Monday, July 31, 2017

To discuss in a mentoring session

A good mentoring session can take the conversation past the immediate concerns and move it into longer term goals and awareness.

Topics to raise:

  • "Ins and Outs" of industries or organizations that might be worth exploring for networking or partnership reasons
  • Locating other folks in other industries or organizations with whom you could have a tea and build your community
  • ‘Safe places’ to explore a dream or plan - with mapping a direct path being secondary to discussing fit and purpose
  • Sharing guidance, advice and encouragement (and the occasional smack to the head as I required this week - thanks Terri!) for career, balancing work and personal, being a woman in the work force, etc.
  • Practice “soft/communication skills” - listening, questioning, offering feedback, introductions, etc.
  • Turn the tables and discuss a mentor's current challenge
  • Research and how it might affect our work -  Edelmans Trust Barometer report, a Gartner report etc... or even a book "Getting to Yes" or "Break Your Own Rules"

Monday, July 24, 2017

Providing a context

The management of most things is about providing a context - a report, a framework, principles, etc.

We need context or we will fill that void with our own stories. The "why" of decisions and the "how" of integrating the decision (or its consequence) is management.

That makes looking at change - personal or project - simpler. Sometimes the 'what' - the change itself - is out of our control. A context may not have us like it /agree with it any more than we already do but it will help us understand and accept / incorporate / act on it.

  • If a parent changes a curfew, the teen is liable to make up their own reasons for the new requirement unless the context for the decision is shared.
  • If a budget total seems inconsistent month to month, a report provides context for the variance.
  • If new technology impacts a job, the principles its application will support adoption.

With context, a conversation can be held.

To manage, don't withhold context. To mentor, show how to create context by offering frameworks yourself.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Do you have these problems?

The news is carrying something like these articles every week... sometimes every day.
There is a problem, Houston....

In Canada, women earn 87 cents on the dollar - up 10 cents since 1981.

Sexual harassment is alive and well in North America.

Technology is still not friendly to all women.

These are not one-off occurrences. These situations may not be your personal situation but that doesn't mean they are not happening. 

We do not need to agree on the issues. We need to support each other's voices for the battles we choose to fight. How are you helping women get their voices heard?

reposting: Tech & Science jobs & women

It's a debate that comes up a lot. The papers often say that jobs are still opening in the technology sector(s), the counselors are telling the teens to look at technology; the recruiters tell us there is a 'war for talent' and yet many remain unconvinced.

While I believe there is space for women in the IT sector and that just about everyone should do one turn of some sort in a technology area to really look at what's underpinning most industries, there are some interesting arguments around pay, gender and what even defines true technology.

posting by Philip Greenspun (whose blog is up-to-date but this posting is one of his older ones) looks at the financial implications of seeking jobs in mathematics or scientific fields - more on the academic and research (R&D) side but still interesting. He examines a "fourth possible explanation for the dearth of women in science: They found better jobs." Greenspun then goes on to examine how a career in R&D math/science tracks against other choices.

"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it." -- Albert Einstein

Toss into the mix the current saying that one should follow one's passion and the money will come. What if the field doesn't have the money? Pure arts, pure mathematics... As a mentor, do you counsel folks to follow their heart or their wallets? Are we forced to choose between the two? 

Daniel Pink and Richard Florida both write about how money cannot be the prime motivating factor for any knowledge worker. While we need to feed and shelter ourselves (and our families), not all the reward can come from the paycheque itself.

So - are careers primarily a matter of being very practical or a path with chosen meaning?

I think steps/jobs along the way of a chosen path should be done with your head -  but the overall career/direction should come from your desires and dreams. (Which means that a side journey or deliberate path through technology can still fit a plan)

Monday, July 10, 2017

What are "women-only" issues in the workplace?

For most issues folks name, someone will say "But that also applies to..." and they're often correct:
  • Sexual harassment (yes, it still happens)
  • Glass ceiling
  • Not being listened to
  • Tokenism
  • Single parent balancing act
  • Pay equity
  • Lack of visible role models at senior levels. etc.
Some days it appears the only women's issue is:

  • Considered a bitch if acting forcefully

While the issues may not only apply to women, it's certainly women who carry the larger burden of them. Discussions around these ongoing struggles need to acknowledge that women most often bear the cost/ suffer the consequences. However, that doesn't mean potential solutions should only be available to women.

Women's issues are not just gender-based issues.; women's issues in the workplace can cross many diversity lines. So any good ideas that help women should be open to everyone. Why not start with women though? Why not use women as the pilot/ test group for solutions which can, if successful, be made available to everyone? This would allow the workplace to acknowledge the largest working group they have, the issues and then share the success.

Wouldn't it be terrific if women could sponsor solutions for everyone such as flexible work hours, career coaching, daycare options and mentoring groups? Build a place where women love to work and everyone might enjoy working there.