Friday, April 24, 2015

Weekend Reading: The Unconscious Bias Edition

Wow, it is Friday again. This week went by fast. My 10th wedding anniversary was on Wednesday. My sister came over and watched the kids so that Mr. Snarky and I could have the evening out. We decided to keep the evening low key, since we have the big trip to France coming up and can call that our proper anniversary celebration.

So we went out to dinner at the local pizza joint where we ate on the night Mr. Snarky proposed to me. He didn't actually propose over pizza- he waited until we were walking home on the beach. (This was during our years living in a beach community.) Still, it seemed fitting to go back to the same restaurant. Then we strolled along the beach and up to our former local pub. The owner was tending bar and bought us beers, just like he did a couple of nights before we left for our "big trip."

It was all very nice, but the owner bought me one more beer than I really needed, so Thursday was a little rougher than it had to be.

Anyway, on to the links... I have a bunch of links about unconscious bias this week.

First up, Brainpickings reviews a book on the topic that looks really good. The ocean current metaphor is a powerful one.

Next, Freada Kapor Klein writes about how companies need to innovate in their "people ops."

Our biases are making Black women virtually invisible in the workplace.

And Mark Creamer has a useful post about how to "disengage" from our own biases.

Here's a new Medium collection about the women of Silicon Valley- and not that god-awful casting call that was making the rounds a few weeks ago.

The Salesforce CEO is taking a radical approach to solving the pay gap in his company: he's giving women raises.

Kate Heddleston continues to write excellent posts about management failures in tech that impede progress towards achieving a diverse workplace. The latest is about the perils of the null process.

I was going to make a little "promos" section, but as it turns out, I only have one actual promo link: Laura Vanderkam's next book, I Know How She Does It, is now available for preorder. She interviewed me for the book, and I think I made it into one or two sections, so I have extra incentive to read it. But I would have read it anyway- I enjoy reading about how other people make it all work. I pick up some really good ideas that way!

I thought I'd have a link to some new products in the design section of my business, but it has actually rained here (a little) for the last couple of days, so I have been unable to take good product photos. Maybe I'll get the listings up by next week.

I should also have cover reveals for the first two books I've signed, soon, too... but I don't have them yet.

Now, for some fun things:

A dog drives a tractor and causes a traffic jam.

The Apple II watch. Definitely check out who wrote the most highly rated comment on this post.

My new theme song:

Luckily, Mr. Snarky appreciates what he has.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Learning What Works

I remember thinking that What Works for Women at Work, a book of information about common types of bias women face at work by Joan Williams and Rachel Dempsey, looked like a useful book when it came out early last year. I also remember thinking that I couldn't trust myself to read it right then, because I suspected it would hit very close to home, and I was in a fragile place.

I can now say that I was right on both counts.

I have somehow found myself on the hook to give a short talk about how women can self-promote (don't ask... I initially said no on grounds that this isn't something I'm all that good at myself!) and since I of course want to do a good job, I knew that the time had come to read this book. I want to tell people the right advice- which is most definitely not that you just need to self-promote like a man. There is plenty of evidence that doing that often backfires. See, for instance, the HBR article I discussed a couple of years ago.

Anyway, I bought a copy of What Works for Women at Work, and set aside some time yesterday to read through the sections most relevant to my topic at hand. It is a good book: written with an easy to read style, well-referenced so that I can look up the data to support their statements about bias, and with some helpful ideas for how to navigate through the biases to achieve your career goals.

And yeah, it hit close to home. The two authors are from two different generations (they are in fact a mother-daughter team). Joan Williams is in her 50s, and her introduction to the book was so painfully true for me that I almost started to cry. As I read on, I definitely recognized a lot of things that have happened to me over the years, and I began to realize why I deviated from my original plan and suddenly quit my job last year. I have a better understanding of how I could like and respect my former colleagues and at the same exact time be unable to stay in that position. I have said before that I just burned out, but the first two sections of this book provide an explanation for why I burned out.

If you're curious, or want to read along at home in the book, I think I burned out from exhaustion from having to "prove it again" so damn many times and from exerting so much effort to stay balanced on the f%&#ing tightrope they describe.

Even now, a full year after the events that led to my sudden resignation, I find reading this book fairly devastating. I have no idea what would have happened if I'd tried to read it last year.  I wish I had read it 10 years ago, but even if it had existed, I might not have recognized how much I needed to read it at that earlier stage in my career. (Side note to any early career people out there: read this book now, before you begin to get the promotions and such that will put you on a collision course with these implicit biases. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.)

Reading it now is making me feel a little better about my uncharacteristic decision, though. I am starting to think that I acted so suddenly because I was in a type of immediate danger: if I'd stayed longer, I might have become so burnt out that I would have been unable to salvage my new career path from the remains of my old one. At some point, the instinctive self-preserving part of my brain overruled the rational, planning part and made me act.

So here I am, having mostly picked up the pieces, but still trying to make them fit back together in a stable way. I find that I am unbelievably motivated to get to stay my own boss. If I'm completely honest, I'm also feeling fairly motivated to "prove it again" just one last time, which means, of course, that I can't hang up my tightrope walking shoes quite yet.

Photo from Flikr user Wiros:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekend Reading: The Oops I Forgot the Title Edition

Awww crap. I posted this without a title and now the URL is going to be goofy forever more. Oh well.

First of all, thank you to everyone who helped answer some of the mysteries of the universe in my last post. I appreciate it!

Before I launch into my main set of links, I want to share a survey that a student sent to me. She is looking to get more responses from parents, and so I said I'd include a link to the survey here. Here it is.

(As an aside, this is the second time I've been contacted by a student at that particular university. I suspect a professor is recommending students reach out to bloggers for help. In general, I'll try to help students where I can... but I'm not sure what I think about this approach from the professor. There is a risk that a bunch of students will reach out to the same people, who will then be overwhelmed with requests for help. Has anyone else out there thought this through more carefully than I have?)

Also, while I'm not giving you the main links... my publisher is now putting out Spanish-English bilingual editions. Here is the bilingual edition of Petunia, and here is the bilingual edition of The Zebra Said Shhh. I'll also note that these are paperback editions, so if you want a physical copy of Petunia and don't want to pay for a hardcover edition... now you can get a paperback. As a bonus, it will have the text in both English and Spanish!

Anyway... on to the regular links.

One company is taking a refreshing approach to setting pay levels- everyone will be paid at least $70,000, and the cost of this is being offset by a reduction in the CEO's pay. I doubt this will catch on, but hooray for that company, anyway.

I found this essay about the debate around "religious freedom" to be very useful.

Here is a great essay that I'm struggling to summarize so you should just go read.

And here is a great essay about raising a kid who is comfortable being different.

There were two interesting NY Times book reviews making the rounds today: Choire Sicha on Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed and David Dobbs on Alice Dreger's Galileo's Middle Finger. I'm more inclined to read the latter book, but they are both really interesting reviews.

Have you seen the Tableflip Club? It is a rousing manifesto. If you're trying to explain these issues to people who are unaccustomed to thinking about structural problems and you want them to actually read the link you send them, this remix from Viola Song (violasong? I am unsure if this is a name or a pseudonym!) is probably a better bet (and is also great on its own merits.)

Here is Dacher Keltner discussing empathy:

And here is my Crappy Things I Made to Stop the Whining post about Petunia's insistence that we make a house out of twigs for her little giraffe, presumably because the giraffe's name is Twiggy.

And now I have to go make some pizza for dinner. Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mysteries of the Universe

Some mysteries of the universe, the answers to which I will probably never know:

1. Why can't I find a bra that fits me and is comfortable all day anymore? I used to have comfortable bras. I cannot find comfortable bras anymore. I am seriously considering going back to the style I wore while nursing, because it was comfortable.

2. Why did Navigating the Path to Industry sell really well last month and then crash down to almost no sales this month? I didn't have any marketing activities last month, so I am at a complete loss to explain this. Obviously, I prefer last month's sales to this month's.

3. Why was I really good at not letting sexist crap get to me for so long, but am no longer all that good at it? For many, many years, I've used the mental image of a big trunk, and anytime something sexist happened, I'd just store it in that trunk. I'd see myself picking it up, putting it in the trunk, closing the lid, locking it, and moving on along my original path. Lately, it is like I can't get the lid of the trunk to close anymore. Why? Is it just too full?

Regardless, I need to find a new way to deal with sexist crap, because I damn well don't want it derailing me from my pursuing my goals.

4. Why does my older daughter like waffles and pikelets (small pancake-like things from New Zealand) but not pancakes?

5. Why can't I get in the habit of flossing my teeth? I am really good at making myself do other things, and flossing doesn't take that long and isn't hard to do. But I cannot get myself into the habit of always doing it. I'd say I floss 2-3 nights per week. What gives? I thought that maybe the problem was that I'm trying to do it at the end of the day when I've used up all my willpower, so I've tried establishing the routine in the morning. No luck there, either.

Share your mysteries of the universe- or any answers you have to mine- in the comments!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Surprisingly Profound Kids' Art: Portrait of the Artist and Her Best Friends

Petunia brought this piece home from day care this week. It is a portrait of herself and her three best friends. The four of them have been friends since the toddler room, and the fact that she has such a tight group of friends at day care was one of the reasons we kept her there instead of moving to the transitional kindergarten that opened at Pumpkin's school this year. (That TK program is also only a half day, and they weren't sure that the Y was going to provide before and after care... so the friends weren't the ONLY reason.)

Anyway, the friends are drawn somewhat to scale. Her friend G, on the left of this picture, is very tall. From left to right, there's G, M, L, and then Petunia. L is indeed shorter than M and Petunia.

Portrait of the Artist and Her Best Friends
Artist: Petunia, age 5.5

Portrait of the Artist and Her Best Friends
OK, so maybe this one isn't all that profound, but it made me smile, so I'm posting it.

In other news, over at Tungsten Hippo I wrote about what I do when I finish a book I love, want to read, but am not ready to move on. Spoiler: it involves short ebooks.

Also, last night Petunia enlisted my help in building a home out of twigs for a tiny stuffed giraffe. I took pictures and tweeted them, but I'll be posting them over at Crappy Things I Made to Stop the Whining soon.
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