Women’s History Month Trivia

by Thea Voutiritsas

This woman was the plaintiff in the famous American employment discrimination case that led to the passing of Fair Pay Act in 2009.

Answer: Lilly Ledbetter

image via lillyledbetter.com

Lilly Ledbetter was the plaintiff in the employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Ledbetter worked for Goodyear from 1979 to 1998. Upon her retirement, she sued the company for paying her significantly less than her male counterparts. When the lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, it was denied because she did not file within 180 days of her first paycheck. Ledbetter argued that she did not know of the pay discrepancy at the time. United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in defense of Ledbetter, stating:

“Initially, Ledbetter’s salary was in line with the salaries of men performing substantially similar work. Over time, however, her pay slipped in comparison to the pay of male area managers with equal or less seniority. By the end of 1997… Ledbetter was paid $3,727 per month; the lowest paid male area manager received $4,286 permonth, the highest paid $5,236.”

Ledbetter’s case and Ginsburg’s dissent led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was introduced in 2007. The Act revised the law to allow for claims of discrimination to be included, even if they occurred outside of the 180-day statue of limitations. In 2009, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.

Ledbetter’s case proved that discrimination often takes place in small increments over time, and in ways that are difficult to measure and sometimes even harder to prove. Without knowledge of her coworker’s salary, on top of her slowly dwindling paycheck, it was hard for Ledbetter to take action against the discrimination she was experiencing. However, her fight for equal pay paved the way for future cases, and exposed the problems of insidious discrimination.


Women’s History Month Trivia

by Zaquoya Rogers

Who serves as the Chairperson and the CEO of one of the fastest growing Women-Owned Business in the United States and served as the Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship in 2014?

Answer: Nina Vaca

By Nina Vaca [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nina Vaca is one independent Latina who is not only a civil leader, but the CEO and chairman of Pinnacle Group, which was named the fastest growing women-owned business in the U.S. 2015. Born in Quito, Ecuador, Vaca was inspired by her parents who owned several small business in LA. She attended Texas State University and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications and a minor in Business Administration. She later received education from Harvard Business School and holds honorary doctorates from Northwood University, Mount Mary University, Berkeley College. She currently serves as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) through the United States Department of Commerce and sits on the boards of three publicly-traded companies. Vaca is part of the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows, from the Aspen Institute, a new generation of leaders to positively impact society. Vaca is part of the 100 CEO Leaders in STEM publication by STEMconnector, in an effort to identify, showcase, and honor STEM leadership.

Vaca has also served as a Mentor for the Peace Through Business program, a business training and mentorship program for women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda.  In addition, she is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, the Women Presidents’ Organization, and the Dallas Citizens Council. She is also active in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) – Southwest, as well as the DFW National Minority Supplier Development Council.




Chewing Gum: the Netflix gem you ought to be watching

The British television sitcom Chewing Gum is exploding right now. The show recently won the BAFTA for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme and Breakthrough talent for star and creator Michaela Coel. The series first debuted on E4 in 2015, then Netflix picked it up in October 2016.

‘Colourful life’: Michaela Coel in the second series of Chewing Gum. Photograph: Mark Johnson

The show began as a one woman show written by Coel called Chewing Gum Dreams, which tells the dramatic story of a 14-year-old girl. The television series transforms that girl in to 24-year-old London shop assistant, Tracey Gordon. Her restrictive, religious family and upbringing frequently clashes with her interest in sex and overall curiosity for the world, creating awkward, hilarious, and ludicrous situations for her and her friends.

Coel says she made it a point to use bright colors, and to film during the summer. The estate that the characters live on is meant to be for the working class, but Coel was adamant that it not be depressing. The characters contend with lack of money and opportunity, they’re diverse, and they’re genuinely interesting.

The bright colors and brazen language in Chewing Gum prove to be a charming advantage for Coel. In an interview with The Guardian, she said:

I enjoy making people uncomfortable. For me, I don’t want to write a show that doesn’t make people uncomfortable. I don’t think I know how to write a show that doesn’t make people uncomfortable.

Why We Celebrate Women’s History Month

by Matiara Huff


Marie Curie– A physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, she discovered Radium and Polonium.

Dorothea Lange– A documentary photographer and photojournalist who helped bring light to the realities of the great depression.

Sybil Ludington– became famous for her night ride in 1777 to alert militia forces to the approach of the British regular forces.

Sojourner Truth– After escaping slavery to freedom with her daughter, she went to court to save her son from slavery. She was the first black woman to win this type of case to a white man.

Helena Rubinstein– American businesswoman who formed one of the world’s first cosmetic companies.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee– One of the most successful female track and field athletes, she won Olympic gold in Heptathlon and Long Jump.

These are all women we either never learned about or briefly skimmed their accomplishments. All of these women lead incredible lives worth knowing about. However, as we get older and technology becomes more advanced, their stories and accomplishments become shorter and shorter. The list I have provided is just what I could find in a quick google search, but I challenge all of you this month to actually learn about one of them or any woman in history. Take the time to learn about an important women and her life instead of just her accomplishments. As a woman, the pressure to achieve greatness is stronger than ever. By looking into the lives of great women, I think you will find comfort in humanizing them.

Remember that the reason we celebrate Women’s History Month is to learn from our history, and celebrate the contributions of the women who helped us get this far.

Insecure: Eight episodes of awkward TV gold

by Thea Voutiritsas

Issa Rae in Insecure (2016)

HBO original comedy series Insecure premiered on HBO Now and HBO Go in 2016, and has since won critical acclaim. A second season is in the works. The show follows Issa (Issa Rae) and her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) through their career and relationship experiences. Creator and star, Issa Rae, began the series about the awkward experiences of a contemporary African-American woman.  At HBO’s 2016 Television Critics Association session, Rae said she created the series aiming to examine “the complexities of ‘blackness’ and the reality that you can’t escape being black.” She went on to say:

We’re just trying to convey that people of color are relatable. This is not a hood story. This is about regular people living life.

The show has a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Insecure uses star Issa Rae’s breakout web series Awkward Black Girl as the basis for an insightful, raunchy, and hilarious journey through the life of a twenty-something black woman that cuts through stereotypes with sharp wit and an effusive spirit.”


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

(https://www.flickr.com/photos/secdef/16664343682/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

By Sean Hurt, via Wikimedia Commons

by Matiara Huff

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 24th and current president of Liberia. She was the world’s first black female president and Africa’s first female head of state. In 2011, she shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

During Sirleaf’s time in office, she vowed to reduce Liberia’s national debt. When she enter office, in 2006, that debt was at US$4.9 billion, by June 2010 that debt had been completely relieved. She has done everything in her power to repair Liberia’s foreign relations and “promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation.” While also speaking out about and working to protect LGBT nonvirights.

Besides being amazing for the country, Sirleaf was also listed as the 83rd most powerful women in the world by Forbes as of 2016. And her niece is Marietta Sirleaf, aka Donna from Parks and Recreation.

The Resilience of Kesha

by Danielle Lyons

Kesha-performance-benefit-2015-billboard-650Recently, Kesha has been in the eye of controversy with her court case against Dr. Luke. A case she lost. Many feared this long legal battle would destroy the career she worked so hard for. Sony, allowing her to start recording again, has held true in their agreement. They’ve made sure she records with other producers. After her phenomenal performance at Coachella, she’s onto a new feat; she’s ready to record again. She recently released a song she refers to as a “Declaration of her Truth.” She teamed up with a new producer, Zedd to create her new single titled, “True Colors.” In response to being able to record again, Kesha says, “It’s a miracle when someone gives you a chance at finding your voice again.” Many people have rallied around the singer in her journey of legal and creative freedom. Her tenacity continues to inspire masses of people. One things for certain, Kesha is a woman that can’t be kept down.

Featured Artist: Dandee Pattee



by Logan Snook

Up next in our 50 Women Exhibit interviews is Dandee Pattee. A native of Wyoming, Pattee’s work is heavily inspired by the vast, swelling landscape where she grew up. Not only do the rolling hills and supple mountains of Wyoming inspire Pattee, but her work is largely drawn from the curves and voluptuousness of the female body. Pattee’s porcelain pieces are about body language, movement, and celebrating natural, female forms.

“My work is innately feminine…I am going for curvy, sexy things…that’s what excites me.”

Pattee prefers to create functional pottery, a form she has been drawn to from an early age. By focusing on creating works in the functional form, as opposed to sculptural or installation, Pattee creates a parameter for herself, allowing her work to be more focused.

The 50 Women exhibit marks a first for Pattee – a first participating in an all-female exhibit. Attending the opening of the exhibit, Pattee was surprised to see work by so many artists whose work she did not know. She expressed that the exhibit was “very thoughtfully put together,” showcasing strong, unique works by women that were outside the trend

For more on Pattee’s work, follow her on Facebook!

The 50 Women: A Celebration of women’s Contribution to Ceramics Exhibit is up until May 13th – make sure to stop by and view the work created by these inspiring, and talented women!

Judy Jacobs: “Memories of a Child: Life Before, During, and After the Holocaust.”



by Danielle Lyons

UMKC Alum Judy Jacobs has lived a rich life. She is one the few remaining holocaust survivors left. She is the 2016 recipient of UMKC’s Defying the Odds Alumni Achievement Award. She graciously shared her story with UMKC in a speech entitled, Memories of a Child: Life Before, During and After the Holocaust”

Judy Jacobs was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1937. She describes her childhood is idyllic. Her family camped in the Buda Mountains in the summer and ice-skated in the winter. Her father owned his own radiology practice while her mother worked as an interior designer. She described the anti-Semitic laws as gradual. As the new laws kept rolling in, they stripped Jewish Citizens of their basic human rights. Businesses were seized and their rights to communicate and congregate were stripped as well. Radios were also taken. She told the audience, “Knowledge is power.” She explained that the opposite is also true. That their lack of knowledge about the happenings rendered them helpless.



A deal was struck with Nazi henchman Adolf Eichmann. 1,000 Jewish lives for money. While the deal was completed, Judy and her family boarded an overcrowded train on an eight-day journey. As they boarded the Nazi’s brandished guns and whips as they cried out nasty insults. She lived five and a half months in Bergen-Belson concentration camp. They survived on roughly 350 calories a day, if even that. Their rations included black coffee, bread, cold rice and a repulsive excuse for soup.

Although times were grim, her mother urged her to keep up hope. Her parents did what they could to keep up spirits of their child and the community. Her father preformed medical services for the other captives. Her mother, a trained artist, provided art classes for the children of the concentration camps. With merely sticks and dirt she taught them how to draw beautiful things rarely seen in their camp.



At the end of 5 and a half months, they were ordered to get ready. They were boarded to a Switzerland bound passenger train and given sardines and chocolate. She recalls the sound of church bells and said it had been the most beautiful thing she had heard in a long while.

After a few years in Switzerland, Judy and her family migrated to America to live with family. She described the experience of acclimating as difficult but she powered through. She went on to marry and have children. She pursued a MBA and a Ph.D. in Higher Education at UMKC.

After her incredible account, she was met by two standing ovations.

Featured Artist: Beth Lo

by Matiara Huff

In honor of the 50 Women Exhibit, we have conducted an interview with Beth Lo, one of the 50 very talented artist involved in this exhibit.

Beth Lo is a ceramic artist based in Missoula, Montana. Much of bethloLo’s ceramic and mixed media artwork revolves around issues of family and her Asian ethnicity, culture and language. Lo uses calligraphy and references origami, mahjong and traditional Chinese pottery and figurines. Lo was invited to participate by Anthony Merino who was working with Alex Kraft, a former student:

It is always an honor to participate in an exhibition organized by the two of them, and it is an honor to be chosen as one of 50 Women who have made a contribution to the field of ceramics. The NCECA at Kansas City this year is a milestone event, and I’m happy to be represented in this way. I suspect attendance will be high.

The 50 Women Exhibit is the first large-scale exhibition of women’s contributions to ceramics, and aims to showcase the unprecedented amount of highly skilled women in ceramic arts. As a participant, Lo sees this as more than an opportunity for exposure, and and even sales. As a female artist, she believes women have much to add to ceramic arts:

I think women have played a major role in the development of ceramics in the contemporary art movement since about the 1950’s. There are an increasing number of professionals in teaching positions and in private studio situations, residency programs and art centers. I believe women have a unique viewpoint and maybe even a unique aesthetic to add to the “conversation” about ceramic art. Feminism in both the social and artistic arenas has been an important factor in the growth of women’s participation in the field.

View more on Beth Lo’s work on her website or wikipedia page. If you would like more information on the exhibit or the American Jazz Museum a link is provided here.