Are You “Aging Successfully”?: Mindful of the aging baby boomer population, Saint Louis University is creating a new Center for Aging Successfully for research, education and clinical care. “We’re at the stage that the baby boomers are moving rapidly into the beginning of the ‘young’ old and are eager to slow down the aging process and prevent health problems that rob them of their vitality,” said John Morley, M.D., director of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University and co-principal investigator of the Center for Aging Successfully. The name alone gives us something to ponder.

Why Women Avoid Mammograms — Just Ask: The New York Times published a number of interesting responses to a recent editorial on the “small, but significant decline” in the number of women getting annual mammograms.

The Everywoman: Every presidential candidate — and candidate’s spouse — is eventually assigned a narrative. In this New York Times profile of Michelle Obama, Jody Kantor and Jeff Zeleny start by declaring the obvious — that Michelle Obama is “a black woman in a campaign in which no one knows quite what role race or gender will play” — and then go on to note her “propensity for bluntness and a fierce competitive drive.” The story continues:

Her counterparts include Bill Clinton, the former president and consummate campaigner hoping to become the First Gent; and Elizabeth Edwards, who has been praised across the political spectrum for her tenacity in dealing with incurable cancer.

Even successful first lady auditions can be remembered as political don’ts: take Nancy Reagan (regarded as too adoring of her husband) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (too eager to share his job), to say nothing of spouses of losing candidates, like Judith Steinberg Dean (too absent) and Teresa Heinz Kerry (too outspoken).

Faced with those discouraging precedents, Mrs. Obama, 43, is trying a fresh approach: running as everywoman, a wife, professional, mother, volunteer.

How to Look Forever Cool, Not Forever Young: Celebrity style consultant and costume designer Sherrie Mathieson is turning her attention to “average women and men over 50,” reports the Charlotte Observer. “I had clients who ranged from teenagers to people in their 70s, but it was the people who were approaching their 50s and grappling with the physical changes of their bodies that were the most difficult,” said Mathieson, 61. “And it wasn’t just my clients. I’d see the old rock stars on TV and they looked terrible to me, too. “I thought, ‘Geez, this whole generation needs help.'” Her new how-to-dress book for baby boomers is titled “Forever Cool.”

Plus: Wealthy shoppers get attention from Cathy Horyn in “Older, Better, but Harder to Dress.”

Are the Critics Strangling Theater? The head of the National Theatre in London has accused some drama critics of being “dead white men” who are anti-women directors. The Guardian asks if he was right.

Is It the Woman Thing, or Is It Katie Couric?: The New York Times story on Katie Couric’s first eight months anchoring the “CBS Evening News” doesn’t plumb the gender question suggested by the headline. But it does make clear that the show got off to an unfocused, rocky start — and it’ll take longer than eight months for a comprehensive evaluation.

Still a Steep Climb: “Several weeks ago, Xerox positioned itself to become the first Fortune 500 company to be headed by a black woman when chief executive Anne Mulcahy named Ursula Burns as president,” writes Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Tannette Johnson-Elie. “True,
Mulcahy, 54, isn’t expected to step down any time soon. Still, the thought that a sister may eventually head a Fortune 500 company is cause to celebrate.”

Johnson-Elie then wonders how well Milwaukee corporations are faring at elevating women of color at the executive level and finds that there’s still a steep climb to the top:

They hold a paltry 1% of 443 board seats for Wisconsin’s top 50 public companies, compared with 9% for women overall, according to a 2003 report by the Public Policy Forum commissioned by Milwaukee Women Inc. Nationally, women hold 12% of board seats.

Studies by the New York advocacy group Catalyst have documented over and over that women of color face a “concrete ceiling” in the business world. The most common barriers are not having an influential mentor, lack of informal networking and lack of high-visibility assignments.

“There isn’t enough critical mass in terms of role models, so black women are having to make their own way,” says Danae Davis, a former Miller Brewing diversity director who now is executive director of Pearls for Teen Girls Inc., a Milwaukee-based girl empowerment and leadership non-profit organization. “This community and this region cannot afford not to value African-American women.”

Making Flexible Retirements Work: “Making the most of our retirement-age population has become a hot issue in Washington, where for the past 75 years federal policy has been designed around easing folks who are past 50 out of the workforce rather than enticing them to stay in it,” reports Time magazine. “If you’re reaching that age now, however, you’re headed for a whole new reality.”

“Democracy” is Hell: Katha Pollitt writes: “In the early days of the occupation, we heard a lot about building schools, starting women’s health programs, funding women’s microenterprises. At the 2005 State of the Union address, Laura Bush sat with proudly purple-fingered Safia Taleb al-Suhail telegraphing the message that women’s rights and democracy went together and that both were part of the big plan for Iraq. Well, scratch that.”

Christine

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