food for thought: gosh more snow edition

This marks the third week in a row that I’ve put together this links list on a snow day from work; as Boston is learning painfully and unequally this winter, chronically under-funding socialized city services comes home to roost when nature decides to play rough. Blizzards apparently played a key role in creating the role of modern city government — it will be interesting to see whether they play an equally key role in re-imagining that role for the era of climate change and 21st-century infrastructure.

Whether you are comfortably at work or digging out from this most recent round of snow, I hope you find something thought-provoking in this week’s links list.

Maggie Mertens @ Refinery29 | Will Millennial Women Ever Get Paid Maternity Leave?

Here’s the thing: Business doesn’t suffer because of paid-leave laws. In California, one of only three states with paid-family-leave laws, 91 percent of businesses reported that the law either boosted or had no impact on their profitability. And, women there were more likely to stay in the workforce and report increased wages after having a baby than those in states with no such law.

“Paid parental leave encourages loyalty and productivity, and reduces turnover in a workforce,” says Tracy Sturdivant, co-executive director of Make it Work, a nonpartisan campaign working to advance economic security. “That’s why successful businesses like Google offer generous paid leave for mothers and fathers. These policies are good for loyalty, morale, and for a business’s bottom line.”

Meg Winikates @ Brain Popcorn | NEMA Wrap up 3: Discussing Diversity

The first task the Think Tank took on was trying to encapsulate what kinds of diversity we seek as a field.  Recognizing that ‘diversity of thought is even more important than diversity of look’ to promote change, while not underestimating the impact of the ‘this place is for people like me’ effect, meant that our definition in itself was diverse.  The questions raised included ‘how can we define/identify what diversity is – and should we?’ and ‘what kind of diversities are priorities for museums?’  These are both much bigger ideas than we had airspace for in an hour long session, but I would love to hear your thoughts!

Inside Higher Ed | Inequality on Rise in Higher Education

Rising costs and lower government aid have made it more difficult for lower-income students to earn a college degree, according to a new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania. The study tracked data over 45 years. It found that students and families paid for one-third of the cost of the higher-education system in 1980. But that proportion grew to a little more than half in 2012.

Brittney Cooper @ Salon | White Male Temper Tantrums: What the ‘Political Correctness’ Debate Completely Misses

In the hands of uncritical white liberals, black women’s radical knowledge production becomes the shrapnel of democracy, the violently shredded material aftermath of a “free” and unregulated war of ideas, embedded painfully in the hearts and minds of otherwise well-meaning white people. Clearly, black women’s ideas about political correctness and identity politics grow out of a liberatory politic that is about the pursuit of freedom for black people, rather than the suppression of white people.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay @ Al Jazeerha | Why Political Correctness is Still Politically Relevant

Building off the civil rights movement and feminist activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s, identity politics as a field emerged in response to the unfair treatment that people from marginalized groups received in daily life and the ways in which American culture did not reflect or include our experience or realities. Identity politics emerged in academia as a response to history’s not including the plight of Native Americans, women or black people. It was a response to racism, sexism and homophobia that pushed back on the assumption that everyone was straight, white, cisgender and middle-class. Identity politics — also known as the fields of women’s studies, ethnic studies, African-American studies, queer studies and the like — paved the way for Edward Said to study colonization’s role in how the West understands “the Orient,” Kimberle Crenshaw to consider a politics of intersectionality and the powerlessness of women invisible to the legal system and Audre Lorde to insist that her words as a lesbian and woman of color mattered.  

Sam Pritchard @ Contralbum | Political Correctness Is More Reasonable Than Jonathan Chait

Chait, by arguing that all ideas merit the respect of good-faith Enlightenment discourse, exhibits dishonesty. He, like all human beings, excludes many positions from his notion of what is reasonable, and dismisses them summarily. He even does it within the very piece where he pleads for a democratic ideal of reasoned discourse in which his ideas are never dismissed—and, incredibly, some of the ideas he rejects flippantly are indeed reasonable. Chait shrugs off these ideas perhaps more subtly and in a more tonally-restrained style than the PC discourse he criticizes, but it is no less galling to those being dismissed, and it is no less a tactic of ideological policing. Again, we find that Chait is primarily uncomfortable with being subject to the dismissal that he, as a centrist, assumed he was entitled to dole out and immune from receiving. That assumption is so ingrained that he doesn’t even recognize his own language as the dismissive policing of ideology that it is.

 Sydni Dunn @ Curriculum Vitae | Where Do English Ph.D.’s Get Jobs? It Depends on Where They Studied

From Ph.D. to the professorship, the market moves downward. Of the graduates who get tenure-track jobs, most end up at universities ranked lower than the ones they attended. Virtually no one moves up. Even moving from a fourth-tier Ph.D. program to a tenure-track professorship at a third-tier one is nearly unheard of.

Michael Ortner @ Quartz | How to Have a Successful Unlimited Vacation Policy

Americans are not good at taking vacation. A study from Glassdoorreports that American employees only take 51% of their available time off—and 15% take no time off at all. And these statistics are not good for business; studies have shown again and again that vacations are intimately tied to higher productivity, workplace morale, and employee retention. We decided to give our employees the ability to use their best judgment and take as much vacation as they decided they needed, when they needed it.

Allison Meier @ Hyperallergic | Emma Goldman Papers Project Faces Uncertain Future

The 34-year-old Emma Goldman Papers Project is in limbo after losing its affiliation with UC Berkeley and running through its funding. The university cites the slowness of the project and the need to direct funds elsewhere as reasons for the break, while the project’s director claims the charismatic Jewish anarchist activist is still a radical figure to support.

Adam Grant & Sheryl Sandberg | Madam C.E.O, Get Me a Coffee

Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, finds that professional women in business, law and science are still expected to bring cupcakes, answer phones and take notes. These activities don’t just use valuable time; they also cause women to miss opportunities. The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point.

When men do help, they are more likely to do so in public, while women help more behind the scenes. Studies demonstrate that men are more likely to contribute with visible behaviors — like showing up at optional meetings — while women engage more privately in time-consuming activities like assisting others and mentoring colleagues. As the Simmons College management professor Joyce K. Fletcher noted, women’s communal contributions tend simply to “disappear.”

What have you been reading on work, archives, and social justice this week? Share on Twitter, via email, or in comments!

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