Amelia Earhart

“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” –Amelia Earhart

AEBorn on July 2, 1937, Amelia Mary Earhart is among the most visionary American women. Among her achievements include:

  • First woman to fly above 14,000 feet, October 22, 1922
  • First woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, June 17-18, 1928
  • Set woman’s speed record for 100 kilometers with no load and a load of 500 kilograms, June 25, 1930
  • Set speed record for a 3K course at 181.18 miles per hour, July 5, 1930
  • First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, May 20-21, 1932
  • First woman to fly solo nonstop from the U.S. East Coast to West Coast, August 24-25, 1932
  • First person to fly solo from across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California, January 11, 1935
  • First person to fly solo from Los Angeles, California to Mexico City, Mexico, April 19-20, 1935
  • First person to fly solo nonstop from Mexico City, Mexico to Newark, New Jersey, May 8, 1935

According to Amelia Earhart, when a plane flew by her at a stunt-flying exhibition when she was in her 20s, she knew she was born to fly.  After leaving a girl’s finishing school to work at a military hospital in Canada during the first World War, going to college, and becoming a social worker, Earhart took her first flying lesson in 1921.  Just six months later, she bought her own plane, which she used to set her first altitude record (breaking 14,000 feet).

After being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, Earhart broke one aviation record after another, for both women and men alike.  Earhart was an early feminist ahead of her time and felt her flights proved gender equality for “jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness and willpower.”

Earhart’s determination to break records ultimately brought her demise.  In 1937, Earhart wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world.  Bad weather, inaccurate maps, and lack of fuel caused Earhart difficulties and she went missing on July 2, 1937.  Reluctantly, after $4 million and searching 250,000 square miles in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. government called off the search.  Truly a visionary and pioneering feminist, however, Amelia Earhart will not be forgotten.


The Official Website of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart Festival

Women in Politics

President Obama’s recent nomination of Elena Kagan, closely following his nomination and the ultimate appointment of Sonia Sotomayor, brings up the important topic of women in U.S. politics. Sotomayor is only the third female Supreme Court Justice in history; if appointed, Kagan will be the fourth.

Obama and SotomayorDespite continuous disparities in pay rates between women and men, women make up 51% of the population and seem to be in the workforce in more or less equal numbers to men.  Yet in politics women lag behind, comprising only 17% of the U.S. senate.

Indeed, the women involved national politics are viewed in a different light than men.  Women often feel like they need to act like men, coming off as tough and edgy.  Many women in the highest levels of their profession even consider being called “tough” a compliment. In this mindset, being considered compromising, flexible, or nurturing would imply that a woman is not fit for her duties.  In this mindset, we see the Sarah Palins chanting “Drill, baby, drill!” the Hillary Clinton’s supporting the Iraq war, and U.S. Senators Margaret Heckler and Louise Day Hicks voting to keep abortion restrictions in the health care reform bill.

Women in politics also frequently face more meticulous judgments about their personal lives than men do.  Sarah Palin’s daughter’s illegitimate child stirred controversy among ideological conservatives, as does the fact that Kagan is fifty years old and unmarried.  Perhaps this type of scrutiny feeds women’s tendencies to be tough or “bitchy” in high-level positions of power, or maybe it creates an unclear standard of what we really want for women in politics.

Interestingly, women’s entry into the political scene has sparked a lot of conversation about what women have to offer.  In a recent Boston Globe article, Renee Loth argues that women’s experience running a family allows them to be collaborators and negotiators.  Just as women’s natural mothering tendencies often make women great educators and health care providers, women could be powerful advocates in for much needed reform in these areas in the political scene.  Women are also more risk-averse than men, and are consequently more resistant to go to war or make risky investments and decisions.

Other countries, including Rwanda, Sweden, South Africa, Cuba, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Finland, have recognized the value women bring to the political scene.  In these countries, women make up between 40 and 56 percent of the lower houses of government.  India has recently mandated that women occupy at least one third of its Parliament seats.

It’s time for women to embrace their inner characters, be it tough or nurturing, and enter the political scene.  Obama’s nomination of two female Justices should be motivation for us to become active participants in the political scene and start being the change our country needs.

Meaningful Mother’s Day Ideas

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and if you’re like most of us, you’re still figuring out what you’re going to do for Mom. In America, Philadelphian Anna Jarvis began campaigning in 1906 for a day on which American would celebrate their mothers.  After only three years of speaking at church meetings and sending letters to government representatives and businesses, Jarvis convinced 46 states to celebrate Mother’s Day.  In 1914, during the Wilson administration, Mother’s Day became a national holiday, celebrated annually on the second Sunday in May.

Happy Mother's DayMother’s Day is celebrated differently around the world, often taking on religious connotations.  The earliest celebrations, for example, date back to the Ancient Greek celebration of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.  Greek celebrations ranged from wild festivals that were eventually banned in certain areas to eating honey cakes and sharing flowers on the morning of the celebration.  In many parts of England during the middle ages, “Mothering Day” provided a one-day reprieve from Lent fasting and a day off for servants to visit their families.

Mother’s Day still has religious aspects in some cultures, but for most around the world, it is a day to celebrate Mom’s in whatever expression best fits the individual and culture.  Although the pressure exists to commercialize Mother’s Day, there are lots of other ways to show your Mom you appreciate her that don’t involve buying jewelry or a lavish bouquet.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Give Mom a day off.  Cook meals, do some housework (inside and out!), or run errands.  If your mom is like mine and doesn’t like other people doing her work, offer to do these things with her, if not on Mother’s Day, then a day in the near future.  Doing housework or cooking together can be particularly meaningful and a great time to catch up on lost conversation.
  2. Make a donation in her honor.  If your mom is one of those women who has everything she needs or is socially conscious, make a donation to her favorite charity in her honor.
  3. Share an experience.  Take your mom to the movies, a local play or concert, a museum, or even just out for coffee.  Often experiences can be more meaningful and memorable than things.
  4. Support your mom’s health.  Whether she’s been too busy to take care of herself or just neglectful, offer to take your mom to her next mammogram or other doctor’s appointment. She’ll feel supported and you’ll be able to provide an extra set of eyes and ears.  Or, support your mom’s health by taking her to a nutritionist or giving her a subscription to a healthy magazine such as Cooking Light, Real Simple, or Health.
  5. Go the traditional route and make brunch for Mom and the family.  If you do, here’s a great—and slightly healthy—recipe for French Toast Casserole that I made last year.

French Toast Casserole
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

24 slices cinnamon-raisin bread
4 cups milk
2 cups egg substitute, divided (or eight eggs)
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 blocks reduced fat cream cheese

  1. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Trim crusts from bread.  Place half of the bread on the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, combine milk, 1½ cups egg substitute, and ½ cup sugar in a large bowl.  Pour half of the mixture over the bread in the pan.
  4. Combine ½ cup egg substitute, ½ cup sugar, cream cheese and cinnamon in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Spread cream cheese mixture over the bread in the pan. Arrange the remaining bread slices on top of the cream cheese mixture and pour remaining milk mixture over the bread.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover casserole and bake for one hour.  Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm with maple syrup.  Enjoy!