During the video, 50/50, that we watched for Mrs. Kingsbury's presentation this week, I was surprised that there haven't been more than 50 women in positions of power rather than that there have been that many, though I suppose that speaks to the idea in the presentation that although women have come a long way in terms of rights and leadership roles, we still have work to do. When Mrs. Kingsbury talked to us about a few women who have impacted the rights and liberties of women and have taken strides towards equality, I had only heard of two of them. I knew about Kathrine Switzer running the Boston Marathon before it women could because of an article I read on BuzzFeed the day after the marathon, and I knew about the women Ice Hockey team because I have friends who play hockey and I heard my family talking about it a bit earlier in the year. As for the other women mentioned, I hadn't heard of them before, but they certainly deserve recognition. Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Katherine Johnson were key figures in the space race, but they were never given much recognition because they were female and they were African American. All three of them had important jobs behind-the-scene at NASA, and without them we most likely would not have gotten to space as quickly as we did, yet most people in this country probably don't know their names. We also talked about Peggy Whitson, who is an astronaut. She is the only female astronaut to have commanded the International Space Station twice, and she recently broke the record for the most days in space by a NASA astronaut. During the video we watched in class, Missrepresentation, there was a series of photos shown during the intro. Famous women who made an impact on women's and human rights were shown in black and white, while reality TV stars and women who haven't done much in the fight for rights were shown in color. I recognized quite a few of the women in the colored photos, but only two, Rosa Parks and Gloria Steinem, in the black and white photos. This caught my attention because it made me realize that as young women, we aren't taught about or exposed to the work of Rosa Parks or Gloria Steinem as much as we are exposed to and taught about people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, who haven't done much to further women's rights. We talk about feminism and continuing the fight for women's rights, but it's hard to accomplish much when most of the mainstream media revolves around women who are materialistic and vain. Young women are taught from the media that in order to be successful, they need to be materialistic and vain, because that is what they see on TV and social media.
I think reality TV can be entertaining, but I also think it's important for young women to learn about women who really made a difference and fought for women's rights or were the first of their kind and paved the way for others. For Mrs. Kingsbury's presentation, I researched Dr. Shirley Jackson. From a young age, Dr. Jackson conducted her own scientific experiments, like on the eating habits of honeybees as a child, and came up with new inventions. Dr. Jackson received her PhD in physics from MIT in 1973. She was the first black woman to receive a doctorate, in any subject, from MIT and is one of the first two African American women to receive a doctorate in physics in the US. She was the first woman and the first African American to serve as the chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and is the first African American woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering. She worked at Bell Laboratories from 1976 to 1991, and while she was there she conducted research that allowed others to invent the portable fax, touch tone cell phone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and many more. From 1991 to 1995 she taught theoretical physics at Rutgers University, and has been the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since 1999.
Given the content of the media today, I think it's important for young women to learn about women who accomplished great things with their skills, education, and intelligence, like Dr. Jackson, rather than those who are successful because of their looks. Young women today tend to think that how they look is all that matters, and they need to start being taught that it's not. In order for women to keep making progress towards equality, we need as many talented, intelligent, hard-working women as possible to help; and the women who do work hard and are successful in spite of the barriers against them deserve to be recognized. I agree with Mrs. Kingsbury when she says we have accomplished a lot, but we still have progress to make.