Women missing in places of power
Despite a couple of high-profile women
in the Bush administration, female voices continue to go unheard at the
tables of power, according to investigative journalist Marie Tessier.
The University of Maine assistant professor of journalism and mass
communication reviewed records of cabinet-level appointments of several
presidential administrations, as well as reports by groups such as the
American Bar Association and the American Association for the
Advancement of Science.
Writing in a recent issue of Ms. magazine, Tessier concluded that women
are not well represented in the highest levels of government or in
boardrooms or courts. In addition, women continue to earn less than
their male counterparts.
Tessier found that during his first year in office, 26 percent of George
W. Bush's executive branch nominees were female. By comparison, in the
first year of the Clinton administration, 37 percent of nominees were
women. This is the first such decline since the Nixon presidency.
The picture for women was just as bleak in other realms. Women account
for about 15 percent of federal judges and law firm partners, and only
10 percent of law school deans and general counsels. Only one in 10
corporate officers are women, and female scientists earn a third less
than their male counterparts.
"The lagging role of women in the Bush administration is a powerful
allegory for the glass ceiling that continues to block the advancement
of women in the United States. A few women are in powerful positions in
all sectors of society, but in the main, women's voices still go unheard
at the tables of power," Tessier says.
Her findings are especially troubling, Tessier says, because there is a
common complacence about continuing problems with working conditions for
women. Her investigative reporting shows that the progress remains
incomplete and that "the nation's most talented women are getting welts
from bouncing off glass ceilings."
AUBG: UMaine by way of Bulgaria
The first American-style university in eastern Europe will mark its 12th
anniversary in September, but it will do so without its long-time
president, who is retiring after a decade of leadership.
Since 1993, Julia Watkins, a University of Maine faculty member and
administrator, has served as president of American University in
Bulgaria, or AUBG. She is retiring at the end of this academic year, and
will receive an honorary degree from the University of Maine during
AUBG is a four-year liberal arts institution in Blagoevgrad. It opened
in 1991 with planning assistance from the University of Maine, including
design and monitoring of AUBG's academic programs leading to a
As of 2001, AUBG was fully accredited by the New England Association of
Schools and Colleges, and UMaine is represented on the university's
board of trustees.
The two institutions maintain a student exchange, with a number of AUBG
graduates continuing their education at UMaine.
UMaine was invited to participate in the establishment of AUBG by the
Republic of Bulgaria, the city of Blagoevgrad and the Open Society
The eastern Europe university, which has seen its enrollment grow to 650
students from 20 countries, is funded by tuition, the government of
Bulgaria, the U.S. Agency for International Development and private
University of Maine business students are helping to make a weighty
corporate decision for a California-based company.
Last fall, undergraduates in a marketing research class taught by Harold
Daniel acted as consultants to the Henry Company, a construction
materials manufacturing firm, helping it decide whether to enter a new
market. Students studied the company and its competitors, and surveyed
This semester, many of the students went on to develop a marketing plan
for Henry Company, including how the new product could be sold.
The UMaine students obtained and analyzed information for the company,
then presented their findings to its executives. Ultimately, the
students gained experience and knowledge that they can now put to work
for Maine companies.
The Henry Company, which makes roof coatings and sealants, came to the
university because of its experience in the forest products industry,
says Michael Manning, the firm's vice president of administration.
Going to great heights
In a quest to understand what drives the climate of North America, a
team of American, Canadian and Japanese scientists is studying ice cores
collected from the highest mountain range in Canada.
One of those researchers is University of Maine geologist Karl Kreutz,
who is studying the ice collected in the St. Elias Mountains in the
Yukon Territory, including a 1,100-foot core the deepest taken from
the Eclipse Icefield near Canada's highest peak, Mt. Logan.
Mt. Logan is well positioned to reflect what's going on in the North
Pacific. Kreutz and his colleagues hope to shed light on an El Niño-like
weather cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO.
Scientists know that PDO changes every 2030 years, affecting weather
across North America. PDO, centered in the north Pacific, has cool and
warm phases. Ocean surface temperatures and dominant wind directions are
different for each phase. Weather data have been collected since about
1900, according to Kreutz, although scientists have used tree ring
analysis to extend that record back to about 1650.
Better knowledge of PDO may help answer questions about an apparent
climate change in northwest North America. The region is home to the
largest icefield and largest number of tidewater glaciers on the
continent. Many glaciers have retreated dramatically over the last two
Kreutz has climbed in some of the world's highest mountain ranges to
collect ice cores. His goal is to understand where the moisture came
from, how far it traveled to reach the glacier or icefield and how the
atmosphere was circulating at the time.
A new U.S. weather station at the University of Maine's Rogers Farm is
part of a system that will provide national climate data for the 21st
century. The automated facility is part of the Climate Reference Network
of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The UMaine station is one of more than 100 being erected to monitor the
weather nationwide, providing data that can be compared to past
observations to determine present and future climate change, says Greg
Zielinski, Maine state climatologist and a research associate professor
in the UMaine Institute for Quaternary and Climate Studies. The only
other network station in Maine is in the Aroostook National Wildlife
Refuge in Limestone.
Weather data from the UMaine station is transmitted by satellite to the
Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where it is made available
to researchers and the public.
Earlier this year, a federal court ruled that the Department of the
Interior violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to sufficiently
protect the Canada lynx from extinction in all four of the wild cat's
remaining ranges in the U.S.
In the suit brought by Defenders of Wildlife, the conservation group
argued that lynx in the Northeast, Great Lakes and Southern Rockies were
being ignored in favor of recovery efforts in the Northwest. The court's
summary judgment requires that all four lynx zones be recognized and
critical habitat for the species be identified.
"The recent court ruling will likely result in an upgrade of the legal
and conservation status of lynx, and increased awareness of the
important role that Maine can take in conservation and recovery efforts
for this species in the United States," says UMaine Professor of
Wildlife Ecology Daniel Harrison. "It will affect the way that federally
owned forestlands are managed for lynx habitat."
The lynx is one of several animal species that Harrison and other
University of Maine wildlife ecologists study. Currently, Harrison and
his colleagues are developing a habitat model to predict the occurrence
of lynx in Maine.
Harrison currently advises Ph.D. student Angela Fuller, who is working
on lynx-habitat relationships in northern Maine. In addition, Harrison
and Bill Krohn, leader of the Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife
Research Unit, recently co-advised two graduate students in wildlife
ecology Jessica Homyack and Christopher Hoving who have worked on
lynx ecology and relationships with forest management practices in
eastern North America.
The research findings can be used by federal agencies to manage lynx
populations in accordance with the U.S. Endangered Species Act. State
agencies also can use the information to identify areas of suitable
habitat for further population survey and research.
The Canada lynx, which is slightly larger than a bobcat, was once found
in 16 states. Today in the U.S., it is estimated that fewer than 200
lynx remain, mostly in Maine, Minnesota, Montana and Washington. In
March 2000, the lynx was designated as threatened in the U.S.
'Tis the season
In Maine, black fly season is just around the corner. Time to dig out
the bug spray and monitor the weekly "black fly report" on Maine Nature
News an early-warning system for the infamous infestation.
Maine Nature News (www.mainenature.org),
a daily diary of occurrences and observations in the natural world, has
been online since 1996. It was created by University of Maine librarian
Frank Wihbey and offered through Fogler Library as a public service to
the state. Wihbey compiles daily reports from outdoor enthusiasts in
Maine in an effort to chronicle nature and raise awareness of
time-limited events the news of nature like the short seasons of
trilliums and mayflowers, the ripening of wild blueberries and streams
rising with the first thaw.
The goal is to emphasize what's happening in nature, and de-emphasize
human events and activities about nature.
Readers also post nature-related questions on the Web site. To date,
queries have come from as far away as Sweden.
The most-asked questions are about black flies. Correspondents' reports
about the first sightings south to north and coast to inland, plotted on
a state map, give outdoor enthusiasts clues about when the season will
be in full swing. Wihbey publishes weekly updates from MayJuly, rating
them on a scale of 13: 1 none or few; 2 some, but tolerable; 3
many, a royal pain.
The second most-asked questions concern bird identification and
The age of language
A youngster's first words can be cause for celebration and an
opportunity to see how he or she is developing, according to University
of Maine researchers involved in the Early Language Project.
Alan Cobo-Lewis, UMaine associate professor of psychology, is leading
the research project to evaluate a computerized version of the MacArthur
Communicative Development Inventories (CDI), a widely used child
language development test based on parents' observations of what their
children say and understand. The project is funded by the National
Institutes of Health.
Cobo-Lewis has created a computer adaptation of the traditional written
test with assistance from members of an international CDI advisory
board, and UMaine computer scientists Curtis Meadow and George Markowsky,
who are part of a software development team at Trefoil Corp., in Orono,
Maine, and Bonnie Blagojevic, research associate at UMaine's Center for
By knowing which sounds and words a child produces and comprehends, the
adaptive CDI arrives at an estimate of what psychologists call the
child's "language age." A significant lag in language skills can
indicate a developmental delay.
Using a computer program, a child's language level can be calculated on
the basis of each successive word. That calculation is done with
reference to a standardized database of test results from about 1,600
In addition to comparing the computerized test to the traditional
version, Cobo-Lewis will evaluate how well the test tracks a child's
developing language skills over time.
The computerized method has already helped Cobo-Lewis determine how
likely a parent's response to any particular word on the test indicates
the child's language age.
Plant a row for the hungry
For the third consecutive growing season in Maine, home gardeners are
cultivating extra produce to feed others in need as part of the Plant a
Row for the Hungry (PAR) program.
Established by the Garden Writers Association of America in 1995, PAR is
a nationwide community service project to encourage growers to donate
surplus produce, or plan ahead to plant vegetables and fruits for food
pantries and shelters. In 2000, the initiative was supported by
University of Maine Cooperative Extension and three seed companies in
That first year, more than 400 home gardeners and farmers in Maine
participated. Extension Master Gardeners grew thousands of pounds of
fruits and vegetables. UMaine's Highmoor Farm in Monmouth, Maine,
donated more than 1,800 pounds of peppers, Chinese cabbage, winter
squash and onions from variety trials.
One grower in Phippsburg, Maine, donated more than a ton of food to an
area soup kitchen. His enthusiasm for the program led him to apply for
and receive a grant to build a greenhouse to grow greens and vegetables
throughout the winter.
Statewide in 2000 and 2001 combined, more than 52 tons of fresh produce
was donated to food pantries and shelters. Last year, 56,017 pounds of
produce valued at almost $95,000 was donated. This year's goal in Maine
is 65,000 pounds.
Participants are urged to "plant thickly, plant often, harvest
regularly, report donations (to their county Extension offices) and hope
for excellent growing weather." They get advice on the varieties that
have the best disease and pest resistance, and yield.
Home gardeners, as well as youth and civic groups, donate small
quantities of produce frequently during the growing season, or large
quantities of crops that ripen all at once. In areas of the state like
Cumberland County, several farmers and fruit growers support the program
by allowing PAR volunteers to glean fields and orchards of produce left
after a harvest.