Women in India – GT1000 Guest Post #4

October 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

This semester, the GT Women’s Resource Center is teaching a section of GT 1000, Georgia Tech’s freshman seminar class. As part of our class, we are having each of our students contribute a blog post. The following post is the fourth one and discusses one student’s perception of the differences in cultures and women around the world.

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For anyone who has been to India, the gender contrast is staggering and to a very large extent surprising. The difference I experienced when I came here was expected, but nonetheless striking. Incidentally I also applied for a class at Tech and in many ways it brings out the contrast between the culture differences here and back in India.

According to me, the difference in the mindset of people is the most important difference at different places of world. At some places like Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to show even their face and cannot go out without wearing a “burkha”, while in Europe and United States, people are not really concerned about the attire of women. India, however, takes a moderate view upon it. Indian culture, especially in North India, doesn’t allow women, and in some parts even young girls to wear what are called “western clothes”. This is related to freedom, because any such restrictions are not enforced upon men in India.

The restrictions are placed not only on the attire, but almost everything in general – In most of the places women are not expected to drive, work for a company rather work back at home. Anything different is seen with a sort of a slight contempt, and this has led to the creation of a male-dominated society, where women have almost no rights and lots of duties. This was evident in the earlier (some still prevalent) practices in the society of “Sati” (Killing of a women after her husband’s death), “Purdah” (requiring women to cover their bodies so as to conceal their skin and form), Polygamy, etc.  Although these practices have been mostly abolished, women are now being troubled in different ways by actions of domestic and sexual violence, acid throwing, and the rampant dowry system. The earlier culture has been the main reason why the women are so restricted there, and most of the elderly people still find it difficult to adjust with the ever changing world. My grandfather still finds the idea of a co-ed school/college not enterprising, because that is his mindset. This explains why the practices that were prevalent earlier but the new ones are still unacceptable.

Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the Indian culture sitting elsewhere, it being so different from other places. However, all is not lost as people of a newer generation have accepted the need for change. The need for women empowerment has been seen and women are being offered new freedom as never before. Most of the restrictions are being taken down and they are being seen in novel places. The change has begun, but it remains to be seen that if people just leave the negativities of their culture or their culture as a whole.

– Uddhav B.

Encouraging Girls to Pursue STEM Fields

October 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

For as long as I can remember, my parents always encouraged me to pursue any degree that I wanted. At home, I always had the support that I needed to keep me interested in engineering–which I knew is what I wanted to study in college. The one thing that could have possibly stopped me from following my dream however, was the little encouragement that I received in school. Because of the strong support that I had at home, joining robotics clubs or coding clubs where I was the only girl was never a big issue for me. For my other friends however, it was. I remember taking engineering courses in high school while my best friends were in Early Childhood and Development courses, or joining clubs like the Academic Team while others were in dance. Don’t get me wrong, the Academic Team or engineering courses were just as great as theater and education courses! My only problem was that they weren’t advertised to girls as they were to guys! The only reason why I was still interested in engineering throughout high school was because I stuck through it despite knowing that it was a male dominated field.

According to a recent article on Womens enews, women only take up about 20 percent of bachelor degrees and only about twenty five percent of jobs in STEM fields. This is due in part to girls’ interest in these subjects being “squashed” after middle school. The author, Justina Nixon- Saintil, goes on to suggest that this situation can be reversed with the help of technology.

With constant discoveries and innovations in technology happening every day, it becomes easier for younger generations to get more involved in mobile technology use. Doing so will also encourage young girls to stay interested in STEM by the time they reach college. Verizon developed an “App Challenge” to encourage just that. In this challenge, boys and girls were encouraged to design their own apps for mobile devices. Studies of the challenge showed that over half of the winners of the challenge were girls. These girls came up with apps that could do a variety of things from helping with time management skills to improving study skills.

Providing opportunities such as the App Challenge  encourages girls to stay interested in STEM subjects–enough to have them want to pursue careers in STEM fields. It does away with the intimidation that some girls may feel about the science, technology, engineering and math fields and empowers women to keep striving for these careers despite what the social norm portrays. By having these technology based teaching methods and challenges, not only are we encouraging girls to join STEM fields, but we are also encouraging those girls that have already decided to do so to continue on their track to have a career in these subjects. Had these types of opportunities been presented throughout my grade school career, I am sure that more girls would have been more open to joining these courses. Essentially, more and more women will be making a difference in these fields.

– Jennifer C.

The Importance of Time Management – GT1000 Guest Post #3

October 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

This semester, the GT Women’s Resource Center is teaching a section of GT 1000, Georgia Tech’s freshman seminar class. As part of our class, we are having each of our students contribute a blog post. The following post is the third post surrounding time management.

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Time management is critical in college. It is important for getting all your homework done, arriving to class on time, but most importantly it is important in getting enough sleep. Many college students do not receive a good night’s sleep. Often, students go many days in a row with only a few hours of sleep. Sleep is a vital aspect of doing well in school. Getting enough sleep is not just important for your health, but it will also make you become a better student.

Sleep helps improve energy, focus, motivation, memory, and one’s overall health. All of these factors are beneficial to being a good student. It is proven, that most people age 18-20 need almost ten hours of sleep a night to stay fully rested. I can assure you that not many people here at Georgia Tech are getting ten hours of sleep a night. But why is there no time to sleep? Lack of time management! Students put off their homework or studying for their tests til the last minute. As a result, they are required to stay up into the late hours of the night in order to complete all of their assignments. Sleep is usually the first thing that students relinquish in dire situations. Yet, if one’s time is managed better, there will be more time to sleep.

Instead of waiting to the last minute to write that lab report, or study for that calculus test the next day, one should split up their studying into smaller chunks throughout the week prior to when the assignment is due. This will make more time available for sleep. Also, students should turn off the Xbox, computers, cell phones, and other distracting electronics at night and get some rest. No one likes waking up feeling tired and terrible. Smart study habits will help open up more free time during the day, and will allow for more activities and time for leisure.

It is not always easy to find time for sleep, especially during the first few months of college, but it is necessary that sleep not be discarded. Sleep will help you become a better student. An extra hour of sleep will help you feel more rested, awake, and focused the next day for an exam. Don’t spend your time staying up all night trying to cram. Learn what is important and then get some rest. Sleep will help your memory work at a faster rate.  Make an extra effort to try and get some extra shuteye. It may not always be easy, but your body, mind, and grade will improve if you do.

– Christopher H.

Relational Skills: Working Collaboratively in Teams, Civic and Community Engagement – GT1000 Guest Post #2

September 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

This semester, the GT Women’s Resource Center is teaching a section of GT 1000, Georgia Tech’s freshman seminar class. As part of our class, we are having each of our students contribute a blog post. The following post is the second one, discussing the importance of teamwork.

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Every one of us has grown up hearing others tell us things like, “Little Billy, make sure you are a team player because no one likes a ball hog.”  We have all come face to face with this idea of teamwork.  However it is worded – teamwork, cooperation, “Play nice little Johnny”, etc. – this value is a rudimentary foundation in today’s society.  But one may ask why.  What is the purpose of this frequently taught moral, and why is it emphasized so much?  The answer to this question lies in the productive outcomes via teamwork.

The individual, group, and ultimately, the surrounding community gain from teamwork.  Now, if you are the typical introvert like myself who says, “Team projects are stressful, useless, and no fun at all”, answer the question, “How can teamwork be helpful to me?”  When addressing teamwork through this perspective, one can see many pros to teamwork.  It is shown that one can learn and retain more in teams as opposed to working alone.  One may also acquire attributes such as accountability, motivation, and perseverance, and he/she will enhance communication skills.  One learns to fill a purpose by doing his/her part because others are counting on him/her.  If working alone, one may become more easily stressed and/or begin to think about giving up.  A group can provide support, positive morale, and constructive criticism which results in not only a more pleasant experience but also superior output work (Lau).  Regardless of a team member’s attitude, however, the benefits surpass the individual and extend to the group as well as the community.  The group attains similar attributes, and the community, whether it is local, national, or global, receives the advancements of the group, which can improve the world in so many various ways.

For example, at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and many medical schools, professors and experts are advocating better teamwork throughout the healthcare system.  They believe that better cooperation and communication in the system, such as between the EMT and the nurse and the doctor and the surgeon and etc., can aid many.  They suggest that advancements can result such as, “more comprehensive care, shorter hospital stays, and fewer errors and unnecessary procedures” (Roethel).  As shown, teamwork is an essential and relevant idea found in our global society.

Teamwork, however, pertains to us right now as Georgia Tech students.  College is a time of rigorous work, both individually and in groups.  As a primarily science and research focused college, teamwork and good collaboration skills are especially a necessary ability.  To achieve and maintain these skills, one must have an open attitude.  Selfish thoughts and solo work are limiting factors that not only hinder the individual but also others and the world.  He/she must be willing to compromise, make sacrifices, and have the work ethic to do what is requested of them and then more.  Having the mindset of enjoying team-oriented work as opposed to a do-the-minimal-work-required mindset will vastly better the experience as well as the quality of work produced.  Teamwork goes hand in hand with empathy because it gives us the opportunity to look past ourselves and contribute to the well-being of others.

Therefore, I urge everyone to push past the sense of tolerance towards teamwork and instead, welcome teamwork as opportunities.  If one can achieve this attitude, he/she will find that life, such as relationships to amiability to even future jobs, can be obtained and maintained much easier.  As a naturally social species, we humans need a universal skill of working with one another easily.  We must view life not as team-me but as team-us.  Only as a team will the world and our race continue to prosper.

The main factor to remember though is that teamwork does not spontaneously come into motion.  It is a decision, one that requires effort and perseverance.  You CAN make this decision!

– Clint G.

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Works Cited

Lau, Edmond.  “Why and Where is Teamwork Important?”  Forbes.  Forbes Magazine, 23 January 2013.  Web.  10 September 2013.

Roethel, Kathryn.  “Medical Schools Push Teamwork.”  USnews.  N.p., 19 March 2012.  Web. 10 September 2013.

University Culture – GT1000 Guest Post #1

September 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

This semester, the GT Women’s Resource Center is teaching a section of GT 1000, Georgia Tech’s freshman seminar class. As part of our class, we are having each of our students contribute a blog post. The following post is the first one, discussing the transition from high school to college.

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The transition from high school to college is one that presents many challenges each unique and requiring its own difficult adaption.  In order to do well in college students are imbued with an overwhelming amount of advice from parents, grandparents, older friends, even the casual acquaintance wants to put in their two cents. My own personal experience of the transition from college to high school will hopefully allow me to be successful throughout college and into the rest of my life. The two best pieces of advice I have heard our both from my parents.

The first parcel of advice that my parents told me is to develop three parts of yourself, your mind, body and soul. This advice stems from my parents wanting me to be a well-rounded individual while growing up. This advice also leans towards a main goal of having and living a balanced lifestyle.  I act on this advice by doing an activity from each category mind, body, and soul. I enrich my mind by going to class, doing homework and reading intellectually stimulating books in my spare time. I enhance my body by eating nutritiously, weightlifting, and running. I engage my soul by going to church, joining extracurricular clubs, and doing philanthropic works. The advice to live a balanced lifestyle is crucial to having a successful career at Tech and also for the future.

The second most useful piece of advice was imparted by my parents as they were leaving after moving all my stuff into the dorm, they said “Not to worry about making all A’s, have fun, enjoy yourself and make us proud.” While that advice may sound pretty standard, it sounds surprising coming from my parents. This is surprising because my Dad is a professor here, therefore it sounded peculiar for him to not want me to worry about getting all A’s. The advice is just beginning to make sense to me now. It is important to enjoy your time in college while here because once it’s over, it’s over.

I believe that my own experiences coupled with the advice from my parents will result in a successful college and future career. Their advice is important because without it; I would be like a blooming flower with no roots, destined to die.

– Zachary B.

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*The opinions and views expressed on or through this blog are the opinions of the designated authors and do not reflect the opinions or views of the GT Women’s Resource Center*

National Women’s Health Week (May 12-18th 2013): “They Said Months, I Chose Years”

May 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

In light of National Women’s Health Week (May 12-18th 2013), I was inspired to share my account of a battle for good health and wealth of life.

“You have malignant melanoma”. The oncologist told my father that he would only have months to live. My father struggled through chemotherapy, one of the only options the doctors gave us. At the time, we thought that this was our only hope, our only option. We put all of our faith in what the professionals told us, and did not seek any unconventional aid. My grandmother and I watched as my father withered away in hospice. Soon, it would be just my grandmother and I. James “Rhio” O’Connor was faced with a similar faith. Diagnosed with the fatal cancer malignant mesothelioma (www.survivingmesothelioma.com), he was given a mere year to live. Mesothelioma is most commonly and indisputably caused by exposure to asbestos, in which cancerous cells arise in the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many internal organs.  The most common symptoms of mesothelioma are chest pain and difficulty breathing. Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult since symptoms are similar to other conditions.  There is currently no FDA approved immunohistochemistry assay, and no universal protocol for screening people who have been exposed to asbestos (often leading to misdiagnosis).  Prognosis remains disappointing. Treatments include: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, heated intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy, multimodality therapy, and alternative medicine. However, surgery was not an option for Rhio due to the position of the tumor located near his spine. The damage chemotherapy would do to his body drastically outweighed the improvement in his lifespan.

Rhio survived a bewildering seven and a half years longer than expected by thinking out of the box and not accepting the status quo for treatments. “Take a cruise with your wife, and start hospice care upon your return”. This was the faith that professionals had determined for him. He was only given months, but he CHOSE years. Although it was hard for him to breath, he took one hopeful, deep breath and charged into the battle against his cancer. Through extensive research, spending hours in the library and seeking copious medical advice, he was able to create his one personal therapeutic protocol. There are so many diverse treatments…how can one professional say that one exact treatment will be the right one, or even the only one, for you? Rhio believed that therapies should be personalized, based on the needs and reactions of the individual. His ability to exercise informed consent was revolutionary, and his optimistic spirit should be an inspiration to all who suffer or are affected by “terminal” illnesses. The insurmountable will that Rhio possessed should be a beacon to others to think outside of the box; do not accept the plans that others have in store for you. Rather, educate yourself and mold your own. “Even here, in a place I never imagine I would be, I am determined to survive.” Possess the will to live.

Individuals read of James Rhio O’Connor’s story across the world and are inspired to share their own survivor stories, to make a difference for those they care about, and to encourage others to think outside of the box and take their lives into their own hands. In response to the never-ending question of how he was able to manage his “Mr. Meso” as he called it, he wrote an inspirational book entitled “”They Said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story”. Nearly a hundred medical articles are cited to help Rhio support the concept that nutrition can help manage a chronic disease, and why we should seek outside of the conventional medicinal box. Be a soldier in the war against cancer.

I was recently diagnosed with pre-cancerous cervical cells. Having read Rhio’s rousing account of his battle, I thoroughly researched the various options I had in trampling this before it developed into cervical cancer. I have had two Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedures (LEEP) performed. While I know that my risk of complications with giving birth rises with every procedure, I know that if I do not take action now than I am choosing to let cancer decide my faith. Rhio convinced me to improve my diet, and with every new day I am feeling even fresher…more alive. Had I not been inspired to take control of my own future, I might have succumbed to the notion that I had only one option, or frankly no options. I remain hopeful and knowledgeable about my condition and feel fully capable of going into battle.  I am a soldier.

My father would not see me graduate from high school, go to college, be able to walk me down the aisle, or see me commission into the U.S. Air Force.  If I would have thought out of the box as Rhio had, would my father be able to see me graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology?  Would he still be alive?

-Brandi Strickland

james rhiowomens health weel

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

April 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Why do women underestimate their beauty? I recently stumbled upon this truly inspiring Dove commercial aimed defining what beauty really is in order to create a worldwide conversation about it and encourage debate.

To be honest, I had never even heard about this campaign but after finding the Dove Real Beauty Sketches, I began to read all about it. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty began in 2004 after a global study found that a mere 2% of women around the world considered themselves beautiful. Since 2004, Dove has implemented new instruments of communications that encourage women to join this discussion and to challenge the stereotypes that society has about beauty.

In the Dove Real Beauty Sketches, six women were asked to describe their appearance to forensic artist Gil Zamora who created composite sketches based off of their descriptions. Before this, the women were asked to spend time with strangers without knowing why they were doing so. After they were sketched the first time, the strangers were asked to describe the woman that had been sketched earlier. The differences in the sketches were truly amazing. They showed that women don’t consider themselves beautiful based off of what people use to tell them or based off of this fake perception of what beauty really is from society in general.

Watching this video gave me the chills. By the end of the commercial I was almost in tears because of the powerful message that it conveyed. It is time that we stop thinking about what is wrong with us and time to start embracing the natural beauty that we were born with.

Watch it, think about it, and remember, YOU ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU THINK.

– Jennifer C.