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Is gender equality good for everyone?

Privilege is invisible to those who have it?

I think that most women refuse to be equalled with men, unless for equal pay

It’s the right thing to do. Michael Kimmel makes the practical case for treating men and women equally in the workplace and at home. It’s not a zero-sum game, but a win-win that will result in more opportunity and more happiness for everybody.

Michael Kimmel. Sociologist. Author of “Angry White Men,” Michael Kimmel is a pre-eminent scholar of men and masculinity. Full bio

Speech on May 2015

I’m here to recruit men to support gender equality.

What do men have to do with gender equality? Gender equality is about women, right? I mean, the word gender is about women. Actually, I’m even here speaking as a middle class white man.

I wasn’t always a middle class white man. It all happened for me about 30 years ago when I was in graduate school, and a bunch of us graduate students got together one day, and we said there’s an explosion of writing and thinking in feminist theory, but there’s no courses yet.

So we did what graduate students typically do in a situation like that. We said, OK, let’s have a study group. We’ll read a text, we’ll talk about it, we’ll have a potluck dinner. 

TED

“White men in Europe and the United States are the beneficiaries of the single greatest affirmative action program in the history of the world. It is called ‘the history of the world.'”

1:07 So every week, 11 women and me got together.

We would read some text in feminist theory and have a conversation about it. And during one of our conversations, I witnessed an interaction that changed my life forever.

It was a conversation between two women. One of the women was white, and one was black. And the white woman said “All women face the same oppression as women. All women are similarly situated in patriarchy, and therefore all women have a kind of intuitive solidarity or sisterhood.”

And the black woman said, “I’m not so sure. Let me ask you a question.When you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror, what do you see? And the white woman said, “I see a woman.” And the black woman said, “You see, that’s the problem for me. Because when I wake up in the morning and I look in the mirror I see a black woman. To me, race is visible. But to you, race is invisible. You don’t see it.”

And then she said something really startling. She said, “That’s how privilege works. Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” It is a luxury, I will say to the white people sitting in this room, not to have to think about race every split second of our lives. Privilege is invisible to those who have it.

Now remember, I was the only man in this group, so when I witnessed this, I went, “Oh no.”

And somebody said, “Well what was that reaction?” And I said, “Well, when I wake up in the morning and I look in the mirror, I see a human being. I’m kind of the generic person. You know, I’m a middle class white man. I have no race, no class, no gender. I’m universally generalizable.”

3:02 (Laughter)

I like to think that was the moment I became a middle class white man, that class and race and gender were not about other people, they were about me. I had to start thinking about them, and it had been privilege that had kept it invisible to me for so long.

I wish I could tell you this story ends 30 years ago in that little discussion group, but I was reminded of it quite recently at my university where I teach.

I have a colleague, and she and I both teach the sociology of gender course on alternate semesters. So she gives a guest lecture for me when I teach. I give a guest lecture for her when she teaches. So I walk into her class to give a guest lecture, about 300 students in the room, and as I walk in, one of the students looks up and says, Oh, finally, an objective opinion.”

All that semester, whenever my colleague opened her mouth, what my students saw was a woman. I mean, if you were to say to my students, “There is structural inequality based on gender in the United States,” they’d say, “Well of course you’d say that. You’re a woman. You’re biased.” When I say it, they go, “Wow, is that interesting. Is that going to be on the test? How do you spell ‘structural’?”

I hope you all can see, this is what objectivity looks like.

Disembodied Western rationality. And that, by the way, is why I think men so often wear ties.

Because if you are going to embody disembodied Western rationality, you need a signifier, and what could be a better signifier of disembodied Western rationality than a garment that at one end is a noose and the other end points to the genitals?

That is mind-body dualism right there.

So making gender visible to men is the first step to engaging men to support gender equality.

when men first hear about gender equality, many men think that’s right, that’s fair, that’s just, that’s the ethical imperative. But not all men.

Some men think “Oh my God, yes, gender equality,” and they will immediately begin to mansplain to you your oppression. They see supporting gender equality something akin to the cavalry, like, “Thanks very much for bringing this to our attention, ladies, we’ll take it from here.”

This results in a syndrome that I like to call ‘premature self-congratulation.’

There’s another group, though, that actively resists gender equality, that sees gender equality as something that is detrimental to men. I was on a TV talk show opposite four white men.

This is the beginning of the book I wrote, ‘Angry White Men.’ These were four angry white men who believed that they, white men in America, were the victims of reverse discrimination in the workplace.

And they all told stories about how they were qualified for jobs, qualified for promotions, they didn’t get them, they were really angry. And the reason I’m telling you this is I want you to hear the title of this particular show. It was a quote from one of the men, and the quote was, A Black Woman Stole My Job.”

And they all told their stories, qualified for jobs, qualified for promotions, didn’t get it, really angry. And then it was my turn to speak, and I said, “I have just one question for you guys, and it’s about the title of the show, ‘A Black Woman Stole My Job.’

Actually, it’s about one word in the title. I want to know about the word ‘my.’ Where did you get the idea it was your job? Why isn’t the title of the show, ‘A Black Woman Got the Job?’ or ‘A Black Woman Got A Job?'”

Because without confronting men’s sense of entitlement, I don’t think we’ll ever understand why so many men resist gender equality.

we think this is a level playing field, so any policy that tilts it even a little bit, we think, “Oh my God, water’s rushing uphill. It’s reverse discrimination against us.”

 let me be very clear: white men in Europe and the United States are the beneficiaries of the single greatest affirmative action program in the history of the world. It is called “the history of the world.”

now I’ve established some of the obstacles to engaging men, but why should we support gender equality? Of course, it’s fair, it’s right and it’s just. But more than that, gender equality is also in our interest as men.

If you listen to what men say about what they want in their lives, gender equality is actually a way for us to get the lives we want to live.

Gender equality is good for countries. It turns out, according to most studies, that those countries that are the most gender equal are also the countries that score highest on the happiness scale. And that’s not just because they’re all in Europe.

Even within Europe, those countries that are more gender equal also have the highest levels of happiness.

It is also good for companies. Research by Catalyst and others has shown conclusively that the more gender-equal companies are, the better it is for workers, the happier their labor force is.

They have lower job turnover. They have lower levels of attrition. They have an easier time recruiting. They have higher rates of retention, higher job satisfaction, higher rates of productivity.

So the question I’m often asked in companies is, “Boy, this gender equality thing, that’s really going to be expensive, huh?” And I say, “Oh no, in fact, what you have to start calculating is how much gender inequality is already costing you. It is extremely expensive.” So it is good for business.

And the other thing is, it’s good for men. It is good for the kind of lives we want to live, because young men especially have changed enormously, and they want to have lives that are animated by terrific relationships with their children. They expect their partners, their spouses, their wives, to work outside the home and be just as committed to their careers as they are.

I was talking, to give you an illustration of this change — Some of you may remember this. When I was a lot younger, there was a riddle that was posed to us. Some of you may wince to remember this riddle. This riddle went something like this.

A man and his son are driving on the freeway, and they’re in a terrible accident, and the father is killed, and the son is brought to the hospital emergency room, and as they’re bringing the son into the hospital emergency room, the emergency room attending physician sees the boy and says, Oh, I can’t treat him, that’s my son.” How is this possible?

We were flummoxed by this. We could not figure this out.

 Well, I decided to do a little experiment with my 16-year old son. He had a bunch of his friends hanging out at the house watching a game on TV recently. So I decided I would pose this riddle to them, just to see, to gauge the level of change.

Well, 16-year-old boys, they immediately turned to me and said, “It’s his mom.” Right? No problem. Just like that. Except for my son, who said, “Well, he could have two dads.”

That’s an index, an indicator of how things have changed. Younger men today expect to be able to balance work and family. They want to be dual-career, dual-carer couples. They want to be able to balance work and family with their partners. They want to be involved fathers.

11:36 Now, it turns out that the more egalitarian our relationships, the happier both partners are. Data from psychologists and sociologists are quite persuasive here. I think we have the persuasive numbers, the data, to prove to men that gender equality is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win.

Here’s what the data show. Now, when men begin the process of engaging with balancing work and family, we often have two phrases that we use to describe what we do. We pitch in and we help out.

And I’m going to propose something a little bit more radical, one word: “share.”

Because here’s what the data show: when men share housework and childcare, their children do better in school. Their children have lower rates of absenteeism, higher rates of achievement. They are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. They are less likely to see a child psychiatrist. They are less likely to be put on medication.

So when men share housework and childcare, their children are happier and healthier, and men want this.

When men share housework and childcare, their wives are happier. Duh. Not only that, their wives are healthier. Their wives are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to be put on medication, more likely to go to the gym, report higher levels of marital satisfaction.

when men share housework and childcare, their wives are happier and healthier, and men certainly want this as well.

When men share housework and childcare, the men are healthier. They smoke less, drink less, take recreational drugs less often. They are less likely to go to the ER but more like to go to a doctor for routine screenings. They are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to be taking prescription medication. So when men share housework and childcare, the men are happier and healthier. And who wouldn’t want that?

And finally, when men share housework and childcare, they have more sex.

of these four fascinating findings, which one do you think Men’s Health magazine put on its cover?

 “Housework Makes Her Horny. (Not When She Does It.)”

14:04 (Laughter)

I will say, just to remind the men in the audience, these data were collected over a really long period of time, so I don’t want listeners to say, “Hmm, OK, I think I’ll do the dishes tonight.”

These data were collected over a really long period of time. But I think it shows something important, that when Men’s Health magazine put it on their cover, they also called, you’ll love this, “Choreplay.”

what we found is something really important, that gender equality is in the interest of countries, of companies, and of men, and their children and their partners, that gender equality is not a zero-sum game. It’s not a win-lose. It is a win-win for everyone.

And what we also know is we cannot fully empower women and girls unless we engage boys and men. We know this. And my position is that men need the very things that women have identified that they need to live the lives they say they want to live in order to live the lives that we say we want to live.

15:21 In 1915, on the eve of one of the great suffrage demonstrations down Fifth Avenue in New York City, a writer in New York wrote an article in a magazine, and the title of the article was, “Feminism for Men.” And this was the first line of that article: Feminism will make it possible for the first time for men to be free.”

Drop the Super-chicken Model in the workplace

An evolutionary biologist at Purdue University named William Muir studied chickens. He was interested in productivity — I think it’s something that concerns all of us — but it’s easy to measure in chickens because you just count the eggs.

He wanted to know what could make his chickens more productive, so he devised a beautiful experiment.

Chickens live in groups, so first of all, he selected just an average flock, and he let it alone for six generations.

But then he created a second group of the individually most productive chickens — you could call them superchickens — and he put them together in a superflock, and each generation, he selected only the most productive for breeding.

After six generations had passed, what did he find?

Well, the first group, the average group, was doing just fine. They were all plump and fully feathered and egg production had increased dramatically.

What about the second group? Well, all but three were dead. They’d pecked the rest to death. (Laughter)

The individually productive chickens had only achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of the rest.

As I’ve gone around the world talking about this and telling this story in all sorts of organizations and companies, people have seen the relevance almost instantly, and they come up and they say things to me like, That superflock, that’s my company.” (Laughter) Or, “That’s my country.” Or, “That’s my life.”

All my life I’ve been told that the way we have to get ahead is to compete: get into the right school, get into the right job, get to the top, and I’ve really never found it very inspiring.

I’ve started and run businesses because invention is a joy, and because working alongside brilliant, creative people is its own reward.

And I’ve never really felt very motivated by pecking orders or by superchickens or by superstars.

But for the past 50 years, we’ve run most organizations and some societies along the superchicken model. We’ve thought that success is achieved by picking the superstars, the brightest men, or occasionally women, in the room, and giving them all the resources and all the power.

And the result has been just the same as in William Muir’s experiment: aggression, dysfunction and waste. If the only way the most productive can be successful is by suppressing the productivity of the rest, then we badly need to find a better way to work and a richer way to live. (Applause)

What is it that makes some groups obviously more successful and more productive than others?

Well, that’s the question a team at MIT took to research. They brought in hundreds of volunteers, they put them into groups, and they gave them very hard problems to solve.

And what happened was exactly what you’d expect, that some groups were very much more successful than others, but what was really interesting was that the high-achieving groups were not those where they had one or two people with spectacularly high I.Q.

Nor were the most successful groups the ones that had the highest aggregate I.Q.

Instead, they had 3 characteristics, the really successful teams.

1.  they showed high degrees of social sensitivity to each other. This is measured by something called the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test. It’s broadly considered a test for empathy, and the groups that scored highly on this did better.

2.  the successful groups gave roughly equal time to each other, so that no one voice dominated, but neither were there any passengers.

3. the more successful groups had more women in them. 

Now, was this because women typically score more highly on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, so you’re getting a doubling down on the empathy quotient?

Or was it because they brought a more diverse perspective?

We don’t really know, but the striking thing about this experiment is that it showed what we know, which is some groups do better than others, but what’s key to that is their social connectedness to each other.

How does this play out in the real world?

Well, it means that what happens between people really counts, because in groups that are highly attuned and sensitive to each other, ideas can flow and grow. People don’t get stuck. They don’t waste energy down dead ends.

5:13 An example: Arup is one of the world’s most successful engineering firms, and it was commissioned to build the equestrian center for the Beijing Olympics. Now, this building had to receive 2,500 really highly strung thoroughbred horses that were coming off long-haul flights, highly jet-lagged, not feeling their finest.

And the problem the engineer confronted was, what quantity of waste to cater for?

Now, you don’t get taught this in engineering school — (Laughter) — and it’s not really the kind of thing you want to get wrong, so he could have spent months talking to vets, doing the research, tweaking the spreadsheet.

Instead, he asked for help and he found someone who had designed the Jockey Club in New York. The problem was solved in less than a day. Arup believes that the culture of helpfulness is central to their success.

Helpfulness sounds really anemic, but it’s absolutely core to successful teams, and it routinely outperforms individual intelligence.

Helpfulness means I don’t have to know everything, I just have to work among people who are good at getting and giving help.

At SAP, they reckon that you can answer any question in 17 minutes. But there isn’t a single high-tech company I’ve worked with that imagines for a moment that this is a technology issue, because what drives helpfulness is people getting to know each other.

Now that sounds so obvious, and we think it’ll just happen normally, but it doesn’t.

When I was running my first software company, I realized that we were getting stuck. There was a lot of friction, but not much else, and I gradually realized the brilliant, creative people that I’d hired didn’t know each other. They were so focused on their own individual work, they didn’t even know who they were sitting next to, and it was only when I insisted that we stop working and invest time in getting to know each other that we achieved real momentum.

Now, that was 20 years ago, and now I visit companies that have banned coffee cups at desks because they want people to hang out around the coffee machines and talk to each other.

The Swedes even have a special term for this. They call it fika, which means more than a coffee break. It means collective restoration.

At Idexx, a company up in Maine, they’ve created vegetable gardens on campus so that people from different parts of the business can work together and get to know the whole business that way. Have they all gone mad?

Quite the opposite — they’ve figured out that when the going gets tough, and it always will get tough if you’re doing breakthrough work that really matters, what people need is social support, and they need to know who to ask for help. Companies don’t have ideas; only people do.

And what motivates people are the bonds and loyalty and trust they develop between each other. What matters is the mortar, not just the bricks.

When you put all of this together, what you get is something called social capital.

Social capital is the reliance and interdependency that builds trust. The term comes from sociologists who were studying communities that proved particularly resilient in times of stress.

Social capital is what gives companies momentum, and social capital is what makes companies robust.

What does this mean in practical terms?

It means that time is everything, because social capital compounds with time. So teams that work together longer get better, because it takes time to develop the trust you need for real candor and openness.

And time is what builds value.

When Alex Pentland suggested to one company that they synchronize coffee breaks so that people would have time to talk to each other, profits went up 15 million dollars, and employee satisfaction went up 10 percent. Not a bad return on social capital, which compounds even as you spend it.

Now, this isn’t about chumminess, and it’s no charter for slackers, because people who work this way tend to be kind of scratchy, impatient, absolutely determined to think for themselves because that’s what their contribution is.

Conflict is frequent because candor is safe.

And that’s how good ideas turn into great ideas, because no idea is born fully formed. It emerges a little bit as a child is born, kind of messy and confused, but full of possibilities.

And it’s only through the generous contribution, faith and challenge that they achieve their potential. And that’s what social capital supports.

Now, we aren’t really used to talking about this, about talent, about creativity, in this way. We’re used to talking about stars. So I started to wonder, well, if we start working this way, does that mean no more stars?

So I went and I sat in on the auditions at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. And what I saw there really surprised me, because the teachers weren’t looking for individual pyrotechnics. They were looking for what happened between the students, because that’s where the drama is.

And when I talked to producers of hit albums, they said, “Oh sure, we have lots of superstars in music. It’s just, they don’t last very long. It’s the outstanding collaborators who enjoy the long careers, because bringing out the best in others is how they found the best in themselves.”

And when I went to visit companies that are renowned for their ingenuity and creativity, I couldn’t even see any superstars, because everybody there really mattered.

And when I reflected on my own career, and the extraordinary people I’ve had the privilege to work with, I realized how much more we could give each other if we just stopped trying to be superchickens.

Once you appreciate truly how social work is, a lot of things have to change.

Management by talent contest has routinely pitted employees against each other.

Now, rivalry has to be replaced by social capital.

For decades, we’ve tried to motivate people with money, even though we’ve got a vast amount of research that shows that money erodes social connectedness. Now, we need to let people motivate each other.

And for years, we’ve thought that leaders were heroic soloists who were expected, all by themselves, to solve complex problems.

Now, we need to redefine leadership as an activity in which conditions are created in which everyone can do their most courageous thinking together.

We know that this works. When the Montreal Protocol called for the phasing out of CFCs, the chlorofluorocarbons implicated in the hole in the ozone layer, the risks were immense.

CFCs were everywhere, and nobody knew if a substitute could be found. But one team that rose to the challenge adopted 3 key principles.

The first was the head of engineering, Frank Maslen, said, there will be no stars in this team. We need everybody. Everybody has a valid perspective.

Second, we work to one standard only: the best imaginable. And

Third, he told his boss, Geoff Tudhope, that he had to butt out, because he knew how disruptive power can be.

Now, this didn’t mean Tudhope did nothing. He gave the team air cover, and he listened to ensure that they honored their principles. And it worked: Ahead of all the other companies tackling this hard problem, this group cracked it first.

And to date, the Montreal Protocol is the most successful international environmental agreement ever implemented.

15:00 There was a lot at stake then, and there’s a lot at stake now, and we won’t solve our problems if we expect it to be solved by a few supermen or superwomen.

Now we need everybody, because it is only when we accept that everybody has value that we will liberate the energy and imagination and momentum we need to create the best beyond measure.

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.
Organizations are often run according to “the superchicken model,”
the value is placed on star employees who outperform others.
And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams.
Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes…
ted.com|By Margaret Heffernan

Designing what? The Human Factors Concept

 

The bottom line in industrial engineering is to design a system that would optimize production, inventory, distribution, material handling by maximizing profit or minimizing cost or finding a trade-off that would satisfy the marketing department, the shareholders, the after sale, the union, the consumer product, and the health and safety agencies and so forth.

Now we can recognize that optimizing a system involves inter-relationship among various interested groups of people.  The inter-relationship with consumers, operators, employees, workers, management, and shareholders requires a good understanding of the research done in psychology, sociology, marketing, econometrics and other social studies. This fact is anathema to mathematical solutions that do not consider constraints on human needs, demands, safety and health regulations and specifications, and variability in capabilities and limitations and ethnic idiosyncrasies.

Can industrial engineering discipline be of any aid to small and family based businesses and industries with limited financial resources and marketing scope?  It should be of aid if the boss is an industrial engineer but my opinion is that this discipline is geared toward large industrial complex that hires many employees and workers even if many sections are automated.  Designing an optimum system of production without serious awareness of the research done in the consequences of shift work, pay rate, sleep deprivation, and the political infighting among departments, management, syndicates and employees is tantamount to failure.  We can understand that there are many strong and interesting interactions among industrial, social, psychological and business administration fields.

Whether we like it or not human factors engineering that studies the capabilities and variability of the human element, his health and safety and risk taking tendencies or avoidance should be an intrinsic part of designing work production.  The reality is that companies are wary of hiring generalists such as industrial or human factors engineers for the benefit of specific specialties that are much more in demand because they are better known, even if a global view and comprehension of a system can, in the medium and long terms, deliver much better performance in production, minimizing lost work days, turnover, human aches and pains, emotionally and physically. 

Private companies conjecture that they cannot afford human factors engineers whose jobs are designing interfaces for end users to interact efficiently with complex systems; this is partly true because experimenting with human subjects is time consuming and very costly when dealing with the innumerable variables involved in studying the behavior of workers, employees, engineers and consumers.

I like the current tendency to label industrial engineering as engineering management because the scope matches the management requirement and responsibilities and avoid the connotation with mechanical design and fabrication.


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