"Pam Malumphy joins panel for women"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Thursday, December 06, 2007
PITTSFIELD — Former City Councilor Patricia "Pam" Malumphy has been appointed to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women by the state Caucus of Women Legislators.
Malumphy, who turns 49 on Dec. 12, was appointed to serve the remainder of commissioner Mary K. Grant's term, which expires next December. Grant, who is also the president of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, was the 19-member commission's lone member from Western Massachusetts.
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, who submitted a letter of support to the women's caucus on Malumphy's behalf, said Malumphy's previous experience as both a city councilor, regional director of the state Office of Business Development, and a representative of the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women made her a "prime candidate" to succeed Grant.
"I'm really thrilled as you can imagine," Malumphy said. Commission members typically serve three-year terms.
Current commissioners include Miss Massachusetts 2004 Erika Ebbel, a doctoral candidate in analytical biochemistry at Boston University, and Angela Menino, the wife of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
The state Caucus of Women Legislators is one of four governing authorities authorized to appoint members to the Commission on the Status of Women. The others are the governor, the Senate president and the speaker of the House.
Malumphy was interviewed by the Caucus of Women Legislators in early November.
The Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women was established by the Legislature in September 2004. Malumphy was elected chair of that board when the first commissioners were sworn in February 2005; she served in that post until September.
"It was a phenomenal group of women," Malumphy said. "The experience was so positive that I thought I could bring a little of that to the state."
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6224.
At a glance...
The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is an independent state agency, comprised of 19 volunteer members, that was formed in 1998 to advance women to full equality in all areas of life and to promote their rights and opportunities. For more information, go to www.mass.gov/women/index.htm
"Downing Lauds Local Appointment To Statewide Commission: Pam Malumphy Appointed to Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women"
December 05, 2007
State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) announces that the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators has appointed local leader Pam Malumphy to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.
“Pam brings to the table a unique perspective gained from her professional career in public service and community involvement,” said Downing, who submitted a letter of support to the Women’s Caucus for Malumphy’s appointment. “Pam is a natural fit to the Commission and her sincere understanding of the issues facing women in western Massachusetts will add great value to the Commission’s work.” Ms. Malumphy is a former Pittsfield City Councilor and currently serves as the Regional Director for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD).
The Legislature established the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women in September of 2004; the first commissioners were sworn in the following February. At that time Ms. Malumphy was elected Chair of the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women, a post she served until September of 2007.
Malumphy will continue to serve as a commissioner on the Berkshire County Commission however Susan L. Brown, Special Assistant to MCLA President Dr. Mary Grant will assume the role of Chair.
Upon learning of her appointment, Malumphy said, “I am thankful to the Caucus of Women Legislators for appointing me to the State Commission on the Status of Women. Challenges faced by girls and women are issues for which I have great passion and I look forward to bringing my commitment and skill to the State Commission. I am also thankful to those who supported my candidacy including Senator Benjamin Downing, Mayor James Ruberto, President Mary Grant and Jennifer Tierney Stokes, founder of Women Helping Empower Neighborhoods (WHEN!).”
During her tenure as Chair, Malumphy and the Berkshire Commission have committed to one single focus- teen pregnancy prevention. County-wide meetings are being held to discuss ways to develop a united, collaborative community response to this burgeoning crisis. Berkshire County’s rural setting presents a set of challenges unique in the Commonwealth including transportation, childcare and broadband access. These issues compound the challenges faced by girls and women in the county. In her new role, Malumphy will bring the issues of Berkshire County to the State Commission and will continue her advocacy for girls and women by embracing the issues the State Commission focuses on including wage equity, access to education, poverty.
“We applaud Pam’s leadership on the Berkshire County’s women’s commission,” said Representative Marty Walz (D-Boston), House Chair of the Caucus of Women Legislators. “We are honored to appoint Pam to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and look forward to working with her on the important issues affecting the women in Berkshire County and across the Commonwealth.”
In 1998, the Legislature established the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as an independent state agency to advance women of the Commonwealth to full equality in all areas of life and to promote their rights and opportunities. The Commission unites 19 diverse members appointed by the Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Caucus of Women Legislators. Commissioners serve on a voluntary basis and the work of the Commission is aided by a staff of four. To learn more about the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, visit www.mass.gov/women.
THE BOSTON GLOBE
"Teen births increase for 1st time 15 years: Abstinence-only effort is debated"
By Gardiner Harris, New York Times News Service | December 6, 2007
WASHINGTON - The teenage birthrate in the United States rose 3 percent in 2006, according to a report issued yesterday, the first such increase since 1991. The finding surprised scholars and fueled a debate about whether the Bush administration's abstinence-only sexual education efforts were working.
The federal government spends $176 million annually on such programs. But a landmark study recently failed to demonstrate that they have any effect on delaying sexual activity among teenagers, and some studies suggest that they may actually increase pregnancy rates.
"Spending tens of million of tax dollars each year on programs that hurt our children is bad medicine and bad public policy," said Dr. David A. Grimes, vice president of Family Health International, a nonprofit reproductive health organization based in North Carolina.
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, said that blaming abstinence-only programs was "stupid." Rector said that most young women who get pregnant are highly educated about contraceptives but want to have babies.
President Bush noted the long decline in teenage pregnancy rates in his 2006 State of the Union address. "Wise policies such as welfare reform, drug education and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country," Bush said. The White House did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
In a speech last year, Senator Hillary Clinton said that declines in teenage pregnancy rates during the Clinton administration resulted because of a focus on family planning.
Teenage birth rates are driven by teenage sex, contraception, and abortion rates.
In the 1990s, teenage sex rates dropped and condom use rose because teenagers were frightened of AIDS, said Dr. John S. Santelli, chairman of the Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University.
But recent advances in AIDS treatments have lowered concerns about the disease. And AIDS education, which emphasized abstinence and condom use, has flagged.
AT OVER 564 million, the number of females in India is about 90 million larger than the populations of the United States, Russia and Canada combined. Despite the country’s rapid economic growth, women in India still face a vast array of challenges. We wonder: Which of the following statements about India’s women are true?
Answers: A. They suffer from very low levels of education; B. They face economic discrimination; C. They face discrimination even before birth; D. All of the above
A. They suffer from very low levels of education is correct.
Even though Indian laws require a woman to be at least 18 years old at the time of marriage, 56 per cent of girls in rural India are still married before the age of 18 despite the threat of fines and imprisonment. As a result of factors like these, of every 100 girls who begin primary education in India, only 30 actually complete it.
Around half of all Indian women are illiterate, compared with a ratio of around one in seven among women in China and one in four among men in India.
B. They face economic discrimination is correct.
Boys are preferred because they do not require the enormous dowry payments that can bankrupt many poor families in India when their daughters marry. Even though dowry has been illegal in India since 1961, every year about 6,000 women are killed, often doused with kerosene and set on fire in staged kitchen "accidents" by husbands and in-laws angered by unmet dowry demands.
C. They face discrimination even before birth is correct.
Since inexpensive ultrasounds are ever more readily available, the number of abortions of female fetuses in India’s major cities has risen significantly.
Even though India’s Prohibition of Sex Selection Act has outlawed the use of ultrasound examinations to determine the sex of a fetus since February 2003, the practice has become so prevalent that the sex ratio at birth in certain prosperous neighbourhoods has fallen to as low as 762 girls for every 1,000 boys. In comparison, the national average is 927 girls for every 1,000 boys. Other factors causing the decline in the number of girls include neglect of the girl child, high maternal mortality and female infanticide. Countrywide, there are 107 males per every 100 females.
D. All of the above is correct. All of the above statements are true.
From The Globalist (www.theglobalist.com)
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Op-Ed: 12/27/2007: DIANNE LUBY
"Getting real with sex education"
By Dianne Luby, December 27, 2007
LAST WEEK'S report of 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears's pregnancy was big news across the nation. Yet what rarely makes the news is the day-to-day reality of teen pregnancy in America, which has the highest teen pregnancy rate among the most developed nations.
Teen pregnancy is a critical public health and economic issue facing the United States, and a recently released Centers for Disease Control study on teen birth rates is proof that the Bush administration has the nation going down the wrong path. The CDC reported earlier this month that the teen birth rate rose last year after 14 years of decline. This is cause for concern on many levels, as the effects of teen pregnancy and parenting are far-reaching.
Adolescents today are faced with more cultural contradictions about sex than ever before. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 70 percent of television shows include sexual content; yet at the same time, only 14 percent mention contraception, abstinence, or the consequences of sex. While the entertainment industry may give parents headaches when it comes to the messages that are being sent to their kids, an often overlooked message is the one young people are being taught (or not taught) in school.
Over the last decade, President Bush and other supporters of abstinence-only-until-marriage classroom programs have wasted more than $1 billion on programs that simply do not work. Study after study, including a recent one commissioned by Congress, has shown that these unrealistic programs do not delay sexual activity, reduce the number of teen pregnancies, or combat sexually transmitted infections. These programs are prohibited from discussing contraception or condom use, except to emphasize failure rates, and leave young people at risk by denying them access to critical information about their sexual health. We are now beginning to see the impact of the Bush administration's policy of promoting ignorance in the name of abstinence.
Teen pregnancy has significant social and economic ramifications for Massachusetts. It is the number one reason why adolescent girls drop out of school. Young men are also impacted by teenage pregnancy - since male adolescents are significantly more likely to drop out of school when parenting a child. According to a report released by the Massachusetts Department of Education about the class of 2006, 40 percent of urban students failed to finish high school in four years, and 22 percent have dropped out entirely.
Education is the key to success in life, and the silver bullet for improving the nation's standing worldwide. However, less than one-third of teenagers who give birth before the age of 18 will ever obtain a high school diploma, leading to fewer qualified workers to strengthen the economy. And while unintended pregnancy is one of the largest contributors to high school dropout rates, it is also perhaps the most preventable.
Comprehensive sex education, which includes a focus on both abstinence and prevention, is the only educational approach proven to delay the onset of sexual activity and reduce unintended pregnancy, as confirmed by a report from the US surgeon general. Governor Deval Patrick and the Legislature took an important step earlier this year when they joined 14 states and refused federal funding for ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. But it's time to go a step further.
The only way to combat the high rate of teen pregnancy is through investment in comprehensive health and sex education, access to affordable birth control, and real public awareness about sexual health. Teenagers who learn about risks and ways to protect themselves when sexually active are more likely to delay sexual activity, and use protection if and when they do become sexually active.
Given the recent rise in teen birth rates, and the mixed messages our culture sends out every day, it is irresponsible for school districts in the state not to offer comprehensive sex-education programs. It's time to get real, and recognize that sexual health matters.
Dianne Luby is president/CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Op-Ed: ELLEN GOODMAN
"Changing the script on teen pregnancy"
By Ellen Goodman, January 4, 2008
I HATE to release my inner fuddy-duddy this early in the year. So I'll blame this rant on having spent the last afternoon of 2007 in a movie theater with a bag of popcorn and a row of tweens.
I went to see "Juno," the indie comedy about a hip and sarcastic 16-year-old who gets pregnant after what she calls "premeditated sex." In a rush of wit and grit, she decides not to have an abortion and picks a couple to adopt the baby. The story waddles inevitably to a happy ending and a slew of reviews praising the film for skewering the pieties of both sides of the family-values debate.
I enjoyed this the way you enjoy the bubbly on New Year's Eve that leaves you with a hangover the next morning. I had the sense of being co-opted into tacit approval of a goofy, romantic story only slightly less plausible than the actual transformation of its author, Diablo Cody, from stripper to screenwriter.
Please allow me a fuddy-duddy disclaimer. I am aware that reel life is not real life. Zoey 101 is not, alas, Jamie Lynn Spears. And "Juno" isn't meant to be a documentary.
But we are in the midst of an entire wave of movies about unexpectedly pregnant women - from "Knocked Up" to "Waitress" to "Bella" - all deciding to have their babies and all wrapped up in nice, neat bows.
In "Knocked Up," pregnancy from a one-night drunken stand transforms a slacker babydaddy into a grown-up. In "Waitress," pregnancy empowers a woman to escape from Husband Wrong to Mr. Right. And in "Bella," it's the belly that leads her into the heart of a warm Latino family.
Here is a cinematic world without complication. Or contraception. By some screenwriter consensus, abortion has become the right-to-choose that's never chosen. In "Knocked Up" it was referred to as "shmashmortion." In "Juno" the abortion clinic looks like a punk-rock tattoo parlor.
I am supposed to go with the flow and not point a scolding finger at cultural propaganda. But fuddy-duddy be damned. Sitting behind those tweens - girls somewhere between preschool and pubescence - I wondered what was being absorbed through their PG-13 pores.
Need I remind you of the news that teenage pregnancy rates have gone up for the first time since 1991? It's expected that 750,000 teenage girls will get pregnant this year. With, by the way, some help from boys. We've spent about $1 billion on the taxpayer scam known as abstinence-only education. And Jamie Lynn Spears announced her pregnancy, saying, "I was in complete and total shock and so was he."
Whatever the cost to actual teenage mothers, it isn't paid by their stars. The only one paying a price for Spears's pregnancy is OK! magazine, which reportedly put up $1 million for her pronouncement. (I'm OK! You're OK! Even if you're 16 and pregnant.)
I don't want to return to those wonderful yesteryears when Dan Quayle took on Murphy Brown. But we're navigating some pretty tricky cultural waters here.
On the one hand, liberals who want teens to have access to contraception and abortion don't want to criticize single mothers. On the other hand, conservatives who want teens to be abstinent until marriage applaud girls who don't have abortions.
So we have Mike Huckabee saying that Spears made the "right decision" and Wendy Wright of the Concerned Women for America praising movies that show women rejecting abortion. We have liberals who feel like fuddy-duddies darkening the rosy scenario of the motherhood fantasy movies.
There's an unstated compromise that historian Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen State College sees being acted out by the culture: "Social conservatives are backing off on the condemnation of single mothers. Social liberals are backing off on the idea that it's possible to have an abortion and not be ruined by it." This is best expressed by Hollywood, which wants to be all things to all audiences.
Is it still OK to ask whether this cultural "compromise" ends up compromising the future of those kids in my theater?
When Spears told the world she was pregnant, it was described repeatedly, infuriatingly, as a "teachable moment." It appears that parents are required to create an alternative PowerPoint presentation. Against the endless loop of hip and comic stories, parents are expected to write the crawl - the stuff about relationships, about birth control, about becoming an adult before you become a parent. We're supposed to write the real life postscript to Hollywood's happily ever after.
Once again, adults are being called to teach against the cultural tide. Think of it as a casting call for designated fuddy-duddies.
Ellen Goodman's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Teaching women to plan financially: Seminar scheduled for Red Lion Inn Jan. 19, 2008"
By Jessica Willis, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Friday, January 11, 2008
STOCKBRIDGE — The biggest excuse: We're just too busy. What woman has time to pause the endless juggling act of marriage, children, parents, and career to learn financial planning?
Ana Fonseca, regional vice president of Genworth Financial, has heard it all before. When she offers seminars for health care and retirement planning, her audience is mostly made up of men, she said.
"A lot of women say to their husbands, 'you go (to the seminar), I have to get dinner on the table. Tell me about it when you get home,'" Fonseca said.
Next week's "Women and Investing" breakfast workshop at the Red Lion is designed for women of all ages and levels of experience who want to learn more about financial planning.
The free event is sponsored by Infinex Investments at Lee Bank.
Citing a statistic that nine out of 10 women in the country take total responsibility for their home's finances — cutting the checks and budgeting the inflow of cash — Fonseca added that many women leave the long-range financial plans to their spouses or partners, and "don't take advantage of everything available to them."
The problem with the laissez-faire attitude?
Women earn an average of 30 percent less than men, but they live an average of 5 years longer, Fonseca said, and that imbalance makes retirement planning crucial for women.
The imbalance is particularly pronounced for stay-at-home moms who are returning to the workforce after a five-, 10- or 15-year hiatus, she added.
Despite the obstacles, more and more women are taking control of major money decisions, said Peter B. Levine, an Investment Executive and financial advisor at Infinex.
"Most of my clients are women," Levine said. "They want to take part and take charge."
He also said women tended to be more "committed to the process" than male investors, and they tended to take less risks.
Fonseca said the seminar will cover what she calls the different phases of financial life: The accumulation of assets, where "we gather as much (wealth) as we can" and make a commitment to putting aside funds.
The "protection" phase comes next, when those budgeted funds are broken down into short, medium, and long-term investments, Fonseca said.
The "distribution" stage comes after retirement, when a paycheck is no longer coming in.
Fonseca said it would be unwise for an investor to assume Social Security would provide a healthy nest egg, and added that the average Social Security check is $800 a month.
Similarly, the move from fixed pension plans to the more fluid 401(k) contribution plans in the country's workforce has made smart investing even more important, Fonseca said.
Lastly, she'll cover the "transfer phase": How to successfully "gift" funds for IRS purposes and pass on accumulated wealth to children and grandchildren.
The most important lesson, however, comes from within, Fonseca said.
"Knowledge is power," she said. "And give responsibility to a financial planner you trust. Shop around until you find someone who will tailor an individual plan to your needs."
To reach Jessica Willis: email@example.com, (413) 528-3660.
Anthia Elliott took a call at Safe Passage. The Northampton facility offers services for victims of domestic violence. (christine peterson/for the boston globe)
"Shelters can't help all fleeing abuse: Cutbacks, shift in policy narrow victims' options"
By Maria Cramer, (Boston) Globe Staff, January 14, 2008
Domestic violence shelters across the state are becoming overwhelmed and are increasingly turning victims away, driving some of those seeking help back to abusive partners or to the streets, according to advocates and shelter program directors.
The number of victims turned away from shelters more than quadrupled, from 1,374 in fiscal 2003 to 5,520 in fiscal 2005, according to Jane Doe Inc., a statewide coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence that also tracks trends.
On many days, only one bed will be available in the state for 100 people who call domestic violence hotlines seeking shelter. Sometimes, none can be found.
"It is alarming," said Deborah Collins-Gousby, interim co-executive director at Casa Myrna Vazquez in Boston, which has three residential programs and runs Safe Link, the statewide domestic violence hotline. "If you're feeling the need to flee and there is no space, what do you do?"
The problem, advocates said, has worsened in recent years for several reasons. Federal funding for shelters has ebbed; the state has had an influx of undocumented immigrants who are too afraid of police to report their abusers but will seek shelters; there is less affordable housing statewide, meaning victims often stay in shelters longer; and several shelters were forced to close after losing funding from the Department of Social Services, which in 2006 shifted its resources to community-based services, such as counseling and legal services for abuse victims, so they can remain at home.
Agencies and advocates go to great lengths trying to ensure that a victim does not have to return to an abuser. When a shelter runs out of beds and cots, victims stay at volunteers' homes temporarily. Victims are also sent to shelters in Connecticut or New Hampshire, or advised to stay with friends or relatives that the abuser does not know. If a victim must return to a home shared with an abuser, advocates work with police to provide protection, offer to help file restraining orders, and provide counseling services.
But even then, a victim might not be safe, said Brenda Lopez, domestic violence prevention coordinator at the Springfield Police Department, where officers have provided food for women and children forced to wait hours at headquarters for shelter space to open up.
Last July, Lopez recalled, a young pregnant woman who went to the hospital after her partner hit her returned home after her abuser told police he would leave the house. Two days later, he came back and beat her so severely she almost miscarried, Lopez said.
"You're punished when you go back," she said. "You're punished because you tried to leave. It also verifies for the person what their abuser has told them: 'Nobody is going to want you. Nobody is going to help you. You can't live without me.' "
Maria, a domestic abuse victim who left her husband 12 years ago, said that when she and her young daughter fled, they immediately found refuge at a shelter in Western Massachusetts. Now a victim's advocate, she said it often takes her several days, even weeks to find space for victims.
"It's just pathetic," said Maria, who asked that her last name and the name of the agency she works for be withheld because she does not want her abuser to find her. "It is so sad to see these women being traumatized and abused by their partners and then being traumatized and abused by the system."
Since 2003, federal funding for domestic violence programs in Massachusetts, which helped pay for shelters, has decreased. From fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2006, funding from the US Department of Health and Human Services went from $1.85 million to $1.78 million. During the same three-year period, a grant from the Department of Justice decreased from $2.8 million to $2.54 million, according to Jane Doe Inc.
In 2006, after DSS, under former governor Mitt Romney, renegotiated contracts that shifted funding from shelters, several agencies lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in shelter funding. The change forced Casa Myrna Vasquez to close its seven-bed emergency shelter.
The Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, which provides beds for men, women, and children, lost state funding for one of its shelters, a four-bed safe home, during the rebidding. The agency found enough private funding to keep it open, but the solution may be temporary, said Cristina Lee, assistant director of advocacy services at the task force.
"We can't afford to keep it going," she said.
Officials at DSS, which funds about 90 percent of shelter beds across the state, said funding for shelters increased from $6.57 million in fiscal 2007 to $8.27 million in fiscal 2008. But officials said they had no statistics indicating how much the shelters received before fiscal 2007 because, under Romney, DSS did not break down funding for shelters for domestic violence victims.
Marilyn Anderson Chase, assistant secretary for children, youth, and families, said the agency is focusing its resources on preventing domestic violence, such as counseling children of abusers who are more likely to follow in a batterer's footsteps.
"I think everybody recognizes that having a robust shelter system is imperative," Anderson Chase said. "But I hope they would agree that our first priority is: How do we reduce incidence of domestic violence?"
It is a goal many advocates say they commend.
"More shelter beds is really not the solution," said Candace Waldron, executive director of Hawc, Help for Abused Women and their Children, in Salem. "The solution would be for community response teams that are comprehensive enough to keep victims and their children at home, while the perpetrator is held accountable for their behavior."
But until that happens, people need a place to go, she said.
"If someone is calling for shelter, you know they're at the end of the rope," Waldron said. "To say to them, 'Sorry, we don't have space,' is devastating."
Maria Cramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erica Newbery, a senior at Pittsfield High School, reads the classified section yesterday during the high school's Girls Inc. program. The high school offers classes to teenaged girls in an effort to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies or sexually-transmitted diseases.
"Girls talk tough choices"
By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
PITTSFIELD — The young women of Pittsfield High School are being taught how to make a living for themselves before making another life.
Schools and community leaders just hope they'll listen.
With reports in recent years of high teen pregnancy and dropout rates in Pittsfield, authorities have been trying everything they can to reduce the statistics.
Last year, a national Girls Inc. program was piloted in the city's public high schools as another form of intervention, and this year — at least in Pittsfield High School — it seems to be staying on.
"Now we have a steady presence at the school. The (girls) are very interested in that," said Christa Collier, executive director of the Girls Inc. of the Berkshires program, located across from the school at the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center.
But Gladys Allen staff member Sarah Gillooly now offers the Girls Inc. program at PHS four days a week. She's teaching three sections this term, allowing her to reach 51 teenage girls.
The Girls Inc. classes are designed and run independently from the school district — thanks to a grant that is supported through Greylock Federal Credit Union — but are approved and offered through the school's physical education and wellness program.
In the fall, girls at PHS had the opportunity to enroll in "Taking Care of Business," which ultimately focuses on preventing teen pregnancy.
Taking Care of Business goes beyond anatomy and sex education. It aims to help teen girls to recognize and move beyond sex-role stereotypes, while teaching them to develop their own assertiveness — the ability to say no. It also encourages students to avoid risky behavior, pregnancy, STDs and HIV through abstinence and smart choices, while giving facts on contraception and protection.
During the course, they also learn about the cost and economic challenges of having a child at a young age — a lesson which is echoed during this semester's class.
This semester, the course sequence continues with a program called "Futures and Options," which aims to help young women develop critical financial and economic literacy skills.
Pre- and post-program surveys are given to local girls, and those are evaluated by the national organization.
According to the data, 18 of the 29 girls, about 65 percent, who took the course last year reported that the program made a difference in the way they thought about their futures.
"It's good. It's really good. I've learned a lot," said sophomore Adrianna Ortega during yesterday's class. She is taking a third semester with Gillooly.
Phoenix Hanger agreed. A junior at PHS, she also took Taking Care of Business in the fall.
Though she and a few other classmates noted that some girls use the course as a way out of gym class, Hanger said, "I think it's a good opportunity for girls to just stop and think."
Gillooly said the Taking Care of Business program covers an issue that is "obvious" in the city due to its teen pregnancy rates.
According to Massachusetts Department of Public Health data, the city experienced 72 teenage births in 2003, 59 teen births in 2004 and 67 teen births in 2005.
The state rate for every thousand women between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2005 was 21.7 births, ranking Pittsfield the seventh-highest city in the state for teen birth rates that year.
Hanger said she has five friends who got pregnant in 2006.
She said it's one of the things that makes the course materials "totally appropriate."
Gillooly said she feels the program is making a difference.
"A lot of these girls feel like there's not a lot for them here. If we can give them possibilities," she said. "If I can reach one girl. ..."
"Outreach program's many allies"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
We have received many positive comments about Jenn Smith's Jan. 16 article "Girls talk tough choices" and the outreach done by the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, Girls Incorporated of the Berkshires program staff during the school day. These are valuable lessons for these young women to learn now that will impact the decisions they make in their future.
This comprehensive outreach initiative strives to have young women think about what they can achieve and how to have balance in their lives as they look toward the future. The pregnancy prevention component is funded through other sources like the Berkshire United Way, the Legacy Banks Foundation and the city of Pittsfield. The initial and renewed funding for the financial literacy program comes exclusively from Greylock Federal Credit Union. Their staff also come into the classroom to provide instruction as part of the "futures and options" curriculum.
These dedicated professionals review first hand for the girls how financial decisions affect credit and credit scores, how to apply for a loan, renting versus buying and mortgage lending. The girls are able to learn how to manage their money and how to plan for their financial future.
We are grateful for the local support of this initiative and look forward to seeing more positive results being achieved this year.
KELLY A. BAITY & CHRISTA M. COLLIER
Kelly Baity is chief executive officer at the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center. Christa M. Collier is executive director, Girls Incorporated of the Berkshires, a program of the Brigham Center.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Op-Ed: CATHY YOUNG
"Gender and the politics of hate"
By Cathy Young, January 26, 2008
IT WAS probably to be expected that the first presidential race in which a woman emerged as a serious contender would raise issues of sexism and misogyny in politics. Such a debate has raged for months around Senator Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and Democratic front-runner - intensifying recently when Chris Matthews, host of the MSNBC program "Hardball," came under fire for an allegedly sexist remark about Clinton.
Matthews's offense was to state that Clinton ultimately owed her political career to the sympathy she got in the late 1990s as the wronged wife of an adulterous husband: "Let's not forget, and I'll be brutal, the reason she's a US senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner, is that her husband messed around."
The reaction was "brutal," indeed. The heads of several feminist groups, including the National Organization for Women, sent a joint letter of protest to Steve Capus, president of NBC News. Members of the National Women's Political Caucus picketed the Washington offices of NBC (which owns MSNBC). Matthews initially defended his remarks; a week later, reportedly under pressure from his bosses, he apologized.
Matthews's words were undoubtedly harsh. Yet there is little doubt that Clinton's election to the Senate in 2000 was propelled at least partly by sympathy, as well as admiration for the grace under fire she had shown during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. ...
...In June 2007, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd even compared Clinton to television mob wife Carmela Soprano, who "was rewarded with jewels, watches, and building permits for her husband's infidelities" - a parallel that does, arguably, have a whiff of sexism about it. But can facts themselves be sexist?
To Clinton's supporters, Matthews's remark is only one example of rampant sexism directed at the former first lady - by Matthews himself (he has referred to Clinton as "witchy" and "cold"), by other pundits, and by voters. In November, a woman at a campaign meeting in South Carolina asked Senator John McCain, "How do we beat the bitch?"
In the eyes of many feminists, the lack of outrage at this incident - caught on camera and widely viewed on YouTube - reveals a deplorable acceptance of misogyny. Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics, has been quoted as saying that the reaction to the "n-word" being used about a black candidate would have been quite different.
But such analogies are flawed because race and gender are not the same. Should the "b-word" be likened to racial slurs, or to gender-specific insults that could be directed at a male candidate, such as "bastard" or worse?
Hillary Clinton has always been a polarizing figure: "Saint Hillary" to some, the Wicked Witch of the West Wing to others; an altruistic crusader for social justice or a power-hungry Mussolini in skirts. There is no question that gender was a large factor both in Hillary-hatred and in Hillary-worship.
But Clinton is hardly the only polarizing figure in contemporary American politics, or the only target of visceral, irrational hate out of all proportion to the politician's actual faults. Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Al Gore, and George W. Bush have all been in that boat.
To some extent, the language of hate is inevitably colored by gender, since our perceptions of individuals are, too. But this is more of a two-way street than most feminists are willing to admit. Since we habitually equate sexism with anti-female attitudes, gender-specific negativity directed at men tends to fly under the anti-sexist radar.
Take the accusations of Vietnam-era draft-dodging, which have dogged both Bush and Bill Clinton. Not only is this an issue for male politicians only, it is also closely related to notions of military valor as a masculine virtue.
Moreover, for a female candidate, gender can be an advantage as well as an obstacle. A male candidate seen as too aggressive toward a female opponent can be easily made to look like a bully. Clinton herself played this card in her 2000 Senate race against Representative Rick Lazio after he walked up to her during a debate and urged her to sign a pledge to stop raising and spending soft money - a move that would not have raised any eyebrows if another man had been on the receiving end.
There is no question that sexism exists; outright woman-hating thrives as well in some dark corners of the Internet (and man-hating in others). But women are not helped by exaggerated claims of rampant misogyny permeating the cultural mainstream. Perhaps a more productive pursuit would be to examine and challenge the culture of hate that cuts across gender lines, and truly permeates our political culture.
Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine.
From left, Drew Gibson of Williamstown and Eric Anthony and Lucy Cziaja, descendants of Susan B. Anthony, portray the famed sufragette and her defense team in Adams Sunday during the reenactment of her 1873 trial for illegal voting. (Ryan Hutton/North Adams Transcript) 2/11/2008
"Susan B. Anthony lives again in Adams"
By Ryan Hutton, North Adams Transcript
Monday, February 11, 2008
ADAMS — Over 100 people packed the First Baptist Church of Adams on Sunday to see the reenactment of the trial of the Mother Town's favorite daughter, Susan B. Anthony, for illegal voting. What they didn't expect was that they would be part of the proceedings.
Sponsored by the Adams Historical Society and the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum, Hank Fincken brought his "National Theatre Company of One" to Adams to commemorate Anthony's birthday, coming up on the 15th. Fincken has previously performed one man shows about historical figures such as Thomas Edison, Christopher Columbus and Johnny Appleseed, but this event was different. He chose random people from the crowd to be the different characters in the scene, gave them some background information on what actually happened during the 1873 trial and then let them improvise around him as he played the prosecutor.
"Everyone was very good, and I think the reason they were so good was because this was a subject they knew, so they were more knowledgeable than most people would have been," Fincken said afterward. "I don't do this very often, and it changes every time. This time I had pages of notes on things I didn't even touch because everyone was so good."
Lucy Cziaja — an Adams native and descendant of Anthony — played the famed suffragette. Eric Anthony — another Anthony decedent from Rhode Island — played one of her defenders, and Drew Gibson of Williamstown played the other. Marc Lewandowski of Rochester, N.Y., played the judge, Mack Spellecy of Waterloo, N.Y., played President Milliard Fillmore, and Adams' very own town administrator, William Ketcham, played Voting Inspector Beverly Jones.
Fincken said he likes to teach history through such reenactments because while historical accuracy can suffer during improvisation, personal interest soars, and the process becomes more important than the product.
Just as in the real trial, Anthony didn't say much until the end, and the judge was forced to find her guilty — but personal emotion on the topic was heavy with the crowd.
Fincken's character constantly played to the notion that women were too emotional to vote and that Anthony's father was to blame for educating her — that got the crowd of mostly women very riled up. Several people booed Fincken and cheered Anthony's defenders. Several people who came in period garb from New York interrupted the trial, carrying a large banner that read "Free Susan B." Lewandowski, acting as the judge, ordered them out of the room without breaking character, even though his wife played one of the protesters.
"I like the feeling of argument and the controversy because I imagine that's how it was at the time this really happened and was probably more intense," Eugene Michalenko of the Adams Historical Society said. "We've been trying to do something to honor Susan's contribution to society, and this was a great way."
Ketcham held his own in the improv game, arguing that he let Anthony vote without hassle because she had been registered to do so. When threatened with a trial of his own for letting a woman vote, he calmly responded that it was his boss who had officially let her do the deed.
Defenders Gibson and Anthony were very much on the ball, quoting amendments to the Constitution as well as verses of the Bible to argue their points, all to cheers from the audience.
"I didn't have to lead as much I usually do," Fincken said. "People got emotionally involved, and I could play off of that. The defense counselors were very eloquent, and the judge remembered he had to be fair but had to find her guilty. I'm very pleased."
Eric Anthony is a descendant of John Anthony, who came to Rhode Island in 1643 on a ship called the Hercules. He said that branch of the Anthony family had been in Rhode Island going back probably five generations before Susan was taken to trial.
"It was very exciting," he said of the reenactment. "You could feel what it means to be denied rights and what it means as a citizen to retain those rights. I think the Supreme Court has said a right unasserted is a right presumed waived, and you have to assert your rights."
As a descendant of the woman who asserted her voting rights before she legally had them, Cziaja said she was honored to play her, even if she had few lines.
"I was born and brought up here, and I'm very familiar with her, and it felt great to portray her," she said. "Women still have to fight for their place, and to imagine that she did this so many years ago is impressive. She really deserves this tribute to her and it truly was improvised. No one had any lines in advance."
As in real life, Anthony was found guilty by the judge, not the jury (the audience), and given a $100 fine and jail time to be served once she paid the fine. Cziaja vowed never to pay the fine — just as her ancestor did in 1873. Anthony never spent a day in jail, and the judge never enforced the sentence. Inspired by Anthony and other suffragettes, women finally won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified by Congress on Aug. 18, 1920. Ånthony died on March 13, 1906.
Carol Crossed, acting director of the Susan B. Anthony birthplace museum, brought a busload of people in historical costumes to the performance from Rochester, where Anthony was arrested for voting and lived for much of her life.
"The positive reaction from this performance was great," Crossed said. "This was a different way to teach history, and people really got into it because it was a spontaneous and emotional reenactment. I'm thrilled at what this can do for the message and inspiration Susan brought."
"Quarter of teen girls have sex-related disease"
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 3:23pm EDT
By Will Dunham, Reuters News
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than one in four U.S. teen girls is infected with at least one sexually transmitted disease, and the rate is highest among blacks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.
An estimated 3.2 million U.S. girls ages 14 and 19 -- about 26 percent of that age group -- have a sexually transmitted infection such as the human papillomavirus or HPV, chlamydia, genital herpes or trichomoniasis, the CDC said.
Forty-eight percent of black teen-age girls were infected, compared to 20 percent of whites and 20 percent of Mexican American girls. The report did not give data on the broader U.S. Hispanic population.
"What we found is alarming," the CDC's Dr. Sara Forhan, who led the study, told reporters. "This means that far too many young women are at risk for the serious health effects of untreated STDs, including infertility and cervical cancer."
Dr. John Douglas, director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention, said a complex mix of factors is to blame for the higher rates among black girls, including the overall higher presence of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, in the broader black community.
"Therefore, for any given sex act with any given partner, a person who's not infected has a greater risk of coming into contact with infection and getting infected," Douglas said.
The CDC said the rate of STD infection among U.S. teen girls might be higher than the study indicates because it did not look at syphilis, gonorrhea or HIV infection, but said these generally are uncommon in girls this age.
The CDC said the report, released at a meeting in Chicago, was the first to gauge combined rates of common STDs in female adolescents, giving the best data to date.
Among girls who had an STD, 15 percent had more than one. About half reported ever having had sex, and among those girls, 40 percent had at least one STD. Of girls who had just one lifetime sexual partner, 20 percent had at least one STD.
HPV, which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer, was the most common infection, seen in 18 percent of the girls. The CDC said this indicates teen girls, even those with few lifetime sexual partners, are at high risk for HPV infection.
CDC officials urge girls and women ages 11 to 26 who have not been vaccinated against HPV or who have not completed the full series of shots be fully vaccinated against the virus.
The next most common infection was chlamydia, caused by a bacterium that can damage a woman's reproductive organs. It was seen in 4 percent of the girls. Untreated infection can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease. It also raises risk for infertility.
The CDC urges yearly chlamydia screening for sexually active women under age of 25.
Trichomoniasis, caused by a single-celled parasite, was seen in about 3 percent of the girls. Women with trichomoniasis have vaginal itching and discharge.
About 2 percent of girls were infected with herpes simplex virus type 2, which causes most cases of genital herpes.
The findings were based on data from 838 girls who took part in a nationally representative health survey in 2003 and 2004. They were tested for various STDs.
(Editing by Maggie Fox and Philip Barbara)
"The return of Monica Lewinsky"
By Joan Vennochi, (Boston) Globe Columnist, April 3, 2008
OF COURSE, college students are asking questions about Monica Lewinsky.
But Bill and Hillary Clinton, not their daughter, Chelsea, should be answering them.
The sordid story about the president and the White House intern dominated the news while today's young voters were growing up. If they know one line from the Clinton years, it's this: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
As a sound bite summing up a presidency, it's in the same league as Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook," - and a far cry from John F. Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
Because the media protected politicians of that era, JFK never had to answer publicly for his private affairs - and neither did his children.
Jimmy Carter once told Playboy, "I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times."
But, committing adultery in your heart is one thing; committing it in the Oval Office is another, especially when you are caught, and impeached for lying about it. Today, Bill Clinton's daughter is being asked to address her father's transgressions, and the impact on her mother's credibility.
"Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know, maybe 70 college campuses I've now been to and I do not think that is any of your business," said Chelsea, the first time someone broached it.
The second time, she said, "It's none of your business. . . . That is something that is personal to my family. . ."
It's uncomfortable to watch the former first daughter confront questions about Lewinsky, but, up to a point, she's fair game.
At 28, Chelsea Clinton is no child. She's an adult campaigning on college campuses specifically to attract young voters to her mother's cause. As a surrogate, she must expect a wide range of questions. To the Lewinsky question, she needs a simple, dignified response: "I'm sorry, that's not something I can answer."
But her parents, and especially her father, can and should answer some questions relating to the matter.
As president, all of Bill Clinton's choices, including his involvement with Lewinsky, became the public's business. A generation of young people, some now voting for the first time, associate his presidency with his lie about sex. Voters, generally, have a right to wonder whether he might cast a similar shadow on a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Hillary Clinton blamed the initial stories about her husband's affair on "a vast right-wing conspiracy." In her book, "Living History," she writes that her husband lied to her, too, and that after he told her the truth, "I wanted to wring Bill's neck." Unfortunately, he dragged the country, not only his family, through a long and ugly mess. Again, voters have a right to seek assurances that they won't be dragged through it again.
The Clintons' reluctance to address this issue highlights a recurring weakness of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. As a candidate, she wants to highlight only what she considers the high points of Bill Clinton's two terms in office, while refusing to address the low points.
Monica Lewinsky was destined to come up in 2008, and Chelsea Clinton was the obvious avenue of inquiry. It's sad that she's the one to face the music about the kind of betrayal that must sear a daughter's soul. But, she's going to get the questions, because her parents won't put the Lewinsky affair to rest in some way that satisfies not only the public's curiosity, but the public's need to know it won't happen again.
It's a bit like what happens after Tony Soprano gets shot and his children have to confront the fact that their father is a Mob boss. "It's all out in the open now," Carmella says sadly. It's that way for Chelsea Clinton, too - not because of curious college students, but because of Bill Clinton's life choices.
Joan Vennochi's e-mail address is email@example.com.
"Gender debate revived at Harvard"
By Megan Woolhouse, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 12, 2008
The controversy sparked by former Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers in 2005 when he questioned women's "intrinsic aptitude" for science may be over, but the issue continues to provoke lively debate on campus.
Yesterday afternoon, Rosalind Chait Barnett of Brandeis University and Steven E. Rhoads of the University of Virginia offered students vastly different takes on women's scientific prowess and why they make the professional choices they do, during a seminar titled "What Larry Summers and Nancy Hopkins Didn't Say: Women in Science."
Barnett cited studies of 3-year-old boys and girls that showed no difference between how they learn to count or read a map - precursors to an aptitude in math. And Barnett took issue with a popular 2003 study that found women's strengths to be making friends, mothering, gossiping, and "reading" their partner. She encouraged the audience to "challenge gender stereotypes."
But Rhoads said men and women are innately different, including in the way they learn.
"I'm the bad guy here," said Rhoads, author of the book "Taking Sex Differences Seriously." "Even if we encourage both [sexes to enter math and science professions] equally, there isn't any closing the gap."
The program was part of a conference titled "A Genuine Debate with Diversity of Views on the Legacy and Future of Feminism," sponsored by the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University. It featured keynote speaker Camille Paglia and seminars like "Sex and the Modern Girl" and "Feminism Encounters Islam." In fliers it was billed as "The Conference the Radcliffe Institute Didn't Want to Host!"
Summers, who resigned as Harvard's president in June 2006, sparked controversy in early 2005 when he said during an academic conference that the innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in math and science. Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, walked out on Summers's talk and later said that if she had not, she would have "blacked out or thrown up." Summers, a former treasury secretary, remains on the faculty as a professor of economics at Harvard Kennedy School.
During her presentation, Barnett, who wrote "Same Difference: How Gender Myths are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs," cited research that found a gender bias in the peer review process by which academics in the sciences get their work published. She also critiqued a Pew Research Center paper that found 60 percent of mothers wanted only part-time work, and 19 percent wanted no work outside the home. She said the samples of the mothers were too small and the questions were often poorly worded.
While there may be fewer women involved in math and science, Rhoads said, they tend to dominate in the field of psychology and the humanities. But this disparity has not raised concerns among academics, he said.
"We're not going to have affirmative action for men going into child development," he said. "I don't see that argument being made."
Deborah Blum, author of "Sex On the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women," offered some middle ground between Barnett's and Rhoads's views, saying academic achievement is based on a complex group of factors, including biology, environment, and genetics.
"I believe biology influences behavior," she said, but "the influencing behavior is not the same as destiny."
John McNulty, a graduate student at Harvard, attended the seminar while caring for his 6-month-old daughter, Eulaie. He said he was intrigued by one study showing that young boys tend to receive longer explanations about cause and effect than girls.
"I can personally think of many examples where I had that kind of discussion with my father," he said. "I'd like to provide my daughter with many of the same things."
"Berkshire Brigades Names Cohan 2008 Campaign Coordinator"
iBerkshires.com - April 24, 2008
PITTSFIELD – Berkshire Brigades, the county Democratic Party organization, has named Marge Cohan its campaign coordinator for the 2008 election.
"We are absolutely delighted that Marge is available to help organize the county for this critical election year," said Lee Harrison, Berkshire Brigades chairman. "She has the experience, talent, and drive not only to help us organize our local campaign but also to help us send volunteers to neighboring states as we did for John Kerry in 2004."
Cohan, a 28-year resident of Pittsfield who recently ran for City Council, was chief executive officer of the Brien Center for five years until her retirement last year. She was also a founding member of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. She serves on Pittsfield's Tourism Committee and with other community organizations. She has a bachelor's degree from State University of New York at Cortland and a master's degree in human relations from New York University.
"I know the power of bringing people together to work on community issues," said Cohan, "and this experience will be invaluable as we develop an effective grassroots Democratic organization throughout the county in preparation for the November election."
Cohan said it is not too early for Democrats to begin organizing for the fall.
"Our success depends on enlisting people from all over the county and finding things they can do that fit into their busy schedules. Whether it's knocking on doors, making calls, writing letters, or holding house parties, it’s all part of a successful campaign," she said.
Anyone who wishes to help elect Democrats this fall should contact Cohan at 413-822-6218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This is going to be a tough election,” said Cohan, “but together we will win.”
The Center for Research on Families announces a two day symposium:
“WOMEN AND WORK: Choices and Constraints”
University of Massachusetts Amherst
October 30-31, 2008
The focus of WOMEN AND WORK will be on key workplace challenges for women in the 21st century by reconsidering the notion of 'opting out'. The conference will bring together experts in the field to consider the factors that lead women to leave the workforce and what factors make it difficult for them to enter the workforce. The goal is not only to highlight the issues and challenges for employed women but to also engage in discussions that focus on solutions and supports for women that then can inform workplace policies.
Thursday, October 30th, 7 p.m.
Joan C. Williams
Distinguished Professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law and Director of the Center for WorkLife Law
“Opt Out or Pushed Out: The Real Deal Re Women and Work”
Campus Center Reading Room
Free and Open to All
Friday, October 31st, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Workshop: Panel Sessions
917 Campus Center
Registration required. *
Michelle Budig -- Sociology, UMA Amherst
Heather Boushey -- Senior Economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the US Senate
Nancy Folbre -- Economics, UMass Amherst
Ellen Galinsky -- President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute
Naomi Gerstel-- Sociology, UMass Amherst
Bernie Jones — Suffolk University Law School
Susan Lambert-- School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago
Joya Misra – Sociology and Public Policy, UMass Amherst
Maureen Perry-Jenkins -- Psychology, UMass Amherst
Peggie Smith -- University of Iowa College of Law
Pamela Stone -- Sociology, Hunter College
Eve Weinbaum -- Labor Studies and Director of the Labor Center, UMass Amherst
*TO REGISTER FOR THE WORKSHOP: www.umass.edu/family/womenandwork
Oct. 31, FEE (includes lunch):
$25 - UMass and Five College
$10 - student
$40 - non-Umass and Five College
For more information contact email@example.com or go to the conference website: www.umass.edu/family/womenandwork
Please help us to spread the word!
This conference is presented by the Center for Research on Families with support from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Office of the Vice Provost for Research through a Leadership in Action Award.
Additional contributors include: the University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Easthampton Savings Bank, the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts, the Center for Public Policy and Administration, UMass Amherst Women's Studies Program, Hampshire College Feminist Studies Program, the Women and Gender Studies program at Amherst College, the Gender Studies program at Mount Holyoke College, and MotherWoman, Inc. Special thanks goes to the many alumni who have provided both significant contributions and enthusiastic support.
Center for Research on Families
University of Massachusetts Amherst
622 Tobin Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
"Kunin visit to highlight women's day"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Monday, February 23, 2009
PITTSFIELD — Tricia Farley-Bouvier met former Vermont governor and Pittsfield High School alumnus Madeleine Kunin for the first time last year at an International Women's Day event in Great Barrington. Kunin gave the keynote address and then joined the former Pittsfield city councilor and others for a panel discussion.
Farley-Bouvier found out why Kunin had such a successful political career.
"There was a regal (quality) about the way she carried herself," she said. "Kunin was so self-assured.
"But she was down to earth at the same time," added Farley-Bouvier.
Kunin will get to make another good impression locally, when she returns to Pittsfield for International Women's Day 2009 on March 2 to give a lecture at Congregation Knesset Israel, 16 Colt Road in Pittsfield. Prior to the open lecture at 7 p.m., a special reception for Kunin will be held at the home of Reba and Bruce Evenchick, 40 Colt Road, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the lecture are $20 and available at the door, while the reception costs $50 per person and is limited to 35 guests who can call (413) 447-7277 to make a reservation.
The two events are fundraisers for WHEN, Pittsfield's political action group devoted to the political, economic and social promotion of women.
WHEN spokeswoman Anne Pasko said her organization is thrilled Kunin can again visit Berkshire County.
"It's quite a coup for us to snag her as she has such a busy schedule," Pasko said.
Pasko said Kunin has also agreed to meet on March 3 with a group of history students at Pittsfield High, where she graduated from in 1952. She would eventually move to Vermont to raise a family and begin a string of firsts for women in U.S. politics.
Kunin was the first woman to be elected governor of a state three consecutive terms (1985-1991) and she was the first female Jewish governor in U.S. history. Kunin is also the only female governor in Vermont's history.
Kunin later served as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland (1996-1999), where she was born, and served in the Clinton Administration as a deputy secretary of education. Her latest book entitled "Pearls, Politics and Power" is described as a call for women in America to engage in politics.
Farley-Bouvier said Kunin remains a role model not only for other women, but young people as well.
"When I read about Kunin, I can identify with her because she cares deeply about community," said Farley-Bouvier who is glad Kunin has the time to visit Pittsfield High.
"It's most important she speaks with students," Farley-Bouvier added. "(Her visit) is one possibility to show them how to get involved in the community."
To reach Dick Lindsay: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6233.
"Women at the Table: 40 Intimate Profiles of Political Women of the Northeast"
Michaeline Della Fera
(L & L Dreamspell: paper, 420 pages, $21.95)
"Intimate profiles of powerful local women"
By Rebecca Rule, www.seacoastonline.com, March 22, 2009
When it comes to politics, change is a certainty. For those who write books about politics, some facts are bound to be outdated as soon as the book hits the bookstores.
When Michaeline Della Fera of Hollis took on the daunting task of writing about some of the most powerful politicians in New England, she was up against time and change. When I sat down with "Women at the Table: 40 Intimate Profiles of Political Women of the Northeast," I flipped immediately to the New Hampshire section, more than 100 pages on 12 of our own.
Right away, I began the update: "Of the current twenty-four senate members, fourteen are Democrats and ten are Republicans, ten, or 41.6 percent are women." (Kind of funny, the visual of 41.6 percent senators.)
In the last election, which took place after the book went to print, that percentage shifted in a dramatic way. We now have a female majority in our Senate — the first, I believe, in U.S. history. (Della Fera's next book will be "Thirteen Women: A Look at the New Hampshire Majority Female Senate." So she's on top of that situation.)
Despite the mental adjustments, accounting for changes in the fast-moving world of politics, "Women at the Table" fills in a lot of blanks in a satisfying way. Kelly Ayotte, our newly reappointed attorney general, for example, is in the news constantly. Her face is instantly recognizable, but what's her background? What does she think about her job, the relationship between her office and the governor's office? What are some of her personal values and goals? Della Fera lets us know. Ayotte is not only our first woman AG, she's also the youngest ever appointed.
She knows in her heart she is a powerful woman but outside of the office she is just "Kelly."
"I change diapers, read bedtime stories to my daughter, make dinner and do the dishes," she says. "Neither my husband nor my daughter care that during the day I'm the attorney general."
Appointed by both a Republican governor, Craig Benson, and Democrat John Lynch, Ayotte explains that while it's important to understand the politics of an office operating within state government, "Politics can never drive any of my decisions."
The name Betty Hall of Brookline may be less familiar, except to voters in her district who elected her to the N.H. House of Representatives 14 times.
At 86, Betty Hall hasn't thought of slowing down. In 1940, she ran for supervisor of the checklist and since then has served on school boards, finance committees, and numerous local boards. Elected to the House in 1970, she has worked tirelessly for the people of New Hampshire 60-plus years.
One of the things we learn about Betty Hall: she has a bone to pick about partisan politics. In the old days, she says, working in committees was completely nonpartisan.
We completely forgot who was a Republican and who was a Democrat. Everyone was absorbed in the issues before them. And every vote was a nonpartisan vote on the issue. Today there's a real effort on the part of the leadership of both parties to ask you to vote their way. That was never done in the sixties and seventies.
Which is why, in part, at the age of 87, she became an independent.
Other New Hampshire women profiled include Sylvia Larson, Margaret Hassan, Terie Norelli, and Donnalee Lozeau. No Jeanne Shaheen, though. That's strange; maybe Della Fera couldn't snag an interview.
I also wondered about Donna Sytek and Arnie Arnesen. They weren't in the section on New Hampshire, but sure enough, appear prominently in the chapter called "Barrier Breakers," dedicated to "all the women politicians who ran for elected office before it was the 'in thing.'" Women who "paved the way" to those "now serving and those who, in the future, will dedicate their lives to public service."
Donna Sytek we all know as the former Speaker of the House, a powerful Republican leader. She broke a barrier by becoming the first female speaker.
Men and women alike told me they couldn't vote for a woman speaker. Men didn't surprise me but women surprised me when they said they just couldn't envision a woman speaker.
She lost on her first run, but won on the second. And that, she says, was "when the fun began. Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate." Thick skin, determination, high energy and extraordinary commitment needed — that's the message I take away from these stories of successful, and fascinating, women.
Arnie Arnesen embodies all those qualities. If you live in New Hampshire, you know the name from television, radio, her days in the N.H. House, and her dramatic runs for governor and Congress. Her story alone is worth the price of this book. Whether you agree with Arnie's politics (she, gasp, refused to take the tax pledge!), you may very well be interested in how she became such an articulate maverick, a nationally recognized commentator, and, as she says, "probably the best known poor person in New Hampshire."
Michaeline Della Fera is out and about promoting her book, often appearing with one or more of the women profiled. To celebrate Women's History Month, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, she'll be at the Water Street Bookstore in Exeter with N.H. Sen. Maggie Hassan, Representative Donna Schlachman, and former Reps Eileen Flockhart and Jackie Weatherspoon. The discussion and Q & A will be moderated by Pat Yosha. For her complete listing of events, visit mdellafera.com.
Rebecca Rule of Northwood reviews books by New Hampshire authors. She may be reached at email@example.com.
GO & DO
WHAT: "Women at the Table" author Michaeline Della Fera with N.H. Sen. Maggie Hassan, Representative Donna Schlachman, and former Reps Eileen Flockhart and Jackie Weatherspoon in a discussion and Q & A moderated by Pat Yosh
WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, 2009
WHERE: Water Street Bookstore, downtown Exeter, NH
DETAILS: For her complete listing of events, visit www.mdellafera.com
"Former resident pens book on role of women"
By Meghan Foley, North Adams Transcript, 3/23/2009
WILLIAMSTOWN -- A California woman who grew up here and graduated from Mount Greylock Regional High School in 1988 recently had a book published about women and their role in the early United States economy.
Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, daughter of John and Margaret O’Connor of Williamstown, has been working since 1997 on "The Ties That Buy: Women and Commerce in Revolutionary America," published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.
"The book is about how women used their connections to shape the bigger economy and consumer culture," Hartigan-O’Connor, now an assistant professor at the University of California, said Thursday.
She said the book focuses on women living in areas such as Newport, R.I., and Charleston, S.C., and their role in the economy as it transitioned from the Colonial to the Revolutionary War era.
What is written in many publications about the Revolutionary War era, she said, is that the women participating in the economy had been those who were either free or widows. She said her suspicion before beginning to research the topic was that women who had access to and interest in money -- such as married women and servants -- contributed significantly to the economy.
"Things that made them dependent actually made them buyers," she said.
For example, one of the women she wrote about ran a tavern and had a credit system in which she wrote IOUs from customers on the back of playing cards.
Hartigan-O’Connor, who received her doctorate from the University of Michigan, said the book came about while she was in graduate school.
"I spent several months over several years at archives in South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and some in Massachusetts. Visiting the archives, I would collect information and look at court documents, personal letters, business papers and newspapers," she said. "It was a long process to put together a scholarly book."
She said she hopes people who read her book see that the meaning of the economy or the American Revolution can’t be understood without knowing how ordinary women contributed and participated in it.
"Women are not a side story in a major transformation of American history," she said.
Hartigan-O’Connor specializes in late-18th- and early-19th-century America and women’s history. She said the basic reason she wanted to study history was because of three American studies teachers she had as a student at Williamstown Elementary School and Mount Greylock -- Elaine Drummond, Judith Miller and Martha Daley.
"They all felt women, as well as men, were the subject of history and taught me that history was an active creation and not something that is memorized from a book but something that is put together with documents and creativity," she said.
The detective work and imagination involved in putting tiny pieces of evidence together into a historical record drew her to become a historian, she said.
As for becoming a history professor, Hartigan-O’Connor said she loves to write and talk to people about history -- growing up, she admired friends’ parents who were professors at Williams College.
"They talked about ideas and influenced what people thought," she said.
She likes being able to do that as well, and said it’s rewarding to see students make connections they may not have made before.
Hartigan-O’Connor lives in Kensington, Calif., with her husband, Dennis, and their two sons, Eamon, 7, and Finn, 4.
To reach Meghan Foley, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Author, Law Professor Anita Hill to Reflect on Choosing America s Better History"
iBerkshires.com - April 02, 2009
BENNINGTON, Vt. - In 1991, Anita Hill was thrust into the public spotlight when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing. The legacy of her testimony includes an increased awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace today.
Hill, now a law professor at Brandeis University, has continued to speak widely on social and political issues facing our world. On Thursday, April 23, at the Bennington Center for the Arts, she will reflect on a premise from President Barack Obama s inaugural address in a lecture open to the public entitled, Choosing America s Better History: The Supreme Court, Civil Rights and the Promise of Citizenship.
Anita Hill s visit to Vermont is part of the annual Four Colleges Issues Forum, sponsored by Bennington College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Southern Vermont College and Williams College. Prior to the upcoming lecture, the four colleges will hold related learning events, including a gathering of students and faculty to discuss Hill s 1995 biography, Speaking Truth to Power. The April 23 lecture, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the BCA auditorium, is free and open to the public, with a brief reception following. Seating for this event is limited and tickets are required, which will be available at BCA s box office by calling 802-442-7158.
Hill has taught law and social policy for 25 years and has lectured in the U.S. and abroad. She has also written commentary for Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Ms. Magazine and appears regularly on programs including Good Morning America, Meet the Press, The Today Show and Larry King Live.
Inspired by President Obama s inaugural speech in which he asked every American to choose our better history, Hill s talk will explore the role of the Supreme Court and other federal courts in enforcing civil rights and passing on the promise of meaningful citizenship from generation to generation. Her talk will address how this administration can choose members of the federal courts, including a Supreme Court Justice, in ways that promote equality and diversity.
Southern Vermont College President Karen Gross, a former full-time law professor who worked with Professor Hill, remarked, We are honored to welcome Anita Hill to our community. For many of us, her powerful testimony at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings is seared in our memories. We look forward to hearing her reflections on the past and her thoughts for improving our future at this extraordinary time in our nation s history. I am delighted that students, faculty and staff from the institutions participating in the Four College Issues Forum will have an opportunity to meet Professor Hill and listen to her inspiring personal and professional story.
A faculty member at Brandeis University, Hill is currently on leave as a visiting scholar at Wellesley College where she is working on an analysis of the more than 20,000 letters and e-mails she has received since the Thomas hearings.
Hill is the recipient of many awards, grants and honorary degrees. She received the Ford Hall Forum s First Amendment Award for promotion of race and gender equality and the Fletcher Fellowship for work aimed at ending educational disparities among poor and minority students. She also holds positions in many civic organizations, including Tufts Medical Center, National Women s Law Center and the Boston Area Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.
For more information about the Anita Hill lecture on April 23 at Bennington Center for the Arts or about the Four Colleges Issues Forum, please call the Southern Vermont College Office of Communications at 802-447-6388.
"MASSACHUSETTS Senate President urges businesses to elevate Women"
AP - Boston.com - April 15, 2009
BOSTON --State Senate President Therese Murray is challenging Boston's business community to add more women to its power structure.
The first female Senate leader in Massachusetts told the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Wednesday that in state government alone, women who make up 52 percent of the population hold only 26 percent of the House and Senate seats.
She says the state "can do better," and she's urging leaders to appoint more women to executive and board positions during the next year.
Murray supported Hillary Rodham Clinton's quest to be the first female president and was angered last year when she lost the Democratic nomination to now-President Barack Obama.
April 23, 2009
Pittsfield is very anti-woman when it comes to politics. In 2006, Luciforo strong-armed 2 women candidates -- Sara Hathaway & Sharon Henault -- out of the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds "election". Luciforo also corruptly represented insurance companies and had to step down from his state Senate seat due to his illegal conflicts of interest. Lobbyist Larkin handed his seat to Chris Speranzo in early-2005, against two other women candidates for State Representative -- Pam Malumphy & Rhonda Serre who lost to insider's politics. Jimmy Ruberto asked voters to elect him against Sara Hathway due to rising taxes and crimes. Time has borne out Ruberto is doing worse than his predecessor on rising taxes and crimes. Ruberto's real angle was then he had male anatomy so he should be the mayor. Jimmy Ruberto went onto appoint Carmen C Massimiano II to a City Licensing Board chaired by a woman with a law degree, many years of experience and easily more qualified than the Sheriff. Indeed, Pittsfield Politics is unfair to women. No Women as Mayor, City Council, State Representative, State Senate, Governor, Congress, and the like. Pittsfield is a man's World when it comes to politics. Sheila LaBarbera is just the latest Pittsfield woman to be scapegoated by the infamous "Good Old Boy Network".
- Jonathan Melle
Elizabeth Edwards has written a memoir that is to be released later this month (May 2009). (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)
"Elizabeth Edwards: John's affair made me throw up"
Associated Press, April 30, 2009
NEW YORK -- Elizabeth Edwards writes in a new memoir that news of her husband's affair made her vomit in a bathroom.
In the book scheduled to be published May 12, 2009, Edwards says her husband, John, admitted to the betrayal just days after declaring his run for president in 2006. She says she wanted him to drop out of the race to protect the family from media scrutiny, but stood by his side anyway.
John Edwards went public with the affair in August (2008) after the National Enquirer reported he was the father of videographer Rielle Hunter's daughter.
Elizabeth Edwards never identifies Hunter by name. But she says that while her life may be tragic, Hunter's is "pathetic."
An advance copy of the book, "Resilience," was obtained by the New York Daily News.
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed
"Elizabeth Edwards gets the final say"
By Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe Columnist, May 3, 2009
IN A NEW BOOK, Elizabeth Edwards acknowledges that her husband, John Edwards, the former Democratic presidential candidate, is a liar and cheat.
She can forgive him. The public shouldn't.
It's not the infidelity. It's his reckless decision to go forward with a presidential race after confessing a fling to his cancer-stricken wife, knowing it was much more than that. Even worse was his willingness to feature his wife in a campaign based on family values, even as he lied about the affair on the campaign trail.
In "Resilience," a new memoir that is due out May 12, Elizabeth Edwards writes that her husband told her about what he described as a one-time fling days before announcing his run for president in 2006. His confession of what turned out to be only a portion of the truth made her physically ill. "I cried and screamed. I went to the bathroom and threw up," Edwards writes, according to the New York Daily News, which obtained an advance copy.
Fearful of the affair becoming public, she wanted her husband to quit the race for the family's sake. But she stood behind him when he decided to go forward and kept his secret. She continued to back him after her breast cancer spread, saying she did not want her legacy to be: "That I'd taken out this fine man from the possibility of giving such a great service."
Now, she writes, "He should not have run."
Edwards was actually involved in a long-term affair with Rielle Hunter, a woman who worked briefly as a campaign videographer during his presidential bid. He denied the affair when the National Enquirer first reported it in December 2007. Edwards dropped out of the race in January 2008, eventually endorsed Barack Obama, and was considered a potential choice for attorney general in an Obama administration. Then, in July 2008, the Enquirer caught Edwards visiting Rielle and published a grainy picture of him holding a baby.
In August 2008, Edwards admitted to ABC News that he repeatedly lied about the affair, but denied paying Hunter hush money or fathering her child. He attributed his behavior to the glamour of being a hot national candidiate, "all of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe you can do whatever you want. You're invincible. And there will be no consequences."
Afterward, Elizabeth Edwards blogged, ". . . when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him." She forgives him still, writing in her book, "I lie in bed, circles under my eyes, my sparse hair sticking in too many directions and he looks at me as if I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. It matters."
Political wives often stand by their men. Hillary Clinton did it for Bill. Silda Spitzer is helping her husband, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, seek redemption after he was caught in a prostitution scandal.
Elizabeth Edwards has added incentive for keeping her marriage together. She is seriously ill and the Edwards family has already endured deep tragedy. A son, Wade, died in a 1996 automobile accident at age 16. Afterward, Elizabeth Edwards had two more children and John Edwards launched an ambitious political career that took him from richly paid trial lawyer to presidential candidate.
He ran for US Senate, then for president, and then for vice president as John Kerry's running mate in 2004. Then, he decided to run again for president, despite his wife's cancer diagnosis and his own secret affair. Through it all, he preached family values and relied on his wife to play a prominent role, almost that of co-candidate.
She connected with voters as a wife, mother, cancer survivor, and healthcare policy wonk. Her steady sincerity blunted his bouts of disingenuousness. Stories about their anniversary celebrations at Wendy's took some edge off stories about their 28,200-square-foot dream house.
In the end, Edwards's duplicity cost him his political future, but his wife keeps his story alive.
Maybe that is Elizabeth Edwards's revenge.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at email@example.com.
THE BOSTON GLOBE - Op-Ed: MARY ROBINSON AND ALICIA YAMIN
"Let's stop women's suffering"
By Mary Robinson and Alicia Yamin, June 4, 2009
HUMAN RIGHTS organizations around the world are starting to demand that governments recognize preventable maternal death as a violation of women's rights. With the United Nations Human Rights Council's June session just around the corner, governments have a chance to prove that they value women's lives by taking concrete action on this issue.
Many governments are already on board. In March, 85 countries called upon the council to take decisive action to contribute to the existing efforts to address maternal mortality. In this critical year leading up to the Millennium Development Goal review in 2010, the council has a historic opportunity in its June session to recognize the need to incorporate human rights into programs and policies designed to combat maternal deaths and encourage international cooperation and assistance in this area.
More than one woman dies every minute from preventable causes in childbirth, and for every woman who dies as many as 30 others are left with lifelong, debilitating complications. Moreover, when mothers die, children are at greater risk of dropping out of school, becoming malnourished, and simply not surviving. Not only is maternal mortality and morbidity a global health emergency, but it triggers and aggravates cycles of poverty that cause generations of suffering and despair.
But it is not just a hopeless tragedy. We know what is needed to save women's lives; we have known for 60 years what care women need when they face obstetric complications. The reason that women are still dying is because women's lives are not valued, because their voices are not listened to, and because they are discriminated against and excluded in their communities and by healthcare systems that fail to prioritize their needs. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, which has just launched a global campaign to reduce maternal mortality, are calling on governments to acknowledge that these utterly preventable deaths reflect widespread indifference to women's suffering and pervasive disregard for their fundamental human rights.
Yes, saving women's lives will take resources; estimates are about another $6 billion a year to be on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal target and reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent from 1990 levels by 2015. That seems like a pretty cheap price to pay to save hundreds of thousands of women's lives each year. But 99 percent of maternal mortality occurs in the global South and especially in some of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Asserting that these preventable deaths are an issue of human rights does not mean that poor governments are going to be blamed for not doing what they cannot do. Rather, understanding the profound injustice of disparities in maternal deaths makes it all the more urgent that donor states honor their funding commitments and that effective monitoring and accountability mechanisms are put in place to ensure that aid is going to the interventions that evidence has shown will save women's lives. Moreover, maternal mortality is a human rights issue within high-income countries as well, where data show that ethnic and racial minorities suffer disproportionately from pregnancy-related deaths.
Fourteen years ago at the Fourth World Conference on Women, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton declared that "women's rights are human rights." As secretary of state, Clinton has passionately and eloquently affirmed this administration's commitment to women's reproductive health needs around the world, and the Obama administration has called for increased funding for global health. As a new member of the Human Rights Council, the United States has the chance to lead the way in promoting a woman's right to go through pregnancy and childbirth in safety and, just as important, to back up that assertion with adequate funding commitments.
Mary Robinson and Alicia Yamin are advisory council members of the International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights.
"Coakley runs against history in state where old boys rule: Massachusetts slow to embrace women in high places"
By Matt Viser and Eric Moskowitz, Boston Globe Staff, December 12, 2009
Twenty-three states have sent at least one woman to the United States Senate, and in three states - California, Maine, and Washington - female senators hold both seats.
But Massachusetts, a bastion of liberal politics and a pioneer in civil rights, is just now marking the milestone of nominating a woman as a Democratic candidate for Senate with Attorney General Martha Coakley’s overwhelming victory in Tuesday’s primary.
“Whenever you’re talking about firsts, it’s always ironic that we’re in 2009 and we’re still talking about them,’’ said Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral, who is the first woman elected to her position and who supported a Coakley rival in the primary. “People say there are certain jobs that are jobs for men. All that means is that a woman hasn’t been hired yet.’’
Coakley has grown more comfortable openly discussing her gender - she used it to great effect in the one of the last debates, and then made barrier-breaking a theme of her acceptance speech Tuesday night - and the issue poses a potential challenge for her Republican opponent, state Senator Scott Brown, as he plots his campaign.
“They said women don’t have much luck in Massachusetts politics,’’ Coakley said Tuesday. “We believed that it was quite possible that that luck was about to change.’’
In her prepared remarks that night, the line was followed by five exclamation points.
There are various reasons cited as to why Massachusetts has not elected more women to top elected positions, including the power of incumbency, which has kept many men who first ran years ago in office for long stretches. Also, many men holding office have been strong advocates for women’s rights.
But while Massachusetts has been slower than some states to send women to Washington, it is not going unnoticed that a Coakley victory in the Jan. 19 special election would mean that two consecutive open congressional seats have been filled by women. Until US Representative Niki Tsongas of Lowell won a special election in 2007, several women had run for Congress but come up short; in other races, no women had joined the field.
“We’ve been accumulating pieces of this,’’ Tsongas said in an interview. “I do think it’s a real milestone and reflective of a critical mass in Massachusetts. It’s not over, obviously, but it does show that women can run and can win.’’
“It seems like in the last three years maybe Massachusetts has decided to catch up with the rest of the country, which is a good thing,’’ said state Senate President Therese Murray, who is the first woman to hold that position in state history and is a strong Coakley supporter.
“We’ve developed our sharp elbows, and we now have a good farm team and we’ve got a good back bench,’’ Murray said. “And I think we’ve got a lot of women mentoring other women. And we finally hit the jackpot with our ability to raise the funds in a short period of time and make a woman candidate viable, an experienced, qualified woman viable.’’
Coakley would be the 39th woman to serve in the Senate and the 25th to win the seat through an election. She would be the 18th woman in the chamber, if she were to win in January.
Of course, she has to get past Brown first. The Republican nominee has come out of the gate attacking Coakley’s positions, calling her an obstacle to job creation and a candidate who would simply do the bidding of Democratic leadership in Congress.
“When people are asked to rank the most important issues, they don’t mention gender at all,’’ Felix Browne, a spokesman for Brown’s campaign, said in an e-mail. “They’re concerned about the loss of jobs, out-of-control spending in Washington, and their taxes going up. Martha Coakley’s plans to increase spending and raise taxes are bad for Massachusetts.’’
Brown could also make a claim to a different kind of history: the first Republican senator to be elected from Massachusetts since 1972.
But he has largely downplayed his GOP affiliation, not even naming the party on his campaign website.
Throughout the primary, Coakley’s three male opponents were wary of appearing too aggressive. Early in the campaign, when US Representative Michael E. Capuano called her “cautious,’’ his remarks were called sexist by Murray.
From that point on, none of Coakley’s challengers attacked her with any vigor.
Coakley also drew some flak for exploring her prospects as a potential candidate prior to the death of Edward M. Kennedy, and for being the first to jump into the race officially, though her preparedness would prove a key ingredient in her effective campaign.
“A lot of women get criticized for not being brave enough to jump in, and yet she really kind of got criticized for jumping in,’’ said Carol Hardy-Fanta, director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s John W. McCormack Graduate School. “Guys have always had this gumption of, ‘I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.’ ’’
Politically active women pointed out after Coakley’s win that while progress has been made, numerous political positions in Massachusetts remain dominated by men.
“We’re not great on women in politics,’’ said Andrea C. Kramer, a lawyer who teaches sex-discrimination law at Brandeis University and serves as treasurer of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. “Massachusetts has very much an old boy feeling to it.’’
While the number of female mayors has grown steadily in recent years, the number of women serving on boards of selectmen, city councils, and boards of aldermen has remained largely stagnant.
Twenty-six percent of the Legislature is made up of women, placing it 17th in the country, according to the Center for American Women in Politics. Among New England states, Massachusetts is ahead of only Rhode Island. New Hampshire and Vermont are first and second in the country, respectively.
The Bay State is also one of 30 that have never elected a female governor, though Jane Swift served as acting governor for almost two years after Paul Cellucci resigned to become ambassador to Canada.
Coakley is the state’s only female constitutional officer, and if she vacates her position, it would leave a void.
But there are several female candidates running for higher office, including two women gunning for state auditor: Mary Connaughton, a Republican and former Turnpike Authority board member from Framingham, and Suzanne Bump, a former Patrick administration labor secretary.
“It’s an old boys’ sport in Massachusetts, and women have had a hard time breaking through,’’ said philanthropist Barbara Lee, who is Coakley’s campaign cochairwoman. “But women are on a roll.’’
Letter: "Seeking women to run for office in Massachusetts"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/3/2016
To the editor:
The decision to run for public office can seem like a daunting one. That's especially true for women, who are starkly underrepresented in offices in Massachusetts and face unique challenges as female candidates. However, for every reason to not run for office, there are 10 reasons why women from Massachusetts should.
Maybe a woman feels like her needs and her family's needs aren't being prioritized by a Legislature that's 75 percent male. Another might be a retired teacher who can bring expertise and energy to her local school board. Others might simply look at the gender inequality in offices across Massachusetts and think, "Hey, our voices are needed too."
Emerge America recently launched a campaign called #WhySheRuns to highlight Democratic women in office and to shed light on the forces that initially drove them to run. The #WhySheRuns videos are inspiring for a lot of reasons, but mainly because at the core of every woman's decision was the same thing: a desire to create positive change in her community.
The Bay State needs more passionate, qualified women in political office. At Emerge Massachusetts, we recruit and train Democratic women because we have confidence in their potential and know the value they bring to governments. Our programs give women the skills they need to take the plunge into politics.
We're currently recruiting for our next class. If you or a woman you know already has their reason to run, applications are available at www.emergema.org/content/application-process. We'll take it from there.
Ryanne Olsen, Boston
The writer is executive director of Emerge Massachusetts.
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- ► 2009 (43)
- ► 2008 (122)
- Financing higher education? The $tudent Loan Syste...
- Common Sense?
- Executive Power Signing Statements - Barack Obama ...
- All about John Adams' unknown 3rd cousin North. A...
- America's racist laws!...Derrick Z. Jackson
- Pittsfield's Persecution of Peter Arlos. Also see...
- DICTATORS & OR Corporate Fascism
- Women in Politics
- U.S. Representative John W. Olver
- Environmental Policies
- Berkshire Senator Benjamin Downing. Also see Andr...
- Reality or Ignorance?...and the Catholic Church
- ▼ December (12)