This past weekend, the 62nd-Annual Old Car Festival in Greenfield Village immersed tourists and staff in the sights and sounds of authentic vehicles on parade along with interpreters attired in period clothing. Covering the 1890s through the early 1930s, the event provided vivid reminders of an age now long past but not forgotten. AAUW-Dearborn branch member, Shirley Damps is pictured wearing a dreamy costume amid the late blossoms of summer. She looks more than ready to lift a pinkie above a spot of tea or to pose for a modern-day Monet. She is also the proud owner of a 1930, Model A, Ford Town Salon. What a glorious weekend she must have had sharing in the delights and historic significance given to residents and visitors in the hometown of Henry Ford.
The answer is DEPRESSION according to the World Health Organization. Everyday, somewhere on this planet, human beings are dealing with bombs exploding, criminal acts, crop failure, disease, drought, earthquakes, famine, fires, floods, gunfire, insects, hunger, poverty and vermin.
Perhaps the problems of so many seem intractable because victims of these events are frozen into inaction due to severe-overwhelming depression. Watching loved ones suffer is far more difficult than being the one enduring suffering. Guilt grabs the heart and soul and squeezes the life force until it feels suffocated. In addition, post-traumatic stress can leave individuals feelng passive and numb.
Recently a medical doctor who practices in a wealthy suburb told me she gets “sick and tired” of pill-seeking-suburban matrons moaning about their depression. “If depression can paralyze people who have everything, how could we ever have thought that it didn’t affect people who have nothing?” asks Tina Rosenberg, author of Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World.
People never get used to severe deprivation. In time, they just give up. For them, there is not enough nutrition, let alone energy, for fight or flight. There is only severe despondency and dejection mired in hopeless inaction. One becomes literally disabled when displaced, dispossessed, and consequently, depressed.
Today, some global health agencies are turning to mental health care as one promising-potential aid to push back against this scourge. Meanwhile for those of us lucky enough to find ourselves in more secure circumstances, gratitude and ever more gratitude is the order of the day.
Washington Monthly’s College Guide and Rankings rates universities based upon what they do for students and the country.
The publication cites three qualities among schools selected for recognition:
~producing cutting-edge research and new Ph.Ds.
~encouraging students to give back to the nation through service
~promoting social mobility by recruiting and graduating low-income students.
Of the 100 schools chosen this year, 59 are public universities. One hundred universities in fifty states suggests Michigan might have two picks. However, Michigan can take pride having earned five slots!
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor ( ranked 13th nationally)
- Michigan State University (ranked 34th nationally)
- Michigan Technological University (ranked 63rd nationally)
- Western Michigan University (ranked 90th nationally)
- Wayne State University (ranked 95th nationally )
For some time now, Europeans have been struggling over gender equity on company boards. A proposal that would force companies to devote forty percent of supervisory board positions to women has been forwarded by the European Union’s justice commissioner.
Now comes news that the chair, Sharon Bowles, of the European Parliament’s economic-and-monetary- affairs committee has thrown down a new challenge: “There is now not even a single woman sitting on the main board of what is one of the most powerful and essential institutions in the E.U.” referring to the executive board of the European Central Bank.
Bowles has no real power in the matter, as Parliament plays only an advisory role in the selection of board members; however, the hearing to fill the seat has been postponed.
She was the first female cabinet member.
In office for twelve years from 1933 to 1945, she served longer than any other Secretary of Labor.
As the fourth Secretary of Labor, she was the first woman to enter the presidential line of succession.
Her accomplishments were enormous! Her battle plan against the Great Depression made her instrumental in the adoption of social security, unemployment insurance, federal laws regulating child labor and the federal minimum wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act set a minimum wage balanced by a maximum number of hours. The Wagner Act safeguarded the workers’ right to organize. Working with numerous state governments, she fortified the enforcement of labor law.
Even with a list of extraordinary accomplishments, she was harassed publicly for being a woman in a “man’s job.”
She left office in 1945 after Roosevelt’s death and worked for yet another two decades, serving on the U.S. Civil Service Commission for President Truman then teaching and lecturing until her death.
She was inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame in 1988.
The Department of Labor building in Washington, D.C. is named The Frances Perkins Building.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. described Frances Perkins as: “Brisk and articulate, with vivid dark eyes, a broad forehead and a pointed chin, usually wearing a felt tricorn hart, she remained a Brahmin reformer, proud of her New England background . . . and intent on beating sense into the heads of those foolish people who resisted progress. She had pungency of character, a dry wit, an inner gaiety, an instinct for practicality, a profound vein of religious feeling, and a compulsion to instruct . . .”
As with all women who trod the halls of power, she had to maintain a careful balance. She had to be tactful yet politically astute. She had to temper capability with courage. A quiet-cool persona was sometimes mistaken for aloofness. Although her legislative accomplishments indicate her great love of workers and lower-class groups, her “proper” Bostonian background made her reticent to mingle and demonstrate affection and regard. However, she obviously valued and even loved members of the working class. Sadly, although she was able to effect sweeping reforms, the public never embraced her.
She was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, the first of the Seven Sisters, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics. (A STEM-field graduate!) Later, she earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in political science. Today, Mount Holyoke College has a Francis Perkins Program, founded in 1980, which allows non-traditional students to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree. Each year there are approximately 140 students enrolled in the program.
For women who believe in equity, a fascinating new book, The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich, is about to be released. It promises to be a good read as it examines the story of a group of women who worked for Newsweek in the 1970s who took the then-audacious step of suing over sex discrimination.
“When I graduated from college, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 took effect, sex discrimination was legal. I wanted to write for a newspaper or a news magazine, but despite an armload of credentials and skills, I soon learned the score: Women could do research, be secretaries and, if very lucky, work for the ghetto called the women’s page. But other than that, the guys were hired as the writers, and that was that,” reports Anne Eisenberg in a piece in today’s New York Times.
An anxious and frightened, but determined, group of rebels persuaded Eleanor Holmes Norton to take their case. At that time, Norton was the assistant legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union .
Ironically, the now iconic, Katharine Graham, was publisher of The Washington Post and president of the corporation that owned Newsweek. Her paradoxical situation led her to ask, “Which side am I supposed to be on?”
Eventually the band of rebels prevailed, and Povich became the first-female senior editor at Newsweek, working for a lower salary than her male colleagues. A fight for pay equity ensued when she discovered the differential.
Anne Eisenberg ends her article with this: “The Good Girls Revolt has many timely lessons for working women who are concerned about discrimination today, and for the companies that employ them. Feminism is an incomplete revolution that has yet to reach its goals. But this sparkling, informative book may help move these goals a tiny bit closer.”
Sounds to me like it’s a good book that needs to be read!
Title IX mandated equal opportunity in federally funded public education: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Although the original statute made no explicit mention of sports, the impact of the law on high school and collegiate athletic programs has been extensive. In fact, the educational reforms brought about by Title IX have challenged long-held assumptions and broken legal barriers for women at all levels of education.
AAUW of Michigan is honored to have Bernice R. Sandler, Ed.D., “Godmother of Title IX,” as the keynote speaker for the Fall Conference on October 6, 2012. As a visionary pioneer, she spent more than 50 years advocating for women’s rights via education equity, especially in science. She was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010. Responsible for writing the first report on peer harassment in the classroom as well as the first report on campus gang rape, Sandler coined the phrase, “chilly campus climate,” to suggest how small, often unconscious, behaviors can create a detrimental impact on women’s academic achievements. The first report on the chill experienced by African-American and Hispanic women on campus also was part of her work.
Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Dr. Sandler’s compelling story. She will enlighten each of us as to the extent of change in the academic climate as well as work that remains to be done.
See “AAUW-MI Fall Conference Details” posted on August 29, 2012, for further information.
Source: press release courtesy of Barbara Bonsignore, AAUW of Michigan, Public-Policy Director