Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Subconscious Discrimination of Women

Do you think that the age of discrimination-against-women is over? Or do you think that women are still discriminated against? Either way, prepare to learn something new.

I caught this interview on TV and it was very enlightening. I tried to find it to share with you. I could only find the video. I personally, avoid clicking on videos because I don't have the patience for them (or sometimes the audio capacity). I know many others out there similarly prefer transcripts; and this interview was so good that I personally transcribed it for you. It's that good.
Starting at 22 minutes.

Charlie Rose of PBS is interviewing the Dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria

Charlie Rose: So on the question of women. Did you think Harvard was doing a good job, both in terms of women as professors, women as graduates and women participating in the academic life in the business school?

Nitin Nohria: We started admitting women at Harvard Business School  in 1963 and we took great comfort in the fact that each year, from the eight women who we admitted in the first class, we were admitting more women each year. And many of these women went on to have great careers. So we were satisfied. We looked at an increasing number of women. But when we looked harder at the numbers we realized that even though we were increasing the participation of women, not all of them were thriving at Harvard Business School. For example, every year we award graduating students Baker scholars. These are people who are honors first year and second year. This is the highest academic honor at Harvard Business School. We also gave people first year Honors and second year Honors. And we found that women were about half as represented, in these honors, as they should be by the percentage that we admitted. So for example when we had thirty percent of the women who were a part of the class only fifteen percent were getting honors. So that made us, at least pause and ask ourselves the question why. Why would it be the case that we believe we are admitting equally qualified women, we were not putting the thumb on the scale to admit women who were as qualified as men. So why would they not do as well at Harvard Business School?  It's hard to believe that women don't aspire to get honors at the same rate as men do. What we learned was that there was nothing deliberate that was going on in our classrooms. We found, for example, that some people suspected that maybe male professors were more hostile to women. And since we have class participation as fifty percent of the grade they were just undervaluing the comments that were made. But we learned that, no, women were as likely to under-perform in classes taught by women professors as by...

Charlie Rose:  So why were they underperforming in class participation?

Nitin Nohria: We learned that there were very subtle things. Women were a little more tentative sometimes, to get into classroom discussion. As a result they might not get called upon at the same rate as men. We learned that women's comments were not as likely to be remembered as men who spoke up. So I was far more likely,  If Charlie spoke, to say Charlie had a great comment. On the other hand if a woman spoke I might just ignore that comment and not give it as much attention.

Charlie Rose: But why?

Nitin Nohria: We've learned through lots and lots of research that's been done on gender that we are all socialized, all of us, both men and women. And it turns out that women are as likely to under-represent, undervalue, overlook, not pay as much attention to the comments of a woman who speaks as a man. But once you become conscious of that and this is all you have to do - we actually  made people be mindful of that. Once you become conscious of that you can correct yourself quite quickly. But you have to actually recognize that this is a bias we all have. And these forms of subtle bias. We think is actually getting in the way of women succeeding. Not just at Harvard Business School but at all organizations.

Charlie Rose: As you know, there's been a series of articles written. There was an article written about Harvard Business School as you well know. Did you think about this issue because people wrote articles about it? Or did you come to it on your own?

Nitin Nohria:  We came to it on our own because we just had to confront this data, which was data that I think that anybody who is committed to being a meritocracy - and suddenly, as I mentioned to you my own life story makes me deeply believe that I'm only sitting here because Harvard Business School was a meritocracy for me. So the fact that it could not be a meritocracy in the truest sense of the word for others was deeply disturbing to me and to many of my colleagues. We just started with that. We started with an inconvenient truth. And we said, "let's get to the bottom of it." And I have learned on this matter. The simplest lesson I learned was from a great legal theorist, Louis Brandeis, actually who once said, "Sunshine is the best disinfectant." And that's the policy that we adopted on this matter at Harvard Business School. We said, "We're going to bring everything that we know, full sunlight onto this issue. We'll let people discover and discuss any hypothesis that they have. We'll try to bring the best data and the best analysis to this topic." And that's what helped us. What helped us was to make this issue discussable, to try whatever experiment we could, to address the issues we saw. And, you know, in three years we were able to close the gap. So that was a pretty remarkable thing.

Charlie Rose: Silicon Valley has that problem, as you know.

Nitin Nohria: Yes, every organization has this problem. This is a problem in Wall Street. I would hazard to guess that it exists in your industry.

Charlie Rose: I'm sure it does in my industry.

Nitin Nohria:  This is not a problem that I think is just restricted to business schools. The advice I would have is just to do what we did. First look at data carefully and ask your own organization to say, "What is it about the microculture  of the organization?" Because it's not the big macroculture. I think we're past the days when anybody is deliberately and overtly trying to discriminate against women. This is a much more subtle thing.

Charlie Rose: See I do too. I'm fascinated by this. The notion. Because it's a much more subtle thing... We constantly ask ourselves, "Why are there more men than women as guests on this television program?" An important question. You really do have to say, "Are you doing everything in a pro-active way? Have you examined that in a proactive way?" Ask yourself how can you change.

Nitin Nohria:  It's interesting.  Correctly, Primarily, in America, we have an aversion to do things by legal fiat - a requirement of. In Europe for example, in Norway and in Finland and in some other parts of Europe, there has now been a mandate for a certain percentage of women to serve on corporate boards. When this mandate was first announced a lot of people said, "Where would we find the women? There just aren't enough women to serve on these boards."  But very rapidly the mandate forced them to look and lo and behold, there were actually plenty of qualified women who were being ignored or not looked at seriously. People could find to serve on these boards. And when they served on these boards, people found that they were plenty competent and plenty capable. I do think that we have to collectively realize that there have been many, many years in which the talents and achievements of women, not for but for subtle reasons, tend to be underestimated. Just a little bit.  And in a competitive world all it takes is to be underestimated by a little bit for discrimination to take hold. And that's what we found at Harvard Business School and we found ways to fix them. Like a simple thing: we now make sure there is an independent person who is a scribe in our classrooms who takes note of who said what. It just makes the faculty member, after the class, have an easier ability to recognize and make sure that women who made great comments aren't in any way being neglected or ignored. That one simple intervention.

Charlie Rose: ...I firmly believe that if you take an institution that is competing against another institution and one institution does not fully use all the skills and talents of women and the other does; the other is going to be better. And win. Win.

Nitin Nohria:  Absolutely. Because we are, in the end, a place whose success depends on attracting the very best people. So if you think about Harvard Business School is. Our very success depends on saying, "We are a place that should attract the very best people, men or women, whatever nationality. Whatever religion. And if they come to Harvard Business School, they must think that they can thrive at Harvard Business School. They must feel that they can be given an equal chance to succeed. If we can be an institution that can make that promise, then it will be easier for us to continue to attract the best people whether they are men or women. And in the long run that can make us competitive. We're doing this because we deeply believe that as an academic institution that is committed to excellence. This is a way for us to be better and to out-compete other organizations. I think this should be true of any organization.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My instinct was right

A new study shows that careful deliberation is better than going on instinct.

Generation X and Y

A response to Judith Price's editorial: "Young adults need to get more realistic".

This editorial is the last in a long line of articles I've read suggesting that generation x and y have an entitlement complex. I completely disagree and I'm speaking out.

Let me tell you about my generation. I grew up in an era in which we were sold pipe dreams about our future. College was a given; heck, Ivy League at that. We'd climb the corporate ladder. We'd enjoy the fruits of technology. But then we became adults. Many of us went to college and came out with exorbitant, suffocating loans. The grants available in the 70s are not the same grants available to my generation. In those days the maximum Pell grant covered 3/4 of college costs. Today the maximum award covers about a 1/3 of the cost. In recent years most of my friends just plain couldn't afford college and didn't even attend. (Many of them are better off than their debt strapped counterparts).

The price of my cheap little apartment in Lowell went from $350 in 1997 to $900 in 2000. Nearly a 300% increase in 3 years. My generation didn't benefit from the housing value wave that our baby boomer counterparts rode; a convenient source of income to tap into.

When I graduated with my RN last year the economy tanked. All the part time and retired nurses when back to work to supplement their family's income. The jobs for new grads are few and far between. After the grueling rigors of nursing school, I have yet to find a job.

As a result of these economic realities many of my friends have severely delayed childbearing. A costly decision for a generation to make. One that, perhaps, contributes to a sense of slow maturation.

That's the raw deal my generation got. How are we handling the hand we've been dealt?

I can't speak for everyone but I'll tell you a little about myself. My family lives in a small apartment. But we don't feel sorry for ourselves. We enjoy each other's company; a silver lining to the close quarters. No one misses every cute little thing my one year old does. Love abounds.
Our grocery budget is tight, but we're resourceful. I'm not too proud to cook a big pot of rice and beans; in fact, it's a favorite. We're also farming a quarter acre plot in Dracut this year.

Is my generation lazy? Tell that to my friends at the package handling job who faithfully work, bringing home only $100 a week. Tell that to my best friend, a single mom and VP of operations at a multi-million dollar corporation who works her butt off day in and day out.

Another theme I've read frequently in articles is about the lazy, selfish young adults who "won't leave the house". Certainly every situation is unique, but my when my kids grow up I welcome them to live with me, or at the very least, next door to me. I look forward to baby sitting my grand kids and being there for my adult children. And when my old, frail body fails me, I know that my kids will reciprocate, because we've always maintained that close family bond. I don't expect the government to pay for my final years as the older generations seem to.

So the next time you think of generation x and y, you should think: resilient. Not: entitled.


Brandon breakdancing when he was little

I just discovered this! It's really old!

And I have a video of Dimitri breakdancing at about the same age. I'll try to add that to the post later.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

TuPac is Alive

The CIA has hired someone to write interesting and sometimes hilarious tweets for them. Such as last year, when they said, "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet." On July 7th 2014, they tweeted "No, we do not know where Tupac is." The reason they wrote this was because, if Tupac were going to come back, that would have been the day. (Explanation for that is towards the bottom of the post.) Tupac, hiding out - still alive? Sounds like the pathetic hopes of desperate fans. But when I started researching the evidence I found it to be very convincing.

You have to be somewhat fanatical to actually research the details of the death, but if you follow him in the slightest, four things occurred over the years that left you scratching your head, thinking, "That's really odd. Could he be alive?" - which is why the general public has actually accepted it as a possible theory. The first incident was the release of the music video "I Ain't Mad at Cha"  days after his death, recreating his death and showing him in heaven.

The second peculiar thing was that, year after year, they kept releasing new albums from him. His voice is unmistakable. After a while it became difficult to believe that he had that many albums unreleased before his death.

The third head-scratching-event was the song "God Bless the Dead" which came out in November of 1998: two years after Tupac died and a year and a half after Notorious BIG died. In this song Tupac says "Rest in peace, my m*********** Biggie Smalls." Notorious BIG, Tupac's biggest rival, and hip-hop's greatest loss outside of Tupac, was originally named Biggie Smalls and everyone knew this. This statement was explained away by saying that Tupac had another friend named Biggie Smalls who had died a long time ago.

The fourth thing that fueled rumors of his being alive was his performance in 3-D hologram at the 2012 Coachella concert. Just watching it is mesmerizing, but from a purely analytic standpoint, technology isn't at the level yet of being to produce that from mere video footage. There has to be a stand-in actor to create it. Also he says "Coachella": meaning that to create that there had to be an identical look-alike and a voice-doppelganger.

Let's get to the nitty gritty.

Major evidence:

  • The height and weight on the coroner's report are not even close to accurate for Tupac. A family friend happened to do the autopsy and then promptly retired.
  • The picture of the autopsy is missing his most recent tattoo.
  • Tupac was reportedly doing well and about to be released from the hospital. The next day he died. The following day he was cremated (very unusual for an open murder investigation).
  • There were supposedly 1000 sightings of him in Haiti, called in to the police, in the days following his death.

Possible motives:
  • Evade impending jail sentence
  • Evade death. In his thug-life code the first rule he wrote was, "All new Jacks to the game must know: a) He's going to get rich. b) He's going to jail. c)He's going to die." Tupac was smart. He knew he wasn't invincible. He had already been shot five times. 
  • Make a splash by coming back
  • Outwit his enemies as Machiavelli advised in the book The Art of War
  • But most of all, he was tired. His mother explained in this video: "He was tired of fighting, tired of being vilified, tired of being called things that he knew inside himself he was unable to be..."

Was it plausible?

  • This, to me, is what convinced me that he is alive: because they had the means to pull it off. Tupac's entire family was heavily rooted in the Black Panther party. In November of 1979, Tupac's aunt, Assata Shakur, was busted from the prison in which she was serving a life-sentence.  Despite being one of the FBI's most wanted, she was never caught and in 1984 she was granted asylum by Cuba, where she still lives today. If they could do that, then, yes, with all his money and connections, Tupac could too. If he is alive, it is assumed that he is in Cuba.

Then there's this...
  • If you rearrange the letters of the title of the album released days after his death it says: "OK on tha 7th u think I'm dead, yet I'm really alive" .
  • His memorial services were canceled without explanation.
  • He always wore a bulletproof vest... except that evening.
  • He asked his body guard to go in a different car that night.
  • He was shot 4 times but the person sitting next to him was "grazed once".
  • The album that was released a few weeks after his death did not anywhere say, "RIP Tupac Shakur  1971-1996."  It did, however say, "Exit 2Pac. Enter Makaveli." He chose this name based on the 16th Century philosopher and war strategist, Machiavelli, who advocated staging ones death to evade one's enemies.
  • The cover of that album was Tupac on a cross.
  • The music video in that album, "Hail Mary" features a cracked gravestone that says "Makaveli" and there was a hole in front of it. 
  • In 1997 Tupac raps alongside Scarface in a video, featuring him crucified, falling and then getting up. 
  • There are innumerable quotes from Tupac of him rapping about his death and/or resurrection. Like, "I've been shot and murdered", "But I'm back reincarnated", "Fans can't understand my ghetto slang, so I evade and plot and plan a life of better things", "I heard rumors that I died, murdered in cold blood, truamatized pictures of me in my final state. You know mamma cried. But that was fiction. Some coward got the story twisted.", "evade the cops cuz I know they coming for me. I been hesitant to reappear, been away for years", "brother getting shot, coming back resurrected".

Why return July 7, 2014?
Tupac was really into numerology. Seven was his number. In my opinion there is a good chance Tupac is alive. If I had to put a number on it I would say a 77% chance. 
That said, there is barely any chance of him coming back. Because if he were going to, last Monday would have been the day. The number of that date was 7-7-7 (2+0+1+4). Tupac was into numerology and he has left an enormous amount of hints of the importance of the number seven. Also, Makaveli, the identity he took on the album immediately succeeding his death, was a character who faked his own death and came back at the age of 43, which is the age that Tupac was on that date. Also 4+3=7.

The main argument I had against his death being faked was that he had too much to say. He was too much of a civil rights leader to be silenced! As I wrote this blog post I found that those beliefs of mine only gave credence to the faked death theory. It struck me as I typed what his mother said, "He was tired of being called things that he knew inside himself he was unable to be." 

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