Blog Post #4: The gap in women’s leadership positions is still exist!!

In my previous blog post, I discussed the pay gap as one of inequality issues between women and men that refers to the difference in wages and salaries between them. In this post I discuss women positions in higher education. White women and women of color in higher education experience discrimination across multiple dimensions, and it is well documented that academia itself is gendered (Morton, 2018). For example, according to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2020), women’s salaries are lower at all ranks and in all types of institutions. Women are also much less likely to be tenured (Morton, 2018) or promoted. Also, women are less likely to be full professors (NCES, 2020).

Although there has been a slight change in the number of women in leadership positions, still the growth towards equity is slow. It is believed that the presence of females in higher education positions can have extreme impact on the institution and the scope of knowledge.

First of all, according to NCES, women earn more degrees than men. For the year of 2016–2017, women earned more than half of bachelor’s degrees (57.3%), master’s degrees (59.4%), and doctorate degrees (53.3%). While women have earned more degrees than men, they are less likely to hold high-ranking academic positions.

According to NCES, in 2017, the 1.5 million faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, 53% were full time and 47 % were part time. Faculty include professors, associate professors, assistant professors, instructors, lecturers, assisting professors, adjunct professors, and interim professors. 41% were White males; 35% were White females; 6% were Asian/Pacific Islander males; 5% were Asian/Pacific Islander females; and 3% each were Black males, Black females, Hispanic males, and Hispanic females. Those who were American Indian/Alaska Native and those who were of Two or more races each made up 1% or less of full-time faculty. (see the figure below)

 

Also, 30% of college presidents are women while about 56.5% of college students in the U.S. are women (Samsel, 2017).

In 2018, according to Department of Education (2018), the percentage of female Full Professors represented 27% of white women, 3% Asian/Pacific Islander women, 2% black women, 1% Latinas, and less than 1% of full professors reported more than one race. Also, the percentage of female Assistant Professor represented 38% white women, 6% Asian/Pacific Islander women, 4% black women, 3% Latinas, and again, less than 1% of Assistant Professors claimed more than one race (Department of Education, 2018).

Even though, the percentages of female in different positions in 2018 has been increased, women are less than men to achieve tenure among tenured faculty at four-year institutions, women held just 22.7% non-tenure-track positions, compared to 17.3% of men faculty.

It is clear that women are more likely to be in lower-ranking academic positions especially women of color and women from different races are more underrepresented in academia. The numbers mentioned above are sufficient indicators of lack of diversity among women and men which means that white women and women of color struggle to attain the tenured and the rank of full professor. I was surprised for the low involvement of women in color in higher academic administration, despite the ever-growing number of students of color. Consequently, not considering the issue of inequality can indicate that there is less opportunity for women to pursue these positions and thus discourage them from making an impact.

I found a research article that exploring the issue indicated inequality in higher education leadership positions among different genders. The article written by Blithe and Elliott (2019). The authors aimed in their study to examine gender inequality in the academy and women experiences in workplace. This study draws on stress process theory to identify stressors and supports for academic women. Through analysis of focus group data, the results revealed that women in academia continue to experience extreme workplace hostilities micro-aggressions, work- life conflict and that these stressors vary by rank. Also, they found low levels of institutional support. So, they also discussed some strategies from the participants of successful supports that may improve equity in the higher education. The study concluded with a discussion of how higher education institutions can implement some approaches for white women and women of color by reducing existing stressors and increasing supports for them. According to Blithe and Elliott (2019), the suggested strategies include research about gender inequality, (2) mentoring, (3) communication, (4) training, (5) research support, (6) university policies, and (7) hiring.

(1) The research: some topics could be discussed in future research such as observing faculty meetings, productivity, teaching loads, research support funds, letters for annual evaluations and promotion, and teaching evaluations.

(2) mentoring: forming a ‘Women’s Faculty Network’ that can connect women to mentors.

(3) communication: if a university creates the Women’s Faculty Network, it could be included a social media and newsletter that could promote, spotlight faculty, announce awards, publications, etc.

(4) training: training programs related to Safe Zone or Ally training for LBTQI+ faculty, creating male advocates, and to learn about gendered communication.

(5) research support: such as support for conferences, especially for mothers taking children to conferences, specific grants and awards for gender research.

(6) university policies: included leaves of absence, same sex partner benefits, work-life policies (like flex time), wellness policies for disabilities, face time expectations.

(7) hiring: targeted hires of women at higher ranks.

Actually, I certainly think these strategies are very helpful. Something came to mind when I read this article related to finding balance between work and family. While there is no lack of enthusiasm and efforts from female faculty to perform in academia, some of these women may get demotivated and discouraged because of the rigorous requirements to perform especially with tenure position. Also, insufficient maternity leaves, no considerations for female employees with children, and unsupportive environments may lead them to not take up such academic positions from the start. Thus, I think providing support to a diverse workforce will ensure retention of diverse faculty members. I hope would be that higher education institutions would provide equitable resources for recruiting, hiring and retaining diverse faculty members.

Thank you!!

References:

Morton, S. (2018). Understanding gendered negotiations in the academic dual-career hiring process. Sociological Perspectives, 61(5), 748-765.

Blithe, S.J. & Elliott, M. (2019). Gender inequality in the academy: Micro-aggressions, work-life conflict, and academic rank. Journal of Gender Studies, 1-14.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2019/03/29/though-more-women-are-on-college-campuses-climbing-the-professor-ladder-remains-a-challenge/

https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=61

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_318.30.asp?current=yes

https://bit.ly/2lOTalo

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_316.10.asp

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_316.80.asp

https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2018144

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Blog #4 Life as A Woman

A few months ago, I went for an annual gynecological check up with my male doctor. He said that I need to focus on losing weight. He also told me that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (surprise!) and that weight loss would be “damn near impossible because of it”, but I should do it anyways – this was his only guidance.

A few weeks ago, my husband told me that he was planning to tell his supervisor that he was planning to quit his position. In an instant, I realized that once again, I would be the sole breadwinner for my husband and daughter.

Due to COVID-19, my mother-in-law, who lives with us, had to stop working at the local catering business, and I like that, I have to financially support her as well.

Two weeks ago, I ran into a former colleague of mine, an older woman who now works for another University. She said it was rough for the first few months in her new job, because she initially had a woman supervisor, and “women just aren’t as good as men”. I am a woman supervisor.

Two weeks ago, my husband and mother-in-law declared that because we are all at home, we need to spend time with Sofia on teaching her letters, reading, and physical activity. The only one with an 8 – 5 job (me), has been forced to design and implement those activities throughout the day.

Last week I had to get some professional photos taken for a newsletter being sent out from my academic department. I was off-handedly told I actually look pretty when I put in the effort of putting on make-up.

Last night as I stayed up past midnight trying to get work and schoolwork done, I told my husband, who was going to bed early, that I needed him to wake up early the next day to watch our daughter so I could get some sleep. He joked back that I shouldn’t count on him to wake up in the morning – and he didn’t.

I am not telling these stories to rag on the people I mentioned. Instead, I want to make a point.

As a woman, I am supposed to give 100% to my health and fitness; I am supposed to give 100% to my looks; I am supposed to give 100% to getting my professional work done and being successful; I am supposed to give 100% to being a good supervisor; I am supposed to give 100% to being a good student; I am supposed to give 100% to being a good housewife who cooks, cleans, and does the laundry; I am supposed to give 100% to being a good daughter and daughter-in-law; I am supposed to give 100% to being a good wife; and I am supposed to give 100% to being a loving and engaging mother.

And these are just a few of the items I could come up with based on the off-handed comments that people have made in just the last month! I think of a pie chart when I write this, how we breakdown the level of effort that should be put into different areas – 25% here, 10% here, etc until we total 100% and “make a whole pie”. As I write up these things, I realize I don’t get one pie to divide up my time, I have to manage 10 stupid pies because society and (if I’m honest with myself) I place these burdens on my shoulder to carry.

There are two songs in pop music right now that seem to highlight how I feel, which tells me that others are feeling the same way as well. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato are making some points that I (and I think many women) can truly relate to.

Demi Lovato’s song, “I Love Me” references looking at how society expects her to be and how she feels she does not achieve that and sabotages herself. One of my favorite lines from the song, “I’m my own worst critic/ Talk a whole lot of sh*t / But I’m a ten out of ten/ Even when I forget”.

Taylor Swift’s song, “The Man” discusses how she feels she would be treated if she were not a woman. The video even jokingly shows men receiving accolades for doing very little. My favorite lyrics from this song, “They’d say I hustled/ Put in the work/ They wouldn’t shake their heads/ And question how much of this I deserve/ What I was wearing, if I was rude/ Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves.”

Now, I want to end this blog with two final notes. To the men of the class, I truly believe you face many struggles in life as well, perhaps not in the same manner, but I know it exists. While I rant about the frustrations of life as a woman, I want you to know that I see you, and recognize everyone faces difficulty in life no matter their gender.

To the minority women in this class, I want to say that I am completely aware that my ranting does not compare to the perspectives and experiences you face – I see you hold 20 stupid pie charts to my 10. However, I wanted to share that, at least in a few areas, our struggles are similar.

Signing off now – to go make everyone’s lunch 😊

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Blog 4 – Education Difference Between Countries

When I was taking Women and Gender studies as a freshman, I remembered watching a documentary about countries which treated women unfairly. Part of it was very young girls being forced into brothels, but the other section of this series was about schooling and how some countries made it especially hard for female students to attend school. I wanted to do some more digging, but I couldn’t find the same documentary, so instead I am going to present some other findings about differences in education between countries and between males and females in some countries.

I found a BBC news article (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-41558486) which investigated the 10 toughest countries for girls’ education. These rankings were determined based on several factors, such as the proportion of girls without a primary school or secondary school, proportion of girls who did not complete primary or secondary school, the average number of years’ girls attend school, female illiteracy rates, etc. They do give a disclaimer that, for some countries, there was a lack of data, so there may be countries deserving of this list which were not able to be added. The top 10 were as follows:

  1. South Sudan – chosen because almost 75% of girls do not make it to primary schools. Also, a lot of war and violence has plagued this country.
  2. Central African Republic – the teacher to student ratio is 1:80
  3. Niger – of the women aged 15-24, only 17% of them can read
  4. Afghanistan – they have a large gender gap
  5. Chad – social and economic barrier to girls and women getting an education
  6. Mali – 35% of girls finish primary school
  7. Guinea – women over 25 spent less than a year, on average, in education
  8. Burkina Faso – 1% of females finish secondary school
  9. Liberia – 2/3 of primary-aged students are not in school
  10. Ethiopia – 2/5 females married prior to their 18th birthday

This article is from 2017, so there may have been advances made by these countries to strengthen their school systems and to help the women have a better chance at an education. Also, from this article, the UN claimed that, for promises regarding education to be maintained, they would need 69 million teachers to be hired across the globe. I am wondering how much advancement toward this initiative has been made in the last three years (just more something to ponder, I am moving this train along to the next stop).

So, I am not going to talk about a school system that is doing things right. Finland is a country in Europe which has one of the most outstanding school systems overall (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/). The reason their schooling is said to work so well is that the teachers have a “Whatever it takes” attitude. They also are employing only those from the top 10% of the graduates to earn their master’s degree in education. These teachers can, for example, take students in as their “private student” so to speak, and works with them to figure out their strengths and weaknesses as a student. Then, they tackle whatever subjects the student is not as proficient in.   They have the freedom to try a method and, if it fails, they can try another one until they find something that works with their students. About 30% of Finland’s students receive this “special help” or private tutoring during the first 9 years of schooling. Also, more than half of Finland’s students are immigrants. Which means they are all on different learning levels and may not be at the same advantage when they begin school. This contributes to the reasoning behind almost 1/3 of their students needing some extra help. Their changes in the education system stemmed from a plan to recover from economic downfall. Once this change was implemented, they saw changes from the PISA done in 2000 (more on this test in a minute, but it’s a global assessment given to 15 year olds to look at learning abilities), and the results of this test showed that Finland’s students were among some of the best readers worldwide. in 2003, they had one of the leading math scores. In 2006, they came 1/57 in science. In 2009, they were:

Second in science

Third in reading

Sixth in math

When comparing 57+ countries to one another, this is an outstanding feat to accomplish. This is no just one school they are looking at, it is every school in this country, which is outstanding that the country is teaching their students so successfully.

Something to note about Finland’s schooling, at least something I found unusual compared to schooling in the US, is that there are no standardized exams, aside from one that you take when you are in your last year of school. They avoid posting class rankings, they don’t create competition between students or schools, they just teach their students to the best of their abilities. They work hard to give each student an opportunity to learn and grow as much as their peers. Their schools are also publicly funded by government agencies staffed with educators, but businesspeople. This helps to foster a positive learning environment without competition and stress about numbers from the very top of the chain all the way down to the educators in the schools.

Now, I said I was going to get back to this PISA business, so here we go. (https://ourworldindata.org/quality-of-education). The PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), is a 2-hour exam which tests students, age 15, across the globe three subjects: math, science, and reading. Currently, it includes 72 countries. This is how the PISA defines their three dimensions:

Science literacy is defined as the ability to engage with science related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen. A scientifically literate person is willing to engage in reasoned discourse about science and technology, which requires the competencies to explain phenomena scientifically, evaluate and design scientific enquiry, and interpret data and evidence scientifically.

Reading literacy is defined as students’ ability to understand, use, reflect on and engage with written texts in order to achieve one’s goals, develop one’s knowledge and potential, and participate in society.

Mathematical literacy is defined as students’ capacity to formulate, employ and interpret mathematics in a variety of contexts. It includes reasoning mathematically and using mathematical concepts, procedures, facts and tools to describe, explain and predict phenomena. It assists individuals in recognizing the role that mathematics plays in the world and to make the well-founded judgements and decisions needed by constructive, engaged and reflective citizens.”

These graphs represent the most recent graphical data of the countries which participate in this standardized exam. Again, this is based on the average score of 15-year-old students in each country. As you can see, there are regions which score higher on average than other countries or regions. Some countries seem to have scores for certain sections, but not others, which I thought was interesting. It was also surprising to me to see that we scored higher on average on the reading section compared to math and science. Canada seems to score consistently high on most things as do many of the countries in Europe. I just found these graphs to be insightful and interesting to compare and contract with one another. This website also allows you to scroll through the years and see the progression countries go through and can see as countries got added on.

Overall, I think there are many advances the United States could make within our education system, but clearly, we are not off to a horrible start based on these PISA results. The US has been in the “middle of the pack” so to speak for a while now and I think we need to start taking notes on what other countries educators are doing to gain insight and be more successful.

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Blog #4: Drugs don’t discriminate…but people do

My role:

Today I will be talking, again, about something that I do not experience personally, but I see and hear about it a lot, specifically, the opioid crisis and drug use. I feel that there is a lot of stigma about drug users, and it is sad in my opinion because instead of getting help, they feel like they have to hide and never get the help they need. In my hometown, there is a lot of drug abuse. In fact, when you enter the county off of the bay bridge, there is a sign that is updated with the number of overdoses and deaths during the year so far. I know many people who do/did drugs, and many have died from overdoses. I think there is a lot of cognitive dissonance in relation to drug abuse/use. What I mean by this is when people talk about drug users, they usually refer to them as worthless people who are either low class or a minority, but when people find out it is a family member that is addicted to drugs they typically are more forgiving and think it is an addiction problem. I have always been a little bit confused by this because I feel like anyone can be susceptible to becoming addicted to drugs. I also find it very odd that it seems like it is generally accepted that anyone can become an alcoholic regardless of race, sex, or economic status, but not drugs. I believe that this topic definitely relates to diversity and inclusion because when people bring up drug abuse, there are a lot of stereotypes that follow. It is a vicious cycle because some minorities are more prone to be lower income status because of the lack of inclusivity, which leads people to believe they are more likely to become a drug addict. I think this way of thinking is sad. I found a paper entitled “Opioid Crisis: No Easy Fix to Its Social and Economic Determinants” by Dasgupta et al. and it discusses things that put people at risk for opioid abuse. It was very interesting to me because it states that middle-aged whites without a college degree are the ones that experience a lot of drug related mortality. It also suggested that there are factors that do make you at risk such as environment in which you live/grew up and socioeconomic status. I think that these factors are important to consider in order to prevent our minds from stereotyping because any race, religion, sex, gender, etc. can experience these conditions that are considered to make you at risk for drug abuse.

Scholarship:

I think there are a lot of resources out there for preventing drug use and abuse. I found this website from the National institute on drug abuse (https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis). The website gives information on drug abuse such as statistics and ways to combat it. I found another website from the US dept. of Health and Human Services (https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/). This website has information and videos of family members or drug users themselves sharing their journey through addiction. Interestingly, out of the 5 videos, 3 are white families that have dealt with the struggle of knowing or being a drug user. I think looking at these resources if very important for everyone in society even if you don’t personally struggle with this issue because it helps to be informed on the stats and information to combat stereotyping. In regard to scholarship that we have learned, I am sure stereotypes and microaggressions apply to this topic. Like I mentioned above, people have a stereotype about what a drug user looks like or who could be a drug user. Microaggressions occur sometimes when people say things like “Are you on drugs” when people do or say something stupid. Of course, using drugs is not great, but the way people say things can be hurtful and cause a drug user to hide the fact that they are using until it is too late. Like the article I mentioned above, there are numerous studies about drug use and abuse. You can find a lot of information about it and addiction being a disease but people still have stereotypes and stigmas against drug users.

What’s missing:

I think a proper understanding is missing. Unless you are an addict, I don’t think you can understand and unless you personally know people who are addicts it is easy to disconnect and be biased and racist about who you believe use drugs. I also think doctors are part of the problem because they will prescribe these drugs as an easy solution. I think medicine needs to be careful with drug distribution. Some drugs are very helpful, but prescriptions should not be for 2 months of a drug you only need for 2 weeks. With addictive drugs, I think more educational material should be given to patients before actually receiving the prescription. I understand people need to relieve pain, but when there are other options that do not require long term opioid use, I think that option would be helpful to combat this problem. I also think education in school is missing because although I grew up in a drug ridden community, we didn’t talk much about it. I think if kids were better educated that this can impact anyone, they would take the issue more seriously and not stereotype it. I think it is also important to address how drug addicts are treated. Society treats them as criminals and sometimes it is hard for them to get good help. Overall, I think compassion and understanding is missing and I think better education would be very beneficial.

Implications:

I think the implications of lack of inclusivity of drug users can be monumental. Instead of having stereotypes, we could be helping these people. I think education and prevention can have a huge impact on the number of overdose related deaths. It is hard to imagine a family member going through the struggle of drug addiction, but if we are aware of signs it will be easier to identify and solve the problem. I think if we try to eliminate the stereotypes against drug users or who we think are/will be drug users, it will be beneficial for everyone because loved ones will not feel ashamed and they may seek help that could save their life. Especially at a younger age, peer pressure and stereotyping can have a huge impact on actions and if we can prevent use in the first place, we may be able to save a lot of people from addiction.

 

Citations:

Dasgupta N, Beletsky L, Ciccarone D. Opioid Crisis: No Easy Fix to Its Social and Economic Determinants. Am J Public Health. 2018;108(2):182–186. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.304187

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#5 Housework Gender Gaps Still Exist

Working from home with my husband and our 3 kids has been pretty eye opening over the last 3 weeks.  Prior to this, I would have probably said the household chores are probably split 60 % me and 40% him.  Yes, I know that’s still not fair but that was reality and he did the chores I hate doing and I did the ones he hates doing plus I was the one always on the hook for transferring kids to activities and doctor appointments since my job is a bit more flexible than his.   Now that we’re home, I’m now finding myself doing 100% of the chores and wondering how the hell that happened in such a short span!   Is it my personality that I cannot work around chaos and mess that drives me to take on the role of doing everything now that I’m forced to work from home? Am I just not allowing him to do his share?  Is he just letting it go knowing I will get fed up and just do it.  (Even the stuff I hate doing!)  Is he just being lazy?  Am I overthinking this?

(Picture from: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/upshot/gender-roles-housework.html)

With the kids now home as well, it has become even more difficult.   I am stuck doing my work in the living room with CONSTANT interruptions from an 8-year-old who needs a lot of help doing her worksheets that were mailed to her by the school.  Meanwhile, my husband has set up a quiet, uninterrupted workspace in the basement and I don’t see him until he comes upstairs asking what’s for dinner.

I know I should speak up but I also know that pointing out the differences in our days does no good and he either gets defensive about how more important his work is than mine (it is not!) or claims he’s helping out more than I give him credit for (which we both know isn’t true).   I also find myself cursing at his mother in my head for putting me in this situation and then realize she was the only female in a house of 3 males and was probably in the same boat as me 30 years ago!   As I feel like I’ve suddenly taken on more and more the last 3 weeks I’m sitting her wondering how did this happen?  I know I am not alone in this and sadly, our patriarchy American society still thinks women should do the bulk of the housework regardless of how much time we also work full time jobs, or how much money we make, or the fact that children happened from both of us equally!

As the HuffPost points out in this article: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/chores-by-gender-women_n_57be3226e4b02673444e5a87  Research has shown that gender matters way more than income does and it is not necessarily true that the lower-earning partners are doing more housework than higher-earning partners.  Participants in the study they sited often assigned women more chores even if they earned more than the male counterpart.  If the partner had a lower-income than the other partner, males were expected to do fewer chores and childcare than the women.  Interestingly enough, this carries over into even same-sex couples where roles were often assigned to stereotypical gendered behavior (i.e. enjoys sports vs. enjoys baking)

While the division of chores is arguably much better than it used to be during the baby boomer’s adult lives. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics still shows that not a lot has changed for the Gen X and Millennials who are now parents.


Household Activities in 2018 (from: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm)

  • On an average day, 84 percent of women and 69 percent of men spent some time doing household activities, such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or household management.
  • On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on these activities, while men spent 2.0 hours.
  • On an average day, 20 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or laundry–compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-six percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 69 percent of women. Men were slightly more likely to engage in lawn and garden care than were women–11 percent, compared with 7 percent.
  • From 2003 to 2018, the share of men doing food preparation and cleanup on an average day increased from 35 percent to 46 percent.

Care of Household Children for the period 2014-18 (from: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm)

  • Adults living in households with children under age 6 spent an average of 2.1 hours per day providing primary childcare to household children. Adults living in households where the youngest child was between the ages of 6 and 17 spent less than half as much time providing primary childcare to household children–50 minutes per day. Primary childcare is childcare that is done as a main activity, such as providing physical care or reading to children.
  • On an average day, among adults living in households with children under age 6, women spent 1.1 hours providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child) to household children; by contrast, men spent 26 minutes providing physical care.
  • Among adults living with children under age 6, those who were not employed spent over an hour more per day caring for and helping household children than did employed adults–2.8 hours versus 1.7 hours.
  • Adults living in households with at least one child under age 6 spent an average of 5.4 hours per day providing secondary childcare–that is, they had at least one child in their care while doing activities other than primary childcare. Secondary childcare provided by adults living in households with children under age 6 was most commonly provided while doing leisure activities (2.0 hours) or household activities (1.4 hours).
  • Adults living in households with children under age 6 spent more time providing primary childcare on an average weekday (2.2 hours) than on an average weekend day (2.0 hours). However, they spent less time providing secondary childcare on weekdays than on weekend days–4.4 hours, compared with 7.6 hours.

This all day workday may have harmful consequences to women’s health and for those who work 60+ hour weeks the risk is even higher!  This is not the only consequence.  According to the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/upshot/gender-roles-housework.html, the disparity in house workload is one of the leading causes of the gender gaps in pay and promotion!  Even though as pointed out earlier that younger men now do more than older men, the difference in how much more they do is very little!

So why is it that our society still expects women to do the majority of the housework?   Some researchers think that men may be happier to have a partner bring in another paycheck but no happier about doing more chores.  This may come from our own parenting styles in which parents may have fewer expectations of sons to do chores as they do of daughters.   This may also tie into the fact that our society puts gender norms on what is considered feminine vs. masculine activities as well as employment.   This could also come from the fact that women are judged more how their house looks or how their children are taken care of than men are.   Let’s face it, people would feel sorry for a single dad and allow him more excuses for a messy house and out of control children because those poor kids and that poor man doesn’t have a woman to help him!   Tell me I’m wrong? haha

(Click on graph to see it bigger)

Beware men!   According to Hecht Family Law (https://www.hechtfamilylaw.com/blog/2018/04/conflict-over-household-chores-causes-some-divorces.shtml) a quarter of divorced couples listed household chores as the top reason behind their separations.  No wonder depression is more prevalent in women! We’re tired!

I don’t mean to make it sound like my husband is being a jerk right now and I’m sure he’s not even aware that I’ve suddenly taken on much more these chores the last few weeks.   I know that all I need to say is “Hey! Can you do the dishes while I do the laundry?”  But it’s the fact I have to ask that annoys me so for the couple of guys in this class, just keep this in mind in the future and don’t wait to be asked to help with household/child chores.  Just help us women out!

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The Homeschool Advantage

Here we are, on lockdown. Now everyone that has been writing about COVID-19 in their blogs for the last few weeks is like “hah! I told you so!” I’m haven’t gone to look at everyone’s blogs yet but I’m sure they’re going to cover a good amount of the quarantine. I’m going to bring up a viewpoint I’ve just recently gotten to look through, Homeschooling. Now let me be clear, we’ve successfully gotten through a single week of being at home together. Monday the youngest was sick and I went to work and by Thursday I had the flu and the kids had to spend afternoons at their grandparents, but I feel like it’s been an eternity! Enrolling in Public School After Homeschooling | School Tips

You all remember that kid that showed up to your proctored state exam that you didn’t recognize right? They were well dressed, well mannered and stuck out like a sore thumb. I’m sure there were more than one for those of you that were younger, but in the 90’s and early 2000s homeschooling was something only the ‘weirdos did’. Those of us that went to public school could never understand why anyone would want to be in homeschool and surely all they did was hang out around the house all day! There was always a stigma attached to someone homeschooled. I remember the kids that lived up the road from my dad were homeschooled. There were 5 of them and my grandmother would say things like “I’m sure they’re not getting a proper education like that”

I remember in high school, being angry to hear that homeschooled kids were thought to be better than those of us in honors at public school. I remember thinking and feeling strongly that they should have to abide by a strict curriculum just like us! Work 7 hours a day! I came to understand a few of the pitfalls of this sort of education in college, my freshman roommate was homeschooled up until her parents let her get a job at 16 at a restaurant. Let’s just say she got in with a promiscuous crowd and was incredibly unprepared for what she got involved in. When she asked me “how could I tell the father of a baby if I were to have gotten pregnant this weekend if I slept with three different guys?” I knew we needed to have “the talk” but why she didn’t already know this stuff was beyond my comprehension.

So I’m interested to know what your take on homeschooling is, those of you who reply to my blog. I’ve recently become more interested in it not only because we’re here quarantined but there has been a whole new wave of alternative education that seems to be sweeping the millennial parental group. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that has gone through public school in the last 40 years – it’s garbage. You hardly retain anything, kids are exhausted, stressed and overloaded going into college which is another conversation. Standardized tests have made learning almost impossible for teachers to do effectively. So parents have been taking it on themselves to do it the good old fashion way through experience at home.

Homeschool World - News - Some Fascinating Facts About Homeschool ...

Once I realized we’d be doing some at-home learning here with my 4 and 2-year-old, I got a little nervous. Thankfully we’re still in the stages of learning through play and working on writing and the very early stages of learning to read. I started doing research and talking to friends that I know homeschool. The number one consensus I got was that it doesn’t have to be structured. I immediately wanted to structure it, which is funny because that’s exactly what you want to get away from with public school right? The most you need to expect your children to spend time with hardcore learning is 2 or so hours a day. That was a relief! I was told the majority of math was taught through baking, how awesome is that? It’s ok to be bored, this one I have trouble with since my kids are used to constant stimulation at daycare. They’re having trouble coming off of that high, but their Amazon Fire is a great babysitter for a few hours a day. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Now let me assure you, I have no intention of continuing to school my children at home once the quarantine is over. I did want to make the most of this time at home with them, however. It’s a peek into the life of a homeschooling mom and I’m glad I’m getting the opportunity. I would have never had this opportunity had I not been forced to take it. I never considered myself capable of being a Stay At Home Mom, I’m not tough enough for that! Last week we began with coloring and color sorting with water beads. I’m not sure if you all have every played with water beads, but they’re the coolest things ever. They grow so many times their size from dry to wet but they’re squishy and bouncy and come in a container of mixed colors. We sorted them all out and then squished them between our fingers. So we covered some tactile learning as well as color sorting and fine motor skills. There were times the girls would get up and go do other things, I would continue to sort because it was soothing and I’m a little OCD. They’d come back and help some more. I was kind of impressed at how well it went, to be honest.

Although we haven’t tried baking yet, I’ve obtained all our supplies for making bread and cookies and muffins. These will all go over well especially with my husband who I’m sure will eat all of the results. I’m looking to also include gardening in our ‘curriculum’ over the next few weeks after I recover from the flu. We’ve started a little but only while the weather cooperates. The girls will start getting involved in cleaning and laundry which they’ve helped with periodically in the past. I dye yarn on the side, with natural ingredients, so this will be fun to have them help me forage for in the woods on walks.

Rosalie is two and a half, she’ll be working on tracing letters and numbers. She recognizes them very well and we’ll work with her on adding small things and counting. Elizabeth is working on writing letters, spelling words and starting to read. We have a few books that she’s getting good at sounding out the words along with the story. This will all prepare her for kindergarten in the fall.

All in all, I don’t expect to be setting any huge goals for myself during this time. My main goal with this post is to bring to attention the bias that was there when I was growing up about homeschooling and how it is now. Now there is more understanding of play and experience-based learning. These methods make more sense to me now and I’m able to understand now that I’m older, why people have turned to homeschooling. Students can excel in both but parental support and involvement are necessary.

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Blog Post 3: Escaping Generational Oppression: Is It Possible?

I am a Somali-American Black Muslim Immigrant who grew up in America post-9/11; so much of the person I am today is a result of those 5 words whether for better or for worse. As I continue to grow up today, I have found ways to navigate my way through life, weaving between these identities depending on the environment or conversation. But a reality I always cling to is how so much of what it is to be a minority in a field is to mold and shape yourself into what will rock the boat the least while still maintaining your identity. Even more so, how I desperately want to make sure my future children can live without having to code-switch or be on their best behavior at all times to make it through the day. What I plan on covering in this blog post is to highlight the issues in Race, Religion and more in America while bringing in global trends.

 

I would say the most useful and long-lasting impact of college for me was being involved in a cultural center for so long. The years I spent in the center working or just relaxing helped widen my perspective and appreciation for my identity as a Black person in America. Since I was almost always the lone-Black child, particularly in school settings, the time I spent there learning and un-learning who I am will stick with me for the rest of my life. But then that feeling is overshadowed by the fact that less than 5% of the University of Arizona’s student body was Black; and more relevantly, less than 4% of Virginia Tech’s students (graduate or otherwise) are Black as well. To appreciate higher education means to acknowledge how difficult it is to achieve for far too many people.

 

My family always treasured an education, my parents (who came to America in the 70’s as teenagers) both created a future for themselves through graduate school and I’m attempting to do the same. In an interesting turn of events I’m preparing myself to leave the country once I get my degree; Somalis are a nomadic people after all. No matter what happens next for me though, I can lean back on experiences that only 1% of Americans get the opportunity to do; pursue a PhD. As I’ve climbed the education ladder I’ve seen the numbers continue to dwindle until suddenly I am once again the only Black person during most—if not all—of my day. Even though I’ve grown a lot since elementary school, many of the issues I faced 20 years ago haven’t changed one bit. Would I ever want to be put through that again?

 

I believe a large amount of individuals not just in race but in gender, sexuality, religion and more feel empowered by their respective identities. Like ceramics in a kiln, the feelings we have about ourselves have hardened due to the high heat and pressure surrounding us every day. But a question I’m often left with asking is “was this all worth it?” or rather “Does it have to be this way?”.  For many Black people in the diaspora, there is no place anywhere in the world that anti-blackness isn’t present. Whether it is Blackface holidays in Europe, growing nationalist ideologies painting Muslims as threats,  or the fierce dedication to one’s country—at the cost of many citizens who urgently need reform—I have been discouraged by what’s available in terms of living providing my family as normal of a life as possible.

 

To circle back a generation, my parents knew that they would have to struggle when they came to America. In many ways what they have faced is miles more vicious than what I’ve lived through. Through their eyes they’ve seen America make giant strides to increase opportunity for marginalized folks. But as many western countries over the past 5-10 years begin to isolate themselves not only physically but culturally, they’re witnessing all that progress unravel before their eyes. Now that I’m around the age my parents were when they got married I use their lives as a frame of reference for just how much has changed in a lifetime.

 

Following receiving their bachelors degrees my parents met and with the money they made at their jobs to move to New York and own property in Harlem. Fast forward ~35 years the brownstones my dad owned and lived in were worth millions and that very same neighborhood is in his words “completely unrecognizable”. All the more disheartening, I am in absolutely no position to own any property, let alone have a family of my own. The land of opportunity that was a beacon for the generation before us is exposed more and more often as a collection of many different forces that genuinely do not want you or anyone who looks like you to succeed.

 

As I continue to debate with myself if I really want to leave America I know that this particular struggle goes back decades before my parents even came to this country. Many Black Americans believed that going back to Africa (Namely Marcus Garvey) would be the best and only rational way to be free of racism. Because racism, in and of itself, is a supporting factor of what structures all aspects of American Life. While I doubt that any of them could predict the situations that we find ourselves in today (especially given our current circumstances), many activists across the Civil Rights Movement could outline how we got here with ease. In other words, for all the steps forward we have taken as a society for Black people, where is the proof?

 

This final statement is a rephrasing of one of the my favorite Baldwin quotes:

“I was born here almost 60 years ago, I’m not going to live another 60 years.

You always told me it takes time.

It’s taken my fathers time my mothers time. My uncles time.

My brothers and my sisters time. My nieces and my nephews time.

How much time do you want? For your progress?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUlE5ldPvM

 

Which brings me to my final point. What is the progress that we should have been looking for all this time? What is progress we can actually hope to expect moving forward? Does America have any hope of providing me something worth giving to my children I can’t get anywhere else? To bring this full circle, I am as much my parent’s son as I am a child of America; speaking garbled Somali with an incredibly dark relationship to law enforcement. I don’t eat pork and will participate in Ramadan with the fear that I’m not safe, even in a Mosque. Just like my parents, in order to provide a better life for the next generation I feel the need to go somewhere new—and while I may not know what to expect next, I have to believe that it’s better than what I left behind.

 

 

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A Fear of Disease, or a Disease of Fear?

As you know, we are currently experiencing a global pandemic due to the emergence of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. (If you haven’t heard, you’re probably living under a rock. In which case, stay under your rock because we’re supposed to be self-isolating) This virus has completely taken over the world on such an epic scale that it’s all anyone is talking about. Hell, it’s so serious that sports are canceled. Now when you turn on Get Up or SportsCenter, all sports reporters are discussing is which athletes have coronavirus. It’s utterly boring.
Men everywhere (and some women too) are sitting at home in isolation with absolutely no idea of what to do with themselves. So desperate for entertainment and competition, some have taken to juggling toilet paper with their knees and feet. Which, during a time when toilet paper is really hard to come by, this new fad seems like an excellent idea. During this pandemic there is much uncertainty. And, unfortunately, this uncertainty has harbored another big issue: fear.
sports
Xenophobia is not a new term, nor is it a new issue. We, as humans, have encountered and portrayed xenophobic behaviors throughout much of our history. It’s almost as if xenophobia has become a pandemic itself. One that we are not recognizing or treating.

Xenophobia: What is it?

Most simply, xenophobia refers to a fear of people. More specifically, it targets people that are different than you. This is a term not to be confused with racism, as xenophobia is much more broad. It can refer to race, but also to culture, belief system, political viewpoint, social class, etc. How is it that fear causes hateful behavior and attitudes? Is it in our nature as humans to label those who are different from ourselves as a threat? If history has taught us anything, fearing people who are different than us leads to a vicious cycle of distrust and hate that inevitably weakens us as individuals and as a society much like a disease.

If labeling someone as “different” is that initial inoculation of this disease, then our immune system is going to immediately respond to this as a threat. So, when “different” becomes a threat, a sense of distrust (or fear) forms within us.
covid
This would be the equivalent to a disease in its latent form. It’s within us, but it is concealed and dormant until it is triggered. So what is the trigger that causes this disease to awaken and become harmful (or virulent) to our bodies and minds? Hatred.

Xenophobia: A historical look

In the 17th century, English settlers began swarming the lands of North America in search of freedom from religious persecution and new opportunities. They brought with them hope for the future, weapons, spices like sugar and pepper, and plants like garlic and lettuce. They also brought smallpox, influenza, yellow fever, and rats. This presented a major problem for the Native Americans as they had never encountered these diseases before, therefore, they had no immunity to them. Suddenly, tribes were being wiped out from disease. Some scientists theorize that a great majority of these deaths are attributed to Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread through urine from black rats that were common to England who were aboard every English ship that washed ashore.

            This mortality brought with it another problem: xenophobia. This led to fear and hatred on both sides. The Native Americans’ fear of disease from abroad became the rationale for fearing the foreign-born, and the English were stigmatized as carriers of disease. On the other side, Native Americans were defined by their differences in behavior, dress, and culture rather than by their differences in environment. This led to tremendous amounts of persecution brought on by the English as the natives were viewed as savages. If you know anything about history, you know this did not end well for the Native Americans.

This xenophobic behavior persisted as we moved into the 18th century with slavery in America and into the 19th century with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866. It was their hope to maintain white supremacy in the post-war South. They acted as a network of violent initiatives, performing heinous crimes against African Americans.
Even after the violence of the KKK was made illegal in 1871, they rose again as the 2nd KKK in the 1920s. This demonstration of xenophobia formed a giant wound on the United States from which we may never fully recover.
kkk
Xenophobia tends to rear its ugly head in every century as it resurfaced again in the 20th century with the rise of the Spanish flu in 1918. This led to an overwhelming stigmatization of immigrants. While the earliest cases were identified in Spain, within the US the majority of infected people were Italian immigrants. While there is no known reason for why it infected Italians more than others, it led to a distrust for all immigrant people.
spanish
This caused new restrictions to be placed on immigration into the US. Immigrant people, once again, were looked at as disease carriers. This also led to a distrust for German people as it was speculated that the Germans had intentionally spread the flu as a weapon of war in WWI.
Honestly, there are too many instances/demonstrations of xenophobia that have impacted our planet to go into detail on every single one. From the Holocaust, to Rwanda, to human zoos (yes, those were actually a thing people wanted to pay money to go to). It’s become so commonplace that it is exemplified in TV shows, music and movies. Remember in Harry Potter when Draco Malfoy calls Hermione Granger a “filthy little mudblood”? Yes, that is xenophobic.
Now, if only we could respond to every instance of xenophobia Hermione did with a swift punch to his smug little face.
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In Times of Crisis, Fear Cultivates Discrimination

In December, 2019 the first case of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, was discovered in Wuhan China. Since then, it has spread to almost every country in the world leading to a pandemic. Today, there are 131,366 confirmed cases in the United States alone. Just as with previous outbreaks of disease, this instance has also been characterized by feelings of uncertainty, societal, corporate and governmental disruption, and is harboring an overall climate of fear and distrust. Yes, xenophobia has reared its ugly head once again.

All over the world people of Asian descent are being discriminated against and looked at as “disease carriers” or “gross people”. It’s so odd to me. How are people minding their own business on a metro looked at as gross when the xenophobic behavior being projected on to them is deemed as acceptable. There have been many similar stories of xenophobic behavior towards people of Asian descent.

One commonality that irks me is that there are witnesses to these hate crimes. And no one stands up for them. No one has the balls to stand up and tell the jerks yelling xenophobic slurs that it is not Chinese people who are gross, it is your behavior. Fear and xenophobia are intimately linked, but what makes this current pandemic worse is that now social media has been added to this noxious equation.
This has led to rumors, online bulling, and more extreme xenophobic behavior because now people are able to hide behind their computer screens. These behaviors are sustaining the pandemic that is xenophobia creating a vicious cycle of panic, new rumors and tension across the world.

How do we eradicate this disease?

When viruses invade our cells, the cell is looked upon as a factory. The virus uses up the cell’s energy, shuts down the cells normal pathways of acquiring materials and creating new proteins. This leads to changes and damage within our DNA. And it ends with an overall invasion our bodies that inhibit our innate defense systems that allow us to fight off the infection.

Xenophobia attacks us in similar ways. When introduced to fear, our bodies go into a “fight or flight” mode. This initiates certain behavioral responses. In the case of xenophobia, the response is hatred. This hatred then invades our bodies and minds. It competes with the part of us that has compassion and empathy for others until those behaviors become blocked. This could very well lead to changes in our DNA that allow xenophobia to be passed on from generation to generation.

When we contract a virus, our bodies must adjust to the presence of these foreign bodies and produce the antibodies needed to fight them. So, in order to fight xenophobia we need to develop “antibodies” against it. 

We must remind ourselves that we are ALL human. We are ALL in this together. Immigrants are not infectious. Cultural differences cannot be wiped away no matter how much bleach you use. People who are “different” are not foreign invaders attacking our well-being.

Possibly, when we embrace inclusion into our society and personal lives we will create a stronger, healthier, xenophilic world.

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/02/811363404/when-xenophobia-spreads-like-a-virushttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/28/sensationalist-media-is-exacerbating-racist-coronavirus-fears-we-need-to-combat-ithttps://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/european-diseases-left-genetic-mark-native-americanshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862341/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957993/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK98094/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3497669/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6501283/https://pluralism.org/xenophobia-closing-the-doorhttps://worldcrunch.com/tech-science/tracing-a-link-between-science-and-xenophobia

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Blog Post #3, Age Discrimination

The pandemic of Coronavirus is spreading fast all over the world. During this time, I hope every one of you can stay safe and we shall work together to get over it. However, a few young teenagers on their spring break clearly doesn’t think the same way where they kept enjoying the extended break they had due to the pandemic. Here is a video I saw on twitter, a few students tried to keep partying regardless of the restriction of “Social Distancing” to prevent the virus from further spreading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfpeDzcsd1s

I believe the reason behind this is because the COVID-19 is a virus that more dangerous to the elderly people, the data has shown that 8 out of 10 death cases caused by the virus is reported from people that are 65 years old and older, whereas the younger people, especially the teenagers, have a better immune system and can recover by themselves.

When the Trump administration first announced that the COVID-19 is an epidemic is the U.S., I was having an interview with students from other places of America, during the lunch break, some students from California were talking about how the flights are cheap and they should take this chance to go to Hawaii for spring break. I asked if they are afraid of the virus, and they told me the virus does not hurt young people. All these things happening to make me feel very sad for the elderly people where the threat to their lives is treated like nothing important to some youngsters.

Then I started to reflect on what is the real situation that aged people are living on, if a lot of people are treating their lives as something unimportant and does not matter, how can we hope that they can be treated fairly on other aspects, especially on the job market where there is a long history of discriminating the aged people. I did some research on that and the results are pretty astonishing, in the year of 2018, a survey found that:

  • Nearly 1 in 4 workers age 45 and older have been subjected to negative comments about their age from supervisors or coworkers
  • About 3 in 5 older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
  • 76 percent of these older workers see age discrimination as a hurdle to finding a new job.
  • More than half of these older workers are prematurely pushed out of longtime jobs and 90 percent of them never earn as much again.

As the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states,” The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.” A lot of employers still careless of the Act and keeps discriminating against the olds and treat them differently, tons of cases where old people are being discriminated against or humiliated for being aged can be found online. There have been too many of them where we even start to treat it as a normal ordinary thing.

Between the year from 1997 and 2018, there are about 423,000 claims related to age discrimination are filed by EEOC, which occupied about 22% of the overall cases on workplace discrimination. If you think that already showed how severe the situation is for the age discrimination, you need to wait for another second, because another survey showed that only 3% of the old people who faced age discrimination would fill in a formal claim to the EEOC. Although most of them hate and reluctant to be treated unfairly, 97% of them just remain silent and choose not to report that, because if they do not report, there is still a chance of reaching to a truce with their employer for compensation or early retirement choice, however, if they don’t accept the situation and filled a claim, they may be end-up with nothing.

Due to lack of necessary education and severe penalty on this issue, the ageism nowadays is wildly embraced in the U.S. companies, and the most famous one is “young people are simply smarter” by Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the famous technology company Facebook. Although he received a lot of criticizing from saying that sentence, it has been acknowledged by most people that Silicon Valley companies do prefer young ones over the old ones. This recognition can further discourage the aged people to be involved in the technology business and make them less confident. There have been multiple cases reported where people change their age on the resume to get a better rate of being hired.

I have my own experience on this issue to share as well, in our lab, there are two Ph.D. students who are relatively older than me, both of them had work experience in the industry and come back to school for their degree. However, after 5 years of studying, the find out they couldn’t even find a job that is the same position before they went back to school. They told me most of the recruiters just take a look at them and assume they will be less energetic and involved in the job. As their colleague, I would say they are as professional and talented as any other students, yet the challenges they met is definitely more difficult.

I think the ageism problem should be resolved to create a better environment as everyone will get aged someday, and all people who are willing to work should be treated equally. The government should come up with more regulations and restrictions on inequality existing. Universities and other educational organizations should provide more chances for the aged groups to be trained for new technologies. I believe if we build an environment of age-friendly with respect, someday it will repay the youngsters when they grow old.

At last, if you have an elderly at home who is especially vulnerable to the virus, please be very cautious and build a safe environment for them, like what is shown in the twitter below:

https://twitter.com/CBSNews/status/1241791754296320000

Thanks for reading and I sincerely wish everyone safe and healthy.

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My experience with pandemic COVID-19

I thought this could be the best topic to write about. For this blog I wanted to share my concerns, thoughts and hopes. At least it will be a written source for me when we talk about it in the future. As of today Worldometer shows that there are 335,366 coronavirus cases. 14,611 people have died. In the United States of America the number of the cases 32,356 with 414 deaths.  The United States in the third country in the world with the total number of cases and it looks like it will be increasing and not under control yet.

I remember that we were discussing in the class how China was struggling with this virus and it was a few weeks after the semester started. The Chinese or Asian people were being discriminated and they were being asked silly questions about the virus and mistreated. We all were overwhelmed with this racism. We all said it has nothing to do with the race. This could have started from Europe or somewhere else. However, we did not bring up any concerns what if it spreads all over the world. It is shown in media and internet in a way we would not face this pandemic. Here we are now. Many unknowns, concerns, questions about our health, families, elders’ well beings , economy, money that survives us from pay check to pay check, debts, our education, conferences, interviews, research, online teaching and learning. Oh I forgot the most important thing “TOILET PAPERS”. Smh…

My thoughts are racing in my mind so I do not know where to start but let me try… I am actually tired and overwhelmed already from the current mood and situation I am in. I ask myself if the COVID-19 causes it. But unfortunately, it is not the virus but some people make this situation more harmful.  Who are those people? Those who are confident about their health and not care about being a transmitter for the virus spreading. But at the same time they will go and empty out the toilet paper, bread and water aisles. Other group includes some elders that are misled by media and recklessly shop around with no protection.  There is one more group that annoys me the most. Those who have no skills to empathy, understand the anxiety and stress people struggle with the idea of being quarantined at home. Those are the ones usually sharing some values with the first group I mentioned. Of course we have the group that takes this situation very seriously, check on each other’s well being and health, ease the work you do etc.

My sister is a medical doctor in Turkey and she has a PhD in Public Health. At the very beginning of  corona virus spreading in China, she warned me about not to get so close with people, pay extra attention my self-cleaning. Wash my hands. To be honest, I thought she was being too worried since she is working in Public Health. I still listened to her and tried to do what she said but ofcourse I was not as careful as I am right now.

Before the spring break I decided to go to Virginia Beach, relax, walk on the beach and study indeed in the room where I can watch the ocean and motivate myself. I arrived there on Sunday and when I heard the Spring break was extended, I packed quickly and left on Wednesday evening. I had 3 more nights but I was by myself and if some travel restriction happened I would not want to stay in a hotel room all time. In such crises you really do not know what will happen in next couple of hours. Due to my insecure feelings I decided to be in my home rather than somewhere else. I was glad I had some hand sanitizes and cleaning supplies back home because there was nothing left in a few days. I  did not prepare for the virus though. You should always have those cleaning and self-cleaning supplies anyway (at least it is the way I live). I do not have any masks and I can not find any available since the virus came out. The earliest delivery is for the end of April on Amazon. Currently, I do not go out if it is not necessary.

I would like to share what I have done for myself and for my surrounding to not to be one of those who intentionally do not take caution:

  1. I temporarily moved in to my boyfriend’s place. I knew our mental health is as important as our physical health so we decided to stay together during those days so we could stop to travel to see each other.  As soon as I moved in we cleaned his place and we put hand sanitizers to the rooms and the entrance. We also place one in the car since he is a production engineer and he still goes to work. We  pay extra attention to our self-cleaning. We always try to eat healthy. Now we do not have an cheat days to eat out. We make sure we eat enough fruit and veggies, keep ourselves dehydrated and get enough sleep.
  2. I started to garden. I was indoor seeding and good timing that it is time to plant some veggies. To be able to keep myself occupied, we made the garden beds in our wood shop, and started to plant outside past weekend. If you live in a house with a back yard I definitely recommend you to plant to relax. It is very relieving my stress when I touch the soil and plants, watering them and watching them growing day by day.
  3. Social distancing is a must. I have not seen my friends in person since we were recommended to stay in our homes. There is no event or activities I do with others. However, I try to call couple of friends every day to ask their health and keep updated each other. Today’s world we have internet that brings us together. We should accept the situation and temporarily adjust to online socializing. It is so funny that we were saying we should stay away from social media as much as possible but hey people!!! It is time to use every tools that connects us. There are variety of apps. We can find some of them based on our interests. Facebook and Instagram are not the only ones. There are a lot of useful apps that connects you and as well as entertains you based on your interests. It is also great time to read books and maybe even learning a new language.
  4. Frankly I was not good at being motivated about going to gym so I used to exercise indoor and walk. I do not walk outside but I go to back yard, walk there from one side to another. I am still walking right? 🙂 and I burn a lot of calories when I maintain my plants. It is not easy to take care of the soil as it looks.
  5. Family… My family is in Turkey. My mom is 55 and  my dad is 64. They both are in high risk of virus. I know they are very mindful about the situation. However, they live with my sister. She works almost 18 hours a day with no weekend as a public health doctor and she is always around the quarantined people. It is more risky for my parents. Since my dad has diabetes, he is not allowed to use the same bathroom with her and they do not see each other in the same house hold. As soon as she comes home she disinfect herself.  I am very worried about her health also. She might be affected by the virus while she is working. I am very thankful how she handles the situation under the unknown circumstances. I make sure I see them every day via video call. I make sure they are doing well and not overwhelmed with being forced to be in the house.
  6. I work from home. I have a great adviser that took this situation very seriously and he came up with a great leading. We have zoom meetings, we even have our lunch meetings via zoom. We play online games during our lunch meetings. He made sure everyone is safe and healthy, take cautions not to get the virus and not to spread the virus. He has been keeping us updated as soon as he hears some information from the university and our department. He tells us that we should not go to the lab or the office. We should stay in until things settle down. We use the app Slack to communicate each other in our group. If someone needs to go to lab they post the time frame they will be in the lab so another would not go at the same time. So we plan our visits accordingly. We have more understanding and flexibility to each other. We use gloves and wherever we touch in common area we clean it up before we leave.  I fell very lucky to work with such a mindful group.

I could tell you more but there is no point to put our moods down with the people who made this situation difficult for me at the beginning.

I hope we will cope with this virus as a society and this is the time we can do something for society without doing nothing. We should take this chance and feel useful for the humanity and especially elders.

I hope we check on each other and ask how we are doing. I really hope you all are healthy and be one of those who do not help the virus spreading. We are not going through easy thing but I am very hopeful we will get through it. I wish all of us a great rest of the semester.

My last hope is not to hear ”Chinese virus” when someone means COVID-19. I hope some people will not build some hateful feelings to Chinese people since they keep hearing it like it is a ”Chinese” virus from very important politicians.

 

Cheers,

Isil

 

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