Monday, December 05, 2016

Πως να μαζέψετε χρήματα για μια μεγάλη αλλαγή (Budgeting 101) - Feta Report


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The mommy track

The real reason why more women don’t rise to the top of companies

N “BORGEN”, a Danish television drama, the country’s first female prime minister returns home late each night to domestic bliss. Her stay-at-home husband stacks the dishes and massages her back. The children cheer her televised speeches. But before long her son is seeing a shrink, the neglected hubby is having an affair and our heroine is throwing furniture around her office.

Rarely has there been so much angst about women reaching the top. In the Atlantic magazine last month, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the first female director of policy planning at America’s State Department, declared that women cannot successfully combine a super-demanding job with bringing up young children. (She quit Washington, DC, to return to academia.) This month a British member of Parliament, Louise Mensch, resigned, saying it was too hard to juggle job and family. Yet the news is not all grim. In July Yahoo!, a struggling internet firm, picked a 37-year-old from Google, Marissa Mayer, who is expecting a baby in October, as its new boss.

America’s biggest companies hire women to fill just over half of entry-level professional jobs. But those women fail to advance proportionally: they occupy only 28% of senior managerial posts, 14% of seats on executive committees and just 3% of chief executive roles, according to McKinsey & Company, a consultancy. The figures are worse still at big European firms, which is perhaps why the governments of Belgium, France, Italy and Norway have set quotas for women on boards. The European Commission is threatening to impose such rules across the EU. It would be better if women could rise naturally to senior executive roles rather than being forced on to boards. But how can this be done when everything tried so far seems to have failed?

Several factors hold women back at work. Too few study science, engineering, computing or maths. Too few push hard for promotion. Some old-fashioned sexism persists, even in hip, liberal industries. But the biggest obstacle (at least in most rich countries) is children. However organised you are, it is hard to combine family responsibilities with the ultra-long working hours and the “anytime, anywhere” culture of senior corporate jobs. A McKinsey study in 2010 found that both women and men agreed: it is tough for women to climb the corporate ladder with teeth clamped around their ankles. Another McKinsey study in 2007 revealed that 54% of the senior women executives surveyed were childless compared with 29% of the men (and a third were single, nearly double the proportion of partnerless men).

Many talented, highly educated women respond by moving into less demanding fields where the hours are more flexible, such as human resources or public relations. Some go part-time or drop out of the workforce entirely. Relatively few stay in the most hard-driving jobs, such as strategy, finance, sales and operations, that provide the best path to the top.

Consider this example. Schumpeter sat down with a mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer who says that, before starting a family, she was prepared to “give blood” to meet deadlines. After the ankle biters appeared, she took a job in corporate strategy at an engineering firm in Paris. She found it infuriating. Her male colleagues wasted time during the day—taking long lunches, gossiping over café au lait—but stayed late every evening. She packed her work into fewer hours, but because she did not put in enough “face time” the firm felt she lacked commitment. She soon quit. Companies that furrow their brows wondering how to stop talented women leaving should pay heed.

Could corporate culture change? In their book “Future Work”, Alison Maitland and Peter Thomson describe how some firms give staff more flexibility. Not just women, but men and generation Y recruits, say the authors, are pushing for a saner working culture. Unilever, a consumer-goods firm, wants 55% of its senior managers to be women by 2015. To that end, it allows employees to work anywhere and for as few hours as they like, so long as they get the job done. Despite being one of the world’s most global firms, it discourages travel. McKinsey lets both female and male consultants work for as little as three days a week for proportionally less pay—and still have a shot at making partner. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s high-profile chief operating officer, says that she has left the office at 5.30pm ever since she started a family in 2005.

Such examples are rare. For most big jobs, there is no avoiding mad hours and lots of travel. Customers do not care about your daughter’s flute recital. Putting women in the C-suite is important for firms, but not as important as making profits; for without profits a company will die. So bosses should try hard to accommodate their employees’ family responsibilities, but only in ways that do not harm the bottom line. Laurence Monnery of Egon Zehnder International, an executive-search firm, reckons that companies should stop penalising people who at some point in their careers have gone part-time.

Better be good
All the flextime in the world is unlikely to yield equal numbers of men and women in the most demanding jobs. Ms Mayer of Yahoo! is an inspiration to many, but a hard act to follow. She boasts of putting in 90-hour weeks at Google. She believes that “burn-out” is for wimps. She says that she will take two weeks’ maternity leave and work throughout it. If she can turn around the internet’s biggest basket case while dangling a newborn on her knee it will be the greatest triumph for working women since winning the right to wear trousers to the office (which did not happen until 1994 in California). To adapt Malia Obama’s warning to her father on his inauguration, the first pregnant boss of a big, well-known American company had better be good.

THE ECONOMIST

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Reasons why 2016 is not as awful as it seems



Health and Science
• New chemotherapy breakthroughs have increased the 5-year survival for pancreatic cancer from 16% to 27% (and is getting better)
Source: The Guardian

• Scientists figured out how to link robotic limbs with the part of the brain that deals with intent to move so people don’t have to think about how they will move the limb, it can just happen.
Source: caltech.edu

• Child mortality is down everywhere and it keeps going down.
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.DYN.MORT

• Thanks to the ice bucket challenge the gene responsible for ALS has been found, meaning we are closer to an effective treatment. Let me rephrase that: we are close to getting a treatment for a very bad disease because a lot of people (including really hot celebrities) got wet.
http://www.alsa.org/news/media/press-releases/significant-gene-discovery-072516.html

• Coffee consumption has been proved to help curtail cancer and suicide rates.
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/07/drinking-coffee-may-reduce-risk-of-suicide-by-50/

• Speaking of coffee Starbucks figured out how to donate perishable food in a food safe way.
https://news.starbucks.com/news/starbucks-food-donation-program

• A new therapy developed in Israel could cure radiation sickness.
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/1.707947

• Precision treatments for cancer are hitting clinical trials and WORKING (as someone who’s had relatives with cancer this is the best news)
https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2016/05/26/precision-medicine-already-changing-cancer-treatment-strategies/

• We made massive strides in Alzheimer’s prevention .
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2016/09September/Pages/Plaque-busting-drug-shows-early-promise-in-preventing-Alzheimers.aspx

• We may have cured MS
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/06/09/multiple-sclerosis-patients-walking-working-and-skiing-after-gro/

• Death by heart disease has decreased by 70% in the United States
http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/rate-americans-dying-heart-disease-plummeted-70/

• New medicine has been shown to increase melanoma survival rate to 40%
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-36304018


Environment and Nature
• The layer is repairing itself and all the work we did to get rid of those aerosol chemicals was actually worth it.
http://www.livescience.com/55250-antarctic-ozone-hole-healing.html

• Portugal ran its entire nation solely on renewable energy for four days straight.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/18/portugal-runs-for-four-days-straight-on-renewable-energy-alone

• California is now powering over 6 million homes with solar power, a record in the US.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-powered-6-million-homes-solar-energy-beats-state-record_us_578f94b3e4b07c722ebd24ec

• Volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/india-plants-50-million-trees-uttar-pradesh-reforestation/

• 500 elephants were relocated to a better, safer and bigger home.
http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/500-elephants-moved-to-safer-home-in-massive-relocation/

• Two brothers saw color for the first time thanks to specially (and accidentally) designed glasses
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgspFTNDkOs

• And news on the glasses themselves:
http://www.wallstreetdaily.com/2015/06/04/enchroma-glasses-color-blind/

• A retiree is launching a project to transport 80 endangered rhinos to an Australian reservation to save the animals from poaching
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-36244910

• Tiger numbers are growing.
http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/for-the-first-time-in-100-years-tiger-numbers-are-growing

• And manatees.
http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2016/0116/Why-Florida-s-manatee-population-is-rebounding

• And pandas.
http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/giant_panda/panda/panda_survey/


People, Religion, Society, and Other Random Good News:
• Pokemon Go players went insane with placing lure modules near hospitals for sick kids.
https://www.reddit.com/r/pokemongo/comments/4sxt9c/childrens_hospitals_need_your_help/

• Pakistan has made strides toward outlawing honor killings.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/06/pakistan-honor-killing-law-prison-sentence

• 70,000 Muslim clerics declared a fatwa against ISIS.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/70000-indian-muslim-clerics-issue-fatwa-against-isis-the-taliban-al-qaida-and-other-terror-groups-a6768191.html

• The Anglican church resolved to solemnize same-sex unions the same as opposite-sex unions which required a super majority of all three orders of the church (lay, clergy, bishop).
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/29/church-of-england-members-back-same-sex-marriage-poll

• The Rabbinical Assembly issued a resolution affirming the rights of transgender and non-conforming individuals.
http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/story/resolution-affirming-rights-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming-people

• Pope Francis spoke against society’s obsession with physical beauty while dedicating Mass to the disabled community (love that dude)
http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/06/13/disabled-people-must-not-be-hidden-away-says-pope-francis/

• An Afghan teacher has been delivering books via bicycle to villages that lack schools
https://momentummag.com/afghani-teacher-bikes-books-children-cant-go-school/

• Harriet Tubman is going to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/us/women-currency-treasury-harriet-tubman.html?_r=0

• 200 strangers attended the funeral of a homeless WW2 veteran with no family
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/06/10/this-wwii-homeless-veteran-had-no-family-so-200-strangers-showed-up-for-her-funeral/

• A teen battling cancer married his sweetheart
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/teen-battling-bone-cancer-marries-high-school-sweetheart/story?id=40955436

• Bank firm pays for college tuition for the children of employees who died in the 9/11 attacks
http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/11/banking-firm-has-paid-the-college-fees-for-the-children-of-workers-killed-on-911-5386495/

• Over 800 Boko Harem Hostages were rescued by Nigerian Army
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/25/boko-haram-hostages-rescued-nigerian-army

• Toys R Us is Offering Quiet Shopping Hour for kids with autism this holiday season
http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/toys-r-us-open-stores-quiet-hour-accommodate-kids-autism/

• Volunteers made special tiny Halloween costumes for NICU babies
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/10/27/these-tiny-babies-tiny-costumes-nicu-melt-your-heart/92824644/

• Leonardo Dicaprio won an Oscar. I’m sad because this gif is no longer relevant, but Leo got what he deserved!
http://oscar.go.com/news/oscar-news/leonardo-dicaprio-wins-his-first-oscar-for-best-actor

• Michael Jordan donates 2mil to try and help bridge connection between police and the community.
http://www.sbnation.com/2016/7/25/12273632/michael-jordan-police-shootings-donation-2-million

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Conversation and the sexes

Soraya Chemaly, a “feminist, writer, satirist, not necessarily in that order”, wrote recently in an article republished by the Huffington Post that every woman should learn the following ten words:

Stop interrupting me. I just said that. No explanation needed.

In her account, men interrupt women, they repeat what a woman has already said and hog the plaudits, and they explain things at length to women. Based on Johnson’s conversations with women on the topic, plus a stack of research, Ms Chemaly’s take is right. In particular, men interrupt and often “mansplain” (condescendingly explain) things to women.

“Mansplaining” was so named by Rebecca Solnit. She was telling an older man that she had written a book on a particular topic when he interrupted and started lecturing her about an important recent book on that same topic. Ms Solnit’s friend had to say—three times—“that’s her book” before the man realised his boorishness and retreated.

Ms Chemaly has a simple explanation for male overconfidence, which she sees as the root of the problem. Namely, the problem is

good old-fashioned sexism expressed in gendered socialisation and a default cultural preference for institutionalised male domination of public life.

But another (complementary) explanation is at hand. “Mansplaining”, before it was so named, was identified by Deborah Tannen in her 1990 book “You Just Don’t Understand”. Ms Tannen, a linguist at Georgetown University, described a dinner at which the female scholar to her left shared her research agenda, and the two happily discussed their work and their overlap. But when Ms Tannen turned to a male colleague and briefly mentioned her research he, not a linguist, began going on and on about his own work that touched on neurolinguistics. Leaving the conversation she realised that she had just played the embarrassing subordinate role in the scenarios where she was the expert.

But Ms Tannen says “the reason is not—as it seems to many women—that men are bums who seek to deny women authority.” Instead, she says, “the inequality of the treatment results not simply from the men’s behavior alone but from the differences in men’s and women’s styles.” (In everything that follows, “men do X” and “women do Y” should be read as on average, men tend somewhat more towards X and women towards Y, with great variation within both sexes.) In Ms Tannen’s schema, men talk to determine and achieve status. Women talk to determine and achieve connection. To use metaphors, for men life is a ladder and the better spots are up high. For women, life is a network, and the better spots have greater connections.

What evidence shows that male and female styles differ? Among the most compelling is a crucial piece left out of the “simple sexism” explanation: men mansplain to each other. Elizabeth Aries, another researcher, analysed 45 hours of conversation and found that men dominated mixed groups—but she also found competition and dominance in male-only groups. Men begin discussing fact-based topics, sizing each other up. Before long, a hierarchy is established: either those who have the most to contribute, or those who are simply better at dominating the conversation, are taking most of the turns. The men who dominate one group go on to dominate others, while women show more flexibility in their dominance patterns. The upshot is that a shy, retiring man can find himself endlessly on the receiving end of the same kinds of lectures that Ms Tannen, Ms Chemaly and Ms Solnit describe.

When men and women get together, the problem gets more systematic. Women may be competitive too, but some researchers (like Joyce Benenson) argue that women’s strategies favour disguising their tactics. And if Ms Tannen’s differing goals play even a partial role in the outcome, we would expect exactly the outcome we see. A man lays down a marker by mentioning something he knows, an opening bid in establishing his status. A woman acknowledges the man’s point, hoping that she will in turn be expected to share and a connection will be made. The man takes this as if it were offered by someone who thinks like him: a sign of submission to his higher status. And so on goes the mansplaining. This is not every man, every woman, every conversation, but it clearly happens a lot.

Any half-educated man will know that women have equal intelligence, greater abilities in some areas, and are now out-competing men in education in Western countries. But male-dominated societies have, unsurprisingly, rewarded typically male behaviour: alpha males, and women who “act like men”, and can bear being called “bossy” and “bitchy” for doing so. This is where much of the sexism lies: punishing women (and sometimes men) who act like the “wrong” gender.

When men and women get together, the problem gets more systematic. Women may be competitive too, but some researchers (like Joyce Benenson) argue that women’s strategies favour disguising their tactics. And if Ms Tannen’s differing goals play even a partial role in the outcome, we would expect exactly the outcome we see. A man lays down a marker by mentioning something he knows, an opening bid in establishing his status. A woman acknowledges the man’s point, hoping that she will in turn be expected to share and a connection will be made. The man takes this as if it were offered by someone who thinks like him: a sign of submission to his higher status. And so on goes the mansplaining. This is not every man, every woman, every conversation, but it clearly happens a lot.

Any half-educated man will know that women have equal intelligence, greater abilities in some areas, and are now out-competing men in education in Western countries. But male-dominated societies have, unsurprisingly, rewarded typically male behaviour: alpha males, and women who “act like men”, and can bear being called “bossy” and “bitchy” for doing so. This is where much of the sexism lies: punishing women (and sometimes men) who act like the “wrong” gender.

Ms Chemaly is right that not all the lessons should be aimed at getting women and girls to speak more like men. Both boys and girls should be taught that there are several purposes to talking with others. To exchange information, to achieve status and to achieve connection are goals of almost any conversation. If one party to a chat expects an equal exchange and the other is having a competition, things get asymmetrical—and frustrating.

So, boys and girls, if you have something to say, speak up—your partner may not necessarily hand you the opportunity. And if you find yourself having talked for a while, shut up and listen. Your partner isn’t necessarily thick: it could be the other person is waiting for you to show some skill by asking a question. There are plenty of intra-sex differences among boys and among girls, and enough to commend both approaches to conversation. So the best way to think of this is not the simple frame that women need to learn how to combat “old-fashioned sexism”. Rather, both sexes need to learn the old-fashioned art of conversation.
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