Friday, May 02, 2014

Weekend Reading: The Infuriating Edition

I had an email from someone wondering if I'm still planning to write the short ebook about job searching. The answer is yes, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep my originally planned schedule. Once I get the company set up to the point that I can get paid for contracting, I should have the time to get back to the book- but I'm not sure when that will be. I'm a bit fried from all the pressure that eventually made me quit my job, so I'm trying to be gentle on myself and only push as hard as I absolutely have to, at least for a month or two.

I'm also still unnerved by some realizations about how my career has gone to date- see my comment on Nicoleandmaggie's excellent post today about how to address gender issues in the classroom for a glimpse at the issues I'll need to sort through at some point. The extent to which I feel fragile on gender bias issues right now makes me wonder if there are therapists out there that specialize in putting ambitious women back together after a run in with harsh patriarchal reality shatters them. If there aren't, there probably should be. I don't feel shattered, and I'm not sure what I think actually happened at this particular job. Perhaps it was just time for me to do something different. I don't want to read more into the situation than was really there. But perhaps because I can't really explain what has happened to the career path I thought I was on, I feel like I could shatter if I'm not careful, hence the whole "be gentle to myself" thing. I want to get through the immediate transition and then spend some time figuring out how this whole experience can make me stronger. Or something like that. Whatever the reasons that have led me to this point, I'm pretty excited about the potential of what comes next, and I want to be able to make the most of this opportunity.

So anyway, I'm still going easy on the gender bias stories. But I have a few to share this week, mostly gathered a few weeks ago, before my valve blew. I also have a bunch of links about other infuriating things. Doesn't that sound delightful?

First, the gender-related ones:

Emberdione has a really great post about being a mom in the game industry, and how things could be so much better if more people understood that planning and management can avoid crunch time (sound familiar?) Here is a great quote from the end of the post:

"All too often work gets re-done or wasted. Leads and Publishers want more than they are willing to give time for. May the producers who build the gantt charts and FORCE the studio to get it to fit within the time frame find eternal joy. (My favorite producer was the one who drew one out, it showed we had 6 months more work than time, and said, “Okay, no one is leaving until it works.” 3 hours later, a very weary set of leads left the room with a workable schedule that did NOT include crunch.)"

Like most work-life balance things, this shouldn't really be a gender issue, but is.

Ellen Chisa posted some excellent observations about the sexism in how we talk about product management.

There have been a lot of discussions about sexism in publishing, particularly around the success of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. I really liked this post from Jennifer Lynn Barnes about how the gender of the author can matter in a book's chances of success even when there are clearly other things that mattered a lot, too.

At the intersection of gender, race, and class, Tressie McMillan Cottom posted a powerful essay about an assault by a cab driver and the complex calculations that went into her decision of how to respond.

Syreeta McFadden wrote about teaching the camera to see her skin. I confess to having never thought about how photography is calibrated for white skin. This is a powerful example of how technology is not always as neutral as we like to think it is.

This post by Bree Blakeman on a near-drowning will break your heart. And don't for a minute think something similar couldn't happen pretty much anywhere in America.

Speaking of racism in America... Ta-Nehisi Coates had a typically brilliant essay on how it is far too easy for us to condemn egregious bigots like Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy while blithely accepting what he terms elegant racism, which persists and continues to harm Black people. Here is a quote, but go read the whole thing:

"'The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,' John Roberts elegantly wrote. Liberals have yet to come up with a credible retort. That is because the theories of John Roberts are prettier than the theories of most liberals. But more, it is because liberals do not understand that America has never discriminated on the basis of race (which does not exist) but on the basis of racism (which most certainly does.)"

And to see what is perhaps an example of the elegant racism Coates describes, read Stephanie Mencimer's article about Kathryn Edin's research and how it upends conventional wisdom about poverty and "dead beat Dads."

That's your dose of infuriating reading for the weekend, and I don't even have a funny thing to end on. Oh well, have a happy weekend, anyway!


  1. Anonymous4:34 AM

    Cloud--I know I sound like a broken record on CBT, but it might be a good therapy modality to try.

    1. I am considering it. But I need a little downtime before I decide to do anything.

  2. I can't find where you wrote that your boss keeps telling everyone you left to spend time with your kids... Are you trying not to upset him or not to ruffle feathers at the company? I felt angry for you just read g that. Can't you just tell him that you felt disrespected and unappreciated? I mean, when you write here it's pretty clear what was bothering you... I wonder how much of it your boss actually realizes at all. I wonder how much of what happened your boss realizes at all. I think if he really cares about you, he would probably like to know for real why they lost you. (Sorry if I sounded obnoxious, that wasn't the intention.)

    1. My boss and I had a long discussion the Monday after I quit and I told him exactly what was bothering me. And I have also explained more recently. I think he is starting to get it. The part that tracks back to the company culture is really hard for him to get his head around but I think he is honestly trying.

      I work in a "small world" industry. Unless I am ready to leave completely (i.e., not contract in my field), I need to not rock the boat too hard. Even trying to explain the cultural thing to my boss is sticking my neck out a bit- but I felt like I had to do that.

      I'm just trying to correct people when I can, and am tweaking the explanation I give to try to steer people away from the idea that I'm quitting to stay home with the kids. But the idea is just comfortable for people, I think, so they tend to go towards it.

    2. One more thing I want to make sure is clear: a lot of the realizations I'm having about my career path to date are not about my current job, and a lot is about systems more than specific people- I've worked with a lot of really great people through the years, including at my current job.

      And because it really matters to me, I'll repeat it: I don't feel like my career to date has sucked. Just that I probably could have gone farther on this path than I did if somethings had gone differently earlier.

      I'll probably blog more about this later.

  3. I have a friend coming to visit 5/13-16. Can you slip up to LAX for a few days for a nice, long coffee klatsch?

    1. Oh, I'd love to! But that is my last week of work, so I guess I have to be there.

  4. Anonymous4:38 PM

    Your comment about putting ambitious women back together reminded me of a book I read a few years ago called "Breaking Point: Why women fall apart and how they can recreate their lives". It was an early Martha Beck book, and talks a lot about the impossible, contradictory, paradoxical demands placed on women. You might enjoy it; I found it helpful (And although it's out of print, it looks like Amazon has some used copies=))

    1. Thanks for the book recommendation! I'll check it out.

  5. Hi Cloud, I'm a silent reader of yours and totally love your posts. I'm a professional woman and have started seeing gender bias as I grow in my career (still low enough that the job is fun for me, but will definitely hit the ceiling at my current company if I grow as I want to). I'm expecting a girl in a couple of months (my first) and ever since I found out I'm having a girl, I've been conflicted. On one hand, I'm super happy because I can do a lot of fun stuff with my daughter (dress up, shop, etc) and be close to her/guide her. On the other side, I know that she is going to have it tougher in this world than if she had been a boy because she'll have to start fighting gender bias as young as kindergarten (where boys are praised for actions while girls are praised for being helpful, gentle, etc - I don't have a link to the original article but I read it a couple of days back and my blood is still boiling thinking of it). I catch myself wishing she was a boy so things are easier for her. As a mom, I want my baby to suffer the least possible pain in this world and I feel her gender would be a major source of pain for her at every point in life. I can't seem to shake this feeling off and am afraid how to protect her from gender bias. Some of your posts have given me ideas but how do you protect your daughters from day-to-day subconscious gender bias from others, especially other authority figures like teachers, family, etc? How do you remain extra vigilant at all times for gender bias detection?


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