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Opinion Editorials

Confronting the pay gap through strangers comparing notes

(EDITORIAL) Pay gap is sometimes a hard concept to grasp until you get a representative from each side to compare notes.

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Pay gap

“Women earn 82 cents to a man’s dollar in the U.S.” Thus opens Glamour’s series of videos on the pay gap. The three-part series focuses on the salary gap between men and women, but also touches on the disparities between Caucasians and people of color and minorities.

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The factors that affect pay are wide-ranging and often unpredictable, but the fact remains that, statistically, women are paid less than men are. And as one of the women in featured in Glamour’s video series notes, many of these factors are also governed by systemic inequalities, just like the pay gap.

Other factors

“There might be disparities in terms of education, and I think there are financial issues. Maybe they can’t afford to go a very expensive private school, for example,” she says. Or they can’t afford to take low paying or unpaid internships to gain experience, or they can’t afford a vehicle to commute to an area with more opportunities . . . the list goes on.

Glamour’s videos aim to shed some light on how this gap affects real people.

Each video features a pair of people, one man and one woman, who are employed in a similar role, at a similar level. Though the pairings vary, one thing remains constant: the men are all surprised by either the salary gap, or the general, ongoing struggle of being a woman in the workforce.

Side by side

When two graphic designers reveal their salaries to each other, we learn that the woman (Kelli) is paid about $41,000, while the man (Eric) earns about $62,000. Discussing the pay gap after ‘the big reveal,’ Eric admits, “As a man, you just kind of go your day to day without thinking about it.” But after having an open conversation with someone directly affected by the inequality, he says, “it makes it feel more urgent, more real.”

In another video, two sales executives (Simi and Tony) have an open conversation about the influence of race and gender on salary.

“There’s a huge wage gap between men and women, but there’s also a wage gap between white women and women of color, and that’s a conversation that doesn’t get brought up a lot,” says Simi, a black woman. She notes that wearing her hair in different styles (flat ironed, afro, braids) has earned her totally different reactions in interviews, and discusses diversity in the workplace: “I’m the only black female on my team in North America. And that’s pretty normal for me, throughout my career.”

‘The big reveal’ turned into a twist ending, where Simi was out-earning Tony by $20,000. However, Tony acknowledged that his “biggest takeaway [from their conversation]is there are so many things I don’t have to think about, it’s crazy.”

He cited a “mental burden” that, as a white male, he has never had to carry.

In a pairing of two digital strategists, the conversation turned toward the effect of raising a family on job opportunities and salary.

Rose noted that in many interviews, she was asked about her children, and her ability to balance her work with her family. “I was actually once told, ‘Well, maybe you shouldn’t be working right now.’” Danilo confessed that his family had never been discussed in an interview.

After ‘the big reveal,’ Rose explained that her much lower salary ($70,000, compared to Danilo’s $114,000) reflected the time off she took after having her second son: “Years ago I did make more than this, but again, because I took those couple years off . . . it’s almost like you have to start over.” And she struggled with her emotions after the large gap was revealed: “I feel like it’s a reflection of me. But it’s not, it’s not.”

Kelli, the aforementioned graphic designer, expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s hard to feel like you deserve something,” she said.

“As a woman, there’s this imposter syndrome that you have going into a career, where you feel like . . . what am I doing here?”

And Simi spoke frankly about the way women approach salary negotiation: “Negotiation is a skill. Women aren’t as comfortable bragging about themselves, putting themselves on a pedestal, or even being aggressive, in general, and it’s something you need to do if you want to get what you want.”

#PayGap

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Opinion Editorials

3 things to do if you *really* want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce.

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More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

(This article was first published here in November, 2016.)

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Opinion Editorials

Serial procrastinator? Your issue isn’t time management

(EDITORIAL) Need a hack for your time management? Try focusing on your energy management.

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Your author has a confession to make; as a “type B” personality who has always struggled with procrastination, I am endlessly fascinated by the topic of productivity and “hacking your time.”

I’ve tried most of the tricks you’ve read about, with varying degrees of success.

Recently, publishers like BBC have begun to approach productivity from a different perspective; rather than packing days full of to-do items as a way to maximize time, the key is to maximize your mental energy through a different brand of time management.

So, why doesn’t time management work?

For starters, not all work time is quality time by nature. According to a study published at ScienceDirect, your average worker is interrupted 87 times a day on the job. For an 8-hour day, that’s almost 11 times per hour. No wonder it’s so hard to stay focused!

Second, time management implies a need to fill time in order to maximize it.

It’s the difference between “being busy” and “being productive.”

It also doesn’t impress your boss; a Boston University study concluded that “managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to.” By contrast, managing your energy lets you maximize your time based on how it fits with your mental state.

Now, how do you manage your energy?

First, understand and protect the time that should actually go into deep, focused work. Studies continually show that just a few hours of focused worked yield the greatest results; try to put in longer hours behind that, and you’ll see diminishing returns. There’s a couple ways you can accomplish this.

You can block off time in your day dedicated to focused work, and guard the time as if it were a meeting. You could also physically retreat to a private space in order to work on a task.

Building in flexibility is another key to managing your energy. The BBC article references a 1980s study that divided students into two groups; one group planned out monthly goals, while the other group planned out daily goals and activities. The study found the monthly planners accomplished more of their goals, because the students focusing on detailed daily plans often found them foiled by the unexpected.

Moral of the story?

Don’t lock in your schedule too tightly; leave space for the unexpected.

Finally, you should consider making time for rest, a fact reiterated often by the BBC article. You’ve probably heard the advice before that taking 17 minute breaks for every 52 minutes worked is important, and studies continue to show that it is. However, rest also includes taking the time to turn your brain off of work mode entirely.

The BBC article quotes associated professor of psychiatry Srini Pillay as saying that, “[people] need to use both the focus ad unfocus circuits in the brain,” in order to be fully productive. High achievers like Serena Williams, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates build this into their mentality and their practice.

Embracing rest and unfocused thinking may be key to “embracing the slumps,” as the BBC article puts it.

In conclusion, by leaving some flexibility in your schedule and listening to your body and mind, you can better tailor your day to your mental state and match your brainpower to the appropriate task. As someone who is tempted to keep a busy to-do list myself, I am excited to reevaluate and improve my own approach. Maybe you should revisit your own systems as well.

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Opinion Editorials

How the Bullet Journal method has been hijacked and twisted

(EDITORIAL) I’m a big fan of the Bullet Journal method, but sticker-loving tweens have hijacked the movement. Worry not, I’m still using black and white bullet points with work tasks (not “pet cat,” or “smile more”).

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It’s taken me some time to come around to the Bullet Journal method, because it took me some time to fully understand it (I have a tendency to overthink simplicity). Now that I understand the use, I find it very beneficial for my life and my appreciation for pen-to-paper.

In short, it’s a quick and simple system for organization tasks and staying focused with everything you have going on. All you need to employ this method is a journal with graph or dotted paper, and a pen. Easy.

However, there seems to be this odd truth that: we find ways to simplify complicated things, and we find ways to complicate simple things. The latter is exactly what’s happened with the Bullet Journal method, thanks to creative people who show the rest of us up.

To understand what I’m talking about, open up Instagram (or Pinterest, or even Google) and just search “bullet journal.” You’ll soon find post after post of frilly, sticker-filled, calligraphy-laden journal pages.

The simple method of writing down bullets of tasks has been hijacked to become a competitive art form.

Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at this stuff because I dig the creativity. But, do I have time to do that myself? No! For honesty’s sake, I’ve tried just for fun and it takes too much damn time.

With this is mind, this new-found method of Bullet Journaling as an art is something that: a) defeats the purpose of accomplishing tasks quickly as you’re setting yourself back with the nifty art, and b) entrepreneurs, freelancers, executives, or anyone busy would not have time for.

Most of these people posting artistic Bullet Journal pages on Instagram are younger and have more time on their hands (and if you want to spend your time doing that, do you, man).

But, it goes against the simplistic method of Bullet Journaling. The intent of the method.

And, beneath the washi tape, stickers, and different colored pens, usually lies a list of: put away laundry, feed cat, post on Insta. So, this is being done more for the sake of art than for employing the method.

Again, I’m all for art and for people following their passions and creativities, but it stands to reason that this should be something separate from the concept of Bullet Journaling, as it has become a caricature of the original method.

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