Building the Bridge for Equality


“The name of Mrs. Emily Warren Roebling will thus be inseparably associated with all that is admirable in human nature.”— Congressman Abram S. Hewitt 

The Brooklyn Bridge is recognized as one of the most prominent structural feats in the United States. It is noted for its American ingenuity, innovation, and invincibility. However, it is not widely known that a woman, Emily Warren Roebling, was the woman behind the construction of the masterpiece known as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Emily is featured as a forgotten woman in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field, because without this brave woman, the bridge might have never been completed. She took charge of a daunting project and after its completion, she went to work on equal rights for women in the law field. Emily is one of many silent pioneering women of the United States that advanced STEM fields forever.


Her story begins as any great American love story: she met and fell in love with her husband at a military ball. Colonel Washington Roebling was serving in Virginia in 1864 when the two met and knew it was forever; 11 months later, the two married in 1865. Her marriage into the Roebling family would prove to be a wise decision, as it gave her the means to execute her ideas on the Brooklyn Bridge. Her father-in-law, John Roebling, was the engineer behind the innovative wire suspension cords that changed the face of civil engineering forever. John decided to take on the project of the Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Brooklyn to New York. A few weeks into the project, a freak accident led to John’s death due to tetanus. Washington, Emily’s husband, chose to step in and oversee the project himself — to continue his father’s legacy. As the Roebling’s luck would have it, Washington suffered from the bends while working on the bridge beneath the river’s surface. His sickness became so overwhelming that eventually, he was unable to visit the site to complete the bridge. It seemed as if the project would fail, but Emily stepped in to ensure it’s completion.

Her first move was to convince the president of the New York Bridge Company that her husband was totally fine and could work on the bridge despite his sickness. Amazingly, Murphy agreed to continue the project. Washington remained the Chief Engineer for all intents and purposes, but Emily was the one calling the shots. It must appear to the general public that Emily was merely taking orders from her sick husband. Emily took a crash course in engineering and studied all the notes from the project’s beginning. She played secretary and messenger for 11 years while getting the job done. She relayed her “husband’s demands” while visiting the job site. People commended Emily for her dedication to her husband and his bridge, but little did they know it was really Emily’s bridge.

Amongst cost increases and construction delays and mounting skepticism, it was called for Washington Roebling to be removed as Chief Engineer, but Emily broke boundaries once again. She wrote a detailed statement of all the reasons why her husband should be able to continue the work and presented in front of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She was the first woman to address the group.

Upon the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, Emily was the first to cross it in its entirety. She chose to carry a rooster with her across the way, some say as a sign of victory or good luck, but I believe it to be a nod to a more anatomy-based suggestion of triumph.


During the dedication ceremony, Congressman Abram S. Hewitt said the Brooklyn Bridge is “an everlasting monument to the self-sacrificing devotion of woman” and today there stands a plaque honoring the Roeblings for their success, John, Washington, and Emily, in completing such a daunting project.

In her final badass moment, she wrote an essay titled “A Wife’s Disabilities”, asking for women to be equal to men before the law. She died at the age of 59 and she is one of the greatest civil engineers in the United States. She didn’t always take the easy path, but she always persevered and came out on top. I believe the Brooklyn Bridge to be a symbol of connecting men and women, a symbol of equality, and a little bit of “anything you can do I can do better.”

Emily Warren Roebling paved the way for many women to get involved in a STEM field and change the face of their community. Providing ideas, resources, and challenges, women have been involved in STEM fields longer than we think. I know when I look at the Brooklyn Bridge I didn’t think a woman had a hand in the construction, but now I know better. Women are ingenious, innovative, and invincible and deserve to be recognized for their efforts in STEM fields.

Have you ever been across the Brooklyn Bridge and seen the plaque? What was it like? Did you know about Emily Warren Roebling before you read this? Comment below and let’s talk!

Sources: here and here


The New Buzzword

The emergence of popular media website BuzzFeed has transformed itself into a credible news source with topics ranging from ISIS in Mosul to cute outfits for dogs. BuzzFeed has expertly utilized social media as a promotion tool and crafts their clickbait to a T, bringing in more than 7 billion content views per month. BuzzFeed has their handprints all over the internet: on their websiteTwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube page.

When BuzzFeed came on the scene the genre of the listicle blew up. Wikipedia defines the listicle as “a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure” so it’s something to pique our interest, but is it going to overtake the traditional form of an article? Will this new genre invade our academic spaces? Will our conferences and newscasts be focused around finally reaching number 10 and getting the OK to turn off our brains? Imagine a college senior’s final paper formatted as a list? Would you dock points for the simplistic, dumbed down style, or would you look at it as a creative, forward thinking style applying new techniques to an antiquated system? The listicle has certainly changed the game of popular news media and I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually colleges move toward a more bullet-point style of writing.

Here’s 3 reasons why listicles could be dangerous:

  1. We’re becoming a clickbait culture – only opening the article based on a quick, 10 words or less headline. Our culture likes the look of a listicle, less words all stuck together in that scary article format.
  2. It reduces news to a silly format and writers could have to sacrifice content in order to fit the genre.
  3. We’re writers, we don’t do numbers!

The New Yorker’s article, “A LIST OF REASONS WHY OUR BRAINS LOVE LISTS” says that “it spatially organizes the information; and it promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront” and that if given the choice, we will choose small, “bite-sized” portions of news about China and ISIS rather than spend our time on paragraphs about impending doom. It’s easier to numb our feelings about the world and compress them into short lists instead of digesting the news, recognizing the state of our world, and making a change. If learning about the election only takes 15 easy steps, why immerse yourself in politics and get involved in the state of the nation?

Granted, there’s some days when you just need 21 Puppies So Cute You Will Literally Gasp And Then Probably Cry

Buzzfeed: Instagram: @caitie_evans

I mean, look at that little munchkin, but can’t our culture find something redeemable to spend our time on? 7 BILLION views a month! Facebook is dominated with BuzzFeed posts, so much so that you can’t look at your news feed without seeing a BuzzFeed article or copycat listicle. BuzzFeed has tapped into all genres imaginable and yet they keep coming up with more.

Buzzfeed’s content genres

For all their faults, BuzzFeed has found their niche – maybe a global niche? – and they are relishing their success. With offices around the world, 1300+ employees, and a growing credibility, it seems that BuzzFeed is here to stay.

One of BuzzFeed’s breakout stars, Matt Bellassai, got famous from his weekly video series where he “gets drunk at his desk and complains about stuff,” like the one below about the downside of fall. Bellassi went on to win a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Social Media Star.

The upside to BuzzFeed is that most of the content is purely positive. There’s no slander of presidential candidates or injection of religious perspectives (or lack there of) and what you see is what you get. They work on inclusion and acceptance of everyone, including those 32 weird shower habits everyone does but you felt alone about. BuzzFeed helps the people of the world feel less like a weirdo and brings our aforementioned habits into the light. Then we can share it all over our personal social media and Aunt Jenny can comment something like “bless your heart” and eventually we’ll delete the post. Family drama aside, BuzzFeed brings people together whereas other news sources divide people further.

Although I may not be in love with the idea of a listicle like so many of my fellow Facebook friends, but I might be interested in the possible evolution of the genre in an academic space. Do you think it has a chance to change the way we view education? Or has it already changed our view?

Please comment below and lets talk about your love/hate relationship with listicles, or send me your favorite BuzzFeed links and we can bond over that one thing we do when we’re alone in the car.