Tag Archives: opportunity

A Girl’s Journey Into The Next Lifetime

1a glassceiling

Truth is, long before finger swipes across a touch screen, I believed that cable technology would set girls free of gender limits.   That data was without bias and that even a glass ceiling had upside.

By looking up through it, one might pause and see one’s own image, and take stock of one’s progress… where you’ve been and how much further you might go.  And that assessment in a lifetime, if not yours would propel the next woman, if not now then in the next generation.

Women think like that, with interloped arms that both link them together, and allow them to stretch and reach into the future.  In some piggyback fashion, one generation steadily improves upon the next.   That’s how Boston’s cable training program came into being, female activists who themselves had passed their prime, haggled with city officials and politicians to create opportunities for young women like myself, that we could have a chance at gender equality.

First we became linesmen, as the city needed aerial distribution cables to feed neighborhoods, using lashing machines to pull lengths of cable through easements.   If you continued training, you might become an installer and then a technician.

But there were few positions available for women and departments were limited to how many women they could hire.  I was in the service department, with only three slots available:   one female installer, one female technician and one female engineer.

The manager didn’t hesitate to mince words, literally and figuratively, “It’s out of my hands.  There’s no more to be done.”  and the worse statement of all, “Don’t make me regret the hire.”

Ironically, being a female in a traditionally male job made passersby think that they could easily do your job!  We, women were constantly reminded of just how replaceable we were.   Sometimes that was enough motivation for me to dig my steel gaffs into the meat of the city’s telephone poles, climb up, do the work and to keep my job.

But I’ve known glass ceilings.  I’ve touched them, and was somehow comforted by their coolness on my fingertips.  Back then the cable industry was in its infancy and male co-workers, less qualified than I were quickly promoted and dispatched beyond grade, a reminder of how frail my position with the company was and it had been predetermined just how successful I would be; it tapered off at 35 feet, the exact height of a telephone pole.

Not even New England’s cold winters and snow blizzards could get me to stop climbing poles.   Especially during the Spring and summer months, when active equipment would need to be upgraded and whole neighborhoods would be without cable.   It was then that people cheered to see a technician’s truck.  I’d work and get the cable back on and it was a little heroic at times, or so it seemed.

Fathers would take their daughters by the hand and walk them across the street, where they’d wait for me to climb down from the pole.  Or they’d yell up and wave; then ask if I needed water.   On quiet days, when things had slowed, I’d hang around after the job was done.   Sometimes they’d invite me to speak to small groups at the YMCA or the Boys/Girls Clubs.  It was unscripted and impromptu, like hope itself.

I’d let them touch my gaffs and run their round hands across the leather linesmen belt.  The big metal D- loop and clasp would clang noisily, and I’d smile and hold it high.  Grand posturing, like a boxer before a championship bout.

I too, had grown up in the city.  And there I stood in my linesmen boots, living proof that a city gal could climb up from poverty on a telephone pole; it seemed noble.  And they seemed to see other possibilities for themselves, if not in this generation well then surely in the next.

 

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Filed under cable, Gender, Gender Equality, tech, technology, Telecommunications, Television, Women

BigData’s Invisible Hand

binoculars bird eyes2

Technology is wonderful, especially for us, the nation of consumers.

We have a flair for commercialism, created by businesses that once mailed catalogs to our homes, for free.  Thoroughly enticed by their colorful pages of merchandise, we became browsers and took turns flipping through the pages, earmarking the most viewed pages with sugarplum wishes.

It comes as no surprise, that as the holidays approach, technology’s Internet of Things is offering a smorgasbord of possibilities to further delight us, and to make our lives better!   Some finger swipes across a touchscreen, from social media to products purchased to services rendered, will organically link us together, without a common purpose.

Because in a digital world, engaging impressions like Selfies, Tweets and Likes, will be collected and gathered.

Bigdata, the invisible hand of real time analytics, will store, sell and re-distribute free consumer swipes of  creature habits once unattainable due to privacy rights.  Now freely associated with intimate interests, it will link us into smaller demographic groups and create marketing tools in “Consumer Nation”.

Disruption is good when it separates the mediocre, that which isn’t sustainable from the bad, that which might’ve been overlooked.   Sometimes, being lulled into a false sense of security isn’t the worse of it; things like changing your password each month, might be the least effective thing to be done.  Not because of peeking eyes, but because we keep forgetting the new password.   Use your big eyes to see a bird’s eye view.

We are, after all a nation growing older and that’s another issue…  pitfall.

But at some point, when new technology has replaced all of our passwords with retina and fingerprint identification, the old patterns that made us feel secure, will also come back.   Cataracts and wrinkles might undo what’s achieved, but by then we might be backwards compatible.  Bringing back the need for stronger passwords.

Disruption can be like that…

It’s like being asleep in your warm bed, having a lovely little dream.  When suddenly, you’re violently shaken and forced awake by screams, “the house is on fire!”    You’re not mad, you’re grateful.  It’s that scenario that makes you realize that disruption can be a good thing. That the dream, as lovely as it was, was simply in your head… the same place where technology began.

Today’s petri dish for successful startups with new products and new ways to do old things is a joy.   So internet sales rejoice, there’ll be less cars on the roads; less pollution in the air and gas prices will go down.  Less travel on the road equates to more time that we can stay home and watch television, mindlessly swiping our touchscreens and learning the words to catchy jingles.

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Filed under Big Data, Consumers, Eyegalsses, facebook, gadget, Internet, Internet of Things, Marketability, small business, social media, tech, technology, Telephone, Television, Twitter

Technological Glee

sunglasses 4

For years, the term 20/20 referred to one’s vision, as measured by an eye chart; those rows of random letters, beneath a large capital letter “E”, which was taped to a wall.

20/20 beyond the occasional reference to hindsight, is also a timeline plotted on a sheet of graphing paper; expressed by those using the Gregorian calendar as 2020 A.D. it’s nearly here.

If there was a tape measure for mankind’s growth, it would show eons as decades and 2020 would be a milestone, a place to pause and take notes. And perhaps to let the retractable tape measure snap back into place.

Ten years ago, there was speculation of what 2020 A.D. would bring. It was amazing, mind-boggling technologies were suggested. Like moon mining and round-trip commercial space travel. Bio chips and synthetic human brains, paper thin television screens and all of it is nearly possible and none of it is amazing, or surprising, or extraordinary.

The Digital Age, with its accelerated technology, is a candy store and we’re like children. Lined up and ready to buy as much as we can carry. Our shiny coins are spent much too quickly, as we run up and down life’s aisles in technological glee. Our eyes wide with possibilities miss the connectivity of things, not asking deep questions, like “How much will it cost? How disruptive will it be?”

It’s all coming in so fast. Some people will whisper “Wow” and I’ll be among them.

It’s nearly here, this 2020 A.D. a date that we saw coming, without seeing. We’ll need correctable lenses, rose-colored 3D Google glasses to start recording how it was; just in case we need to put things back in place.

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Filed under Apps, Big Data, Consumers, Eyegalsses, gadget, profitability, technology, Telecommunications, Television, Vision

On Track To Pink Coding

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The Digital Age, like the Industrial Age has exposed gaps in the skilled labor market, that if left to their own vices will effect a businesses’ bottom line. And those shortages need to be addressed before demand outmatches supply.

But while companies like Google are interested in funding initiatives for girl’s who code, not every girl is interested in coding.

In the ninety-four years since women were given the right to vote, there has been one female democratic vice-presidential candidate* (Ferraro 1984), there has been one female speaker of the House of Representatives (Pelosi, 2007); one female nominated for the Democratic Presidential Primary (Clinton, 2008) ; one female Vice Presidential Republican nominee (Palin, 2008); One female four-star U.S. General in the Army (Dunwoody, 2008); one female four-star General in the U.S. Air Force (Wolfenbarger, 2012); one Female four-star admiral and Vice Chief of Naval Operations (Howard, 2013). And we’ve yet to see a woman president.

The slow process of closing the gender gap in America is systemic. It has as much to do with status quo, as it has to do with nation building– that other job, of having babies. And just as not every girl is interested in coding; not every girl is interested in having babies. The truth is that finally, girls have a choice and it’s more than trying out for cheer-leading and not making the squad. It’s a real life choice, one that puts them on a track towards greatness; with real consequences and unmitigated outcomes.

Coding should be taught in the school system, as part of the core curriculum in classrooms across the country. So that all children, particularly girls can be exposed to it and perhaps discover a real interest, which a teacher can then nurture. Teaching our girls is different from teaching our boys, so it mustn’t be competitive.

But if we are going to allow companies to recruit our girls and teach our daughters coding; to essentially allow a business to restock the labor pool to their own specifications, shouldn’t we demand that it be done in good faith? And wouldn’t that include the closing of the gender wage gap that exists? And shouldn’t that include legislation?

I’m only asking, because history is gnawing at me. The legacy of businesses who shuttled and carried unskilled laborers across borders and over the seas. Who cheaply laid down railroad tracks and mined coal and fired the steel used to build skyscrapers. The un-named Chinese, German and Hungarian immigrants who helped to build this great nation, but who barely fill a chapter in its history books.

Not every girl will want to code, but we owe her the chance. Let it be in a classroom of her peers. In the end she may not become a coder, or a neurosurgeon or the conductor of a high-speed train; but society has a need to prepare her, to teach her and then to welcome her into the Digital Age.

*I neglected to include Ms. Geraldine Ferraro in the first posting. My gratitude and thanks go out to Dan for bringing the oversight to my attention. In addition to providing the link http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/geraldine-ferraro-dies-75-woman-vice-president-candidate-remembered/story?id=13228533

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Filed under Code, Coding, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Google, Marketability, profitability, technology

Small Business Start-Up: Re-Think Technically

Business logo

Life doesn’t always allow us to know that what we’re doing and what we’re saying can and does make a difference.  For many of us, we’ve been making all the motions and haven’t gotten anywhere, but that’s about to change.   

It’s small business week, time to rethink a thought and think technically.   

The internet has completely changed the ways and means of starting a small business, from mailings to research to training; everything now seems reasonable and do-able!  

For many of us, time hasn’t been our friend.  In fact, most recently, time has been a struggle.  Everything seemed to come down on us at once; the rent coming due when the kids needed new sneakers and just when the fuel tank needle dropped to empty and a kid got sick!   

For every step that we took forward, there seemed to be two steps back. But somehow we muddled along.  And when there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day; we squeezed out another moment and got it done just in the nick of time.   

And all the while, we were unaware that we had been doing the Suze Orman juggle, and making ends meet.  We had stretched our dollars and lived within our means for so long, that it had become second nature to us, this check to check lifestyle, without the economic mystery of Adam Smith’s invisible hand distributing the goodies; which had long ago become ineffectual. 

And now here’s the pay-off; we’re wiser, we’re consumers and we’re our own purveyors.   Our kids are grown, and even if they haven’t moved out yet, we’re comforted in knowing that our job as paying parents is done. That is we’re no longer responsible for their name-brand sneakers! Yes, we have a little money left over.     

Time, our old nemesis has become friendlier.  As if there’s a mutual respect between us.  We’re no longer wasting time by procrastinating and time is no longer zipping by.   

Sure, a lot of things have changed.  The umbrella of social security is leaking and retirement will never be what it once was, but according to a study at MIT, baby boomers are twice as successful as their younger counterparts when starting up a technology business.

And this week is small business week; a time to acknowledge and appreciate small businesses.  A reminder that we don’t need silver spoons to mold dreams, when we have our hands.   Small businesses are built by forming new friendships, establishing networks and creating new online communities. Dedication and hard work will prevail.    

And later, in the cool of the afternoon, we’ll make time to look through old photographs and see that we smiled and laughed.   

And more importantly, once again we’ll make a difference.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Consumers, small business, tech, technology

Technology’s Equalizer Op

Some of the best people that I know are men, so it’s disheartening to read that there’s a wage gap between the sexes. It’s been fifty years since President John F. Kennedy signed legislation that guaranteed equal pay for men and women, for equal work at the same establishment. That hasn’t happened. However, it did create opportunities for women in non-traditional jobs.

By the 1970’s women began to make demands in grass-roots efforts, especially in the media. And they transformed the workplace and the country. I know, because I’m the by-product of that movement.

I grew up listening Gloria Steinem, one of the leaders of The Women’s Rights Movement. “Women don’t need a reform,” she said. “We need a revolution! No one hands you equality. We took the vote!”

And like so many other girls, her words empowered me. I knew then, that if I was ever given an opportunity to live life different from my mother, a domestic and my grandmother a seamstress, then I would have to seek out a new road. I applied for a job as a Boston firefighter; but that wasn’t to be.

By the 1980’s a new technology came to Boston, cable television. With it came the pre-wiring contract and two vying companies, Warner Cable and Cablevision submitted proposals. As the two vied for the city’s huge cabling contract, people began to realize that hundreds of jobs would be handed out and politics became a power tool.

In our gender oriented city, it was assumed that most of the jobs would go to the men. But the times had changed and women, who had been active in earlier Movements, again united and demanded public hearings. There was a transparency to the politicking and women got a bigger slice of the lucrative pie.

The awarded cable contract included guaranteed training and employment for women, in non-traditional jobs. Finally those dusty ERA laws were going to be pulled out and put to the test. But first they needed to find women, presumably young women, to accept the jobs.
Fiber Optic Label images

Gender, is such an integral part of our lives that it’s not even seen as a problem. It begins in the maternity wards, where little color-coded bracelets separate the babies– a little blue one for boys and a little pink one for girls. And these children grow up and stay true to the duties attributed to those colored little bands.

The young men poured out for a limited number of jobs, and a limited number of women came out for a lot of jobs. Neither group seemed to see themselves doing unusual work, they were just happy to hear about better wages.

I was working in an office when I heard about the job. I received a phone call from a group of women, who said that they had retrieved my name from the City of Boston’s rejected firefighter applications. I was told that this wasn’t a come and see, or a possibility, that if I could pass the cable course, I would be guaranteed the job and a good hourly wage. I agreed and entered Boston’s first cable class, offered by Henkel’s & McCoy.

I climbed telephone poles on a pole farm with men. I trained using gaffs, linesmen belts with D-Rings and tossed softballs from atop a 60ft pole. I graduated in the spring, and was one of two women to get through the class. I started work almost immediately, climbing the telephone poles in Boston’s neighborhoods.
It was rather stealth, and even now I can’t remember the name of any of the women. I remember being contacted once when I began the course, to ask if I was being trained exactly as the men. “Yes, I was.” And I saw them again, when I graduated from cable training. They pumped my hand, prouder than I was of myself!

In some ways, I’ve benefited the most from Women’s Rights Movement, but the truth is I’ve never received equal pay. And I knew it going in. It was explained in an off-handed way, that there were seniority issues and the men who worked alongside me would have a problem if they knew I was being paid the same. Or some other obscure reason for not paying me equal pay, as the guys. But I was paid well, as I advanced from a grunt- cable puller to a cable installer to a cable technician within months. Yes, months, because it was true, women could do the job and could do it exceedingly well. I was living proof. I knew that if I continued to do my job, I would be noticed and get raises and bonuses. So for my part, I kept my job and my integrity.

Which brings me to President Obama’s meeting last Tuesday, when he met with a group of women to commemorate Equal Pay Day and to urge Congress to pass more legislation to close the gender pay gap. He signed two executive orders; one would prevent federal contractors from punishing workers who discuss their salaries. It was nothing more than a photo op; a continuation from 2009’s Lilly Ledbetter Act, an anemic show of support; however well meaning, that does very little.

Women’s Equality is still being treated as a reform movement. It’s slow and weak, and at times seems not to be moving at all. I guess Ms. Steinem was right when she said we needed a revolution, we still do.

More to come…

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April 9, 2014 · 7:46 PM