April 8, 2014
Listen here. Aired on NPR's Morning Edition.
I've done several stories on women and negotiation over the years. This one focuses on a particular area of research. Management professor Emily Amanatullah (left), while studying for her PhD at Columbia, found women lowballed themselves when negotiating their own pay. But when negotiating a salary for a friend, they bargained just as hard as the guys in the same experiment.
The reason for the difference in approach? When women negotiate for ourselves, we have to manage other people's expectations for our behavior while also trying to increase our pay. Most of us favor the former over the latter. We back off before we necessarily need to, concerned about how we'll come across. When negotiating for others, we're not concerned about what onlookers think of us. And research shows those onlookers don't judge us poorly when we fight for others' pay - because we're doing what women are expected to do: helping other people.
February 24, 2014
Listen here. Aired on Marketplace. This piece was prompted by some reading I'd done last year on the different ways men and women are treated when they show various emotions in the workplace. And by something I frequently read in interviews with powerful women: the advice to other women not to cry at work because it makes you look bad.
When I put a call out to a professional women's group on LinkedIn asking for feedback on this topic, I was inundated with responses. Interestingly, the consensus was that if you showed emotions at work, you suffered for it. By emotions I mean displaying anger, frustration, or starting to cry (which is often prompted by anger or frustration). Women told stories of their own experiences and contrasted that with occasions when male colleagues had lost their tempers or 'acted out' and not been reprimanded. This piece is just three minutes long. There's a lot I couldn't say in that time. I plan to produce a future episoe of The Broad Experience that will explore this issue in more depth.
Victoria Brescoll of Yale University has carried out research showing women lose status when they show anger at work, and men are sometimes rewarded for being angry at the office. I'm still exploring the issue of men and sadness at work. Are men still supposed to be emotionless rocks or is it OK if they cry in front of colleagues? If you have experience with this, let me know in the comments below.
February 1, 2013
Read here. Appears in Phoenix Focus. I'm a professional cynic, so if you'd told me a few months ago I'd be filing a story on the Law of Attraction, I would have been skeptical. But the assignment came along and actually proved rather interesting to report.
In case you're as ignorant as I was before I began my research for the piece, the Law of Attraction pretty much says that our experiences are a result of our thoughts. If we think negatively, we'll attract negativity. If we think positively, all sorts of good things will happen. Read on to hear various voices weigh in on the benefits of living by the Law of Attraction, and psychology professor Chris Chabris deride the whole idea as nonsense.
I'm somewhere in between. Rather than thinking about life as being governed by a 'law' of attraction, though, I think more about having a good attitude, dwelling on the positive rather than wallowing in the awfulness. It does make a difference. (Photo: Phoenix Focus)
January 25, 2013
I've just come back from an extended time away from New York and my desk, and re-entry is proving tricky. I know I'll get over it in a day or two, but there's always that time when you come back from having had an interesting experience - in my case a volunteer trip to Kenya - when real life can seem a bit meaningless and dull (or is it just me?). One thing I barely did while in Kenya - and did not miss - was check my email. I was at first frustrated that the promised wireless access at the very modest hotel we were staying at did not transpire. But after that I settled into no-checking mode and felt totally and delightfully free. I wasn't one of the people from our team gathered eagerly around the one functional internet cafe in town at the end of each day, hoping to tap into a wireless network on my phone or endure the painstakingly slow connectivity speed inside (see below).
I had told the people close to me that I might not have internet access and I knew they could text me or call in an emergency; I texted a bit myself. I had set up an out-of-office reply for my email account and I officially relaxed. But I felt my indifference was a sign of me being from the pre-internet era. To me, it felt wonderful to be away from the daily tyranny of email, Facebook and Twitter, whereas to many of the 20-somethings on the trip, those things, particularly Facebook, are their daily bread. When I'm in the usual swing of things, all the connectivity is fine, just a (big) part of working life that I often enjoy. But when you're away from it all for a while you remember (if you're over a certain age) what the pre-internet era felt like and how relaxing it was by comparison, how you were actually able to *think* for more than a couple of minutes at a time before being interrupted, or interrupting yourself. I don't like the security blanket aspect of smartphones, which tends to take us - including me - over: we apparently all feel we're so needed we have to constantly check in with the universe to shore up our egos.
On a related note, parts of this FT column by the urbane (and sometimes irritating) Tyler Brule rang bells for me. In part of 'Time for a Digital Rethink' he reflects on a peaceful dinner with a non-smartphone owning friend. In case the piece lies behind the FT's paywall, I will quote from the part that had me nodding in agreement:
"How could we have arrived at a point where it’s now perfectly acceptable to send correspondence peppered with errors? And where one of the most celebrated devices, created by one of the world’s most valuable companies, has forced people to add bizarre disclaimers excusing all of their mistakes, while failing to mention that touchscreen technology is still a nightmare for anyone who wants to put their point across?
Why have we allowed functional buttons, knobs and dials to become demonised, while stroking sheets of backlit glass as if it were the most rewarding, sensual experience?"
Call me a curmudgeon, but I'm with him. I now have an iPad and I like it very much, but if it weren't for the fact that the BlackBerry is all but useless when it comes to using the internet or apps, I would keep it rather than switch to an iPhone, which I will likely do next month when my current phone's contract finally expires. I like the BlackBerry keyboard. I can never get used to the idea of writing poorly punctuated emails full of 'fat thumb error' disclaimers, and regret that we are all getting used to this as being 'normal'. It shouldn't be.
December 7, 2012
I wrote this piece for Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists. The editor, knowing I had had a rather eclectic background, asked if I'd like to consider the pros and cons of journalism school. I still don't know the answer to the question of whether you should bother to go or not. J-school is hugely expensive, in the US at least, but so many students flock there every year regardless. It's the American way to keep getting more and more layers of formal education. Employers tend to expect it. I tell a little of my own story in the piece and I also speak to two people who have taken different paths to get where they want to be in journalism. One is studying at Columbia Journalism School, the other has taken the 'school of life' approach, or rather the 'reporting from the streets of New York' approach. There's also a sidebar on podcasting tips. I swifly destroy any ideas you might have about the glamour of radio/podcast production.