Harvard Women Laugh Last; Cholesterol Meds Risky

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(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

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More women are faculty members at the engineering and law schools, as well as at Harvard College and at the Radcliffe Institute following Dr. Lawrence Summers’ resignation as Harvard president in 2006, reported The New York Times on March 13.

Summers’ statement in 2006 that women do not perform as well as men in math and science created a maelstrom of controversy resulting in his resignation.

More News to Cheer This Week:



  • Actress Ashley Judd said she supports the International Violence Against Women Act in a March 23 teleconference, reported the AFP. Judd cited her humanitarian work helping women in brothels as the key reason for throwing her support behind the bill. U.S. senators Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., first introduced the bill to Congress Feb. 4, reported Vital Voices. With Judd’s support the senators hope to get the bill voted on before the end of the current congressional session. If the bill passes and is signed into law, the United States will create foreign assistance programs to stop violence against women, reported the article.
  • Charlotte Bunch, a Rutgers professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and founder of the school’s Center for Women’s Global Leadership, earns major homage in a profile in the March 22 edition of the Daily Targum, a university publication. Bunch–credited with helping to push women’s rights into the spectrum of human rights–is currently working at the U.N. on a campaign called Gender Equality Architecture Reform, which aims to combine the several smaller offices that currently handle women’s rights issues into one large agency.
  • Iranian attorney and human rights activist Shadi Sadr dedicated her Women of Courage Award to Shiva Nazar Ahari, an imprisoned women’s rights activist, reported a blog called www.iranianvoicesintransition.blogspot.com on March 11. Sadr was a Women’s eNews Ida B. Wells award winner in 2004.





Jeers

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Cholesterol-lowering drugs may cause women more harm than good, TIME magazine reported in its March 29 edition. Over 24 million Americans have been put on statin drugs, such as Crestor, Zocor and Lipitor to lower their LDL cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol), thereby reducing their risk of heart disease, reported the article.

Of the 12 million American women regularly prescribed these drugs, many of them suffer painful side effects related to the medication. New data suggests that women already with heart disease can benefit from statin drugs, but women who are otherwise healthy may not gain anything by taking them, reported the article.

Although research published in the February issue of the journal Circulation, known as the Jupiter study, has declared that male and female patients taking Crestor for an average of two years had similarly lower rates of heart disease, many in the medical field believe the side effects outweigh the possible reduction in cardiovascular problems.

More News to Jeer This Week:



  • Activists are calling for gender inclusiveness in the debate on climate change, specifically mentioning that women have been left out of the discussions, reported IRINNews.org on March 24, a view that was supported by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York last month. Ban, according to IRINNews.org, said: “The special perspective of women is often overlooked in global discussions on climate change.”
  • The problem of exposing perpetrators of sexual violence among U.N. peacekeepers was probed in a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal March 22. One example: Both U.S. and Moroccan forces set forth an investigation, discovering that at least 14 soldiers were involved in either sexual exploitation or abuse in Cote d’Ivoire, reported the article. According to the article, sexually related allegations against U.N. military forces last year rose to 55 percent from 12 percent, and some of those allegations involved minors.
  • “Why So Few?,” a March 22 study by the American Association of University Women, portrays environmental and social barriers restricting women’s participation in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Noted:



  • Newsweek magazine is generating buzz with an article in the March 29 edition about its own problem with gender bias written by Jessica Bennett, Jesse Ellison and Sarah Ball. “Are We There Yet?” looks back to 46 women at Newsweek who in 1969 became the first group in news media to sue for employment discrimination. The current-day writers said they knew little about the suit, but began to hear about it in connection with discrimination scandals surrounding ESPN, David Letterman’s Late Show and The New York Post. With their antenna newly tuned, they looked around and found gains for women at the magazine that were more marginal than they might at first appear.
  • Hundreds of women rallied outside Yemen’s parliament to show support for a law banning child marriages, the BBC reported March 23. The law being proposed would set a minimum age for girls to be married at 17 and 18 for boys. The rally comes days after thousands of women protested against it, as some conservative Muslims oppose the law. On March 22 a group of Islamic clerics issued a decree condemning the law and said its supporters were apostates. The government proposed the law after the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a 30-year-old man was annulled, the article reported. A final decision on the legislation is expected in April.
  • Giving birth through Caesarean section in the United States reached the record rate of 32 percent in 2007, more than any other industrialized country, reported The New York Times on March 24.
  • A non-competitive racing sport for women in Morocco began on March 17 and ended on March 25, reported The New York Times on March 20. In the sport, women race in cars, trucks, motorbikes and other vehicles in a sandy terrain to find seven checkpoints spotted with red flags. There were 104 teams that registered and paid as much as $19,500 to participate. France-native Dominique Serra founded the rally.

In memoriam:

Liz Carpenter, former aide to Lyndon B. Johnson and a newspaper reporter, died from pneumonia on March 20, reported The New York Times. Carpenter was the founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus and served as joint chairwoman of ERAmerica, an organization that worked to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. She was 89 years old.

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