Technical Priviledge

This was a thought-provoking article by an Asian male programmer about disparities in his experience learning programming, and those around him:

I sometimes wonder if I somehow missed this micro-inequity or if I never noticed it. I can’t think of many discouraging words I had to shrug off in my career.


Awesome article about the importance of signalling

I read this article explaining why it might be financially smart for poor people to buy designer. It’s very eye-opening about the persistence of physical appearance in judging and success.

Fantasy Football

Hey ladies,

This is just a friendly reminder that it’s time to get in on your office Fantasy Football League and make your picks!

(Waits for it.)

I’m really going to miss Wes Welker this year. He was my favorite.

Yeah, I know. Some of you already love football (like my sister), but think Fantasy is stupid. Or some of you don’t like football and don’t even know what Fantasy Football is. Football is “other” to plenty women – either a weekend annoyance that may or may not drive your husband’s Sunday schedule, or a stereotype to be joked about. I’m quite positive that – the internet being what it is – a few of you are totally into it an have bold picks predicting a massive upset of the Panthers over the Seahawks in the season opener.

But here’s the thing – in workplaces all across America, people (dominantly male) are forming a group that will spend the remainder of the year talking to each other, building relationships and sharing experiences. They will show up on Monday morning and give each other a hard time about the weekend’s performances. They’ll send smack talk IMs. There will be elite performers and complete dogs. They will have hushed voices around monitors as they talk through strategy and predict performance based on data, experience and hope. At the end of it, that group of people will know each other much better, be more comfortable with each other and will have bonded.

Do you really want to self-select out of that group at work? Even if you don’t care whether Tebow works out with the Patriots, this is one of the kinds of things that makes it harder for women. Fantasy Football (March Madness, etc.) is an amazing way to build relationship and connection at work. And often we’re not invited because we “wouldn’t be interested”. And if we ARE invited, we’re not interested.*

So I’m recommending you casually ask the guy with the Giant’s mousepad who wears a team jersey every Friday for four months if there HAPPENS to be a fantasy football league you can join. Pay your $50 bucks to get in on the game (assuming he ‘fesses up and has the decency to invite you). There are AWESOME tools out there that will practically build your bracket for you, so don’t worry about the fact you don’t know a safety from a field goal. Learn a bit, make some friends, and plan on losing.

And if you DON’T make it into the group this year (and there is a group), don’t go all feminist huffy. Just make it known that you’re super interested and would really like to be a part of a March Madness group if there is one, or that you’d like to play next year. (It worked for me.)

Do you like football? Do you play fantasy football? Do you find it offensive that I’m suggesting you learn to be interested in something you’re not interested in, in order to connect better to people who are interested in it?

*Yes, I know this is a total generalization. But in a study I read, women’s participation in Fantasy Football is “way up” to 12%.

Spanx: Not Part of a Patriarchal Plot to Subjugate Women

The derrier to which we should all (apparently) aspire

I’ve been promising a post on Spanx for a while. Spanx are a mysterious garment, of the type often referred to as “foundation” or “shapewear”. This is confusing, because there is also a makeup called foundation. It seems as though women can be very strongly, er, founded in parts that folks aren’t even supposed to see.

Hello, the 1980s called and they want their pantyhose back.

Hello, the 1980s called and they want their pantyhose back.

My earliest interactions with “foundational” garmets had to do with Control Top Pantyhose – the kind you ordered from the Hanes catalog that came in little plastic eggs. Their purpse, as far as I could make out, was to bisect the wearer. Perhaps this was to facilitate the old “saw the woman in half” magic trick. Or maybe it was part of a grand conspiracy to keep women down by making them so uncomfortable when formally dressed that women would decide to leave the board room just so they could wear some jeans already.

After a very brief flirtation with Control Top, I vowed my top would never be controlled again.

Are we SURE this isn't part of some evil plot?

Are we SURE this isn’t part of some evil plot?

When Spanx came around, I assumed they were Control Top, but worse. They were like Control Middle. Or Control All. It didn’t even occur to me to buy them – and the cover pictures of women non-chalantly standing around in peachy-tube-like-materials on the cover did nothing to convince me I was wrong. I would stay in technology – in jeans! – and avoid the Patriarchal Plot.

Then I was given a really, really cool opportunity to interview for a job that would be a big promotion and would involve me and my family moving to Germany. There are not that many opportunities you have like this. And Germans? They’re formal. A suit was an absolute requirement. A new suit. A nice new suit. So I went to the rarified air of the Burlington Mall, credit card in hand, and checked out the offerings at Macy’s, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor and Ann Taylor.

You guys should know how dedicated I am to producing good content when I'll put on my best suit at 10 pm on a Tuesday night - just for you. Also, I got the buttons wrong - it usually hangs much better.

You guys should know how dedicated I am to producing good content when I’ll put on my best suit at 10 pm on a Tuesday night – just for you. Also, I got the buttons wrong – it usually hangs much better.

At that final place, I found A Great Suit.It’s cream colored, with some non-traditional tailoring elements. It fit beautifully. It said, “I can comply with German cultural expectations while still bringing my uniquely American flair to hit the right balance of fitting in and shaking up.” It had to be mine. I turned around to exame the posterior view when – to my horror – two vast lines were therein outlined – inverse parenthesis around my derrier.

The saleslady came in. I pointed out my posterior problem. “Of course” she said. “You’ll have to wear Spanx with that in order for it to look right.” Before the sun set, I had in my possession one cream suit, one silk blouse, a pair of extremely stylish (and woefully uncomfortable) high heeded pumps, and a package containing Spanx.

That night, I went over to my neighbor’s house and shared my opportunity and my excitement and my new purchase. My girlfriends insisted that they MUST SEE this amazing suit of mine, so I went into the bathroom to put it all together. But when I came out! Alack! The posterior parenthesis persisted!

“I thought that Spanx were supposed to get rid of panty lines?!” I complained.

“Um…. you’re supposed to wear them instead of underwear, not over them.”


“What about the pantyhose? Do they go on top or below?”

“If you need to wear hose, you buy the Spanx that include them, not the ones that are just the tops, but NO ONE wears pantyhose anymore. Even my grandmother doesn’t wear them anymore.”

And this, my friends, is why we all need girlfriends who are more sylish than we are: so we don’t show up a imporant interviews wearing three foundation layers when we should be wearing one.

No pantylines

No pantylines

That opportunity didn’t work out. I didn’t get to fly to Germany to interview. But I did now know when, why and how to wear Spanx, and I’ll happily share this treasured information with you, in case your girlfriends aren’t around next time you need to get ready for a big interview.

WHEN: You should wear a foundational undergarment with any outfit where you wear a tight, clingy fabric on your lower range. You can wear them with skirts, dresses (especially the knit dresses I like so much) or even clingy trousers.

WHY: Spanx do three things: they eliminate the dreaded pantyline, they even out your belly and thighs so what might end up looking like a bulge gets averaged out, and depending on the cut you buy, they can also prevent that annoying bit where your thighs stick together. Despite my early experiences with Control Top, I find Spanx actually quite comfortable to wear: no threat of bisection!

HOW: Wear Spanx instead of underwear. If you are the kind of person who still wears pantyhose – buy the version of Spanx that has them built in. If you sometimes wear shorter skirts, invest in one pair that doesn’t go down the leg, and one that does (for longer dresses).

While I have referred to the original brand name (partially because I find the word “Spanx” inherently amusing), there are bunches of great brands of shapewear – many of which are less expensive. Target, for example, carries a brand called Assets which is literally half the price. Dress Barn carries them up to 3X with great ratings for comfort.

Many dress makers now assume you’ll be wearing these, and design accordingly.

So…. quesions? Comments? Other incredibly obvious things I don’t know, and ought to before I make more stupid shapewear mistakes?

Warren Buffett thinks we can do it!

I love this unabashed enthusiasm and sense of equality that Warren Buffett brings to the discussion about gender in the workforce.

What does your “fun house mirror” tell you?

Fashion Review: March 2013 – Lucky Magazine

Another month, another airport fashion review. I’ll have you know that I researched one two weeks ago – at great cost of personal boredom! – only to leave the glossy magazine on the plane. Tragic!

I have managed to find another new magazine to review, in the Hudson News Kiosk in Boston Logan’s Terminal C (right across from Starbucks!) This flight’s magazine is Lucky ( It’s a light, $5 periodical that bills itself as “The Magazine About Shopping”. I’m actually really impressed with it. But first, the lessons learned from the season.

One of many totally buttoned up shirts.

1) BUTTON UP. And I can’t bold this enough… if you are wearing a button up, collared shirt this season, BUTTON IT ALL THE WAY UP. Practically every page had a button up shirt, and each and every one of them was shown buttoned to the neck. If you’re like me, and you take the fashion advice your older sister enforced on you when you were 14 as unchangeable gospel law, you may still think it is entirely unacceptable to button a button up shirt all the way. However, it turns out that this is the kind of thing that changes. So take that wardrobe staple and make it look like you are part of 2013.

Challenge rating: easy, low risk, different way of wearing what you already have. Do it.

Have fun with the prints on jackets this year.

2) Florals. Floral jackets, floral skinny pants, floral prints. Bright colors & pastels… the flowers are in. This works well for me, since I have a large collection of brightly colored jackets (many of which have floral prints). A pretty, bright jacket with a white/cream/black set of accents will probably endure several season without looking dated.

Challenge rating: easy, medium long term value, great accent piece.

I do not have this much courage. Or money.

I’m significantly more nervous about floral pants. I can’t see any way you get more than one season out of a brightly colored pair of daisy pants – and you’d probably only get to wear them 4 – 5 times over the course of the remaining season (you can wear distinctive pieces less often). Plus, they’re pushing it for office wear. So this is a style to go with only if you love it.

Challenge rating: moderate. Try to get more wear out of the fashion by picking a less flashy print (like a black and white, or a very subtle print). Don’t spend on quality for this purchase.

For the daring out there, floral print suits are apparently a “thing”. I’m having trouble coming up with a circumstance where this would be a good investment. I wouldn’t wear one to an interview, or to meet with an important client. And those are the two circumstances in which I wear suits. (Well, it probably goes without saying that a floral suit != the thing for a funeral either.) Maybe, maybe, maybe if you’re like officiating a wedding? Yeah. So here’s a fashion trend looking for a place to wear it.

Challenge rating: Difficult: I’d love to hear the circumstance where your best clothing choice would be a floral print suit.

I’m still not loving the color blocking that’s really popular right now.

3) A line skirts. I’m delighted to say that Lucky is less enamoured of the mini than whoever I was reviewing last time. Instead, they have a section on swishy, a-line skirts. I love this style skirt, as a person who has hips of note. (The style of skirt I cannot wear is a pencil skirt.) I might go a few inches longer in the hem than is fashionable, but that has everything to do with me and my inability to sit like a lady for any length of time. The way color matchings are going this year, you can even get a fun color (they have a neat plum skirt they matched with 11 tops, some of which are wild color combinations) and be adventurous with how you pair it.

Challenge rating: easy. It’s a great time to pick up a skirt you can wear when it gets warmer!

Now for the Lucky’s review itself. I must say that I am impressed. This one might be one worth subscribing to.

1) They have a four page spread showing how a significantly plus size model can dress to accentuate her figure. This was NOT ghettoized in a one page “what to do if you’re fat” section, which has so far been the best I’ve seen. It’s right in the middle of the magazine. Not only that, but the section gives tactical advice on the problems facing larger women. For example, thigh-irritation, button-up gapping, and pulling of fabric are all addressed. (For the record, the secret is apparently shapewear – a subject I’ve long promised to cover and have not yet done.) Best of all, the entire language and display are super positive. The model, who is probably a size 20, is show flatteringly and referred to as having “killer curves, and hourglass shape, pretty face, curves and professional polish”. It’s not pitying or condescending. NICE.

2) Among the beauty tips is a new kind of sunscreen designed for kids. It’s nice to read a fashion magazine that acknowledges the possibility its readers are also parents. This is useful information! (It’s a powder! You don’t have to rub it in!)

3) There was a fantastic Q&A section in the beginning that went over:
a. What to call various shoe types
b. How to wear them (and how not to)
c. Different outfit combinations.

This was particularly awesome as it finally answered a question I’ve been wondering for quite some time: namely what to call a particularly popular current shoe. (Answer: ballet flats! Yeah, I know everyone knows that. Except those of us who don’t.)

3) The prices were generally reasonable, and they include valuable discounts in the back (including a 30% off Modcloth which I may very well use!). The magazine did moderately well in the women-of-color category, with some ads and a few articles featuring diverse women. It was refreshingly short on celebrity homage and cattiness.

Overall score: A

This might be a very good choice for a starter fashionista. No tooth-grinding writing, no celebrity cattiness, no fat-shaming (not a single article on dieting), useful advice, discounts, reasonable price and cheerful attitude! (Also, not 3000 pages!)

Ms. Parmar traces the problem at least partly to technology’s image. When her team asked children to draw a person who worked in technology, all sketched men, often geeky and disheveled.

This is an article reiterating some of the outward, appearance related elements that stop girls from even getting started in technology. That and, as the writer says, the lack of sense of belong + subconscious stereotypes. I think Raspberry Pi might be a great way to get a girl you love started in technology!

February 2012 Magazine Report: People Style Watch

Grade: A-

The zeitgeist dress of Spring 2012

The zeitgeist dress of Spring 2012

I’m close to finished reviewing the magazines available in my Stop and Shop check out aisle. I hadn’t thought People Magazine would make the “fashion mag” list, but the February issue labelled itself a “Style Watch”. Plus, I figured I could brush up on my celebrities in the off chance that I acquired a sudden need to put names with faces for the latest starlets. (Let’s put it this way… I THINK there are three Kardashian sisters? I know they all have names that start with “K”. This is the sum total of my Kardashian knowledge.)

So here are the top trends I identified:

1) The expressive manicure is still going strong. Nail color ads dominate the magazine, and there are all sorts of exciting colors on offer. You no longer need to have all your fingers match – the hot thing is nail art. For example, painting your fingernails like various Angry Birds characters.

Do if: you find it fun
Do not do if: you do not find it fun, or you are not willing to maintain your fingernails so your manicure never looks awful.

2) Pink. Pink is the dominant color for the spring season, in all iterations, saturations and combinations. There was pink leather, hot pink, antique pink, lacy pink and shimmery pink. So if you like pink, go for it this spring!

3) Sheath dresses. I personally cannot wear sheath dresses. Dress manufacturers do not plan for hips like mine. (On the plus side, I gave birth – twice! – without pain medicine. Thank you, child-bearing hips.) I have tried. I have wanted to wear sheath dresses. But I cannot. If you do not have childbearing hips, a sheath dress is an awesome piece. They look great by themselves. They are the perfect under-layer for a suit jacket. They are usually flattering, and almost always professional. You can accessorize them up and down. A light pink sheath dress would say to the world, “I synthesize this season’s fashion trends”. Also, it would look super classy with a gray jacket and pearls.

Do if: you have slim hips, you want a versatile dress that you can style up and down, you want to look professional.
Do not do if: HIPS, you refuse to dry clean, you don’t like skirts that hit above your knee.

4) Miniskirts. I have too small a sample size to ascertain whether mini skirts are a hot new look this season, or whether this is just what happens whenever you’re looking at warm weather fashion. But tragically I am obliged to inform you that miniskirts are hot right now.

Do if: Miniskirts are your thing and you’re a pro at them and you love them.
Do not do if: Really, just do not do. It’s pretty much never cool professionally, it is wicked uncomfortable, it is crazy easy to do wrong, and you have to have behavioral stuff down as well as a skeletally slender body. Also, you really need to wear high heels with them. Go buy a sheath dress instead.

Bonus Most Terrifying Trend: High heel sneakers. I kid you not.

There are lots of these high heel sneaker styles. THE MIND BOGGLES.

There are lots of these high heel sneaker styles. THE MIND BOGGLES.

For the magazine itself, I was unexpectedly pleased. There were women of color on almost every page, in a very natural, uncontrived way. They did have the “one page larger sized person page” which often serves to highlight that on every other page, the largest size shown is a 0. However, many of the outfits shown are actually within reach of a realistic budget. They put together a whole Valentine’s day outfit for $100. I was expecting it to be a barf-o-rama of exploitative celebrity gossip, and was very pleasantly surprised!

Why does the glass ceiling persist

I read an interesting article positing a theory about lack of women in higher levels of leadership. If I were to summarize, I would say the author theorizes that women need to be both attractive AND competent, where men just need to be competent:

What do you think? Does that ring true?

Cold weather clothes


It got down to 0 degrees in the greater Boston area this past week. Fashion definitely takes a back seat to survival when the mercury gets that low – especially since my commute involves waiting at a bus stop, taking a bus, and then walking a mile (including over a long, windy bridge). When it actually was single digits, I decided it was worth the $14 for parking to just drive in, but the rest of the time I suffered the cold.

In my humble opinion, it’s a lot easier to look nice for work in temperate weather. There was no way I was wearing a skirt (BRRRRR!) and I wanted at least three layers on the top. The shoes were hopeless – I was wearing wool socks in order to continue having 10 toes available to me.

Here’s the outfit:

A nice, warm outfit

A nice, warm outfit

From top to bottom:

Hair – I can do my hair curly, wavy or straight. (The straight is theoretical. Only my hairdresser actually achieves it.) This is the curly option.
Earrings – I’m wearing silver fan-shaped earrings with a red stone. You can’t really tell because my hair covers them pretty completely.
Makeup – I’m wearing light makeup. This is the end of the day, so it’s even lighter. We have powder, mascara and eyebrows.
Shirt – I’m actually wearing a silk long sleeve shirt underneath the orange turtle neck. This orange was one of my favorite colors from the fall season. This isn’t really a seasonal color set, but I’m particularly fond of it so nyah to seasonal colors.
Necklace – I liked how the silver in this really stood out, with all the warmer earth tones around it.
Jacket – The jacket is what makes the outfit distinctive. Remember that in a desk job, 90% of your conversations that matter happen while both of you are sitting, so you are only seen from the waist up. I loved the embroidery on this jacket. The variety of colors in the embroidery make it easy to match with a variety of shirt. I could wear brown (boring), orange, red or light green (I would if I had one that matched) with this jacket, and really change the look of the outfit with each. I’m not sure if the fit of this jacket is quite as flattering as I would want (I think it makes me look a touch thick at the middle), but I still really like it.
Pants – boring. Brown. Have a pair of silk long johns under them.
Shoes – complete capitulation. They are the sort of shoes that announce the wearer has bunions and is wearing wool hiking socks under them. These are true facts.

What do you wear when it gets really cold out?

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