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October-November 2001

The Women’s Times

A joint publication of the Commission on the Status of Women and the Women’s Studies Program

Indiana, Pennsylvania 15705

Issue 3

October/November 2001

“Has Feminism Changed Science?” Dr. Schiebinger Offers an Insightful and Intelligent Speech About the Position of Women in Science

by Aleisha R. Cheatle

As one of our major presentations for the Fall 2001 Women’s Studies theme of “Women in Science,” the Women’s Studies Program sponsored Dr. Londa Schiebinger’s visit to IUP on Friday, October 5. As you may have read in our pre-edition of the Women’s Times, or on our website calendar (www.iup.edu/womens/calendar), Dr. Schiebinger is the Edwin E. Sparks Professor of the History of Science at Penn State and the author of Has Feminism Changed Science?, Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science, and The Mind Has No Sex? Women in the Origins of Modern Science.

Dr. Schiebinger’s speech examined the history of women in scientific scholarship from as far back as the middle ages, when it was crucial for men of science guilds to be married because their wives were considered essential to assisting in their scientific research. Women dominated the field of astronomy during the 17th century; but, by the mid-20th century, the G.I. bill and other government policies produced a decline in the number of women in sciences. Presently, in some European societies, in order to succeed as physicists, women must necessarily forfeit the role of motherhood or confront the dilemma of how to “have it all” as a woman scientist.

Dr. Schiebinger examined popular representations of women in science – referring to an ad that encourages the participation of “women” in science, but shows a group of young girls in which only one of five girls is a minority. Far from objecting to the idea of getting young girls interested in science, Dr. Schiebinger was instead illustrating how often the term “girls” is used interchangeably when referring to adult professional women. And, though there are attempts to appeal to women in science, other racial minorities remain under-represented.

Schiebinger discussed problems facing women in science today, such as the absence of social systems which support women in science related careers – whereas some countries, including Sweden, offer excellent support for women who choose to have children and build a family, the United States still lacks the resources for women to balance career and personal lives. She noted that, when women joined the work force in the U.S., the husband/wife marital dynamic also was altered, while social systems remained stagnant. Before women entered the workforce, it was less complicated for them to relocate according to their scientist/professional husband’s career advances. Now, with both members of a marriage or partnership working, when one spouse finds a new job and must relocate, the other is also faced with a decision to leave the current job and faces the difficulty of finding an equal position. This is especially difficult in the world of academe, where a single professorial position is difficult enough to attain, but in marriages/partnerships where both members are academics, the task is often impossible.

In addition to relating statistics about the position of women in the sciences – including the trend for educated women to still seek spouses of equal or greater education, while it remains acceptable for men to continue to marry “beneath” their educational levels – Schiebinger noted such stereotypes as “women are better able to work together in groups and this makes them better suited for laboratory science positions” which restrict, label, and create expectations of women that neglect to recognize their individuality and unique skills.

Following her speech, the Co-Op Bookstore sold copies of Dr. Schiebinger’s book, which she autographed for those who purchased books, as well as those individuals who brought their previously owned copies. The audience was invited to enjoy refreshments and conversation at the reception that followed this extremely engaging, thought-provoking speech.

Listen Up!

by Dana Jerman

Hola! Faithful readers of T.W.T., I bring you tidings of great joy not unlike those of a holiday with presents. To be short and sweet I’d like to announce that I will be submitting for your approval and enjoyment a music review column. It will appear once a month and will feature female performers, solo musicians, and bands who have released material in the last month or so - material meaning a full-length LP, maxi-single or EP, compilation, etc.

In these reviews, I hope to give you, the reader and my audience, an overall portrait of the artist as well as insightful initial impressions about the album in its entirety while making note of its defining characteristics and unique details.

“What has this artist done creatively to define her musical direction?” “What can we expect from her next recording on the basis of previous recordings and their interplay on this music?” I’ll be asking myself these and other questions as I attempt to bring you an eclectic mix of talent from women young and old.

(( You’ll find my column on page >>>> of T.W.T. every (other) month from here on in. I’m also looking for your feedback or suggestions for new music reviews. Questions, comments and rants can be read and acknowledged through my e-mail: dmjermgurl@yahoo.com))

BJORK: Vespertine

At almost 60 minutes, our favorite Icelandic princess’ new attempt at packaging unstoppable joy unto plastic audio devices (CD, Cassette or Vinyl - Your preference.) is not a slight one by any means. The stunning nature of the opener “Hidden Place” features a female choral and string arrangement that stops your breath like frigid air on a winter’s morning when stepping out of the warm embrace of your house. In this case, it is the warmth of the driving bass. “Who would have known a beauty this immense?” she asks in her gentle croon. On track two, “Cocoon”, a calm electronic lullaby, its clicks and beeps forging the way for “It’s Not Up To You”, this time, more of those sweetly foreboding string-plucking orchestrations we expect and have enjoyed show up. This is a Bjork trademark style that has come a long way from (1990?)“Debut”, but yet manage to contain those same dancing charms and petite serendipity, here with a mature focus.

In “Undo”, Bjork seems to make a statement with her lyrics: “It’s not meant to be a strife/It’s not meant to be a struggle uphill/You’re trying too hard/Surrender/Give yourself in.” In albums past, Bjork has pushed us up phenomenal crags of sound and, at the apex, made us look downward to swim and “drop anchor”, to throw “bottles, car parts and cutlery” off of the peak to see what happens. The song itself builds to a glorious climax with the help of the choir from “Hidden Place.” But here, it is as if Bjork is trying to let us know that we’re at the top already, that we’ve been at the top since the beginning of the LP and have yet to realize it until now. “Pagan Poetry” speaks almost to the sleeve design and liner notes art by two European artists that Bjork has chosen to express her musical work – a black and white map of the path of an ink pen which has drawn images from nature and geometric shapes. The cover art is also a black and white photo image of Bjork over which the likeness of a swan’s head and feathers in white outline are superimposed.

“Frost” is a simplistic music box piece followed by “Aurora”, another soft arrangement of high croons and beats that lead us over and under, headed downward through the thicket on the mountainside that is this record. Then, “An Echo, A Stain” coming out of a dark place laced with harp accompaniment. “Sun In My Mouth” borrows lyrics from an E.E. Cummings poem “Impressions”: “I will wade out till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers.” The music box with its “Pop, goes the weasel” chimes once again comes in to join Bjork’s careful, breathy vocal statement: “Heirloom” is like coming down into the dimly lit streets of a town at night, loud music in cars that zoom by to overcome briefly the sound of your own footsteps, yet in the lyrics to “A Recurrent Dream” she recalls a different feeling concerning losing her voice. “Harm of Will” then begins, gently with the wish that maybe we were back at the top of that mountainside we had just cautiously descended. Her lyrical statements are languishing pleas in syllabalic rhythms following that guardian angel choir we’ve heard so much from. “Unison” – the final track – is the staccato, forte match to “Harm of Will’s” smooth pianissimo, although both tracks move at the same pace. In these songs there is a coming to terms with the fact that she, along with all of us who have joined her, are down from the mountain and enjoying every earthly minute. Press play to start the journey over.

Under the Moon

by Jess Donald

Grace of the Goddess
Being of the moon,
Under this evening light I swoon
Speak of the glow
Speak of our truth
Knowing full circle of life
Is around and abound
We honor- we wonder
Fallen circle, rise up
Listen to your new age worshippers
We are of the Goddess we are of the light
We are of the moon
We are of the night
We are of the God
We are of the light
We are of the sun that is burning bright
Do not forget all those who lit the night
Who danced as we do now
Do not let go their memory
In honor of them
We bring forth ourselves
On this Samhain eve
We listen to their lives
Through the timelessness of leaves
Branches of family, are within our path of light
Branches of life we grow, we know we are part of the night.

Honoring Patricia Hilliard Robertson and Rebecca Stoudt

As part of our Fall 2001 theme, Women in Science and Technology, the Women’s Studies program was looking forward to a visit from Patricia Hilliard Robertson, one of Indiana’s "own" outstanding women. Born and raised in Indiana, PA, Patricia Hilliard Robertson earned her BS in Biology from IUP before going on for her medical degree and eventually, after working in a Family Medicine practice, was selected for Astronaut training by NASA in June 1998. Tragically, Patricia Hilliard Robertson passed away this past May from injuries sustained in the crash of a private plane. The Women’s Studies/IUP community honored her recently with a moving tribute at the start of our recent WITS Symposium on November 3, 2001 and in the October/November paper issue of The Women’s Times. Click here for NASA’s biography of Patricia Hilliard Robertson.

Just before submitting the October/November Women’s Times for publishing, and about two weeks prior to the WITS symposium, we in the Women’s Studies department, the IUP science departments, and the IUP community at large, were grieved to hear of the death of one of our own faculty members. Rebecca Stoudt, a member of the Mathematics Department, died of Breast Cancer on October 14, 2001. At WITS, our tribute to Patricia Hilliard Robertson was followed by an equally moving tribute to Rebecca Stoudt. Members of the IUP community posted condolences and paid tribute to Rebecca through a website set up by the Math department: http://old.www.iup.edu/math 

Both Patricia and Rebecca were dedicated, outstanding women who forever touched the lives of those they interacted with. For those of us not privileged to have encountered these women during their lives, we regret our missed opportunity but honor their memory still.

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