Women Working for Change

Rosemary Dunn Dalton with Family in Kitchen

My mother was born in 1896 before most of what we know of the world was possible, except war and violence. These two constants really didn’t seem to bother her much. She never talked about the world situation; she concentrated on her faith, the many children she’d birthed, and her grandchildren. She had eight children in 24 years. My oldest brother was that many years older than me.

Toward the end of her life in her eighties, she made remarks about how much the world had changed since she was born, making references to phones, automobiles, women’s clothing. Now I hear her voice as I ponder how fascinating it is to try to keep up with the technological changes in our lives: communicating via email, social networks, and our pods, pressing on those handheld objects that used to be called plain old phones. Our cells.

I like the idea of all these new means of communication. We elected a president through grassroots fundraising on the Net. More than that, we get to organize whatever response we feel counts in our political, personal, and social lives.

So here I go. I rarely hit the streets for demonstrations these days. I would, but the impact is harder to see in a small-town environment. There are exceptions: domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and reproductive rights. I can be flushed out to join the battle if it’s not too cold and late in the evening.

I’m focusing on my professional life, upgrading skills I feel will be exciting to learn about. I’m playing my guitar, creating my own songs. These usually address the human condition as well as some whimsical stuff. I like to write and have just completed my fourth mystery novel. These aren’t heavy-duty, and I wrote them because it was fun to create some mystique, describe characters, and solve dilemmas. The writing itself is okay, breaking rules about how mystery is supposed to be written. That’s all right with me, and self-publishing gives one this kind of permission.

In this blog, I want to write about impressive people who continue to work for change. Today, more women than ever before are seeking political office, running for House and Senate positions. Eighteen women are running for Senate; 163 are going for election or re-election for House seats. Most of these are Democrats: 12 for the Senate and 116 in the House. Six are Republicans for Senate and 47 for the House. We have six women governors (Republican), one Democratic woman running in New Hampshire.

Maggie Hassan is the only woman running for governor. There will be no Democratic women governors in the country if she loses. That would be the first time since 1996. Any woman who seeks public office faces the usual critique of who will run the farm and the kids if she’s away. Funny, if the husband or partner chooses to stay at home with family, he faces ridicule from the same factions.

There’s a new initiative to increase the numbers of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). California Institute of Technology, Princeton, Cornell, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and UC Berkeley have all signed on to be a part of an online mentoring course. Degrees in STEM fields, including computer science and engineering, represent less than 20 percent of undergraduate degrees.

All pretty impressive developments. I wonder what my mother would have to say about that.

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