Monday, March 23, 2015

Walking the Middle Path

Last Friday, I hinted at the ways that resources designed and intended to help women, often get co-opted to promote the standard "femininity, make-up, and fashion" wares that women are supposed to like.

I also hinted at the tightrope that women in STEM walk, between focusing on their male-dominated work, and conforming to the feminine ideals.

I asked the question: What costs more?  Playing the game in order to continue a conventional career? Or being authentic?

Authenticity, which may require a more unconventional path?


Women who leave engineering, typically do so in their first 10-15 years. Nearly 40% of women never enter engineering, or leave because of workplace climate. [APA Study] If you want to know the reasons, the National Science Foundation has a full report on the subject. The AAUW has one report that has been out for a few years, and another coming out next week. The Anita Borg Institute has an Infographic on Why Women Leave, and a report on Solutions to Recruit Technical Women. All of which say, the culture of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics needs to change in order to stop pushing people who are not white men out.

On Friday I discovered that one of the women I've admired on Twitter is more like me than I had realized. Randi Harper, @freebsdgirl, +Randi Harper, who has 15 years of experience in Tech, and who also was laid off in January. (Her Patreon account is here. I've considered creating one but haven't taken that step yet, I think I want Revision 2 of my demo video first.)

Unlike Randi, I am actively looking for the right job. That being said, I am also considering steps that might allow me to sustain activism over the longer term.

Such as the possibility of starting my own business.

I pushed off the economics discussion. The World Is Flat : A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century  discusses how anyone with an internet connection can start up a small global business with very low footprint.

But should we?

When I took International Training under Dr. Agathangelou at UH-Clear Lake, she started out by handing us a multi-page glossary of terms. Some were unfamiliar words, like "praxis" and "hegemony." Others were quite familiar, like NGO and WTO.

When I took Cultures of Asia, I remember specifically discussing Walmart. I mentioned that once my husband stopped working there, we planned to stop shopping there. But it was pointed out that the very size of Walmart (or McDonalds, or any large multi-national corporation) can turn out to be an advantage in pushing local food and sustainable policies. Being American, I've been conditioned to think that purchasing from Walmart (that switched from "buy American" to major outsourcing) is bad for people... but I was asked to think about what it means for people in Asia. That it could actually be a good thing for reducing poverty and improving standards of living.

I don't have answers yet, only questions.

I have a mix of friends, from the Socialist to Libertarian to Liberal. (Most of the Conservatives still with me, are family members... I appreciate fiscal Conservatism, and having been raised in it, share some understanding of religious Conservatism. I don't necessarily like the pro-Life, Creationist, or anti-Global Warming rhetoric, but what I won't tolerate are the racist and anti-Semitic / Islamophobic perspectives.)

One of my Libertarian friends has posted articles asking about care of the poor, and about giving a little now vs. a lot later (when one has presumably made their millions). Something like Andrew Carnegie, or perhaps the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As I said above, I have no answers, only questions.

The one thing I know, is that one of the reasons I want to be paid what I am worth, is so that I can contribute more to my community.