April 11th: Percy Julian & Annie Dodge Wauneka

Today’s Google Doodle is awesome, and shows Google’s apparently real commitment to changing the way they approach the Doodles program. Their honoree for April 11th is pioneering chemist Percy Julian, known for fundamental work that allowed human hormones and steroids to be produced on large scales for medical purposes. Julian overcame enormous odds to earn top honors in college and to earn his PhD in Europe, since he wasn’t able to attend high school because of his race. He was also the second African-American, and the first African-American chemist, to be honored with fellowship in the National Academy of Sciences. Julian’s scientific work was incredible and innovative, and he’s known as much for the fundamental knowledge he developed as for the real-life applications of his work that have driven medical advancements.

Here at Speaking Up, we’ll turn to an entirely different field and learn a bit more about influential Navajo activist, educator, and community organizer Annie Dodge Wauneka. I first wrote about her last year, in the April 2013 Doodle-Worthy Women entry, and this time around we’ll delve a bit deeper.

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March 22nd: Agnes Martin! & March 24th: Dorothy Height!

I was out of town for a few days over the past week, and managed to miss an opportunity to comment on not one, but two Google Doodles honoring remarkable women. Today, I finally had the chance to sit down and write about this two Doodle-worthy, and Doodle-honored, women, Agnes Martin and Dorothy Height.

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Doodle-Worthy Women of February 2014

February was a good month for gender representation in Google Doodles. Here in the U.S., Harriet Tubman was honored and 50% of the month’s Doodles were dedicated to women. Around the world, Doodles honored Raicho Hiratsuka, Clara Campoamor, Sarojini Naidu, and Gabriele Münter. That’s exactly what I want to see!

Here are a few more of the Doodle-Worthy Women whose birthdays fall in February:

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February 27th: John Steinbeck & Marian Anderson

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 112th birthday of John Steinbeck, author of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, among other American classics. Here at Speaking Up, I’m finding it incredibly refreshing that the first 3 U.S. Doodles of the year honored women, so that in 2014, Steinbeck is the exception thus far. We’ll learn about another American artist born on this day: Marian Anderson.

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Gender Distribution in Google Doodles: 2013 Year in Review

2013 came to an end a little over a month ago, but in that time, the Google team has kept me plenty busy with a series of Doodles honoring women. And that’s an interesting start to a new year, following one in which Google really improved their record on gender representation — but they still have a lot to do. I’m of several minds here: I’m genuinely pleased with the improvement, but well aware that it takes conscious and long-term effort for projects like the Doodles to make lasting change when it comes to gender bias. And I’m also well aware that the strides made in 2013 still fall far short of 50% gender parity, and that 12 years of Doodles was too long to wait to make a commitment to equity. This is a step in the right direction, but the work is not done.

Let’s look at how Doodles dealt with their dismal gender record in 2013, both here in the U.S. and around the world.

(For more information on my methodology and approach to counting male and female individuals honored with a Doodle, check out this post from summer 2012. There is one significant update: this year, there were some Doodles that were shown in most countries except in the United States. Google’s “Finder” service has recently started categorizing some such Doodles as “Global,” adding a complication to my stats — in the past, only Doodles that were truly shown on every Google homepage were listed that way. I’ve tried to carefully keep track, but it’s possible I’ve made a mistake or two! Contact me if you are interested in the dataset that I use to build this site’s gender statistics.)

Click below the fold for the 2013 year in review.

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February 1st: Harriet Tubman!

Yesterday, Google Doodles continued their excellent record in 2014 by honoring abolitionist, suffragist, heroine, and leader of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman.

Tubman was born sometime between 1820 and 1825; because her parents were slaves, the details of her birthdate and place were not recorded, and are lost to history. For that reason, the Doodles team wouldn’t be able to honor Tubman on her birthday, but used her Doodle to usher in Black History Month here in the U.S. As part of my research for Speaking Up, I’ve thought quite a bit about how many key figures in women’s history do not have recorded birthdates (more on that coming soon, in a new project!) — so I applaud the Doodles team for using this opportunity to honor an incredible figure in our nation’s history.

The Google Doodle honoring Harriet Tubman, posted on February 1st, 2014.

The Google Doodle honoring Harriet Tubman, posted on February 1st, 2014.

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