Rise of the Valkyries: A musical palace coup has arisen in Bayreuth, Germany. In a victory for those
of us who hate the fact that the words “Wagner” and “women” together
are usually accompanied by an image of a buxom lady in low-cut chain mail, international Wagner fans will see their most important
festival run by women for the foreseeable future. Eva Wagner-Pasquier,
63, and her half-sister Katharina, have already sorted out how to divide the realm:

Wagner-Pasquier is artistic adviser to the Aix-en-Province opera
festival in southern France and at a news conference following the
meeting, she said she would focus on artistic matters at Bayreuth.
Katharina, who was her father’s first choice, has promised changes:
productions geared toward children, a training academy and a new effort
to deal with Bayreuth’s Nazi legacy.

Ensuring we all have a future: With all the talk about the credit crunch and the retirement gender gap, there may be no better time to check out The Transition Network, founded right after September 11, 2001 by Charlotte Frank and Christine Millen:

“Frank and Millen launched the fledgling outfit with no budget, staff, or office space but with a firm belief that they were on to something big, a grass-roots movement that “reimagines retirement.” The women broadly define retirement as a series of transitions—a bridge from one career to another or from employment to volunteerism, advocacy, or community. The challenge was to build networking peer groups to provide support and share information. “I wanted to continue to have an impact on the world and needed an organizational structure to do so,” Frank says. “You change the world by taking on large issues and large groups of people.”

For her first act, Frank chose a career in government, moving up the ranks in local, state, and federal programs dealing with civil rights, child welfare, and community development. Frank was chief operating officer for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Eleanor Holmes Norton, supervising 3,000 field workers. At her last docking with the Port Authority, she was responsible for a contracting program of over $1 billion annually.

Frank still thinks big. The Transition Network now reaches over 4,000 women in 44 states through its online newsletter, memberships, and workshops. Members range in age from their late 40s to 80-plus. Some women are retired. Others work part time or full time. Membership growth has been spurred by a new book by the Transition Network and Gail Rentsch, a founding member of the group, called Smart Women Don’t Retire-They Break Free. It’s a practical guide for boomer women searching for what’s next.

A woman from Mars, and Venus, and Neptune, and..
.. This week’s Science Times Q&A with
NASA astronomer Heidi Hammel, 48, was full of solid scientific chat, but Hammel also talked about what boomers have to
juggle even at the cusp of their careers, and reminded us what
scientists share with journalists. “I think all scientists are like
detectives,” Hammel told the Times.  “We are most happy when we find
something that doesn’t fit our expectations.”

I see something that seems out of sync with what’s already known, the
first thing I do is try to find out what’s wrong with the data. Once
you’ve done that, and it still seems wrong, that’s when things get
interesting. It means you’ve found something new to understand. So you
think about it and go for more data and come up with different models.
All real science is like that…..


My Uncle Larry was my template. When I was a student, I’d come home on
Thanksgiving weekends, and during breaks in his football game he’d go,
“O.K., Heidi, whatcha workin’ on?” I knew I had 30 seconds to tell this
guy who worked in a Mack truck factory what I did. He just wanted the
big picture. I’d quickly say, “I’m using big telescopes to try to find
planets and figure out what they’re made of.” Every scientist should be
able to do that.


They and my husband have had to learn that when my office door is
closed, it’s closed. I’ve had to learn how to prioritize. You have to
budget time for the inevitable problems that come up with children. You
have to always be ahead of the game. If your proposal is due at NASA on
Friday, it has to be finished on Wednesday because, on Thursday, it
could be fevers and head lice.

— Chris L.

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