21 October 2013

Female Role Models XII

Over the past week  the online community of science writers has faced a crisis of leadership, of confidence, and of ethics.  I've had a lot of conversations with people in the community - some wanting advice or perspective, some providing it. While I've tried to maintain a professional distance of sorts, it's difficult because ot the friendships I've forged over the years with some of those involved.

So much has been said about Bora and what he did, about the community, about sexual harassment, about credibility, and about self-worth. I don't have much to add. But I can continue a tradition on this blog - I can identify and celebrate female role models from all walks of life as a response to bad behavior by men. Instead of tearing women down, we should lift women up.

Obviously, it's impossible to overlook the courage it took for Monica Byrne, Hannah Waters and Kathleen Raven to share their stories.  I won't focus too much on them here today, however, because I don't think they should be seen only in the context of being harassed by the same man. While their courage in this situation is one part of what defines them, it's by no means the only thing.

For those who have not seen this feature on my blog before, you can find the others I've mentioned here. The criteria I use are very simple:
Someone an online mom can show her daughter [or son, a great point my wife made] and say, "See her? See what she's doing? See how she's living in the same world you are, with the same challenges you have, and see how she succeeds? THAT is how you do this. THAT is what I stand for. I want you to be like HER."
So here are some people who I've seen online (and offline, in Cristina and Karen's case) and I think deserve some recognition.

Cristina Escobar. She's the director of loveisrespect, a partnership between Break the Cycle and the National Domestic Violence Hotline that helps young people identify abuse in relationships and offers a peer-to-peer counseling service via text messaging. She started at the ground floor at Break the Cycle years ago and has risen to a position where she can help thousands of people have productive, safe, loving relationships and protect themselves from abuse.

Monique Frausto. She has developed a strong following online and leverages that prominence to promote the work of other Latinas.  She founded BlogsByLatinas.com, the first aggregator of its kind, and is a writer at Babble.  She also founded the blog Cuves and Chaos, which she describes as "a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blog for the CURVY (plus size) woman. She is glamorous, fabulous, foxy, confident, and more."  She's a confident and creative community leader.

Karen James.  Karen has been instrumental in leading the #ripplesofdoubt conversation that has helped open people's eyes to the many issues women face when dealing with harassment - but that's not why she's on the list.  Karen is a strong advocate for science outreach and she walks the walk. She's a staff scientist at the Mount Desert Island Biological Library in Maine, and she works to help people understand how what we do to the environment affects everything else.  She also founded a non-profit to help re-build the HMS Beagle - the ship that once carried Charles Darwin aboard - and re-enact its travels with a new generation of scientists. How cool is that?

Kimberly Bryant. She said something I could relate to, at least a bit, about her freshman year - "Fortran and Pascal were the popular languages for newbies in computing and the Apple Macintosh was the new kid on the block."  But while I decided to end my pursuit of a computer science degree, She kept at her studies in engineering - despite the isolation of being the only one there who looked like her.  And now, in addition to a successful career, she founded Black Girls Code - an organization that aims "to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology."

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