Rainy Day Woman: Agnes Jaoui

French talent Agnès Jaoui is a multi-hyphenate of the highest order: as a writer, director and actress, she is just as at home in the theatre as she is behind (and in front of) the camera. With her longtime writing partner, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jaoui has developed a body of work (including The Taste of Others, Look at Me) that depict the daily lives of French citizens with wit, charm, and authenticity.

In her third effort as director, Jaoui presents Let it Rain (French title: Parlez-moi de la pluie, which translates to Talk to Me About the Rain). Jaoui plays Agathe, a feminist politician from Paris who’s visiting her married sister at their childhood home in the south of France. Local filmmakers Karim (Jamel Debbouze, who also starred in the French crossover hit Amelie) and Michel (Bacri) ask her to be a part of a video series on “successful women,” which leads all the characters to examine their values and evaluate their relationships. Karim also happens to be the son of the family’s Algerian housekeeper, Mimouna, played by a nonactor with a similar background. Jaoui is masterful with her cast - not an easy thing to do while one is also acting - and the result is a meandering (in a good way) dramedy that touches on all sorts of cultural touch-points: race and gender inequality, political ethics, prejudice, and more.

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posted 23 June 2010


Girls' Math Classes Include
Lessons in Anxiety

By Marsha Walton
WeNews correspondent

(WOMENSENEWS)--For some women, anxiety about math is taught in the classroom.

"Having a highly math-anxious female teacher may push girls to confirm the stereotype that they're not as good as boys in math," said Sian Beilock, an expert on anxiety and stress related to learning and performance. Beilock teaches psychology at the University of Chicago.

Actress and mathematician Danica McKellar (who's appeared in the TV shows "The West Wing," "The Wonder Years" and "The Big Bang Theory") is working to undo that unintentional lesson. In two recent best-sellers, McKellar has pushed self-confidence and intriguing math study tips for middle school girls.

In her first book, "Math Doesn't Suck," McKellar says math "makes you feel smart when you walk into a room, prepares you for better-paying jobs and helps you think more logically." Read more about Girls' Math Classes posted 7 June 2010

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posted 7 June 2010

Gender Gap for the Gifted
in City Schools


When the kindergartners at the Brooklyn School of Inquiry, one of New York City's schools for gifted students, form neat boy-girl rows for the start of recess, the lines of girls reach well beyond the lines of boys.

A similar imbalance exists at gifted schools in East Harlem, where almost three-fifths of the students at TAG Young Scholars are girls, and the Lower East Side, where Alec Kulakowski, a seventh grader at New Explorations in Science and Technology and Math, considered his status as part of the school's second sex and remarked, "It's kind of weird and stuff."

Weird or not, the disparity at the three schools is not all that different from the gender makeup at similar programs across the city: though the school system over all is 51 percent male, its gifted classrooms generally have more girls.

Around the city, the current crop of gifted kindergartners, for example, is 56 percent girls, and in the 2008-9 year, 55 percent were girls.

Educators and experts have long known that boys lag behind girls in measures like high school graduation rates and college enrollment, but they are concerned that the disparity is also turning up at the very beginning of the school experience.

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posted 2 June 2010


A glass ceiling for women
in the orchestra pit

by Jessica Duchen
The Independent, London

A woman on the podium remains a rare event.

Imagine how the conducting profession might look today if Herbert von Karajan had been a woman. Female conductors could have dominated podiums the world over, with a Herbertina to set the example. This isn't so, of course, but that doesn't mean it might not happen in the future, and the near future at that. Until very recently, female conductors have been too few, their careers limited in comparison with those of male maestros. But a gradual yet definite sea-change has been taking place: more and more women are refusing to be deterred from their ambitions and are rising to prominence on the podium.

Figures such as Marin Alsop from the US and the French baroque firebrand Emmanuelle Ha•m have captured the imaginations of the public, musicians and managers alike; and perhaps it wasn't insignificant that in 2008 the TV reality show Maestro, which focused wider public attention on the question of what makes a good conductor, was won by a woman, the comedian Sue Perkins. And now another is in the spotlight: the British conductor Julia Jones, 48, is about to take the podium at the Royal Opera House for the first time, in Mozart's Cos“ fan tutte.

If Jones's name is unfamiliar, that isn't surprising: this is her first performance in her home country. She moved to Germany as a trainee in her twenties and has been conducting overseas ever since, her work ranging across three continents. She's currently the music director of Lisbon's Teatro Nacional de S‹o Carlos and the National Symphony Orchestra of Portugal.

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submitted by Lucille Goodman
posted 27 January 2010


Why "Sex and the City" won't go away

By Heather Havrilesky

Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis in "Sex and the City 2"
Women can't have it all. We hear this over and over again. We have to choose one oversimplified path at a time: Overworked career woman or nurturing mommy/housewife? Coy, fun-loving single temptress or lovelorn hopeless romantic? What, you can't choose just one? You have a career that matters to you, but sometimes you want to ditch it just to bake cookies and get your toenails painted? You have a great husband and kids, but sometimes you wish you could travel the world or just put on a dress and dance to Alicia Keys?

But a woman who's complicated enough to want more than one thing is a woman who's getting it all wrong, as far as American culture is concerned. ...

Everything a woman does, from the cradle to the grave, is a big mistake, and every step of the way, every choice you make, a Greek chorus is there to say, "See? I told you this would happen, but you just wouldn't listen."

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posted 27 May 2010


Mosque pray-ins against segregation of sexes are springing up

By William Wan and Michael Laris
Washington Post Staff Writers

Last Saturday, five women took off their shoes and walked across the padded carpet at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque, one of the Washington region's largest Islamic centers.

For weeks, they had planned for this moment, to stand behind the men in the main prayer hall of the Falls Church mosque as an act of protest. Usually, women at the mosque pray in segregated spaces away from the men, but these women, who came from outside the Dar al-Hijrah community, wanted to make a point.

It was the third time this year that the women had staged a protest at a Washington area mosque, and, as before, the conflict began almost immediately. By the end, angry words would be exchanged, the police called.

Such "pray-in" protests have sprung up in Muslim communities across the country in the past decade as women's rights advocates and feminist Muslims have agitated for more shared spaces in mosques. One of the women at the Dar Al-Hijrah event, author Asra Nomani, was even featured in a 2009 film documenting her protest at a mosque in Morgantown, W.Va.

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posted 26 May 2010

More women than men get
advanced degrees

By Stephanie Chen, CNN

(CNN) -- As a growing number of young women obtain advanced degrees, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts more women than men are expected to become doctors, lawyers and professors. Nearly six out of ten adults holding advanced degrees between the ages of 25 and 29 are women, the census reported Tuesday.

The trend of more women holding advanced degrees than men is occurring among the white, Hispanic and black populations but not the Asian population.

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posted 21 April 2010


Bias Called Persistent Hurdle for Women in Sciences


A report on the underrepresentation of women in science and math by the American Association of University Women, to be released Monday, found that although women have made gains, stereotypes and cultural biases still impede their success.

The report, “Why So Few?,” supported by the National Science Foundation, examined decades of research to cull recommendations for drawing more women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM fields.

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posted 25 March 2010

Rethinking Gender Bias in Theater

NY Times

When more than 160 playwrights and producers, most of them female, filed into a Midtown Manhattan theater Monday night, they expected to hear some concrete evidence that women who are authors have a tougher time getting their work staged than men.

And they did. But they also heard that women who are artistic directors and literary managers are the ones to blame.

That conclusion was just one surprising piece of a yearlong research project that both confirms and upends assumptions about bias in the playwriting business.

"There is discrimination against female playwrights in the theater community," said Emily Glassberg Sands, who conducted the research. Still, she said, that isn't the whole story; there is also a shortage of good scripts by women.

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posted 25 June 2009


Bill addresses gender equity in sports

By Brian Tumulty •

WASHINGTON - In public high schools across the state, 74,356 fewer girls than boys participate in school sports, according to the most recent count by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

That's 328,973 boys and 254,617 girls at 776 high schools outside of New York City, which does a separate count. Nationally, it's estimated that boys outnumber girls by 1.3 million in high school athletic participation.

But there's no public database at the local level for parents to know which schools have the highest disparities.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, wants to change that.

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posted 18 June 2009