Author Archives: grandpoobah

Why Our Daughters Need To Play More Video Games

Girls today are steering away from math, science and computers in record numbers.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the percentage of women graduates in computer science is at a 39-year low.

In 2012, women in the U.S. earned only 19% of all math and computer science degrees (compared to 37% 20 years ago) and made up less than 25% of the workers in engineering and computer-related fields.

Fewer than 10 percent (9.8) of American engineers today are women.

These statistics stand in stark contrast to the gains that women have achieved in law, medicine, and other areas of the workforce over the past 20 years.

While the lack of women in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is often attributed to lack of ability or desire on the part of women, a more likely explanation is that societal beliefs, or stereotypes, color our view – insidiously sending our young girls the message that women do not have strong mathematical ability and that men make better engineers and scientists.

Teaching Kids an “Attitude of Gratitude” this Holiday Season

Christmas morning in my household is like a shark feeding frenzy, with the sharks (my four children) devouring a pile of bloody chum (the presents). After weeks of shopping and hours of wrapping and labeling gifts, I watch my little ones rip off the festive ribbons and tear through the boxes in a matter of minutes. It’s disheartening, to say the least.

How do we, as parents, cut down on the materialism and overriding consumerism of the holidays and teach our little ones the true meaning and spirit of the season? Moreover, how do we instill in them an “attitude of gratitude”?

A recent Wall Street journal article about raising kids with gratitude cited studies showing that children who “count their blessings” reap concrete benefits, including having stronger GPAs, experiencing less depression and envy, and having a more positive outlook on life.

Teaching our kids to say “thank you” is important, but according to happiness coach and author Andrea Reiser, “gratitude goes beyond good manners—it’s a mindset and a lifestyle.” It includes being grateful not just for material things, but also for the experiences we have and the people around us.

Mean Girls In Kindergarten? Are You Kidding Me?

I have four kids – my boys are 15 and 13, my girls are 9 and 5. While my boys nearly drove me into the ground as toddlers with their endless physical energy and constant running around, the girls are currently winning the race to dig me an early grave with their ongoing girl drama and emotional highs and lows.

If I had to choose, I’d take the physical exhaustion of boys over the emotional exhaustion of girls ANY DAY.

I wasn’t expecting the girl drama to start at such a young age, however. This morning, my 5-year-old stopped me at the door of her Kindergarten classroom with tears running down her chubby little cheeks. She told me that she was scared to go to school, that her friends weren’t being nice, and that she wanted to go home.

Oy vey, I thought. Could the girl drama be starting so soon? She’s barely out of pull-ups.

Why We Should Let Our Kids Fail

As parents, our natural instinct is to protect our children from harm, disappointment and failure. But doing so is not always in our kids’ best interests.

When my son was in fourth grade, his Little League team– a team we affectionately called the Bad News Bears – was on a 0-7-game losing streak with no apparent signs of a mid-season comeback. After a particularly dreadful loss, he threw his baseball cap to the ground and told me that he was quitting. “I hate this team. I hate losing. I quit.”

The frustration he was feeling was legitimate. The team was pretty awful. But I wasn’t about to let him quit. Instead, we talked about the importance of sticking with it and being a team player. He rode out the season, and the team managed to eek out a few wins.

Let’s face it. Being on a losing team is not fun. Getting a bad grade on a test is not fun. As parents, we often take extraordinary measures to spare our children from feeling the pain and disappointment that comes along with failure, or simply not being the best.

Forget Facebook: The Sexting Apps Parents Need To Know

As a child, I remember hearing the ominous male voice on the TV commercial asking parents: It’s 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?

These days, it’s a little easier to track our kids whereabouts with the help of smart phones and GPS. What we parents don’t always know, however, is where our kids our “hanging out” online.

I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t keep track of my kids’ Internet and social media use. I thought I was doing a stand-up job when I got my teenage son to “friend” me on Facebook a few months ago, only to realize that he hasn’t been on Facebook in over a year.

So where is he spending his time online?

According to a study of social media usage by 16-18 year olds, teens today are moving away from Facebook and onto “cooler” sites like Instagram (which is, granted, owned by Facebook), Snapchat, Vine and Kik. A majority of teens also use simple text messaging on a daily basis.

10 Ways To Help Your Child Become A Better Writer

If your kids are like mine, they don’t take well to their parents giving them advice on much of anything — academics, athletics, you name it. In many ways, I am thankful for this. My kids are independent and have learned to do their homework on their own.

But I had to step in recently to help my middle-schooler with a term paper that needed a lot of help. I started with my red pen, crossing out sentences and circling misspelled words. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.

I ended up buying him a book on on “how to write a good term paper,” put it on his desk and hoped he would read it. So much for parental guidance.

According to Robert Menzimer, Executive Director of the Oakland, California-based Writer Coach program, which provides one-on-one tutoring to help students develop writing and critical thinking skills, many parents feel completely at sea about offering writing support. “Math assignments? No problem. Science projects? Absolutely. An essay for English? Lemme out of here!” says Menzimer.

8 Easy Ways to Be Happy

lap along if you feel like happiness is the truth. – Pharrell Williams

A lot has been made in our culture about how to be happy. Pop stars sing about it. Ivy League professors lecture about it. Best-selling authors write about it.

“Positive psychology” has become a popular field for researchers exploring the roots of what makes for a happy and fulfilled life. What they’ve discovered is that happiness is not something that appears by magic. Nor is it something that a person is born with. Rather, happiness is something you can cultivate.

Yes, you can CHOOSE to be happy.

Moreover, there are things that each and every one of us can do– voluntary and intentional activities― that will increase our levels of happiness and meaning. Here are a few:

11 Tips For Stay-At-Home Moms Who Want To Go Back To Work

Stay-at-home moms: Don’t fall for the media chatter that “opting out” of work to raise kids will sound the death knell for your career. It IS possible to get back in. You just need some advice and inspiration.

Remember, as a full-time mom, you opted in to the most important job in the world – raising the next generation of capable and responsible adults. There’s no need to regret your decision; it was the right one at the time.

But now that the kids are older– and you are able to get out of your jammies before noon – you may be ready to re-enter the workforce.

While job hunting may seem like a daunting task (do you even have a copy of your resume anymore?), these tips will give you some guidance as you begin your back-to-work journey:

Life Before Internet: 14 Ways WiFi Changed Our Lives

Whether you think life was easier back then, or better now, the Internet has created a sea change in the way we live our lives. Let’s take a look at the way things were before the Internet took over our lives.

When I was a teenager back in the 1980s, the Internet didn’t exist. Imagine, people walking around without iPhones glued to their hands. There was no email, no texting, no Facebook. How did we ever survive?

In 1995, Netscape introduced the first Web browser, which enabled anybody with a computer and Internet connection to “surf” the World Wide Web. Still, most people didn’t have readily available Internet access in their homes until well into the new millennium.

Fast forward to today. Most of our parents, if not grandparents, are now connected to the Internet via high-speed WiFi connections. Things have changed so fast, it’s hard to remember what life was like a mere 15-20 years ago.

Susan Wojcicki & Jessica Alba Talk Daughters, Diapers & Diversity in Tech

Having two kids and a full-time job is a lot for most parents to handle. So when I listened to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki discuss how she manages raising five kids (ages 8 months to 15 years old) and running a multi-billion dollar company, I wanted to bow down and kiss the ground on which she walks.

Wojcicki shared the stage with actress and founder of The Honest Company Jessica Alba and CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King at the Women in Leadership Keynote at Salesforce’s Dreamforceconference in San Francisco this week   

CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King, who moderated the discussion, quipped, “Five kids by same husband?  I love hearing that.”

The inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit was Salesforce’s innovative approach to continuing the conversation on how to advance women in the workplace and close the gender gap in technology. In addition to Wojcicki and Alba, other influential women took the stage throughout the conference, including Academy Award winner and activist Patricia Arquette, CoderDojo CEO Mary Moloney, and Re/code’s Kara Swisher.

Rather than bemoan “why women still can’t have it all,” the women gave advice on how to balance work and family and what still needs to change to attract and retain more women in tech.

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: What’s Next?

At this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Houston, I had the opportunity to sit down with Telle Whitney, the CEO and President of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

A computer scientist by training, Whitney cofounded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing with Anita Borg in 1994. This year’s event welcomed a record 12,000 attendees — a 50 percent jump from last year — and included women from academia, government and tech industries.

Samantha Parent Walravens: Tell me why you decided to name the Grace Hopper conference a “celebration” of women in tech?

Telle Whitney: We founded the Grace Hopper Celebration in 1994. At the time, there was a lot of angst about the issues of women in technology, and we purposefully wanted it to be a celebration — celebrating the work women are doing in the computing area.

From Bootstrapping to Big Time: Startup Advice from Top Female Tech Founders

Starting a company isn’t easy, but according to three of Fortune’s most extraordinary female founders of 2015, it’s is one of the most rewarding and fun things they’ve ever done.

Gathered Table co-founder and CEO Mary Egan, Revel Systems co-founder and CEO Lisa Falzone and StyleSeat co-founder and CEO Melody McCloskey shared their startup stories and advice with a packed audience at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit 2015 in San Francisco earlier this month. The conference gathered some of Silicon Valley’s top female business leaders and innovators to discuss topics ranging from unconscious bias and the gender pay gap, to the new consumer-driven economy and women on boards.

The good, the bad and the ugly of entrepreneurship was a theme that bubbled up throughout the two-day summit.
“It’s not an easy life,” admitted Falzone, “but it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.” Her company, Revel Systems, makes iPad-based point of sale systems for retailers and restaurants.

StyleSeat’s McCloskey agreed, calling the first year of her startup “insane” but at the same time, “rewarding and so much fun.” Her startup StyleSeat is an online marketplace for beauty and wellness services.

Successful Entrepreneurs Don’t Just Start Businesses, They Solve Problems

To start a successful business, look for a great problem first and then try to find a great solution.

Leah Busque, founder of TaskRabbit, an on-demand marketplace for outsourcing errands, came up with the idea for her business on a cold, snowy night in Boston in February 2008. She and her husband were at home, ready to go out to dinner, when they realized they were out of dog food for their 100-pound yellow lab, Kobe.

“We were thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone in our neighborhood who could grab us the dog food?” Busque told the audience at the Next: Economy conference in San Francisco this month. “Maybe there was even somebody at the store this very moment and wouldn’t it be nice if we could connect with them and say, ‘Hey can you grab us this bag? Happy to pay for your time.’ And the conversation that evening evolved into what became TaskRabbit.”

Many entrepreneurs will agree, the best products get made when the founders come upon a problem in their own lives that needs to be solved. By addressing a pain point, they become deeply connected to their mission, and, in essence, become their own first customer.

Steve Wozniak’s problem in 1975 was that he wanted his own computer. Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to search the web.

Why Our Daughters Should Play More Video Games

I’ve recently noticed my two daughters taking an interest in Minecraft, an imaginative video game in which players can build — and take apart — constructions out of three-dimensional cubes. It’s kind of like Legos on steroids.

At first, I was resistant to the idea of my young girls (ages 7 and 11) playing video games. My sons — and husband — have always been the “gaming” junkies in our household. My girls have been more interested in singing, dancing and finding any excuse to be up on stage. Frankly, I liked that they weren’t glued to a computer screen.

I didn’t realize that by condoning this gendered disparity in my children’s play, I was inadvertently sending them a message that video games and computers are just for boys — not to mention contributing to the nationwide wage gap.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, girls today are steering away from math, science and computers in record numbers. The percentage of women graduates in computer science is at a 39-year low. In the mid-1980s, 37% of computer science majors were women; in 2012, that number had dropped to 18%.

While women make up more than 51% of the U.S. workforce, they hold just 26% of computing-related jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In Silicon Valley, the numbers are even worse. Recent diversity data from tech giants like Facebook, Google and Yahoo reveal that women hold on average just 16% of the tech jobs.

Copyright © Samantha Parent Walravens