THOMPSON: Women still need to be twice as good to be almost equal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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THOMPSON: Women still need to be twice as good to be almost equal



At least half of those reading this column won’t be shocked by the next sentence.

Women rarely get the recognition and respect they deserve for their trailblazing efforts, in just about any endeavour.

The National Geographic Society has been around since 1888. Since then, women explorers and scientists have mapped ocean floors, conquered peaks, unearthed ancient civilizations, set deep-sea diving records and flown around the world.

Any glory has been mostly fleeting for those women…even in the Society’s own magazine…not to mention newspapers and certainly in history books.

Who doesn’t know Charles Lindbergh? He got one of the biggest ticker-tape parades in New York City history for the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight from New York City to Paris in 1927. He’s in every history book. They wrote reams of articles about him. They made a colour movie about him starring Jimmy Stewart in 1957. When I say, they…I mean, of course, other men.

Women reading this are likely shaking their heads…and are somewhere between cursing and laughing…maybe both.

For example, ever hear of Marion Stirling? Her husband, Matthew Stirling wrote more than a dozen bylined articles on Meso-American (Mexican and Central American) archeology for National Geographic. Wife, Marion, also an archeologist helped run scores of their expeditions…with just one published article…about keeping house in the field. Women know that stuff, right?

Consider Marie Tharp, a geographer, who was the first to offer proof of the theory of tectonic plate shifts in 1952. It was widely dismissed as “girl talk” until a couple of men geographers finally said the theory made sense a few years later. She mapped millions of square miles of ocean floor using data gathered by hundreds of research ships…despite never being allowed on one.

A 1920s journalist, Juliet Bredon, was published in National Geographic…under a man’s name that she assumed. It was simply easier than fighting obvious discrimination, she said.

In 1831, King Frederick VI of Denmark offered a gold medal to the first person to discover a comet using a telescope. It took 16 years, but a 29-year-old woman and astronomer by the name of Maria Mitchell won the medal…and some international fame. Even so, she never earned what a male astronomer in the era earned…even those without a discovery.

Of course, a crater on the moon was named after her, and so was a World War II cargo ship, the S.S. Maria Mitchell. In 1888, just before Maria Mitchell died, it was her brother, oceanographer Henry Mitchell, who helped found the National Geographic Society.

Earlier, I mentioned Charles Lindbergh…but how many remember Anne Morrow Lindbergh, his wife, and a woman who became the first licensed glider pilot. She - as co-pilot, radio operator and navigator - and Charles flew from Los Angeles to New York, breaking the transcontinental speed record in 1930. She alone set a half dozen other flying records…but never got much attention.

A current article in National Geographic Magazine details these and many other notable accomplishments by women…but, again, every woman reading this column likely has a story or two about not getting credit for what they did.

Things are some better today…but it took far too long to even approach equality and fairness. In 2023, women were paid 80 per cent of what male counterparts were paid to head and run corporations. Still, there are disproportionately fewer women in higher government, judicial and business positions.

There are bright spots…like Caitlin Clark, a superstar basketball player about to leave the University of Iowa to enter professional basketball. She’s scored more points than any other college player - male or female - and is one of the most recognized people in sports today.

But, as she and millions of women know…it’s a long, hard struggle…not for the feint of heart. All that is required, my wife has told me, is to be “twice as good…so you’re almost equal.”

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.

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