I would like a Madam President, please

Feminism, Politics

57% of adults are apathetic to the idea of having a woman president during their lifetime says this Pew Center research. This number scares me. Women’s rights are being challenged every day in the United States of America, land of the free. If women don’t have political power, who is going to help protect these rights? What scares me even more is that the same people taking away these freedoms don’t care if there is a woman president. I’m talking to you, Republican men. Why do only 16% of you care to have a woman president? It’s almost as if you don’t respect women.

If I live until the ripe old age of 85 and every subsequent president after Obama completes two terms, I have the potential to have eight more presidents in my life time. Statistically speaking, half the population is women so I should see four women presidents in my life. Historically speaking, none should be women and at the rate we are going I probably won’t see a woman president. We can’t let history continue to repeat itself. I want women to be represented in all leadership, not just as the President of the United States. Different problems could be solved with women in leadership. Don’t believe me? Watch this video that describes how diversity drives innovation.

I want women to be inspired to become leaders and make this world better. I was lucky enough to have Grandma always supporting women leaders and giving me awesome shirts like the one in the picture below. Don’t we want more people engaged in the political process? I believe a woman president would do that– and bring something refreshing to good ole U.S.A.

president

3rd grade Jenna sporting the “Someday a woman will be president” t-shirt gifted by her grandmother

Lies to stop teaching girls about sex

Feminism, Gender, Sex Ed

Recently I came across an article by Julianne Ross on mic.com called “17 lies we need to stop teaching girls about sex.” Immediately after reading it, I retweeted it with a “Yes!!!!!” Because, although we have come a long way in this country as far as sexual freedom goes, there are still unhealthy myths that make sex more fraught and confusing than it needs to be.

Here are some of my favorites from Julianne’s list, followed by some additions of my own.

1. Virginity exists. False. “There’s no clear universal concept of virginity, and people should be able to define meaningful markers of intimacy for themselves.”

2. Hymens are a sign of virginity. False. “Hymens usually become worn down throughout adolescence and can be torn by everything from jumping on a trampoline, to horseback riding, to simply playing sports.”

3. The first time is going to hurt — a lot. It doesn’t have to. “Maybe if we stop telling girls to be terrified of the excruciating pain of their first time, things would be a little more comfortable for everyone.”

4. Too much sex will stretch you out. This is a tired, harmful myth that serves to make women feel guilty, used, and less-than if they have a lot of sex. “The truth is, women differ in size just like men do. The vagina is like a rubber band,” and will expand as need be but will ultimately settle to its natural size.

Here are some more myths I think we should retire once and for all:

1. Boys have higher sex drives. The truth is, sex drive varies from person to person, regardless of gender. This lie not only makes girls feel shameful and different if they have a high sex drive, it also harms boys who feel they are not living up to expectations.

2. Girls don’t masturbate. The concept of young boys (and men) masturbating is seen as commonplace and is often joked about, while female masturbation is scarcely mentioned, as if it doesn’t exist. Sex education in schools should include information about self pleasure. Masturbation is healthy and natural, and kids should be told as much.

3. The end goal of sex is the man’s climax. Yeah, we get it, the biological purpose of sex is to reproduce. But since sex is about so much more than reproduction, why not focus on the woman’s climax as well? Why don’t we teach young people that the woman’s orgasm is as important as the man’s?

4. Birth control doesn’t work all that well. Scare tactics are so 20th century. Can we move on now? While it is important for kids to know that birth control is fallible, the focus should be on maximizing its efficiency — not telling kids abstinence is the only way to go. Both boys and girls should be motivated to use birth control as responsibly as possible, rather than being convinced it doesn’t work and opting out of it entirely.

5. Sex is a big, scary, life-changing decision. Sex is not a one-way escalator you can’t get off. It is a decision that young people should feel good about if they do it responsibly and with someone they trust. And once they start, nothing is forcing them to keep going. If you have a breakup or decide sex isn’t for you or you’re not ready yet, you can put it aside until it feels right.

~

Let’s remove the guilt and shame from sex and help everyone have safe, smart, and satisfying experiences.

Did you have sex ed in school? What were you taught?

-L

(Again, here is the original article that inspired this post.)

The Dos and Don’ts of Asking for a Promotion

Awkward Girl, Feminism, Tech Industry, Workplace

Guys, I did it! I had a “mature, working girl” moment: I asked for a promotion! Well, I actually didn’t really ask… this is what really happened when I met with my manager and why I wish it did not happen.

Me: “So before we finish, I was told to make sure you received an email about the process for recommending a college-hire for a promotion.”

Manager: “Oh, I didn’t know that you wanted a promotion, you have never brought it up before.”

Me: “Oh, well… I think they sent that email because…”

Manager: “If you want a promotion, we should have been talking about this and you should have come to me with your career profile and how you compare to the next level…”

Me: “but I don’t really know…”

Manager: “So the next time we meet, we can start talking about this again. But make sure you have that all figured out…”

Me: “Oh. Okay. See you next time.”

Please learn from my mistake. Never utter the words “promotion,” “raise,” or “bonus” without being prepared to back it up. Even if you aren’t even thinking about asking for one, always be ready. My employer has career profiles for every level that lists out core competencies. If I was doing it right, I should have reviewed my current level and how I compare to the next level every month. If you do want a promotion, start conversations early and go to your manager saying “I want to start working towards the next level, let’s begin talking about how I can get there.”

My fellow How to Pee in the Woods writer, Lauren, has a similarly mortifying story.

I work on a small team at a small company. When I started there were three people doing my job. They both left, so I was stuck doing the job of three workers. When it became clear that my company was not planning to hire replacements for my team members, my family and friends all encouraged me (read: nagged endlessly) to ask for a raise. After all, I was doing three times the work I had signed on for.

So I sat down with my manager and said it would be great if I could be compensated for all the extra work I was doing. I thought it was pretty self explanatory.

Manager: “So… You want a raise. Does that mean you want a promotion?”

Me: “Not necessarily. I just think since I am doing a lot more work now than I was when I signed on, it would be nice to see my salary reflect that.”

Manager: “We don’t have the resources to give you a raise right now. We can talk about this again next year when review time comes around.”

Now, maybe I could have been more specific about my accomplishments. I’m sure I could have gone about it better. But a female friend of mine at a different company did the same thing, only she was prepared with a list of things she had accomplished. She got the same answer: Not right now. Maybe during review time.

All this to say, be prepared to brag about your accomplishments, and be prepared for rejection.

Side note: The above friend and I both have boyfriends who asked for a raise (not during their yearly review), and both of their requests were granted. As women, it’s typically harder for us to ask for what we deserve, and I’m hoping it was just our lack of confidence and preparedness that led to our rejection and not something worse (*cough* institutionalized sexism). At any rate, all we can do is offer our stories and advice to other women in the workforce and hope we all learn something. -L

Every employer is different, but the key here is to be prepared to brag, and remember: if you don’t ask, you’ll never get what you want.

For a more step-by-step guide, check out PayScale’s guide to salary negotiation which also works for asking for a raise and a promotion.

Please learn from our mistakes and go get that promotion or raise! — J

The One Where it was Hard to Fit in at Work

Feminism, Quick Read, Tech Industry, Workplace

 friends_518_rachel_quits_smoking

Do you remember “The One Where Rachel Smokes”? It is the episode of Friends where Rachel starts a new job at Ralph Lauren and all the important decisions are made on smoke breaks. Rachel tries to pick up the habit to feel included and the group insists she doesn’t join, saying they didn’t want to drag her down with them.

As a woman in the tech field, this can happen to you a lot. I even joined a Fantasy Football League to feel included (I won the league, by the way)! However, sometimes I have to remember to reflect on my own actions and see if they are fueling inclusion.

Only planning outings to bars? Some people aren’t 21 or they don’t care to drink!
Lots of active events coming up? Many people have reasons they can’t participate in sports.
Every morning do you get coffee with the same coworker? Ask someone new to join you!

You can’t make everyone happy but you can make them feel included! – J

Looks like I’m not the only one who feels this way! I thoroughly enjoyed this article about a man who challenged himself to not only ask men to drinks after work.