Posts Tagged ‘Temple University’

Women’s Contributions went beyond Rosie the Riveter

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator


Suzanne Tracy, Editor-in-Chief, Scientific Computing and HPC Source


The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the largest gathering of women in computing in the world. This year, 12,000 attendees are expected — a 50 percent increase from last year. The conference, held in Houston, TX, will take place October 14 to 16, 2015, and will feature leading technical speakers, career development sessions, awards, a poster session, a hackathon and the industry’s largest career fair for women in computing.

“The energy around this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration is remarkable,” said Mona Sabet, general manager of Grace Hopper Celebration. “We received over one thousand submissions for sessions from our technical community, covering subjects from data science, artificial intelligence, and security and privacy, to topics on driving innovation through serious play and being a better engineer through writing. The Grace Hopper Celebration is now the place for technical women to convene, be recognized and even be discovered.”

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is produced by the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) and presented in partnership with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Nearly 8,000 people from 65 countries attended this rapidly growing event in 2014, and this was a 64 percent increase from 2013.

Keynote and plenary speakers

Hilary Mason, renowned data scientist, and serial entrepreneur, will be the opening keynote at the 2015 celebration. Mason spent four years as the Chief Scientist at bitly, the provider of link-shortening services for sharing on social media platforms. She then went on to work with the venture capital firm, Accel Partners as their Data Scientist in Residence, before founding Fast Forward Labs.

Industry luminaries Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org and Megan Smith, United States chief technology officer, will be plenary speakers.

“We are delighted to welcome back to Grace Hopper both Sheryl and Megan,” said Telle Whitney, president and chief executive officer of the Anita Borg Institute and co-founder of the Grace Hopper Celebration. “Both of them are true inspirations for all women in technology, and their remarkable achievements in their respective careers epitomize the 2015 GHC theme of #OurTimeToLead.”

As COO of Facebook, Sandberg oversees the company’s business operations. Sandberg is also the author of the bestsellers Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and Lean In for Graduates.She founded LeanIn.Org to empower all women to achieve their ambitions.

“I’m honored to be returning to GHC to celebrate the next generation of women pursuing their ambitions in computing,” said Sandberg. “There’s never been a more important time for women to embrace computing and technical careers, yet the number of women in these fields is declining. The women at the GHC are changing this, and I’m excited to discuss how we can get more women to choose careers in STEM.”

Sandberg will be participating in an onstage conversation with Nora Denzel, an independent board director for Ericsson, AMD and Outerwall. Denzel also serves as Vice Chair of the Anita Borg Institute Board of Trustees.

Megan Smith is U.S. Chief Technology Officer, a role in which she serves as Assistant to the President and focuses on how technology policy, data and innovation can advance our future as a nation. As a former Vice President at Google, where she oversaw new business development, Smith brings an entrepreneurial spirit to her role helping the U.S. Government apply innovative solutions to problems, while encouraging more women and people of color to pursue tech careers.

“The Grace Hopper Conference is a big part of solving so many of the challenges society faces due to our lack of equal opportunity for technical women — from challenges faced raising venture capital, to disparate promotion and hiring processes, to unequal inclusion in media, events and even team meetings,” said Smith. “Grace Hopper (GHC) brings together thousands of extraordinary technical women to advance the digital age overall and provides a needed venue for ongoing work to debug the gender gap in tech.”

ABIE Awards

ABI will celebrate the ABIE Award winners at the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. ABIE Award winners are nominated by their peers and chosen by a panel of fellow technologists and past ABIE Award winners based on their extraordinary achievements and commitment to excellence.

“The GHC ABIE Awards recognize the tremendous contributions of brilliant women in technology at a fitting venue — the largest gathering of technical women in the world,” said Whitney. “We’re thrilled and extremely proud of these women’s achievements as researchers, educators, entrepreneurs and technical leaders. We look forward to acknowledging their accomplishments at the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration.”

The GHC 2015 ABIE Award Winners in their respective categories include:

  • Technical Leadership ABIE Award Winner — underwritten by Qualcomm

The Technical Leadership ABIE Award recognizes women technologists who demonstrate leadership through their contributions to technology and achievements in increasing the impact of women on technology.

  • Lydia E. Kavraki has made significant research contributions in physical algorithms and their applications in robotics, including robot motion planning, hybrid systems, formal methods in robotics, assembly planning, micromanipulation and flexible object manipulation. Lydia has also worked extensively in the fields of computational structural biology, translational bioinformatics and biomedical informatics.
    Lydia is the Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University, where she has mentored more than 20 female undergraduate students on various research projects. She is the faculty mentor of the Undergraduate Women in Computer Science Club. Lydia is the recipient of the 2000 Grace Murray Hopper Award, a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, AAAS, AAAI, AIMBE and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
  • Social Impact ABIE Award Winner — underwritten by RMS

The Social Impact ABIE Award recognizes those who have made a positive impact on women, technology, and society.

  • This year, the award winners are a team of software engineers from Google, Michal Segalov and Daniela Raijman, who co-founded Mind the Gap, a program aimed at encouraging high school girls to pursue computer science and math. In the eight years the program has been in operation in Israel, Japan, Poland, Brazil and North America, more than 10,000 girls have participated. An early study showed that 40 percent of participating girls ultimately chose computer science as a major, and over 90 percent said they would recommend computer science as a career to a friend.
    Michal Segalov is a Software Engineer and Manager, and leads groups of engineers on the Google Play team focusing on apps and game discovery, Play Store consumer features and game APIs for developers.
    Daniela Raijman joined Google in 2007 as the first female engineer at the company’s R&D center in Tel Aviv. Today, she is a manager and leads a team of a dozen engineers working on initiatives for transferring large-scale data across Google’s network, including Google Compute Engine networks.
  • Change Agent ABIE Awards Winners  underwritten by Google

The Change Agent ABIE Awards recognize international women who have created opportunities for girls and women in technology abroad.

  • María Celeste Medina is the co-founder of Ada IT, a Buenos Aires-based software development and software testing startup focused on generating job opportunities for women. She is also a Technical Advisor and Code Clubs coordinator for “Programá tu Futuro,” a Buenos Aires City Government coding initiative. In just one year, María Celeste and the Programá tu Futuro team introduced more than 6,000 people to coding, including kids, adults, teenagers and senior citizens. María Celeste also serves as a board member for Girls in Tech Argentina.
  • Mai Abualkas Temraz is the Mentorship & Women’s Inclusivity Program Coordinator at Gaza Sky Geeks, Gaza’s first startup accelerator and co-working hub. Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) is run by Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization, and fills a critical need in Gaza, where young tech talent is abundant, but job opportunities are in short supply. GSG has created one of the most inclusive startup communities in the world — almost half of its participants are women. In 2015, Mai was awarded the best entry-level STEM Executive at the Women in STEM conference in Dubai. She is a Global Tech Leader representing Palestine, serves as the regional ambassador for Technovation in the Gaza Strip and is a member of the Arab Women in Computing (ArabWIC) mentorship committee. Mai is also the first and only female amateur radio operator in Palestine.
  • Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award Winner — underwritten by Juniper Networks

The A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award recognizes educators who develop innovative teaching practices and approaches that attract girls and women to computing, engineering and math.

  • Joanne McGrath Cohoon is a sociologist with the rank of Full Professor in the University of Virginia’s Department of Engineering & Society. She has conducted extensive research about the gender imbalance in computing and put her knowledge into practice through her work with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). Joanne is a senior research scientist for NCWIT, where she promotes diversity and equity by improving the practices of institutions that educate and employ computing professionals.
  • Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award Winner — underwritten by Microsoft

The Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award recognizes a junior faculty member for high-quality research and significant positive impact on diversity.

  • Lydia Tapia is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Her field of research is methodologies for the simulation and analysis of motions, and she applies these methods to both robots and disease-causing proteins as the director of the Adaptive Motion Planning Research Group. Previously, Lydia was a Computing Innovation Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Science from Tulane University. Lydia is highly committed to exposing young scientists to research through K-12 outreach and research experiences for undergraduates.

About the Anita Borg Institute (ABI)

The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI) connects, inspires and guides women in computing and organizations that view technology innovation as a strategic imperative. Founded in 1997 by computer scientist Anita Borg, the institute’s reach extends to more than 65 countries. ABI believes that technology innovation powers the global economy, and that women are crucial to building technology the world needs. As a social enterprise, ABI recognizes women making positive contributions, and advises organizations on how to improve performance by building more inclusive teams. ABI has over 50 industry partners.

Grace Murray Hopper

Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper was a remarkable woman who grandly rose to the challenges of programming the first computers. During her lifetime as a leader in the field of software development concepts, she contributed to the transition from primitive programming techniques to the use of sophisticated compilers. She believed that “we’ve always done it that way” was not necessarily a good reason to continue to do so.

Grace Brewster Murray was born on December 9, 1906 in New York City. In 1928 she graduated from Vassar College with a BA in mathematics and physics and joined the Vassar faculty. While an instructor at Vassar, she continued her studies in mathematics at Yale University, where she earned an MA in 1930 and a PhD in 1934. She was one of four women in a doctoral program of ten students, and her doctorate in mathematics was a rare accomplishment in its day.

In 1930 Grace Murray married Vincent Foster Hopper. (He died in 1945 during World War II, and they had no children.) She remained at Vassar as an associate professor until 1943, when she joined the United States Naval Reserve to assist her country in its wartime challenges. After USNR Midshipman’s School-W, she was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University, where she worked at Harvard’s Cruft Laboratories on the Mark series of computers. In 1946 Admiral Hopper resigned her leave of absence from Vassar to become a research fellow in engineering and applied physics at Harvard’s Computation Laboratory. In 1949 she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a Senior Mathematician. This group was purchased by Remington Rand in 1950, which in turn merged into the Sperry Corporation in 1955. Admiral Hopper took military leave from the Sperry Corporation from 1967 until her retirement in 1971.

Throughout her years in academia and industry, Admiral Hopper was a consultant and lecturer for the United States Naval Reserve. After a seven-month retirement, she returned to active duty in the Navy in 1967 as a leader in the Naval Data Automation Command. Upon her retirement from the Navy in 1986 with the rank of Rear Admiral, she immediately became a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation, and remained there several years, working well into her eighties. She died in her sleep in Arlington, Virginia on January 1, 1992.

During her academic, industry, and military tenure, Admiral Hopper’s numerous talents were apparent. She had outstanding technical skills, was a whiz at marketing, repeatedly demonstrated her business and political acumen, and never gave up on her good ideas.

Programming the First Computers

Perseverance was on of the personality traits that made Grace Murray Hopper a great leader. On her arrival at Cruft Laboratory she immediately encountered the Mark I computer. For her it was an attractive gadget, similar to the alarm clocks of her youth; she could hardly wait to disassemble it and figure it out. Admiral Hopper became the third person to program the Mark I. She received the Naval Ordnance Development Award for her pioneering applications programming success on the Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III computers.

A true visionary, Admiral Hopper conceptualized how a much wider audience could use the computer if there were tools that were both programmer-friendly and application-friendly. In pursuit of her vision she risked her career in 1949 to join the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and provide businesses with computers. There she began yet another pioneering effort of UNIVAC I, the first large-scale electronic digital computer. To ease their task, Admiral Hopper encouraged programmers to collect and share common portions of programs. Even though these early shared libraries of code had to be copied by hand, they reduced errors, tedium, and duplication of effort.

By 1949 programs contained mnemonics that were transformed into binary code instructions executable by the computer. Admiral Hopper and her team extended this improvement on binary code with the development of her first compiler, the A-O. The A-O series of compilers translated symbolic mathematical code into machine code, and allowed the specification of call numbers assigned to the collected programming routines stored on magnetic tape. One could then simply specify the call numbers of the desired routines and the computer would “find them on the tape, bring them over and do the additions. This was the first compiler,” she declared.

Admiral Hopper believed that the major obstacle to computers in non-scientific and business applications was the dearth of programmers for these far from user-friendly new machines. The key to opening up new worlds to computing, she knew, was the development and refinement of programming languages – languages that could be understood and used by people who were neither mathematicians nor computer experts. It took several years for her to demonstrate that this idea was feasible.

Early Compilers and Validation

Pursuing her belief that computer programs could be written in English, Admiral hopper moved forward with the development for Univac of the B-O compiler, later known as FLOW-MATIC. It was designed to translate a language that could be used for typical business tasks like automatic billing and payroll calculation. Using FLOW-MATIC, Admiral Hopper and her staff were able to make the UNIVAC I and II “understand” twenty statements in English. When she recommended that an entire programming language be developed using English words, however, she “was told very quickly that [she] couldn’t do this because computers didn’t understand English.” It was three years before her idea was finally accepted; she published her first compiler paper in 1952.

Admiral Hopper actively participated in the first meetings to formulate specifications for a common business language. She was one of the two technical advisers to the resulting CODASYL Executive Committee, and several of her staff were members of the CODASYL Short Range Committee to define the basic COBOL language design. The design was greatly influenced by FLOW-MATIC. As one member of the Short Range Committee stated, “[FLOW-MATIC] was the only business-oriented programming language in use at the time COBOL development started… Without FLOW-MATIC we probably never would have had a COBOL.” The first COBOL specifications appeared in 1959.

Admiral Hopper devoted much time to convincing business managers that English language compilers such as FLOW-MATIC and COBOL were feasible. She participated in a public demonstration by Sperry Corporation and RCA of COBOL compilers and the machine independence they provided. After her brief retirement from the Navy, Admiral Hopper led an effort to standardize COBOL and to persuade the entire Navy to use this high-level computer language. With her technical skills, she lead her team to develop useful COBOL manuals and tools. With her speaking skills, she convinced managers that they should learn to use them.

Another major effort in Admiral Hopper’s life was the standardization of compilers. Under her direction, the Navy developed a set of programs and procedures for validating COBOL compilers. This concept of validation has had widespread impact on other programming languages and organizations; it eventually led to national and international standards and validation facilities for most programming languages.


Admiral Grace Murray Hopper received many awards and commendations for her accomplishments. In 1969, she was awarded the first ever Computer Science Man-of-the-Year Award from the Data Processing Management Association. In 1971, the Sperry Corporation initiated an annual award in her name to honor young computer professionals for their significant contributions to computer science. In 1973, she became the first person from the United States and the first woman of any nationality to be made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society.

After four decades of pioneering work, Admiral Hopper felt her greatest contribution had been “all the young people I’ve trained.” She was an inspirational professor and a much sought-after speaker, in some years she addressed more than 200 audiences. In her speeches Admiral Hopper often used analogies and examples that have become legendary. Once she presented a piece of wire about a foot long, and explained that it represented a nanosecond, since it was the maximum distance electricity could travel in wire in one-billionth of a second. She often contrasted this nanosecond with a microsecond – a coil of wire nearly a thousand feet long – as she encouraged programmers not to waste even a microsecond.

When Admiral Grace Murray Hopper died, the world lost an inspiration to women and scientists everywhere. Her outstanding contributions to computer science benefited academia, industry, and the military. Her work spanned programming languages, software development concepts, compiler verification, and data processing. Her early recognition of the potential for commercial applications of computers paved the way for modern data processing.

This story is copied, with permission, from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 1994 conference proceedings.

ENIAC: Celebrating Penn Engineering History

Originally announced on February 14, 1946, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), was the first general-purpose electronic computer. Hailed by The New York Times as “an amazing machine which applies electronic speeds for the first time to mathematical tasks hitherto too difficult and cumbersome for solution,” the ENIAC was a revolutionary piece of machinery in its day. It was constructed and operated here at The Moore School of Electrical Engineering, now part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

ENIAC Museum

Today, it is difficult to imagine how we could manage without the myriad electronic devices that we utilize each day. From our “smart” phones, touch screens, and tiny cameras to our automobiles, airplanes and medical equipment and devices, electronics is the engine driving us forward. And it was here at the University of Pennsylvania that it all began.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science is proud to have on display four of the original 40 panels of the ENIAC. The artifacts represent approximately one-tenth of its original size.

The Inventors: John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, Jr.

John W. Mauchly

The operators of the Differential Analyser – the team of women dubbed “human computors” and who were recruited and trained to run ballistics calculations for the war effort, were not the only ones working under top secret conditions at The Moore School.

During the war, interest in speeding up computation was underlined by the need to be able to calculate the speed and trajectory of bombs and missiles. The government at this time funded a course taught at The Moore School called the Engineering, Science, Management War Training (ESMWT) course. It offered instruction in electronics and other subject relevant to the war effort. John Mauchly was a professor at Urisinus College when he enrolled in the course. Later, because of his outstanding performance at ESMWT, he was hired at Penn to replace professors called away to active duty. J. Presper Eckert

It was during this time that Mauchly met J. Presper Eckert, who was a graduate of Penn and hired to run the laboratory for the ESMWT course.

Both men were keenly interested in speeding up the ability to perform computations. Despite the secret staffs of women at Penn and other locations, there was a backlog of ballistics computation building up, hampering the efforts of the troops fighting abroad. After securing a contract from the military’s Ballistics Research Laboratory (BRL), development of the ENIAC began.

Mauchly was very much the visionary of the ENIAC’s use of mechanical and vacuum tube technologies. Eckert was the engineer of the project who solved it’s technical problems. The chief challenge was tube reliability in the operation of ENIAC. Eckert was able to get good reliability by running the tubes at one-quarter power. Together with a team of wiremen, programmers and draftsmen, the ENIAC was built. When it was operational, the machine was run by a team of six women.

For the next nine years, the ENIAC served as the primary computing engine for the Army.

  1. Top Secret Rosies: The Female ‘Computers’ of WWII (2010) – IMDb


In 1942, when computers were human and women were underestimated, a group of female mathematicians helped win a war and usher in the modern …

  1. Top Secret Rosies – Temple University Sites


Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of WWII is a one hour documentary that shares the little known story of the women and technology that helped win …

In 1942, physicist John Mauchly proposed an all-electronic calculating machine. The U.S. Army, meanwhile, needed to calculate complex wartime ballistics tables. Proposal met patron.

The result was ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), built between 1943 and 1945—the first large-scale computer to run at electronic speed without being slowed by any mechanical parts. For a decade, until a 1955 lightning strike, ENIAC may have run more calculations than all mankind had done up to that point.

ENIAC programmers

ENIAC programmers Frances Bilas (later Frances Spence) and Betty Jean Jennings (later Jean Bartik) stand at its main control panels. Both held degrees in mathematics. Bilas operated the Moore School’s Differential Analyzer before joining the ENIAC project.

Date2011ProducerExecutive Producer: Jon Plutte. Produced by Aimee Gardner. Edited by David Richardson, DR & Associates.Copyright Owner© Computer History MuseumKeywordsVideoObject ID102695698

Jean Bartik: ENIAC’s Programmers


Maryam Mirzakhani is First Woman Fields Medalist


Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor of mathematics at Stanford, has been awarded the 2014 Fields Medal, the most prestigious honor in mathematics. Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the prize, widely regarded as the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics,” since it was established in 1936.

Maryam Mirzakhani was awarded the Fields Medal for her sophisticated and highly original contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems.

“This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,” Mirzakhani said. “I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.”

Officially known as the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics, the Fields Medal will be presented by the International Mathematical Union on August 13 at the International Congress of Mathematicians, held this year in Seoul, South Korea. Mirzakhani is the first Stanford recipient to win this honor since Paul Cohen in 1966.

The award recognizes Mirzakhani’s sophisticated and highly original contributions to the fields of geometry and dynamical systems, particularly in understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces, such as spheres, the surfaces of doughnuts and of hyperbolic objects. Although her work is considered “pure mathematics” and is mostly theoretical, it has implications for physics and quantum field theory.

“On behalf of the entire Stanford community, I congratulate Maryam on this incredible recognition, the highest honor in her discipline, the first ever granted to a woman,” said Stanford President John Hennessy. “We are proud of her achievements, and of the work taking place in our math department and among our faculty. We hope it will serve as an inspiration to many aspiring mathematicians.”

‘Like solving a puzzle’

Mirzakhani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. As a young girl she dreamed of becoming a writer. By high school, however, her affinity for solving mathematical problems and working on proofs had shifted her sights.

“It is fun — it’s like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case,” she said. “I felt that this was something I could do, and I wanted to pursue this path.”

Mirzakhani became known to the international math scene as a teenager, winning gold medals at both the 1994 and 1995 International Math Olympiads — she finished with a perfect score in the latter competition. Mathematicians who would later be her mentors and colleagues followed the mathematical proofs she developed as an undergraduate.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Sharif University of Technology in 1999, she began work on her doctorate at Harvard University under the guidance of Fields Medal recipient Curtis McMullen. She possesses a remarkable fluency in a diverse range of mathematical techniques and disparate mathematical cultures — including algebra, calculus, complex analysis and hyperbolic geometry. By borrowing principles from several fields, she has brought a new level of understanding to an area of mathematics called low dimensional topology.

Mirzakhani’s earliest work involved solving the decades-old problem of calculating the volumes of moduli spaces of curves on objects known as Riemann surfaces. These are geometric objects whose points each represent a different hyperbolic surface. These objects are mostly theoretical, but real-world examples include amoebae and doughnuts. She solved this by drawing a series of loops across their surfaces and calculating their lengths.

“What’s so special about Maryam, the thing that really separates her, is the originality in how she puts together these disparate pieces,” said Steven Kerckhoff, a mathematics professor at Stanford and one of Mirzakhani’s collaborators. “That was the case starting with her thesis work, which generated several papers in all the top journals. The novelty of her approach made it a real tour de force.”

Sheryl Sandberg: When Women Get Stuck, Corporate America Gets Stuck

Using the talents of our full population is critical, writes Lean In founder Sheryl Sandberg


Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer and author of the bestselling “Lean In,” speaks at WSJ’s Women in the Workplace event

At the current pace of progress, we are more than 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite. If NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar past Mars, travel all the way to Pluto and return to Earth 10 times before women occupy half of C-suite offices. Yes, we’re that far away.

Today, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. are releasing Women in the Workplace 2015, a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America. In total, 118 companies and nearly 30,000 employees participated, sharing their pipeline data, HR practices, and attitudes on gender and job satisfaction.

Our research reveals that despite modest improvements since 2012, women remain underrepresented at every corporate level. And it turns out the drop-off in senior ranks is not mainly due to attrition. Women, on average, are not leaving these companies at higher rates than men. Rather, they face more barriers to advancement and are less likely to reach senior leadership positions.

Women see an uneven playing field—a workplace tilted against them. Women are twice as likely to believe their gender will make it harder to advance, and senior-level women view gender as a bigger obstacle than entry-level women do.

The unfortunate reality is that women at every stage in their careers are less interested than men in becoming a top executive. Contrary to popular belief, this is not solely rooted in family concerns. Our research shows that even women without children cite stress and pressure as their main issue. This points to another possible explanation for the leadership ambition gap: The path to senior positions is disproportionately stressful for women.

Related Video

A new LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. study on Women in the Workplace finds that corporate diversity initiatives aren’t helping
What’s Holding Women Back in the Workplace?

Despite support at the top, gender equality is a long way off at most U.S. companies. A study by Lean In and McKinsey reveals why—and what employees and companies can do about it.

Why aren’t there more women in the upper ranks of corporate America?

Cue the broken record: Women rein in career plans to spend more time caring for family. What’s more, they are inherently less ambitious than men and don’t have the confidence that commands seats in the C-suite.

Not so fast.

Something else is happening on the way to the top. Women aren’t abandoning their careers in large numbers; motherhood, in fact, increases their appetite for winning promotions; and women overall don’t lack for ambition and confidence that they can take on big jobs. Yet when asked whether they want a top role in their companies or industries, a majority of women say they would rather not grab the brass ring.

Dawkins: Religion Holds Back Science in America


Evolutionary biologist and “The Selfish Gene” author Richard Dawkins discusses why he believes America is the leading scientific nation, but is burdened by “an uncultured, ignorant, almost-majority” of people with strong religious views.


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Subtitle: The Balance of Nitric Oxide, Peroxinitrite, and NO donors in Maintenance of Renal Function

Curator and Author: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

The Nitric Oxide and Renal is presented in FOUR parts:

Part I: The Amazing Structure and Adaptive Functioning of the Kidneys: Nitric Oxide

Part II: Nitric Oxide and iNOS have Key Roles in Kidney Diseases

Part III: The Molecular Biology of Renal Disorders: Nitric Oxide

Part IV: New Insights on Nitric Oxide donors 

Conclusion to this series is presented in

The Essential Role of Nitric Oxide and Therapeutic NO Donor Targets in Renal Pharmacotherapy

Evolution of kidney function

The Emergence of  a Mammalian Kidney as Subterranian Life Crawls from Sea to Land
In fish the nerves that activate breathing take a short journey from an ancient part of the brain, the brain stem, to the throat and gills. For the ancient tadpole, the nerve controlling a reflex related to hiccup in man served a useful purpose, allowing the entrance to the lung to remain open when breathing air but closing it off when gulping water – which would then be directed only to the gills. For humans and other mammals it provides a bit of evidence of our common ancestry. DNA evidence has pinned iguanas and chameleons as the closest relatives to snakes.

In utero, we develop three separate kidneys in succession, absorbing the first two before we wind up with the embryonic kidney that will become our adult kidney. The first two of these reprise embryonic kidneys of ancestral forms, and in the proper evolutionary order. The pronephric kidney does not function in human and other mammalian embryos. It disappears and gives rise to the Mesonephric kidney. This kidney filters wastes from the blood and excretes them to the outside of the body via a pair of tubes called the mesonephric ducts (also “Wolffian ducts”). The mesonephric kidney goes on to develop into the adult kidney of fish and amphibians. This kidney does function for a few weeks in the human embryo, but then disappears as our final kidney forms, which is the Metanephric kidney.

The Metanephric kidney begins developing about five weeks into gestation, and consists of an organ that filters wastes from the blood and excretes them to the outside through a pair ureters. In the embryo, the wastes are excreted directly into the amniotic fluid. The metanephric kidney is the final adult kidney of reptiles, birds, and mammals. The first two kidneys resemble, in order, those of primitive aquatic vertebrates (lampreys and hagfish) and aquatic or semiaquatic vertebrates (fish and amphibians): an evolutionary order. The explanation, then, is that we go through developmental stages that show organs resembling those of our ancestors.

Take a step back and we see that fresh water fish have glomerular filtration. Cardiac contraction provides the pressure to force the water, small molecules, and ions into the glomerulus as nephric filtrate. The essential ingredients are then reclaimed by the tubules, returning to the blood in the capillaries surrounding the tubules. The amphibian kidney also functions chiefly as a device for excreting excess water. But the problem is to conserve water, not eliminate it. The frog adjusts to the varying water content of its surroundings by adjusting the rate of filtration at the glomerulus. When blood flow through the glomerulus is restricted, a renal portal system is present to carry away materials reabsorbed through the tubules. Bird kidneys function like those of reptiles (from which they are descended). Uric acid is also their chief nitrogenous waste.

All mammals share our use of urea as their chief nitrogenous waste. Urea requires much more water to be excreted than does uric acid. Thus, mammals produce large amounts of nephric filtrate but are able to reabsorb most of this in the tubules. Even so, humans lose several hundred ml each day in flushing urea out of the body. In his hypothesis of the evolution of renal function Homer Smith proposed that the formation of glomerular nephron and body armor had been adequate for the appearance of primitive vertebrates in fresh water and that the adaptation of homoisotherms to terrestrial life was accompanied by the appearance of the loop of Henle.

In the current paper, the increase in the arterial blood supply and glomerular filtration rate and the sharp elevation of the proximal reabsorption are viewed as important mechanisms in the evolution of the kidney. The presence of glomeruli in myxines and of nephron loops in lampreys suggests that fresh water animals used the preformed glomerular apparatus of early vertebrates, while mechanisms of urinary concentration was associated with the subdivision of the kidney into the renal cortex and medulla. The principles of evolution of renal functions can be observed at several levels of organizations in the kidney.
Natochin YV. Evolutionary aspects of renal function. Kidney International 1996; 49: 1539–1542; doi:10.1038/ki.1996.220.
Smith HW: From Fish to Philosopher. Boston, Little, Brown, 1953.

The Kidney: Anatomy and Physiology

The kidney lies in the lower abdomen capped by the adrenal glands. It has an outer cortex and an inner medulla. The basic unit is the nephron, which filters blood at the glomerulus, and not only filters urine eliminating mainly urea, also uric acid, and other nitrogenous waste, but also reabsorbs Na+ in exchange for H+/(reciprocal K+) through the carbonic anhydrase of the epithelium. In addition, it serves as a endocrine organ and receptor through the renin-angiotensin/aldosterone system, sensitivity to water loss controlled by distal acting antidiuretic hormone, and is sensitive to the natriuretic peptides of the heart. The kidney is an elegant structure with a high concentration of glomeruli in the cortex, and in the medulla one finds a U-shaped tube that is critical in functioning of a countercurrent multiplier system with a descending limb, Loop of Henley, and ascending limb.

The glomerulus is a dense ball of capillaries (glomerular capillaries) that branches from the afferent arteriole that enters the nephron. Because blood in the glomerular capillaries is under high pressure, substances in the blood that are small enough to pass through the pores (fenestrae, or endothelial fenestrations) in the capillary walls are forced out and into the encircling glomerular capsule. The glomerular capsule is a cup-shaped body that encircles the glomerular capillaries and collects the material (filtrate) that is forced out of the glomerular capillaries. The filtrate collects in the interior of the glomerular capsule, the capsular space, which is an area bounded by an inner visceral layer (that faces the glomerular capillaries) and an outer parietal layer.

The glomerular filtrate passes into the proximal convoluted tubule (PCT),  a winding tube in the renal cortex.  The PCT is mitochondria roch and has a high-energy yield.  The large surface area of these cells support their functions of reabsorption and secretion. The filtrate passes down the descending tubule and reaches the Loop of Henle. The  loop is shaped like a hairpin and consists of a descending limb that drops into the renal medulla and an ascending limb that rises back into the renal cortex.  The distal convoluted tubule (DCT) coils within the renal cortex and empties into the collecting duct.   In the final portions of the DCT and the collecting duct, there are cells that respond to the hormones aldosterone and antidiuretic hormone (ADH), and there are cells that secrete H+ in an effort to maintain proper pH.

The juxtaglomerular apparatus (JGA) is an area of the nephron where the afferent arteriole and the initial portion of the distal convoluted tubule are in close contact. Here, specialized smooth muscle cells of the afferent arteriole, called granular juxtaglomerular (JG) cells, act as mechanoreceptors that monitor blood pressure in the afferent arteriole. In the adjacent distal convoluted tubule, specialized cells, called macula densa, act as chemoreceptors that monitor the concentration of Na+ and Cl in the urine inside the tubule. Together, these cells help regulate blood pressure and the production of urine in the nephron.

The operation of the human nephron consists of three processes:

  • Glomerular filtration
  • Tubular reabsorption
  • Tubular secretion

The net filtration pressure (NFP) determines the quantity of filtrate that is forced into the glomerular capsule. The NFP, estimated at about 10 mm Hg, is the sum of pressures that promote filtration less the sum of those that oppose filtration. The following contribute to the NFP:

  • The glomerular hydrostatic pressure (blood pressure in the glomerulus) promotes filtration.
  • The glomerular osmotic pressure  is created as a result of the movement of water and solutes out of the glomerular capillaries. The increase in the concentration of solutes in the glomerular capillaries draws into the glomerular capillaries.
  • The capsular hydrostatic pressure inhibits filtration. This pressure develops as water collects in the glomerular capsule.

As the filtrate flows through the glomerulus into the descending limb, glucose is reabsorbed  to a threshhold maximum, and H+ is converted by the carbonic anhydrase  to water and CO2, except with serious acidemia, in which K+ is reabsorbed with H+ loss to the filtrate, resulting in a hyperkalemia. In the descending limb Na+ is absorbed into the interstitium, and the hypertonic interstitium draws water back for circulation, regulated by the action of ADH on the epithelium of the ascending limb. The result in terms of basic urinary clearance, the volume of urine loss is moderated by the amount needed for circulation (10 units of whole blood) without dehydration, and an amount sufficient for metabolite loss (including drug metabolites). The urine flows into the kidney pelvis and flow down the ureters.

The reabsorption of most substances from the tubule to the interstitial fluids requires a membrane-bound transport protein that carries these substances across the tubule cell membrane by active transport. When all of the available transport proteins are being used, the rate of reabsorption reaches a transport maximum (Tm), and substances that cannot be transported are lost in the urine.

The blood reaches the glomerulus by way of the afferent arteriole and leaves by way of the efferent arteriole. In a book by the Harvard Pathologist Shields Warren on diabetes he made a distinction between hypertension and diabetes in that efferent arteriolar sclerosis is present in both, but diabetes is uniquely identified by afferent arteriolar sclerosis. In diabetes you also have a typical glomerulosclerosis, which might be related to the same hyalinization found in the pancreatic islets – a secondary amyloidosis.

The renal artery for each kidney enters the renal hilus and successively branches into segmental arteries and then into interlobar arteries, which pass between the renal pyramids toward the renal cortex. The interlobar arteries then branch into the arcuate arteries, which curve as they pass along the junction of the renal medulla and cortex. Branches of the arcuate arteries, called interlobular arteries, penetrate the renal cortex, where they again branch into afferent arterioles, which enter the filtering mechanisms, or glomeruli, of the nephrons.


The criticality of renal function is traced to the emergence of animal forms from the sea to land, and its evolutionary change is recapitulated in the embryo.  We have already described the key role that nitric oxide and the NO synthases play in reduction of oxidative stress, and we have seen that a balance has to be struck between pro- and anti-oxidative as well as inflammatory elements for avoidance of diseases, specifically involving the circulation, but effectively not limited to any organ system. In addition, we have noted the importance of oxidative stress and modifications in mitochondrial function in oncogenesis related to a reliance on aerobic glycolysis to support both energy and synthetic activities in growth and proliferation of the “cancer” cell, that becomes more like a cancer “prototype” than its forebears.  In this discussion we pay attention to kidney function, and what follows is the adaptive role of NO and NO donors. This is an extension of a series of posts on NO and NO related disorders.

Frontal section through the kidney

Frontal section through the kidney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Structures of the kidney: Renal pyramid Interl...

Structures of the kidney: Renal pyramid Interlobar artery Renal artery Renal vein Renal hylum Renal pelvis Ureter Minor calyx Renal capsule Inferior extremity Superior extremity Interlobar vein Nephron Renal sinus Major calyx Renal papilla Renal column (no distinction for red/blue (oxygenated or not) blood, arteriole is between capilaries and larger vessels) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Distribution of blood vessels in cortex of kid...

Distribution of blood vessels in cortex of kidney. (Although the figure labels the efferent vessel as a vein, it is actually an arteriole.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Nephron, Diagram of the urine formati...

English: Nephron, Diagram of the urine formation. The number inside tubular urine concentration in mOsm/l – when ADH acts  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anatomy of the Kidneys. CliffsNotes. www.cliffsnotes.com/…/Anatomy-of-the-Kidneys

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