Team Tactile


Team Tactile is a team of six MIT STEM majors and recent winners of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for their print-to-Braille creation. Chandani Doshi, Grace Li, Jessica (Jialin) Shi, Chen (Bonnie) Wang, Charlene Xia, and Tania Yu created a device that uses an internal camera to read lines of text, and then converts it into Braille characters, allowing the user to read anything. No more costly books or dependence on text-to-audio capabilities. Here’s a pretty cool article about it that came across my radar via The Future Crunch.



Today’s Women “Crushin’ it” Wednesday are Malika Saasa Saar and Yasmin Vafa of Human Rights Project for Girls, Rebecca Epstein of Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and Lindsay Rosenthal of Ms. Foundation for Women; authors of the report The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story

I honestly can’t remember how this report got onto my radar, but it’s been on the back of my mind for some time now. Having parents that provide foster care, it’s always hard when the kids you’ve become attached to either get placed with family members or get adopted. Many of these kids have experienced a lot of trauma, and you hope that they continue to receive the help and therapy they need so that they could lead the best lives they can…but the statistics aren’t good.

The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girl’s Story report focuses on how we treat girls that are victims of sexual abuse. The conclusion is that society fails these girls, that many are treated like criminals instead of victims. The sex traffic victims picked up on prostitution charges, the juveniles that run away because of abuse, those that do drugs to try to cope with abuse; many are funneled into the juvenile justice system (and later prison), which fails to treat and often makes worse the trauma that these girls are experiencing. It’s a pretty somber read, but I encourage anyone to go through it. The report also goes through a series of reactive and proactive steps that can be taken.

A few:

  • Implement Policies that Improve Responses to the Behavior of Foster Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma and Abuse.
  • Prohibit Child Welfare Agencies and Providers from Discharging Runaway Girls.
  • Strengthen the JJDPA (Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act)
  • Enact Effective and Universal Safe Harbor Laws.
  • Fully Enforce — and Strengthen — the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
  • Provide Gender-Specific Physical and Mental Health Care In Justice Settings.

Tulsi Gabbard


Tulsi Gabbard currently serves in Congress (House) representing Hawaii’s 2nd district. She is the first American Samoan, as well as the first Hindu to serve in Congress. In 2002, she was the youngest woman to serve in Hawaii’s State House of Representatives at the age of 21. In 2004 she enlisted to Hawaii’s National Guard while still a State Representative, and decided not to run for re-election but instead volunteered to be deployed to Iraq for a 12-month tour. She currently holds the rank of Major.

Tulsi has grown incredibly popular within the Democratic Party, most recently vacating her role as vice-chair of the DNC to publicly endorse Bernie Sanders for President (the first female U.S. Representative to do so). Be on the lookout for this Natural Born World-Shaker to continue to inspire and do great things (I wouldn’t hate a Cory Booker/Tulsi Gabbard ticket, but that’s just my two cents)

Alice Coachman


Alice Coachman was the first African American woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics (1948). That year, she was also the only American women to win a gold medal in any Athletics (Track & Field) event.

Growing up in the segregated South, Alice did not have access to coaching, equipment, or a dedicated space to practice her running or jumping. Because she didn’t even have proper shoes or conventional ways of training, she had to kind of wing it on her own. When she was finally noticed by a local coach and able to compete in Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) competitions, she broke both high school and college high jump records….barefoot. She continued to dominate the sport (while also winning national championships in the 50 and 100 meter races, as well as the 400 meter relay). She had to wait longer than she wanted to compete at the Olympics due to WWII and the cancellation of the ’40 and ’44 games, but persevered and battled through a back injury in ’48 to set an Olympic high jump record of 5’6.5″

Thocmetony (Sarah) Winnemucca


“If women could go into your Congress, I think justice would soon be done to the Indians” – Sarah Winnemucca

Sarah Winnemucca was born in 1844 in Nevada of the Northern Paiute and originally given the name Thocmetony (translation: shell flower). Growing up, Thocmetony’s grandfather Chief Truckee thought it important to be educated in and exposed to different cultures that were quickly becoming prevalent in Native American lands. In California, she quickly learned English, Spanish, and multiple Native American dialects. When returning to Nevada, she lived with a white settler family for a time and changed her name to Sarah.

Sarah tried to continue her education in California when her grandfather died (it was one of his dying wishes), but was kicked out of school when non-Indian families complained about her presence there. As a result, Sarah went back to Nevada when many aggressions between settlers and Native Americans were reaching a fever pitch. She used her language skills as an interpreter/peace maker, and attempted to advocate for the rights of her people. After witnessing the many hardships on reservations, Sarah went on a lecture tour spanning several states detailing the plight of Native Americans, and was able to speak with President Rutherford B. Hayes in Washington D.C. (though very little came out of the meeting, Sarah saying later that the President’s and Congress’ “promises which, like the wind, were heard no more”)

Sarah then became the first Native American woman to publish an English written book, her autobiographical Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (added to my Goodreads reading list). Over the course of her life, Sarah Winnemucca was: a military scout, an author, a teacher, an interpreter, a peace maker, and in the end, extremely disheartened that the struggles of Native Americans fell onto deaf ears.

Lucie Myslíková


I’m really loving these pictures of badass women coolly standing up to racists around the world. Meet Lucie Myslíková, 16 year old Girl Scout from the Czech Republic who attended a counter-rally on May Day and had a nice back-and-forth with a far right demonstrator who was there to promote whatever Neo-nazis promote (Gillette Fusions?). In a perfect world, Lucie and Saffiyah Khan team up to create a superhero duo.

Women in STEM

Later than usual post today, but I promise I have a good reason! I wanted to pull one of these #WCW submissions from a new book that I got, Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky. I bought two copies, one for myself and one for my parents to add to their collection of books that their foster kids can pull from and read. I had recently been home visiting and asked their current 10yr old placement what woman from history she looked up to…. she couldn’t think of any. I loaned her a copy of another book I was given (Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History) and told her to memorize one name: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So anyways, I forgot my book at home so had to wait until I got back to finish this submission. ONWARD TO THE POST!

Unless you’ve been living under tariffed Canadian lumber, you know that on this past Saturday (Earth Day), there were worldwide marches advocating for the importance of science and fact-based decision making. In the spirit of those marches, I decided to do another STEM-heavy post with some kickass trailblazers.

Maryam Mirzakhani


In 2014, Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, nicknamed the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics” for her work on Riemann surfaces. She is a professor at Stanford University, and is one of very many examples of immigrants who came to the US to kick ass. Her education in Iran, as told to The Guardian:

“…the education system in Iran is not the way people might imagine here. As a graduate student at Harvard, I had to explain quite a few times that I was allowed to attend a university as a woman in Iran. While it is true that boys and girls go to separate schools up to high school, this does not prevent them from participating say in the Olympiads or the summer camps.

But there are many differences: In Iran you choose your major before going to college, and there is a national entrance exam for universities. Also, at least in my class in college, we were more focused on problem-solving than on taking advanced courses.”

Peggy Whitson


Peggy Whitson is an American biochemist who has officially logged more time in space (534 days as of April 24th) than any American before her. When her current mission is complete, she will have logged a total of 650 days. Her call with President Donald Trump was great (best moment starts at 4:49 when Peggy is describing all the innovations needed to go to Mars, and how water is such a precious resource. Trump’s response is classic).

Sylvia Earle


Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist that is a trailblazer in her field. She was the first woman to dive out of an already submerged submarine via lockout chamber and in 1979 set a women’s untethered depth record of 1,250ft when she walked the ocean floor in her open-ocean JIM suit. She then went on to develop the Deep Rover submarine and became a National Geographic explorer-in-residence in 1998. To this day, Sylvia works to use her expertise to tackle issues such as over-fishing, pollution, effects of oil spills, and oceanic dead zones. She has launched the non-profit Mission Blue in 2009, which aims to help protect and preserve the oceans and their ecosystems.

Jovita Idár


Jovita Idár wore many different hats at the turn of the 20th century, and is fairly well known to the Mexican-Americans of Texas. As a teacher, she saw first hand the second rate citizenship of children who were Mexican or Tejano, and how their education was woefully neglected of funding. Of the schools that existed for Spanish speaking children, many did not have books or heat and were located in buildings that were falling apart. This, and the murder of Antonio Gomez via lynch mob spurred Jovita to take action. She organized and was first president of La Liga Femenil Mexicanista (The Mexican Feminist League), whose purpose was to provide free education and services to children, and to “unify the Mexican intellectuals of Texas around the issues of protection of civil rights, bilingual education, lynching of Mexicans, labor organizing and women’s concerns”. They taught poor children (and adults) how to read and write, and created lessons to help them become bilingual. La Liga also provided charitable services, distributing food and clothing for those less fortunate.

During the Mexican Revolution, Jovita joined a group called The White Cross. She went into cities along the border and was nurse to anyone who needed care; revolutionaries, government soldiers, and civilians. It was during this time that she saw first hand the influences the U.S. had on the revolution as well, oftentimes contributing to the violence. Jovita then became a journalist for El Progreso, highlighting and criticism Woodrow Wilson’s involvement. Very soon after a critical publication, the Texas Rangers came to the offices to shut things down. Refusing to leave the doorstep, Jovita protected her right to free speech… they came again the next night with sledgehammers and destroyed everything. The newspaper never recovered (she didn’t have the clout that Twitter has)

Jovita later became editor in chief at La Cronica, the newspaper he late father was an editor of. Under her leadership, the newspaper continued pushing for activism and justice, helping to organize and give voice to migrant workers and others. She continued a life dedicated to education rights, nonviolence, and helping to give voice to those who needed it until her death in 1946.

Saffiyah Khan


Last Saturday in Birmingham England, the English Defence League (EDL) held a demonstration in response to the recent attacks in London and Stockholm over the past several weeks. The EDL is known to be pretty vocal hatemongers, so much so that the two co-founders of the group left the organization in 2013 because of worries over the “dangers of far-right extremism”. It was at this demonstration that Saffiyah Khan noticed that roughly two dozen members of the EDL had surrounded a woman wearing a hijab and that the situation was getting tense.

So this 25 year old bad-ass decides to singlehandedly step in and have some calm (albeit choice) words for the EDL. This picture proceeded to be taken and go viral. Just look at it, I love it so much. This dude’s face is going red and his veins are starting to throb, and my girl Saffiyah is cool and collected. Let’s all stop hoping that more Saffiyahs existed in the world to step in, and start making the choice to BE the ones to step in, unafraid and with smiles on our faces.

Aung San Suu Kyi


The 8888 Uprising in Burma (8/8/1988) was spearheaded by students but participated by citizens of all walks of life. The response was a violent military coup that resulted in countless deaths (estimates get as high as 10,000). Out of this chaos and uncertainty, a badass rose from the ashes: Aung San Suu Kyi. Before the coup, Aung San Suu Kyi called for democracy, speaking at rallies that drew thousands and founded the National League for Democracy (NLD). Seen as an instigator and therefore dangerous to the status quo, she was given the option by the military junta to leave the country, or face arrest. She remained and was promptly put in house arrest until things settled down…..

Which didn’t last long. In 1990 the junta held a general election, and despite it’s influence and intimidation, the NLD won 80% of the parliament seats. The election results were swiftly denounced and nullified by the military and put the county right back into chaos. Back into house arrest Aung San Suu Kyi went, spending 15 of 21 years between 1988 and 2010). During this time, her popularity did not wane, and she became the face of democracy. Also during this time, she received many awards, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Post-release, she rose up in government positions (in many cases becoming the first woman to hold each one). She currently serves as the 1st State Counsellor of Myanmar and Leader of the NLD.