2011 - A Good Year for Women

Reflecting back on the past year, I thought about some of the strides women made here in the US and around the world. I spend much of the year making others aware of issues and concerns that are of particular importance to women: the glass ceiling, pay equity, recession recovery, sexism in popular culture, and so on. It took the quiet time of the first week back at work for me to stop and think about where and what women achieved in 2011. fireworks

Women seized the international spotlight in many different ways. The three Nobel Peace Prize winners were all women, and they were all honored for working on behalf of women’s rights. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman were awarded the Prize together. Christine Lagarde of France became the first female to be named Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. And, of course women were a noticeable aspect of the Arab Spring movement. (Although another interesting perspective is presented by Isobel Coleman in Foreign Policy 12/20/11 in her article “Is the Arab Spring Bad for Women?”)

Here in the U.S. one of the great victories for women in 2011 was the FBI’s decision to change its definition of rape – removing “forcibly” and “female” and instead using the phrase “without consent.” Not only will this mean that rape statistics are more accurate, it also recognizes that men can be raped (and are) and that in many rape cases drugs make the use of force unnecessary for the rapist.

And finally, women are now CEOs of two major American technology companies. IBM named its first woman CEO, Virginia Rometty while Meg Whitman became CEO of HP.

Please share other signs of progress for women from the past year.

Jeanne Miller, CEW Director of Information Services


And let's not forget that the

And let's not forget that the University of Michigan had three McArthur fellows in 2011.  All three of the "genius grant" research scientists were women:  Tiya Miles, historian; Melanie Sanford, chemist; and Yukiko Yamashita, biologist.