Why you need to care about white male privilege

You (and I don’t care who you are) should read this beautiful and challenging essay by Syreeta McFadden: Teaching the Camera to See My Skin.

If you have caucasian flavored skin, it has likely never crossed your mind that there are engineering challenges inherent in capturing light bouncing off everything in our complex world and transferring it to paper so that our eyes can recognize the image, unless you’re a fairly advanced photographer.  And even if you are one of these photographers, you probably have not thought about the problems created by manufacturers of film as they made choices – theoretically innocuous tradeoffs – in pursuit of marketshare and profits.

It’s real.  And it matters.  Read more

It matters what you wear (lawyers edition)

I was interested to read Amanda Hess’ recent Slate article on the perils of wardrobe choice for lawyers.  There’s a very strict, if not obvious or consistent, code of propriety for men and women – she outlines some of the challenges that apply to everyone, as well as the disproportionate impact on female lawyers, who had to pass the bar like everyone else but get reduced to sexpots if they wear the wrong heels.  The gender bias starts with the click bait title: Female lawyers who dress too “sexy” are apparently a “huge problem” in the courtroom.

None of this is a surprise to me.  One of the workshops I’m called upon to give at the undergraduate level at least a couple of times every year is my spiel on “Wardrobe – why you need to look the part.”  It’s the least fun workshop I give; pretty much just me, showing slides of good and bad wardrobe choices and getting the kids to articulate their assumptions and biases about a person based on their looks.  It’s ugly, it’s problematic on very many levels, and I keep doing it…because people really need it.

So here are some of my insights, based on four years of telling people how to dress for job interviews and internships. Read more

A nun calls it like it is

I don’t remember how I happened upon this essay, but it’s been sitting in my bookmarks for over a month in the “you really need to blog about this” queue, and today’s the day I’m ready to talk about it.  The title is grabbing: Even nuns get violent in meetings.  That’s right, I linked to it twice, because I want you to read it.  Really.

It’s worth a read to remind yourself about the value of truly working on your leadership skills as a way of building yourself into the leader you aspire to become, rather than the too often implicit focus of building your resume and inching up in an unreformed hierarchy that pervades leadership books and blogs and articles in the popular press.

But that’s not why it struck such a chord with me.  It’s the unapologetic identification of bad work behavior as violence.  Read more