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Mary Ellis, at 100 years


For her, flying a spitfire plane was the most natural thing to do: Mary Ellis, born on February 2, 1917 in Oxfordshire, evidenced interest in this exotic occupation very early in her life – and was not hindered by concerns of her family, but critized heavily by the rest of the country:

“Everybody was flabbergasted that a little girl like me could fly these big airplanes all by oneself,” Ms. Ellis said at a party to celebrate her 100th birthday. She alone ferried 400 Spitfires and 76 other kinds of aircraft to airfields during the war. In January of this year, she received the Freedom of the Isle of Wight award for what the local council described as “heroic actions in delivering more than 1,000 aircraft to front-line units during World War II.” See what else we would have missed without the obituary in the «New York Times».

PS: Here’s an example of why this NYT-decision is a true innovation, long overdue: A three-and-a-half minute video on the Spitfire – without even mentioning the role of women in her history. No comment.






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If you are as tired as we are of the oft-heard complaint that women lack role models, because, unfortunately, “there have hardly been any women worth mentioning and/or knowing about”, you might be happy about a decision made by the editors of the «New York Times». Evidently, they, too, are fed up with this complaint and they have found a way of slipping history lessons into the paper by revolutionizing the – OBITUARIES section! Here’s the thought behind this by two of the editors, Amisha Padnani and Jessica Bennett:

“Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution. Yet who gets remembered — and how — inherently involves judgment. To look back at the obituary archives can, therefore, be a stark lesson in how society valued various achievements and achievers.
Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones.
Charlotte Brontë wrote “Jane Eyre”; Emily Warren Roeblingoversaw construction of the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband fell ill; Madhubala transfixed Bollywood; Ida B. Wells campaigned against lynching. Yet all of their deaths went unremarked in our pages, until now.
Below you’ll find obituaries for these and others who left indelible marks but were nonetheless overlooked. We’ll be adding to this collection each week, as Overlooked becomes a regular feature in the obituaries section, and expanding our lens beyond women.
You can use this form to nominate candidates for future “Overlooked” obits. Read an essay from our obituaries editor about how he approaches subjects and learn more about how the project came to be.”

Apart from the fact that this makes exciting  and stimulating reading, it is a good example for finding allies if you wish to introduce such a groundbreaking innovation. Instead of complaining about a seeming lack of women worth knowing about, follow the invitation of the editors and report on remarkable women of our fascinating past!

And finally: Look forward to a portrait of an exceptional woman every month in the section «History? HERstory!» Let’s start this with a big bang: Mary Ellis, spitfire pilot of World War II,  who died in July 2018 at the age of 101 years.



We mourn the loss of two great personalities who have served – and will continue to do that – as role models for women and men:

The singer at the Inauguration Ceremony of former US-President Barack Obama






Aretha Franklin

March 192 – August 2018






Kofi Annan, 7th Secretary-General at the United Nations









Kofi Annan

April 1938 – August 2018


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She continues to make history: Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, just returned from a 6-weeks-maternity leave. Who said it couldn’t be done?

The world’s youngest female leader is now anxious to take further steps in the direction of equal opportunity which, in this case, is nothing less than equal pay – at least for the 46’000 women employed in public service. “In 2017, we cannot continue to send a message to young women that they can expect to be paid 10 percent less simply for their gender. That is not a message that can continue.”

Jacinda Ardern is convinced: If New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote – 125(!) years ago –. it could be another world leader by closing the gender pay gap. See why and how she plans to implement her goals.

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If you are one of the ever-growing group of people who are frustrated at and with meetings, the Chatham House Rule might be of interest to you (fans of John Irving will immediately know where the title comes from). I discovered it the other day on the Web ; it convinced me in that it can create a more open atmosphere at meetings, conferences, and conventions where you can expect more openness, more creativity and more honest opinions.

See if you can use it for a couple of trial runs and thus make meetings more meaningful and solution oriented.. After all, the rule is connected with Chatham House which is an “independent policy institute with a mission to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.“

See if you can use it for a couple of trial runs and thus make meetings more meaningful and solution oriented.. After all, the rule is connected with Chatham House which is an “independent policy institute with a mission to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.“

If you want a sample of their activities, this video provides a summary of an important conference held in July 2018 with the title «No Going Back: Making Gender Equality Happen».

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August 1st: Earth Overshoot Day 2018

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year: As of today we start to nibble at a seond Earth – although there is none other than the one we live on. How much longer do we want to shut our eyes? How much longer do we want to ignore the problems AND the possible solutions?  Find out how YOU can contribute to changing a date in 2019…