Monday, March 8, 2010

Celebrating 100 Years of International Women's Day

Even if you didn't watch the 82nd Annual Academy Awards show last night, you have probably already heard that Kathryn Bigelow made movie history last night by being the first woman to receive the Oscar for Best Directing for her direction of the movie "Hurt Locker."   

This was an exciting win for emergency managers because the movie focused on an Exposive Ordinance Disposal Squad in Iraq who are incredible emergency responders.  This movie provided some incredible insight into those who willingly put their lives on the line daily for our freedom.

Beyond the excitement of seeing an emergency response movie win top honors was also the historical gender moment in Ms. Bigelow's win.  And since March 8th marks the 100th Anniversary International Woman's Day, it is fitting to remember other top women in the field of emergency services who have made their mark on our history. 

Of the nearly 300 women who have been recognized and honored for National Women's History Week as recorded by the National Women's History Project, the following 6 women were recognized for accomplished careers in emergency services or had significant contributions to enhancing safety:

Clara Barton (1821- 1912), Nurse, American Red Cross Founder
Barton began her humanitarian work in the Civil War when she collected and delivered supplies and nursed wounded Union soldiers. She was called the “Angel of the Battlefield.” In 1869, she learned about the work of the International Red Cross, founded in 1863 in Geneva. Barton helped convince the United States to sign the Geneva treaty in 1882, and in 1893, she became president of the American Red Cross. For 22 years, Barton led its disaster relief work.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), Doctor
Blackwell became the first woman doctor when she graduated from Geneva Medical School in 1849. Blackwell and two other women doctors opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857. During the Civil War, she assisted in selecting and training nurses. She and her sister opened the Women's Medical College in New York in 1868. Returning to her native England, she was a professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Children.

Sylvia Alice Earle (b. 1935),  
Oceanographer and Environmentalist
Earle was the first woman chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She led the investigations of the impact of the burning of Kuwait’s oil fields and the devastation caused by the Exxon Vladez in Prince William Sound in Alaska. With a group of other women scientists she lived underwater for 2 weeks to study marine environment and the effects of isolation on humans.

Rebecca S. Halstead (b. 1959), Commanding General, 3rd Corps Support Command, Germany
Halstead entered the United States Military Academy in 1977. She was one of 104 women to enter in the second class that included women, which was made possible in 1975, when President Gerald Ford signed into legislation the opening for women applicants at all service academies.

Shirley Jackson (b. 1946), Physicist
Jackson was the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. from MIT in 1973. In 1991, she became a professor of physics at Rutgers University. President Clinton named her chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1995, where she helped set up the International Nuclear Regulators Association in 1997 to provide assistance to other nations on matters of nuclear safety. In 1999, she became president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Wilma Vaught (b. 1930), Retired Brigadier General
One of the most-decorated military women in U.S. history and the Air Force’s first female general, after retiring in 1980, General Vaught was the driving force behind the building and dedication of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Washington, DC. She served on the Committee on Women in the Armed Forces in NATO, 1984-85. Vaught was also a member of the International Women’s Forum.

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