The pioneer of investigative reporting, Ida Tarbell developed an approach to journalism that helped break up monopolies in the early 1900’s, and inspired a style of writing that 100 years later is still changing society (think Watergate and Spotlight). Her creation of “muckraking” transformed journalism and earned her a place of honor in the history of the United States. While researching her journalism contributions for the Women Inventors and Innovators Mural, little did we know that Ms. Tarbell also would give us a wild ride through the complicated jungle of opinions about the gender gap in her day.
Ida Tarbell was best known for her 1904 book, History of Standard Oil Company, the compilation of a meticulously researched series she wrote for McClure's Magazine about the business practices and personal behaviors of the Rockefeller oil magnates. She also wrote biographies of President Lincoln and other nonfiction books, including, later in her life, two lesser known works on the topic of women, emphasizing their importance to their families.
She became a role model of leadership for women in her day, but many in the Suffragette movement were disenchanted by her later books that raised questions about women who sought mainstream work. Her book “The Business of Being a Woman” made some controversial statements about women, including questioning women’s emotional capability to make clear decisions in the business and political arenas. At a time when women were just beginning to join the mainstream workforce in earnest, Tarbell waded into some murky, ambiguous topics with opinions not necessarily helpful to other women seeking to make an impact outside the home.
“The Business of Being a Woman,” gives us a glimpse of the dilemmas, biases, and cultural attitudes women faced in 1912. She wrote:
Many women in her day recoiled from her words, as many women today might as well. Yet in muckraking tradition, Ms. Tarbell boldly spoke her opinion and in so doing gave us a glimpse into conditions and attitudes a century ago, some of which are carried forward in subtle ways that continue to create dilemmas for women today. Here is an excellent think piece from a history professor at Ida Tarbell's alma mater, Allegheny College, examining the complex disconnect between Ms. Tarbell's role as an innovator and her view of the potential for women in general.
By: Eileen Clegg
Hedy Lamarr, Gorgeous, Talented And A Genius
By Blanca Alonso
Meet Joy Mountford, Creator Of Quicktime
One visual minute of inspiration: Happy Birthday to Apple! Meet the woman who led a team of women in the first
Human-Computer Interface Group that brought color, motion, and graphics to the web.
By: Eileen Clegg
Learning about the lives of women who changed our world has opened our eyes to many surprises. We could write a book on every one! But for Joy, we decided to create a SmartWomenClip to get the essence of her story out into the world -- multi-media of course. They're up top on this page. And, we are writing articles on each women (scroll down). We are mining their stories for insights about courage, resilience and success that we hope will help women everywhere. As we gather information on each woman, we are putting the information into our Debategraph database. You can link to that database from the mural. We are presenting our material in multiple forms--deep and wide--because we want the insights to resonate with different women in different ways. Enjoy!
Image credit: Kent Reno. Source www.annahalprint.org
We would like you to prepare for a surprise insight from this story about two young women mathematicians in the early 1800s.
One was the daughter of a famous poet who believed she possessed supernatural powers of imagination. She was considered moody and her own mother criticized her “peculiarities, caprices, and self-seeking.” The young mathematician felt that, as a woman, she could not publish papers with her own ideas. So she offered her services to a male colleague and published her ideas as notes on his manuscript. After that, she struggled fruitlessly to find her own projects, became ill and addicted to the painkillers at the time, and died at the age of 36.
The other was a countess who liked to talk about her mathematical pursuits as “poetical science.” She had three children, and the ability to conceptualize new ideas at the intersection of multiple disciplines. She had the idea that a machine could be programmed to do unlimited tasks, tabulating any kind of function imaginable, not just numerical. She saw that any piece of data—music, art, conceptual—could be expressed in digital form. She worked on a demo in partnership with Charles Babbage, developer of the so-called Analytical Engine. She is celebrated in history as the creator of the first proto-computer.
Here’s the surprise: They are both the same woman, Countess Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron. Her story is written beautifully by Walter Isaacson, in his book The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (2014, Simon & Schuster). Today Ada Lovelace is being celebrated with an exhibit at the Computer History Museum in San Jose.
We share the story of Ada Lovelace as our first in the series of WomenStories because hers poignantly reveals the many layers typical in stories of women innovators and leaders. They had brilliant insights, but often lacked a platform for expressing them. They may have had confidence in their perceptions, but often faced criticism for personal qualities that were not considered becoming to women in their day. As future thinkers, they had to navigate not only social norms for women, but also the current paradigm to get people to think differently. Somehow, Countess Lovelace and others transcended the conditions of their times, succeeded in getting their vision into the world, and, as a result created a better future for others.
When telling the “two tales” of Ada Lovelace during conferences, the audience response tells a story in itself. Faces blanch almost painfully upon hearing the frustrating and sad experiences in Ada’s personal life, and how she was labelled as (in today’s parlance) "full of herself". Faces light up upon hearing about a women of her times who not only succeeded in getting her vision out there but is still being celebrated today. Failure. Success. Frustration. Sadness. Joy. During informal conversations, we hear that many women do not want to pay the price of being judged or labeled and having to fight to get their ideas out into the world—ideas that are usually designed to help others. We also hear from women who have taken personal risks—often leading to success—that they have been inspired to fulfill an aspiration larger than themselves.
How can we resolve the two views of Countess Lovelace? We might think of her not as her mother characterized her (“self-seeking”) but rather as someone who saw herself in service to her own talents and to the world. She had a conviction about a machine that could augment human intelligence, and expressed the strong belief that no machine could ever replicate human intelligence (a controversial belief in Silicon Valley today). She understood and enjoyed mathematics, but she had a passion to employ mathematics in a practical way to support the betterment of humankind. The goal was more important to her than her reputation. How many successful women do we know who are labelled as full of themselves because they are relentlessly pursuing a personal passion that may not be understood by others?
Countess Lovelace’s story raises many questions for us as we contemplate the complex, multilayered, flummoxing question of why—200 years since the birth of Ada Lovelace—women are still struggling to have influence equal to men. What kind of support would have made Ada’s life easier? What in her nature enabled her to persevere and continue her dogged professional pursuit of Babbage until she got her ideas out through him? What can we learn from Babbage about collaboration and being willing to share credit? What was it about the early 1850’s that made women feel they couldn’t publish new ideas? Are there similar conditions today that are subtle but equally daunting for women who are going against the prevailing beliefs and norms of our time? Given the threats to humankind and our planet, how can we uncover invisible barriers to women’s influence and enable the voices, ideas, and approaches of women to help us shift some of the dangerous aspects of our current social, political, and economic paradigms? What support can we give to young women inventors, innovators and leaders today, so they don’t waste the gifts we need so badly?
the History & Future of Women Changing the World
WOMEN INVENTORS AND INNOVATORS
A world famous actress who also was a genius inventor, Hedy Lamarr was born November 9, 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. Her birth name was Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. She was not only one of the most beautiful and talented actresses to appear on television, but she was also a genius. She appeared in many films including the controversial “Ecstasy,” and went on to bring us world changing inventions that helped the World War II effort.
Hedy Lamarr was married and divorced six times. Her life changed when she rebelled against her first husband, Friedrich Manda, whom she married at the age of 18. His extreme jealousy and controlling ways at first prevented her from pursuing her career and dreams. Hedy said in one of her autobiographies that her husband had ties with the Nazis and that at times Mussolini and Hitler had attended lavish parties in her home. With her husband as a barrier to accomplish all her dreams she decided to leave him. One night she insisted on wearing all her jewelry for a dinner then that same night she disappeared. She went into hiding In Paris, and began to live her dreams.
After leaving her jealous and controlling husband, her career started to rise up in the air and then she met Louis B. Mayer, who was searching for talent in Europe. Mayer hired her and convinced her to change her name to Hedy Lamarr, but she became known as the “ecstasy girl” after the controversial film in which she appeared nude. He brought her to Hollywood and started to promote her as the world's most beautiful woman, and with no doubt about it, she was one of the most beautiful to ever appeared in film.
Hedy was not only a very beautiful woman but also a genius. Hedy's first invention was to improve the traffic light, and then she developed a medicine tablet that dissolved in water. The tablet--which she described as tasting like alka-seltzer--was not very successful. But she enjoyed inventing things and she continued to do so.
Her most famous invention was her contribution the the World War II effort. She designed a jam-proof radio system for torpedoes, and a “Secret Communications System” by manipulating radio frequencies to prevent messages from being deciphered by enemies.
Her contributions in the wireless communications field have helped shaped today's cellphone and fax communications, but as with other female inventors she was not recognized as she should have been. It was not until later on that she was recognized with an Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer award, the BULBIE (Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award), and introduced to the National Inventor's Hall of Fame.
Hedy became a citizen of the United States in 1966, the same year her “The Ecstasy and Me” autobiography was published. She later came to say that it was not written by her and most of it was fictional. Hedy died in Casselberry, Florida on January 19, 2000. The cause of death was heart failure, chronic valvular heart desease and asteriosclerotic heart disease. Her ashes were taken to Austria and spread in Vienna woods, but her beauty, talent, and inventions will remain among us.
Harriet Tubman: Strategic Freedom Fighter
By Eileen Clegg
Brave, witty, and strategic, the former slave Harriet Tubman made history as a freedom fighter for African Americans and a role model for women military leaders in the mid-19th century. Today she is making history again as the first woman to appear on U.S. paper currency since Martha Washington’s face appeared briefly on a $1 silver certificate 150 years ago.
What was she like as person? How was she viewed by people in her own time? Anecdotes from her life tell the the story of a woman with great perseverance and resilience. We are likely to learn more about her in an upcoming docu-drama in which, according to BET Magazine, Viola Davis will play Harriet Tubman. Meanwhile, here are a tidbits from a most extraordinary life.
Tubman helped between 70 and 300 slaves (depending on the source) to escape along a route with sympathetic safe houses known as the Underground Railroad that stretched from the American South into communities in Canada where former slaves could live freely. Slave owners offered rewards of up to $40,000 (around a million dollars today) for her capture. Many of the escapes were narrow, including times when the slaves had to hide in holes in the ground covered with dirt while the pursuers went by them.
The $20 bill is a perfect tribute to her perseverance because that is the precise amount of money she demanded once from an abolitionist to help her parents escape . When he didn’t have the money for her, she staged a “sit-in,” parking herself in his office and even sleeping there until the money came through.
Throughout her difficult life—which included a skull fracture at the hands of a slave owner at the age of 12—Harriet Tubman maintained her humor, bravery and spirit. She once said, “I never ran a train off the track.” She is thought to be one of the first military leaders for her work with the militia during the Civil War, when she was a scout, nurse and spy.
Harriet Tubman was revered by the luminaries of her time, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Queen Victoria, who sent her a silk lace shawl that is not in the Smithsonian Museum.
Because her birth date was unknown, her age at the time of death in March of 1913 also is unknown. She was thought to be in her 90’s, perhaps almost 100. Her last words were from the book of Matthew, “I go to prepare a place for you."
“America’s irreplaceable dance treasures”
By: Blanca Alonso
It is inevitable when hearing music to feel energy flowing through our body. Anna Halprin connects us with that energy in a unique way. Anna Halprin (born Anna Schuman) was born on on July 13, 1920, in Winnetka, IL. Anna was exposed to dance at a very young age, and was enrolled in ballet at the age of 4. Her passion and creativity led her to study the techniques of Ruth St Denis and Isadora Duncan, but it was not after the mentorship of Margaret H’Doubler that she focused on personal creativity and body movement. She then left the forms of modern dance to create her own way of recreating the art of everyday life and create revolutionary directions for dance--including as a way of healing.
Being a pioneer in postmodern dance (aka experimental art form), Anna established the San Francisco Dancers’ Workshop in the 1950s. This would give other artists like her the opportunity to express their art and explore the capabilities of their own bodies. Doing so, Anna created a systematic way of moving using kinesthetic awareness, which in her own words describes being aware of one’s kinesthetic sense “is your special sense for being aware of your own movement and empathizing with others.”
In the 1960’s, as she extended her passion of the art to address social issues like racial unrest, she formed the first multiracial dance company and focused on social justice themes. Ceremony of Us, was a collaborative performance by the group she brought together. The group consisted of a group of all-black and a group of all-white dancers becoming one.
In her efforts to bring communities together, her husband Lawrence Halprin and she led a series of workshops called “Experiments in the Environment” which brought together people to explore group creativity in relation to the environment. This moved Anna out of the theater and into the community, helping people address social and emotional problems, and promoting peace among people and peace with the Earth.
She was diagnosed with cancer in the 1970s, and was then that she used her love of dance as part of her healing process. She created and introduced us to innovative dance programs for cancer and AIDS patients. She and her daughter Daria founded the Tamalpa Institute in 1978. This institute uses dance as a healing force for all people.
Anna has created more than 150 dance theater works and written three books along her career. Most of her work based on life experiences like her cancer, her husband’s life-threatening crisis, facing her own aging, and her husband’s death. This passionate love for the art has earn her many recognitions like: Doris Duke Impact Award; California Pacific Medical Center Pioneer Award in Art, Science and Soul of Healing; Named one of America’s 100 Irreplaceable Dance Treasures by Dance Heritage Coalition; Bay Area Dance Coalition Isadora Hall of Fame Award; among many others.
There is no doubt that music makes our heart beat faster and slower, energy flow, and emotions created, but it is through Anna Halprin and her innovations that we now experience dance in a whole new way.