A Woman’s Work Is To Be More Visible

January 27, 2010

I have often been struck, while watching Battlestar Galactica and reading the wonderful Harry Potter books, at the gender equality in the professional world that is a matter of course, and unremarked upon. Male and female Viper pilots, aurors, admirals and politicians are roughly equal in numbers in these imagined/future worlds – a striking contrast to our own.* Can anyone imagine Top Gun with a woman in the cockpit? Will America ever have a female five-star general? (There is currently only one female 4-star general, and it this is indeed an admirable rank for her to have achieved considering that women are excluded by law from combat jobs, which is how one usually attains this rank.) And why is it that this picture of 31 world leaders features only 3 women (and zero men willing to make “bold” fashion statements by wearing something other than a black suit)?

*NB – post historical is unable to find comparable statistics for the gender ratio within the auror population in the muggle world.

I think we would be hard pressed to find many modern, moderately liberal thinkers who really believe that women and men do not demonstrate equal abilities in school, in the workplace, and in life, when given equal opportunities at the start. So what is causing the gap between early achievement and long-term achievement in management, politics, and other fields traditionally dominated by men? Read the rest of this entry »

Google + China + A fit of absence of (American) mind

January 22, 2010

Oh, China.

In the wake of Google’s threat to pull out of China following its discovery of a coordinated Chinese cyber attack on its software coding and a large number of email accounts (for a useful run-down of the whole story and associated content, click here), the US State Department (and the irrepressible Ms. Clinton) have gone on the attack against the Chinese government’s policy of censoring all content it deems pornographic, anti-social, or politically subversive. The Chinese government, in turn, has accused the United States of “information imperialism.” The Globe and Mail reports today that the Communist Party-sponsored Global Times writes that the West, and the US in particular, emits information “loaded with aggressive rhetoric against those countries that do not follow their lead” over the Internet, thus constituting an attack on Chinese values. (Apparently these treasured values include repression and ignorance.)

Considering the modern meaning of imperialism, the charge is correct. Read the rest of this entry »

Job Titles That Last and Why Higher Education Stresses Efficiency Over Fulfilment

January 20, 2010

My current life plan is to find a job that (among other things) has a title that would resonate through the ages. I have this theory that if you can see some iteration of yourself in the past it provides an anchor that grounds what you do in age-old tradition, wisdom and experience – even if you choose to throw it all out the window, you become another chapter of the profession, adding to its history. For example, teaching has varied slightly in its methods and certainly in who constitutes its pupils, but in effect the basic idea is the same: pass on your knowledge or the collected wisdom in a certain area to other (hopefully apt) pupils. Same with politics (helping to set out the framework by which a society lives), or law (advocating on behalf of someone else), or medicine (healing people). The people who practise the work have changed, but not the work itself.

Workforce Analytics Advisor? Strategic Competitive Profit Returns Consultant? Glorified Corporate Meeting Room Booker and Assistant Calendar Organizer? Not so much.

It’s a classic extension of Marx’s theory about the division of labour: Read the rest of this entry »

The Problem of Prorogation: A Uniquely Canadian Solution

January 13, 2010

I, for one, think this whole prorogation situation is great. In fact, I think we should extend it across the whole country and in the spirit of families, call it “Family Month.”

We could all, like our MPs, take an extended holiday in that most Canadian of months, February, when snow flies, ski hills are covered with powder, and snow shoe rentals rates reach remarkable highs. Who needs holidays in the warmth of summer when we can cheer on our Olympic athletes while sipping “Certified Cold” beers and wearing our Team Canada jerseys at our winterized cottages?

It will be, of course, the height of the winter tourist season, and visitors to our great white nation will marvel at how relaxed we all seem, and envy our carefree lifestyle. Perhaps they’ll write cook books about Canadian-style cooking (poutine in a Niagara ice wine reduction?) and diet books about how Canadian women always look so healthy and rouged from the cold, and so stylish in our matching parkas and UGG boots. Read the rest of this entry »

Post-Identity Politics

January 13, 2010

A month or so ago, the Globe & Mail ran a piece about Toronto mayoral hopeful George Smitherman, notable for potentially being the first gay mayor of a major urban centre in Canada (I guess Glen Murray doesn’t count). It was fabulously titled, “Gay politicians come out of the closet and into the cabinet – Is being gay a political non-issue now?” The age of identity politics is on its way out, if you believe the author, because gay politicians can now openly marry and kiss their partners in public, and don’t have to campaign on traditional “gay issues” like social welfare or multiculturalism. Instead, they are free to do the serious business of governing health and education policy. We are in an age where being gay is becoming an interesting tidbit on a biography instead of a factor influencing job performance – even for politicians.

And before we start thinking (as I did) that this is only a possibility in our wonderful Great White North, consider that Houston (yes, that’s in TEXAS) has just elected an openly gay mayor, and a woman at that. According to the Economist, the prevailing opinions in Texas’s largest city were that her experience mattered more than her diversity cred. Fancy that.

It is indeed a historical moment. Yet it seems funny to me that, if we are past all that minority representation stuff, these papers bother writing the articles at all. Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Resolutions to post historical(ly)

January 13, 2010

It is the beginning of a new year, which, along with the requisite top 10 lists from the year (and decade) that has passed, brings talk of the oft-dreaded New Year’s resolutions. I’m all for the idea of renewal and re-focusing, so I can support this tradition to some extent. Among my personal goals for 2010: truly connect with my friends more often. get married with as little stress as possible. figure out what my life’s path is.

I know, all very simple and SMART. More generally, I will be audacious (if Obama can do it, why can’t I?), authentic and original. (Perhaps at a later date I will write about whether it is better to say and do the unexpected and risk offending people or better to attend the dinner party you have to attend and just make nice small talk. My goal for 2010 is more of the former and less of the latter.)

For now, though, I have started a blog, with grand expectations that it will be the outlet I’m seeking for the beginnings and ends of thoughts that pop into my end on a relatively frequent basis. And because we live in a world where the personal is interpersonal news, I am sharing what I hope to achieve in an effort to be transparent. I am counting on you, dear readers, to help “keep me honest,” as they say! Read the rest of this entry »