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: 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: 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: 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: Dilma Rousseff

I have to admit Dilma Rousseff is another name I wasn’t super familiar with. I mean, okay, I did study politics, but ask me if I know the leader of every country in the world and the answer would be no. But I doubt you would either and if you can, gold star to you. Anyways, let’s find out about her.

  • Current president of Brazil (first woman to hold that position)
  • She’s had her hand in ousting several corrupt leaders from the Brazilian government.

Is she influential? Definitely! I think the leader of the country is always influential, but there are certain leaders that are even more influential and I think she is one of them. There are a lot of people in politics who speculate that Brazil is going to be one of the next world powers (it’s currently the 7th largest economy in the world) and I don’t doubt it – Latin America is just poised to really come onto the political scene in their own way. So I think like whether or not Brazil becomes a super power or gets put on the path to be a super power will be related to their leaders, which means it is related to her. Also, she does have a sketchy background (she was involved in an armed struggle for Marxism earlier in her life) but she shows that she hasn’t let that define her or keep her out of the political arena and also showing that people can change – as she now supports capitalism, not Marxism.



The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Angela Merkel

Now here is someone who I think definitely deserves to be named most influential. Angela Merkel has a lot of power, especially in Europe, so let’s find out a little bit more about her.

Angela Merkel:

  • Current (and first female) Chancellor of Germany
  • Was President of the European Council
  • Played an important role in negotiations of the Berlin Declaration and the Treaty of Lisbon
  • Second woman to chair the G8
  • Named 4th Most Powerful Person in the World and the Most Powerful Woman in the World by Forbes
  • Received the Vision for Europe Award
  • Received the Charlemagne Prize
  • Received the  B’nai B’rith Europe Award of Merit
  • Received the Leo Baeck Medal
  • Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • First person from what was East Germany to lead the country

Influential? Definitely! She is all over the political scene in Europe and with Germany being such a big economy in Europe, her actions and decisions will have a huge effect on how the Eurozone fairs, for better or for worse.



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Little Girls Doing Brave Things

Whenever I read a story like this, I can’t help but be overcome and moved by the courage and the bravery that women, even young women can show. Besides, I think I talk often enough on this blog about the bad stuff, and while this story isn’t wholly 100 percent happy, it is amazing.

Click here to read about a nine-year-old girl who pushed her younger sister out of the way of a truck, saving her life, but losing her own kidney and leg. It’s pretty amazing for anyone to do that, let alone a nine-year-old.


Women “in” History: Misty Copeland

I say women “in” history because Misty is still hot on the scene of ballet, so I can’t say that she’s faded into the woodwork of history yet. But she did make history and she will be remembered. Because she is talented and beautiful and smart and groundbreaking and she has such a great attitude. She inspires me so much. She is doing great things and will continue to do great things.


  • was only the third African American female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre.
  • was also the first African American female soloist in twenty years for American Ballet Theatre.
  • didn’t start learning ballet until the age of 13 and yet became super successful anyways.
  •  started en pointe three months later. (This might not mean a lot to you, but en pointe is hard, really hard. I used to be a ballerina and I never made it there. For more on it, here’s the Wikipedia article.)
  • played Clare in The Chocolate Nutcracker.
  • has toured in China.
  • has had many roles in famous shows.
  • has had some crossover work in music videos.
  • gives back to the community.
  • has the possibility of becoming the first African American female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.
  • is developing her own product line of dance wear made to fit people of all shapes and sizes.

Others said

  • “It’s not like she’s going, ‘Hey, look at me.’ But she can be so ethereal, you just have to.” – Craig Salstein.
  • “I am a huge fan of Misty Copeland! She is not only a phenomenal ballet dancer, but she is intelligent, driven, and such an inspiration to me, and millions of dancers all over the world. She beat the odds, and is living her dream, in spite of so many challenges. She is the epitome of the type of dancer my show was created to spotlight, and represent. I’m honored to have her on our radio show!”  – Ashani Mfuko

She said

  • “The challenges of being one of the few black women in this field, gave me this determination not to give up.”
  • “It’s just so important to see that it’s possible and to see that someone can make it. Now that I’m here, I can set an example and hopefully make things easier for the next black [ballet] dancer.”
  • “Some black women give up and don’t do classical ballet dance. I want them to know that times are changing. The more people we have auditioning, they can’t deny talent.”


  • Los Angeles Spotlight Award
  • Best Young Dancer in the Greater Los Angeles Area
  • ABT’s National Coca Cola Scholar
  • Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts

Misty’s website can be found here. Her twitter is here. Her Facebook page is here.

There’s so much more of her personality that I don’t know how to include without copying and pasting whole interviews with her. I really like these interviews with her to get a feel for what a cool person she is.

If you have kids, I highly recommend the book she’s written called Firebird. It is a beautiful book and especially if your kids are interested in dance is a great read-aloud. 

Sources (Not already mentioned)

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Women at M.I.T. – Too Much of an Advantage?

I read an interesting article today from the New York Times. A bit old but still conjured up a lot of thoughts.

In the late 1990s, women at MIT began to talk. And when they began to talk, they realized that they were getting the short end of the stick. Their lab spaces were smaller, their salaries were lower, and there were a lot less of them than they were of men. So they took it up the ladder, to someone who could do something about it. And things changed for the better.

But now, they face the problem that people are accusing them of only being successful because they’re a woman. For example, people think the college works too hard to recruit them, that women only win prizes because they’re women, and that male undergrads tell female undergrads that they’re only there because of affirmative action.  And accusations like that can really hurt when you’ve worked hard. They also face tight personality roles that there is a lot of pressure to conform to, that women professors have to act a certain way.

Additionally, there are parts that the women themselves don’t like. There’s a rule requiring a woman on every committee, but with less women, the women have to take on more committees, so they argue that they lose out on a lot of time they could be spending researching or doing consultancies. Additionally, women get a lot of invitations to speak on panels about work life balance – many more invitations to speak than the men do.

Then there are parts that are really great – everyone can have a year off (male and female) after a child is born, there’s day care available, and if you travel away on business, M.I.T. helps cover the cost of child care.  However, even this gets abused as some men take it and use it to work instead of taking care of their child.

I don’t think this is the case. In fact, at M.I.T. for a man or a woman to get tenure, they need to have 15 different outside recommendations – a hard standard for anyone to beat. I would doubt too that anyone would say that this girl, who I blogged about before, was let in just because she was a woman. And this graduate of M.I.T. was certainly a smart and talented women. They do exist, male scientists, they do. Don’t knock those awesome women! Girl power!

“To women in my generation, these residual issues can sound small because we see so much progress. But they’re not small; they still create an unequal playing field for women — not just at universities, and certainly not just at M.I.T. And they’re harder to change because they are a reflection of where women stand in society.” – Nancy H. Hopkins

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Starting Giving Young: One 11 Year Old Girl

Giving is something that I believe strongly in. And for Olivia Bouler, that sense of giving started early. At 11 years old, after hearing about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (remember that?), she wanted to do something. She took the initiative to write to the National Audubon Society asking if she could sell her bird paintings to help. They took her up on this and sent off her work to all the people who supported their clean up efforts. She drew pictures of a wide variety of birds, some native to the area where the oil spill happened and some other birds as well. At the time of the writing of the article that I found, she had already done 150 drawings and was set to do up to 500. These drawings helped to raise over $200,000. Olivia was named Hometown Hero and ASPCA’s 2010 Kid of the Year.

This cute duck is one of them!

 “I hope that the Gulf will be as beautiful as it was before the spill, and I hope that people will come together to make it that way.”

If you’d like to benefit the National Audubon Society, you can buy a book of Olivia’s drawings, Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf.

Source: Talented 11-Year-Old Paints Birds, Raises Over $200,000 For Gulf Coast Relief Efforts : TreeHugger 


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