Woman of the Week – Hope Jahren

time-100-2016-hope-jahrenHope Jahren is a geochemist, geobiologist, and recent author, with an extensive list of
Universities that she has studied or taught at (University of Minnesota, University of California, Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Copenhagen, John Hopkins University, University of Hawaii, and University of Oslo), and a simply mind blowing collection of awards (Three Fulbright Awards, Donath Medal from the Geological Society of America, Macelwane Medal, and she has been named by Popular Science as one of its “Brilliant 10” scientists in 2013, and named in 2016 by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People.)

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Woman of the Week- Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson was an important figure in the struggle for black musicians to
overcome racial prejudice in the United States of America during the mid-twentieth century.
When Marian was a young girl her father died leaving the 2174151_origfamily with no steady income. This meant that her mother struggled to send her and her siblings to school and was unable to fund Marian‘s singing lessons. Despite this, Anderson continued to perform wherever she could and learn from anyone who was willing to teach her. After high school Anderson tried applying to an all white music academy but was turned away with a note from the woman working the admissions counter which read, “We don’t take coloured”. Undaunted by this experience Marian continued to peruse music, hiring private tutors to further her education. Her perseverance paid of and slowly she started getting offers to perform at large venues. However in 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Marian to sing to in Constitution Hall. The incident placed Marian into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician.

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Woman of the week

imageCatherine of Aragon – written by Hattie Bates

Catherine of Aragon, born in 1485, was the first wife of Henry VIII and died believing she was his only rightful wife. Indeed, her gravestone reads ‘Katherine Queen of England’, despite the fact that Henry had definitely moved on by the time of her death in 1936. The most striking thing about her from my perspective is, however, her patronage and commissioning of the book The Education of Christian Woman, written by Juan Luis Vives. It claimed that women, christian women, had the right to an education in the same way that a man did, however not all of Vives’ work was quite so virtuous.

It seems this work was not totally disinterested on Catherine’s behalf. She herself had been educated and was good friends with scholar Erasmus, who testified that she ‘studied literature with success’. Her book patronage is likely to have been an attempt at accessing and justifying an education for her only surviving child of six, Mary I. Nevertheless, the thought was there, as well as the recognition that an education was indeed useful for a woman, be it a royal one. Catherine herself started a trend for women’s education, and herself visited many colleges and continued to develop her academic interests during queenhood, again as a bid to educate her daughter.

She also has the claim for the first female ambassador in history, serving as the spanish ambassador in Britain before marrying Henry’s elder brother Arthur, and served as regent during the Battle of Flodden in France. Both posts are a testament to her intelligence and the unusual amount of power she was granted, be it fleeting.

To end, Thomas Cromwell said of her: ‘if not for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of history’. To me this shows a rare determination.

Woman of the Week

This week’s Woman of the Wimageeek is written by Iona MacPherson

October is Black History Month so I would like to start it off by writing this year’s first ‘Woman of the Week’ on an incredibly talented black woman (who you may have seen in this summer’s Paralympic games).

Kadeena Cox is a para-sport athlete who competes in the T37 sprint (on the track), as well as in para-cycling events. She was born in Leeds, to two Jamaican immigrants, in 1991 – however she was not born with her disability. She began her sporting career, playing hockey as a teenager, but then switched to athletics and sprinting when she was 15. In the following years she began to win medals in the sport – winning bronzes in both the Manchester Open and English Athletics Open Championships in 2007. Her track success continued and in 2012 she won bronze in the 200 metres at the BUCS Championships, which were held at the Olympic Stadium in London. A year later she broke the 12-second barrier in the 100 metres in the Northern Athletics Championships.

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Woman of the Week

Amandla Stenberg is one of the most influential teenagers of our generation. At the age of 17, she’s most commonly known for being an actress – she played Rue in The Hunger Games – however she is also a musician, writer, and social activist. She speaks openly on social media about issues in the world surrounding race, sexuality, gender, and much more.

Amandla is also one of the celebrities who has been particularly vocal about the issue of cultural appropriation in recent years. In 2015 she created a video entitled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1KJRRSB_XA) about this subject, and – along with black women, like Zendaya and Francesca Ramsey – she’s brought it to the attention of the media.

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Woman of the Week

Sophie Germain (by Hattie Bates)

Sophie Germain was a French mathematician best known for her work on Elasticity Theory and Fermat’s Last Theorem.

Though from an educated family, because she was a woman she was barred from studying maths at university, let alone practicing it as a career, and so began her studies using her fathers books on the subject as a teenager. When the École Polytechnique opened, Germain was able to obtain the lecture notes whilst not fully attending the courses and hence develop her education further. Prior to this, a student named Monsieur LeBlanc had unbeknownst to the professors dropped out of the college, under who’s name Germain corresponded with Gauss, a professor and famous mathematician. Gauss was impressed with her work, and remarked upon discovering that she was, in fact, a woman;

“How can I describe my astonishment and admiration on seeing my esteemed correspondent M leBlanc metamorphosed into this celebrated person. . . when a woman, because of her sex, our customs and prejudices, encounters infinitely more obstacles than men in familiarising herself with [number theory’s] knotty problems, yet overcomes these fetters and penetrates that which is most hidden, she doubtless has the most noble courage, extraordinary talent, and superior genius.”