Tuesday, May 3, 2016

And in other, other news

“I’m not telling women to be like men. I'm telling us to evaluate what men and women do in the workforce and at home without the gender bias.” — Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, author and activist

APRIL 28 was scholarship day at Rotary. Every year the Rotary Club of Des Moines awards six $8000 scholarships — one to a graduating senior from each of Des Moines' six high schools. This was my fifth year serving with Rob Tucker and Mark Lyons on the team that interviews and chooses the East High scholarship recipient. 

We would have given all four of the applicants we interviewed money if we could have — or adopted them. They were all so deserving and charming, such a breath of fresh air. But choose we must, and the recipient we selected this year is Afi Atchal

Afi immigrated to the United States with her mom from Togo when she was six years old. In addition to maintaining a 3.5 grade point and working at a day care center, Afi is a member of show choir, chamber choir, fashion club, National Honor Society, the NAACP and senior board and serves as student government secretary, manager of the football team and youth leader at her church. Afi wants to study political science and become a political lawyer.

Left to right: East High Principal Leslie Morris, Rob Tucker, scholarship winner Afi Atchal and me.

The other five recipients, Ariadna Delgodo Ruiz from Hoover, Barbara Gartei from Lincoln, Dorothea Polk from North, Katherine Mason from Roosevelt and Darby Payne from Scavo were all similarly accomplished and had equally lofty goals. Of the six, two aspire to be lawyers, one is aiming to be a pediatrician, another wants to be a nurse, yet another an accountant and the last one, a self-described math nerd, is undecided as to her final occupation but intends to major in math and business.

Again this year the same club member raised the same objection he does every year. He lamented that of the 80-some scholarship winners since the inception of the club's scholarship program, 60-some have been girls and 20-some have been boys — and this year all the winners were girls. But this time he did it from the podium at the award ceremony in front of the scholarship winners and their families. 

He said, "Where are all the boys?"

I always begin each HLSS blog post with a quote germane to the subject of the post. This time I was torn between two; I chose the Sheryl Sandberg quote you read at the top, but the one below speaks directly to the ill-advised comment from the podium:

“With boys there was a fundamental assumption that they had a right to be there — not always, but more often than not. With girls, 'Why her?' came up so quickly.” ― Helen Oyeyemi, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

I wonder if he made our chosen recipients feel like winners by default, as though they don't really deserve the scholarships they're receiving. 

When I told Paul about this public jeremiad, Paul said, "What is he, living in 1950?" 

Our aim is always to choose the best candidate based on performance, need and likelihood of persevering through till college graduation. Paul said, "It just shows you what happens when institutionalized male preference is eliminated, and students compete on a level playing field." Astute observation, Paul.

I'm perplexed that this member continues to mention this 'inequity' over and over and over again when here in the United States women earn on average 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. 
I guess that's okay with him because I've certainly never heard him bring that up during the five years I've served on this committee or the 10 or 12 I've known him.

And despite the fact that women comprise 51% of the population in this country, only 20% of the US Congress are women. 

From a zoomed-in perspective, things don't look much different. The membership of my Rotary Club is 79% men and 21% women, the scholarship committee is 61% men and 39% women, and the East High team I'm part of is two men and me. Zooming out, the tracks of institutionalized male preference are visible: 
Rotary International has only allowed women to be members since 1987, and the organization had to be forced to do it — by a suit it fought against tooth and nail all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Here's a timeline in case you're interested from Rotary International's website.


The Rotary Club of Duarte, California, USA, admits women as members in violation of the RI Constitution and Standard Rotary Club Constitution. Because of this violation, the club's membership in Rotary International is terminated in March 1978. (The club was reinstated in September 1986.)


The RI Board of Directors and Rotary clubs in India, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States propose an enactment to remove from the RI and club constitutions and bylaws all references to members as “male persons.” 


In a lawsuit filed by the Duarte club, the California Superior Court in 1983 rules in favor of Rotary International, upholding gender-based qualification for membership in California Rotary clubs. In 1986, the California Court of Appeals reverses the lower court's decision, preventing the enforcement of the provision in California. The California Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, and it is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


On 4 May, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Rotary clubs may not exclude women from membership on the basis of gender. Rotary issues a policy statement that any Rotary club in the United States can admit qualified women into membership.

So Ed, talk to me in 29 years — the length of time since the ones with penises began letting scary girls be in their club, or better yet, make it 96 — the length of time women have been allowed (by men) to vote — about where the boys are, because guess what? They've already been everywhere. 

THURSDAY NIGHT was the last Turner Center Jazz Orchestra concert of the season, and it was a barn-burner. 

Indeed the name of the concert was Burnin' with Buddy, and it was an entire evening of music from the Buddy Rich Big Band featuring TCJO drummer Mark GrimmBRBB tunes are hard-driving, flamboyant and challenging for the whole band, not just the drummer.

Mark Grimm

Buddy Rich was known for his virtuoso ability, power and speed. During his career he was billed as "the world's greatest drummer"; Gene Krupa called him "the greatest drummer ever to have drawn breath." 

Mark had some big shoes to fill, and he performed admirably. The selections that night were:

This Could be the Start of Something Big (TCJO's theme song)

Time Check
Big Swing Face
Love for Sale
The Rotten Kid
Backwoods Sideman
Groovin' Hard
Best Coast
Okay with Jay
Chelsea Bridge
Channel One Suite

The house was packed; the show was a hit. Here's what one audience member had to say on Facebook about the night.

Catch us next season!!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to the winners!That's a great way to start your college career; being recognized by your fellow citizens.
    Both quotes are good and really well chosen. That guy fussing needs to go to the schools to encourage the boys to work harder and EARN these scholarships!
    Congrats to Paul and his fellow musicians! It must be marvelous to be able to be in the audience for these events.