The girls’ team

** Spoiler alert, but only if you’re living in a bubble and don’t know the results from Sunday’s swimming competition yet.**

Did you know:

  • Women’s soccer has only been an Olympics sport since 1996 (ridiculous).
  • Women’s floor exercises in gymnastics are longer than men’s (70-90 seconds as opposed to 60-70 seconds) and use music, while men do not.
  • Dana Vollmer broke the 100M fly world record and scored the gold for Team USA this weekend.
  • This is the first year that all participating nations have women competing.
  • It’s also the first year that Team USA has more women than men competing.
  • Women are boxing for the first time in London, though they had a demonstration competition in 1904.  (Who dropped the ball in the meantime, ladies??)  With this advance, there are no remaining summer sports where women can’t compete.
  • In 1900, Charlotte Chattie Cooper was the first woman to win an Olympic title when she defeated her French counterpart in the women’s singles final (tennis).
  • After female athletes collapsed during track competitions in 1928 and were criticized for being “unfeminine” and “undignified”, they were banned from racing further than 200M, a ruling that stood at the Olympic level for 32 years.
  • In beach volleyball, women are required to wear two-piece uniforms, and there’s a maximum size for the bikini bottom.  (Yes, really.)

What amazing women have you been watching this week?  And what great ladies will you be cheering for as the Olympics continue?

Women and public service, on a scale of awesome

Cool: A new State Department initiative to support women in public service.

Cooler: The fact that Mount Holyoke College is part of this new program, and is going to serve as a world leader getting women involved in – and recognized for – public service.

Coolest: The fact that my dear friend Priti Rao is one of their success stories already!

Go Priti, go Mount Holyoke, go women kicking butt and making the world a better place, one public service position at a time!  Check out the Women in Public Service Project to see what great things they have in store for the future.

Celebrating Women: Past, Present, and Future

“If you give us the chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”

– Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas

On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, here’s to the women who have paved the way and given us that chance.  100 years ago, women didn’t even have the right to vote, nevermind to do what I’m doing this morning, going to work for equal pay in a world where I’m surrounded by female CEOs, politicians, talk show hosts, and scientists.  Even that I can go to work in flats and blue jeans is a victory in my book.

I just finished reading When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins, which really made me think about how far we’ve come in the last fifty years, why we’re in the situation we’re in socially and politically, and how we can take stock of our history and use it to propel us forward.  The stories that Collins highlights in this book, which reads like a collective oral history of an era, made me think about the dues I owe to the women who came before me, why my generation is divided in so many ways, and how to bring together a new group of women to finish the job of achieving equality.  Because it’s not over yet, and even as we get closer to equality here, there’s much work to be done around the world and we all have a stake in seeing it through.

More on what I’ve learned – about history and about myself – later this week and throughout Women’s History Month.  But for now, I leave you with some great women and links to explore:

What victories or which female heroines are you thinking of this International Women’s Day?  How are you celebrating and working to improve the lives of women?