International Women’s Day – Celebrating Smarty Pants Women


Today is International Women’s Day and I am celebrating Smarty Pants Women. It’s a phrase actor-writer-college student Justine Bateman uses on her blog for women who have gone back to university as an adult.

Hey – that’s me. It might be you, too.

As well as casting light on positive achievements, International Women’s Day acts as a reminder of the continued gender inequality around the world. Case in point – all the talented women sneered at by Academy Awards host Seth MacFarlane in his musical skit “I Can See Your Boobs” just recently.

I could write about Seth’s appalling song and dance number, but others have done this very well.  As Jamie Lee Curtis pointed out in  “And the Oscar goes to…Hell” “I am sorry that this is what we are talking about and not Argo’s lovely win or Jennifer’s amazing performance or Daniel’s eloquence and humor and grace or the fallout from the sequester.”

I say let’s talk about the wonderful way of karma, and how Adele took out the Academy Award for best song (Skyfall), even though Seth was nominated. Ha! “I can see your pout, Seth.”

And let’s celebrate Smarty Pants Women who have made successful careers in industries that privilege appearance, but opted as well to extend their minds and education anyway. Here are five examples, and to them I say:

 Happy International Women’s Day, Smarty Pants Women.

Justine Bateman 

I searched out Bateman in the first place because she was in a 2006 Canadian made for TV movie called Hybrid, a movie about xenotransplantation. She’s in my doctoral research material!

Bateman, College Freshman at UCLA, is a writer, producer, actress, director, and founding partner of, a production company focused on the future of entertainment. She testified at the Senate Commerce Committee about Net Neutrality (IMDb, 2007).  

The former Family Ties actress has a great roll call of “Smarty Pants Women” on her blog. This inspired my own title for this blog. Bateman defines Smarty Pants Women as those who embrace College Life when they aren’t the accepted College Age.

What I enjoyed reading in Bateman’s blogs is that she has worked in an industry that has seen profound changes. Entertainment, and the Hollywood factory, has undergone the turmoil that has seen my old alma mater, print journalism, reinvent itself.

Bateman has turned to university to keep ahead of that reinvention curve. Whether you are undergoing doctoral study, any academic study, or just on the path to reinvention in your careers, there’s something to be said for reading about someone’s else’s journey.

Lily Cole

Okay, Cole may be a lot younger than the others in this blog, but she deferred her place at Cambridge twice while she carved out a hugely successful modeling career for herself, with work for all the leading fashion houses including Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Louis Vuitton.

Then, while studying History of Art at Cambridge University, the British model spent three years juggling her studies with modelling and acting assignments (filming for her debut in Doctor Who during her revision schedule). Cole aced a double first class degree, which are only awarded to those who gain top marks in their first and final year exams. As The Daily Mail commented “Most jet-setting supermodels barely have time to do their own make up let alone sign up for a full-time university course.”

Cole is now acting full time, after juggling modelling and Hollywood. (Snow White and the Huntsman).

Eva Longoria

More than a Desperate Housewife, Eva Longoria received her Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University-Kingsville and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Chicano Studies at California State University – Northbridge. Her thesis is on Latina Entrepreneurs and Latina leadership, with a focus on women.  In January, The Wall Street Journal profiled her rise as an influential Hispanic activist and power player in Washington, D.C.

Christy Turlington

The ’90s supermodel graduated cum laude in 1999 from New York University (NYU), where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy. She received her Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University when she was forty. Today, Turlington serves on the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, and as an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors. She is the founder of Every Mother Counts, a campaign to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world.

Sophie Ward

Actress Sophie Ward (Land Girls), in her mid forties, is doing a PhD on the narrative of thought experiments (which she calls a meeting of philosophy and literature), with classes at Goldsmiths University in London. She is studying part time while acting, writing a crime novel and raising children, but goes to classes once a week alongside students in their twenties. Not surprisingly she reveals she is quite disciplined.

She is quoted as saying: “I won’t use my Doctor title when I get my PhD. That’s just not the done thing in Britain, is it? “I did play a doctor in Heartbeat and I still have people come up and say ‘I wish you were my doctor’.”

I say, go for it. Copious use of Dr as a title once you get your PhD is surely no different from wearing revealing clothes. If you’ve got it (intelligence and education) then flaunt it!