Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Major General Margaret Woodward

I can learn a little about Major General Margaret Woodward just from her title, but let’s dig in and see if there’s anything else to learn about her that is relavant to whether or not she is influential.

  • “Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward is Commander, 17th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Africa, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The command serves as the Air Component for U.S. Africa Command and has responsibility for all Air Force activities in the Africa theater spanning 53 countries, 11 million square miles and more than 900 million people.” – That’s from the Air Force’s website bio on her and I thought it gave an accurate picture of what her job entails.
  • She was in charge of the air portion of the combat in Libya, a mission in which only one aircraft was lost and that was due to equipment failure.

Is she influential? I think so. She sits in a place of great power in the military. And with great power almost always comes influence. She has influence and power over all of the U.S. Air Force operations in Africa. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Not to mention, she was the first woman ever to command a combat operation for the Air Force and she did it so well (regardless of your feelings on the Libyan invasion, she accomplished the mission she was sent to do) that it has potential to open the door for other women in the military who want to do such things. All this from a woman who people speculate was probably never meant to see combat – after all, the Africa position is mainly concerned with peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance. But they did see combat and she handled it quite well. I am confident that as long as she continues to serve her current position (and anything higher) that she will be quite influential.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Maria Bashir

Again, Maria Bashir is not a name I recognize immediately, but let’s take a look before I make a decision on whether I think she is influential or not.

  • She is a prosecutor in Afghanistan, focuses especially on cases of violence against women.
  • She couldn’t work under the Taliban so she took to schooling girls in her house. Illegally.
  • She has been a hard voice of dissent to the Afghan government’s practices, especially those that restrict women.
  • She has been honor with the International Women of Courage Award by the US government.
  • She has faced assassination attempts.

I definitely think she is influential for a bunch of reasons. First of all, she is giving other women in Afghanistan someone to look up to. Women in Afghanistan need many things to be empowered, but one part of the picture is having positive female role models, so that women and girls have something to aspire to. Maria is providing that. Second, she illegally taught girls during the rain of the Taliban. This makes her influential because these girls will go on to have better lives because they are educated. Those girls have been directly influenced. Third, she is helping to ensure that laws are enforced. This will directly help Afghanistan to become a better place for women and children. She has been highly influential in this area. And not that I would say this is a true way to measure influence, but she has faced multiple assassination attempts and has guards who protect her. Generally, only people who have enough power to change things face these kind of circumstances. If there weren’t people who thought she was making a difference in Afghanistan, then they wouldn’t try to kill her. So I think she is definitely influential. What are your thoughts? Do you think Maria Bashir is influential or do you disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Mia Wasikowska

All right, Mia Wasikowska is another name I’m not immediately familiar with, but let’s check her out.

  • She is an actress, best known for her roles in Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right, and Jane Eyre.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed a trend here. I tend to think actors and actresses aren’t that influential. And I guess for Mia, my opinion is the same. I don’t really think she’s influential or that she will have a lasting impact, so I’m going to say no, not influential. What do you think? Is Mia Wasikowska influential? Let me know in the comments!

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Esther Duflo

Today is another name I don’t recognize, but I think in this series I actually find those the most fun because I get to learn about new people. So let’s dive in and take a look at Esther Duflo.

  • She’s an economist.
  • She teaches at MIT (Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics).
  • Her research looks at developing countries.
  • She has worked hard to advance using field experiments.
  • She is the director (and one of the founders) of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which seeks to reduce poverty by having science to help inform policy.
  • She often focuses on the very specific and studies it in randomized trial experiments. Examples include “If schoolkids could get their uniforms for free, would attendance go up?” and “What’s an effective way to reward mothers for immunizing their babies?”
  • Speculation has it that she will win a Nobel Prize in the future.
  • She’s met with several big shots: Bill Gates, the head of Facebook, and the head of Amazon for example.

I think she is definitely influential. She is slowly changing the way we address poverty. It may not be widespread yet, but I think the work she is doing now will be in the future. This is really revolutionary work if we want to end poverty (which most people would say we do) because her work focuses on trying to find out what actually works. If we want to end poverty, her work is going to be crucial. Her influence will come in the future, as she is really making this a popular idea. It seems like such common sense – let’s test what actually makes a difference, but yet before her, it wasn’t really happening. I think that if we ever want to end poverty we need to pay attention to the work she is doing and we need to pay attention to how she is doing it. This is world changing stuff, mark my words. And it will have all started with Esther Duflo.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Felisa Wolfe-Simon

I’m not immediately familiar with today’s person, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t influential. Let’s take a look at her.

  • She is a geobiochemical oceanographer.
  • She has a doctorate in Oceanography.
  • She also has a NASA fellowship in astrobiology.
  • Her primary work focuses on the idea that (and I’m quoting because I don’t really understand it well enough to put it into my own words) “a bacterium called GFAJ-1 could substitute arsenic, poisonous for most life forms, for phosphorus, considered an essential element for all living cells.”
  • That work is heavily disputed by others in her field and others claim to be unable to reproduce her results, a key part of the scientific process.

So, is she influential or not? I think it’s not a question that I can answer conclusively at this point. I think it depends a lot on whether or not her research turns out to be true. And that’s hard for me to answer because I don’t have the scientific background to be able to say whether or not her research is true. But it has stirred up quite the controversy in the scientific world – so I can’t say definitively whether it’s true or not because the scientific community can’t even decide whether it’s true or not. If her research is true, then it will change the way we think about life and how life works (according to everything I’ve read on it). And then she will have had a huge influence on the future and have been highly influential. If her research turns out to be just bad science, all she will be is the scientist who almost discovered something that didn’t exist and she might even become a laughingstock. So in my opinion, the jury is still out. Do you have any thoughts on Felisa Wolfe-Simon? Leave them below in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Oprah Winfrey

All right, here is another woman who I feel is super famous. Oprah Winfrey. Let’s dive in.

  • Best known for having her own talk show (The Oprah Winfrey Show), which ran from 1986 until 2011.
  • In American history, she is the greatest black philanthropist.
  • She is thought to be a big influence on the talk show as a genre.
  • Some experts think that her endorsement of Barack Obama led to over a million votes for him in the Democratic primary. Just because she endorsed him.
  • She owns her own production company – Harpo Productions.
  • She co-founded the tv channel Oxygen.
  • In 2011, she launched OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, her own tv channel.
  • Her website gets an average of 70 million page views per month and 20,000 e-mails every week.
  • She has her own XM Satellite Radio channel.
  • Apparently, she has been appearing on Time’s Most Influential List since 2004 and is the only person who has been on it in all those years from 2004-2011.
  • She has two of her own terms (coined by other people):
    • Oprahfication: This is defined as confessing something in public for therapy.
    • “The Oprah Effect”: This is defined as her ability to influence people to do something (especially to buy something).
  • She has been able to raise millions of dollars for charity.

I definitely think Oprah is influential – almost scary influential in my opinion. I don’t know how she had managed to do what she does, to get the kind of following she has, and to have so many people think that her opinion is trustworthy. But she has. Actually, I think she is kind of a good example of what influential looks like, just because she is so influential. In fact, some sources I read even named her as the number one most influential person in the world and I don’t know if I agree that she’s number one, but it is true that she has TONS of influence. Just think about how many people are e-mailing her and visiting her website. That means whatever she puts on her website is being seen that many times. And then you have the people who watch her tv show and her tv channel, the people who read her magazine, and the people who listen to her radio show. That is a lot of people combined. How many other people have that kind of reach? Even her book club. Do you know when she introduces a book on her book club that it usually gets 1 million more in sales at least? Who else can do that? I don’t know if I’m an Oprah fan, but I would be wrong to dismiss her as not influential because clearly she is highly influential. I bet you even that if she ever decided to run for president (which I doubt she would), she could easily become president even if she didn’t associate herself with a political party – that’s how much influence I think she has.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Hillary Clinton

So Hillary Clinton – this is another person I am pretty sure most people have heard of, but let’s look into her background anyways and examine my thoughts on whether or not she’s influential.

  • She is the current Secretary of State.
  • She’s served in a variety of political positions, from First Lady to Senator and so on.
  • She was liked by a majority of Americans for the majority of her time in politics – at least according to poll data.
  • In 2011 as Secretary of State she
    • was the face of the US response to the Arab Spring.
    • was majorly responsible for the decision not to release photos of Osama Bin Laden’s dead body.
    • visited Burma/Myanmar (which was a major move as it had been more than 50 years since a US Secretary of State had visited the country).
    •  continued to work on her goal of empowering women worldwide.
  • She recently announced she is leaving politics.

Is she influential? I may not agree with her on every issue, but I definitely think she has been very influential in her political career. She’s held several positions that are just full of influence – First Lady, Senator of New York, Secretary of State. I think in 2011 because she was Secretary of State she was especially influential since the Secretary of State is often our spokesperson to the world and because she was really the face of the response to Arab Spring – a major event that I am positive 2011 will be remember for in years to come. However, all that being said, I don’t think she will continue to be influential after she leaves politics. Many politicians’ influence trickles away pretty quickly after they leave politics. So what do you think? Is Hillary Clinton influential? Leave your thoughts in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Blake Lively

I didn’t recognize the name Blake Lively off the top of my head, but I recognize her face from some of the roles she’s played as an actress. Things like Gossip Girl, Green Lantern, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and so on.  So let’s dive in an learn more about her.

  • She’s an actress.
  • She had a nude photo scandal (though of course she denied it).

Is she influential? Maybe it’s just me, because I spoke kind of the same way about the last actress, but I don’t think she is really that influential. Celebrities – yes, our culture is obsessed with them, but do they really have influence? Do they really change anyone’s life? In 10 years will anyone remember her? Even in 5 years? Actresses’ fame can be so fickle. So I don’t really think that she’s influential. Sorry, but what lasting impact will she leave? And I’m always disappointed when actresses have nude photo scandals. They always say that it’s not them, but I really don’t believe them sadly. I’m just too cynical for that. So what do you think, is Blake Lively influential? Am I wrong? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments – agree or disagree! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List: Kate Middleton

Sorry that I disappeared for a bit guys. But I’m back – to bring you more commentary and such 🙂 Today’s person is Kate Middleton. Technically she’s on the list with her husband, Prince William, but I’m only going to look at her. I have definitely heard of her (maybe a better question is who hasn’t?) but let’s still see if we can find out anything new and interesting about her.

  • Her formal title is “Her Royal Highness Princess William, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus”
  • She would become queen if her husband becomes king.
  • Because of her, the law of succession was changed ensuring that daughters will have the same rights to the throne as sons.
  • She came from a common background, not royalty.
  • She supports the Art Room, the National Portrait Gallery, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, Action on Addiction, and the local Scout Association in her official capacity.
  • In silly information about her, she was named ‘Hat Person of the Year’ by The Headwear Association. It’s not completely silly, though, because apparently her wearing of hats boosted the industry of people who make hats in the U.S.

Is she influential? I definitely think so. She has a huge potential to be the next queen, from which position she will have lots of influence. She also had the ability to influence a whole industry’s performance. She also got the laws changed for the better for women, in ensuring that not just girls of hers but girls in the future will be able to aspire to be the queen. And she didn’t even lobby for those, it was just how the public fell in love with her that caused the law-making body to make that change. If that isn’t influence, I don’t know what is. She is also an influence in fashion – just google Kate Middleton style or Kate Middleton fashion and you’ll find probably a million blogs with ways to copy her style. So, what do you think? Do you think Kate Middleton is influential? Leave your thoughts in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Lisa Jackson

This post has made me realize how many people out there are named Lisa Jackson, as I googled her to learn more about her. But there’s only one of the specific Lisa Jackson I’m talking about. Let’s dive in.

  • Is trained to be a chemical engineer
  • Current head administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Is focusing on 7 key areas: “taking action on climate change; improving air quality; cleaning up our communities; protecting America’s waters; assuring the safety of chemicals; expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice; and building stronger state”
  • Current accomplishments: She “has outlined principles to modernize our nation’s 30-year old chemical management laws, called for unprecedented innovation in drinking water protection efforts and announced tough standards to clean the air we breathe.”
  • In the past year, has developed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards
  • Has promised to focus on groups of people who are most vulnerable to harm from environmental contaminants

Is she influential? I think so. As head of the EPA, she has a big role in shaping the environmental future of the United States in terms of regulations and things like that. And the environment has a much bigger effect on you than most people realize. I took a Literature and Environment class in my last semester of college and I thought I knew how the environment affected you and your health, but I learned there is so much more. So as someone who has the power to decide standards, she is super influential, for better or for worse.

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