Scheduling Workers For Maximum Efficiency

Businesses have learned how to track the times when their workers are most needed — when delivery trucks arrive or during the lunch time crunch. Now they expect the workers to work those hours and only those hours. The hours change from week to week and rarely conform to school or daycare schedules. It’s a big money saver for businesses, but it wrecks havoc on the workers, especially those with small children.

Flex-time used to be a pro-work/family term. Now, it’s a force for evil. More here.

Like increasing numbers of low-income mothers and fathers, Ms. Navarro is at the center of a new collision that pits sophisticated workplace technology against some fundamental requirements of parenting, with particularly harsh consequences for poor single mothers. Along with virtually every major retail and restaurant chain, Starbucks relies on software that choreographs workers in precise, intricate ballets, using sales patterns and other data to determine which of its 130,000 baristas are needed in its thousands of locations and exactly when. Big-box retailers or mall clothing chains are now capable of bringing in more hands in anticipation of a delivery truck pulling in or the weather changing, and sending workers home when real-time analyses show sales are slowing. Managers are often compensated based on the efficiency of their staffing.

Scheduling is now a powerful tool to bolster profits, allowing businesses to cut labor costs with a few keystrokes. “It’s like magic,” said Charles DeWitt, vice president for business development at Kronos, which supplies the software for Starbucks and many other chains.

Yet those advances are injecting turbulence into parents’ routines and personal relationships, undermining efforts to expand preschool access, driving some mothers out of the work force and redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families, say parents, child care providers and policy experts.


More on Rapes on College Campuses

(Sorry, y’all, for spotty posting this week. Family duties and all.)

Tenured Radical has a great post on sexual assaults on college campuses in The Chronicle. She’s rough on everyone.

What is really interesting is that the people who create and sustain the conditions for sexual assault on campus — whether administrators, faculty, coaches, or students — consistently present themselves as normal, caring human beings. There is not a college president in the United States who does not insist indignantly how much he or she cares about the “victims” of rape. You would think, listening to this genuine outrage, that the entire mechanism of a college comes to a halt and the calendar of every administrator is cleared until they get to the bottom of things (in the rare event that someone is actually raped on their campuses). All college presidents “take rape very seriously;” but almost none seem to think these rapes have anything to do with their own failed student life and disciplinary policies…

Characterizing raped women as “victims” and “survivors” who need to have their “emotional needs” prioritized by the institution gets everyone off the hook, even though it is perfectly apparent that raped women get minimal attention and poor care. Who benefits from this false assertion? The college administration, the fraternities, the alumni who support fraternity autonomy, and the rapists. Let’s not forget the other students whose right to party is inviolable, and who seem to think it is appropriate to watch women be raped, take pictures of them, tweet them all over God’s green earth, and then bully women who report the crimes….

Women currently play a prominent role in creating sexually unsafe spaces, excusing guys who rape, and slut-shaming women who have been raped. Rape is not a man vs. woman thing anymore; it is a man + his friends + all their girlfriends + all the girlfriends’ girlfriends vs. the raped woman thing. Sure, it’s easy to blame the people with the penises, but how about all those women who are at parties and not stepping forward to stop rapes? Then there are the women who need to be cool so badly that they participate vigorously in slut-shaming and reassuring the campus on Anonymous Confession Boards that “my boyfriend is a member of (name frat/team) and they are all really good guys who would never do something like this. This is just a bad breakup and she is a big lying beyotch.”

Ack. I keep cutting and pasting paragraphs. Read the whole thing and then get back to me. Is she right about all this?

Indra K. Nooyi on Having it All or Not

Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, was interviewed at Aspen about “having it all.” It’s a really honest, insightful interview. Here’s a small bit.

This is about 14 years ago. I was working in the office. I work very late, and we were in the middle of the Quaker Oats acquisition. And I got a call about 9:30 in the night from the existing chairman and CEO at that time. He said, Indra, we’re going to announce you as president and put you on the board of directors… I was overwhelmed, because look at my background and where I came from—to be president of an iconic American company and to be on the board of directors, I thought something special had happened to me.

So rather than stay and work until midnight which I normally would’ve done because I had so much work to do, I decided to go home and share the good news with my family. I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said, “Mom, I’ve got great news for you.” She said, “let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?” I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home. I said, “what time did he get home?” She said “8 o’clock.” I said, “Why didn’t you ask him to buy the milk?” “He’s tired.” Okay. We have a couple of help at home, “why didn’t you ask them to get the milk?” She said, “I forgot.” She said just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back.

I banged it on the counter and I said, “I had great news for you. I’ve just been told that I’m going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?” And she said to me, “let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

She says that even with a staff and extended family, she isn’t able to give her family enough attention.

You know, stay at home mothering was a full time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full time jobs rolled into one. How can you do justice to all? You can’t. The person who hurts the most through this whole thing is your spouse. There’s no question about it.


Where are the Girl Coders?

Yes, girls are outperforming boys in high schools and college, but all is not perfect. Boys still dominate computer classes and, later, occupy most of the programming jobs in tech industry. According to Nitasha Tiku in the New York Times, the numbers are grim.

Last year, girls made up 18.5 percent of A.P. computer science test-takers nationwide, a slight decrease from the year before. In three states, no girls took the test at all. An abysmal 0.4 percent of girls entering college intend to major in computer science. And in 2013, women made up 14 percent of all computer science graduates — down from 36 percent in 1984.

The imbalance persists in the tech industry. Just this week, Google released data showing that women account for just 17 percent of its tech employees. The problem is not only getting girls to computer class, but keeping them there.

Tiku gives a shout out to my favorite computer game, Minecraft. She points out that girls are starting to play Minecraft, too, and this might be gateway program for other technology programs. I’m going to teach Ian how to use  Scratch over this summer. This easy program might appeal to girls, too.

Girls might be avoiding computer classes, not just because there are boys in these classes, but because there are really nerdy boys in these classes. And some of them have been coding at home since they were ten. It’s intimidating to go into these classes as a complete novice. Even for the less nerdy boys.

Feminists for Home Ec

home-ec-insetI’ve long been an advocate of returning home economic classes to public schools. Woodworking, cooking, parenting, and home financing classes are GOOD things. Unless you plan on winning the lottery, you’re going to need to know how to make pasta dinner for four at some point. You will have to do some basic home maintenance. You’re going to have to pay a credit card bill. These classes used to be part of the public school curriculum and were phased out in the 1980s in favor of academic electives.

In the New Republic, Rebecca Traister argues that we should reinstate home ec classes into the public school curriculum, because men need to learn these jobs, too. Women and girls pick these skills on their own, because it is expected of them. But boys could use some direct instruction in these areas. If they appreciated the value of these jobs, they might be better advocates for child care and leave policies. Besides, with the shift in the economy, more guys might end up as the full time parents.

I whole-heartedly agreed with Traister. Housework is a skill that needs to be honed by men, as well as women. I think it’s valuable work. I think that we need public policies that enable famiies to maintain their work and family responsibilities.

But I also think that we need more home ec classes, because working with your hands is deeply rewarding. I enjoy cooking food. I enjoy digging up my lawn to create a garden. I got an A+ in my shop class in middle school, because I was an excellent sander. Maybe the best way to get more men to do housework is to de-politicize it.

It’s funny, but I think that the bearded hipsters have done a lot for our cause. At least in terms of food, they have made cooking a manly job.

Misogyny with a Gun

Elliot Rodger hated women. A lot. That fact isn’t really up for debate. He told us that he hated women on his video. He wrote about it. He hated them so much that he decided to kill some. Another fact that isn’t really up for debate.

What is up for debate, apparently, is whether or not Elliot was a sad kid with a mental illness or he was representative of ALL men. Some are arguing that misogyny is widespread and that violence is brewing under the surface of every guy.

Jessica Valenti writes,

The truth is that there is no such thing as a lone misogynist – they are created by our culture, and by communities that tells them that their hatred is both commonplace and justified.

So when we say that these things are unstoppable, what we are really saying is that we’re unwilling to do the work to stop them. Violence against women does not have to be inevitable, but it is almost always foreseeable: what matters is what we do about it.

Check out the #YesAllWomen hashtag. Commentary here and here. Then read the #NotAllMen hashtag.

The “all” in this debate rubs me the wrong way. But I guess that’s what happens when debates are confined to 140 characters.

Red Tent Days

A conversation about Japan’s menstrual leave policy is batting around the Internet. At the Atlantic, Emily Matchar writes,

Japan has had menstrual leave since just after World War II. According to the 1947 Labor Standards Law, any women suffering from painful periods or whose job might exacerbate period pain are allowed seirikyuuka (literally “physiological leave”). At the time the law was written, women were entering the workforce in record numbers, and workplaces like factories, mines and bus stations had little by way of sanitary facilities.

In Taiwan, a 2013 law guarantees female workers three days of menstrual leave a year, in addition to the 30 days of half-paid sick leave allotted to all workers. Indonesia and South Korean have similar laws.

Katy Waldman at Slate thinks that menustrual leave policies are a bad idea.

My reaction is a WTF. It’s silly to talk about time off for your period, when the United States has about the worst work-life balances laws among Western nations. We have the worst records on paid maternity leave. We have terrible sick leave policies.

I think we can suffer through cramps and PMS. Deal with the bigger problems first.