Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't Worry Be Happy - But We Do

The MIT AgeLab has recently completed a large scale survey to investigate concerns about retirement. They have found large differences between men and women. The area where men are more worried than women is potential for being bored during retirement - there us women don't have many worries, but virtually on every other front we are more worried, and as the article says - probably with good reason.
The 3 primary areas where worries occur are: Inflation, Health, and Longevity. The researchers say it isn't unfounded worries given women tend to outlive their spouses, and a large number of women will end up living on significantly smaller incomes than men in retirement. Health, it suggests that women have to do a better job of taking care of themselves, much of their health energy is applied to looking after aging parents and their spouse. It's important to remember to take care of yourself. The final concern is about insuring they have enough assets to last them through their final days.

Increasing women's knowledge of investment funds, retirement funds, and working with financial planners is something that needs to happen. Yes, women do manage much of the money in the home and large financial decisions I haven't read of women's knowledge in long term planning happening. Potentially an area for growth.

Getting Above the Glass Ceiling Before It Forms has just hosted it's conference. Sounds like it was a wonderful event. The one fact that I picked up from the NYT article was that among internet users 14% of men blog, and 11% of women, however when it comes to top bloggers it is rare to find women's names in the list.

Who sets the rules for which candidates are selected for top listings? We need more influence in these lists, but again its legacy of a old system to judge new contributions. I use google alerts to help me keep up with topics to post on this blog. I love receiving custom news snippets about things I care about, I can never tell if I'm not paying attention to enough main stream news/technology media, or whether I don't find it appealing because of bias in the content (not the reporting but the styles don't resonate with my needs). There is more data today about our buying purchase power, our income, and our capability to set up businesses. I would love to see as new avenues for communication become available or new topics get hot women are able to play stronger roles in the first rounds, so as to not leave us on the outside trying to get in after the fact. Any ideas how we can do this?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Maths Knows No Gender Boundary

... at least at for grades 2 through 11. The No child left behind act has allowed researchers to review standardized test results. A careful analysis of the results from those tests suggests there is no difference in scores for girls and boys. They looked at results for California and 9 other states, and no difference was found. In another data set looking at complex reasoning skills gender differences were too small to be meaningful.

What needs to happen to keep girls on a science track to make it attractive to pull them through to the next level of science? How do we make it personable, where's the face and social part in the math syllabus at university?

LA times Article.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thank You for People Like Dorcas Muthoni

I love technology and the ability that global connections are easier to make today. The article here, in the Business Daily Africa announces the Anita Borg Change Agent Award going to Dorcas Muthoni, who is the general manager of OpenWorld. She receives the award because of her 3 year investment getting more girls and young women interested in Information Communication Technology (ICT). They talk of the challenges that girls face when they don't know the breadth of what ICT includes before they reject it as a career path. To solve this problem doesn't just involve reaching out to the individuals but also the career counsellors (often teachers) to provide the right encouragement based on the right knowledge, instead of steering women away to more typical careers.

Another woman talks about her motivation to be involved in outreach programs to pull more women into ICT - she had experienced too many times being in a room of men at events and the assumption being she was the event organizer.

The article contrasts the outcome of not participating in outreach programs with the world that could exist if the right mentoring is provided at the right times. On days I'm exhausted, I read articles like this and it makes me find extra breathe to keep going and making it better for the next generation.

How Can We Make Science More Appealing?

Reading this article comes on an interesting day as it's about women in science, and this week my daughters (6 and 8 years) are in science camp. The first day my daughters came home from camp they were excited to used a motor on hand-made bases with wheels - little cars - as my kids described them, and a paper airplane. At the end of day two, they had been excited to take apart a VCR, TV, and keyboard, but then also mentioned that they'd made planes, planes, and more planes. Today they were happy with dismantling another keyboard, but then said it was boats, boats, boats most of the day. There are only 2 girls and 4 boys in the camp. My husband and I are trying to inject people into the discussion of what they're making and how different boats and planes could be designed for different needs to humanize what they're doing. I don't remember when they started to associate these objects with boys, but they are looking for the girl angle or project in the science camp.

Now I read about the challenges in the field of chemistry for female accademics. How a small amount of positive reinforcement and encouragement can go along way to keep people on course. I hadn't read about the research before related to the review of resumes for tenure positions. The article mentions that the same resume was sent out to 200 psychologists who hard a strong leaning to hiring if the name on the resume was male. A difference occured for the resume for tenure as the gender didn't make a difference, however the notes on the resume suggested more follow up for details, research papers, etc. on the female resumes. The article doesn't mention whether there was a difference in whether the reviewer was male or female, but continues to say women often have the same biases as men.

We spend so much of our time working without feedback, encouragement, or reinforcement that we're on path - did you also know that managers are less likely to give direct feedback to women than men? This puts us at a disadvantage, unless we figure out how to get feedback.

A take away from the article on the Chemistry field is to create supportive networks. They do mention this in the article.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Remembering the Nearness of the Past

I wanted to make a quick entry today to remember how recent it is that women had the vote in the UK. July 2nd, 2008, marked the 80th anniversary of women having the vote. I am always confused between the celebration of how far we've come, and then how far we have to go. For example women are still struggling to get fair pay in technology in the UK.
I sincerely hope at the 100th anniversary my daughters will be celebrating equality.