Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CNN: Headline Epic Fail

 Today in Tech: Yahoo has a new CEO, and she's pregnant

I read the headline above on CNN online yesterday.

Way to go, CNN. The article actually reported AS NEWS that it was okay for Marissa Mayer to be pregnant, since she plans to work through her maternity leave.

Say what?

Once I reattached my feminist head to my feminist body, I brainstormed ways to help you out, CNN.

Here are some other headlines you may consider. I used fictional names to protect the innocent. 

Election results: Mary-Mary Contrary new POTUS, has Excellent Lipid Panel

New Head at Pain Capital Has E. D., Plans to Work Through Treatment

German PM Reports No Cavities

Gray-Haired Grandfather, Still Continent, to Head Drug Giant Pillslinger

Brit M15 Top Agent has Exemplary Digestion, Credits Fiber

“My Small Pores Hereditary,” Claims Florida Governor

Chief of Canadian Mounted Police Lactose Intolerant, Gives up Cheddar

Each of these events seemed at least as newsworthy as CNN’s headline about Mayer’s pregnancy.  Come on, CNN. In what universe did a headline about a woman taking a CEO job of a major corporation need to include information about a baby in her uterus?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Age of Discrimination-- or We'll All Look Old on Facebook One Day

I used to love watching Ann Curry on the Today Show on the rare occasions I had to watch a little morning, mid-week TV. Smart, witty, self-deprecating, she has an unspoiled quality even after years in front of a camera. I grew to love her sincerity.

I even loved her perceived flaws-- she occasionally stutters, and since I do, too, I found that deviation from perfection endearing. She sometimes got emotional, but reporting on some of the horrendous stories that make up the news, her wet eyes and cracking voice seemed to me to show heart, not weakness. Ann is the opposite of a plastic, highlighted blonde, interchangeable news anchor.

I’m allowed to say that, because I’m blonde, by the way.

Now that Ann has been busted back to the infantry, or whatever you call her dismissal from the Today Show anchor position, I look at the younger women on the show with sadness and a bit of dread. Savannah Guthrie, Ann’s perky replacement, is 40 years old (she looks 30 to me!), to Ann’s 55. Savannah is smart, a lawyer, and looks great in the de rigueur sheath dress. Natalie Morales, 40, is the news reader, wearing her own sleek sheath. Ann can rock a sheath, too, no doubt. Looking great in a sheath is, after all, imperative—buckets of brains and charm are no substitute.

I have nothing against Savannah and Natalie, but they do seem a tad giddy that they are the heirs to Ann’s years of hard work.   

I don’t want to believe that Ann was fired because of her age. But I am beyond certain that this was the case. Even though Ann is a beautiful woman, she is in mid-life, in an industry where mid-life women are few and far between. Of the very few mid-life female news anchors, the vast majority conform to America’s skewed ideas of beauty. Most look like they spend countless hours in the gym, and eat only arugula. Gray hair is practically unheard of for on-camera female reporters.

Matt Lauer, at 54, is allowed to age. He is balding, and his hair is naturally salt and pepper gray. He does stay in shape, but that may be more to keep up with his wife, a former model, than to retain his job. Al Roker also is permitted to show his age, 57, has had very public battles with his weight, but his position seems secure.

Most of us will never be in contention for a job on the Today Show. So we can relax about age or other hiring biases, right? Not exactly.

Consider the influence social media is beginning to have on the way we, the masses, get our next gigs.
The Brave New World of social media is about to bite us where it hurts.

Apparently, paper resumes are on the way out. Employers will soon use social media to peruse prospective employees. While I use and abuse social media daily, I was appalled to realize that an employer would see what I look like before reading my <cough> outstanding resume credentials.

Anyone looking at my photo will see not only am I middle-aged, but my BMI is on the high side. They’ll see my race, my hairstyle, my lack of fashion sense, or that I remind them of their mother-in-law, and can then discriminate against me for any or all of those reasons.

My friend Melissa argued, well, discrimination can happen at any point in the hiring process—that even if an employer calls me in not knowing my age, once I’m interviewed the hiring manager can at that point discriminate against me. Melissa has a valid point, but my meager hope was at least some employers may show a measure of caution at repeatedly discriminating against prospective employees who’ve made it to the interview process-- if only for fear of a lawsuit. That was my tiny shred of optimism to cling to, and it admittedly isn’t much. Now that employers can plainly see that I’ve had one Krispy Kreme too many, what is left?

Perhaps you, like me, have friends over 45 who are job hunting, and hunting. The employment search once the chill winds of mid-life begin to blow can seem like pushing a boulder over Pike’s Peak in winter. If I were to lose my job, I shudder to think how hard finding another in my field would be.

Ann Curry still has a job. They left her with a few crumbs. She will be a roving reporter on “special assignments.” By chance, I saw her last day on the job. Why is Ann crying, I wondered, listening to her say goodbye. She apologized to her fans for not being able to “go the distance.” Don’t apologize, Ann. Some events are worth crying about. I would have cried too. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Through Menopausal Eyes: Lessons from the Wizard of Oz

How does The Wizard of Oz remind me of menopause?

Watching the 1939 film with 16 year-old Judy Garland through menopausal eyes—the only way I see these days—I reflect on the alien world Dorothy finds herself in.

She’s not in Kansas anymore, and neither am I.  Someone has died, in Dorothy’s case the Wicked Witch of the West, flattened under a farmhouse.

Some days I feel as though my old self has died, the weight of a house collapsing on my head. Some days I feel like I’M the wicked witch, times 10.

Dorothy is growing and changing. She will never be the same after Oz, and I am going through my own emotional evolution/revolution, one that I didn’t surely didn’t anticipate. No way will I be quite the same after weathering this twister.

Watching TWOO this time, I focus on Dorothy’s bravery. Plunked down in a land where she knows no one, told to walk to a faraway wizard for help, she doesn’t hesitate. She starts down the yellow-brick road, all alone, with only Toto for company.  How very strong is that? I want to emulate her fearlessness.

She meets those wonderful friends along the way: the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion. They are seekers, like her, and I’ve met friends on my meno journey without whom I’d have little hope of making it to the other side of this emotional storm. Friends are a main ingredient in the prescription for menopause survival.

Dorothy already has the brain, heart, and courage that her friends seek. I have these too, although many days they seem to have shrunk to the size of the grains of sand in the witch’s hourglass.

What about that hourglass? Dorothy watches the grains trickle down what she believes may be the last minutes of her life. This passage of life and my upcoming 55th birthday reminds me of my mortality, prodding me to set priorities with a sense of urgency I may have lacked previously.

It’s time for me to pay attention—to do what I have been putting off—to take risks. To write the book I’ve been mulling over for years, for Pete’s sake. To save up for the trip to Italy, a dollar at a time if that’s the only way.

I can’t wait around for the Good Witch Glenda in a sparkly gown and magic wand to point me in a new direction. 

I’ve got to get going, on my way, to the new land. Whether the road is through Oz or Kansas, I don’t know.

But here goes.