"Happy" Women's Equality Day

Aug 26 2014 Published by under Feminist Musings

94 years ago, the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote. Our fore-mothers fought for this right, believing that without political power any other rights could be denied. They also believed that with political voices we could achieve true equality.

Their belief in the vote sustained them through public humiliation, beatings, starvation, jail, forced feedings, and a number of other indignities.

Despite the passage of nearly a century, women still have not achieved full equality. We make less than 80% of our male counterparts in similar jobs. We are underrepresented in the best -paid careers, and even when we enter those fields we are marginalized. Corporate boards, congress, and other decision-making bodies rarely demonstrate gender equality, despite the evidence that more women in those positions increases profits and other measures of efficacy.

Today we see rights we thought were won under attack. It's time we used that vote, the political voice our ancestors fought for. Learn the issues and make your choices. Run for office, or at least support those you like in whatever way you can.

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"Happy" Women's Equality Day

Aug 26 2014 Published by under Feminist Musings

94 years ago, the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote. Our fore-mothers fought for this right, believing that without political power any other rights could be denied. They also believed that with political voices we could achieve true equality.

Their belief in the vote sustained them through public humiliation, beatings, starvation, jail, forced feedings, and a number of other indignities.

Despite the passage of nearly a century, women still have not achieved full equality. We make less than 80% of our male counterparts in similar jobs. We are underrepresented in the best -paid careers, and even when we enter those fields we are marginalized. Corporate boards, congress, and other decision-making bodies rarely demonstrate gender equality, despite the evidence that more women in those positions increases profits and other measures of efficacy.

Today we see rights we thought were won under attack. It's time we used that vote, the political voice our ancestors fought for. Learn the issues and make your choices. Run for office, or at least support those you like in whatever way you can.

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Getting the Floor

Jun 19 2014 Published by under [Information&Communication]

Daenerys-Targaryen-game-of-thrones-23107710-1600-1200Women often have trouble getting our voices heard in meetings. Our attempts to speak can be thwarted in a number of ways, and if we interrupt the way men do we are aggressive bitches. I cannot embed the video, but you can click over and watch my new solution:

Targaryen-Style

Of course, we tend to frown on bloodshed in the twenty-first century. For more practical advice, I recommend this post in Inc.  with eleven suggestions for being heard. Not as dramatic as Daenerys Stormborn. Perhaps not as effective.

But infinity more acceptable outside of Westeros.

Because we all cannot be Mothers of Dragons.

 

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Half-a-Century of Discovery

May 22 2014 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

Today I posted over at Academic Women for Equality Now (awenow.org), another website and blog I run. The topic was Nancy Hopkins' amazing baccalaureate address at Boston University in which she proclaims unconscious bias as one of the most important discoveries of the past 50 years.

Click on over for a quick summary and a link to the full text of her speech; I suspect it will resonate with most of my readers.

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Mean Girls

May 16 2014 Published by under Feminist Musings

When LL was an actress, not a punchline...

 

The Queen Bee phenomenon can be quite distressing for women who aspire to leadership roles. This term describes a woman who achieves and then believes that having other women achieve will diminish her own achievements. Queen Bees tend to ascribe their own success to a lack of "girliness" and suggest that all women could achieve at the same level if they just followed her example. For a review of this behavior and some research on it, click here.

Mean Girls ostracize women who fail to fit in. In the 2004 movie, the top clique demeaned those who marched to a different drummer, failing to aspire to their standards. You simply can't have that; if anyone can set their own goals, how will those at the top of the pecking order continue to win?

In this month's issue of Journal of Women's Health (23 (5):365-7, 2014), Janet Bickel discusses some of the reasons women may hamper other women. Many factors enter into this behavior, including the lack of open competition in many girls' activities. Our female children have traditionally been funneled into activities without winners; instead of beating someone, they turn their aggression and ambition into gossip and other mental bullying.

It will be interesting to see if this behavior changes over time; more girls have been in competitive sports now, and even dance and cheer have become events with winners.

Another difficulty many women face is the overlap between their work relationships and friendships. Social relationships are often expected to trump "chain of command" relationships, even in work situations. This can be especially a problem between female physicians and nurses, as discussed in the article.

This piece gives us more to think about than immediate solutions, but studies on these phenomena are few and far between. Lucky for us, the article is open access, so you have no excuse not to click the link above (or here) and think. In the meantime, we should all keep these words from Madeleine Albright in mind:

“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

 

 

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Yes, It Matters

Jan 31 2014 Published by under Feminist Musings

Vacation planning can brighten up an otherwise tedious period of time when the weather is less than ideal and work is, well, work. The other day a hotel site greeted me with the following choices for my title:

Required field, no less

Required field, no less

This web site insisted that I pick a title, either Mr (which is inappropriate for my gender identity), or a female title that immediately tells them my marital status. I declined and ended up booking the same hotel through another site.

Most web sites will let me opt out of a title. Some insist on it, but provide appropriate options like Ms. I can also choose Dr. at many sites, one that is completely appropriate as well. Some sites go a little crazy, including everything you can imagine: Honorable, Reverend, Sir, Dame, Marchioness, and every military rank ever.

Now, if someone calls me Mrs. Lane in real life, I don't get snitty. I just answer*. I do use my married name personally and professionally, and there is no sense being rude to people. When a web site asks for my personal information so they can contact me, they better give me an option I like, including the option to not identify a title. After all, why do they need to know my gender and marital status to book my hotel room?

I used to ignore such things, but over time I have realized that labels can be quite important. I have learned that ignoring such things means they never change. In the 21st century, why should a woman's identification include her marital status?

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*Unless they call me Mrs. James Lane. Then they will get politely corrected.

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I

Jun 20 2013 Published by under [Information&Communication], Uncategorized

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Over at my other place, Academic Women for Equality Now, I have been creating female leadership gradecards for US medical colleges. Generating a report that contains all of these documents produces a large file, one that crushes the capabilities of most WordPress sites. Two years ago I got creative and found a bunch of work-arounds.

This year I put the whole thing on Figshare, a wonderful data-sharing site that I learned about at Science Online 2013. As shown in the figure, I can post a variety of formats there with a bunch of meta-data. Others can download, comment, and share what I have posted. They even provide a citation format and export capabilities to a number of reference management programs.

Figshare data can now be embedded on another site, like this blog!

Now those of you who just cannot be bothered to click a few links can get this report right here! Feel free to share this report with anyone who will listen (that's sort of the point); just give me some credit and use this citation:

Women Leaders in Academic Medicine 2013. Pascale Lane. figshare.
http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.658941

Retrieved 15:14, Jun 20, 2013 (GMT)

 

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Not the NRA

May 05 2013 Published by under Women as leaders

WESHLogo

My weekend in Houston may be occurring at the same time as the NRA convention, but my group could not be more different. WESH, or Women Executives in Science and Healthcare, dedicates its efforts to changing the face of the biomedical health enterprise. Our group consists of leaders and aspiring leaders; while we grew out of academia, we have expanded out membership to hospital and medical management, biotech and other business enterprises, and other related field. Our annual spring summit this year addressed Women Leading to Succeed: New Frontiers in Medicine and Science. You can see the entire program through the link.

The Honorable Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston, keynoted the summit on Saturday morning. Her talk showed a room of female leaders that we all face common barriers in our lives. Over the next 1½ days a variety of women discussed novel careers in and out of the Ivory Tower. Others addressed challenges facing healthcare and the biomedical research enterprise, including monetary and political barriers.

I always feel energized by this meeting. I love interacting with other women who have pursued leadership roles in their fields. I sometimes feel isolated at my own institution. WESH provides a strong network of like-minded women.

I would encourage anyone with a leadership role in science and healthcare to consider joining WESH. Women who aspire to leadership roles can also benefit from the group. In addition to reduced registration for the summit, membership includes several publications and access to a closed forum where issues can be discussed in privacy.

Whether you call it a glass ceiling, unconscious bias, or just bullshit, there is still a gender gap in pay and promotion, both in the academic health center and in other biomedical and scientific enterprises. Breaking barriers individually can be difficult; with a group the work is hard, but a lot more satisfying.

I will Storify my pearls of wisdom from the event in another day or two. Stay tuned.

Monday, 6 May 2013: Here is the link to the Storify: http://storify.com/PHLane/wesh-2013-spring-summit/

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What I Am Reading: Lean In

Mar 26 2013 Published by under What I'm Reading, Women as leaders

I finally crawled out from under a rock (also known as the inpatient service) and heard everyone talking about Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, I first encountered negative reviews, but then found some raving about the book. That left only one logical course of action: download and read!

Click for link on Amazon

First, some agreement with the naysayers. Sheryl Sandberg, a highly educated C-suite officer for Facebook, speaks from a position of incredible privilege. She has connections and a lifestyle of which most of us can only dream. The story about finding her daughter's head lice on a company jet was not exactly the situation most of us face with the pesky pests. Her advice to lean in to our careers must read like a weird fantasy to the average employed woman, someone worried about paying rent rather than achieving loftier goals. Her view is very first-world-centric as well; for the most part, the women to which she writes have basic human rights raising them above the level of property. She notes this early in the book:

But knowing that things could be worse should not stop us from trying to make them better. When the suffragettes marched in the streets, they envisioned a world where men and women would be truly equal. A century later, we are still squinting, trying to bring that vision into focus.

Sandberg, Sheryl (2013-03-11). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (p. 5). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Now that I have acknowledged that issue, we can move on to why I loved this book. I see so many women leaning back rather than into their work, giving up on goals before they have to make a choice. Sandberg describes the same situation, including discussions about raising a family with a woman who does not have a life partner nor is ready to reproduce! Those of us who have made it to senior ranks with spouse and children often get into this conversation.

Chapter 5 particularly hit home, entitled "Are You My Mentor?" Someone decided mentorship was the missing key to success for women, but many women seem to be in an ongoing quest for this person:

...searching for a mentor has become the professional equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming. We all grew up on the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” which instructs young women that if they just wait for their prince to arrive, they will be kissed and whisked away on a white horse to live happily ever after. Now young women are told that if they can just find the right mentor, they will be pushed up the ladder and whisked away to the corner office to live happily ever after. Once again, we are teaching women to be too dependent on others.

Sandberg, Sheryl (2013-03-11). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (p. 66). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

There are those who argue that we must abolish institutional barriers that hold all women back, things like unequal pay and societal sexism. Others argue that breaking down the glass ceiling will promote those changes. Why not do both?

Sandberg hopes to inspire another wave of feminism to combat inequality. LeanIn.org encourages women to form LeanIn Circles:

We often achieve more in groups than we do as individuals. Lean In Circles put this idea into practice.

Circles are small groups that meet regularly to share and learn together—like a book club focused on helping members achieve their goals. Lean In provides an online space that makes it easy for your Circle to get organized and stay connected.

Your Circle is yours. We encourage you to decide what works for your group. If you prefer structure, our Circle Kits include everything you need to run a successful Circle. You can also find the right people and figure out things as you go.'

A variety of tools on the site will help small groups come together to discuss equality. As we learn together and talk, we can bridge some of what divides us.

Let's all lean in to all aspects of our lives.

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What I Am Reading: Yes, Another Historical Mystery

Mar 11 2013 Published by under What I'm Reading

Amazon knows me well. The Midwife's Tale popped up in my suggestions last week on a day of  particular ennui as I looked for a diversion. Thanks to one-click ordering and my iPad, the book was being consumed in about 1 minute.

Click to Amazon

As you might guess, the tale features a twice-widowed midwife, Lady Bridget Hodgson, who lives in York during the English Civil War. When a friend is sentenced to burn for killing her own husband (treason against the natural order!), Bridget investigates the murder; finding the real killer is the only way to overturn the conviction. Of course, she has to do this task in between deliveries while being female. Bridget's two marriages have left her wealthy, and a midwife learns a lot about people as she goes about the town of York. Elite men within the city, both those loyal to King Charles and those who favor Cromwell, give her more time and counsel than they might with other women. She could be useful.

I figured out the killer about the same time as Lady Hodgson and her collaborators, a club-footed nephew with a sword in his cane and her new maid who can pick a lock in nothing flat. The clues were scattered in the text, but so were red herrings that kept me guessing, even though the conclusion was completely plausible. I consider this the sign of a great mystery plot.

My favorite part actually came after the text in the author's note:

This book has its origin in the serendipitous discovery of a will written in 1683, for it was there I first met a York midwife named Bridget Hodgson, who provided a model for the fictional midwife in The Midwife’s Tale. These two Bridget Hodgsons have much in common: they were both wealthy gentlewomen; both lived in the parish of St. Helen’s, Stonegate; and both practiced midwifery. What attracted me to Bridget in the first place was that in her will, she defined herself by her profession, “midwife,” rather than her martial status, “widow.” I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of wills, and she is the only woman I found who did this. The historical Bridget also seems to have had a strength of character not often visible in the historical record, as she named her daughter and at least four of her godchildren after herself (Bridget Swain, Bridget Ascough, Bridget Morris, Bridget Wilberfoss).

Thomas, Samuel (2013-01-08). The Midwife's Tale: A Mystery (Kindle Locations 4261-4268). Minotaur Books. Kindle Edition.

Given the quality of this debut novel, I sincerely hope Samuel Thomas brings us more, with or without Lady Hodgson. If you like historical mysteries and strong women who prevail against the attitudes of their eras, this book will delight you.

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