Paternity Leave and the Flexibility Stigma

In 1989, sociologist Arlie Hochschild published  The Second Shift, a book about her long-term study of  how a group of employees balanced their work and their family commitments. The title of the book referred to the employees putting in a shift of work at their workplace, and then going home to undertake another round of work in managing their households and their families. The book was hugely influential in many ways, not least of which was Hochschild’s finding that even when the employees had access to flexible work arrangements, such as compressed work schedules or flextime, they were reluctant to use them. Even if flexible work arrangements would have helped the employees better manage the demands of their two “shifts”, the employees – especially the male ones – thought their careers would be hurt if they were perceived as being less than committed to their jobs or to their employer.

But that was 1989. Things are different now. Or are they?

Two weeks ago, sports radio talk show hosts Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa took it upon themselves to criticize New York Mets baseball player Daniel Murphy. The reason for their criticism? (more…)

Getting Out Alive: Escaping Academia

Fiona McQuarrie (@all_about_work):

This week, the Inside Higher Education website reported the results of a study showing that, increasingly, university faculty members work long hours struggling to meet intensifying demands on their time. This very insightful blog post is by someone who experienced this first-hand, and decided to leave academic work as a result. It’s a sobering and thought-provoking read.

Originally posted on Finite Attention Span:

No escape: decal of a struck-out person fleeing One Friday in May of 2011, I locked up my shared office, went to the pub with some colleagues and students, and said goodbye to my job as a senior lecturer in psychology.

On the following Tuesday (it was a bank holiday weekend) I started a three-month stint as an intern at a then-mid-sized software company. They were pretty clear that there wouldn’t be more work at the end of it; all I had going for me was that they were paying me — a lot less than my academic job paid, but hey, it was money. (Let’s not even start on the ridiculous exploitation of young people by companies looking for free labour, or how unpaid internships exclude those who can’t afford to work for free.)

Anyway, so … lunacy, right?

Maybe. But maybe it saved my life.

I cannot possibly supply a complete list of the things that drove…

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Some Thoughts on Orly Lobel’s “Talent Wants to Be Free”

I had the pleasure of meeting Orly Lobel this past September at the Employment and Labor Law Colloquium at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. As it happened, the colloquium was held just a few days before Orly’s book, Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding, was officially published. At the colloquium, Orly gave a brief talk about the themes of the book , and I was so intrigued by what she discussed that I bought the book as soon as it was available here.

I was hoping to have posted something sooner about Talent Wants to be Free. But the book was so thought-provoking for me that I ended up reading a part of it, putting it aside to think about what I had read, and then reading some more. So it took me a while to get through the entire book – but that’s an indication of how much valuable information there is in it, and how smartly it’s written.

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All About Work’s Second Birthday

Today is All About Work‘s second birthday. It’s been a great deal of fun for me to write the blog, and a very valuable learning experience as well.

The blog has received over 45,000 hits during those two years, from more than 175 different countries. The most popular posts have been:

(credit: own photo)

(credit: own photo)

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Anita Hill, Two Decades Later

Last week, Anita Hill appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  She was there to promote a new documentary about her experiences in 1991, when she testified to a US Senate committee that she had been sexually harassed at work by Clarence Thomas, at the time a nominee for the position of US Supreme Court Justice. (Stewart’s interview with Hill is here for American viewers; Canadian viewers can see it here.)

In her interview with Stewart, Hill explained that she got involved in the documentary to help educate younger workers about why sexual harassment is still (more…)

Statistics and University “Rape Culture”

In the last few weeks, as a result of incidents such as a sexual assault investigation leading to the suspension of the University of Ottawa men’s hockey team and its coaches  and a University of Ottawa student politician alleging online sexual harassment, there has been a great deal of heated discussion about whether a “rape culture” exists on Canadian university campuses.

Columnist Barbara Kay at the National Post newspaper waded into the fray with this column, in which she states “[rape culture] does not exist” and presents statistics which she claims prove that statement. She also asserts that “[i]f these statistics do not convince you, then I suggest you are in the grip of a serious ideological virus. There is a remedy for it, called critical thinking.”

Okay, then. Let’s look critically at the statistics in Kay’s column. (more…)

What Skating Judging can Learn from Workplace Performance Evaluation

At every Winter Olympics, it seems, there are complaints about figure skating judging. Occasionally those complaints lead to something more – as in 2002, when a second gold medal was awarded in the pairs event because of alleged bias in the judging. But usually the complaints are along the lines of “The judging was unfair because my favourite skater lost”, or “The judging was unfair because I didn’t understand it” – that second one often coming from sportswriters and commentators who don’t regularly follow figure skating, or who can’t be bothered to learn how the judging system works.

At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, there were complaints about the judging in every one of the figure skating events, including allegations of fixed results in at least two of the events.  The purpose of this post isn’t to argue about those results. Instead, I want to look at the judging system itself, and analyze it using the model of an effective workplace performance evaluation system. I’m using this model for two reasons: (more…)

How Latvian Mythology Contributed to the Olympic Silver in Bobsleigh

Fiona McQuarrie (@all_about_work):

Fascinating insights from the designer of the graphics on Latvia’s Olympic bobsleds. And how great is it that all that attention to detail helped the Latvian bobsled team win a medal!!

Originally posted on Food, writing, random musings, and everything I enjoy:

These past Olympics have been mind-blowing for the Latvians. A very small country, with the third most medals per capita of all participating countries, Latvia also managed to induce partial heart attacks to 35million Canadians with the show-stopping Canada vs. Latvia hockey game, drawing all eyes on Latvia (similarly to the last summer Olympics when Latvia won gold in men’s Volleyball – “Wait, do they even have summer?”)

Edit: not gold in volleyball, bet bronze in beach volleyball, beating the US team in the quarter finals. Thanks to the readers that spotted that mistake!

Bobsleigh Ornaments

A satisfying end to the Olympic run was when team Latvia’s bobsleigh team nabbed Silver on the last day. The bobsleighists had been a favourite and everyone had hopes for the team. They didn’t let us down, and just missed gold by a sliver.

But my rooting for the Latvian Bobsleigh team has a backstory, and…

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How the Media Isolate Academics: A Response to Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof usually produces thoughtful and insightful commentary in his columns in the New York Times. However, his recent article entitled “Professors, We Need You!” was such a lazy piece of writing that I found myself wondering whether his byline had been stuck on the column by mistake. The article trotted out very broad and very tired stereotypes of academic disciplines being too isolated from reality, and academics themselves being too wrapped up in their own self-serving work to engage with society or with the public.

Other blogging academics such as the political scientists at The Monkey Cage, the administrator at Confessions of a Community College Dean, and the scientist at Doing Good Science have already dissected the errors in Kristof’s article, along with pointing out the article’s failure to mention the structural, occupational and institutional factors creating the kind of academic work that Kristof denigrates. However, what I want to discuss is (more…)

Behind the Music (and Other Stuff): Creating a Skating Program

During the 2014 Winter Olympics, a lot more people than usual will be interested in figure skating. As an adult skater, I appreciate any attention that my sport gets -  but I also realize that occasional watchers don’t always know how much has to happen off the ice for skaters to look so good on the ice. So I thought I’d give some insight, from my own experiences, into how a competitive skating program is created. (more…)