Where Does Poverty Exist?

I have eluded to this in a comment in another student’s blog, but this article really peaked my interest, since I love reading about this topic.  I spent 8 years working in the inner city.  There was no better example of this than when I worked on the Westside of Chicago.  Poverty was rampant, inequality was on display in every facet of life.

However, when those I worked with would talk about the inner city, or any urban setting, as if it was the real face of poverty in America I cringed.  I grew up in rural Wisconsin.  My mom grew up in very rural Iowa going to a one room school house.  My wife’s mother grew up in a poverty I have a hard time imagining in rural New Mexico.  The theme here is that poverty is every where. At times, urban centers have a strong concentration of resources combating poverty, while suburban or rural areas have fewer resources to address this challenge.

Food deserts become more pronounced when there is no train or bus you can take to a grocery store even 30 minutes away.  Your isolation is exaggerated when you only have a party line (one communal phone line that ran to a nearby “town”) and that is 15-30 minutes away.  I often wished I could start an NPO that focused and addressed rural poverty and community challenges.  This would not be an NCCC, but more targeted on strengthening these struggling communities where traditional services are not available.

Gender Bias in Kids

Heartbreaking.  It is terrible to think about a little girl thinking she cannot play a game simply because it is meant for really smart people, and she isn’t one.  I know I have been talking about my daughter in this section a lot, so here it goes one more time.  For the first few months I would tell her she was beautiful, and cute, and all those regular terms you say to babies because they are babies.

Then it hit me, I didn’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that all she had to be was pretty.  That to get the favor of a man, she would have to look a certain way.  Looking back on the outgoing president’s article, I had shifted to telling her she was smart and funny.  I want my daughter to think she is really smart, and that there is nothing she can’t do as long as she puts her mind to it.  Again, creating the world I want for her and others is so important as we seek for ways to solve these problems.

Instructor Bias

In complete transparency, when I was in my undergrad I thought that my evaluations were collected, then just thrown out because who in their right mind would listen to a 19 year old on their thoughts of the teaching method of a professor (that was my thought as a 19 year old).

It is unfortunate that there would be such a slant against female instructors in evaluations, but given everything else I am reading in the gender section, this is not a surprise.  Evaluating a professor should be done through a standard that is more objective than the evaluation of a student.  Also, if possible, the observation of a dean/chair in the classroom should be just as important as any other measure.

Female Emojis

I was grateful that the article acknowledged that this issue in the gender inequality fight is not the most pressing.  But it is an interesting challenge that could warrant attention.  If we ask for more appropriate role models for young women, and we know that those role models are what can have the greatest impact on changing the course for young people, should there not be an effort to ensure that young people can communicate digitally and represent professional women?  I was late to the emoji game, but I know that the younger and younger the person the more frequent emojis are, let alone how much communication is done through text.

Working Moms

Working moms are clearly an important part, if a family chooses to go that route, of their children’s lives.  I grew up in a house with a mother who had stopped working, and stayed home to raise my three brothers and me.  When I was a kid I felt that was the norm, keep in mind I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin.  As I got older, and we moved to a suburb of Chicago, I found that it was not everyone’s reality to have a mom who stayed home.

Now that I am married, and I have a daughter I continually shift the lens through which I see the world.  My wife and I are always talking about how we need to make sure that this world is a better one for Eily (our daughter).  We are already making that change, by prioritizing the ability for my wife to work, and making sure our home is as supportive of an environment for just that reality.  Setting these examples for our daughter will help make that eventual equal playing field for all, even if it is one small piece.

Secrets for Women Working in Business

This is an enlightening gender article, primarily because it does not just ask the reader to try and do better, or focus on women in the workplace.  It gives real hard tactics, that I for one plan to begin implementing in my work, or enhance.

The next time I hear someone say something negative about the way a woman is doing something, or striving for excellence in their work, I will ask them if they think they would do it any differently, or would they say that if she was a man.  I plan to continue to, and focus more on, giving my female colleagues credit in meetings.  I do have one female co-worker who tends to share ideas that don’t get heard, or that are acted on but credited to someone else (and maybe she shares the credit).  I try to promote her ideas, but I need to be more assertive with regards to this.

Finally, the section about making work work for parents is so important.  I see my wife strive to constantly balance our home, her job, and our daughter.  I do everything I can to help, but there are some physical limitations I, as a man,  have.  But it is important for workplaces to make working there plausible for parents.  I wonder how to have workplaces focus more on that work-life balance, and not just talk about it.

Professors and Gender

This chart blew my mind.  To see the divide by gender on so many words is unreal.  It was interesting to use different words like; fun, smart, helpful, too hard, challenging, and mean.  Fun probably had the least defined gender divide, and female professors saw the term helpful used more.  However, other terms did not favor women in a positive manner.

The way that we use words to describe people often falls along gender lines.  It is a sad reality of how we see people, both on purpose and subconsciously.

Mansplaining

In complete transparency, I have been called a know-it-all.  The first person to throw this nomenclature at me was my wife.  I cannot say that she is wrong, in fact my habit to cut her off is something that I have begun to improve, or at least own, in part because she pointed it out.  When I look around at the people who I would call know-it-alls, they all tend to be men.  They think they know better than you, they talk over you, and they assert their thoughts all the time.  I feel as though I have gotten better, but it took an assertive woman to call me out.  I think that is a solution that the world could use a little bit more.

Or course, this is in competition with the fact that women who act like that are often viewed poorly.  What is the key to getting men more open to that kind of feedback, and to allow women to not be chastised for speaking out?

Outgoing President and Feminism

Equal rights, and promoting women’s empowerment has been something that I have been passionate about for a while now.  After having become a father to a smart and beautiful little girl, a little over a year ago, I have become almost crazy about how to begin creating a more equal world for her.  President Obama’s speech on feminism is something I relate to.

The most important point he makes in his speech is that the change is limited at the government’s level, and that the real change comes from us individually. A President’s power is limited, no matter who holds the office.  But the power held by corporate executives, and industry leaders is what really begins to shape this work.  Making any serious change in life is like turning a big ship, and feels slow, but this is an issue we must be able to accelerate.  This ship should have started turning a long time ago.

Women who don’t belong

In complete transparency, this article really hit home with my own personal experiences in life.  When I was accepted to my university of choice, or received a job offer, I constantly felt like somehow I had lied well enough to get what I wanted and would worry that I would be found out.

I am not denying the challenges facing women in the workplace. But as a male, I can relate to Imposter Syndrome. Reading this article sparked my interest in digging further into who experiences imposter syndrome, and an article on slate.com discusses that this issue is spread across men and women, every ethnic group, and job category.  It is typically discussed more openly by women, which is interesting.