technimom

Digital Mom. Analog Daughter.

Monthly Archives: July 2012

What It’s Really Like Starting a Small Web Business vs. What People Think It’s Like.

Since I just recently started my business, I’m super busy trying to market it and get it off the ground.  I’ve noticed from talking to friends, family, and acquaintances that many of them seem to think that when you put up a website and try to sell something, people just show up and you know, buy stuff.  After my site had been up for something like a week or two, people were asking me if I was getting a lot of sales.  Um…no.  Not likely after just a couple of weeks in business.  I think that when most people picture small business owners, even new ones, they must picture that we’re doing this:

But let’s face it, those of us who have done it know that it’s more like this at the beginning:

 

And the majority of our day involves not collecting money, but this:

That, plus a lot of emailing, phone calling, begging while trying to make it look like we’re not begging, etc.  Glamorous, isn’t it?

On top of that I’m raising a 20 month old.

And on top of that, I’ve got a full time job as an engineer.

I’m so busy that half the time I’m forgetting to do things like…pay the electric bill.  Oops.  But you know what?  This business is my dream, and it’s so worth all the extra effort.  I am determined to make it work.  I just don’t want people thinking this is easy money.

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Science is…Sparkly?

Salon.com recently featured an article that discussed the European Commission’s recent campaign to get more girls into science.  The main topic was this video, released by the EC:

The article came out strongly against the video and the campaign.  Watching the video, I do think it’s a bit over the top, but is it really that bad to inject a little bit of girliness into STEM?  My personal feeling is that in general, it’s not, and I think it may be necessary to some degree.  I’ll explain more below.

I do find it more than a little annoying that the girls in this video are all wearing super short miniskirts/dresses.  Seeing as how it is aimed at teenage girls, I think they should have chosen outfits that are a little more modest.  But I understand that they were trying to make it “cool”.  I also find the lipstick for the letter “I” irritating – that just wasn’t necessary, EC!

However, let’s face facts: women are different than men.  We like to wear makeup and dresses, even those of us who work in STEM fields.  I’m an electrical engineer, and I like girly stuff like dresses, flower patterns, and highlights.  I wear nice clothes and makeup, and everyone at work always thinks I’m “dressed up” (this is just what I wear all the time, people!  Get over it!).  There is a stereotype of people working in STEM fields – lab coats, no makeup, old men, disheveled hair, etc.  And er…that does fit the description of many folks in these fields, women included, but certainly not all of us.  And back when there were NO women in these fields, certainly that is pretty much all there was – men in lab coats with no makeup, jewelry, or pink to be found (because men don’t wear that stuff, natch).

The Salon.com article states that:

Yes, do go on about how glamorous and pretty science is, because if chicks can’t equate veterinary virology with dresses and manicures, they’re just not going for it.

The goal that we (the EC, me, the Salon.com writer, etc) have in common is that we would like to see more women in STEM fields.  So, to join these fields, should women have to give up the trappings of womanhood?  I think not.  I find the above statement extremely confining.  It casts a negative light on women in STEM fields who want to be…well, women.  It’s poking sarcasm at women who don’t want to follow the old, male way of doing things.  If we as women are to be considered truly as equals in these fields, then we should be free to be ourselves – glamor and “pretty” and all.  And I do think that it is necessary to break down those stereotypes if we are to get more women into these careers, because the fact is that many smart young women also enjoy their manicures.

There is true beauty to be found in science and technology, and I think women are especially good at finding it.  One good thing about the video, I thought, is that it does show that same beauty that I see.  Women bring something special to the table, so let’s allow each of us to be ourselves.  If this video makes young women take a second look at STEM careers, then I am more than OK with it.

What do you think?

Lands’ End to Girls: Math is Tough…for you.

Apparently, being smart just isn’t cool for girls.  Last year, we saw Forever 21 briefly sell a t-shirt that may as well have said “I’m stupid” on the front of it (actual message: “Allergic to Algebra”).  Similarly, the year before that JCPenney hawked a shirt that said “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother does it for me.”  Message:  Math is hard.  Heck, homework is hard, so why bother to do it at all?

According to the AAUW in their publication “Why So Few”, only 15.1% of women entering college as freshmen intend to major in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, but  29.1% of men do.  These fields tend to pay more than traditional “women’s” fields such as teaching and social sciences, so women put themselves at a disadvantage by not considering these fields.

Research shows that mindset matters when it comes to performance in school.  Also from the AAUW’s paper:

“…a “growth mindset” (viewing intelligence as a changeable,
malleable attribute that can be developed through effort) as opposed to a “fixed mindset”
(viewing intelligence as an inborn, uncontrollable trait) is likely to lead to greater persistence
in the face of adversity and ultimately success in any realm (Dweck & Leggett, 1988;
Blackwell et al., 2007; Dweck, 2006, 2008).”

And for girls, the mindset often is that math and science are too hard for them.

Now we have Lands’ End perpetuating this ugly myth in their latest back-to-school catalog.  At least in this case, the message is only printed in the advertising copy and not on the actual product, but still.  Why promote this message anywhere?

Their line of backpacks called “FeatherLight”, advertised in the latest catalog, shows some interesting dichotomies between the way the boys’ and girls’ versions are marketed.

For the girls: “Tough as long division”?

Well boys apparently aren’t expected to have problems with long division…what, no “tough as reading and writing” tagline for the boys?  If we’re going to perpetuate stereotypes, let’s at least do it across the board.

Because girls don’t want to be superheroes.  That would be tough…long division tough.

Homework is tough?  Why stop there?  How about “school is tough?”

He’s a boy, and therefore a Neanderthal who will someday drag his woman by her hair to the cave:

At least Lands’ End didn’t print the message right on the product as other companies have done, but still.  I expect more from them, and you should too.