Thursday, June 23, 2011

Participate: Action Blogging Campaign—Universal Internet Access

What does "Universal Internet Access and Digital Freedom" mean to YOU?
“[This issue] is about whether we live on a planet with one Internet, one global community, and a common body of knowledge that benefits and unites us all, or a fragmented planet in which access to information and opportunity is dependent on where you live and the whims of censors.”—Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State

World Pulse invites women worldwide to share their personal testimonies on obstacles faced and risks taken in accessing the Internet to seek information, speak freely, and connect globally.

Share your personal testimony on the World Pulse website.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Natural Hair: Turning Your Passion into Profit

As if we didn't know...... natural haired women are still in the minority and getting accurate hair care advice can still be a challenge for many. However, with the growing number of online resources available, if you're fortunate enough to have access to a computer and the Internet, you will find a wealth of information in the form of websites, blogs and video blogs (or vlogs) - there are many of these on YouTube.

This New York Times article highlights some of today's popular go-to sites for natural hair care tips. I am already subscribed to Curly Nikki, however the article has introduced me to Natural Chica and the online store Luv Natural.

Less explored is the financial dimension of owning a popular online space. All three women profiled in the article are making a respectable amount of money from their blogs and websites. Although we don't know how much exactly, Maeling Tapp of Natural Chica makes more than she would in a minimum wage job; Alicia Nicole Walton of Curly Nikki earned the same in gross revenue from advertising on her site as she did from her pyschotherapy practice last year; while Kim Love of Luv Natural saw enough earning potential in a natural hair store to leave her six-figure management consulting job.

Of course, to make any kind of decent money, the sites must be regularly updated - preferably daily - with fresh content. And that, let's face it, is really a full-time job.

I thought that this article showed more than anything else the truth behind the saying "Follow your passion and the money will come." Many naturals already know about some of these hair care online resources, however it's great to know that there is also a possibility of earning a revenue by doing so and doing so well. I thought that the article writer was remiss in not mentioning Black Girl with Long Hair, which was I discovered before Curly Nikki and which I remember was innovative in it's incorporation of the commercial aspect.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finding Your Energy

Nneoma commented that she liked my posts on work-life. I responded that learning to balance my work life (which has gone into overdrive this year) and my ORE time has been a project that I've been ardently working on.

And so true that it. This year, I had some major changes in the NGO which I run. I admit that it initially threw me for a loop, but I got things moving again and I feel that the organisation is much better for it. My sis and I also re-opened a family-owned bookshop, which was a monumental project. You know how they say that setting-up a business is like giving birth to a baby? Well, I've never given birth, but the process of bringing this shop into the world was as ridden with the anxiety and good old grunting (minus the pain, though that was not always true) that I imagine delivering a baby must feel like.

Most days this year, I've woken-up with a furrowed brow as I furiously recount all the items on my never-ending To Do list. Then I drag myself out of bed and push through the day with varying degrees of energy. Most often, I was just flat-out tired and struggled with the creative and problem-solving aspects of my work.

For at least the last 10 years, I've been quite dedicated to my physical health and fitness, working out at least thrice a week. From this January, all that flew out of the window, because I was too swamped with work to even have time to go to the gym.

I promised that when my work let-up just a bit, I would be back at the gym. It would be my treat, my reward to myself for persevering and pushing through the mountain of work.

How could I have gotten it so wrong?

So, my schedule did ease-up a teeny bit and, as planned, I was back to being a bonafide gym member. Since my days tend to end late now, I decided to switch my work-out times from the evenings to mornings.

So, the first day of this new schedule I tentatively got my things together in preparation to hit the gym for 7am - unheard of for me - and worried that I might not be able to hack it.

So you know what it feels like to find out that you couldn't have been further from the truth in your assessment of a particular situation?

That. Was It.

Not only was I able to complete 7am Yoga class, I was able to spend 30 minutes on the elliptical afterward. Not only that. The energy carried me through the rest of the day. Although I had a very busy day, I did not succumb to my usual bouts of fatigue.

So, my conclusion is that exercise really does energise you. I've heard it said for so long that I started to believe it, although I wasn't sure that was the case for me (I think working out in the evenings may produce different results ..... or maybe it's different for individuals).

However, I can see that when you're busy - especially when you're so busy that you scarcely have time to sit and think - it's crucial to make time to work out. It'll do so much good for your mind and body.

This concept is discussed in How Remarkable Women Lead, a book I referred to in an earlier post, as a strategy to re-energise yourself and manage stress.

- In one chapter of the book, one of the women leaders interviewed stated that when things got especially hot in the office, she headed for the gym. After that, she was sufficiently calm and able to see the problem through fresh eyes.

- Another woman spoke of the therapeutic effects of long walks when she's faced with a crisis situation. By the time, she's done with her walk, she's figured out how to solve the problem.

- Another lady spoke about how her martial arts training since she was a girl had helped her learn to celebrate victories and accept defeats - a quality which was invaluable to her in the boardroom because the reality of work is that you win some, you lose some but you need to keep moving despite what comes your way.

So, as much as possible, I won't be putting myself last - easier said than done, right? Ah well, I can try very hard.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Women in Science

This New York times article Women Atop Their Fields Dissect the Scientific Life does just that. A group of women scientists share the joys and the challenges of life as a scientist - particularly life as a female scientist. They talk about the struggles of doing research and their dreams for their daughters.

I am experiencing the challenges of research right now. I have a research report (draft!!!! I keep reminding myself to somewhat alleviate the tension I am feeling) and amidst the plethora of other tasks that I have manage daily, some things that require time and concentration kind of get pushed to the back of my pile. And you know how it is, the more you push something away, the bigger it looms in your mind's eye, and more more terrifying it starts to feel.

The best way to deal with it is to push aside all the other less important or urgent things and get stuck in working on it. That usually does the trick for me and then when I'm able to truly focus and get into a zone, I start to feel the love for that aspect of my work.

I like what Dr. Hirsch, one of the scientists interviewed said:
The great discovery for me was the middle of the night. It’s all done, and everybody has gone to bed. You can go to your computer and sit down and work. The middle of the night has been what saved my life as a scientist.

And don't I know this so well. What time is again?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Apply: Pass-It-On Awards Program

The Anita Borg Systers Pass-It-On (PIO) Awards honor Anita Borg’s desire to create a network of technical women helping one another. The cash awards, funded by donations from the Systers Online Community, are intended as means for women established in technological fields to support women seeking their place in the fields of technology. The program is called “Pass-It-On” because it comes with the moral obligation to “pass on” the benefits gained from the award.

Pass-it-on Award applications are open to any woman over 18 years old in or aspiring to be in the fields of computing. Awards are open to women in all countries and range from $500.00 to $1000.00 USD. Applications covering a wide variety of needs and projects are encouraged, such as:

* Small amount to help with studies, job transfers or other transitions in life.
* A broader project that benefits girls and women.
* Projects that seek to inspire more girls and women to go into the computing field.
* Assistance with educational fees and materials.
* Partial funding source for larger scholarship.
* Mentoring and other supportive groups for women in technology or computing.

Spring 2011 PIO Award Cycle

* Applications open Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 12:00 noon PST (UT-8).
* Applications close Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 12:00 noon PST (UT-8).
* Reference letters due Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 5:00 PM PST (UT-8). Send letters by email to: passiton-2011spring at systers dot org or

Get more information on the ABI website.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

'Dream Big' - Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook)

In this commencement speech by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook given at Barnard College this year, she urges women to be more ambitious and to think bigger.

In a speech peppered with statistics and results of studies, she states that although much progress has been made by women professionally, "... we are nowhere close to 50% of the jobs at the top. That means that when the big decisions are made, the decisions that affect all of our worlds, we do not have an equal voice at that table.”

Other key things she mentions are:
- Men are more ambitious that women. Of course, she does not speak specifically of every woman, but in her opinion, men (whether by nature or nurture) think bigger and bolder than women. While this might mean big risks, it might also mean big rewards.

- Women need to believe in themselves more. If a man succeeds at something, he's more likely to attribute it to his natural excellence while a woman in a similar position might downplay her success or chalk it up to other factors like luck or assistance from others.

- Men make fewer compromises in their work-life balance. This is because women generally carry at least twice as much housework and three times as much child-rearing duties.

Although these certainly do not apply to all men and women out there, I do realise that women are expected to be more modest about their desires and achievements, which might make it harder to push for what we *really* want.

I just finished reading a wonderful book about many of the same issues called How Remarkable Women Lead by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston. This book deserves it's own blog post and even then, I would not be able to do it justice (you'd just have to read the book). However, work-life balance (among the myriad issues often peculiar to women in their journey up the career ladder) was discussed and many women believe this to be unattainable, because being effective both at home and at work require constant negotiation. To say that there is an equilibrium point at which full harmony is achieved is a fantasy. I am inclined to believe that. Although I do not have children or a husband yet, I know the immense effort it takes to ensure that giving my best to work does not deprive me of my personal time.

And because in most parts of the world - even in the most liberal - men are still typically considered to be the head of the household and women the primary homemakers, women will always find themselves with more to do.

That is why Sheryl presciently states that although it sounds counter-intuitive, "the most important career decision you’re going to make is whether or not you have a life partner and who that partner is. If you pick someone who’s willing to share the burdens and the joys of your personal life, you’re going to go further.”

Another thing that helps makes success and happiness come that much easier is marrying your work with something you care about and which contributes to society.