Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Why women in Stem may be better off working in India and Latin America

by Emma Featherstone
Originally Published: June 24th, 2015

Women are notoriously under-represented in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are male tech pioneers who trip off the tongue, while a measly 26% of computing jobs in the US are held by women. But that’s not the full story – pick a slice of the sector from across the globe and you will see women carving a space for themselves.
The experience of women varies by country and the wealth or liberalism of a nation doesn’t necessarily correspond to women’s achievements in the sector. So how does UK and US diversity in Stem compare with other global regions?

UK

MediaCity at Salford Quays, Manchester
 MediaCity on Salford Quays, Manchester. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
When it comes to maths, the UK lags behind. It falls in 26th place out of 65 countries for gender equality in the OECD’s latest survey. The general conclusion was that “girls feel less motivated to learn maths and have less confidence in their abilities than boys”. The gender gap is also pronounced at the top of the academic scale and in work. One study found 42% of maths undergraduates are female, yet only 6% of maths professors are women.
A woman defying this trend is Dr Eugenia Cheng, senior lecturer in mathematics at the University of Sheffield. Cheng says a lack of confidence could be responsible for the drop-off in women pursuing maths post-degree. “I’ll often get a lot of female students saying ‘I don’t understand anything; I’m much worse at this than everyone else’.” But less confident female students often score higher marks than their more self-assured male peers, she says.
Cheng tries to encourage her tentative female students. “There’s often one – dare I say it – male student, who will be loud and shout things out a lot. And you have to take care to show that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good at maths.”
Another way to help young women develop confidence in Stem studies is by celebrating successful women in the field. “Visibility of women in senior roles in science helps to normalise it in young women’s minds,” says Professor Anne Glover, vice-principal at University of Aberdeen and the first chief scientific adviser to the European Commission.

US

silicon valley
 San Francisco’s Silicon Valley is a byword for technology businesses. Photograph: Getty Images/Flickr Open/Thomas Kurmeier
In the US, only 26% of computing jobs are held by women. Cultural attitudes there have a significant influence on the number of women in Stem careers. A recent study found that rather than too few girls opting to study scientific subjects or women forgoing careers to care for their children, the biggest cause of gender imbalance in Stem is cultural. Women feel the need to straddle a thin line between being masculine enough to fit in with the culture and feminine enough to not appear pushy.
Women making a noise about the cultural bias in Stem is also effective. Ellen Pao may have lost a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, but in the process she highlighted the lack of women in the most powerful positions in Silicon Valley. The lawsuit, and the resulting media coverage, is said to have encouraged venture capital firms to address the gender imbalance. In the weeks following the court ruling, former Twitter and Facebook employees similarly filed gender discrimination lawsuits.

India

The Infosys campus in Bangalore, India.
 The Infosys campus in Bangalore, India. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images
Technology firms in India have a better female to male staff ratio than the tech giants of Silicon Valley. In his book Geek Sublime, Vikram Chandra points out that 30% of programmers in India are female compared with 21% in the US. 
Female role models could be having a positive influence. Kumud Srinivasan offers a positive example of an Indian women excelling in technology. President of Intel India and chairperson of the board of governors of the National Institute of Technology-Trichy, Srinivasan offers an insight into the relatively high proportion of women in technology roles in India. “There have been focused efforts by the government, industry and academia towards attracting and retaining girls and women in Stem,” she says.
She also points to Chandra’s book in which he describes “the machismo of tech geeks in the US” and says that it’s something that appears to be absent in India. “It may well be the reason behind the higher proportion [of women in IT] here,” Srinivasan says.

Latin America

Rio de Janeiro
 The view over the south of Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Alamy
While the number of women in Stem in many countries can be disheartening, there are some bright spots where progress can be seen. Latin America, for example, presented some positive achievements in a recent Unesco report – 45% of scientific researchers in Latin America are women, putting the region ahead of the global average of 29%.
Alicia Kowaltowski is a professor of biochemistry at the University of São Paulo. She says the recent development of six-month paid maternity leave for women, including graduates and postdoc researchers, has helped. She adds: “Our pay comes fully from the universities, so missing a grant deadline due to raising a family will not decrease your salary. To me, the situation of women in the US, who mostly don’t have paid maternity leave and where childcare costs half a postdoc’s salary, is unfathomable.”
Kowaltowski believes female role models are important. “There are many women scientists who frequently appear in the media here. High-level awards for female scientists help [get] the word out about these women” she says.
“It is an irony that in countries where a science career is seen as lower status, female representation is higher,” she adds, connecting this with the high gender imbalance in the UK. She points out that there are more successful female astronomers in Brazil than in the UK.
It seems that a change in cultural perceptions is crucial to encourage girls and women to pursue Stem careers. “We need it to be seen as something very normal for a woman to embark upon a career in science, not a major challenge,” Glover says.




Read the original article from The Guardian here:
http://www.theguardian.com/guardian-professional/2015/jun/24/why-women-in-stem-may-be-better-off-working-in-india-and-latin-america

The Path to Defeat Racism

by Rabbi Michael Lerner
Originally Published: June 24th, 2015

Co-authored with Cat Zavis
Racism is the demeaning of an entire group of people and refusing to see them as fully human in the way we see ourselves and those we deem to be "like" us. When we fail to see the "other's" humanity, we ascribe to them all of them ugly characteristics that somehow justify treating them with less honor and less generosity than we would with others who are part of the groups we do see as fundamentally like us. From this place of separation we justify denying the "other" equal rights, benefits and caring that all human beings deserve.
Racism in the U.S. has a long history. It was foundational to US expansion throughout the North American continent, allowing white people to justify to themselves genocidal policies toward Native Americans, to allow slavery and to incorporate into our Constitution a provision that would count African slaves as 2/3 of a human being so that Southern States would have higher representation in the Congress though racists both north and south didn't think of them as human beings at all. 
Racism has persisted as a major factor in American politics even after slavery and then segregation were abolished. Though racism exists against Jews, Latinos, Asian Americans and more generally people of color, its most striking manifestation is in the horrendous treatment of African Americans.
Paul Krugman, in a NY Times column on June 22, 2015, cites the considerable evidence that people in Southern states (those previously fought the Civil War in order to preserve their ability to hold slaves) are the core of those in the U.S. who vote against their own economic well-being rather than support policies which would also benefit African Americans. 
The Republican Party moved from marginality to a powerful force in the US precisely by providing those Southerners with a variant of conservative politics that gave them the code words for the racism that shaped their consciousness and permitted them to allow their fear and hatred of African Americans to overcome what might otherwise have been a tendency for middle income and poorer whites to vote their material self-interests (opposing rises in the minimum wage, supporting candidates who would cut social security benefits, most recently denying to their own fellow citizens the benefits of Obamacare's way of reducing the cost of their medical care). And with the assistance of clueless liberals like Senator Diane Feinstein and many Senate Democrats, Republicans were able to vote in on the U.S. Supreme Court justices who failed to see the humanity of the "other" and predictably undermined democracy by giving the super-rich opportunities to shape the outcome of elections while simultaneously effectively dismantling the key parts of the Voting Rights Act which was the crowning accomplishment of those who imagined civil rights legislation would end racist practices..  

To uproot this racism at every level in which it manifests, we need a systematic program. As spiritual progressives, we start first with the need to grieve all the suffering that victims of racism have suffered throughout human history, and more particularly what African Americans have suffered in the U.S. through slavery, segregation, and now rapid incarceration of Black young men, police harassment, murder by police or by white racists, unequal treatment in the courtrooms and prisons, constant discrimination, and much more. Please take a moment to allow your grief to be expressed (yes, right now, but also later with other people as a prelude whenever you enter a discussion about racism). And then, move on to an action agenda such as we propose below. Here is what we Spiritual Progressives recommend:
1. To deal with the racist dimension of police violence, we need to mandate Police Review Commissions in every municipality, half of whose members would be elected by the community and half of whom would be appointed by the leadership of the relevant racial minorities, empowered to investigate charges of racism and to bring indictments against police who are accused of systematic harassment of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, or other frequently targeted groups, or accused of using excessive violence against anyone (not just African Americans), skipping the normal grand jury process. 
(As potential different approach to dealing with police problems is suggested by Fania Davis, writing in Yes Magazine. A restorative justice model that brings youth, families, and communities directly affected by the killings--along with allies--to partner with the federal government to establish a commission. Imagine a commission that serves as a facilitator, community organizer, or Council of Elders to catalyze, guide, and support participatory, inclusive, and community-based processes. A Truth and Reconciliation process could create safe public spaces for youth, families, neighbors, witnesses, and other survivors to share their stories. Though this will happen in major metropolitan hubs, the truths learned and the knowledge gained would be broadly shared. Importantly, the process would also create skillfully facilitated dialogue where responsible parties engage in public truth-telling and take responsibility for wrongdoing.
We have to approach police with the same compassion we seek for everone. Most police are not bad people. Yet the situations they are placed in, and the culture of racism that they often encounter in their training and in the daily discourse in the police stations has a cumulative impact. So too does the culture of violence that is part of their training. Police officers are better trained and equipped to respond violently than nonviolently, causing unnecessary harm and suffering for their community members. To counter this trend, we need to have mandated training for police officers in nonviolent response to nonviolent action, nonviolent communication and conflict resolution, and de-escalation of violence through nonviolent responses. 
2. To deal with the economic legacy of slavery and segregation, we need an economic program that ends Black poverty without creating a new reason to resent Blacks by seeming to provide them with goodies that lower income white people don't have. The solution, of course, is to eliminate the vast inequalities in Western societies, most pronounced in the U.S. Here are some of the necessary steps:
a. Raise everyone's wages to that of whatever is deemed by the Living Wage Calculator (developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Living Wage Project livingwage.mit.edu) a sufficient "living wage" (not a minimum wage, but a wage sufficient to provide for the food, shelter, clothing, energy, education and health care necessary to care for oneself and one's dependents. This calculator is based on local standards, not a national standard to take into account the different costs of living throughout the country).
b. Medicare for everyone (what is sometimes referred to as a "Single Payer" system), a system which already works well for seniors and does not force any patient to see a doctor they don't want to see or any doctor to see a patient they don't want to see.
c. Free community controlled child care and elder care provided by well-trained teachers and caregivers.
d. Free higher education including graduate or professional schools (though with recipients of this benefit committing to provide a comparable number of years to community service projects), and an inheritance for all to be paid to each person after completing a minimum of two years of full time community service either after higher education or if they do not go to college, after receiving skills training. (See Anthony B. Atkinson's book Inequality: What Can be Done? for a full explanation of this inheritance-for-everyone idea and jow it wouild work, as well as many other valuable ideas). 
e. Pay for this by a rise in income tax rates to a progressive level comparable to that which the US had in early 1950s adjusted for inflation, a tax on inheritance sufficient to pay for the universal inheritance plan described in point d., a tax on every financial transaction involving monies above $1 million, and a tax on wealth including financial assets and debts for anyone whose net wealth is above $7 million in 2015 dollars. 
f. Municipalities that have a higher rate of neighborhoods in which wealthier people live without a significant proportion of people from the lower 50% of income earners and wealth holders live shall pay higher taxes to the federal government to help pay for these programs until the wealthier neighborhoods are integrated on a class basis so that the wealthier people can enjoy the benefits of knowing what it is like to live with far less income and wealth than they. 
3. We must affirm the Humanity of All Education Requirement. Any school receiving federal aid or federal loans, or using roads paid for by public monies must teach a course affirming the humanity of everyone on the planet, starting in earlier grades by teaching the history of racism in the US and around the world, but continuing through college and professional schools, and in courses in the US Armed Forces and anyone receiving federal benefits (including participating in social security, or using banks that receive FDIC insurance).
These courses must teach "love and caring for the Other" (the stranger, people who are different from you in race, religion, sexual preference, gender, cultural history, physical appearance, abilities and intelligence, nationality or location on the planet), empathy, compassion, non-violence, generosity, and instill in students a desire to assist and protect these Others, particularly those who have been previously discriminated against or oppressed. (We know schools are capable of helping students care for the other because we see this in the anti-bullying efforts that have been put in place in many schools throughout the nation.)
While a major focus of this education should be on undermining racism against African Americans, there should also be focus on Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Jews and Muslims, and even some attention to the demeaning of Irish, Italians, and Poles. 
In the higher grades these programs should also teach compassion and caring for all people on the planet and seek to foster a sense of global solidarity with the peoples of the world. A strong record of caring toward others should become an important factor in college, graduate and professional school entrance requirements and in scholarship awards. The organization Teaching Tolerance (www.teachingtolerance.org) has a wealth of information, programs, exercises and teachings that could provide a strong foundation for any program of this nature.
Racism has a long history and claim on the unconscious inheritance that gets passed on from generation to generation, so none of these programs will be sufficient to fully eradicate racism in a single generation. But pursued with real commitment and intention for several generations, they have the greatest possible chance of making a real dent in reducing the kind of criminal acts of racism that are a part of daily life in contemporary America. All of this should be done with a focus on empathy and compassion for those who have grown up with teachings that instill in them racist ideologies. We want to transform our world with the love, caring for the other, compassion and empathy that we want in our world. We do not seek to stigmatize racists, but to transform racist institutions, economic realities, and racist behaviors.
None of this is sufficient. As Tikkun Editor-at-Lare Peter Gabel argues in his forthcoming book The Desire for Mutual Recognition, points out, to defeat racism requires addressing the underlying psycho-spiritual causes of racism. Gabel's central point is that a young man like Dyllan Roof, the man who boasts of his racism before being arrested for killing nine African Americans in their church in Charleston, is not a "mentally ill individual" or a merely a madman driven by hate or a desire to terrorize others, but a social person caught in a web of human relationships in which he feels humiliated for never having been fully recognized as a human being and feels he has no way out of his worthlessness. In response, he and countless others develop a "false self" in which he imagines he is worthy and powerful, a member of an idealized "white race" that provides him with a substitute sense of worth and value covering over his inner emptiness and sense of valuelessness. Yet because this sense of collective value is what Gabel calls "false" or imaginary, Roof and people like him feel constantly under attack from an imaginary demonized "other", which in the historic context of the American South is African-American people who he imagines are "taking over" and trying to recreate his experience of humiliation. Thus he comes to feel they must be killed, just as Hitler (or Heinrich Himmler ) felt about the Jews prior to the "final solution" of the Holocaust. To truly address racism like Roof's, Gabel suggests, we must not only condemn it and outlaw its manifestations, although of course that must be the first step, but also include as part of our response addressing the legacy of inter-human distortions that produce and reproduce racism as a pathological way of seeing the world.
It is also important to remember that racism is rarely confined to just one target. According to what writers Henry Krinkle and Emma Quangel have identified as his manifesto, as reported in the Daily Kos, Roof approvingly described East Asians as "very racist," declared Hispanics to be "our enemies," and went on at length about how much he despised Jews. He says that much of the problem with Blacks is that they are too sensitive about their identity and he blames that on Jewish agitation. Roof writes: "Unlike many White nationalists, I am of the opinion that the majority of American and European jews are White. In my opinion the issues with jews is not their blood, but their identity. I think that if we could somehow destroy the jewish identity, then they wouldnt cause much of a problem. The problem is that Jews look White, and in many cases are White, yet they see themselves as minorities. Just like niggers, most jews are always thinking about the fact that they are jewish. The other issue is that they network. If we could somehow turn every jew blue for 24 hours, I think there would be a mass awakening, because people would be able to see plainly what is going on." 
And yes, racism is a worldwide phenomenon, and no people can be fully ruled sinless. Yet for us in the U.S., the most pressing racism is that against African Americans, and hence our corresponding obligation to take major steps to combat the racism against African Americans. 
The creation of a society in which humiliation is replaced by empathy, love, generosity and mutual-recognition is the primary goal of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and is articulated in our "New Bottom Line" (please read www.spiritualprogressives.org/covenant). That is not a utopian fantasy, but it is a project at least as long as overcoming sexism and racism. It will take millions of people embracing the New Bottom Line and engaging in p;ublic action to remake all our public and private institutions in ways that embody this new consciousness--and that is precisely what the Network of Spiritual Progressives seeks to achieve. So it is important that when engaging in struggles to achieve the other parts of this anti-racism agenda which I've put forward above that you simultaneously articulate the larger version of The New Bottom Line. And that in turn is why you should join our Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org/join and then engage with us in the specific ways that you can in your own community. For more info, contact Cat@spiritualprogressives.org. 
Cat Zavis is the executive director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. A lawyer, mediator, coach, and trainer of "Empathic Communication," Ms. Zavis leads trainings in how to be a spiritual progressive activist and in how to talk compassionately to people with different perspectives than your own about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. . 
Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine and co-chair with Vandana Shaiva of the interfaith and secular-humanist welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives. He is also: Rabbi at Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in Berkeley, Ca. and author of Jewish Renewal: A path to healing and transformation; Embracing Israel/Palestine; The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right; Spirit Matters; The Politics of Meaning; with Cornel West: Jews and Blacks--Let the Healing Begin; The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left; Surplus Powerlessness: The Psychodynamics of Daily Life and Work; and more.






Read the original article from Huffington Post here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-michael-lerner/the-path-to-defeat-racism_b_7652820.html

Sexism in Science Is Alive and Kicking

by Mercy Mascreen Davidson
Originally Published: June 24th, 2015

Professor Tim Hunt, a knighted and Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, resigned from his position at University College London after making inappropriate, sexist comments about women scientists at a conference in Seoul, South Korea. All of his 72 years and the coveted award have not broadened his views about women scientists. His apology broadcast by BBC Radio's Today program, that he was "honest" with his remarks, but was "stupid" to make them "in the presence of all those journalists" says it all. 
It is unfortunate that such opinions still exist and are expressed in public by white men who are the accepted standard for every determination, analysis, and conclusion. There is no place for such behavior in today's society. But whom are we kidding? From time immemorial, women in science have been treated as subservient to the men. From Rosalind Franklin, who contributed to our understanding of the molecular structure of DNA, but got little to no recognition from her male colleagues, who then went on to win the Nobel award, to Lawrence Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard University, who stated at an academic conference in 2005 that underrepresentation of women in science and engineering could be due to a "different availability of aptitude at the high end," sexism in science is rampant. Summers ultimately resigned his position, avoiding an imminent no-confidence vote by the faculty, but he remains a professor at the university. As a woman scientist, it is difficult to accept this bias, let alone grow immune to it, because there are no gender differences in intelligence. 
Disparities in the number of women chairpersons and tenured women faculty in universities and the existence of archaic, non-faculty academic titles tailor-made for female scientists, are part of the attempt to keep women from attaining equality with their male counterparts. Women's perceived lack of aggression, our hesitance to speak up for due recognition, and the absence of a "leaning in" strategy in some of us are taken as signs of weakness, leading to systemic abuse. Even though women constitute half of the American work force, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. Women have been exploited for their ideas, for primary and corresponding authorships, for promotions and raises by male mentors and colleagues. Female scientists have to be on guard at all times lest their innovative ideas get scooped.
There's also a level of racism that intersects with the sexism in science that rarely gets talked about. For example, I, a female, non-white Principal Investigator (PI) had arranged to obtain autopsy tissue for research. When I handed the sterile tubes to transport the tissue to the male pathologist, he grabbed them from me, dumped them in the trash and said, "tell Dr. Davidson that we have our own sterile tubes here." He had assumed that I was a technician -- in his mind I could never be a PI. 
Women have been yelled at for standing their ground, rudely interrupted during serious discussions, and have had to bear the ignominy of being treated like second-class citizens. In many cases there has been no peaceful solution because there is no acknowledgement of these problems. Given these impediments, some women struggle and progress at a very slow pace and have to be satisfied with crumbs that fall down. Their passion for science keeps them going. The landscape has to change and the playing field has to be leveled. To accomplish this, attitudes must change at the individual, societal, and government levels. Policies that are seriously targeted towards gender equality in the workplace have to be implemented. It will greatly benefit the individual, family, society and the country.





Read the original article from Huffington Post here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mercy-mascreen-davidson/sexism-in-science-is-aliv_b_7648222.html

Men in the Movement: Fathers, Partners and More

by Alexander Sanger
Originally Published: June 23rd, 2015

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the launch of State of the World's Fathersat the United Nations. The report, produced by the global alliance MenCare, provides an excellent overview of men's roles within families, in the home, and in the health system. Above all, the report highlights the fact that advancing gender equality not only improves women's lives but benefits men too -- even when it means giving up some of their privileges. 
The Cairo Conference in 1994, at which I spoke, recognized that men and fathers needed to be involved in the sexual and reproductive health arena. At the Beijing Conference in 1995, where I also spoke, I urged that men not be forgotten as we advanced the status and equality of women and that men's needs be recognized. Now 20 years later, The State of the World's Fathers Report recognizes that fathers and fatherhood matters -- for men, for women and for children. 
Men who are equal parents with mothers are happier, will live longer and their partners and children will be happier and live longer. 
In our field, attention to boys and men - -and the recognition that men have their own sexual and reproductive health needs -- is often forgotten. Men and boys are also exposed to harmful perceptions of what it means to be a man, perceptions that have far-reaching consequences on their health and well-being -- and the well-being of girls and women. 
Involving men and boys in sexual and reproductive health and rights is a process that must begin early with quality comprehensive sexuality education programs. Unraveling entrenched discrimination is what sexuality education does best: these programs not only provide boys and teens with factual information about puberty and their bodies; they help unravel long-held norms and give boys a space to openly discuss the pressures they are facing.
My colleague recently had the opportunity to sit in on a comprehensive sexuality education lesson for boys. The instructor showed a cartoon of a man sitting in an easy chair surrounded by crying children. His wife was working furiously around him, a broom in one hand, a cooking pot in another and a diaper draped over her arm. "What's wrong with this picture?" he asked the group. "The man should be paying more attention to his children," answered one boy. Another said that he felt sorry for the woman because she had to do all the work. One boy quietly said that the picture made him uncomfortable because that's the way things were in his house. 
These types of programs unravel generations of entrenched discrimination and help boys create a different kind of life and future for themselves. Plus, studies show that sexuality education programs that emphasize gender equality and power dynamics are five times more likely to reduce sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies than programs that do not. 
Sadly, the international community has not prioritized funding for services and education for men and boys despite the fact that in many settings, it is men that make the decisions around sex, pregnancy and reproductive health in general. In many countries where we work in Latin America, for example, women have to ask their husband's permission to see the doctor or are forbidden altogether because their bodies "belong" to their husbands. 
There are innovative ways to tackle this problem and ensure that sexual and reproductive health education continues throughout an individual's lifetime. In El Salvador, for example, our local Member Association employs male health promoters in 82 rural communities to educate men about sexually transmitted infections and stop the country's high rate of violence against women. And in our clinics in Colombia, trained counselors help couples navigate the complicated decisions around sexual and reproductive health--both with the goal of empowering the woman to make her own decisions and encouraging men to be supportive and participatory in the health of his partner. 
It is well known that men seek fewer health services than women -- perhaps that is one reason they die younger. Making women and men supportive of each other's health decisions could lead to men seeking better health care. It is in men's interests to be an equal partner in child rearing and consultations about their and their partner and children's health, all the while respecting their partner's autonomy.
But we still have a long way to go in ensuring that men play an active role not only in their own health, but the health of their families. As a man in the movement for sexual and reproductive health and rights, I know it will take each and every one of us -- men and women alike -- to achieve gender equality in our lifetimes.




Read the original article from Huffington Post here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexander-sanger/men-in-the-movement-fathe_b_7648086.html

What Immigrants Should Know Before Coming to Canada

by Suresh Kurl
Originally Published: June 24th, 2015

Canada is a dream come true for those who immigrate here. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the envy of the world. Its multiculturalism welcomes new immigrants with open arms, open hearts and open minds. I came here 45 years ago, for just one year. I still live here. 
Our Canadian multicultural policies have an impact on all ethnic and faith groups, on rich and poor, on old and young, men, women and transgender people. These policies are equalizers. Nevertheless, they have legal and budgetary restraints. Keeping this in mind, I would like to offer the federal government a few suggestions to share with new comers before it rolls out the welcome mat for them. 
All applicants seeking immigration should be informed about Canada's brand of multiculturalism when they file their applications. This background information will assist them in making up their mind as to whether they should leave their motherland for an unknown, untested and untried country. By explaining what multiculturalism means in Canada, applicants will be better able to set their level of expectations -- and sort out what they can't and can't do, and what they should not even dream of doing when they come here. 
I call Canada a functioning democracy, meaning it respects the rule of law, has an independent judiciary, a free press, it respects human rights, gender equality and all levels of free elections. We are governed by election victories, not by ballot box stuffing. 
Canada screens every individual, at the port of entry, irrespective of his faith, culture, colour and ethnicity. The officers have an obligation to compare his/her face against the photo on his passport. 
Canada does not give in to the demands of visitors to be processed only by a male or a female immigration officer at the point of entry, unless there are compelling reasons to do so. (Re: Canada Border Services Agency managers at Toronto's Pearson airport allowed a small group of Hindu priests to avoid screening by female border guards...; July 28, 2014).
An immigrant should never expect Canada to sacrifice or weaken its democratic laws to accommodate cultural practices incompatible with its values such as, the practice of the Islamic Sharia Law, female genital mutilation, child and forced marriages, the use of the niqab during public ceremonies or at work, polygamy and honour killings. (Re: The Shafia Family murders; June 30, 2009). 
Some cultures allow the physical punishment of children as a form of discipline. In Canada it is deemed child abuse and illegal and could result into his removal from the custody and guardianship of his parents. 
Even though Canada is liberally democratic and blessed with rich resources it cannot accommodate demands to teach every ethnic language in public schools. Such demands are not only a fiscal burden on the tax payers, but are socially isolating also. Coming together in English and French in school and at the workplace is one of the great benefits of multiculturalism. It is how we learn about each other. 
New Immigrants should be expected to come equipped with a basic proficiency in English or French, the two national languages, before leaving their country of birth. 
If new immigrants are to become a part of the Canadian multicultural fabric they must know what their obligations as Canadian resident/citizen would be. They must understand and accept that they would be expected to contribute to national safety, stability and social harmony, and not conflict. 
I suggest Citizenship and Immigration Canada develop a handbook of activities and practices legally and culturally unacceptable in Canada, along with the contents of Bill C-51 as a part of the standard immigration application.
Canada began the process of collecting biometric data in 2008. Since then it has joined other countries, which are doing the same. Soon it will become an administrative ritual that every applicant will have to go through. As I am for national safety and security, I am for it. 
I, as a citizen of a democratic country, appreciate that some of my readers might not agree with what I have said above. However, if Charles Vincent Massey, the late Governor General of Canada were alive today, he would agree with me, as he too fostered similar views: "The conditions have always been difficult. We must pass through the barriers of languages and race, of geography and religion, of custom and tradition and we must build on a common foundation, without jealousy or hatred, with tolerance and sympathy." 
Besides, my current status affords me the best gift of being retired -- the freedom to share my thoughts no matter how politically incorrect they might be.




Read the original article from Huffington Post here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/suresh-kurl/immigrating-to-canada_b_7647030.html

Are Flexible Schedules The Secret To Beating Summer's Productivity Slump?

by Craig Malloy
Originally Published: June 24th, 2015

When you're stuck inside during one perfect beach day after another, most adults lament the days when they had three solid months off.

While it's not practical for most businesses to take the summer off, there are still ways to make the most of the season without letting work responsibilities slip. Last year, a survey found that up to 30% of workplaces offer some version of Summer Fridays. If you’re a manager, this loosening of the reins might make you nervous.

The fact is that increasing work expectations happen alongside all of life’s other responsibilities. And when businesses take a more flexible approach to where their employees work from, they often find that it can increase productivity and growth.
In May 2014, University of Minnesota scientists released a study of 700 IT department employees from one Fortune 500 company, and found those whose work environments were modified experienced significant improvements in work-life balance, decrease work-family conflicts, and an improved sense of schedule control.  

Here are a few tips to guide the implementation of a more flexible work environment and make summer your most successful season yet:

TREAT SUMMER AS A TRIAL RUN FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR

Flexibility during the summer is a great trial run for more formal telecommuting policies. Objectively gauge your comfort level with people working from the field: Is your unsettledness stemming from a prejudice against the new paradigm? Use the trial run as an opportunity to ask your team what they think. Together, you can find an approach that works across the board.

SET PRIORITIES

Identify important meetings and deadlines that won't budge, and set priorities that clarify key projects that need to be completed and those that can wait until the physical return to the office. It’s important to remember that summer vacations are important family time that, when respected, can make employees more productive and engaged when they get back.

EXPLAIN EXPECTATIONS

Set guidelines so your team knows what you expect when they're working out of the office. Lay the groundwork that this situation requires trust, then be specific about productivity, checking in, attending meetings, submitting work, and more. Make them accountable. But also respect that they’ll need to check out for part of the day. If you’re upfront about this, you’ll gain respect and win their undivided attention during the times that matter most.

REMAIN CONNECTED.

The prevalence of free video-calling services, like FaceTime, have created a culture that's more comfortable with video calling. This trend is moving into the workforce, and the corporate world has taken note. Professional grade B2B video-conferencing technology now keeps workers connected to the office—attending meetings, collaborating on documents—regardless of their location.
If you’re still on the fence, consider these industry stats: According to Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), 79% of employees would like to work from home and 36% would choose a work-from-home option over a pay raise. To take this a little further, research from National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner demonstrated that telecommuting created the same boost in happiness as a $40K pay raise

As for the dollar value to businesses, GWA also says that allowing employees to telecommute even half time would save companies at least $10,400 per employee per year. When properly leveraged, summer might just be one of the most productive seasons of all.
Craig Malloy is a video conferencing pioneer and the CEO of Lifesize. Craig founded ViaVideo in 1994 (acquired by Polycom) and Lifesize in 2003 (acquired by Logitech), and is always on a mission to reinvent the video communications industry.




Read the original article from Fast Company here:
http://www.fastcompany.com/3047624/work-smart/how-to-make-summer-your-teams-most-productive-season

Could a female make it in MLB? French teen Melissa Mayeux lands on international registration list

by Andy Martino
Originally Published: June 23rd, 2015

An MLB team can sign 16-year-old French shortstop Melissa Mayoux as early as July 2.

Can a female ballplayer succeed in the big leagues?
Before jumping on the it’s only a matter of time bandwagon that swept the Internet early this week, I wanted to grant this topic the respect it deserved. The gender divide in sports seemed more nurture than nature, but a man cannot assume what a woman’s body is capable of.
A day of conversation with MLB scouts and executives, and female athletes, led to two conclusions: A woman will probably see a chance to play for an organization in the coming years. And the fact that we don’t yet have a definitive answer about whether this will work speaks to a fundamentally sexist system.
On Tuesday, as baseball digested the news that shortstop Melissa Mayeux, a 16-year-old from France, became the first female on MLB's international registration list, most scouts and personnel men expressed openness to considering a young woman.
I asked several directly: What would you do if you were scouting a teenage game, and saw a girl playing at a high level?
“Sign her,” said one longtime major league general manager. “Why not? If she has made it to that point, with all the obstacles that must be in place, her makeup must be off-the-charts. You’re signing heart. When you write up a report, you write up velocity and all that, but you put a premium on makeup and heart.”
All sports are different, and the physical requirements for positions within those sports vary. A woman will probably never be a left tackle in the NFL. But experts note skills specific to baseball that render that sport more likely to see gender integration.
“I think a woman can hit the ball over the shortstop’s head, or hit .300,” says Justine Siegal, founder of Baseball for All, a non-profit dedicated to seeking opportunities in the game for women and girls.
Siegal has made history on several fronts, as the first woman to coach for a men’s professional baseball team, the first woman to throw batting practice to major leaguers, and as a coach in men’s collegiate baseball. She is following Mayeux’s story with great interest, but has a different idea for a woman’s ideal position.
“Pitcher, particularly a lefty, or knuckleballer, because while size helps, it doesn’t matter as much (for that position),” Siegal says.
My follow-up is ignorant, but genuine. Could a woman throw a 90-plus mph fastball?
“If (WNBA star) Brittney Griner were handed a baseball, she could throw 90,” Siegal says.
And here we arrive at the institutional sexism. Siegal and I are mostly speculating, because of a lack of actual data. Athletic girls are generally told to play softball at a young age, and as a result, they don’t develop as baseball players.
A perfectly enlightened system would group boys and girls together on baseball teams from T-ball to 12th grade, and allow the truth to surface. But biases about who should play what have left us guessing.
Siegal believes that broader societal transformations will lead to future opportunities. “I think that we have a new generation coming up with a lot of new feelings about equality and inclusion,” she says.
Indeed, we are living in a fascinating time, as it relates to those issues. While many in the current generation of baseball scouts -- and I spoke to several of them on Tuesday -- remain skeptical that a female could hack it in the big leagues, the younger crowd will probably be less steadfast.
“Opportunity is the biggest difference,” Siegal says.
For decades, that has been mostly lacking. The next step is to untangle this embedded sexism, and let ‘em play. Baseball is a result-based business, and the results will bring answers.





Read the original article from New York Daily News here:
http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/baseballinsider/female-mlb-sexism-don-blog-entry-1.2268756

What HR can learn from political leaders

by Piers Robinson
Originally Published: June 24th, 2015

Politicians can offer business leaders very public examples of how – or how not – to bring other people on the journey with them. In light of April's general election and with the Labour leadership hustings now in full swing, what can HR directors take from modern politicians in order to help guide leaders in their own organisations? 
1. Be relevant 
In 1992 John Major won a higher percentage of votes than any other party leader before or since. He achieved this by painting a clear picture of what he believed the opposition's tax plans would mean for the average voter.  
In a similar vein, business leaders need to connect the wider goals and aspirations of the organisation with employees’ day-to-day work. Stories can play a powerful role in making this connection, and sharing real life examples of employees who have gone above and beyond in their work for customers or clients can truly inspire. HR directors can create a culture of storytelling as a mechanism to connect the role of all employees – from senior executives to frontline staff – to the organisation’s purpose.  
2. Be succinct  
Regardless of whether one agrees with its point of view, UKIP’s rise is based on the simplicity of its message. Every voter has a view on what the party stands for and the leader’s message is in line with this perception.  
In business, the HR director must work with leaders to distil their vision down so that it is succinct and accessible. It need not be about words and phrases, or business plans and strategy maps, but could be a simple narrative supported by creative messaging. However it is delivered it needs to resonate and be memorable for employees at all levels. 
3. Be authentic  
Much is said of ‘authentic leadership’, but what we often hear from modern politicians are reactive and rehearsed sound bites. (Ed Miliband’s 2011 ‘these strikes are wrong’ interview on the BBC was a painful example of this, which resurfaced in time for the general election).  
Similarly employees are often fed messages using well-crafted terminology and corporate jargon that can appear inauthentic. If leaders want people to embrace their direction, they need to find a human way to communicate. HR directors can support executives to clarify what they believe in by helping them tap into their intrinsic motivation as leaders and articulate their beliefs in an authentic way. This enables employees to contextualise decisions, understand the rationale behind them, and support change.  
4. Be aligned 
Successful politicians have an aligned team that believes in a consistent philosophy. However, if a leader leaves their party too far behind in a bid for wider electoral appeal, they will soon cease to be the party leader. Their challenge is to provide authentic and consistent leadership while aligning their party to a vote-winning strategy.  
HR directors need to be able to help an executive team create a clear philosophy and pick up the subtleties of any misalignment around the board table, even when they remain unspoken. Noticing body language and verbal cues can help identify people who appear to be toeing the party line but don’t really believe in the decisions being made. HR directors should also ensure that the CEO and their executive board understand how the functional strategies, actions and behaviours interlink, and see that the CEO holds the team accountable for executing their strategies in an aligned way. 
5. Be challenging  
In the 2010 to 2015 coalition Nick Clegg claims he challenged the Conservatives in a way that someone within the party could not have done. When deployed effectively, a culture of challenge can act to curb extreme decision-making and behaviour. 
HR directors should also be experts at challenging leaders, and have the confidence and skills to do it in an incisive but non-confrontational way. They are in a unique position to understand both the rational and emotional hurdles facing companies. Successful HR directors see the bigger picture, think strategically, ask the right questions and challenge behaviours and assumptions to help change happen.  
Piers Robinson is head of consultancy at change consultancy The Storytellers, and a former global HR director





Read the original article from HR Magazine here:
http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/features/1152205/what-hr-can-learn-from-political-leaders