Ain't that the truth. I feel angry and left out and margianalized no matter how you throw the dice. I love Dr. Isis but every time she shows a picture of some hot woman it is like shoving my body hate right in my face when I least expect it. Believe it or not I think sciencey blogs do a good job at sheltering me from society's ridiculous expectations. And I know she's trying to present who she is without judging anybody else, but those pictures make me feel judged."Well, how many women WANT to come forward and say "You were called hot, I was called fat and ugly"?"
The Disturbance Hypothesis definitely holds up. Women are a disturbance to men, PERIOD. If you are too smart, you're fucked. Too pretty, you're fucked. Ugly, fat, brown, lesbian…fucked fucked fucked fucked. If you don't wipe some moron's ass, fucked. If you overshadow some moron's ass with your brilliant study, fucked. Whatever the goalpost is for whatever whiny douche, you have to exist below it as a woman, or you are fucked.
When I talk with coworkers about the douchebag mucky mucks who work here and get away with harrassment and skeeviness and mysoginistic behavior I'm angry that some of my female colleagues have to deal with this kind of unwanted attention. I'm angry the guys who do this have enough power to get away with it and that pretty much any young pretty woman can be a target. But then I'm reminded I don't get this kind of attention and nobody is referring to me as "pretty" and that they don't think of me that way. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not "one of the guys" I'm pretty sure that's a myth. It's just that my not-as-standard level of female attractiveness or femininity puts me in the category of other.
An object to be ignored rather than objectified, and I don't like either option. I'm angry that my male colleagues accuse women of bringing it upon themselves by dressing a certain way when I know that that doesn't help but I feel disgusted that my own modest clothing choices are judged or publically applauded like it's some ridiculous fucking contest of what ways we all meet or fail to meet the boys' standards. It shouldn't fucking matter how we all choose to dress, so shove it! This is my personal style not because exposing more or less skin means I think a man has any right to objectify me or any other woman. And I'm not talking about noting attractiveness inside one's head, I'm talking about how there are engineers and there are women and some neanderthal male brains can't allow anyone to fit in both categories, or are unable to just have a single category: engineer.
My senior project group members were talking with our company sponsor about purchasing materials. Most so far have come from Home Depot. My group is 75% female and they and the male sponsors started relating stories about either themselves or people they know walking into a hardware store and suddenly getting a ton of male attention. Or walking into a video game store. I nodded and laughed. But I felt like the quote from jc's comment: to paraphrase, you were given attention but I'm so fat and ugly I wasn't even noticed. And I felt sad. Sad that we stereotype that "pretty" women need extra help in a hardware store. Sad that like jc I get simultaneously sexually objectified but also rejected for unfeminine features or for my weight. Rarely do I walk the middle ground of being noticed and respected for my personality or my skills. Everytime I think I'm having a conversation with a colleague I get a cutting comment that reminds me I am at core a woman. And like all other women, I am an incorrect woman who does not meet their perfect standard.
I shouldn't have to say props to the men in my life or the men in the blogosphere who do not objectify and do encourage and do not verbalize inappropriate comments and are able to see past all that shit. But I will say it because I hope these men can be the drivers of a culture shift as I don't think we women can do it alone. So thanks allies and fuck off everyone else.
I found a new blogger I like, Dr. Kathryn Clancy, and she blogged about a panel they had at Science Online 2011 and specifically about how when women want something they have to hide it. She talks about the moment I have been through many times where you are going along with your life and a colleague suddenly objectifies you and you realize you'll never be just another coworker to them, that your primary function is to be a woman. You can be smart for a woman or skilled for a woman but like Billy Joel sang, you're always a woman.
She also talked about women's tendencies not to promote themselves and a commenter had an insightful comment that despite attending the same conferences as men on "always negotiate" or "always promote yourself" that the message she took home to be aggressive was not nearly the same as what the men took home. She also talked about something I feel strongly about: we need to build an old girls club. I take this seriously here as well as in the workforce (which I'll probably talk about soon on EngineerBlogs). That we need to promote others as well as not be afraid to promote ourselves. So I did it. I joined twitter.
Two new things in one week, the hardware and the software, the yin and the yang.
I started off with McMaster Carr, my favorite one stop shop for the discerning mechanical or manufacturing engineer. I'm waiting on an order right now, with a press button incremental hinge, an adjustable friction hinge, and a lever lock hinge.
- Two days after mentioning I should probably replace my battery, but was afraid to shell out the money in case that wasn't the problem...
- One day after somebody else had to get a jump at work and I was putting in oil and got several offers for a jump...
- Thirty minutes after pulling into the gas station to find out the system had crashed and I'd have to wait for a reboot...
- The one tool I needed to replace it was the one tool not in my car but recently pictured in my new avatar...
Probably the best place to have your battery die is at a busy gas station across the street from a place that sells batteries. I had numerous offers for a jump (people are nicer than I think sometimes) and nothing more convenient like walking over to buy a new battery right when you need one.
One is that they are more invested in external than in in-house relationships. There are four main reasons why star women maintain external focus: uneasy in-house relationships, poor mentorship, neglect by colleagues, and a vulnerable position in the labor market. External focus makes them more "portable" in terms of making a positive move, but can cause problems if they want to progress within their own organization, because you need a solid internal network and good political capital to get things done in organizations. Anyone who focuses mostly on external relationships will not have that.
So kind of depressing. Women do not have good mentors, internal contacts, or internal institutional support at their own companies. Moving to some other company where they don't necessarily know anybody any better than at their previous employer changes nothing for them. Not really a sign of progress I think. His second reason is a little disappointing, indicating that women do more due diligence in a job search to make sure they are not a token female and that they will have more institutional support whether as a female or just as a person.
I don't like hearing this argument that women don't go into higher paying professions like management because they "have more ethics" than men or don't go into science or engineering because they "choose better jobs" than men and that seems like the argument here. I mean at least we've moved on from "women make better secretaries" but it's like saying African Americans dominate professional basketball because they make better choices to get in as opposed to their white sports colleagues not that their white colleagues actually have more avenues of success available to them.
On a side note, being a lego fan I was looking for a cutesey lego picture to top this post and a google image search of "lego figure" is shockingly masculine. I'd say 98% of figures were male, with a few scantily clad female lego figurines popping up or a few female superheroes. I think I got one hit in the first five pages that was just a normal female figure(lego figures do not even have curves, do we really need to sexualize them as well?). No worries, I thought, this is probably selection bias from the sexist interwebs and hopped over to the lego shop. I search through their City series looking to find ordinary women doing ordinary things. Police, fire and rescue are an all male club it seems with one single police woman who works at the police station but doesn't appear to be a part of any of the units that leave. Transportation shows men only as travellers, city workers, officials and mechanics with a woman working a pizza shop, another of unknown occupation and one travelling with her family in a camper.
It seems we women do not fix or run anything but are only a part of larger sets where clearly there should be at least one woman so the population can procreate and not die out. Other sets are even more disappointing with no women dueling with knights or no women wielding swords, no women swimming underwater to fight the weird sea creatures of Atlantis, no women ninjas, and only a few specific character women in the movie sets (Harry Pottery, Star Wars, Prince of Persia). Okay I suppose some of the ninjas could be women, it's not like the lego figures lead to distinct body shapes, but I still expected a little better from a company from pinko-commi freewave socialist Denmark. Getting past the shear lack of numbers, I think of being a little girl and not getting to see people like me wielding swords or building things but instead being in castles wearing less than everyone else and needing to be rescued. Come on Lego, get it together.
"In the old days," he explains, "companies expected engineers to stay around a long time, so they paid for professional development. Now, they want somebody to hit the ground running. They've turned engineers from an asset into a variable cost."
Over the past 16 years, labor force participation rates for men aged 62 to 74 climbed 39 percent, reversing three decades of decline. At the same time, participation for older women jumped 66 percent. In 2010, the government reported the highest number of 60-somethings in the work force since age-specific records began in 1948 — 12.9 million.
They also argue that these workers contribute to the productivity and GDP of the nation being essential in this economy. But I'm not sure there's an evidence that employing these highly experienced workers longer actually helps with productivity. Even the reasons stated that people keep working seem pretty self-centered and not likely to contribute to engagement at work:
An AARP survey found that 69 percent of older workers plan to stay on the job into their golden years, but the majority would prefer part-time options. The top two reasons for wanting to keep working were for money and health insurance. The people who are already working past traditional retirement age tend to hold jobs that are structured differently: more flexible, fewer hours, less office politics and higher satisfaction, according to research by the Families and Work Institute.
And I have to admit the whole thing about them preferring to work part time is sort of ridiculous. I'm betting a huge chunk of the population would prefer to work part time, at least at different points in their lives. Would that we all had the pull and influence at work to make it so, not to mention retirement savings to dip from. But it's telling that this data reflects my own anecdotal experiences: that the older employees I know who keep working tend to do so because they think they can not afford to retire, or are concerned about health benefits (either because they are too young for medicare, think it will be too costly, or are neo-cons afraid that "obamacare" has somehow affected their precious entitlement benefits).
I am sympathetic. I think if you don't have the money that's a perfectly valid reason to keep working longer.
The financial crisis and recession have motivated some workers to delay retirement, as they struggle to recoup losses in their nest eggs. Even a two-year increase in the median retirement age could cut in half the share of households that are financially unprepared for old age, according to a McKinsey Global Institute study.
What with the magic of compound interest, it's no surprise that older workers can make up for retirement losses in a shorter timeframe. If their 401k was already substantially larger than younger workers, it's no wonder a few years could help to really turn it around. Not to mention the stock market's gone up more than 50% from its low in 2008. But here's where the article loses me. It's trying to convince me that all these people staying in the workforce longer is a good thing for the economy: of which I and most people I know care mostly about one thing, jobs.
Rather than seeing these people as crowding out younger workers from jobs, it's important to remember that as they stay in the work force longer, they generate more demand for goods and services — which creates jobs, Stevenson said.
Take the health care sector, where a shortage of nurses has forced employers to focus on retaining older workers, and to view flexibility as a strategic business tool rather than an accommodation, said Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute. Bon Secours, for instance, offers more flexible and part-time work in addition to facilitating transitions to less-physically demanding jobs. The company child care center is available to grandchildren of employees, not simply children. "They've done a lot of things to make the work force more appealing to older workers," Galinsky said.
The utility industry's engineers, executives and field technicians have an average age of 48, five years older than the median U.S. worker. At PSE&G in Newark, about a third of the energy company's 10,000 employees are already eligible to retire, said David Lyons, a PSE&G director. To keep skilled workers, the company implemented a phased retirement program three years ago that lets eligible employees work up to 24 hours a week for two years while receiving pension benefits, in addition to a program to rehire retirees for temporary engagements of up to 24 months.
Yeah I don't think all those brand new nursing graduates who can't find jobs are thanking you for your diligence in hanging on to nurses past retirement age. Like other industries in the past, there was all this talk about how there would be an extreme nursing shortage in this country once baby boomers started retiring. And young and motivated people flooded nursing schools. Last year the California Institute for Nursing and Healthcare was anticipating 40% of nursing graduates would be unable to find jobs. I get why companies would rather hang on to an older worker with much more experience rather than hire a fresh grad. But this to me is a win for the employer at best, and possibly the older worker, but a loss for GenY and GenX workers who have already dealt with the fact that many management positions would be out of their reach for much longer than previous generations and now are having the rug of education and hard work leading to a semi-stable job pulled out from under them.
- Myth: My car engine needs to warm up before driving.
During winter months, it is a common practice for drivers to warm their vehicles up inside, but a cold engine will warm up faster when it is being driven instead of idling. If you use your car infrequently, take a few minutes to warm up your car before you drive away. This allows cold, thick oil to warm up, protecting your engine from damage. For cold weather starts, all you need is 30 seconds to ensure proper oil flow and lubrication. In the event of frigid temperatures, driving at a slower speed for a few miles will give your car enough time to warm up.
I'm not saying we trust all our car advice to some yahoo who lives in Illinois (Junior Damato, the Talking Cars columnist) but I wish my neighbors would read his advice. Because I'm sick of hearing their "pimped out", muffler tuned little POS car idling and being revved up for 30-40 minutes every night usually while I'm trying to enjoy dinner or even better while I'm trying to sleep. It doesn't even sound like a proper car. It sounds like someone's mowing their lawn, but then irritatingly revving their lawnmower, and of course it's obnoxious noise is also likely tuned to carry some distance so it's a really loud lawnmower.
It's great they take their car seriously, and it appears they race other vehicles of theirs (which must be how they pay the mortgage since none of them ever seem to leave to go to work, coke dealer also comes to mind). I'm not a specifically automotive engineer, but it's my understanding engine idle is one of the most wearing portions of an engine's life. An engine wants to be in cruise speed. It does make me wonder why so many aircraft engines require such extensive warm-up periods in comparison, but honestly it doesn't get that cold where I'm at, and they don't even drive it anywhere afterwards. Automative engines are pretty hardy stuff. So stop idling your lawnmower all night. Thanks.
Tesla Motors plans to release it's luxury electric Model S sometime in 2012. On the outside it looks a lot like you might expect for a luxury sedan. It's got the smooth curves you'd expect to see in a current model luxury sedan, not unlike the designs that are going into a new Infinity or Cadillac. Unlike Tesla's other famous model, the Roadster which was built from a Lotus skeleton, this body chassis is an original design. Given how expensive the technology for a a decent range all electric vehicle is it makes sense Tesla would be pursuing a luxury model meant to compete with the BMWs and Audis of the world.
But despite its very aesthetically pleasing exterior and typically plush looking interiors this remains an interesting car in that they are advertising it will be able to travel 145, 230, or 300 miles on a single 45 minute charge depending on which battery pack you purchase. As someone who fills up about every 300 miles that is getting impressively towards normal consumer use. And you don't even have to go to the gas station, you can plug in at home. Unfortunately for now this sort of thing is going to be out of reach from the typical consumer. I've seen in the mid-50s for pricing which is of course more expensive than the mid-30s you could probably spend on an otherwise similar petroleum fueled internal combustion powered sedan. But for now, the engineering is impressive. Stop by ElectroVelocity for some interesting videos on the design and technology that went into the Model S.
How reliable are economic models that depend on economic actors to act in their own best interest? I just watched the Nova documentary, Mind Over Money which displays various theories of economics as modelled by mathematical equations that expect us all to act in our own best interest or those who think emotions and behavior cause us to act irrationally.
They talk to Robert Shiller a Yale economist who it could be said predicted both the tech stock crash and the housing market crash as speculative bubbles. He argues against the rational consumer theory, stating that bubbles are not based on self interest. He talks about the "Tulip Mania" in the Netherlands in the 17th century, widely believed to be the first speculative bubble of which there are records. Tulips were relatively new and not unlike today they were trading tulip futures as well as actual tulip bulbs. At the peak, some of the most expensive tulip brands were selling a single bulb for 12 times the yearly income of a typical skilled craftsmen. While many attributed this bubble to crowd irrationality and use it as an example of behavioral economics (as does Shiller) many others try to draw rational explanations from this event. I still found it interesting that there could be such speculation on something that seemed to have very little intrinsic value whatsoever. But then, in the documentary they show that in studies even when "traders" are told a commodity has no value and will be completely without value at the end of they experiment they tend to take risks and buy creating a bubble and ending up busted in the end.
It's an interesting documentary, though I think Nova pushes the behavioral model a little too much. Though I agree and think it's folly to think that as a mass people will always act in their own self interest. The fact that people were willing to pay up to $600,000 for a three bedroom home a few years ago and now because they are underwater, but can still afford the payments, they often choose to walk away from their mortgage. If they kept paying they'd likely have some decent equity in their home. And hanging on to the home they can probably expect its price to eventually rise over time. But as is typical, we discount the future and make decisions that appear to be only in our immediate best interest. The immediate value of the home, and the immediate consequence of mortgage payments are more important than a forclosure on our financial records or lost equity or downpayment. The difficulty of obtaining equity in the future is discounted and the advantage of walking away now is considered more important.
Documentaries like this always make me worry about the stock market which I invest in, but secretly worry is some house of cards built on nothing. I worry about the price of homes as well as other bubbles and the stagnant wages of American workers right now. But at least you can live in a house. You can't live in a tulip.