The House of Representatives passed on Tuesday a resolution to honor the contributions of African American women in the sciences. The bill is intended to draw attention to the group’s lack of representation in those fields.
African American women comprise less than 1 percent of employed workers who have earned doctorate degrees in the fields of science and engineering, according to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who sponsored the bill.
“To increase the numbers of African American youth pursuing science, especially young women, it is critical that we provide them strong science role models to admire and emulate,” she said on the House floor.
The resolution now awaits action in the Senate.
Other Things to Cheer this Week:
— Too much exposure to fairytales like “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” can prime a girl’s mind to put up with abuse later in life, according to a study by psychotherapist Susan Darker-Smith, reports The Guardian. Darker-Smith found that abuse survivors had identified at an early age with submissive fairy tale female characters, or thought they could change their abusive partner with patience and love, just like the female protagonist did in “Beauty and the Beast.” Darker-Smith will deliver her findings next month at the International Congress of Cognitive Psychotherapy in Gothenburg, United Kingdom.
— Timed the week before Mothers’ Day, congressional Democrats are hosting a “nurse-in” on Capitol Hill next week to build public support for legislation that would promote breastfeeding. Nursing mothers are slated to breastfeed their babies on the outdoor terrace of one of the House office buildings to promote the practice. The legislation, championed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), aims to protect nursing mothers from discrimination, encourage business to provide lactation areas in the workplace and make breast pumps more effective and affordable.
–Low-income women and children who rely on food stamps for nutrition should receive a higher allocation for grains, fruits and vegetables, according to research at the Institute of Medicine, reports The Washington Post on Thursday. The food program commonly referred to as WIC gives vouchers mostly for eggs, cheese and milk. The study recommends an increase of $10 per month per woman for the purchase of fresh produce.
–U.S. pressure prompted authorities in Croatia to re-arrest a prominent businessman accused of raping an American athlete, reports The Guardian on Friday. According to police statement, the 28-year-old American basketball player was relaxing in her hotel room in the small town of Gospic when a local, well-connected businessman she knew forced his way into her room and raped her. The controversy surrounding the incident has sparked debate about rape in the Balkans, where the legal system tends to blame the rape victim for the crime.
–In India free lunch compels girls to stay in school, reports The Washington Post on Thursday. In Dataan, the northwestern state of Rajasthan, almost 60 percent of girls drop out of school before fifth grade, a statistic also common in other parts of the subcontinent. To encourage parents to keep their daughters in school, authorities introduced an experimental free lunch program in some states in 2002, then in January of this year made the program mandatory across India. Last month, the Finance Ministry raised the free lunch budget from $38 million to $67 million for 110 million elementary school children.
House Democrats accused Republicans of twisting their words for political gain in official documents related to an abortion bill passed this week.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday accused Republicans of rewriting the text of unsuccessful Democratic amendments to an abortion bill to reflect their party’s ideological views.
Citing his own case as an example, Nadler said in a statement released Wednesday that he offered an amendment that would have exempted grandparents and adult siblings from facing penalties under the legislation, which would make it a crime to transport minors across state lines to have an abortion.
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, he charged, characterized his amendment as one “that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution” under the legislation.
“This is truly outrageous, and a gross abuse of power,” Nadler said in a release, adding that the amendment is not intended to shelter sexual predators. “The Republicans are trying to determine which words the Democrats get to use to describe their own amendments. What next–they get to write our speeches?”
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., a Republican from Wisconsin who chairs the Judiciary Committee, responded on the House floor that the majority party has the right to articulate arguments relating to the bill and suggested that the Democratic amendments “were not properly drafted by the authors.”
Other Things to Jeer This Week:
–In approving the fiscal 2006 budget resolution on Thursday, Congress agreed to cut $35 billion in funding for mandatory programs, many of which aid women and children. The resolution did not specify which programs will be on the chopping block, but Medicaid–the government’s health insurance program for the poor–stands to see a drop of close to $10 billion, reports The New York Times. The resolution does not need the president’s signature and does not carry the weight of law. But it does make it easier for Congress to enact the proposed cuts later this year when it takes up the 13 annual spending bills.
–An Iraqi woman became the first member of her country’s newly elected transitional government to fall victim to terrorism on Wednesday, according to press reports. An assassin shot Lamia Abed Khadouri Sakri, a political activist who was elected to the National Assembly in January, when she opened the door of her home in Baghdad. Attackers have also targeted members of the outgoing administration, security forces and other civilians.
–Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in New Zealand, according to a research published by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited, reports The Dominion Post. The study says that chlamydia and gonorrhea cases were up between 2000 and 2004 by 28 percent and 44 percent respectively. In a separate study issued by the Minnesota Health Department, chlamydia was up 8 percent in that state last year.
–Coverage of women in business media is too low, according to a study by Media Tenor Institute for Media Analysis, a global media research company, reported in a press release on Thursday. The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of female protagonists was less than 11 percent, while Newsweek and Time magazines featured the highest coverage, with 21 percent and 18 percent respectively.
–Wimbledon increased its tennis tournament prize money to $24.7 million, topping the Australian Open, the French Open and the U.S. Open, reports the Daily Telegraph on Thursday. But women’s singles champions will continue to earn less than their male counterparts. In the world of tennis championship, only the Australian and U.S. Open pay their male and female athletes equally.
–Girls in the U.S. are increasingly using steroids to look thinner and more toned, says Charles Yesalis, a professor of health and human development at Pennsylvania State University, reports The Courier-Mail on Wednesday. Steroids have been known as a source of abuse among male athletes, but when girls use steroids it’s usually for losing weight and to supplement an eating disorder, according to the sports medicine division at the Oregon Health and Science University.
— Alison Stevens contributed to this report.
Rasha Elass, an intern at Women’s eNews and a freelance writer based in New York City, attends Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Allison Stevens is Women’s eNews’ Washington bureau chief.