School is where most kids first become aware of what I call the “update imperative.” After all, education is a process continual improvement in a step-by-step process of knowledge acquisition and socialization. In this sense schooling represents much more than the beginning of education. For many kids it’s a time of moving from the familiarity of home into the larger world of other people, comparative judgement, and a system of tasks and rewards. Along the way, a package of attitudes and beliefs is silently conditioned: conformity to norms, obedience to authority, and the cost of failure. All of this is presented with a gradually intensifying pressure to succeed, rationalized as a rehearsal for adult life. Rarely are the ideological parameters of this “hidden curriculum” ever challenged, or even recognized. Much like work, American K-12 schools are driven largely by mandates of individual achievement and material accumulation.
By the time college applications are due, levels of anxiety can run out of control, given the role of degrees in long term earnings. Many students start the admissions Hunger Games as early as middle school, plotting their chances, polishing their transcripts, and doing anything they can to get good grades. Everyone knows how admissions data now flows in an age in which students apply to an average of 10 schools each. Unsurprisingly perhaps, overall applications have increased by 22% in the past year alone.[i] And while the applicant side of this equation has been much publicized, what happens in the admissions office remains shrouded in mystery. Largely unknown are secret criteria driven by algorithms to determine things like likelihood to enroll or willingness to pay. Even less known are kinds of AI analytics used to monitor and grade students, sometimes making prejudicial judgements along the way. Continue reading “The Algorithm Rejected Me”
A survey by the Center for Creative Leadership found that 60 percent of smartphone-using professionals kept in touch with work for a full 13.5 hours per day, and then spent another 5 hours juggling work email each weekend. As Mother Jones reports, “That’s 72 hours a week of job-related contact. Another survey of 1,000 workers by Good Technology, a mobile-software firm, found that 68 percent checked work email before 8 a.m., 50 percent checked it while in bed, and 38 percent “routinely” did so at the dinner table. Fully 44 percent of working adults surveyed by the American Psychological Association reported that they check work email daily while on vacation—about 1 in 10 checked it hourly. It only gets worse as you move up the ladder. According to the Pew Research Center, people who make more than $75,000 per year are more likely to fret that their phone makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about work.
“Over time, the creep of off-hours messages from our bosses and colleagues has led us to tolerate these intrusions as an inevitable part of the job, which is why it’s so startling when an employer is actually straightforward with his lunatic demands, as with the notorious email a Quinn Emanuel law partner sent to his underlings back in 2009: “Unless you have very good reason not to (for example when you are asleep, in court or in a tunnel), you should be checking your emails every hour.”
“Constant access may work out great for employers, since it continues to ratchet up the pressure for turning off-the-clock, away-from-the-desk hours into just another part of the workday. But any corresponding economic gains likely aren’t being passed on to workers: During the great internet-age boom in productivity, which is up 23 percent since 2000, the inflation-adjusted wages and benefits for college graduates climbed just 4 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Continue reading “Phone as leash”
A new American Time Use Survey shows that men are doing more around the house, but in most cases not nearly enough.
Dads devote more time to caring for children and keeping up the house than they did decades ago, reports today’s Los Angeles Times: ” They spend almost as much time as moms romping with kids in the yard or on the rug. But as dads step up, moms are still wiped out.
“Whether at work or at home — and even at leisure — mothers feel more exhausted than fathers, a study shows. Despite strides toward gender equality, mothers still shoulder much more work at home, especially when it comes to humdrum tasks such as changing diapers and doing the laundry, the Pew Research Center found in the study based on the American Time Use Survey.
“Dads spend almost the same amount of time as moms in terms of playing with kids,” Pew research associate Wendy Wang said. “But they do less in other areas of child care.”
‘For instance, mothers logged more than twice as much time doing “physical care,” such as changing diapers or tending to sick kids. That could be one reason dads find child care less tiring than moms do: Mothers are more than twice as likely as fathers to feel “very tired” during child care.
“Mothers also did more cooking and cleaning, while fathers did more household repairs and maintenance, such as mowing the lawn. All in all, American moms still spend almost twice as many hours on housework and child care, on average, than dads do. Fathers, in turn, spend much more time at work outside the home than mothers do.
“Earlier rounds of the survey, sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, yielded estimates on how Americans spent their time. But the 2010 survey, which included more than 4,800 parents, was the first to ask how people felt during different activities. For Rosie Arroyo-Carmona, the schedule starts at 5:30 a.m. and doesn’t end until 11:30 p.m. or midnight, she said. The Burbank mom and her husband both juggle jobs in the nonprofit sector with caring for their baby daughter. Because her husband travels more than she does, Arroyo-Carmona often takes charge of feeding and bathing the baby. After the baby falls asleep, she puts in another few hours working from home. When a bit of free time arises, “I think that I could get something done, or I could get some rest,” Arroyo-Carmona said. “I always choose to check something off my list.” Two years ago, a Boston College survey of mostly white-collar fathers found that although nearly two-thirds said spouses should split child care equally, only 30% said it actually was divided that way in their homes. Even when parents try to share work equally, many moms say they end up doing more. Continue reading “It’s not enough, dad”
We live in a culture driven by values of success, achievement, accumulation…all the while with unemployment nipping at the heels of many.
In today’s new Statesman Jenny Diski urges you to down tools while you can, as excerpted briefly below
“Stop what you’re doing. I don’t mean stop reading this, or whatever you’re doing while you’re reading (brushing your teeth, eating, waiting for the water to boil). I mean consider the possibility of stopping whatever your answer is to the conversational gambit, “And what do you do?” Try putting the appropriate response in the past tense: “I used to be [. . .]” It’s very likely, unless your interlocutor gives up on you at that point (as an academic sitting at a Cambridge “feast” once did, turning to her other neighbour for the rest of the meal when I told her I was a novelist), that the follow-up question will be: “So what do you do now?” You might attempt to circumvent this with “I used to be [. . .] but now I’m retired”, if you look old enough, or if you’re younger you could try, “I used to be [. . .] but now I’m vastly wealthy”, but the chances are that the next question will still be in the conceptual area of “What do you do now?”, such as: “How do you spend your time? What do you do with yourself? What are your hobbies?” If you wanted to avoid the whole party chatter thing (but what are you doing at this vacuous party, anyway?), you could say: “Unemployed, thanks to the government’s economic policy, and lacking the financial resources for hobbies to pass the time until I die.” Or in a more passive-aggressive mode just answer, “Oh, these days I skive and scrounge.” Continue reading “The virtues of laziness”
One thing many working people in American don’t know that they don’t know is how poor our social benefits are compare with those enjoyed by workers in other countries, reports Sociological Images.
“No doubt one reason is the general media blackout about worker experiences in other countries. A case in point: vacation benefits.
“The Center for Economic and Policy Research recently completed a study of vacation benefits in advanced capitalist economies. Here is what the authors found:
The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation. European countries establish legal rights to at least 20 days of paid vacation per year, with legal requirements of 25 and even 30 or more days in some countries. Australia and New Zealand both require employers to grant at least 20 vacation days per year; Canada and Japan mandate at least 10 paid days off. The gap between paid time off in the United States and the rest of the world is even larger if we include legally mandated paid holidays, where the United States offers none, but most of the rest of the world’s rich countries offer at least six paid holidays per year.”
More at: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/07/27/the-unknown-world-2/
With Mother’s day approaching a number of analysts have calculated the equivalent compensation for a individual doing comparable work. As Huffington Post reports: “A mother’s hypothetical pay fell for the second year in a row, dragged down by stagnating wages in the United States, according to insurance information website Insure.com.
“A mom in 2013 was worth $59,862 per year, down from $60,182 in 2012 and $61,436 in 2011, Insure.com said, calculating the salary based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.
This was the third year Insure.com released its data just ahead of Mother’s Day.
“By another measure, the “mom salary” rose slightly this year after experiencing a big dip in 2012.
The career website Salary.com, basing its pay figures from businesses employing 25 people or fewer, showed a stay-at-home mom was worth $113,586 in 2013 versus $112,962 and $115,432 in 2011. The domestic work of a mother who has another job was valued at $67,435. “The hypothetical mom salary stagnated as U.S. wages fell to a record low of 43.5 percent of GDP in 2012. For many workers, wages have been stagnant for the past decade, according to the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Continue reading “Happy Mother’s Day?”
Five years after starting to keep track of whether people with disabilities are working, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found fewer people with disabilities in the labor force even as the population has grown, reports the Pittsbugh Gazette
“In June 2008 when the bureau started to keep track of the disabled population’s relationship to the labor force, there were 27.3 million people who were disabled and 21.7 percent of them were either working or looking for a job.As of March, that number had grown to 28.9 million, but their participation rate in the labor force had fallen to 18 percent.
“During the same time period, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities in the labor force has risen from 9.3 percent to 13 percent. The trends for people with disabilities mirrors the larger population, in which the unemployment rate rose from 5.6 percent in June 2008 to 7.4 percent in March (without seasonal adjustment) while the labor force participation rate has fallen from 72.6 percent to 68.7 percent. “In this market when there are so many people looking for work, people with disabilities have to outshine everybody else,” said Eric Smith, associate director of the Center for Accessible Technologies in Berkeley, Calif. Continue reading “Looking for work with a disability”
Unemployment rates may have dropped in the U.S. as of late, but work stress is swiftly on the rise, according to a new report.
A new survey shows that more than eight in 10 employed Americans are stressed out by at least one thing about their jobs. Poor pay and increasing workloads were top sources of concern reported by American workers, reports Huffington Post
“The third annual Work Stress Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, polled 1,019 employed Americans by phone. The results showed a marked increase from last year’s survey, which found that 73 percent of Americans were stressed at work. This year, that number jumped to 83 percent. Only 17 percent of workers said that nothing about their jobs causes them stress.
“More companies are hiring, but workers are still weary and stressed out from years of a troubled economy that has brought about longer hours, layoffs and budget cuts,” survey spokesman John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College, said in a statement. “Americans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic, but anxiety among employees is rooted into our working lives, and it is important to understand new and better ways of coping with the pressure.” Continue reading “What Americans worry about most”
In trying to get back on track, Yahoo is taking on one of the country’s biggest workplace issues: whether the ability to work from home, and other flexible arrangements, leads to greater productivity or inhibits innovation and collaboration, reports The New York Times. Across the country, companies like Aetna, Booz Allen Hamilton and Zappos.com are confronting these trade-offs as they compete to attract and retain the best employees.
“Bank of America, for example, which had a popular program for working remotely, decided late last year to require employees in certain roles to come back to the office. Continue reading “Yahoo says work is better at the office”
“In the past, our husbands would bring home rations, and we’d live off that,” says Mrs. Kim. “Now there are no rations, and the women support the families. If we don’t make money, they starve, so life is hard for women.”
It’s no secret that in many nations women are outpacing men in education and the workplace, despite being paid less. Indeed, a continuing revision of gender roles seems to be occurring across a wide variety of cultures, often for varying reasons. Today’s npr.org features a story on women and the workplace in North Korea:
“Imagine going to work every day and not getting paid. Then, one day, you’re told there’s no work to do — so you must pay the company for the privilege of not working. Continue reading “Women as breadwinners in North Korea”
“Right to work” laws argue that they insure workers the “freedom” to sell their labor, without interference from meddling entities like, for instance, labor unions.
This week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed such a law. As Slate, further explains, conservatives “have been pressing for so-called “right to work” laws across the Midwest. Major labor groups almost uniformly oppose these bills, so why do we call them “right to work” laws?
Because they allow you to work through a strike. Commentator and lexicographer William Safire chronicled the origins of the phrase “right to work” in his Political Dictionary. A 1912 Bernard Partridge cartoon depicted an employer telling a striking worker, “I can’t make you Continue reading “Why “right to work” means anti-union”