Friday, October 12, 2012

De-escalating conflict

Catherine Gerard, Director of the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC), Maxwell School of Syracuse University, offered a mini-workshop on Managing Conflict and Communication to the faculty and staff involved in SU WiSE/AVANCE.  We cannot control the other person, so she gives advice to help you remain civil (so you don't become the difficult person!) and ensure the other person feels heard, so that a dialogue is possible.  Much of this is accomplished through "Reflective Listening", Query, Assertion, and Anchoring.  These techniques do rely on you being the bigger person, so if you are not willing to assume that role, a different workshop is in order.

Many in the session were concerned with the wording of  "I feel [unappreciated, put upon, even farther behind schedule, etc]....when...."  relaying concern that while it is more approachable language, it also puts you in too vulnerable a position by admitting something so human (feminine?) as emotions (which have no place in science or the workplace, after all).  Plus, it kinda feels like pandering.  Doesn't "I am..." get to that same point?  She and a clinician participant disagreed--note how "kinda feels" qualifies the pandering comment as an interpretation or an assumption, not as fact, so its less accusing or threatening.  They also noted that 1) it takes practice to use this phrasing comfortably and 2) if we truly know it would distract from the point with that particular conflict monger, adapt the wording accordingly.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hiring biases, seminar plug

It was suggested a few years back that a way to encourage diversity among the faculty and staff ranks was to provide campus-wide 'diversity training', starting with those that serve on search committees.  'Of course the students need it, but its not necessary for the employees.'  'The problem's been solved.' 'Pshaw-Surely an institution of higher learning is free of those pesky biases that affect lessor institutions!'   'We hire the best (based on what?)'

A recent double-blind study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences   and summarized in Science indicates that those suggesting this training really were on to something.  Despite identical, save the gender of the applicant, resumes, the women applying for lab manager position were viewed as less competent and worth less mentoring and lower starting salaries if they were offered positions.  (Addendum 2014:  Similarly,women and people of color with impeccably written letters of introduction and interest were systematically less likely to get responses from the prospective major professors than were white men, and less likely to get positive responses from those that did reply.

The implications of less mentoring is access to fewer resources. Lower starting salaries translate to lower lifetime earnings (every subsequent raise is based on that initial salary), long before accounting for any gaps due to childrearing or eldercare, which still tend to be born primarily by women.   They are also more likely to be impacted by the second shift and face obstacles as a trailing a spouse


If you would like to receive and share similar links and announcements of upcoming local events and online opportunities, subscribe to the esfwomen listserv (email with a blank subject line and a message of subscribe esfwomen firstname lastname).  We are also starting to post these resources (links only to avoid copyright infringement), as well as speaker and program summaries in this blog.


If you would like to discuss the body of literature one hour a week next semester (Tues, 3:30-4:30)--please consider joining or suggesting your students enroll in the 1 credit seminar 'FOR 496/797 ENVRN CAREER STRATEGIES/WOMEN #43773. The current iteration offered by Diane Kuehn, has the bones of the original seminar (WiSE Professions) developed by Robin Hoffman, Therese Donovan and Ruth Yanai in 1999, but continues to grow with the input of other faculty (Janine DeBaise, Sharon Moran) and with the written and verbal evaluations provided by each class.    The class and listserv are not just for women, but are 'safe spaces' for women to discuss issues and career development strategies.  For more information:

Heather Engelman
Coordinator, Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series & Take our Kids to Work Day
Research Analyst, Forest Ecology Laboratory, Forest and Natural Resources Management
B9 Marshall Hall (Mailing:  105 Marshall Hall)
1 Forestry Dr.
Syracuse, NY 13210

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The princess in me

Disney's idea of a princess usually disappoints, as they so often require the prince to save or complete them.  Yes, yes, I know that their films are entertainment, but when the only characters that are female also happen to be simpering and weak and shallow and naive and so, well, very cartoonish.... and there are few better alternatives (thank you, Sesame Street!), I can't help but wish they'd use their market share to battle, rather than perpetuate, stereotypes.  But this is an affirmation of value and strength--of real girls, of every color and ability.  Their clips far outnumber and outshine those of storybook characters interspersed among them.  Now, if they can just bring this to their characters (and have more girl characters all around.)


Friday, October 5, 2012

A community of women, and some sweets for the cause

The Women of the University Community is celebrating 85 years on the University Hill!  Read its 'herstory' at and plan to attend next week's annual meet and greet "Fall Gathering," Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 5-7 p.m. at the home of longtime member Judy Cavanagh, 1350 Westmoreland Ave. Please RSVP to Tina Casella at 315-622-4138 or FB

Also note that in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and "Baking for Breast Cancer", a number of CNY restaurants are featuring a special dessert, the proceeds of which will benefit Positively Pink Packages, a local nonprofit organization that provides free care packages and vital resources to newly-diagnosed breast-cancer patients.