The week@work – ‘I’MPossible, steady job gains, robots, the multi-lingual advantage, and digital addiction

This week@work a South African big wave surfer completed his Atlantic crossing via paddleboard, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.7%, research revealed speaking multiple languages restructures our brain, and the time you are spending reading this on your smartphone just may be a symptom of addiction.

What have you been doing @work since December 6, 2016? Chris Bertish, an accomplished surfer, left Morocco on that Tuesday headed for Florida. John Clarke reported ‘Chris Bertish Becomes First to Cross Atlantic by Paddleboard’.

“Bertish left the Agadir Marina in Morocco on Dec. 6. and planned to make the 4,600-mile, open-ocean passage unsupported and unassisted on a 20-foot stand-up paddleboard to Florida in four months.

He changed course south to Antigua because of low pressure systems and volatile weather, completing the 4,050-mile crossing in 93 days, arriving at 8:32 a.m. local time. Bertish averaged 44 miles a day — mostly at night to avoid exposure to the sun — and alternated between resting and paddling every two or three hours.

He made an estimated two million paddle strokes during the journey.”

In other good news, Ana Swanson examined the detail behind the unemployment figures, ‘U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent’.

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“The U.S. economy added a healthy 235,000 jobs in February, according to government data released Friday morning, surpassing economists’ expectations and likely clearing the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month.

The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.7 percent, compared with 4.8 percent in January, and wages rose by 6 cents to $26.09 in February, after a 5-cent increase the month before.”

In a related story, Claire Cain Miller offered strategies on ‘How to Beat the Robots’.

“The problem, at least for now, is not that there isn’t enough work — there is, but it is very different from the kind of work technology is displacing. Manufacturing and warehousing jobs are shrinking, while jobs that provide services (health care, child care, elder care, education, food) are growing.”

A number of elements in combination could establish viable competition with the robots: education that encourages flexibility and life-long learning, guaranteed basic income, profit sharing, and experimenting with non-traditional approaches to work.

Author Gabrielle Hogan-Brun‘s research has found ‘People who speak multiple languages make the best employees for one big reason’.

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“Speaking a different language—whether it’s your grandparents’ tongue or high-school Spanish—fundamentally changes the structure of your brain. Put a bunch of these malleable minds together in a company, and you create the potential for some truly original thinking.

Observations of multi-language work teams show that mixed-language groups have a propensity to find innovative solutions for practical problems. This is because they use a range of communication strategies in flexible and dynamic ways. When speakers from different language backgrounds work together using a common language, they draw on subconscious concepts that lie below the surface of the language they happen to be conversing in.

These findings show that bilingual people may have highly valued employment attributes: analytical thinking, conceptualizing ability, working memory, and dexterity. Clearly, these skills are assets when it comes to rational planning, managing complexity, and problem solving, which are central for executive function.”

Claudia Dreifus interviewed social psychologist, Adam Alter to discover ‘Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens’.

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“Why do you claim that many of the new electronic gadgets have fueled behavioral addictions?”

“Well, look at what people are doing. In one survey, 60 percent of the adults said they keep their cellphones next to them when they sleep. In another survey, half the respondents claimed they check their emails during the night.

Moreover, these new gadgets turn out to be the perfect delivery devices for addictive media. If games and social media were once confined to our home computers, portable devices permit us to engage with them everywhere.

Today, we’re checking our social media constantly, which disrupts work and everyday life. We’ve become obsessed with how many “likes” our Instagram photos are getting instead of where we are walking and whom we are talking to.”

In closing this week@work, this morning’s tweet from Chris Bertish:

“As you head into the new week, remember the mantra that got me through 93 days on the Atlantic…Nothing is impossible, unless you believe it to be”

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The week@work – wage gaps, low expectations, false assumptions,’Confirmation’, and reflections on a 50 year career

After reviewing the stories selected for this week@work, I realized there was a common theme in all except one: women who are pursuing their dream jobs in male dominated fields. The last story, and exception to the theme, is Alberto Tomasi’s, a cabdriver for the past 50 years in Rome.

There have been many conversations recently about the wage gap between men and women@work. One of the most egregious discrepancies occurs on the global stage of world cup soccer. Earlier this month, five members of the U.S. Women’s National Team filed a wage discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation. Carli Lloyd, co-captain of the team outlined her position in an essay, ‘Why I’m Fighting for Equal Pay’.

“I’ve worn a U.S. Soccer uniform for 12 years and have done so proudly. I’ve had some of the greatest moments of my life — winning two Olympic gold medals and the 2015 Women’s World Cup — wearing that uniform. So when I joined four teammates in filing a wage-discrimination complaint against U.S. Soccer late last month, it had nothing to do with how much I love to play for my country.

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When we talk about the wage gap in today’s workplace, experts estimate women earn 79% of a man’s salary for the same job. For U.S. women’s soccer, it’s 17% for the top players and 21% for the rest. There is no overtime pay in a career that requires a player to be on the road for 260 days a year.

In a sport where the women’s team revenue will exceed $5million vs. a $1million deficit for the men’s team, the top five women’s annual salaries are $72K vs the men’s at $406K. Members of the women’s world cup team earn $15K to the men’s $69K. When the women won the world cup last year they earned a $75K bonus. If the men were to win, they would bring home $390K.

The fact that women are being mistreated financially is, sadly, not a breaking news story. It goes on in every field. We can’t right all the world’s wrongs, but we’re totally determined to right the unfairness in our field, not just for ourselves but for the young players coming up behind us and for our soccer sisters around the world.”

In a related story, New York Magazine writer, Dayna Evans reports on the ‘expectation gap’ in salary negotiations uncovered by job marketplace, Hired – ‘Study Finds That Women in Tech Ask for Lower Salaries Than Men Do’.

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“After analyzing 100,000 interview requests and job offers over the last year, tech job marketplace Hired found that, on average, tech companies offer women 3% less than men for the same roles. Among the most interesting—and troubling—pieces of data is that men receive higher salaries 69% of the time than women for the same job titles at the same companies.

Some of that disparity could be attributable to women not setting their demands high enough. Because Hired’s marketplace lets job seekers specify the salaries they’re seeking, the report provides a glimpse into both expectations and final offers. In roles that are more male dominated, women often set their salary expectations lower than their male counterparts.

Overall, Hired’s data shows that the average woman on our platform sets her expected salary at $14k less per year than the average man on our platform. When we break the expectation gap down by role — comparing women and men in the same job category — we found as the ratio of men to women in the role increases, so does the gap.”

The death of Pritzker Prize winning architect, Zaha Hadid on March 31 prompted The New York Times to send an “informal online questionnaire” asking “female architects among its readers to talk candidly about their experiences in the profession: the progress they’ve made and the obstacles they still face on construction sites and in client meetings.”

“For a woman to go out alone in architecture is still very, very hard,” the architect Zaha Hadid said. “It’s still a man’s world.” Ms. Hadid often stated that she did not want to serve as a symbol of progress for women in her profession. But, inevitably, she did. A study on diversity in the profession released this year by the American Institute of Architects found that “women strongly believe that there is not gender equity in the industry”; that women and minorities say they are less likely to be promoted to more senior positions; and that gender and race are obstacles to equal pay for comparable positions. Since Ms. Hadid won the Pritzker Prize in 2004, the percentage of female architects in the United States has barely grown, increasing to 25.7 percent from 24 percent, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

The article is a series of snapshots of successful architects@work, encountering obstacles in a still white-male dominated field. One example from Yen Ha, Principal of Front Studio Architects in New York.

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“We absolutely face obstacles. Every single day. It’s still largely a white, male-dominated field, and seeing a woman at the job site or in a big meeting with developers is not that common. Every single day I have to remind someone that I am, in fact, an architect. And sometimes not just an architect, but the architect. I’m not white, wearing black, funky glasses, tall or male. I’m none of the preconceptions of what an architect might be, and that means that every time I introduce myself as an architect, I have to push through the initial assumptions. Every new job site means a contractor who will assume I am the assistant, decorator or intern. It usually isn’t until the third meeting that the project team looks to me for the answers to the architectural problems.”

In 1991 there was a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Then President George H.W. Bush nominated U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Clarence Thomas to fill the vacancy. This past weekend, HBO aired ‘Confirmation’, the story of former colleague Anita Hill testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Thomas had sexually harassed her.

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‘The Real Story Behind HBO’s ‘Confirmation’ From The NPR Reporter Who Broke The Story’ provides a Q & A with NPR correspondent, Nina Totenberg.

“I’d been hearing all summer long that there were women who said they were harassed by Clarence Thomas when he was at the EEOC and when he was at the Education Department,” Totenberg said. “But I could never really prove it. And then I heard about this woman, Anita Hill.”

That’s when everything changed.

You don’t recognize this now, but sexual harassment was a dirty little secret that most women had but they didn’t talk about. They were embarrassed by it; it was a hindrance and not a help in any way. Now suddenly, it gets popped into the open. … But all of those silent, female experiences materialized in the … phones exploding on Capitol Hill.”

Thomas was confirmed by a vote of 52-48. The legacy of Hill’s action was a dramatic increase in the number of sexual harassment claims filed with the EEOC.

“NPR received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for its gavel-to-gavel coverage — anchored by Totenberg — of both the original hearings and the inquiry into Anita Hill’s allegations, and for Totenberg’s reports and exclusive interview with Hill.”

Totenberg received individual accolades as well, but there was a downside.

“I was pilloried during this. I had one of the great stories of any reporter’s life. I had worked very hard to get it. And the cost was enormous in terms of negative publicity and people trashing me a lot and senators yelling at me. At one point I had a driver at Nightline who went around the corner [and] stopped and he said to me … “Lady, you better get a gun.”

The final story this week is ’50 Years in a Cab: A Long, Winding Trip for One Driver, and His City’, from Elisabetta Povoledo.

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“From his front-seat perch, Alberto Tomassi, a Roman cabdriver for 50 years, has been both eavesdropper and confessor. He has played impromptu tour guide, thwarted muggings and rushed countless clients to the emergency room.

Expertly navigating Rome’s narrow, potholed streets — many conceived centuries before the internal combustion engine — he has developed the unflappable calm of a Zen monk.

“If you can get through the first 15 years without getting really angry, you can do it forever,” Mr. Tomassi said. “I just take things as they come.”

“You don’t get rich doing this job, but it’s honest work,” he said. “You can raise a family, put your kids through school.”

His only disappointment this year was in not being recognized for his service.

“…no party, no gold watch, no tribute — so he decided to place a round silver sticker emblazoned with “50 years of taxi” on the rear window of his cab.”