Radical Woman of the Day: Donna Hanover

On this day in 1950 was born Donna Hanover, journalist, actor, and former First Lady of New York City. Born in Oakland, California, Donna Ann Kofnovec graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Stanford in 1972. There she met her first husband, Stanley Hanover, whom she married after her graduation. They moved to New York City, where Donna Hanover obtained her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia.

Throughout the 1970s Hanover held a number of positions in TV journalism, including hosting and producing KDKA-TV’s Evening Magazine show. In 1980, as she and Stanley were getting divorced, she moved to Miami, where she met Rudy Giuliani. The two began dating and married in 1984, after they had moved to New York City. Throughout much of the 80s Hanover anchored the WPIX 10 p.m. news, leaving the position in 1989 to give birth to her second child.

Hanover campaigned for Giuliani during his successful bid for Mayor of New York City in 1993 and continued to work as a journalist at WNYW and Food Network for several years after his election. She also began to take on acting roles, appearing in The People Vs. Larry Flynt and Ransom in 1996 and in a recurring role on Law & Order, as well as other TV guest appearances. In April 2000 she signed on to play the lead role in The Vagina Monologues but resigned to support Giuliani after he announced he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

After Giuliani publicly announced his separation from Hanover without consulting or informing her in May of 2000, the couple divorced, and Hanover won custody of their two children. She continued to co-anchor for Food Network and later co-hosted for New York radio station WOR. In 2005 she published My Boyfriend’s Back: 50 True Stories of Reconnecting with a Long-Lost Love, which contained the story of her reunion with Edwin Oster, a high school boyfriend Hanover married in 2003 after a 20-year separation. She lives in New York and California.

Stanford CS Department Targets Women

Billy Gallagher at TechCrunch covers Stanford’s quest to recruit more female students into the Computer Science department:

In 2009, the Stanford CS department revamped its undergraduate curriculum, broadening the program so students could focus on tracks in areas that most interested them. Stanford Professor Mehran Sahami says the addition of multi-disciplinary tracks, such as collaboration with psychology, product design, and others, helped to cast a broader net for potential CS majors.

The department has seen growth across the board since the 2009 revisions, Sahami says, with female enrollment increasing faster on a relative basis. Since 2009, the number of female undergraduates majoring in CS at Stanford has increased 9.5 percentage points.

This kind of “affirmative action” (for lack of a better term) seems to me like the best way to level the ground for under-privileged groups: not necessarily lowering standards, but actively engaging and reaching out to people who might feel marginalized.

Two Marshmallows

Researchers follow up on an old study:

Between 1968 and 1974, about 650 4-year-olds in a nursery school at Stanford were offered a selection of marshmallows, cookies, and pretzels. After they chose one (let’s say it was the marshmallow, though I’d have picked a cookie myself), they were told they could either eat it immediately, or wait a few minutes and get two. The researcher giving the kids this choice then left the room.

Now in their 30s, the kids who were able to delay gratification for longer turn out to be better off in a number of ways.