Career Coaching & Counseling Articles
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By Joan Runnheim Olson
The Scottsdale National Gender Diversity Institute provides resources and answers to gender issues in the workplace. Talented women are leaving corporate America. Why are they leaving? Why does it matter? I read an article The Business Case for Gender Diversity written by the Institute where these important questions are answered.
Why are Women Leaving? In a study conducted by Catalyst, the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, participants cited the following four reasons for leaving corporate jobs to start their own businesses:
--The need for more flexibility
--The glass ceiling
--Unhappiness with the work environment
--Lack of challenge
The participants of this study reported the following statements: Their contributions were not recognized or valued. They were not taken seriously. They felt isolated as one of few women or minorities. They were excluded from informal networks. They were excluded from training opportunities. They faced inhospitable corporate cultures.
Why Should Companies be Concerned? Besides the costs associated with turnover and loss of institutional knowledge, companies that pursue and manage gender diversity can see these advantages:
--Better financial results
--Improved access to growing, well-educated segment of the workforce
--Improved market share
The Bottom Line. According to the study, "...the 25 Fortune 500 firms with the best record of promoting women to high positions are between 18 and 69 percent more profitable than the median Fortune 500 firms in their industries." The number of women enrolled in post-secondary educational institutions and the number of women in the workforce exceed that of men. Women are responsible for 83% of all consumer purchases, according to Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the World's Largest Market Segment." Another important anecdote, "Women possess a unique combination of interpersonal and work ethic traits that seem tailor-made for the management ranks." The study concludes that both men and women have unique and valuable talents to contribute to organizations. A win-win scenario is one in which gender diversity is valued and opportunities are available to both genders.
Oftentimes people choose careers based on what is stereotypically associated with their gender. It's important that individuals be aware of all of their career options. Depending on your role, you may want to educate parents, students, or your clients on reasons to consider a nontraditional career, i.e., one that is male or female dominated.
Top Reasons to Consider a Nontraditional Career: A career should be based on an individual's abilities and interests, not on gender stereotypes. Many nontraditional careers offer short training programs offering students an opportunity to start earning money more quickly and acquiring a lesser student loan debt. Nontraditional careers for women typically pay up to 25-30% more than traditional female jobs. Many nontraditional careers for men pay high as well. Many nontraditional careers for women, e.g., jobs in the trades, offer career ladders. Apprenticeship programs allow women to earn while they learn with an increasing salary as they develop more skills. Many nontraditional careers, e.g., nursing for men and welding for women, are "portable" and offer greater flexibility. They allow workers the ability to relocate to different geographic areas and may allow married couples to reduce the need for outside childcare services, thus saving money.
Individuals will spend 40+ years of their life working. Why not choose something they will enjoy? Find ways to share the above information with parents of junior high students, high school students, and students at the middle school, secondary, and post-secondary level. If you work with adults considering a new career, make them aware of nontraditional careers as a possible option.
By Sharon Wiatt Jones
As you blissfully use social media, a growing army of security professionals protects you (and their employers) from harm. Defcon and BlackHat conventions are attended by participants eager to learn the “hacker mindset.” RSA, Security Division of EMC, labeled 2011 as “The Year of Phishing,” as it occurred in 1 out of 300 emails and netted an average of $4,500 for each attack. In 2011, more than 1,000 cases of malware were discovered in Google’s Android products. Apple, considered more secure, found its iPhone hacked in 2011 by a 19-year old Brown University student. An Apple fan, his motive was the challenge of code breaking, not theft. A Deloitte study identified mobile devices as the leading computer security threat for 2012. According to security strategist Rob Rachwald, his 11-year-old child could perform an SQL injection attack after15 minutes of instruction. Once done manually, criminals may now use automation to uncover protected data. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts growth in the emerging career of cyber-security. Some of these jobs include mobile device security or “ethical hacking,” fraud prevention, brand protection, and social media monitoring.
Mobile Device Security. A CyDesign job opening for a software engineer (platform demolition/SDET) asks potential applicants: Were you were the kid who was always curiously taking things apart to explore how they worked or tried to break them for the thrill of it? …apply your technical expertise to inflict some serious damage and get paid for it, in a software demolition, chaos, security and/or hacker capacity. Software development engineer in test (SDET) is a common abbreviation in computer security. Similar job titles include patent engineer/hacker, malware/security engineer, security penetration tester, and application security specialist. Microsoft seeks security engineers: Do you…see yourself in the role of making on and off-premise computing safe for the good guys while keeping the bad guys at bay? … do your part to fight the forces of evil. Cybercriminals could attack victims through malware (viruses infecting software), social engineering (deceiving people into accessing harmful attachments or links), scareware (fake virus alerts), and phishing (electronically attempting to obtain personal information under false pretenses). Other tactics include malvertising, mobile pickpocketing, jailbreaking, sandboxing, and mobile botnets. Some weapons used in defense of consumers and employers are fuzz testing, blacklisting, spambots, and network sniffers. The Internet fraud analyst or customer support-fraud prevention specialist identifies and deactivates criminal websites committing identity theft through phishing or malware. Forever inventive, criminals may use variations of phishing: vishing (automated recordings) or SMSing (mobile phones). Other variations are spear phishing (highly personalized and believable lures) and whaling (directed at sensitive targets such as government officials). At one employer, a customer support engineer provides end-user support for a web security hacking application. Facebook’s fraud investigators in risk operations look for patterns to ensure that merchants are legitimate and do not make unauthorized transactions. Successful candidates for this job enjoy finding patterns amidst chaos, solving puzzles, making quick decisions, working collaboratively.
Brand Protection. To protect the safety of online users and reputation of the organization’s brand, employers need to “practice security Judo,” according to expert Andy Ellis in a Tripwire article. The Brand Protection Analyst guards against infringement of trademark and copyright law. A Distinguished Technologist at one firm identifies, captures, and protects intellectual property through filing patents or acquisitions.
Social Media Monitoring. Zoosk, a romantic social network, hires customer support-fraud prevention specialists to review member content for offensive photos and violent or abusive text. Amazon’s Kindle team needs risk management specialists with “a passion for reading” to screen member submissions sensitive for religious, political, or other reasons. Due to NCAA compliance regulations, social media monitoring companies (e.g. UDiligence, JumpForward, and Varsity Monitor) target inappropriate posts and photos by student-athletes. Opportunities: Employers often look for experienced applicants with certifications: Certified Ethical Hacker; Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator; Certified Security Analyst/License Penetration Tester (LPT).
Information security (infosec) internships are available in areas including software engineering, technical support, web application programming, systems test engineering, and services marketing. Recent college graduates are recruited for positions such as Internet fraud analyst, data analyst, brand protection analyst, and software engineer-web application firewall. Depending on the role, employers often seek qualifications in computer science, MIS, and computer engineering. Other degrees typically sought include behavioral science, statistics, economics, and user interface design. The founder of the DefCon and Black Hat conferences has a BA in criminal justice. Professionals with at least three years of experience may qualify for jobs as an incident response consultant, fraud investigator, or information security engineer, among others.
Gender stereotypes are ingrained in children from an early age and continues throughout their lives. What can teachers and others do to help challenge those stereotypes? Creating lesson plans that "test" females and males assumptions can help. Below I share some ideas on lesson plans or exercises you can use as discussion points.
1) Show clips from TV shows and commercials depicting females and males in "traditional" gender roles, e.g., women taking on the primary role as childcare provider and housekeeper and men doing lawn care and as the primary "breadwinner." Ask students to discuss how they feel about those "assigned" roles and encourage them to explore how things have changed over the years in regard to those roles. For example, more dads are staying at home to raise their children, and some women earn more than their husbands.
2) Ask students to brainstorm a list of careers and of those careers which ones they think are "appropriate" for females vs. males. Be prepared to share information that conveys that most careers are appropriate for either gender. For example, the strength requirements for many jobs traditionally held by men are often exaggerated. Tools, equipment, and proper handling make most jobs accessible to both males and females.
3) Ask students to participate in an exercise where they jot down what they like best about being their gender and what they would like about being the opposite gender. Encourage them to share what they wrote and discuss any stereotypes and how they might impact an individual's career choice.
Breaking stereotypes doesn't happen overnight; however, if we challenge them they lose their power. Because stereotypes can greatly impact an individual's career choice, it's important that we don't allow them to prevent a student from considering all of their career options.
Whether you are a career coach, counselor, advisor, educator, or parent, your values and beliefs can affect how you interact with females and males. And, ultimately it may affect how you guide a student, client, or your child in exploring their career options. These options include careers traditionally held by females or by males. Take the quiz below and jot down if you respond never, rarely, sometimes, or always to each question.
1. Do I react (perhaps feel funny inside) when I hear that a male wants to pursue a career as a nurse or become an administrative assistant? Would I discourage such aspirations in a male?
2. Do I expect females to be better at literature and writing than males?
3. Do I treat females and males and different ethnic groups similarly with regard to application of classroom rules and privileges?
4. Do I give similar encouragement to females and males in identifying strengths and assets?
5. Is my language free of sex bias with regard to: Use of masculine terminology to refer to all people? Use or acceptance of derogatory terminology to refer to members of either gender? Use of word order which consistently places males first (he or she, boys and girls, men and women)?
6. Do I interact with females and males with regard to: Maintaining eye contact with them? Considering their points of view? Waiting for answers to questions?
How did you score? Was this quiz an eye-opener for you? Are there some areas in which you may want to question your beliefs and values? Source: Improving Sex Equity in Postsecondary Technical Programs: A Resource Manual, Austin, TX: North State Texas University, and adapted from MECCA Trainer’s Guide, Utah State Department of Education.
If you're a counselor at the middle school or secondary level, the following case study is for you. How can you increase parents’ awareness of non-traditional careers? What activities would you use to help parents learn more about non-traditional careers, i.e., male or female-dominated? Parents may play a major role in their child's career choice. That's why it's important that parents encourage their children to consider all of their career options, including non-traditional. So, how can you increase parent's awareness of these careers? Below are some tips:
1) Hand out information on non-traditional careers at enrollment or during an open house. This information can include what non-traditional careers are: list some examples, a description of the work performed, along with the benefits of a non-traditional career.
2) Invite role models, i.e., those working in non-traditional careers, to come and speak during an open house. They can describe a typical day on the job, the challenges they face, salary range, and what they like about being in a non-traditional career.
3) Pass out scholarship information for non-traditional careers.
4) Encourage parents to talk with their daughters about science and math and to enroll in a camp on these subjects.
5) Encourage parents to have their son participate in activities around the house that are considered non-traditional, e.g., childcare. The same rings true for their daughter. Have parents teach their daughter how to change the oil in the family car or change a tire.
A non-traditional career isn't for everyone, but it's important for parents to allow their child to explore both traditional and non-traditional careers.
The following interview is with Sapna Protheroe, College Development Manager at MentorNet, an online mentoring program (http://www.mentornet.net/).
Why is the retention rate low for women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes/programs? Many factors contribute to low retention rates including: Low self-esteem; Lack of viable mentors; Discouragement from pursuing chosen career; Lack of support.
How can mentoring help increase retention? Mentoring has many benefits including: Access to a support system. Help with career planning. Support and guidance in overcoming hurdles. Online mentoring is immediate & accessible.
What is MentorNet? MentorNet is an online mentoring program for students in all majors; however the focus is on women in STEM.
What are the benefits of online mentoring over face-to-face? Since the mentoring is done online, it’s ideal for the busy student, aka protégé, and for the mentor. Neither has to be physically available to make the relationship work. A mentor can provide support from across the globe.
How long does the mentor/protégé relationship typically last? They last eight months which is the length of a school year.
How does MentorNet facilitate the relationship? We facilitate the relationship by sending email prompts with discussion topics on diversity, time management, discrimination, stereotypes, and goals for the future, etc.
Is there a cost for MentorNet? MentorNet charges colleges and universities a small fee of $5,000 per year for the service. There is no charge to the student at the participating campuses.
How do you measure success? We track the number of students that sign up for the program. We also compile survey results after each match is completed, asking questions to determine how well it’s helped the students.
What is the time commitment each week? The protégé and mentor each spend about an average of 15 minutes per week on the mentoring relationship.
Who qualifies to be a mentor? Anyone with a few years of work experience can become a mentor.
Over 10 years ago, I worked on a project designed to move more women into the auto service industry through a Federal Department of Labor's WANTO grant (Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations). Hired as a contractor by a Twin Cities-based non-profit and former employer of mine, I was to encourage auto service dealerships to hire more women as auto service technicians (aka mechanics), service advisors (those who write up the repair order), and parts workers. I must admit it was the most fun project I have ever worked on! I met with service managers at auto dealerships through the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. While many managers were receptive to hiring women, some were not. One service manager said to me, "We hired a woman once and she didn't work out." I was astounded! Apparently to him, that one woman represented all women. I thought to myself, "What about the men that didn't work out?" A few service managers commented that women don't like to get their hands or nails dirty. I assured them that some women prefer working with their hands. I helped assemble an advisory committee that consisted of a representative from the local union, a female auto service technician, a female parts worker, a representative from the Greater Metro Automobile Dealership Association, and a couple of us working on the project. The goal of the committee was to troubleshoot and brainstorm ideas to increase the number of women in auto service positions. We also organized the first of its kind networking event for women in auto service. Our keynote speaker was a woman who owns a dealership in Minneapolis. Many women commented how nice it was to network with other women in the same industry, as often they may be the only female at their dealership. Another event that we put together was created to increase awareness of careers in auto service. We collaborated with a local technical college that offers a program in auto service. We invited female high school students to tour the program, meet two female graduates of the program, and disassemble and reassemble a steering component. Throughout the 2-1/2 years I worked on the project, we met or exceeded our goals every year. These goals included outreach, an increase in the number of females enrolled in programs preparing them for careers in auto service, and an increase in the number of women in auto service.
Many community colleges and universities are enhancing their counseling services for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math majors due to federal grant money that is available. The colleges are following the wave of money that went to secondary schools previously. We think that the increased secondary funding has created more students interested in these fields coming into our colleges now. Counselors will find the following websites helpful and student friendly. "Green careers" are incorporated into some of these sites but are not the focus of this list.
By George Dutch
Three groups of talents are often associated with people in supervisory positions: the initiators or developers - the people who come up with the vision and get the ball rolling; the planners and analyzers - the people who take that vision and make it a reality by planning on how to put the right elements in place, or improve upon what is already there; and the front-line managers or operations supervisors - the people who maintain it and keep the organizational crank turning efficiently and effectively. All three have a knack for dealing with conflicting priorities in organizations and for conflict resolution. These three groups make up about 30% of the workforce. Your clients can learn to do these things through training, but if they have a natural talent for supervision, they will have one of these three, which puts them in a category of 10% of the working population. This is one reason it is so difficult to find good managers. They are few and far between, and many supervisors/managers end up in jobs that don’t match their natural managerial talent. How can you help your clients determine if they are natural supervisors and, if they are, which particular kind of manager are they?
Developers & Initiators. This kind of talent likes to get things started. Listen for stories about starting up things—projects, enterprises, causes. Do others describe them as entrepreneurial? Why? What do they see your client doing that causes them to say this? They will be good at getting projects off the ground, or taking an existing enterprise and turning it around. But, once it’s off the ground, or making progress again, they will probably have a tendency to lose interest in maintaining that project. In fact, others might criticize them for not finishing things. Or, for being impatient, or for acting too quickly without weighing the evidence more carefully because when they are part of a group or team and things get bogged down, your client will tend to take the ball and run with it, even if it means going against what’s popular or currently accepted. In action, this talent often appears as a spark plug or catalyst for coordinating the activities of others to start up new projects, programs, or systems, often as a self-starter who works on hunches.
Planners & Analyzers. This kind of talent likes to take something already created, make it come to life, or improve upon it. These clients have a natural talent for planning - a knack for seeing into the future to determine the details and sequences of events Listen for stories about them devising and planning an approach to meet a specific goal, whether it’s playing chess, or football, or a major home renovation, or a political campaign, or a major holiday. They enjoy working with strategies, tactics and angles. Do they like to plan things out before they get started on a major project? Or do they tend to plan as they go? This talent has a clear idea of how to map out a long range plan over 3-5 years. Do they get excited about the details that are necessary in planning a project that involves a combination of people, processes, and schedules? You may find that they know about or find it easy to learn to use a GANT or PERT chart or a critical path methodology. They have a knack for budget planning or term cost scheduling. And, they may express frustration with others who really don’t take time to plan things right! In action, this talent likes to give full consideration to time, costs, equipment, personnel, facilities, so much so, that others might criticize them for paralysis by analysis, for being indecisive and afraid to take risks, when they are simply trying to ensure accuracy and precision.
Front-line and Operations. This kind of talent loves to get their hands dirty solving problems on the “shop floor’ or at the front desk. Listen for stories where they are running things on a daily basis. A stay-at-home parent who enjoys making her family’s busy life run efficiently and effectively probably did the same thing in her previous life as an office manager, or nursing supervisor, or classroom teacher. How do they get people who are very different with different objectives to work together towards a common goal? Do they like to bring out the best in others? If so, how do they do it? In action, this talent is very good at process, and makes a valuable contribution to any organization as a stabilizing influence; at home or work, they are the glue that holds things together. Others might criticize them for lacking spontaneity and flexibility because they prefer things to be permanent.
Listen carefully for important distinctions. Someone who says they can do anything if only people would get out of the way is not a natural front-line supervisor. An individual who would rather manage a project from start-to-finish is not a natural operations manager, who would prefer to manage a department, plant, or company over a period of time. And, of course, the number one distinction to listen for is consistent enjoyment in these tasks. Just because somebody is good at something doesn’t mean they have a natural talent for it. For example, the oldest child of four who grew up in a single-parent household may, by necessity, learned how to help out their parent by getting their younger siblings organized for school and life each day, so they are successful at running an office, or plant, or company, but it may drain them rather than energize them. Natural supervisors get energized by initiating, planning or managing at the front-line. That’s what sets them apart from others who can do the same thing.
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