Archive for April, 2013

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

April 3rd, 2013

By: Sydnee Winston, Project Coordinator

Take Back The Night march in Alamogordo, New Mexico

President Obama has proclaimed April to be Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  This is a time for all of us to reflect on the sexual violence that affects women, children and men across this country and what we can do to help prevent it and promote awareness of it.

In a proclamation featured on the White House’s website President Obama writes:

“In the last 20 years, our Nation has made meaningful progress toward addressing sexual assault. Where victims were once left without recourse, laws have opened a path to safety and justice; where a culture of fear once kept violence hidden, survivors are more empowered to speak out and get help. But even today, too many women, men, and children suffer alone or in silence, burdened by shame or unsure anyone will listen. This month, we recommit to changing that tragic reality by stopping sexual assault before it starts and ensuring victims get the support they need.” Read the rest of this entry »

Historical Women Who Rocked: Jackie Mitchell

April 2nd, 2013

By Elissa Blattman, NWHM Intern

It’s baseball season!  My favorite time of the year!  I grew up in a big time baseball-loving household, where the topics of our dinner conversations regularly centered around baseball trivia.  I feel like I know my fair share of baseball history, however, this is something I had never heard about until today.

Did you know Jackie Mitchell, the second female ever signed to a professional baseball contract, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back to back on April 2, 1931? I didn’t!

Growing up, Jackie Mitchell was an all-around athlete who played tennis, basketball, and boxing, among other sports.  But her favorite was baseball.  As a child, she lived next to future Baseball Hall of Famer, Dazzy Vance, who coached her and taught her the “drop ball” pitch.  She played in sandlot games and for an all-girls team in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and attended a baseball camp in Georgia.

Photo credit: Library of Congress

During the 1930s, Joe Engel, owner of the AA minor league team, the Chattanooga Lookouts, was always looking for ways to fill the Lookouts’ seats with baseball fans.  Engel, known as the “Barnum of Baseball,” frequently used publicity stunts as a way to get larger audiences into his stadium, as attendance dropped due to the financial hardship of the Great Depression.  Engel caught wind of Mitchell and he figured he could garner more publicity for the Lookouts if he signed her to the team.  On March 25, 1931, Engel signed 17 year old Jackie Mitchell to the Lookouts, so he could promote his team as being the only one in professional baseball with a female pitcher.  By April 2, Mitchell was called to the mound in her first professional game.

During the 1930s, it was common for major league teams to play exhibition games against minor league affiliates.  On their way back to New York from their Spring Training facility, the New York Yankees stopped in Chattanooga to play an exhibition game against the Lookouts.  Pitcher Clyde Barfoot started the game for the Lookouts, but was pulled by the manager after giving up hits to the first two Yankees hitters.  Mitchell was called into the game to face the next two hitters in the lineup: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  Mitchell’s first pitch to Ruth was a ball.  Ruth then swung and missed the next two pitches and was caught looking for strike three.  Gehrig struck out swinging on three consecutive pitches.  Mitchell only had the “drop ball” in her pitching repertoire, but she used it successfully to strike out two of the greatest hitters in baseball history in just seven pitches.  The crowd of 4,000 gave her a minutes-long standing ovation.  She walked the next batter, though, at which point Barfoot returned to the game to replace her – and ended up losing 14-4.

Jackie Mitchell with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe Engel. Photo credit: Library of Congress

Babe Ruth, especially, was not happy about the outcome of his at bat against Mitchell.  He allegedly yelled at the umpire, kicked the dirt, and threw his bat after being called out on strikes, and told a Chattanooga newspaper after the game, “I don’t know what’s going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball.  Of course, they will never make good.  Why?  Because they are too delicate.  It would kill them to play ball everyday.”  Major League

Baseball Commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, took Ruth’s side on the issue and voided Mitchell’s contract to play with the Lookouts, claiming baseball to be “too strenuous” for women.  Major League Baseball officially barred all women from the game on June 21, 1952.  Though not allowed to play in the MLB, the women who played in what is now known as the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954) proved that the game of baseball is not “too strenuous” for women to participate in competitively.

Sources: The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, LA Times, CNN, Baseball Almanac

NWHM’s New Exhibit Gets a Mention in the Huffington Post

April 1st, 2013

Celebrating Entrepreneurial American Women

by: Cindy Bates, Vice President, Microsoft’s U.S. Small-and-Midsized Business group

Click here for the original article on the Huffington Post.

Cindy Bates

In leading Microsoft’s U.S. Small-and-Midsized Business (SMB) group, I pay close attention to various trends in the small business space, and lately two trends in particular have tended to stand out from the rest. The first is the growth in the number of women-owned business, which was 44 percent between 1997 and 2007 — twice the growth rate of male-owned businesses. Second is the incredible impact technology has had in making the process of starting and operating a small business easier and less expensive than ever. In a recent Microsoft survey of women business owners, more than 80 percent of those who have started businesses within the last five years say technology played a critical role in getting their business up and running.

Small business is the lifeblood of the American economy, with entrepreneurship playing a transformative role in our nation’s history. But within the history of American entrepreneurship itself is a fascinating narrative around the collective experience of women who start businesses. From a changing legislative landscape, to a dramatically evolving cultural and social backdrop, the path of women entrepreneurs is marked by sometimes surprising obstacles and often inspiring triumphs.

A new online exhibit recounts the history of women’s entrepreneurship over the last century. The exhibit, “From Ideas to Independence: A Century of Entrepreneurial Women,” created by the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) in partnership with Microsoft, explores how key socio-cultural, financial, legal and technological developments have influenced women’s entrepreneurship since the start of the 20th century. From Elizabeth Arden’s cosmetics empire, to the franchise success of staffing agency Mom Corps, which offers flexible work opportunities to stay-at-home moms, the exhibit highlights the varied stories of American women who have developed new markets and made notable enhancements to existing ones. Read the rest of this entry »