Women’s History Month Profile: Susan B. Anthony

By Briana Ward.

susan b anthonySusan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906), grew up in a Massachusetts a Quaker family with activist traditions. Growing up in this type of environment, Anthony developed a strong sense of justice early in life. When she got older, she began going to temperance meetings. Although she was unable to voice her thoughts and opinions, she still attended the meetings. She was disturbed by not being able to insert her opinions regarding the temperance movement, so she joined the women’s suffrage movement. Women’s suffrage became an important part in her life.

Frederick Douglass & Susan B. Anthony sculpture at Susan B. Anthony house

Frederick Douglass & Susan B. Anthony sculpture at Susan B. Anthony house

She campaigned against abolition of slavery,the right for women to own their own property and retain their earnings, and she advocated for women’s labor organizations. Persuading the University of Rochester to admit women was an enormous milestone. Here is a list of a few amazing things she accomplished as a labor activist, suffragist, abolitionist, and temperance worker (from susanbanthonyhouse.org):

  • 1848: Anthony made her first public speech at a Daughters of Temperance supper.
  • 1863: Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized a Women’s National Loyal League to support and petition for the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. They went on to campaign for full citizenship for women and people of any race, including the right to vote, in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, & Susan B. Anthony sculpture in the U.S. Capitol rotunda

Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, & Susan B. Anthony sculpture in the U.S. Capitol rotunda

  • 1866: Anthony and Stanton founded the American Equal Rights Association. In 1868, they began publishing the newspaper, The Revolution, in Rochester, with the masthead “Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less,” and the aim of establishing “justice for all.” The Revolution also advocated an eight-hour work day and equal pay for equal work. It promoted a policy of purchasing American-made goods and encouraging immigration to rebuild the South and settle the entire country. Publishing The Revolution in New York brought her in contact with women in the printing trades.
  • 1870: Anthony formed and was elected president of the Workingwomen’s Central Association. The WCA drew up reports on working conditions and provided educational opportunities for working women. Anthony encouraged a cooperative workshop founded by the Sewing Machine Operators Union and boosted the newly-formed women typesetters’ union in The Revolution. Anthony tried to establish trade schools for women printers. When printers in New York went on strike, she urged employers to hire women instead, believing this would show that they could do the job as well as men, and therefore prove that they deserved equal pay. At the 1869 National Labor Union Congress, the men’s Typographical Union accused her of strike- breaking and running a non-union shop at The Revolution, and called her an enemy of labor.

Women’s History Month Profile: Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti

By Briana Ward.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was known as the leader for women’s rights in Nigeria, and she was also known as “The Mother of Africa.”  I would like to take this time to acknowledge her for Women’s History Month and share her story and the changes she made in Nigeria.

kuti 2Kuti was raised by parents who believed in the value of education. She attended school in Abeokuta and England. Kuti returned home to teach, and in 1925 married the Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, founder of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and Nigerian Union of Students (NUS), a forerunner of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC). Kuti was active in the NCNC, leading the women’s wing.


A career in feminist activism began for Kuti in 1932 when she founded the Abeokuta Ladies Club (ALC). Initially membership was mostly Western-educated and working-class women. The club expanded in 1944 to include market women. To begin working against injustice and the exploitation of market women, in 1946 the ALC became the Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU), and membership was expanded. Over 100,000 Abeokuta women worked together to provide social welfare services and to pursue a gender-conscious agenda. In 1949, the AWU expanded to the Nigerian Women’s Union (NWU), a national organization that became known at the Federation of Nigerian Women’s Societies (FNWS) in 1953. With Kuti’s leadership, the FNWS was dedicated to addressing the concerns of all Nigerian women and improving their position in society, including education, suffrage, health care, and other social services.

“Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a pioneering nationalist who fought against British colonialism and a cultural nationalist…a pioneer African feminist and a human rights activist who was tireless in her campaigns for women’s rights and for economic, political, and social justice. She was an educator who gave a voice to the voiceless and education to the uneducated.” – Oxford Dictionary of African Biography

Kuti biography coverKuti’s was a powerful voice across Nigeria. I love that she was a woman who was not only leading and teaching women, but teaching everyone. Her defense of women was her mission, and her words and actions mattered in Nigerian society.  If you want to read Kuti’s biography and what she has done to affect the feminist movement, look for:  For Women and the Nation: Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti of Nigeria by Cheryl Johnson-Odim and Nina Emma Mba.

UMKC Faculty Profile: Kathleen Kilway

By Joseph Salazar.

March is Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”.

Women today currently earn 41% of PhD’s in STEM fields, but make up only 28% of tenure-track faculty in those fields. Keeping that startling statistic in mind and in celebration of this year’s theme, I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to some of the women at UMKC who are a part of STEM fields. I had the wonderful opportunity of learning about what it’s like to be a woman in STEM through a Q&A with several faculty members at UMKC.

katherinevkillwayKathleen Kilway, Professor—Department of Chemistry

Why did you go into your field? As a high school student, I always enjoyed and excelled in math and science. After talking with my father, I chose a 3:2 program between Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College where one receives a BS in Chemistry (SMC) and a BS in Engineering (ND). After a year, I decided to just complete my BS in Chemistry at SMC. In my last year of undergrad, I was advised to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry. I was sold when I found out that I would be able to continue my studies with a stipend and be able to attend a different University (in my case, it was University of California San Diego – sunny southern California). I chose chemistry (rather than healthcare or biology) because I wanted to try and understand how things worked and interactions at the molecular level.

What are your research interests? My research interests include an area of physical organic chemistry with emphases in synthesis of organic and organometallic compounds, experimental and conformational studies, hydrogen bonding, and molecular synthesis and assembly. From my physical organic chemistry background, I have been able to work on applied research such as the development, synthesis, formulation and testing of dental, bone cement, and biomaterials.

What was it like being a woman in your field when you entered it? When I started at SMC, it was not an issue because it was an all-women’s college so it was live and let live. I thrived in that environment and did not understand the difference until I moved to my graduate career. At UCSD, it became apparent that there were fewer women in the field, especially organic chemistry. There was a stereotyping of women – that they had to be serious and dress rather unisex in order to succeed. Therefore, I had to be driven and motivated to complete the degree. It was also a matter of finding friends, colleagues, mentors, and a great advisor that helped me to succeed and enjoy the experience.

What is it like being a woman in your field today? It has changed some but there are always different groups that make it difficult. I have looked for other mentors, colleagues, and friends who have helped me in times of need but also to discuss personal and professional items. I am extremely grateful to my colleagues, mentors, and friends at UMKC who have helped over the years.

UMKC Faculty Profile: Ann Smith

By Joseph Salazar.

March is Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”.

Women today currently earn 41% of PhD’s in STEM fields, but make up only 28% of tenure-track faculty in those fields. Keeping that startling statistic in mind and in celebration of this year’s theme, I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to some of the women at UMKC who are a part of STEM fields. I had the wonderful opportunity of learning about what it’s like to be a woman in STEM through a Q&A with several faculty members at UMKC.

AnnAnn Smith, Professor—School of Biological Sciences

Why did you go into your field? I have always been interested in science and the natural world – even as a young child. When I was about ten years old, my father took me to the Natural History Museum in London where I drew the stuffed animals and birds and saw fossils for the first time. My father and I also went together by train to the south coast of England to dig in quarries where we found fossils of sea urchins and also a meteorite that I treasure to this day. We had to leave behind a huge (to my eyes) ammonite fossil that the workers had blasted out of the ground because we did not have a car and it was too heavy to carry!

What are your research interests? I am currently interested in how the cells of our bodies, especially those of our brain, control and safely manage the balance between metals: heme, iron itself and copper. These metals are vital for our cells but they are also very chemically reactive and thus potentially dangerous. They are known to   cause and exacerbate disease including neurodegeneration. I hope that the heme transporter that I work on, hemopexin, which means heme fixer or grabber, can be used therapeutically and perhaps diagnostically in the near future. 

What was being a woman in that field like when you entered? I started my independent research for my Ph.D. thesis in the mid-1960s when there were far fewer women than men in science. Everybody, whether male or female flourishes with good mentoring and I was fortunate that at King’s College, which is part of the University of London, that  I had a Ph.D. advisor and a senior Professor who were very supportive of me and my research efforts. They encouraged me in every way and helped me get together (that is, my advisor paid for) some unique lab resources so that I could get my research done. These included having two 6 foot high cabinets specially built that allowed me to perfuse rat livers to keep them alive in order to study drug metabolism. This included work on a family of enzymes, biological catalysts and the cytochrome P-450 enzymes that are currently under investigation as therapeutic drug targets in cancer.

What is it like being a woman in your field today? There have been changes on the international scene of science and I would say that gender is no longer an issue. Unfortunately, discrimination can and still does occur, perhaps most in situations of confidentiality – such as when one’s grants are reviewed and there is no appeal system in place.

Changed for Good: A Review

If you’d like to know more about Stacy Wolf and Changed for Good, join us Tuesday, March 5 at the Central Branch of the Kansas City Public Library. Wolf will be lecturing on the topics addressed in Changed for Good. Her lecture begins at 6:30 following a reception at 6:00 PM. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

By Andrea Fowler

6281589012_db5a0c5f31-Broadway TourBroadway and film musicals have entertained American audiences for generations. And we have certainly noticed how those musicals enter our social consciousness and when our favorite characters reflect changing attitudes. But how often do we step back far enough to really look at the progression and evolution of these characters? Author Stacy Wolf does just that in her books A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical (2002), and Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical (2011).

I have had the pleasure of reading Changed for Good for a class this semester. As a singer and voice teacher, there have always been songs or characters that I gravitated towards because of the strength or emotion they presented. But it wasn’t until reading Wolf’s book that I really took the time to consider why I was drawn to these particular women. Or why I rejected other characters who did not exhibit those same qualities. Wolf’s interpretations provided new insights that I was unaware of in my previous studies of these shows.

7658215090_460e53d081-Broadway Tour

Wolf sets up her examination of women’s roles on a decade by decade basis, with each chapter focusing on a specific female character type that is prevalent in that decade. Her ideas are well supported by thoughtful interpretations and primary source material from musical industry insiders of the time.

For more information on this event, visit the Women’s Center online, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Teaching Feminism

By Morgan Elyse Christensen

The girl wants everything in pink and purple. The boy refuses to even look at anything that is. She wants to read books and play with fluffy kittens. He wants to laugh at farts and destroy things in video games. Trying to debunk stereotypes and teach 10-year-olds the importance of gender equity in a 4th grade world where these boy/girl clichés are all that seem to give them a sense of identity – especially with schoolmates – seems to be almost a lost cause. However, after having a reassuring conversation with my boy/girl twins about feminism from their perspectives, I have a feeling that, on a deeper level, I must be doing something right.

We talked about equal pay for women, women’s representation in the arts, and the illusion of male over female competency on the job. I told them that, on average, men make more money than women and that there are less works of art by female artists in most museums all over the world. My son gasped and said, “That’s not fair!” I said, “I know!”

Photo by Tod Baker

Photo by Tod Baker

Recently, their school held elections for school council. I asked them if they thought girls and boys were treated equally in the election. “Of course”, I thought to myself, “At this age they’ll surely be about equal.” To my surprise, however, my son replies, “A lot of people don’t vote for the girls because they think they’ll turn the school all girly-girlish like make the school paint the walls pink and put unicorns on them.”

Photo by Tod Baker

Photo by Tod Baker

Apparently, last year, there was only one girl on the council as treasurer. Contrariwise, this year the school has elected female members for the roles of president, vice president, and treasurer. Well, aren’t we just a little mirror of our 2013 Congress? On a side note, my daughter had her own thoughts about the voting process outside of the girl vs. boy agenda and, my, does she have a grasp on politics already. In her words: “Running for student council is just a huge popularity contest…I didn’t just vote for who was popular, though.”

So I asked them how they did vote and my son said, “Well, I voted for the girls because they were cut out for the job (I know, right?). They actually do their work in class. The boys who were running this year just goof off in school and on the bus.” My daughter said she voted for the girls as well. I asked her if that was just because they were girls like her, but she “didn’t just choose the girls because they were girls – they were just the people who worked best in class.”

Photo by Tod Baker

Photo by Tod Baker

So, despite their arguments over what’s “for girls” or what’s “for boys” and them passing this mentality on to their 5-year-old little brother (which, frankly, makes me cringe every time he says, “I want to play a boy song” because a female artist’s track is on Just Dance 3), I know that the underlying message is getting through. Whether it’s the little things like my youngest son finding a bottle of Hello Kitty bubbles in his stocking or the big moments like having these meaningful conversations, it’s working. I just hope that as they get older, and start to realize the physical differences in gender and their respective peer groups become even more influential, that I can maintain their understanding of equality between boy and girl, man and woman in the areas that truly matter.

Violence is violence, isn’t it?

By Joseph Salazar

Photo by DionGillard

Photo by DionGillard

Gays, like women, suffer from domestic violence at the hands of intimate partners. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, an organization that “empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and support survivors through counseling and advocacy,” documented 19 cases of homicides committed in same-sex or transgender intimate relationships in the year 2011 alone. Of those 19 cases of homicide, 63% of victims were gay men.  The collation also found that 61.6% of survivors of violence in the LGBTQ community were denied access to shelter and other survivor resources.

Members of the House of Representatives taking up the Violence Against Women Act have called protection for LGBTQ victims a “side issue” that should be addressed separately, given that our federal government does not recognize same-sex relationships.

Photo by AnnieCatBlue

Photo by AnnieCatBlue

But that’s not entirely true. Already, the Violence Against Women Act serves women who are in relationships not federally sanctioned by the federal government, namely women who are in relationships that are not categorized as ‘marriage’. The idea behind the Violence Against Women Act is that women who have been victims of violence in intimate relationships should have access to resources they need, regardless of marital status or circumstance.

The version of the Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate expands this principle to include men. The idea behind the expansion is simple: Violence is violence. And it’s wrong. Period. One’s gender does not make surviving domestic violence easier or harder. The exclusion of gays from protection in the Violence Against Women Act recently passed by the House is a troubling political tactic with an illogical rationale.

Violence should never be protected because it is politically popular to allow violence to happen to a minority group. Allowing victims of domestic violence to receive access to invaluable services isn’t an endorsement of a lifestyle. It’s not going to lead to the destruction of the American family. It simply allows for gay men to get the same resources as straight and lesbian women receive. However you feel about homosexuality, we should all be able to agree that any step towards the protection of people’s lives is a positive one. The House of Representatives should send that message to the American people and the world when they take up the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act once more.

Intimate partner violence should never be a “side-issue”.

In Case You Missed It

By Joseph Salazar.

The semester is in full swing. Take a quick break to catch up on some news items that you might have missed in the past week.

“First lingerie line for transgender women launches”

T-Strings are the fashion industries response to the lingerie needs of transgender women. Along with T-Strings, Chrysalis Lingerie will be launching a bra line with built in-silicon inserts that appeals to both women who are transgender and women who are not transgender but have received mastectomies. The new fashion line intended to make all women feel beautiful launches this spring.


“Senate poised to renew Violence Against Women Act”

7218014214_fb1a366f4e_tThe Senate is expected reauthorize the Violence Against Women act with new protections for gays and lesbians. Additionally, the legislation will allow Native courts on American Indian reservations to try perpetrators of crimes against women on Native land. Immigrant women married to abusers are also to receive new protections under the new law.


“More mammograms mean more problems for older women, study finds”3721951306_edbca985b7_t

Women should receive mammograms only once every 2 years and only between the ages of 50 and 74, a new study has found. Recent research published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute claims that women who receive mammograms once or more per year are more likely to receive false positive diagnoses. The study also found that receiving a mammogram every year does not reduce the chance of being diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer.


“For Women, Reduced Access to Long-Term Care Insurance”

Women who are seeking out insurance that will allow them to receive long-term care, either in a nursing home or at home, will soon be paying as much as 40% more than men in premiums. Companies justify the changes by arguing that women are much more likely to cash out on the benefits than men are. The changes come at a time when it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get long-term care insurance in the first place.


“Heart Disease: Women Can Miss the Warning Signs”

Women may experience different and easier to miss signs of heart disease. The confusion occurs because women often attribute warning signs to something else. This is because, for women, a heart-attack can feel similar to flu-like symptoms or dull pain.


“Funding: There’s a New Source for Women Entrepreneurs”

Astia Angel LogoAstia Angel is a new group looking to invest in women-led startup companies that have the potential to grow. The group, already known for providing business opportunities to women-led businesses over the past 14 years, is now starting an “angel” project that will connect women with investors interested in companies that are led by women. Startup companies led by women are much more likely to succeed than male-led companies and receive a very small slice of the pie in terms of investment.


“African-American women have played role in every war effort in U.S. history, research shows”5968195557_5f916edbda_t
Since black women were promised freedom if they served as spies in the Revolutionary War, they have been an integral part of fighting for America. During the Civil War, Harriett Tubman served as a spy and Cathy Williams, a former slave at a Missouri plantation, served for two years in the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment, passing as a man. Celebrate Black History Month by reading more about this story.


“Women In Combat Favored By Most Voters: Poll”

6891996935_6c71260946_t75% of respondents in a poll found no problem with women serving in combat positions in the military. Women and men support the new Department of Defense policy equally. About 59% of men and 45% of women also support including women in the military draft if it were to be reinstated.


“Robin Roberts to return to ‘Good Morning America’ on Feb. 20”GOOD MORNING AMERICA - ROBIN ROBERTS GM08 (ABC/ Ida Mae Astute )

Breast cancer survivor and Good Morning America host Robin Roberts will be returning to the airwaves on February 20. The popular morning host had been on leave for treatment of a rare blood disorder.