Archive for April, 2013

Women + Beer: A Forgotten Pairing

April 26th, 2013

By: Allison Schell, NWHM Staff

Hop-py Foodie Friday! Alright, I couldn’t resist. This edition of Foodie Friday is all about uncovering the somewhat hidden history of women and beer, particularly women as brewers in the United States.

If you look at the brewing business today, the majority of micro and macro breweries are owned and run by men. Did you know though that back in the eighteenth century, a  good portion of brewers in America were women? Did you also know that the feminine form of the word brewer is brewster? A testimony to how masculinized brewing has become is the fact that the word brewster is not even used to describe female brewers today. Many are now referred to as “brewmasters.”  And, as a side note, “brewster” wasn’t even recognized by Microsoft Word. Neither was the word “masculinized” by the way.

Anyways, I digress. Historically, women’s involvement in brewing beer has been documented back  four-thousand years ago in Mesopotamia, and probably earlier. Ancient Sumerians even had a goddess of beer, Ninkasi. Historically though women’s involvement in brewing probably developed out of the fact that some women were tavern-owners and thus it is likely that they also brewed their own beer.

Fast forward to colonial America. The craft of brewing beer was brought over from Europe and women resumed their roles in society as tavern-keepers and brewers. But tavern-keepers were not the only women brewing; housewives were as well and brewing beer was one of the many tasks on their long list of daily duties. And, with beer being more consumed than water at this point, one needed to have a steady supply of the beverage on hand. In 1734, Mary Lisle become America’s unofficial first brewster when she took over her father’s brewhouse in Philadelphia. And while Thomas Jefferson is often given credit for being a “Founding Home brewer” the credit should actually be given to his late wife, Martha, who did the majority of the brewing. By the late eighteenth century, women as brewers and even brewing as a household art was on the decline, giving way to the male-dominated world of the beer industry that we have come to know.

Today, women are slowly infiltrating the brewing industry. Carol Stoudt of Stoudt’s Brewing Company (founded in 1987) is considered one of the first female brewmasters in the United States. Another female brewmaster, Teri Fahrendorf, founded the Pink Boots Society as a way to empower women  beer professionals. In 2008 they had only 22 members and today they have nearly a thousand. (Check them out here). But women still are not a majority in the beer industry in any capacity. According to a July 2012 Gallup poll, women represent only one-quarter of beer drinkers in America. And in the beer industry, women only account for 10% of jobs and for women in charge of breweries, the percentage become even starker.

So have we inspired you to get your own home brewing kit, yet? The next time you pour yourself a nice cold beer, think about all the women before you who spent countless hours brewing their own beer for their families, neighbors, or businesses, that have never been recognized in history for all their hard work. With that, I’ll leave you all with a quote from Shakespeare, “She brews good ale, and thereof comes the proverb, Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.”

20 Years and Counting: Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

April 25th, 2013

By: Katherine Dvorak, NWHM Volunteer

Started in New York City in 1992 by Gloria Steinem as a project of the Ms. Foundation, ‘Take Our Daughters to Work Day’ was created to help show girls that being smart was something to be proud of, not something to hide, and that their ideas could be heard and had value. By providing girls with real-life adult role models in various professions, the program sought to show girls that gender was not a prohibitive factor to their desired profession.

Take Your Daughters & Sons to Work Day at FEMA

Hearing about the program, Parade magazine published an article about the event and its goals, helping to launch it nationally, and in 1993 the Take Our Daughters to Work Day Foundation was created to grow the program across the country and internationally. Participation grew rapidly and by 1996 over 5 million girls in 14 countries participated in that year’s event.

In 2003 the program began to include boys in its programs and the Foundation rebranded itself the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation.

Read the rest of this entry »

#ThrowbackThursday: Vintage commercials and advertisements (part 2)

April 25th, 2013

By Elissa Blattman, NWHM Intern

In last week’s Throwback Thursday post, we showed you a bunch of sexist advertisements from the 1950s and 1960s that chastise women for not properly fulfilling their prescribed gender roles. This week, we would like to highlight some ads from the same period that show women’s changing roles and/or flip gender roles around altogether.

Check out this commercial for Ajax Liquid Cleanser where a husband offers to clean the kitchen floor for his wife. The wife comes into the kitchen, tells her husband that he is using the wrong product, and rolls her eyes when he questions what she is saying. He eventually agrees with her and uses Ajax to clean the floor. Unlike most of its contemporaries, this commercial is actually quite similar to many of today’s ads that portray men as incompetent around the house (see, for example, the Swiffer “Man Up, Clean Up” ads, such as this one that “teaches” men how to clean a kitchen floor). Read the rest of this entry »

NWHM President, Joan Wages featured on AARP’s Prime Time Radio

April 24th, 2013

Check AARP’s “Prime Time” Radio interview with Joan about the Museum.

Historical Women Who Rocked: Betty Skelton

April 22nd, 2013

Photo credit: Public domain

When she was 10 years old, Betty Skelton asked her parents for flying lessons.  She flew solo in a plane for the first time when she was 12 and received her pilot’s license when she was 16.  In 1946, when she was 20, she embarked on a career performing in aerobatics shows because women were not allowed in commercial aviation.  As an aerobatics performer, Skelton was a three-time women’s international aerobatics champion and she broke two altitude world records.  One of her most infamous feats was completing the “inverted ribbon cut,” where a pilot flies a plane upside down 12 feet above the ground to cut a ribbon hanging between two poles.  She was the first woman to pull off the stunt.

In the 1950s, Skelton began her second career as a race car driver after meeting the founder of NASCAR.  She was the first female test driver and the first female Indy race car driver.  She set multiple speed records, including four women’s land speed records and a transcontinental speed record in 1956, when she drove from New York to Los Angeles in less than 57 hours.  For her successful career in racing, Skelton was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Betty Skelton holds more combined aircraft and automotive records than anyone – female or male.  Her groundbreaking careers opened doors for women in both fields and earned her the nickname “First Lady of Firsts.”  In 1959, she was allowed to train with the Mercury 7 astronauts at the behest of Look magazine, who did a cover story on her entitled, “Should a Girl Be First in Space?”  After retiring from aerobatics and racing, Skelton also had careers in advertising and real estate.  She died of cancer in 2011 at age 85.


Happy Earth Day!

April 22nd, 2013

NWHM is celebrating this Earth Day by shinning a light on environmentalist Rachel Carson. Rachel was instrumental in bringing environmental issues to the fore in this country.

Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life- Rachel Carson.

Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and nature writer credited with catalyzing the global environmental movement. She started as a biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in 1936, but became a full-time author in the 1950s.  Her first three books were about marine life, from the shore to the surface to the deep sea.  But it was her 1962 bestselling book, Silent Spring, about the effects of pesticides that brought environmental issues to the attention of the American public, and later, the world. Silent Spring led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and the grassroots environmental movement the book inspired led to the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].
Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisers starting to take action against misogyny on Facebook

April 19th, 2013

Facebook has been receiving a growing amount of criticism for some time now for continuing to allow pages promoting sexism, misogyny, and violence against women on their website. These pages exist despite Facebook’s terms stating, “You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user” and “You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” While different types of pages that violate these policies are regularly taken down, pro-rape, pro-violence against women, and other misogynistic pages have been allowed to stay. Occasionally these pages are flagged as “[Controversial Humor],” but many of them have no such designation. Such pages have sparked an ongoing debate over what counts as offensive and harmful, and who makes that decision.

Last week the Everyday Sexism Project began contacting companies and organizations as diverse as Dove Cosmetics, Audible, McDonalds, and FinnAir to bring to light the fact that their advertisements have been appearing on pages, such as “Drop kicking sluts in the teeth,” “Dumping your girlfriend via Punching Her In The Face,” “This is Why Indian Girls are RAPED,” and “Rape is a harsh word I like to call it surprise sex.”  Some of these companies and others have been in contact with Facebook to express their displeasure over their ads and logos being displayed next to images of battered and violated women. Other companies have pulled their advertising from Facebook altogether. Perhaps as more and more companies and organizations that advertise on Facebook contact them after being notified by the Everyday Sexism Project, Facebook will begin to reconsider the actions (or lack of) that they have been taking in regards to the slew of misogynistic pages on their website.

Sources: The Guardian, Business Insider, AOL

NWHM’s Entrepreneur Exhibit mentioned on “WomenYou Should Know”

April 19th, 2013

National Women’s History Museum & Microsoft Launch Online Exhibit Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs

April 12, 2013 by
Working women


From Pepperidge Farm to Liquid Paper to Flickr, smart women have been behind many of the great businesses of the last century. The National Women’s History Museum, the foremost authority on women’s history in the U.S., and Microsoft recently launched the online exhibit: From Ideas to Independence: A Century of Entrepreneurial Women, which highlights female entrepreneurs, their challenges and successes throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Foodie Friday: Betty Crocker, an American Cultural Icon that Never Existed?

April 19th, 2013

By: Sydnee Winston, Project Coordinator

Bestseller: "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book" published in 1950

Betty Crocker is a cultural icon. For over 80 years she has been a mainstay in American kitchens—a “kitchen confidante” offering advice to troubled bakers who couldn’t figure out why their cakes wouldn’t  rise or how to make their pancakes fluffier.

Betty’s maternal and reassuring guidance was a comfort to many women, especially during the interwar period, so it may come as a surprise to many to learn that Betty Crocker never actually existed! Read the rest of this entry »

#ThrowbackThursday: Vintage commercials and advertisements (part 1)

April 18th, 2013

by Elissa Blattman, NWHM Intern

Have you ever searched the internet for television commercials and print ads from the 1950s and 1960s?  Sometimes what you find brings back memories and excitement over something forgotten with the past.  Sometimes what you find is genuinely funny or interesting.  Then again, sometimes what you find is this:

The message in this advertisement is “woe be unto” the wife who does not taste test coffee in the store before bringing it home to serve to her husband – an act that clearly deserves a spanking.  This is an ad for Chase & Sanborn Coffee, just one of many sexist vintage ads that chastise women who do not perform their wifely duties up to their husbands’ standards and/or reinforce domestic gender stereotypes for women.  Coffee companies, in particular, used this theme in many of their advertisements from this period.  Take also, for example, this Folgers commercial from the 1960s, where the husband tells his wife that all he wants for his birthday is a “decent cup of coffee” before he leaves the house for work, disappointed.  He compares the better coffee the “girls” at his office make to his wife’s, which causes the wife to discuss the matter with her friend and take her friend’s suggestion to use Folgers coffee to impress her husband.  The husband returns from work to the new, “great coffee” that the “girls’ at the office” “can’t hold a candle to.” Read the rest of this entry »