Saturday, December 31, 2011

SWG Coffee Social: Thanks For A Great 2011

The problem with round-up and thank you posts is that it is too easy to forget someone.  For example the inspiration for my post SWG Coffee Social: The Weekly Roundup Post was Classy Career Girl and her Monday Motivation: Your Weekly Career Links.  Every Monday Anna posts a collection of career related links she's discovered around the web. They are the perfect way to start my week.  When her weekly post appeared in my reader the Monday following my roundup post, I realized I had forgotten her. I would now like to give a big thank you to Classy Career Girl for providing me with a little motivation each week.
I also want to point out Classy Career Girl's post 2012 Countdown where she lists her 2011 accomplishments. Many of the items Anna listed are good examples of things you should do if you would like to turn your blog into a business.

I would also like to thank:

- Webb From the Garden Bench my most frequent commenter.  Just when I begin to think my latest post is the biggest dud ever, along comes Webb with a fantastic comment adding new perspective, information and insight to my post. She is also there to offer support and advice when I need it.  Thank you Webb, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. 

- A big Thank You to every one of you who commented on my blog this year, my blog would not be the same without you.

- Grace of GRACEful Retirement for including my blog on her blogroll.  Nicole and Maggie mentioned in the comments on SWG Coffee Social: The Weekly Roundup Post that they get to my blog via Grace's blogroll. I have since reviewed my stats and realized more readers come to my blog via Grace’s blog roll than any other source. Thank you Grace for including me and improving my blog's traffic.

- Thanks to all the other bloggers who have added me to your blogroll. Also, if you are a blogger who blogs about issues that are of interest to women let me know I would be happy to add you to my blogroll.

- Sarah at Citizen Reader for linking to my post Band Discussion: How did you get into nonfiction? in her Tuesday Articles: Viva nonfiction! I was honored to be included in her post. Her link made this post one of my most popular of the year. Thank you Sarah and also thanks for keeping my nonfiction TBR list full.
- Also thank you to Nicole and Maggie and everyone else who has linked to my posts in 2011.
- Thank you to each and every one of you who took time out of your busy schedule to read my posts.  I wish all of you a Happy and Healthy 2012.  Thanks again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three Amazing Books I Read in 2011

Lisa Bloom wrote in her book Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World:
If you can't name three amazing books you've read in the last year, you're not reading enough.*
I am happy to say I had no trouble coming up with three this year. They are:

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx:
LeBlanc was introduced to the characters in the book while covering the drug trial of 'Boy' George, a 23 year old drug dealer, who ends up sentenced to life without parole. Through George, LeBanc meets Jessica one of his girlfriends and spends the next 11 years documenting Jessica’s life along with other family members living in their impoverished Bronx neighborhood. The book includes the obstacles, daily chaos and violence the members of this family encounter as they go about living their lives. I previously wrote about this book here.

The characters in this book stayed with me months after finishing the book. So much so that whenever I hear the name Foxy or Coco I immediately think of them. This book not only belongs on my list of amazing books for the year, but of all time.

Matt Taibbi’s  Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America:
In my post Searching for the Truth, I wrote this was the most eye-opening book about what is really going on in this country that I have ever read. The book provides a somber picture of the financial and political situation in the US after the 2008 crisis including why Alan Greenspan is the biggest asshole in the world, the truth about the mortgage crisis, the commodities bubble, health care reform and Goldman Sachs. While I found the entire book to be an important read, the chapter I talked about the most throughout the year was “The Trillion Dollar Band-aid.” In order to get health care reform passed Obama had to pander to the pharmaceutical corporations and the health industry. Also, he was unable to change or repeal the McCarran Ferguson Act, a law originally intended to be temporary, that exempts the business of insurance from most federal regulation, including federal anti-trust laws — including the laws against collusion or price fixing. So basically insurance PPO's in the Milwaukee area are going to continue to be a monopoly with the ability to charge the consumer exorbitant prices and there will be nothing we can do about it.

Iris Chang's The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II:
I read this book after seeing it listed on both Lisa Bloom's recommended reading list and on Sarah at Citizen Reader's list of 100 Bestish Nonfiction Titles: History.  This book tells of the horrific tragedy that occurred in what was then called Nanking, China during the Japanese invasion in 1937; hundreds of thousands of Chinese were raped, tortured and murdered by Japanese soldiers. Though I am embarrassed to admit I had not heard of Nanking or the atrocities that occurred there prior to reading the book this may not be my entirely my fault. Despite strong evidence that the order to kill was a military order and that the emperor and government were likely aware of the policy, many Nanking perpetrators not only went unpunished after the war, but went on to play key roles in Japanese government and business. In the years following the war, Nanking and what occurred there was down played by the media, the history books and even by China itself. 

* Lisa Blooms amazing reads were The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Making Women Count: Ending the Year on a Low Note

Last year around this time I read a little book by Susan Bulkeley Butler called Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World. I was so inspired by the book's message (Butler re-assesses how far we’ve come – and how far we have to go) that I made it my 2011 blog goal to Make Women Count. Looking back on my blog postings throughout the year I have to admit many of them were down right depressing.  Here is a sampling:

Shadeism:  I discover that discrimination still exists between lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members in the same community. Mothers along with their daughters, some as young as six, continue to use potentially harmful skin lightening creams. The question has to be asked, "Don't women already have enough to deal with?"

I am Guilty of Gender Bias - In the midst of my Making Women Count Project, I am disappointed with myself when I automatically and wrongly assume a woman I was introduced to is the subordinate and the man she is with the manager.

Muslim Women Reformers - Ida Lichter’s book Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression I read of the horrific plight of Muslim women and the brave women reformers who risk everything including their lives to fight for social and political rights.

Should Employee Report Sexual Harassment - In this true story, both the female employee and her female manager are afraid to report sexual harassment for fear of retaliation while their male manager continues to grope, intimidate and harass them. 

The Body Project - In Joan Jacobs Brumberg's book The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls I read increasingly since the early 1900s middle-class adolescent girls and women went from developing their inner beauty to working on their body; so much so that their bodies have become a project.

Gender Wealth Gap - In Mariko Chang's book Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done About It I learn that although women are making advances in the pay gap they still drastically drag in the wealth gap owning only 36% as much wealth as a man owns.

Lisa Bloom Preaches to the Choir - In Lisa Bloom's book Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World I learn twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America's Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize and that twenty-three percent would rather lose their ability to read than their figures. Come on ladies please stop spending so much time watching reality TV and start spending more time reading.

Then last night I viewed this enlightening video:

In the video Sheryl Sandberg informs us we still have a real problem:
Women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States in 1981. Since then, we have slowly and steadily made progress, earning increasingly more of the college degrees, taking more of the entry-level jobs, going into previously male-dominated fields, moving up each step of the ladder. But there is one big exception to this improvement -- the top jobs. Thirty years later, we have not come close to holding our proportional share of positions of power in any industry.

More alarmingly, the numbers at the top are no longer improving. In the 2008 election, women lost seats in Congress for the first time in three decades. Across the corporate sector, women have held 15 to 16 percent of the C-level jobs and Board seats since 2002. Globally, only nine of 190 countries are led by women. So even as people worry about boys falling behind girls in education and write articles with headlines like "The End of Men," we have to acknowledge that men still run the world. Our revolution has stalled.
For me the lowest point of the video was Sheryl's revelation that:
My generation really sadly is not going to change the numbers at the top.  They are just not moving.  We are not going to get to 50% of the population.  In my generation we are not going to get to the 50% of women at the top in any industry.
What generation is Sheryl talking about? Sheryl Sandberg was born August 28, 1969 and is seven years younger than me.  She is right though; my generation and those of you who are a few years younger are not going to achieve this. We had too far to go:

I remember my female dorm mate back in 1981, a civil engineering major whose professor advised her to change her major because women were not qualified to be engineers.  She stuck it out though, coming home in tears more than once after being publicly ridiculed in class.  He gave her a "D."  She graduated five years later with a B.S. in Engineering. I haven't kept up with her, so I don't know where she is now, but I do know she struggled to even become an engineer.

Which brings me to Rebecca Traister's book Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women one of my last reads of 2011 recommended by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. I don't particularly enjoy politics, so I really struggled to finish this one; especially the chapters covering the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Since Kim mentioned she enjoyed the chapters after Hillary was out of the race a little bit better I forced myself to soldier on. In the end Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary, and became the first woman ever to win a presidential primary contest - a fact down played by the media  Though with her loss to Barack Obama, many first wave feminists also lost hope of seeing a woman elected president in their lifetime.

The book brought home the realization that both sexism and racism still exist in America and played a role in the 2008 election. Both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin were victims of sexism.  Plus, feminists questioned whether a Sarah Palin win would actually be harmful for feminism. Here is what Lafferty had to say about Sarah Palin in the Daily Beast:

Not believing in abortion personally was one thing. But preventing other women from exerting full control over their bodies and health, assessing their value as lesser than the value of the fetuses they carried, was, it seemed to me and many others, fundamentally anti-feminist and anti-female.

Other interesting tidbits:
Michelle Obama has been forced to tone down her power and brain to better suit the media's demand for a more subdued and traditional first lady.

And as to Hillary – it was easier to embrace this woman in a state of diminished power, once she had lost the big prize, when she was no longer threatening the chances of the cool guy.

In conclusion:
As the title of this blog post indicates my Making Women Count project is ending the year on a low note, although I am energized to hear Sheryl Sandberg state she is hopeful that future generations can achieve the 50%.  While revisiting my initial Making Women Count post, I realized that despite the depressing revelations and disappointing results Making Women Count continues to be important goal for me. I have decided to continue with the project in 2012.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

SWG Coffee Social: Making a Difference

This week I'd like to call attention to a couple of organizations/bloggers I came across this week who are making a difference in the lives of women.

Ann Daly a former women's studies professor and fem-evangelist announced she is currently serving on the panel of judges for Talbots Charitable Foundation Scholarship Program. Yes Talbots the retailer and marketer of women's classic clothing. Ann (who is also an inspiring blogger) has asked us to get the word out:

This year Talbots will be awarding $200,000 in scholarships, including seventeen $10,000 awards and one $30,000 Nancy Talbots Scholarship.  Applications are due by January 3, 2012. Click here to apply.

The Artworks Projects founded by Leslie Thomas uses design and the arts to raise awareness of and educate the public about significant human rights and environmental issues. In its first five years of existence, AWP’s agenda includes projects exposing genocide, extreme sexual violence against women, the global shortage of potable water, forced labor and human trafficking, and ethnic cleansing and anti-democracy actions. AWP selects topics which are the most intractable, the least covered in the mainstream media, and the most abusive for victims. Talk about taking on the tough issues. To get involved or to donate click here.

If you are looking to read a book or two on activism check out One Green Panet's 14 must read books for activists a list Brooks J Young directed me to on her twitter account. Brooks is an author, activist and author herself. She is executive director of Touching Heart, a support program for women and children escaping domestic violence and has also written a book, "Where God Took My Soul: A Memoir." Her story will both empower and enlighten women who are walking in the same footsteps that lead to the destruction of lives and families. To learn more about Brooks click here.

Are there any organizations or bloggers making a difference in the lives of women that you'd like to call attention to today?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Determining my Myers-Briggs Score

In my post Penelope Trunk Gives a Wake-Up Call I mentioned one of the first steps to achieving career satisfaction is to know your Myers-Briggs score. My problem was I had taken six different on-line Myers-Briggs assessments and had received six different scores.

How I discovered my real score?
I googled "best" Myers-Briggs book and discovered Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger's book Do What You Are. Unfortunately this book does not include the assessment. Apparently the authentic Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test is copyrighted and available only through organizations, counselors and therapists approved by the Myers and Briggs Foundation. The book does describe each of the 8 personality traits in detail along with providing examples. After a process that included comparing my previous six Myers-Briggs scores with the examples in the book and asking my husband for his opinion I came up with ISFJ.

The book includes profiles of people who enjoy their jobs for each personality type. While reading Monty’s profile (a stressed 44-year old ISFJ who was an over-worked tax accountant with an inability to say no until he became a sole practitioner CPA, working exclusively for nonprofit organizations), I had an aha moment I am an ISFJ. In addition to reading the strengths and weaknesses for ISFJ in the book I found Portrait of an ISFJ on the Personality Page website to be quite helpful.

What did I learn?
I discovered I prefer working in a highly structured, traditional organization with a clear mission. I am more comfortable working one-on-one, helping others or with other people who share my personal values and beliefs. I am hard working, loyal sometimes to a fault and prefer staying in my comfort zone. I also don't like presenting my work to a group without adequate time to prepare well in advance, have a hard time saying no and am a reluctant manager.

I found it interesting how many of the above items I touched on in previous blog posts:
What is next?
I am considering getting a certified professional to interpret my score. I’d like to discuss whether I should pursue an alternative job in accounting that better fits my personality, make a complete career change or just stay where I am at. Have you done this? Did you find it helpful? Do you feel knowing your Myers-Briggs score has made a difference in your life and career?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Saturday Inspiration: Freda du Faur

Today in history, Freda du Faur climbed Mount Cook in New Zealand in a record six hours. She was the first woman to scale the peak and the first unmarried woman to climb in New Zealand. NOTICE SHE IS WEARING A SKIRT although according to Wikipedia she had on knickerbockers and long puttees underneath.

If you would like to learn more about Freda du Faur and her mountaineering feats she did write a book called The conquest of Mount Cook and other climbs; an account of four seasons' mountaineering on the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

Who or what inspires you today?