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UP FRONT | spring 2006

Keeping Score
Lest We Forget | How We're Doing | Milestones

Lest We Forget

“Growing up on Nancy Drew.”
—RUTH BADER GINSBURG, when asked what made her spend her life working for women’s rights.

“The world is starting to grasp that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women and girls.”
—LOUISE FRECHETTE, the U.N. deputy secretary-general.

“Three years ago, no one could have imagined that such a male chauvinist society as ours would elect a female president.”
—PAULINA WEBER, one of the leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of Chilean Women (MEMCH), after Michelle Bachelet was elected president of Chile.

“[Charlize Theron in North Country] plays a woman who is constantly judged on her looks and paid less than her male coworkers. It must be wonderful to be done with that and back in Hollywood.”
—JON STEWART, hosting the Academy Awards.

“I’d say the cutoff point for leading ladies today is 35 or 40, whereas half the men in Hollywood get their start then. It’s a terrible double standard.”
—KATHLEEN TURNER, 52, to The Guardian.

“Unfortunately it is more difficult to find funding for a film where the majority of the cast is female.”
—RENA RONSON, co-head of William Morris Independent, to the L.A. Times.

How We're Doing

The World’s Women in the News
On February 16, 2005, hundreds of observers in 76 countries did a gender analysis of 13,000 news stories as part of the third Global Media Monitoring Project. Here’s what they found:

Women underrepresented in news content by an average of 3 to 1.


Polls Support a Woman President

More than 90 percent of American adults would vote for a qualified woman from their political party for president, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll. The finding reflects a continuing percentage increase in support for a woman president, from 52 percent (1955), to 73 percent (1975), to 82 percent (1987), to the current 92 percent.

Milestones

MICHELLE BACHELET became Chile’s first woman president in January and the first female head of state in South America to be elected without the help of a husband’s coattails. Bachelet immediately appointed a gender-balanced Cabinet — 10 men and 10 women — and required gender parity in all government appointments. Following in her footsteps, PORTIA SIMPSON MILLER was elected Jamaica’s first woman prime minister in February, and SUMAYAH ALI RAJA has announced her candidacy for president of Yemen, the first woman to seek the office.

EFFA MANLEY, the savvy businesswoman and early civil rights activist who managed a Negro League baseball team in the 1930s and 1940s, became the first woman in the Baseball Hall of Fame when she was posthumously elected this February.

CHRISTINE QUINN became the first woman and first openly gay person to be elected speaker of the New York City Council, arguably the city’s second-most powerful position.

OCTAVIA BUTLER, the first black woman to gain prominence as a science fiction writer, died at 58. An outsider to the male-dominated, technophilic world of SF, she changed the field with her groundbreaking works about gender, race and alienation.

WENDY WASSERSTEIN, feminist Pulitzer Prize-winning play-wright, has died at age 55. Her most celebrated play, “The Heidi Chronicles,” is a witty and compassionate portrait of a feminist in the ’60s and ’70s struggling to forge romantic relationships without compromising her ideals. (See review of her posthumous novel.)

NELLIE Y. MCKAY, renowned scholar of African American and black women’s studies, passed away in January. Believed to be in her mid-70s, the University of Wisconsin professor helped make African American literature a standard part of school
curricula nationwide.

This winter marked the deaths of two eminent feminists. BETTY FRIEDAN , author of The Feminine Mystique, the book that moved a generation to feminism, died on February 4, her 85th birthday. Five days earlier, we lost CORETTA SCOTT KING, who led a lifelong, worldwide struggle for women’s and civil rights. Ms. pays them tribute in this issue.