Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Long Quick Moment: SATC

I know this blog is meant to be about Quick Moments and instantaneous moments of happiness brought about by using technology but I can't help but comment on the fabulous evening I've just had. For the first time in my life I attended a movie on opening night that was sold out and it wasn't an action flick but a chick flick - Sex and the City, what else could it be? And the astonishing thing is I cannot recall ever going to a sell out movie where the audience was 90% female.

Now the interesting thing is I have only watched a couple of episodes as we don't have cable at our house. However there had been a vibe building around this movie that suggested it would be an experience.

For over 2 hours this movie held the audience captive - they laughed, cheered, and called out during the movie. There was camaraderie in the crowd. Imagine for years this audience had been watching the episodes in isolation of their homes, and finally everyone was out watching it together. It was absolutely an experience to see this movie on opening night to feel the female power in the theater. What was the magic formula and how can Hollywood produce more spellbinding block busters for women. I certainly hope so. And while it wasn't exactly a technological experience, maybe I can make it count that my friend ordered and paid for the tickets online before the show in fear it would sell out (how right she was).

BTW I was also very pleased to see included in the movie reference to 'Bag-Borrow-Steal' which I mentioned in my post in January. Such a cool idea, great to see it in operation in the film. Now to develop the life style for the bag.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gender Brain Differences: What does it mean?

Here's a neat article from Forbes about gender differences and how they appear at work. Michael Gurian and Barbara Annis have studied this area for over 20 years and have published a book, Leadership and the sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business. It's a fascinating look at all that biological, behavioral, and physiological research and reframed in how it manifests itself at work and in business situations. While I would love to believe that both men and women are eating this type of research up to understand how to appreciate diversity in the workplace at the current time it's more beneficial for us women to read it and assume this is how our behaviors are interpreted. For example, women may run from one topic to the next before returning to the task at hand as we're born to multi-task, whereas men might appear to shut down in a meeting as their brains are more apt to enter a rest state. So the key is for women when in a business meeting full of men is to stay on topic and not link several topics together without keeping the audience present.

The article also emphasizes that neither gender approach is the ultimate successful approach, and that leaders and success can come from both genders. Again for us now as women the tricky part is understanding the rules of the game today, to increase our opportunity to succeed so we can create a more diverse and appreciative diverse work environment in the future.

There's a fun little slide show as well on the site that hightlights some of the top differences.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Inspiration with Geek Girl Dinners

Now I don't really consider myself a geek girl, as I'm not a geek in terms of coding but I like to embrace technology to aid me in enjoying my life, and I'm neither a girl as I passed that girlie stage in life a while ago - but Geek Girl Dinners sounds like it will be worth checking out, and there's one in Seattle in June (finally an event that not only do I know about it before it happens, but it's also in my home town).

Geek Girl Dinners was originally set up in London to foster a community of women to have fun and network. Their idea has traveled the globe and now there are dinners hosted in several countries around the world.

In the meantime, I watched a terrific video of the Geek Girl Dinner in the bay area from earlier in the year - awesome panel (starts 10 minutes in on the video). What an inspiring set of women of all ages and experiences. If only our lives could have that level of connectedness and advice on a regular basis I know the working world would be a different place.

We Know What Your Brain is Thinking!

Well, at least we know how there are differences between responses to certain situations, or at least we think there are. A new market research technique is being used to read brain patterns of participants in studies. The article is interesting as Jim Meskauskas, comments that we don't need this expensive research to confirm what common sense can tell us. The example in the story is about the differences in reaction between men and women when watching a detergent ad, where the story line has a pregnant woman drop some ice-cream onto her shirt. Men apparently show now stress when the ice-cream falls nor relief when the shirt comes out of the washer clean, meanwhile women show a ray of emotions to the story line.

I have worked with similar systems in user research and it's always hard to determine how actionable this type of data is, and also how difficult it is to be concise with the variables, but it feels there could be some interesting uses of it to make the world continue to recognize how different we all are when we respond to situations, especially genders. Data and sizes of differences certainly speaks in the business world (whether it's even valid or not).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Not A Rosie Picture for All

While I like to be upbeat and optimistic about the increase in wealth of women, I do need a reality check on for which segments of the female population is this the case. Increases in wealth is not for all women. An article in the highlights the challenges women are facing with the current tightening of the economy. A Rockerfeller Foundation study produced these following results:

  • One in five women had a medical prescription she couldn't afford to fill in the past year, compared with one out of eight men.
  • One in eight women reported that she couldn't afford to take a child to the doctor during the past year, compared with one out of 16 men.
  • One in 14 American women went hungry at some time last year because of lack of money, compared with one out of 25 men.
  • More American women – 56 percent – are worried about cutbacks to Social Security than men, at 41 percent. One reason for this disparity is that half of retired women count on Social Security as a major source of income, compared with 38 percent of retired men. And one reason for that is that more men have employment-provided retirement savings plans, at 61 percent, than women, at 51 percent.

Keeping gender successes in perspective is important, and with success we've got to remember how to give back and create benefits for all, to strengthen overall society.

It's All in a Name

So what should you name yourself at work? Ambiguously, seems to be the advice of a woman called Josephine who calls herself Finn at work. Once she changed her alias at work she started to receive a different type of email that contained different insights into how the business worked, and gain insight into the back channel where the real insights get discussed on the future of the company or who's who. This is one of the insights from an article by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.

Now one problem with this strategy is with the advent of social technologies that reveal more about us. I love the feature we have at work that allows me to view the photos of people on an email thread or invited to a meeting. At a quick glance I can see who is who, or use to recall who said what in a meeting. Some people love the tool to disambiguate names so they know the gender of whom they're engaging with - why do they do that? sometimes curiosity, and sometimes to refer to that person as he or she in mail. It's complicated.

The question is long term will social technologies aid the gender gap or keep repositioning the gap. I like using facebook and linkedin as it formalizes relationships as people grow their lists of friends, but to me now I have a set of people to reach out to who invited me to their networks. I've been invited by all types of people whom I wouldn't have thought would have considered me a friend.

So while the focus group research offers the advantages of a gender neutral name, it's going to be harder to leverage that strategy in the future.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Carolyn Kepcher Finds What Matters

Another new site launching to support careers and aspirations of women can be found at . It's currently getting ready to launch. The celebrity behind the site is Carolyn Kepcher, who came to fame in the early series of The Apprentice, as Donald Trump's right-hand woman. Yes, I confess I was a fan of the early series when the problems and strategies were a novelty, and I believed there were some people with potential in the group rather than potential to make entertaining tv.

I always hoped there was substance behind Carolyn, and I've just listened to a webinar on Carve Your Own Road (a website for awakening and fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in everyone ) and after listening, I believe Carolyn is substantial. She talks like someone who figured out how to forge a successful career in the Trump organization, has good advice to questions asked, and is realistic. I will be checking in on FWM (finding what matters) to see where it heads.

A moment of inspiration to stay the course and work another day can come from anywhere. I have to say that while it wasn't exactly a quick moment at a 20 minutes webinar, it was most definitely a solid contributing moment to listen to a woman who has figured things out, made a few mistakes, and is trying to balance it all. Now if only my personal life allowed me these quick moments before 11:30pm, life would be be even better.

Not a Good Year for Gender Equity

I'm so frustrated when I hear about news like this. A woman finally comes forward to point out pay discrimination over a long period of time at Goodyear. She tries to settle out of court for a reasonable amount ($60K) and is unsuccessful. She then tries in court and is awarded a much larger amount ($223K), and punitive damages ($3M) which are crazy in terms of being given to her. Finally in appeal it's overturned and she's smacked with a bill for $3,165 in costs.

Fear of class action suits, fear of escalating costs, because big companies can - there seems something distorted with various stages leading to this outcome. Rather than address what should be done to a. Make a point that it's not acceptable to discriminate and to b. Compensate individuals appropriately when harm is found but not award them a lottery like figure

I'd like to think if there were a better balance of women representatives in bodies that make policies and laws that some of these crazy rules would be more sane, not only to benefit gender based cases like these but in many other such similar cases.

In the meantime I shall not be supporting Goodyear.