why women need other women

Lately, I’ve put a lot of thought into my love and appreciation for the other women around me. I’ve come to a conclusion. There is something beautiful and magical about having another woman to talk to.

I am not one to espouse women’s solidarity against the metaphorical man; in university I even refused to join the clubs and organizations that were specifically for women. My stomach would churn when I heard a woman I previously respected in engineering or in the sciences talk about how it was ok to feel intimidated by the men around you, it was ok to feel awkward, it was ok to be stared at and it was ok because we women would get through it together. The need for this kind of comraderie was absent from my experience. Since elementary school, my best friends had always been boys. I’d long since become one of the guys and did not feel intimidated or awkward when the boys excluded me or poked fun, I did what any good boy would do and dished it right back out.

For years, I saught to make the personality that would make me fit in with the boys around me and for quite some time it worked. Until I realized that I was incapable of communicating to my friends, collegues, romantic partners and everyone that the one true thing I really needed was to be a woman. To those around me I was not a woman, I was this other word we use to describe women who are not womanly; I was a bitch.

Let’s talk about this word bitch. Continue reading

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working harder

My husband and I both struggle on a daily basis. We struggle with a tendency towards laziness. We’d both rather watch tv and play games and read books or blogs than do anything else. (Doesn’t everyone?)  So why is it a struggle to focus on work?

We both grew up in houses where our parents worked to provide enough money for our comforts, We were fed, we had good lives, but none of our parents enjoyed their lives (their whole lives). They went to work just because they had to do it, there was no joy in working, there was no joy in things getting done. Our parents came home from their duty and started enjoying family and watching tv. Even though we knew what they did and they weren’t necessarily unhappy, it also didn’t make them happy or fill them with passion. Don’t get me wrong, I (and he) were instilled with values of duty and excellence and general succesful life tactics but I’m beginning to suspect that none of that matters as much as the fact that we were at the same time being subconsciously taught that work can never be fun.

I want to enjoy my whole life. I want to be entrepreneurial. I want to follow my passion. I want work to be fun. Now that I know that’s the problem, I’m posting this because it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to believe it every day and reprogram myself (and my husband) to think that way. Here goes.

Hurdles to Education

In today’s New York Times, Andrew Hacker, the author of a book that has long been on my “to read” list: Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It wrote that in his opinion Algebra isn’t necessary for all students.  I really must agree.

As 21st century leaders and students we must ask ourselves whether the conventional wisdom of the mid-20th century applies to us.  Algebra is quite necessary for building of 21st century technology and solutions in programming, economics, engineering or research science – but is it necessary that everyone knows how to build these technologies?  I’m not talking about opportunity to learn – everyone should have the opportunity to take all classes – but as every student does not have the same skillset let alone the same interest, should every student be forced into the same math requirements?  And if so what should those requirements be?

Hacker brings up an alternative to the traditional algebra-geometry-trigonometry-calculus path that all high school graduates must make it at least halfway through before receiving a diploma:

Thus mathematics teachers at every level could create exciting courses in what I call “citizen statistics.” This would not be a backdoor version of algebra, as in the Advanced Placement syllabus. Nor would it focus on equations used by scholars when they write for one another. Instead, it would familiarize students with the kinds of numbers that describe and delineate our personal and public lives.

We as citizenry must decide how much information an individual can be required to learn before they can be a responsible citizen.  Currently, we blindly push everyone toward the same STEM career path without regard for their own skillset or the changing market dynamics that may require intellectual development in non-math fields.  Does this 20th century model really work?

Push

Every thing in my life that is worth doing I have needed someone to help push me along.  Whether it’s hesitation in the beginning because I don’t think I’m qualified to apply to school, waning faith in the middle of working that I understood the question clearly enough to develop a solution, or frustration during the all-nighter before it’s all due I always find myself needing a push.

I think that’s the way it is supposed to be.  We are social creatures after all.

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Things that Matter

Well, in our society, we have things that you might use your intelligence on, like politics, but people really can’t get involved in them in a very serious way — so what they do is they put their minds into other things, such as sports. You’re trained to be obedient; you don’t have an interesting job; there’s no work around for you that’s creative; in the cultural environment you’re a passive observer of usually pretty tawdry stuff; political and social life are out of your range, they’re in the hands of the rich folks. So what’s left? Well, one thing that’s left is sports — so you put a lot of the intelligence and the thought and the self-confidence into that. And I suppose that’s also on of the basic functions it serves in the society in general: it occupies the population and keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter.

– Noam Chomsky

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