When You Want Abs, Do Push-Ups
Although my claim to fame is nerdy scientist, I'll have you know in my heyday I was also a jock. After a brief encounter with softball in 3rd grade -it didn't work out- I started my soccer affair. For a decade plus I enjoyed the masochist's sport. Demandingly high endurance, requiring not only strength but speed and agility to keep your ACL from snapping, soccer kicks your ass and you come back for more because baby -it hurts so good. You want me to run 6 miles? Sure. You want me to do 90 push-ups? Yeah, whatever. You want me to do suicides across the football field and immediately drop to a minute long plank? Come on, it's Tuesday. I'm going to need more than this.
To this, I shall credit my extreme body sensitivity. A tool whose precise balance matters, and I can tell when it's off. I feel heavy. I think I put on a couple of pounds. I get on the scale, and yes, two pounds heavier. It's not water weight? Nope, not that time. Maybe you think I'm feeling phantoms. So little couldn't matter. But when you've enjoyed the same weight since high school, you're quick to feel a shift. You've been lax. Haven't walked enough. Okay, okay, I'll fix it.
None of this is about my weight or body, however. It's about the fact girl push-ups are pointless.
I know I shouldn't call them girl push-ups. Forgive me for habit -such is the title of my nostalgia. But you envisioned what I meant immediately.
There it is. Knees bent, lightly resting on your palms. Some articles will tell you, "Girl Push-ups are Great!" As with this one, if you're truly physically incapable of doing one push-up, maybe it's not a bad place to start.
Probably though, that isn't your case. Probably, you can do one push-up. I'm going to give the anatomy of why that one true push-up outstrips 10 of this false competitor.
I possess what I fondly entitle a "Venus de Milo" paunch. The curvature beginning at the bellybutton sloping down you see in the Greek and Roman artworks and cherubicly plump dames of Renaissance work. No matter what I do, it never seems to go away. Perhaps with enough effort, but if my varsity soccer days didn't get rid of it, I'm not hopeful. During that phase, my body and I came to an agreement I'll never possess the flat stomach of Alessandra Ambrosio, but by damn, I'm Classic and that works for me.
And yet, it's the thing first targeted when I feel flabby. In come push-ups.
If you had to vote on a single "Best Exercise" for your body, push-ups should be a strong competitor. In one motion which can be performed anywhere at anytime (depending on your personal level of comfort), you exercise arms, abs, legs and back. They come with all sorts of variations highlighting the different areas. Knee push-ups is not one you should indulge in.
Look at all those muscles you're working! Especially those lower abdominals I wish would get to work in removing my roundness. You want to do knee push-ups instead? Well, take away those abs. Take away the lumbar stabilization muscles, too. Oh, and those pectorals. No resistance on them, no gain. (Did you know the pectoral muscles help give you perkier, healthier breasts? But, who cares about those things right?)
Which leaves your triceps and, alright, I'll give you a little deltoid, but again, diminished benefit. You could be working 6 muscles, now you're working 2.
When I played soccer, girl push-ups weren't allowed. It took me 'til college anatomy and physiology to understand "Why". I implore you -do the real thing. You don't have to do 10 of them at one time. You don't have to do 5 of them at one time. If you have to do real push-ups one at a time over the course of an entire day to get to 10, do it that way. Two keys to a healthy body and weight-loss are simply engage more muscles and engage them more often. The true push-up is your friend.
The Caregiver Wage Gap
The first time I heard "Women make 23% less than men for the same work." I was furious. Are we really still so backwardly sexist it's possible women make a quarter less earnings than men? Surely that can't be it; we must have progressed in 40 years, right? Time to look at the data, and thank goodness other people have done this for me. However, can I trust them?
.The National Organization for Women data says that "By comparing differences in annual earnings between men and women, we find that there is about a 23 cent difference per dollar according to the Census Bureau."
Okay, but what does "by comparing" really mean? Does it mean you got a list of all men and all women in all professions and took an average of pay for each sex? That's what it sounds like, and that's at least what this study from the American Association of University Women did to arrive at their calculations for wage gap.
And there my statistician's heart kicked in. If the world could be explained by something as simple as a percent difference calculation, by golly, I think we could work a lot more out. However, it's not that simple. We're not just men and women. We are men and women with law degrees and masters degrees and different numbers of years of experience and different experiential talents. If you're catching on, that;s quite a many variables I'm going to need you to account for and explain in your regression models before I believe your data.
Again, thankfully, I'm not the only one with such suspicions. Claudia Goldin, a Harvard professor wanted to know why this wage-gap was happening. To solve a problem, you need to understand it. If you're into that type of media, I highly recommend the Freakonomics podcast "The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap" where she discusses all of the above with the highly entertaining Stephen Dubner. (Really, you should just be listening to Freakonomics all the time)
Her best illustration is lawyers. A lawyer working as a corporate counsel for a company and a lawyer working in private practice are both classified as lawyers. But if you compare the earnings, the lawyer in corporate counsel makes less. Corporate counsel works 9-5 and isn't on call. Private practice, you-re at the whim of of you client.
Women more frequently choose to become corporate counsel, thus making less earnings, for something Goldin titles "temporal flexibility". How flexible is your time? Do you have to be on call 24/7? Can you appear at will when a client wants? Are you as an individual interchangeable with one of your coworkers? Or can you do in your free time mostly what you want. I find the strength of Goldin's claim in that she finds fields with high temporal flexibility don't have this wage gap. This is a field where even if you aren't on call 24/7, one of your peers who is exactly like you job performance-wise is. Ironically, my former potential career of Pharmacist fits this bill.
But if you're not a parent lucky enough to be in one of these temporally flexible positions, they will tell you, they can't. Their child is sick. They don't have a babysitter. They can't show up for work at the drop of the hat.
And so the conclusion they come to is, women are voluntarily making these choices to better be able to care for their children. They would rather get paid less than be on call all the time. The article leaves me with a haunting shudder because they just leave it there. Women are making their own choices. That's what we want. Story end.
But why aren't men making the same choices? Why aren't they choosing jobs so they can be at home with their children? As Goldin found, men actually make more after they have children because of the increased pressure to provide for their family.
How can they work harder? Dollars to doughnuts, it's because their wife is home caring for the kids or at least has chosen a career of more temporal flexibility in to support caregiving while Daddy goes out to make the big bucks.
The double standard still exists. Women are caregivers; men are providers. The wage gap will exist as long as this is true.
Since my life isn't going to be that way, forgive me if I'm worried. I date anti-authoritarians and musicians, two populations I love for the ways they enrich my life through their feelings and thoughts. Not so much their wallets. I've always assumed I'd be the primary breadwinner given I'm an extremely competitive workaholic who gets bored when given free time (again, if you missed it, I'm using my free time to write a blog about data and statistics because this is what I like to do in my spare time. It is my enjoyable hobby)
In the future, if we have children, I worry about what happens. Will I demand my husband maintain a career of temporal flexibility? Management positions in my field absolutely require a 24/7 on call policy, and we are not so interchangeable. If it's a night where I may have to go in immediately, but my husband needs to play a show, what do we do?
"You make sacrifices, Elise." How about no. How about we build a better world instead.
In 2013, I attended a Young Generation Nuclear conference and witnessed a panel discussion filled with CEOs from the major nuclear companies. When asked what was the biggest challenge facing the nuclear industry in the future, one of the CEOs responded, "We have to find a way for people to have kids and work."
Not environmental regulation? Not public fear of the nuclear industry? Not the increasing cost of running nuclear plants versus the cheaper forms of alternative energy?
No, it was "Find a way for people to work and have kids." He then reminded us what you've probably heard too. Women are overtaking men when it comes to obtaining college degrees. In time, you may not have a pool of qualified applicants willing to sacrifice their time for more pay when you pit it against their family life. It becomes even more true when you consider men are becoming more involved in family life. The number of stay-at-home dads has dramatically increased, and the general attitude is more accepting, even demanding, of men sharing the caregiver load.
in that case, what do you do? Very simply, you must change the way we do business. We must improve access to childcare and build support networks for people who need childcare. Or, you can change the actual way business is done. In America, we've built a :I want it now economy." I'll pay you more if you do it right now. I'll only go into business with you if you're available to me when I want. I'm hopeful with the rise of millennials with their more leisurely attitudes towards work and career we'll be more demanding about the division of work time and private time instead. Or technology may be able to assist us, offering way to access our employees even when we're not physically around.
So many possibilities, what will work? Who knows. Redefining economies can take a while . For now, can I just get some maternity leave?
Scroll. Scroll. Click. Scroll. Scroll. Click. Click. Scroll. Click. Click. Click. Scroll. Scroll.
And so I begin every morning -or every afternoon since I am a nightshifter for the foreseeable future. I roll over in bed, pick up my phone, and groggily come to terms with the outside world via technology and social media. Those icons on the top of your phone indicating notifications? I hate those. From the moment I register the array, the analytical clearinghouse kicks in. Text messages first -heavens no, I can't respond without coffee. They'll sit there for a bit. Meaningless shopping apps second -who cares? I've no need for things. Then emails, Facebook and whatever seems appealing. I move through the lives of my friends and their friends and the things they're interested in before casting my own web of searches.
Social media has linked to depression. The people who use social media the most are narcissists and people with low self-esteem. It is fundamentally changing the way we receive, transmit and digest information with a typical news cycle lasting no more than 24 hours -if it's lucky.
Personally, I think it's fascinating.
This isn't surprising. I'm an ENTP (don't worry, I'm sure I'll expound on Myers-Briggs and personality typing some other time). ENTPs are described as being the verbally quick and clever ultimate Devil's advocates. We like controversy and argument because we like the fundamental art of flexibility in thought. For an ENTP, Facebook and Twitter are a playground. Instagram less so with little opportunity for dialogue, but isn't it so visually appealing? If an interesting thought comes through my head, I can toss is out to the world and see how it catches. Did you like it? How many people liked it? Do people like things differently at different time of day? (I've come to find there is an ideal time for a post). I can see other people tossing out their ideas for consumption and dissection. I can learn about things I never would have dreamed of from my online family.
I succeed in this because I am an ENTP. I'm the Devil's advocate. The responses I receive mean little compared to the enjoyment I find simply in seeing what happened with a particular thought. A flop? That flop teaches a valuable lesson about understanding human life -what a gift! No emotional impact on ego here.
Most of the time, I seek to be entertaining. When you read something I post, I want you to smile. I want you to laugh. I want you to grin with amusement. I think positivity is valuable, and while I have a dark wit, that's not the one I like to share. Darkness, though satiating, seems filled with self-indulgence and is unproductive. I already know which of my friends appreciate that sort of thing; I'll go to them directly and we'll have our own fun without being killjoys and cynics for the rest of the world. Better to seek to be a little ray of delight so we can build a world that shines.
I don't want you to be jealous. I don't want you to look on my life with envy. I don't want to feel self-important I run a blog. It should be no wonder I'm a sucker for nostalgia. I enjoy wandering through my past and social media simplified the process. Facebook is my interactive scrapbook. Documenting moments I'll peruse when I'm old and laugh about what a silly young girl I was. With older generations, they have photo albums. But unless they were avid journalers -I doubt, most people aren't- they have little factual evidence to how they used to be.
And there it ties back. I love nostalgia. I look back at even painful moments with an appreciation. How could I not? I've come so far. Not everyone is like me. Not everyone is an ENTP. Not everyone is immune to the embarrassment of mistakes. Some dwell. Some drown. Some look back and the pain is fresh, aching again. Is social media good or bad for us? We'll see.
As with the statement of this project, I'd like to be more focused. I'd like make my social media more focused. I want to end the endless scrolling. I want to hone the blade of influence so it's useless, but controlled. Which means doing things like this. Using computer time to be thoughtful. You'll probably read this from where I post it to Facebook, but I won't be there watching you.
Just a Woman in STEM finding her way