Ways of Seeing II

"Men survey women before treating them. Consequently how a woman appears to a man can determine how she will be treated. To acquire some control over this process, women must contain it and interiorize it. That part of a woman's self which is the surveyor treats the part which is the surveyed so as to demonstrate to others how her whole self would like to be treated. And this exemplary treatment of herself by herself constitutes her presence. Every woman's presence regulates what is and is not 'permissible' within her presence. Every one of her actions - whatever its direct purpose or motivation - is also read as an indication of how she would like to be treated. If a woman throws a glass on the floor, this is an example of how she treats her own emotion of anger and so of how she would wish it to be treated by others. If a man does the same, his action is only rad as an expression of his anger. If a woman makes a good joke this is an example of how she as joker-woman would like to be treated by others. Only a man can make a good joke for its own sake. One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of a woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object - and most particularly an object of vision: a sight."

~ John Berger


Today I overheard a woman talking to a man about another woman.  The woman speaking exclaimed, "She's not a warm person." I was horrified.

If you are a woman and make a comment that a woman is not warm enough or God-forbid put on a performance review that another woman is not warm, you are the problem.

I consider that female on female violence. Would you ever evaluate a man by saying he is not warm enough?  Think again.

Gender Equity

I notice a recurring theme in response to "Why not more women on your board/in your company, etc.?". It's usually a defensive one and goes like this: The counter-arguments to gender diversification: 1. We have X% (usually a low %) 2. We have to hire the best 3. We couldn't find women 4. Then a strategic change of subject such as "Look at this group (usually one not in power like the junior people in an organization) is near gender parity."

It's frustrating progression that ultimately never actually addresses the issue.


Succeeding in Business for Women

This advice really resonated with me.  From Amy Schulman, executive at Pfizer  

"Q. You touched on the point of confidence earlier. Can you elaborate?

A. For many guys, this is simpler because they’re not as over-invested in the question of “Do I belong?” Everything is not a test. If you’re not viewing interactions as a litmus test for whether you belong, you’re going to act better. On the other hand, if you’re looking all the time for that kind of validation, you’re either going to be self-conscious or insecure, and neither of those is a recipe for success. What you want is the kind of inherent confidence that leads to grace. You want to be around people who are having fun and enjoying what they’re doing"

Potential at Work

Why do women fail to realize their potential at work? Mandy O'Neill, assistant professor of management at the George Mason University School of Management, researched the question. "At least part of the answer to the riddle of why highly capable women don’t always realize their potential in the workforce, O’Neill concludes, is that people are more than their potential. What they value affects what they pursue, and values can change over time."

~ Stanford Graduate School of Business


The Woman in the Arena

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

~ Theodore Roosevelt

Perhaps a Key Question

Does your wife work outside the home? The answer may have important implications for how the man questioned may view women and their roles. Research outlined recently in The Atlantic discovered that "husbands embedded in traditional and neo-traditional marriages (relative to husbands embedded in modern ones) exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that undermine the role of women in the workplace." Researchers defined "traditional marriages" as those in which wives are not employed.

Yet another example of invisible bias that only self-awareness can hope to uncover.


Alexander Cockburn in his book Idle Passion: Chess and the Dance of Death published in 1974. With respect to chess and the fact that men outnumber women in its top ranks, Cockburn said that women,

"are happily without the psychological formations or drives that promote an expertise in the game in the first place. One could even add that women have never been allowed the cultural space to foster that lethargic yet zealous commitment to a useless pursuit that has fostered the bizarre careers of the great champions."

I have to wonder if this is what is going on with respect to certain parts of the programming culture - namely, hack-a-thons. Until it's necessary for survival, isn't it smarter to not worry about it? Women don't have time for hack-a-thons. They have lives. Meaning they have so much else to worry about - spouses, children, their homes but even adhering to cultural constructs like what they wear, hair and make-up. When you have to make time for all these things, it definitely reduces your leisure time or time to commit to singular pursuits.

Achievement often requires a unilateral focus that by just being women who must conform to a cultural standard immediately puts us at a disadvantage. Our pursuits are merely narrow aspects of a fuller life while men can be far more linear - their pursuits can be their whole lives.


Dating Sites

Online dating is not fun or particularly effective. When Match.com commercials come on and the announcer says, "1 out of 5 people meet online," my instantaneous reaction is, "That's only 20%!"  

Still, that isn't stopping folks from iterating on the model. Here is a list of the 2012 entrants.

Require Facebook:

1. Yoke.me

2. Skout

3. TheCompleteMe

4. CoffeeMeetsBagel (the twist here is only one match per day; playing the limited time/limited quantity e-commerce angle)

5. MyMatchmaker (here actual matchmakers do the matching)


Web Apps:

6. How About We (still a traditional online dating site with profile but concept is to propose dates)

7. FriendlyLook


Different Approaches:

8. Hitch.me (this uses your LinkedIn account)

9. Tawkify (dating via the phone with screening of matches by real people)



10. MeSoFar (based in Chicago; dating by PowerPoint presentation - essentially flirting reduced quite literally to marketing)

11. Urban Girl Squad's Friend of a Friend Singles Party (based in NYC; modeled after Charlotte's "pass the trash" party)



12. Grindr/Blendr

13. SinglesAroundMe


There are, of course, a ton of dating sites out there, but these seem to be the new ones garnering buzz.

Happy dating!

Azerbaijan: Travel Tips for Women

Azerbaijan is 93% Muslim (majority Shia) and 90% Azeri (ethnicity). It is, however, a pretty secular culture. In Baku, the capital and the largest city in the country, you will see only a few women with covered hair. In fact, the women are pretty cosmopolitan - complete with high heels and lots of make-up. Still, I thought I would compile here a few tips for women, in particular, when traveling to Azerbaijan.

1. Travel to Azerbaijan requires a visa. You can get one in the U.S. at either the Azerbaijan embassy in Washington D.C. or in Los Angeles. From my experience, the Los Angeles embassy is better. The fee is $131 and you will need to fed ex your passport and application to them. You can get the application online.

2. Azerbaijan is 12 hours ahead of pacific daylight time so jet lag is inevitable - on both sides. I highly recommend bringing sleeping pills for at least the first night in Azerbaijan (note that many refer to the country in abbreviation as AZ).

3. In general, women shouldn't be out alone after 9pm. I heard a number of first hand accounts of women being harassed when out late at night by themselves or with other women. If you're out late with a man in the city, you're usually okay.

4. While women here do wear tight clothing, most are pretty covered up. Dress modestly. I should also add that women very much dress like women. Which is to say it is rare to see a woman dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and running shoes. I saw exactly one woman dressed like this during my entire trip and she was a young woman who said she wanted to be a computer scientist when she grew up!

5. In some places in the capital, and in most places outside of the big city that is Baku, you will encounter "Turkish toilets" aka toilets that amount to a hole in the ground. Most restrooms do not have tissue paper. So carry tissue with you everywhere. I found the bulk tissue packs you can buy at Walgreens to be life savers. Also, the best way to navigate the toilet infrastructure, I found, is to wear skirts. I know this sounds odd, but it's true. When you wear long pants you run the risk of your pants hitting the ground in some pretty dicey locales. I traveled to Azerbaijan in the winter and skirts with tights were just the ticket.

6. There are surprisingly few trash cans in restrooms. So, if you're a woman, you may need to bring your own hygiene bags. Also of note, the use of tampons is very limited in the country. You will not find tampons with applicators in pharmacies. Fyi. (BTW - if you are a man reading this, don't say I didn't warn you!)

7. Also, because the rest of the world is not as germ phobic as the U.S., it is difficult to find hand sanitizer in Azerbaijan. So bring your own. I found it very helpful when traveling outside of Baku as most restrooms had limited means for washing up.

8. If you're traveling from the U.S. you won't need a converter, but you will need an adapter for using electronic devices in Azerbaijan. South European/Middle East adapters work in Azerbaijan - even outside Baku.

9. The food is pretty heavy on the meat and fat. Even fish, when available, is usually fried. The good news, though, is fresh vegetables and fruit are plentiful. In fact, I found the produce to be very good. Now, it won't look as pretty as the cosmetically enhanced produce in U.S. grocery stores, but the flavor of the fruits and vegetables in Azerbaijan was superb.

10. There is wi-fi for internet access at most hotels, but very limited in other places - even universities. There are internet cafes that can be used to check email in most towns. Surprisingly, my Blackberry was of no use to me in Azerbaijan. Verizon charges on a per use basis in this country. Which means that you will have to pay close to $5.00 per mb to check your email using your blackberry. Not worth it! I disabled data on my phone during my trip and had it turned off the entire time I was there.

11. Many travel websites will say you can use U.S. dollars in Azerbaijan and in theory you can. But in practice, few people accept them. Also, outside of Baku, most won't accept credit cards either. My hotel in Seki said they could accept credit cards but their system was down and I ultimately had to pay in Manats. So you are better off bringing Manats (AZN) or using an ATM to withdraw Manats when in Baku. You won't be able to use ATMs in most areas outside of Baku.

12. Finally, some odd but true cultural guidelines: a. It's not appropriate to go outside with wet hair; if you walk around with wet hair it implies that you just had sex b. It's also not appropriate to put on Chapstick in public - again, it has sexual connotations c. It's unseemly to drink water from the bottle; women are expected to drink from a glass d. Women are not allowed to smoke and a woman smoking here would be a big no-no

There you have it. Some travel essentials for women. It's an interesting country and if you find yourself traveling there, I hope you find these tips useful.