they tend fall into comic relief roles that centres around weight-based jokes at their expense. They aren’t defined by their humanity and after a while, the negativity feels insurmountable. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog piece…
I was proud when Rachelle asked me to write this blog posting to cover the event. In those short few hours, I met people that didn’t judge me (or anyone else) based on my jeans size. I was able to sift through clothes at my leisure and find some really beautiful retro dresses. My swag bag was chock full of amazing items and the whole day was spent with folks who were supportive of everyone’s sizes and shapes. New friends were made and I left in such a good mood that I realized why Rachelle did what she did. I like to think that every person who attended the swap, left with a tremendous boost to their ego like I did.
At the end of the event, several attendees stuck around afterward to help separate clothing into two piles: professional clothing items for the Seattle chapter of Dress for Success and the remainder divided among local thrift stores. My VW was packed to the roof with bags full of clothing earmarked for Value Village. It felt good knowing that plus-sized women might discover some sweet discounted items on their thrifting outing.
PNW Fattitude aims to provide a safe space for people of size to celebrate their bodies, have fun, get inspired, find support, and connect with others. If you want to get involved, find them on Facebook or tumblr! Definitely stay tuned for the next event. I’ll be there, for sure.
Written by Adrienne Roehrich, Manager of Editoral Services
Why would you need a bodyguard? Well, a complex female character is not always a fighter and may need one. And sometimes they face baddies that have their own bodyguards. Some of my favorite fictional complex female characters are like that, Phedre of Kushiel’s Legacy, Allie Beckstrom who could take care of herself but also needed a guard, or Sarah Conner to name a few. Even real life awesome women doing excellent work need bodyguards, just look at the secret service and other bodyguard services list of . So I asked my fellow staffers if they could have any fictional warrior as a bodyguard, who would it be. Read on for some fantastic answers to this quirky question.
GeekGirlConnections Manager Terra Clarke Olson tells us what a person could want in a bodyguard: “I’ve never wanted a bodyguard, but if I knew that Kronk (Emperor’s New Groove) was available, I would hire him immediately! Not only does he cook like a pro (mmm, spinach puffs), but he speaks squirrel, creates impromptu theme music, and enjoys a good roller-coaster. What more could a person want from a bodyguard? Nothing. The answer is nothing.”
Accounting Manager Karen Hampton said, “I don’t feel I would need a warrior to be a bodyguard, if I could bring a non-violent weapon instead: The Point of View Gun from the film version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. With it, I could de-escalate any situation and possibly open up a dialogue, or walk away amicably.”
Twitter Administrator and President of the Board Kristine Hassell calls upon a trio of bodyguards. “I would hire ‘Paper Sisters Detective Company’ from the R.O.D – Read or Dream anime/manga series. These independent women are total book nerds and also ‘papermasters,’ which means they can telekinetically manipulate any paper to do anything they want, such as creating weapons, shields, and transportation.
These sisters are not related by blood, but treat each other like family. Michelle is the eldest, chattiest, and the self-proclaimed leader of the group. Michelle’s paper mastery centers around projectiles like with her bow and arrow. Maggie is the quiet middle sister who prefers books to people. Maggie can creates the strongest shields, and she can create ‘familiars’ for protection and transport. Anita is the youngest and most skilled martial artist of the three. Anita loves frogs but unlike her sisters, she hates books. Anita’s skill is turning paper into thrown weaponry that can slice through steel and rocks.
The sisters are named after the principal actresses in Johnny To’s 1992 HK action film, The Heroic Trio.”
Copy Writer AJ Dent not only wanted a bodyguard, but a companion. “If I could have a bodyguard by my side, I’d definitely choose Tauriel, an elf specifically created for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in order to feature a strong female character. With her bow and two long daggers, she could take on enemies both near and far from me. I respect how she frequently worked to help others in the movie, even when it wasn’t asked of her, and her lightning speed is just awesome. Plus, whenever we have time to take a break from saving the world together, we could go explore the forest and climb trees just for fun. Can’t go wrong with a bodyguard like that!”
Street Team Manager Cole Lundell already went to bat for her choice of bodyguard. “This was a difficult question for me, but at the end of the day I picked Zoe Washburne – this actually started an argument between my girlfriend and I who picked River Tam. We spent the following 45 minutes having a conversation debating the merits of having a bodyguard who was incredibly loyal and an amazing warrior, but also crazy. I also figured, if I’m going to have a body guard, then I’m probably going to be spending a lot of time with them and Zoe could tell me old war stories, while River would likely just spout theoretical physics nonsense at me.”
As for me, it is a tough choice. When posed the question, I had someone in mind. But, upon further thought, so many characters came to mind! I finally decided on Loup Garron from Jacqueline Carey’s Santa Olivia and Saints Astray. With her genetically engineered heritage making her super fast and super strong, her fighting ability and special training makes her a perfect bodyguard. And since she and her lover Pilar Ecchevarria are inseparable, and Pilar is pretty handy with a gun, I’d have two guards.
Tell us, what fictional warrior would you like as a bodyguard?
02.28.14 // March 2014 Geek About Town
Hi, Readers! March is upon us and that means another full month of geekery! Here’s what’s going on in the Seattle area:
Wednesday, March 5: Steal Beans, I Fell Down, and Ultraklystron
Nerdcore’s Ultraklystron opens for Steal Beans and I Fell Down.
Sunday, March 9: Beginning Stage Puppeteering
From the Press Release: “In this fun, dynamic class, you’ll learn the foundations of good stage puppetry – focus, physical commitment and basic puppet operation. We’ll focus on how to make your puppet seem alive so they can connect with your audience. Over the 4 weeks, you’ll get lots of hands-on time with professional puppets plus a simple practice puppet to take home so you can keep working on your skills. Working in the realm of visible puppeteering, we’ll explore both arm-and-rod and live hand puppets.
Notes: No puppet experience required, please dress comfortably and be ready to move, class size limited to 12. Repeats every Sunday.
Wednesday, March 12: The Powerpuff Girls at Central Cinema
On March 12, join Central Cinema and GeekGirlCon in Townsville for a TV Dinner featuring sugar, spice, and everything nice . . . with just a dash of Chemical X. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup fight our villains in two of our favorite episodes ofThe Powerpuff Girls, while you enjoy a tasty dinner. Our villains could be Mojo Jojo or Him or the Ganggreen Gang or one of the many giant monsters that visit Townsville. Come to Central Cinema to see!
Thursday, March 13 – April 5: Bixby Elliot’s Girl You Know It’s True
When Bixby, a 40-ish playwright fails to get his work produced he conjures up a radical new identity for himself: an impostor. His stand in – an African American Lesbian woman in a wheelchair – instantly shoots to fame. Needless to say, shit hits the fan. Told in tandem with the infamous Milli Vanilli scandal, GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE is a hilarious and bold indictment of the institution of theatre and true intent behind the act of creation. Seattle fringe veteran Ed Hawkins brings his signature spot-on savvy to the West Coast Premiere of Bixby Elliot’s funny, smart, insightful, and lively play.
Featuring a cast of local favorites, including Ian Bell as the hapless playwright, Andrew Tasakos as his patient boyfriend, Andrew Lee Creech & Corey Spruill as “Rob & Fab”, Barbi Beckett, Daniel Christensen, and Josh List as the powers-that-be, and Rebecca M. Davis as the girl who knows the truth. Scott Shoemaker and Mike Blaylock round out the ensemble. Costumes by Scarlett O’Hairdye; Choreography by Diana Cardiff; Stage Manager Tim Crist.
Saturday, March 22 – Sunday, March 23: Seattle Mini Maker Faire
Seattle Mini Maker Faire at the EMP Museum represents the fast growing maker movement sweeping the nation and shines a spotlight on the region’s diverse DIY (do-it-yourself) community. From toys and robotics, to submarines and supercars, nearly 70 makers of all ages from the Pacific Northwest will come together to create, build, plan and share their incredible inventions, hobbies, products, and DIY mentality.
Tuesday, March 25: The Damn Bass Tour with RoboRob, Dekai, Drix, featuring A_Rival, EasyHard, 9k1
From the Facebook event page: “Combined and individually, [touring acts RoboRob, Dekai, and Drix] have a hefty resume, playing over 400 shows across the United States. Opening for such acts as Tiesto, Excision, Dj Fury, Nappy Roots, Hieroglyphics, and more. These artists know how to hold their own on stage as professional DJs, as well as in the studio. Their original productions and highly praised remixes chart Beatport, iTunes, and music blogs alike, bringing you an innovative, fresh, and genre bending sound.” Join them along with local acts A_Rival, EasyHard, and 9k1.
Thursday, March 27: I Heart Comic Art: the local indie comic art benefit
From the Facebook event page: “Join us in supporting Seattle indie comic artists and graphic novelists. We are raising money to contribute to an artist grant to be awarded to a lucky local artist. All comic artist and graphic novelist artwork will be displayed at the party and event attendees (you!) vote for the winner.”
Friday, March 28: Expanding Your Horizons Conference
STEM conference for young women grades 6-8. This is a fantastic opportunity for young woman who may be interested in STEM related fields of study. The program is for young women and the presenters are all women in the various fields. It is a chance to meet and interact with positive role models who are active in STEM-related careers. Registration forms must be postmarked by March 14, 2014.
Friday, March 28-Sunday, March 31: Emerald City Comic-Con
From the website: “We are the premier comic book and pop culture convention in the pacific northwest! Check out the site to find the latest on everything ECCC, including lists of guests, exhibitors, artists, schedules, gaming and events! While you’re here, don’t forget to check out our original webcomic, Tales From The Con, all the photo galleries from years past and much, much more!
Do you have a geeky event to plug? Email Shubz Blalack. We are happy to feature events outside of the Seattle Metro area!
Please note: GeekGirlCon reserves the right to approve or deny any event submissions. All submissions must be in alignment with GeekGirlCon’s Mission Statement.
02.26.14 // When Did I Realize I was a Geek?
Written by Sayed Alamy, GeekGirlCon Designer
Pretty sure I’ve been a geek as long as I can remember, but I really didn’t even know about the idea of being a geek till later on in life. I grew up in the deep South also known as Alabama with my younger (1 year 364 days younger) brother. I grew up playing with Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and various other toys setting up large battle scenes and battling out alone or with friends.
The brother and I were both gamers as we started off pretty young in the early 80’s with our first system being the Atari 2600. Yes, we had the dreaded E.T. game among other fun games that our parents already had or bought for us. Eventually we had a NES, Turbografx-16, SNES, Sega Genesis, and many more after that.
Sometime in grade school I spent a week at Space Camp which was amazing and I wish I was able to go back now as an adult. By the time I was in junior high (7-8th grade) I was hanging out with people who were into video games, comics, and other stuff. I think by the time I was in high school is when I started to identify as a geek/nerd or whatever people were calling us while we played Magic the Gathering in classrooms before classes started. Even my work in art classes showed my geeky tendencies as I did several Star Wars related projects. During college I spent free time between classes at the local arcade when I wasn’t busy working on my art and design. College is where my geek expanded into design and photography which I’m able to use in everyday life. Before moving to Seattle in 2010, I’d also gone to several cons. I once cosplayed as Leatherface at one and was made fun of by Bruce Campbell, which was awesome.
Now living in Seattle I’ve been able to meet so many other geeks that are passionate about all kinds of things. I’ve been to many events, cons, concerts that have all been geeky in different ways. It’s been awesome so far and I’m looking towards the future.
All photo credits to Sayed Alamy.
02.21.14 // A More Realistic Fictional Role Model for Women
A More Realistic Fictional Role Model for Women
Written by Meg Humphrey, GeekGirlCon Programming Project Manager
Originally posted at Have You Nerd
I’m all for strong, independent, awesome fictional women. I think that, though, when we think about fandom role models we too quickly jump to butt-kicking beauties like Buffy Summers, River Tam, or Aeryn Sun. We think of sassy, outspoken ladies like Hermione Granger or Donna Noble. I like all of these women. I think they set a good example of refusing to be hushed or held back by men. But I also think there is a CRUCIAL diva of pop culture we keep overlooking that has been around for over 40 years: the one and only, Miss Piggy.
HONEST TO GOD, I think she’s the most REALISTIC portrayal of a modern every day woman. Yeah, she’s made of felt and is hollow (don’t forget she’s a pig), but I swear that she’s a go-to gal on living day-to-day life happily and confidently.
1. “There is no one on the planet to compare with moi:” confidence is key! Miss Piggy doesn’t think she’s overweight, nay, she KNOWS she’s not overweight. Other characters (human and Muppet alike) may point out the fact that she’s bigger, chubby, plus sized, or a pig (in the derogatory way, not in the factual way), but she doesn’t give them a second thought. As a person who deals with self esteem issues, I found a Miss Piggy quote that always makes me smile: “In a word, beauty is being yourself. Start with what you are – not what you wish you were or what those silly magazines tell you you oughta be.”
2. You can have your cake and eat it too: doing something “feminine” doesn’t mean you have to give up anything “masculine.” In Muppets Take Manhattan, Miss Piggy flashbacks to the Muppet nursery for a musical number entitled “I’ll Always Love You.” In this song, she sings about how Kermit will always be the love of her life despite all the great many tasks she wants to accomplish throughout her life – including being a neurosurgeon and a pilot. My favorite line goes “I’m gonna climb the Matterhorn / but only after all my children are born / because I want to be a good mommy too / and I’m gonna always love you.” There’s none of this well-I-can’t-have-a-career-if-I-get-married or my-life-is-not-mine-after-I-have-children nonsense.
3. It’s a Frog-eat-Pig world: being a woman surrounded by men. If you haven’t noticed, Miss Piggy is the only female Muppet lead outside of Janice’s (the bassist of Electric Mayhem) semi-regular appearances. Does that get her down? Nope! She carves herself a unique place wherever she is.
4. Miss Piggy is the opposite of shy. She has a large ego, endless confidence, and a voice that cuts through a crowded hall. I know that some folks see these traits and think that she’s selfish and a loudmouth, but I don’t see anything wrong in a woman sticking up for herself and sticking up for her loved ones. In The Muppets Christmas Carol, when Scrooge comes calling on Bob Cratchett (Kermit) on Christmas day, demanding to know why he wasn’t at work, it is Emily Cratchett (Miss Piggy) who jumps in to defend her husband and her home.
Whether you enjoy Muppet shenanigans or not, it’s pretty clear that Miss Piggy should be touted as an inspiration for all girls and women out there. There is room for a lady pig with our other favorite fictional heroines.
02.19.14 // Zen Pencils Adds Zest to Words of Wisdom
Written by AJ Dent, GeekGirlCon Staff Copy Writer
Two years ago this month, in February 2012, a website launched that would change the author’s life, and emotionally affect countless others across the globe.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Gavin Aung Than worked as a graphic designer for nearly a decade before taking the plunge to quit his job in pursuit of his passion. His entire life, he’d expressed himself and concepts that resonated with him through sketches. Inspired by the lives of his heroes – dozens of people, from politicians to playwrights – he left the corporate world to launch his personal comic website, Zen Pencils.
Zen Pencils combines famous quotes and Aung Than’s visual artistry. Thanks to a classic comic book page structure with his own unique style, beloved words of wisdom unfold over the tapestry of his images. New life is breathed into the messages, fresh interpretations come alive, and previously unnoticed implications shine through each panel.
Picture a young couple’s breakup set to declarations by Albert Camus. Or Neil Gaiman’s advice carried out by a hospitalized child. Or depictions of a female wrestler paired with truths uttered by Marie Curie.
Absorbing Aung Than’s work is often rejuvenating and downright tear-jerking. It’s not only the worlds he creates that are inspiring, either; Aung Than’s own story has become an incredible tale of bravery and success. On December 18, 2013, he wrote on the Zen Pencils blog, “I am very glad to say that I am now making a full-time living purely from Zen Pencils. My income comes from the selling of the prints at Society 6, poster royalties, advertising on the site, and recently the limited edition T-shirts. It’s hard to believe that the big dream I had when I quit my job two years ago has actually come to fruition.”
Aung Than has also recently announced that he has signed a book deal, and a collection of his comics will be released in the second half of 2014. Due to intentionally identifying his passion, practicing it consistently, using it to bring joy to others, and decidedly devoting his life to it, Aung Than is a hero of an artist. He is living his art and making his art his living. Just check out these drawings of his own experiences alongside the counsel of Ira Glass!
It’s always fascinating to me to learn about people who’ve paved their own paths into self-defined success. Aung Than is proof that diving into your dreams is far better than staying in a safe and soul-stunting life, and I hope that his work continues to motivate others around the world.
Who are some of your heroes who’ve struck a fulfilling work-life balance? Where do you find inspiration to reach your goals?
02.17.14 // Strong Female Character – Willow Rosenberg
Written by Sarah Grant, Copy Writer
Willow Rosenberg is one of the first people Buffy Summers meets when she starts at Sunnydale High School. Willow, unlike Chosen One Vampire Slayer Buffy, is shy, introverted, immediately characterized as intelligent, and the butt of many jokes. It’s possible that Buffy wants to get to know her because the redhead is so smart and could help her with her homework, but the first thing that personally drew me to Willow was this line:
“Well… when I’m with a boy I like, it’s hard for me to say anything cool, or–or witty, or at all. I–I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and, then I have to go away.”
This was a girl I could completely identify with.
Willow is anything but “just the best friend”. She is deadly smart, eager to please, and shows dedication to her friends above and beyond what many kids her age would. How many best friends do you have who would stick next to you through multiple apocalypsi? Apocalypses?* Willow, that’s who. She embodies the best friend ideal: she is always there for her friends, whether it’s for homework or studying help, executing a magic spell to give her best friend’s vampire ex-boyfriend his soul back, or staying up all night researching monsters that her best friend needs to slay.
You know, very typical best friend stuff.
Willow’s second strength is her intelligence. She seems to know quite a bit about everything from vampires, ghosts, and demons to mathematics. In her first scene, Xander asks her for help with his math homework; in college she coaches Buffy through some courses. She memorizes spells, sees ways to solve problems that no one else sees right away, and generally accepts that she’s the smartest person in any room. The one time we see Buffy best Willow grade-wise is in their freshman psychology course: “You made me jealous of you academically!” is high praise, indeed.
The third thing that makes Willow such a strong character is that she is human in every way, and she overcomes so many things in the journey we see. She has failures: she attempts to “seize the day” on Buffy’s advice in the very first episode (“Welcome to the Hellmouth”), and the guy she picks to seize it with? A vampire. Willow is eager in the first several years of the series to dabble in witchcraft, which definitely goes wrong in the third season episode “Doppelgangland”. A spell goes awry, summoning Vampire Willow from a parallel universe. In season four, Willow attempts a spell to make “her will be done” so that she can control things in her life to make her happy. This backfires as well: Buffy gets engaged to her nemesis Spike, Giles goes blind, and Xander becomes a demon magnet–all things that Willow made happen indirectly.
The worst mistake Willow makes occurs in her grief over her girlfriend Tara’s death: she searches for vengeance, absorbing forbidden black magic to do so, and these darkest of magics to take her over entirely. Willow tries to destroy the world.
But she overcomes all of these failures, and she accepts the consequences that come with them. Season seven opens with Willow in England studying with Giles and a coven of witches to control and contain the power she has, and we clearly see her regret for the hurt and destruction she caused. She grew up too quickly and misused her power, but then she stepped back, learned properly, and earned her way back into everyone’s trust. She worked hard to do so, becoming a force of good instead of evil and (spoiler alert!) helped save the world. Again.
Redemption of any character from evil to good is a powerful plot device, as well as an inspiration for anyone who has gone too far with something in their lives–drugs, alcohol, or an eating disorder, to name only a few. Willow Rosenberg’s transformation from shy student to powerful witch, all the while keeping her close friendships with Buffy and Xander, shows a strength of character that anyone can admire and emulate. My own journey from that shy high schooler to a confident woman has followed much the same path with my friends–with the exception of apocalypses and black magic, thankfully. Willow is a character I will always admire and point to as an example of strength and friendship.
Who are some of your favorite strong female characters?
*As Riley Finn once said, “I find myself suddenly needing to know the plural of apocalypse.”
02.14.14 // Notable Scientists Series: Historical Physicists
Written by Adrienne M. Roehrich, Manager of Editorial Services
Double X Science runs a series called Notable Women in Science. As the chemistry editor at Double X Science, I write the series. GeekGirlCon is excited to post the series here on our blog, with minor modifications.
Featured today are 10 more women who broke boundaries by their presence in physics. They lived from 1711 to 2000. While I again limited information to one paragraph, I tried to highlight how they got their start, what universities, family members, and scientists were supportive of them. For these women, without the support of fathers, mothers, husbands, and mentors (all male with one exception) their life in science would not have happened. While barriers are not as difficult today as they were at the times these women made their way, it is a testament to what can be done when families and scientists support each other. These women are an inspiration and I hope you look up more information for them.
Laura Bassi (1711-78) lectured on science until a few hours before her death. An Italian scientist of international fame and one of the first women physicists in western history, Dr. Bassi earned her doctorate in philosophy and science through public debate from the University of Bologna. The University of Bologna offered Dr. Bassi a position in an effort to be known as a leader in women’s education. Unfortunately, this forward step was not acceptable to much of the rest of the world’s academic community and required stipulations to Dr. Bassi’s teaching. However, she countered these limitations with determination and passion. Her appointment to full membership in the Bendettini Academics also deterred some naysayers of Dr. Bassi’s involvement in research and teaching. In order to further her career, she married. A married woman could achieve more than a single woman at that time. Her death in 1778 was unexpected, especially as she had participated in an Academy of Sciences lecture only a few hours before.
If you can access the full article, I highly recommend The Desire to Contribute: An Eighteenth-Century Italian Woman of Science by Gabriella Berti Logan for more information on Laura Bassi.
Margaret Eliza Maltby (1860-1944) was a recognized scientist and advocate for women in science. She overcame the type of education offered to women by taking extra courses in order to attend Oberlin College and receive a B.A. She studied with the Art Students’ League in New York City to explore her interest in art and then taught high school before enrolling as a “special student” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), receiving her B.S. Oberlin recognized this extra effort by awarding Dr. Maltby an M.S. She became a physics instructor at Wellesley College. She was encouraged in her graduate students by an AAUW fellowship to attend Göttingen University, which culminated in Dr. Maltby being the first American woman to receive a Ph.D. in physics from any German university. Dr. Maltby worked as an instructor, a researcher, and administrator in many universities and colleges in the U.S. and abroad. Her stature as a scientist was acknowledged with her entry in the first edition of American Men of Science. She also was active in the AAUW, advocating for women to gain education and enter scientific fields. After her retirement from university life, she maintained her interest in the arts.
Irène Joliot-Curie (1897-1956) was a Nobel Prize Laureate for “artificial radioactivity.” Born to the woman every person thinks of as the epitome of a woman in science, Marie Curie, Irène had an extremely close relationship with her paternal grandfather. Her schooling was outside of the standard schooling type, her first years at home and her latter years in a science and math-heavy co-operative school of Madame Curie’s colleagues. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Collège Sévigné and went on to study at the Sorbonne. She received her doctorate in 1925 based on work with her mother at the Radium Institute of the Sorbonne. She married Frédéric Joliot, another research assistant of Madame Curie’s. Dr. Joliot-Curie continued her research, interrupted by a stint as Undersecretary of State for Scientific Research, one of the first high government posts to be offered to a woman. She worked as a professor for the Sorbonne and director of the Radium Institute, but was not admitted to the Academy of Sciences due to discrimination despite her work. She died, like her mother, of acute leukemia. Her scientific work was complemented by her love of physical activity and motherhood.
Katharine Burr Blodgett (1898-1979) was a woman with an amazing number of firsts. Born to a widow, she was a world citizen in her formative years, attended high school at a private school in New York City, won a scholarship to attend Bryn Mawr, and graduated second in her class there. She received her Master’s degree from the University of Chicago, then headed off to work with Nobel Laureate Irving Langmuir at General Electric (GE) and became the first woman research scientist there. She was able to work with Nobel Laureate Sir Ernest Rutherford and earn her Ph.D. from Cambridge University as the first woman to earn a doctorate from Cambridge. She returned to GE. During her career, she invented many applications and is credited with six patents. She achieved much when many women did not, but her work was de-valued in the media. She did earn recognition from her peers, including the ACS Garvan Medal, the Photographic Society of America Progress Medal, and a day named after her in her hometown of Schenectady, NY. In addition to her scientific life, she enjoyed gardening, civic engagement, acting, and “dart[ing] about Lake George in a fast motor boat.”
Astrophysicist Charlotte Emma Moore Sitterly (1898-1990) was an authority on sun composition. She started her career as an excellent student with extracurricular interests, attending Swarthmore College to earn her B.A. Upon graduation, she accepted a position as a mathematics computer at Princeton University Observatory, one of the few employment opportunities available to science inclined women at the time. A stint at the Mount Wilson Observatory led to results published in a 1928 monograph which was considered the authoritative work on the solar spectrum for four decades. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1931. Her work earned her the Annie J. Cannon Prize, Silver and Gold Medals from the Department of Commerce, and several honorary doctorates in the U.S. and abroad. She was the first woman elected as a foreign associate by the Royal Astronomical Society of London. Her enthusiasm for her work continued until her death.
Nuclear Physicist Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1906-1972) was the second woman to win the physics Nobel. Her early education was public education for girls followed by a private school founded by suffragettes. Circumstances led Dr. Goeppert-Mayer to take her exiting exams a year early; after passing them she attended the University of Göttingen for her college education in mathematics. She continued to study physics at the University of Göttingen, earning her Ph.D. in 1930. She also married that year. The couple moved to America in hopes of better career trajectory for Dr. Goeppert-Mayer. Finding a position was difficult. When she had her first child, she stayed home with her for one year, then returned to research. While her positions were always part-time and not well recognized, she grew a well-respected network of collaborators. This network led to work with Hans Jensen which won her the Nobel Prize, shared with Jensen. Her network also eventually led to a full professorship position after 20 years of volunteer work. During this time, her health began to fail. She persevered with her work, publishing her last paper in 1965. The American Physical Society established an award in her honor in 1985.
Gertrude Scharff Goldhaber (1911-1998) was a respected researcher. She grew up in a time in Germany where girls were expected to become schoolteachers. She had a fascination with numbers, and eventually studied physics at the University of Munich, receiving her PhD in 1935. Due to being Jewish, she fled Germany during the rise of the Nazi party, arriving in the United States and becoming a citizen in 1944. She had a wide involvement in the various National Laboratories studying nuclear physics. She also maintained several committee positions in the science community. She was a strong advocate for women in the science community, forming a Women in Science group at Brookhaven National Lab and supporting other similar groups elsewhere. After her retirement from research, she continued interests in the history of science, outdoor activities, and art.
Physicist, Molecular Spectroscopist Leona Woods Marshall Libby (1919-1986) Leona Woods grew up on a farm and was known for her inexhaustible energy. She attained her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Chicago when she was only 19 years old, and earned her Ph.D. 5 years later. She worked as the only woman and youngest member of the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, a secret war group led by Enrico Fermi who built the world’s first nuclear fission reactor during her graduate work. Dr. Woods’ expertise was essential to the undertaking. She married another member of her team. She hid her first pregnancy until 2 days before her son’s birth. She took one week off before returning to work. Childcare was provided by her mother and sometimes Fermi’s bodyguard, John Baudino. Dr. Marshall was encouraged by Fermi as a female physicist. In the late 1950s, Dr. Marshall was divorced from her husband, pursuing her own career. In the early 1960s, Dr. Marshall moved to Colorado to work and married Willard Libby. Her mind was always considering any number of problems from many angles. She worked up until her death and was honored posthumously for her work, along with Lise Meitner, Marie Curie, and Irene Joliot-Curie.
Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) was a foremost experimental physicist of the modern era. She was encouraged as a girl to pursue her schooling as far as possible. This led her to teaching training, which lacked science so she taught herself physics, chemistry, and mathematics. She graduated high school with the highest grades in her class, earning her a place at the National Central University in Nanjing. She taught and did research upon graduation, then moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California – Berkeley in 1940, four years after leaving China. She was known for her expertise in nuclear fission and was consulted by top scientists. Despite this, her gender and nationality hindered her finding appropriate employment due to discrimination on both accounts. She married and started a teaching career, although she missed research. Upon the recommendation of Ernest Lawrence, she received offers from several Ivy League schools who were not accepting female students at the time, and became Princeton’s first woman instructor. She was offered several positions, including back in China, but chose to remain in the U.S. to raise her son. She was unable to return to China until 1973. She worked at Columbia University for many decades and earned accolades for her work.
Xide Xie (1921-2000) is a woman who, in China, needs no introduction. Her early life involved much moving due to war and ill health, during which she taught herself English, calculus, and physics. She graduated in 1942 with a degree from Xiamen University. She moved to the United States to receive her master’s degree from Smith College in 1949 and her Ph.D. in physics from M.I.T. in 1951. She married in England and returned to China, despite the political climate. She taught and did research at the prestigious Fudan University. During the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, she was detained, publicly humiliated, and endured breast cancer. After this upheaval, she returned to Fudan University, growing the physics department and achieving more esteemed positions in the University and government. She had also remained connected to her family, caring for her husband through a lengthy illness. Her achievements were internationally recognized.
Benedettini Academics were a select group of scholars from the Academy of Sciences created and named for Pope Benedict XIV to conduct research and present it annually at Academy meetings. This appointment escalated the prestige of the scientist above that given by being a member of the Academy of Sciences.
American Association for University Women (AAUW): Margaret Maltby received the European Fellowship from the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, which became the AAUW. This fellowship was specifically intended to help American women pursue graduate studies to circumvent rules that did not allow women to enroll in coeducational universities or earn graduate degrees.
The Nobel Prize is an international award given in several fields. It is one of the most prestigious awards for scientists in the eyes of the public.
The Garvan Medal is an award from the American Chemical Society to recognize distinguished service to chemistry by women chemists.
The Photographic Society of America Progress Medal recognized a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the progress of photography or an allied subject.
Annie Jump Cannon Prize is given to a North American female astronomer in the early stages of her career for her distinguished contribution to the field.
Department of Commerce Silver Medal, Gold Medal are the highest honors granted by the department for distinguished and exceptional performance.
Much of the information for this post came from the book Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: A Biographical Dictionary edited by Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer.
Images for this post came from Wikimedia Commons.
02.12.14 // It’s Darwin Day 2014!
Written by Sarah Grant, Copy Writer
I found out a couple of weeks ago that Charles Darwin, commonly known as the father of evolution through his publication On the Origin of Species in 1859, has a whole day dedicated to celebration of his life and his work! How cool is that? I did some digging on this amazing man, and here is a summary of what I found.
Charles Darwin was born February 12th, 1809, in Shrewsbury, England. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland (which makes me immensely jealous!), but he was a poor student, due to his interest in nature over his interest in medicine. His father then sent him to Cambridge University to study for the clergy, but Charles spent more of his time riding and shooting than studying. A cousin introduced him to a popular craze for beetle collecting at the time, and this seemed to pave his way as a naturalist, and one of his professors recommended him to his life-changing voyage to the Galapagos Islands aboard the HMS Beagle.
While on this voyage, he closely observed plants and various animals to see their differences and similarities. For example, he noticed that same types of birds living in different places had different types of beaks. These birds were all finches whose beaks were physically suited to the various types of food they sought in their native habitats.
Darwin also studied geology, the selective breeding used in animal husbandry, and various types of entomology, a continuation of his fascination with beetles when he was younger. Upon his return to England from the Galapagos Islands, he wrote many of his notes and theories into different publications, including The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, Journal and Remarks (in several volumes, documenting his voyage on the HMS Beagle), and of course, On the Origin of Species.
The celebrations of Darwin’s life mainly center around his birthday–today, February 12. Salem College in Massachusetts has an entire week of celebrations, titled the Darwin Festival, which has been held every year since 1980. The first declared “Darwin Day” event took place on April 22nd, 1995, at Stanford University:
Many famous speakers have been included in subsequent Darwin Day lectures at Stanford, including Richard Dawkins, 1996; Paul Berg, 1997; Robert Sapolsky, 1998; Douglas Hofstadter, 1999; Michael Shermer, 2001; Robert Stephens and Arthur Jackson, 2003; Robert and Lola Stephens, 2004; and Eugenie Scott, 2005. In 2000, the official founding of Darwin Day took place in the United States, and since then, there have been many other organizations and cities who have sponsored their own Darwin Day events. There are currently 92 events listed on the Darwin Day Events page for 2014, everywhere from the United States to Italy to Australia.
For more in depth information about Charles Darwin, his life, and his work, I suggest his Wikipedia entry, as well as the Darwin Day website itself, both of which I used in writing this article. Find a celebration near you, and join in! You can even send a celebratory e-card to your friends and family!
Written by Manager of Editorial Services, Adrienne M. Roehrich
We’re down to the wire. If you have a geeky sweetie you want to give a Valentine’s Day gift to, it isn’t too late. In order to make your shopping a little easier, especially if you want to give something a little less cliche and a little more of a surprise.
Spend your time with your sweetie playing Spiral Knights? Get them that game they’ve been wanting off Steam. Prices vary by game.
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with chocolates. Of course, I <3 chocolate. If this is the right choice for your sweetie, you will know. Check out these geeky chocolates:
From Sweets So Geek, get Darth Vader, Boba Fett, or Batman. $2.50 each.
The Chocolate Vault has some large chocolate bricks if that’s more your sweetie’s style — five pieces for $8.25.
Instead of the traditional flowers, get your sweetie “Princess Leia” Iris or “Star Wars” Magnolia. Check with a local florist for these.
For those in the local Seattle area, a special opportunity exists: Singing Puppet-Grams. “Because sometimes love is a little silly.” Your sweetie will get a visit from Dr. Lennie, Doctor of Puppetology and Love, (and puppeteer escort) and be serenaded. You get to include a special message and they receive a valentine as a momento. $90 or $115.
Naturally, you could always pick up a pass to GeekGirlCon ’14 for the apple of your eye as well! What better way to demonstrate a love of all things nerdy?
However you choose to express love for your geeky sweetie, we hope you have a blast! Happy Valentine’s Day from GeekGirlCon!