work

Working Through College

It is no longer so easy to work your way through college. The math just doesn't add up. This recent article on NPR.org spells out exactly how difficult it is today for college students to pay for school:

In the school year just ended, the total of tuition, fees and room and board for in-state students at four-year public universities was $19,548. The maximum Pell Grant didn't keep pace with that: It was $5,775. That left our hypothetical student on the hook for $13,773.
A student would now have to work 37 hours a week, every week of the year, at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, to get by. Research shows that when college students work more than 20 hours a week their studies suffer. If they're working full time, many will take longer to finish and end up paying even more.

The longer a student takes to finish college the less likely they are to do so. And those often include our hardest working students. It doesn't add up. Something has to change. 

 

Fairy Tales

This article about female roles in Hollywood really intrigued me. It's an issue I see that doesn't get much coverage. I'm not talking about the dearth of female directors, etc. but how our work/our jobs/our careers can reflect our unfinished business from childhood - much like intimate relationships can. I didn't have a male role model/father figure growing up and I'm learning more and more how that experience shaped me. Sneak peek: I have a lot of qualities that are man-like. To wit: a take charge attitude, competitiveness, and a fair amount of emotional suppression.  Thankfully not my hands! They are pretty lady-like.

Why You Hate Work

Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.  

NYTimes

What Works?

“Personal anecdote trumps data.” F. Joseph Merlino

Unfortunately, that has been the case in terms of measuring the effectiveness of education materials. But today there is What Works, a clearing-house of educational tools ("programs, products, practices and policies") that have been tested using the research methodologies (e.g., double blind clinical trials) usually used in the medical industry.

Interestingly, the non-profit world is also facing a similar dilemma.  Are their efforts effective?  While they are dealing with a lot of push-back, mainly of the "the transformation of lives can't be measure" kind, it would be interesting to see if they will adopt more rigorous testing.  For an interesting story on the challenges faced by non-profits/philanthropy in this regard, see this American Life episode.

Finally, and more important to me, I would like to see soft skill development subjected to the same type of rigor.  How can we help people develop skills like self-awareness and how do we measure whether or not our efforts were effective?  I believe companies are a great starting ground for this type of exploration and "workforce science" seems to be a good start, though less focused right now on soft skills, as opposed to technical training.

 

 

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

 

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.

How Much Does Beauty Pay?

Beauty Pays, a book by Daniel Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas, Austin, uncovers statistics about the importance of looks in the workplace:

  • Obese women earn about $14,000 less per year than their average-weight sisters, or about 12% if you are Caucasian and 7% if you are African-American. On the other hand, remarkably thin women earn $2,000 more each year than the average woman on the job.
  • Thin men’s salary averages $9,000 less per year than their average or big-boned brothers.
  • A six-foot tall man earns more than $5K more annually than a man who is five foot five. Taller women earn 5-8% more than average women.
  • Blonde women earn $870 more on average than brunettes and redheads. Sixty-three percent of bald men report earning less than guys with a full head of hair.

Getting it Done

I stumbled on this great list of tricks to get yourself working. I get distracted myself when it comes to work sometimes, so I really related to this list. There are even techniques out there, like the Pomodoro Technique, for being more productive. It takes 25 minutes and a timer.