Dr. Frances Kelsey was a Canadian-American pharmacologist who worked as a reviewer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after an impressive career as a faculty member at the University of Chicago and University of South Dakota.
At the FDA, Dr. Kelsey was a member of a very small team whose responsibility it was to review drug applications from pharmaceutical companies, placing a much needed emphasis on evidence-based data. During this time, Dr. Kelsey repeatedly blocked the application for a drug called thalidomide, which was already widely used in Europe. Drawing on her past research of finding evidence of certain drugs that crossed the placental barrier, she was not convinced that thalidomide was safe for pregnant women, especially with the data (or lack of) that was being presented. Despite growing pressure to ram the drug application through (drug company’s bottom line $ of course being their most important worry), Dr. Kelsey and her team stuck to their guns and refused to let a drug with possible serious side-effects into the U.S. market. In the 1960s, births of many deformed infants in Europe started to be linked to thalidomide, and it became widely known that Dr. Kelsey prevented a disastrous medical crisis in the U.S.
In 1962, she became the second woman to be presented the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President John F. Kennedy. Dr. Kelsey retired from the FDA in 2005 after 45 years of service.
Thank you to Sarah (a current #WCW in STEM) for sharing the below video and putting Dr. Kelsey on my radar!
Girl Scout and future leader of America Julianne Speyer:
Fiction writer and the 2018‒2019 Radcliffe fellow Lauren Groff being interviewed by The Harvard Gazette:
Former Navy pilot (reaching the rank of lieutenant commander) after being turned down by the Air Force, Tammie Jo Shults was one of the first female fighter pilots in the Navy three decades ago, flying the F/A-18 Hornet in an time when women could not go on combat missions.
Tammie eventually side-stepped into commercial flying, becoming a part-time pilot at Southwest Airlines. On April 17, 2018, the passengers of Flight 1380 were lucky enough to have her in the cockpit. The engine failed on the Boeing 737, flinging debris from a fan blade into the plane. Tammie was calm and collected, making an emergency landing.
REALLY cool story about how an Illustrator working on a children’s book took to Twitter to help identify the only woman at the 1971 International Conference on the Biology of Whales (who happened to also be the only person “not identified”)
Spoiler Alert – the woman (Sheila Minor Huff), ended up being really dope.
Anybody that knows me can tell you that I have a few borderline-obsessions: coffee is absolutely one of them.
Alyza Bohbot took over the family business, Alakef Coffee Roasters, when she was 29 and saw that the company was struggling. One of the first things she did was start a sister company, City Girl Coffee Company, which makes it a point to fight gender equality in the coffee industry. She was adamant that a company that took a strong social stance could not only be profitable, but that social justice advocacy could be their greatest marketing tool.
City Girl Coffee gets its beans from farms that are owned or managed by women, and donates 5% of all profits to Orgs with similar stances (including International Women’s Coffee Alliance and Café Femenino). City Girl has a VERY strong online sales presence, and is slowly but surely moving into Midwest markets, getting into more and more grocery stores and co-ops.
In 1995, country music legend Dolly Parton started a local non-profit to help foster literacy in Sevier County, Tennessee. She started this program thinking of her father, a smart man who was unable to go to school because he had to work at a very young age to help provide for his family. He never learned to read or write. After remarkable success at the local level, Imagination Library quickly grew at a national level, now mailing at a pace of 1 million books per month to children in the program. This past week, Dolly was invited to the Library of Congress to celebrate the program’s 100 millionth book delivery.
The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics are now behind us, and there was a great showing from the kick-ass women representing the US. Below are the medal winners:
Gold: US Women’s Hockey
Probably my favorite event/results. The US Women’s Hockey team won gold for the first time in 20 years, preventing rival Canada from reaching the top podium spot for a 5th consecutive time. Added cool fact (not that it needed any): this win came on the anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, when the US Men’s Hockey team beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics, preventing their rival from moving on to the gold medal match, and potentially winning top honors ALSO for the 5th consecutive time (US went on to win gold).
Gold: Snowboarding – Women’s Slopestyle
Silver: Snowboarding – Women’s Big Air
Gold: Snowboarding – Women’s Halfpipe
Gold: Alpine Skiing – Women’s Giant Slalom
Silver: Alpine Skiing – Women’s Alpine Combined
Jessica Diggins & Kikkan Randall
Gold: Cross-Country – Women’s Team Sprint Freestyle
Lauren Gibbs & Elana Meyers Taylor
Silver: Bobsled – Women’s 2-Man Competition
Bronze: Figure Skating – Mixed Team
Mirai Nagasu, Bradie Tennell, Maia Shibutani (who also got bronze in Figure Skating – Mixed Ice Dance), & Alexa Scimeca Knierim
Bronze: Snowboarding – Women’s Halfpipe
Bronze: Freestyle Skiing – Women’s Halfpipe
Bronze: Alpine Skiing – Women’s Downhill
Bronze: Speed-skating – Women’s Team Pursuit 6 Laps
Heather Bergsma, Carlijn Schoutens, Mia Manganello, & Brittany Bowe
Sherry Johnson was raped when she was 8 years old by multiple men in positions of power within her family’s religious institution. She was pregnant and gave birth at age 10, and was married off to one of her rapists at age 11. This did not happen in some hard to imagine, rural area of India or Afghanistan, but in Florida, USA.
Sherry’s story is at times an unsettling read (trigger warning), but I still highly recommend taking time to read it, because this blog post won’t do it justice at all.
Sherry is now sharing her story and spearheading efforts to call on Florida legislators to change current laws that allow young girls to be coerced into marriage via loopholes (permission from parents/judges). She hopes to help Florida become the first state to abolish child marriages (200,000 in the US in the last 15 years, 87% of which were young girls). The original bill proclaiming 18 to be the legal marriage age, no exceptions passed unanimously on January 31, but a similar bill was introduced last week to allow exceptions for pregnancy of 16 and 17 year olds.
I braced myself last night, but still cringed pretty hard listening to President Donald’s State of the Union address, especially when he got into the subject of Immigration reform. I just find it amazing that many members of the GOP’s ancestors would not have been able to come into the US under their proposed new rules, and was reminded of the fantastic story of Jennifer Mendelsohn (@CleverTitleTK) and the fun #resistancegenealogy movement on Twitter.
Jennifer, an author, journalist, and genealogist, has been using her skills in the latter to uncover public records and shine light on some of the hypocrisy rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate. Examples:
- Rep Steve King, who said last year that “you cannot rebuild civilization with somebody else’s babies.”… Jennifer quickly uncovered that King’s 4-year old grandmother came through Ellis Island in 1894.
- Tomi Lahren who said that Dreamers were not “law-abiding citizens”…Jennifer found that Lahren’s great-great grandfather was indicted by a grand jury for forging his naturalization papers.
- Found evidence of “Chain-migration” history on both Dan Scavino and Vice President Mike Pence
Your Grandma Was a Chain Migrant – The New Yorker
A very hearty congratulations to Maame Biney & Erin Jackson, who became the first and second African-American women ever to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speedskating teams! (Biney on the short-track team, and Jackon on the long-track)
Biney, who was born in Ghana, is just 17 years old, making her the youngest member of her team. Jackson, 25, had only picked up the sport 4 MONTHS AGO after making the transition from inline skating.