How Do You Answer?

I have read Lean In and have blogged about it previously. At BlogHer13 I heard Sheryl Sandberg speak and got to meet her and take a quick photo. I also have read the updated book for college grads. And, I’m a lapsed member of the Lean In movement and circles (Education). At this year’s BlogHer14 in San Jose, California, I attended the Lean In circle workshop.

I am looking at the great cards that Dr. Carole Robin did with Lean In. I saw the question, smiled and immediately pictured a few things: my loveys and coffee. I was chagrined that I saw his face, and my two daughters’ faces, then pictured coffee. The question is not as simple as it looks. What brings out the best in you?

My immediate answer was personal. My family and my home brings out my best. When I think of extending that circle some, I can answer that question with my family of origin, my good friends, colleagues, the warm sun on my skin, my students, a great meal, and a strong Dark and Stormy. There are different nuances to the question and answer that you might give.

When I am teaching, a great class can bring out my best. I try to give my A game to my students, but a strong group of students who like the material can make a big difference with the class. Likewise, when I sit on a committee and other are committed to the agenda and the execution of the final product, the committee work moves more smoothly.

My Loveys bring out my best. My friends bring out my best. My work brings out my best.

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BlogHer14 Takeaways

I attended the 10th BlogHer held in San Jose, California. This was my third BlogHer and I was really looking forward to the media sessions and the future of blogging. I also wanted to network and check in with the WordPress Happiness Bar consultants, as I had some questions about my site and other more general questions related to the enterprise instance of WordPress at work.

What was different this time? Prior to the conference, BlogHer contacted attendees to sign up for different Skype groups, and queried BlogHer veterans if they would be willing to mentor a newbie. I joined a few groups: Bloggers of Color, Parents of Tweens & Teens, Scandal, and Game of Thrones. I wished there was an Orphan Black group, but where would they stop?! I was paired with a few women who were new to the conference and had Skype messaging conversations with them. I ended up meeting one of my “buddies” at registration and got to know her during the conference. A big thank you BlogHer for making this arrangement, and for continuing the conversations post-conference, as it’s a great way to keep building the community.

I do not know if the pairing was a new thing, but it worked great for me. I got to chat with my new friend about her work and reasons for attending BlogHer and we just had honest conversations about work, social media, blogging, entrepreneurship, family, and more. BlogHer is a different type of conference. It is diverse in terms of topics covered and the attendees. I sat at many sessions or keynote presentations and noticed the diversity in the room and this is a quick observation based on phenotype and not knowing every story or identity.

What else did I learn? People are doing amazing things with technology on their blogs. Lots are using different media platforms to share video, make videos or just add to the overall presentation of their sites. Infographics are used more and this could explain Canva’s presence as a sponsor. I got the sense once again that the consumerization of the platform is key for many users. People want to move their blogs forward, share their story, and in some cases make money in the process. It was interesting to see so few refer to privacy or security. And, as I noted in my Twitter posts, this is something that I am more cognizant of, given that I live in a province with the most strict privacy and records management guidelines in the country. As an expat living in Canada, I live in both worlds in the Twittersphere and Blogosphere. My personal footprint is radically different than my work footprint or use, but that is for another post.

Overall, BlogHer continues as an amazing conference and space for women (and some men and other allies). My only regret is that I do not have a clone who can attend other sessions for me to soak it all in and take notes. Rock on, BlogHer!

 

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Blog Her, Blog Her

I am going to a conference for professional development this week. You might have heard of the conference–BlogHer. This year marks its 10th conference. You have to figure that some 11-12 years ago the group of women founders looked around the Silicon Valley and realized that they were doing something unique and needed to network with other women. Voila–BlogHer was born.

Now, BlogHer is a tween and is going strong based on the various other conferences, website, and more. I am happy to attend this year’s conference in my home state, California. And, I am looking forward to learning more and making connections. Lifts coffee cup–to BlogHer.

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The Way You Work

Academic work requires so much solitary work and this makes it flexible and at times impossible. Work always beckons and the to do list can become burdensome. We are at the start of Summer, and it is the perfect time to think about how you can re-focus on the way you work. What works for you?
Right about now academics are thinking about the long list of things to accomplish during the Summer. Honestly, though, how do you work?

I find that I need some white noise when I am doing certain tasks and other tasks requires quiet or music at a low volume. At the day’s end when I am completely alone this is the time that I listen to music set high. I like to chunk out as many tasks as I can during these evenings alone at work. My job requires lots of meetings and this means that two times per week, I need to work later days to catch up from meetings.

I have blogged previously about the importance of having good work and life balance and boundaries. I know that this is extremely important, but the reality of work is that some months are more busy than others. I am working through a busy period as we transition from one Learning Management System to a newer, better version and this is keeping me extremely busy. I am also trying to think about the way I work and what keeps me organized and able to get things done. I love coffee and the entire process of making and savoring it. This ritual is part of my morning and reading the papers. I also realize that the caffeine is necessary some days.

I need desk time to plan and think. I use early mornings for this and evenings. I occasionally walk around the building or across campus and use this as desk or thinking time. I will talk into my phone and dictate notes from a meeting or send myself emails to update. I also use this time to clear my head and plan for the next meeting, task, or day. I need some alone time to organize my day. The photo below is pulled from Twitter and is a perfect. Work and life balance can at times feel Game of Thrones-ish!

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Make Sure that Your Girls Aren’t Too Ambitious

One of my students shared the Cosmo Special Report in the October 2013 issue. I photo copied the article, read it, and have carried it around for two months. I wanted to blog about it immediately, but alas, grading and other work related responsibilities got in the way of a response. Here I am just weeks before a new year begins and I am finally ready to comment on the nine page article, “The Ambition Gap” by Lorie Gottlieb. The Cole’s Notes version is that single women are more ambitious and successful than their male cohort and consequently are having a hard time finding an equal. It is more complicated than this, but this article speaks to the supposed crisis of heterosexual masculinity (see Michael Atkinson for an informed position), women’s success, and the alleged post-feminist era. Yes, the article assumes that the coupling is between a heterosexual couple.

The first point that I want to make is that we are not in a post-feminist era. We are not in a feminist era. We are in an era that extols the importance of equality, but we wring our hands when we talk about the reality of who is successful, who sits at the table, and who are the high earners. Now, clearly, happiness and ambition are not mutually exclusive. What Gottleib is getting at, though, is that men are “losing their drive” (144). She recounts story after story of the young, single, successful woman who is more successful than their male partners or former partners. Thanks to the success of Liberal feminisms, we see more women working, buying homes, and in managerial positions (Gottleib 145). However, I want to ask: which women? Surely, we need to disaggregate and examine these numbers. Lots of statistics in the US and Canada illustrate that more single headed households are women headed households. We are also quite familiar with the fact that men, on average, make more money than women. And, when we look at upper management, board of directors, and chief executive officers the picture becomes more homogenous–male and white.

On page 147, Gottlieb has a column dedicated to “Watch Out for These Red Flags.” And, what are they?
1. He has no plan 2. He doesn’t communicate 3. He’s envious of your success 4. He takes advantage 5. He’s resistant to change

I am no dating expert; however, I think that these are red flags for most in their 20s and older and not so much about an ambition gap. Gottleib offers a shallow examination, but at the same time does not ask more important questions regarding race, class, sexual orientation, education, and types of career. Women might earn 60% of the undergraduate and graduate degrees (148), but she does not break this down enough for me. Why do I care? My experience as a university professor and one who has continued to look at women, politics, leadership, and higher education, I know that women tend to gravitate to certain fields of study that do not translate into higher earning jobs. We see women over-represented in Education, Humanities, and Social Work and under-represented in Engineering, Sciences, and Computer Sciences. This, then, influences the earning power for women.

What do I like about the article? Well, it was provocative and I read it closely several times. I also appreciated her column about “How You Can Bridge the Gap.” She pulls from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (my thoughts on the Lean In movement).

She offers some points of advice: 1. Prescreen 2. Establish boundaries 3. Accept trade-offs 4. Give him a nudge

This advice is timeless and part of having a healthy partnership for heterosexual or same-sex couples. What do we do? Encourage people to think about what they want and how they want to pursue their dreams. Encourage girls to go into the STEM fields and work on the leaky pipeline for women and work. I am also concerned with this notion that women are too ambitious. There are parts of the article that equate being single with too much work success. This message is problematic.

Frosh Chants and Consequences

In the last few weeks, three Canadian universities have made headlines within days of one another and not the way that development officers like to see. Students at St. Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax, NS chanted a truly unfortunate chant at a university sanctioned event. Students from the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business said the same chant during some Frosh activities. Then, the Engineering students at Memorial used an unfortunate term on their mugs for their pub crawl. Student leaders at SMU and UBC have resigned. All three schools have noted that investigations will take place and awareness campaigns or sensitivity training workshops are forthcoming.

As a feminist social scientist I was not surprised that the students felt it was acceptable to engage in the chants. We live in a hypersexualized world where social justice activists, rape crisis workers, and academics working in Women’s Studies or other fields continually explain that rape culture thrives. During the last sixteen years, I have dedicated my career in Political Science and Women’s Studies to teaching courses related to gender and difference in an academic setting. I work with undergraduate students and I see and hear things on campus. While the chants are offensive–these are not isolated events, we need to ask why students feel compelled to participate in the chants. I have seen posters on campuses for different student events, like a sailing club’s pub crawl event called: “outrigger and gold digger” pub crawl. One only has to walk around a university to find some very interesting posters for events usually held off campus.

Thanks to the chants we are talking more about Rape Culture. But, what is Rape Culture? Rape Culture is the end product of the hypersexulization of women and men and excuses harassments, chants, and acts of violence against women and men. Rape culture causes people to think that joking about having non-consensual sex with a minor is not rape–but a light hearted moment. Rape Culture allowed the sexualized violence of Steubenville to take place, where at first the town appeared to defend the young men involved and attacked the victim. And, I argue that this hypersexualized culture makes posting questionable photos on Facebook acceptable, but a photo of a nursing mother objectionable. Rape culture also educates boys and men that girls and women are always sexually available to them. We need to have more conversations about consent and sexualized violence. We also need to discuss what make up the components of healthy sexuality.

What is telling about these episodes is the varied reactions. For instance, the comments online on newspaper sites or other platforms. My students chide me and say, “Don’t look at the comments.” I try to not do so, but then occasionally I wonder what people are saying.  The comments are at times instructive and then illuminating about the sheer depth of rape culture. Why do I say this? Well, when people post that they should be able to joke about sexual assault and that it’s just a joke, I take issue with that. There are certain things that we should not joke about and instead understand that violence against women is not a joking matter. I have a great sense of humor, but there are some issues that deserve serious conversations. Let’s continue the learning and the conversation.

Lean In Keynote: Blog Her 13

I am at Blog Her 13 in Chicago and this morning attended Sheryl Sandberg’s keynote and then attended the Lean In Circle workshop. Where to start. The keynote was more of a discussion between Lisa Stone, Blog Her, and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO. Sandberg was on the floor taking photos with delegates, signing books, and just meeting people. I had a chance to take a photo and talk to her for a few precious minutes about her book, Lean In. She was gracious with the crowd and was eventually pulled away for the keynote. As I waited in line for my moment with her, I was reminded of my Comic-Con experiences and felt like a fan girl.

Her keynote hit on the points outlined in the book and Stone asked some great questions. She also shared that the Blog Her Visionaries survey was filled out quickly within hours. I am one of these people and was happy to fill out the short survey about the book and movement. What I enjoyed most was how honest Sandberg came across. On the table sat some Lean In branded sheets to write down what you would do if you were not afraid. Sandberg shared her’s: Write a book about feminism. Yes, you read that correctly. She also seemed comfortable with embracing the term, feminism. It is clear that she is a strong advocate for women and men and their success. She made a point to share that some male executives have told her, “You have cost me lots of money.” Why? Because women are asking for raises!

I have previously blogged about her book and the movement. I am registered with the Lean In site and in an Education circle. I will blog later about the Lean In Circle workshop. It was amazing and I am still processing it. I have a page of notes to mull over, as I think about my workshop experience. Overall, I was glad that I woke up early to get a rock star seat at the keynote. And, I got to finally meet Veronica Arreola, Professional Feminist! We had a good chat about the book, too.

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