Blogs by Women

Women Techie Being Threatened Online

Thursday
A recent controversy surrounding a female blogger has brought to light the extremes of cyberbulling as well as the lack of respect women continue to have within the technology field.

Kathy Sierra, who is a game developer and programming instructor, has been maintaining a blog for quite some time now. Within her blog, she has provided inspiration, advice, guidance, and information to her fellow techies. As of late, however, she has started to receive a number of death threats and other violent threats.

Some of the threats Sierra has received have included graphic images of her being suffocated/silenced or of her next to a noose. Many of the threats have been sexual in nature as well.

“If you want to do something about it – do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence). Do not put these people on a pedestal. Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary”, “protected speech”, or simply “criticism”. I would never be for censoring speech – these people can say all the misogynistic, vile, tasteless things they like – but we must preserve that line where words and images become threats of violence. Freedom of speech – however distasteful and rude the speech may be, is crucial. But when those words contain threats of harm or death, they can destroy a life.” - Kathy Sierra, written on her blog in response to recent threats

As can be expected, Sierra now fears leaving her house out of concern for her safety. She has also cancelled her upcoming speaking arrangements and has even decided to discontinue her blog.

The reasons behind the death threats Sierra is receiving are unclear, though most of the threats make reference to the fact that she is female and that these cretins wish her to be silenced. While Sierra is a supporter of free speech, it is clear that these death threats go beyond maintaining one person’s rights as they infringe upon another person’s right to live her life in safety.



Research Indicates Magazine Ads Make Women Feel Bad About Themselves

A recent study revealed what women and psychology experts have long suspected: ads containing beautiful and flawless women makes women feel bad about themselves. According to the study, even the most attractive of women find themselves feeling bad about their appearance when looking at these ads.

The study involved surveying 81 college women and asking them to rate their opinion about their own appearance. The questions ranged from asking their opinions on their facial features to their chest size.

After rating themselves, some of the women were asked to look at magazine ads containing fashion models. The other women were asked to look at ads without women. The women were then surveyed again and those that saw the ads with the fashion models reported a lower body image.

The survey also found that even attractive women experienced a negative self body image after viewing the fashion models. This effectively dispelled the myth that larger sized women or those struggling with eating disorders are the only ones negatively impacted by images of fashion models.

“Most women know intuitively or subconsciously that when they look at magazines they’ll feel badly about themselves.” – Laurie Mintz, associate professor of education, school and counseling psychology in the MU College of Education
The researchers involved with this study believe that even attractive women take a blow to self-esteem when seeing these ads because they are afraid of losing their attractive qualities. They also believe women still continue to look at these magazines and ads simply because they are looking for a way to be as beautiful as the women they see in the magazines. Even though women know these images are not realistic, they still hope to achieve this same unrealistic standard of beauty.

It is for this very reason that many marketing campaigns focus on making women feel as if they can avoid weight gain, signs of aging, and other “unattractive” qualities by purchasing and using their products. In essence, the ads strive to make women feel bad about themselves in an effort to get them to purchase their products.



Study Shows Aspirin May Help Prevent Death in Women

Monday
According to a recent study, women that consume low to moderate amounts of aspirin on a regular basis can severely reduce their risks of death. Deaths related to heart disease are particularly affected by taking aspiring.

The research study was performed by the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School. In all, 79,439 women were followed every two years from 1980 through to 2004. The study simply asked women if they were consuming aspirin on a regular basis and how many tablets they typically used per week.

The women selected for the study had no history or sign of cancer or cardiovascular disease when the study began. The study found that 45,305 women did not use aspirin, while 29,132 took low to moderate dosages and 5,002 took more than 14 aspirins per week.

By the end of the study, 9,477 of the women had passed away. 1,991 of these women died from heart disease and 4,469 died from cancer. The study found that the women reporting aspirin use had a 25% lower risk of death when compared to those that never used aspirin.

The study found a stronger correlation between using aspirin and a reduction in cardiovascular disease. In fact, those that used aspirin on a regular basis demonstrated a 38% lower risk. They also had a lower risk for cancer, with a 12% lower risk.

“Use of aspirin for one to five years was associated with significant reductions in cardiovascular mortality.” - Study published by the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School
The exact link between aspirin and the reduction in death is not fully understood, though researchers believe aspirin has a positive effect on pathogenic pathways including insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidative stress, and cyclo-oxygenase enzyme activity.

Whether or not women should take aspirin was not determined through this research because the women were not prescribed regular dosages of aspirin versus placebo medication. Nonetheless, the study indicates that further research into the effects of aspirin is warranted.



South Carolina Requiring Women to See Images of Their Fetuses Before Having an Abortion

Thursday
The South Carolina legislature passed a measure today that would force women planning on getting an abortion to see the ultrasound image of the fetus before the abortion may be performed. Although the measure has passed through the legislature, it must pass through one more time before it can officially become a law in the state.

According to lawmakers in South Carolina, the purpose of the law is to make women “think twice” before going through with an abortion. Some lawmakers, however, are not too happy with the law because they do not approve of making women do something they do not want to do. In addition, some have expressed concern that an amendment has not been added to the law that will make an exception for women that are victims of rape or incest.

Lawmakers in support of the law contend that the fetus has a right to life regardless of the way it is conceived. They further argue that women looking to have an abortion performed will simply claim to have been raped or to be the victim of incest in order to avoid having to see the fetus.

Despite the fact that more women fail to report a rape than make up one that never happened, the majority of South Carolina lawmakers are against adding an amendment to the bill. In fact, a proposal to grant an exception to this rule for rape victims for whom a judge has determined probably cause or has issued a warrant did not pass among the lawmakers.



Eating Junk Food Increases Chances of Developing Cancer

Tuesday
According to recent studies, junk food may be worse for women than was once thought. Of course, the risk for heart disease, weight gain, and other similar illnesses have long been understood. What was not understood, however, was the fact that it is also linked to an increased chance of developing cancer.

One major European study recently revealed that women with higher levels of blood sugar are also significantly more likely to develop cancer of the skin, pancreas, urinary tract, and the womb. In another study, it was found that older women with high-fat diets were 15% more likely to develop breast cancer. Diets consisting of 40% fat or more put women at the highest risk category.

“The results of this research are concerning. However, the good news is that it is possible to reduce our blood sugar levels by eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight.” – Dr. Greg Martin, Science and Research Manager for the World Cancer Research Fund
The link between high blood sugar levels and diabetes has also been long understood, but the connection with cancer remains a mystery yet to be solved. What is known, however, is that women with this form of diabetes are also more likely to develop cancer. In fact, the studies found that the 25% of women with the highest blood sugar readings were 26% more likely to develop cancer than the women on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The research has found that approximately 40% of cancer cases could be prevented if women made an effort to follow a healthy lifestyle.

This study, which took place over 13 years, followed nearly 65,000 adults. Though the study found a link between junk food and cancer in women, there was no link between junk food and men.



Human Paplilomavirus Deserves More Attention

Sunday
The most common sexually transmitted disease is human paplilomavirus, or HPV. In fact, researchers believe that most people will have this disease at sometime in their lives. Yet, many women have never even heard of the disease.

Young adults are the highest risk group for HPV, primarily because they tend to be the most sexually active population. At the same time, they fail to realize that they can actually use a vaccine to help prevent them from contracting HPV. Rather, they wait until they have been diagnosed with the disease before they begin trying to learn more about it.

The reason for the lack of public knowledge about this disease is twofold. First, it tends to receive less attention than other sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes and HIV/AIDS. Secondly, the company that markets the vaccine against HPV focuses more on cervical cancer prevention rather than HPV prevention.

"Even if a young woman has one type of high-risk HPV, there's nothing to say that she cannot be infected with the other three." - Dr. Tina Tan, infectious disease specialist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.


Despite the lack of attention HPV receives and the fact that it is a common disease, that doesn’t mean it is not a problem. In fact, high risk strains of HPV can lead to cervical cancer, as well as genital warts and even infertility in women.

Men generally are not adversely affected by HPV. Rather, they carry the disease and spread it to their sexual partners without even realizing it. In addition, those men that know they have HPV sometimes mistakenly believe condoms will prevent the spread of the disease. Unfortunately, research has demonstrated that condoms are not 100% effective against HPV.

Due to the fact that men can carry HPV without knowing it combined with the fact that condoms are not 100% effective against preventing it, the more sexual partners a woman has, the more likely she is to contract HPV. Of course, all it takes it one partner to catch the disease.

Even women that have already contracted HPV can benefit from the vaccination. Since there are several different types of HPV, the vaccination can prevent contracting the worse forms of the disease. In order to prevent the spread of this disease, Federal officials are no recommending that girls receive the HPV vaccination as young as the age of nine.



March of Dimes Makes Plea for Universal Medical Insurance Coverage

Wednesday
The senior vice president of the March of Dimes, Dr. Marina L. Weiss, recently made a plea to the Senate Committee on Finance on behalf of all women of childbearing age. Backed with a number of staggering statistics, Dr. Weiss asked the Senate Committee to consider offering Universal Coverage for women of childbearing age.

According to Dr. Weiss, a 2005 Census conducted by the March of Dimes found that approximately 28% if women of childbearing age were uninsured. In addition, their data indicated that the number of women of childbearing age that are uninsured has risen steadily since 2002. In that year, 12.1 million were uninsured while 12.9 million found themselves without coverage in 2005.

“The Foundation's mission to prevent birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality can best be fulfilled if women of childbearing age have the health coverage that enables them to receive essential health services when they need them.” – Dr. Marina L. Weiss, March of Dimes Senior Vice President
The fact that so many women of childbearing age is particularly alarming to the March of Dimes because the Institute of Medicine has reported that women who are uninsured tend to receive less prenatal services. Of course, the less prenatal services a woman has, the more likely she is to experience complications during her pregnancy.

Since the mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing premature birth, birth defects, and infant mortality, providing universal coverage seems like a logical first step toward achieving this goal.



Ashley Judd Takes Up the Fight for Women’s Rights

Monday
Women around the world are still fighting for equal rights, though women in some countries are finding the battle to be a bit harder than women in other countries. One of the countries where women are still struggling dramatically is in India, where many women don’t even understand the rights they have.

In order to help women in India begin to better understand their rights, actress Ashley Judd has taken an active role in the fight. Judd is representing a Washington-based nonprofit organization by the name of Population Services International. In this role, she made a weeklong visit to India in order to help promote awareness regarding HIV/AIDS.

“The empowerment of girls and women is an essential tool to preventing the HIV/AIDS emergency from exploding and further.” - Ashley Judd, American Actress and representative of Population Services International

During her visit, Judd met with various sex workers – recent estimates show that there are at least 10,000 sex workers currently employed throughout the financial capital of Mumbai.

India is home to the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS, with 5.7 million people currently infected. The government has launched a number of campaigns encouraging the use of condoms in order to prevent the further spread of the disease. Getting the women of India to better understand their rights and to become empowered to take the steps necessary to prevent infection is key to preventing the further spread of the disease.



Avon Sheds Light on Female Sense of Empowerment

Friday
Avon just released the results of its 2007 Avon Worldwide Women’s Poll to the United Nations. The purpose of the poll was to pinpoint the concerns women throughout the world are facing as well as to measure their sense of life satisfaction and empowerment.

According to these results, 92% of the women polled from around the world feel they have control over their own lives. The number drops to 89% when asked if they felt satisfied about their religions or spiritual lives. 88% of women polled felt they had power over their ability to care for their family.

“We know, and celebrate, that women across the world continue to enjoy increasing freedom and success. From economic empowerment to desires to improve their education, personal safety, and health, in this research we hear women from across the world expressing hope for a better tomorrow. We are especially encouraged to hear the strongest optimism come from women whose countries have the farthest to go.” – Andrea Jung, Chairman and CEO of Avon

Overall, the women polled reported they believed their futures were bright. In addition, over 60% of women polled felt that a woman would be elected as head of state within their own country within the next ten years. Ironically, women in developing countries actually had a greater level of optimism than those living in developed countries, with two-thirds of women in developing countries stating they believed young women would have a better life in ten years than women are currently experiencing. Nearly half the number of women in developed countries responded in the same way, perhaps because women are already enjoying a increased level of empowerment in these countries.

Despite their bright hopes for the future, women in developing countries responded that they were unhappy with the educational opportunities before them. In all, approximately 40% of women polled felt satisfied with their career opportunities. In developed countries, this number increased to 52% while only 33% of women in developing countries felt this way.



AIDS is the Leading Cause of Death for Young African-American Women

Wednesday
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the leading cause of African-American women between the ages of 25-34 is AIDS. The information was based on data collected during 2004 and is shocking the medical community.

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and it looks like more attention needs to be focused on this day in order to slow down the rate of death caused by this preventable disease. Women in particular need to move beyond the mentality that it “Will never happen to me,” as women are far more likely to contract the disease then men. Women that do not use drugs and that have sex exclusively with other women, however, have a far lower incidence of AIDS. Nonetheless, 127,150 women in the United States are currently living with the disease – 64% of which are African-American women.

But, young women aren’t the only group being affected by the disease. In fact, senior citizens are starting to see an increase in AIDS cases. This is thought to be partly because of the introduction and popularity of drugs such Viagra and Cialis. Still, the African-American female population remains the biggest concern. In fact, in 2005, the rate of African-American women being diagnosed with the disease was roughly 24 times the rate of white women and four times the rate of Hispanic women.



Spousal Abuse Still a Problem for Women

Monday
According to a recent survey, approximately one in four women over the age of 65 have been abused either sexually, physically, or psychologically. Furthermore, a survey of 370 women showed that approximately 26.5% of women experienced some form of violence from their partner and 3.5% of these women had undergone this abuse within the past 5%.

These statistics demonstrate that, although women have come a long way in the last several decades, many are still choosing to remain in relationships with abusive mates. This is often because the abusive spouse or mate will go through periods of time during which he is kind and reminds the woman of the man she fell in love with. These sneak peaks into the once kindhearted man she knew causes the woman to hang on in hopes that he is finally back for good. In addition, many women make excuses for their mates and actually justify the abuse they suffer.

Fortunately, the number of resources available to a woman suffering from abuse is plentiful. Of course, in an emergency situation, a woman can dial 911 in order to get help. But, she can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. The hotline is available 24 hours per day, ever day of the year. By calling the hotline, women suffering from abuse will be referred to nearby agencies that will provide them with help and a safe haven – this includes women that are fleeing from abuse along with their children.



Strong Fighter For Women's Rights Passes Away

Friday
As women around the country prepare to celebrate women's history month, one of today's most important women in the fight for equal rights has passed away. Doris Anderson, who was an author and magazine editor, is known for her efforts in campaigning for women's rights.

As far back as 1957, when Anderson become editor of Chatelaine magazine, the spunky female was determined to provide readers with "something serious to think about, something to shake them up." For the 20 years after she was awarded the position, she did just that. Topics covered by the magazine while under her supervision included legalizing abortion, pay equity issues, divorce laws, the plight of working mothers, and family violence. Soon, the magazine became known as one of very few publications to truly express feminist ideals.

After leaving the magazine, Anderson was appointed to president of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. It was also through her efforts that women banded together and convinced the government to add a clause to the Constitution stating that women are equal to men in the eyes of the law a change that didn't take place until 1981.

Anderson passed away in St. Michael's Hospital from pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 85 after battling poor health for many years. Her efforts are truly appreciated by women everywhere and will not be forgotten.



Women's History Month: A Time to Reflect

Thursday
Today marks the first day of Women's History Month, which means it is time to reflect on some of the most important moments in women's history.

The women's suffrage movement got moving in 1848 when the first Women's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. During the Civil War, the women's rights movement got tied in with the plight of slaves and many women of the time felt that they were working together with Negroes in order to win the same rights. When the war ended, however, the Negro vote became more important to politicians and women's rights took a backseat once again.

Enraged by the lack of attention women's rights were receiving, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other women of the time started the American Equal Rights Association in 1866. The purpose of the organization was to help bring women together in an effort to fight for their rights. In 1868, women's rights suffered another blow, however, when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified and defined voters as being male.

It wasn't until 1878 that the Woman's Suffrage Amendment was introduced. Nonetheless, it took a great deal of picketing, protesting, and petitioning before the Nineteenth Amendment was finally passed in 1920 and women earned the right to vote. Despite this victory, it took all the way until 1972 before Congress would pass the Equal Rights Amendment that protected women against discrimination. Nonetheless, the Amendment still has never been ratified.

Many women fail to realize the struggles their sisters have endured in order to get to where they are today. This is precisely why the National Women's History Project is holding a celebration in Washington DC on March 21. Reservations can be made by visiting the National Women's History Project website.