Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category
I’ve been having some issues with my current workplace and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why until recently.
It first began as a disagreement with my Sr. Developer. He had different ways of solving problems, and if I didn’t come up with those ways, then I was wrong. my first instinct was to blame myself. I figured my method was not as good and adopted new methods. Great! I was learning!
Then there were the issues with my variable naming convention. When I arrived, he told me use a certain convention that he favoured. It made sense so I stuck to it. Then a few months back he starts telling me that my naming conventions were bad and that I shouldn’t use it. Umm…OKAY. I told him that he told me to do it that way, and he responded to something of the effect “I changed my mind”. FINE. He’s allowed to change his mind. It wasn’t until he left that I realized that he never followed his own rules. Go figure.
Throughout my time with him, he always had stories from other workplaces to teach my why we do certain things. I didn’t always agree with it, but how can you argue with *EXPERIENCE*? I certainly didn’t have stories to tell from my previous workplaces so what did I do? I sat there and listened to the story no matter how irrelevant it seemed to me. Personally, I don’t learn very well just listening to other people’s stories. They are usually tangentially related and are often never the exact circumstances to the current problem at hand.
However, this is quickly becoming an issue for my own mental health. I don’t like being told that I can’t do something because something bad happened to someone else I’ve never met under similar but not the same circumstances. Whenever I try to argue my point though, it’s often met with a look. A look that says “I think you’re just too young and naive to know any better and you should listen to me because I’ve done ‘this’ before.”
So how do you argue with that!?
The best way I know how is to read study after study on all possible outcomes to all possible situations that could possibly arise. Because, you know, I have ample time to read all of this since I don’t have kids, a house, or a husband.
On that note, I’ve also had colleagues give me the “The only reason you can go out to eat and shop so often is because you don’t have kids, so I’m still better than you because I have kids and a house”-look. Yes, I don’t have kids. Yes, I’m very happy being in my mid-twenties without any kids. No, I can’t envision myself having any in the next 10 years no matter how many times you tell me, “I will one day.” And especially not after ranting for an hour about what terrible thing your kid or spouse did the other day. I can’t predict the future, but I really don’t need other people telling me how it’s going to be.
But again, they’re older than me so they know better because they’ve had more life experience.
So, how can I make up experience?
So on November 28th, I went to visit my old high school, Branksome Hall. It was SO much fun!
I first met with a small group of girls who were interested to go into computer science or engineering in general. They asked a lot of questions about curriculum and high school prep. I couldn’t answer all their questions about what courses they need to take in high school for specific programs, but one of the guidance councillors, Mrs. Ross, was there to assist me in that. I spoke about the usefulness and flexibility one gets with a computer science degree from U of T and talked about my PEY in Japan. Some of the girls were really thrilled about the chance to work abroad. They were even more thrilled when I told them, they’d get *paid* for it.
My second meeting was with a grade 12 physics class. I was happy to see my old physics teacher again since she was always very kind and patient with me, even when I didn’t do my homework. Some of the girls in that class were also in the lunch-time meeting, so there was some overlap. However, this time around, things were geared towards the importance of having a well-rounded (physics included) background in high school. Again I also went over what I was doing now, what I did for PEY, and the kinds of projects I worked on in school.
It was so much fun to talk to these girls. I tried not to sound overly teacher-ish and tried to come across as friendly and easy to talk to (like a friend). They probably get enough “grown-ups” telling them things, so I tried to relate to them and tell them things that might interest them instead.
One thing I found interesting was their lack of interest in knowing what there potential classmates would be like (i.e. the boys). Since BH is an all-girl school, I don’t think they gave it much thought and they’re not experiencing what it’s like to be in that kind of setting. After talking to a friend about this, she said that in co-ed schools, the girls in tech classes she talked to never asked any questions. When they had one, they would approach her after the talk was over. I thought that was terribly depressing, to be honest. In high school, I never thought twice about asking questions, but in university, I can understand. I think THIS is what the current problem is.
Girls have enough courage to take the courses in high school, but not enough courage to participate in them? I can image they’re afraid of asking silly questions and having other people look at them as if they’re stupid. The number of girls in first year computer science courses is pretty good, but I think many take them as a distribution requirement. Maybe they have a friend taking it and can help them. But the number dwindles as you go to more advanced classes. And I think many of them get turned off by their classmates. In an intro course, you get students of all skill levels. The problem is, that if most of your beginner students are female, they can be easily intimidated by the advanced students who will more likely be male.
I think I’m just rambling, but I think that to get more girls interested in these fields at the university level, girls need to get gain more confidence earlier on and understand that any feelings of insecurities in university is shared by a lot of people in their classes…
…from what I’ve experienced anyway.
This past weekend I spent a day helping out at the first #LadiesLearningCode Workshop. It was a most eye-opening experience. It made me realize that there is a huge demand for a space where women can learn how to code. I want to quickly say thanks to Heather Payne and all the organizers and developers who helped make the day run so smoothly. As a developer realized what a terrible teacher I am. However! It has, happily, left me with a new drive to spread the word to all women in Engineering and Computer Science and young ladies all around the city.
One of the lightning talks given by Jessamyn Smith made me realize that all the feelings of insecurity I had for 3 years of my undergrad were apparently normal! Who’d have thought!? It took me until my fourth year, after coming back from my Professional Experience Year, to realize that I actually *DO* know just as much if not more than a lot of the guys I thought were always smarter than me. Finishing up now, I realize how much university has helped shape me into a more confident, and independent person. This is largely due to the interactions I’ve had with some of my classmates (for better and worse). So really, Thank you all!
A couple weeks ago, when I was first put in touch with Heather, I started thinking about why I was in computer science. I always tell people it’s by chance in high school, but I wish it wasn’t. When I graduated high school I was one of a handful of girls going into a technical field. I always felt put-off by that fact especially since I was lucky enough to go to a prestigious school that’s ranked on a world-wide scale. So why weren’t more girls interested in programming or computers? Why was there such emphasis on the arts and humanities where it was less so on maths and sciences?
I’m hoping to be able to make it a personal goal of mine to get to the bottom of it. The current plan is to contact *someone* from the faculty and get some information. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to eventually give a talk to these girls about the merits of technical fields, the problems they may encounter, and anything else I can come up with. *IF* I do get to give a talk, I’ll definitely be looking for input about content from my fellow CS girls or Branksome girls.
Wish me luck!
Hello all in the blogosphere. It’s been a long time since I posted anything.
Just a heads up to anyone who cares, I’m still working on my Google Chrome extension. As soon as I get any significant progress done on it, I’ll post my results up here.
University life is soon coming to an end. 2 more months, 1 more class and it’s all over! So what am I supposed to do from here? Well fortunately enough, I’m already employed full time so that’s not an issue. But what else? With work, there is less time for travel (though I long to go back and visit all my friends in Japan!) We’ll just have to wait and see.
I can already envision myself becoming restless. No more assignment deadlines. No more tests lurking around the corner. No more overnighters in BA. I admit, I’m going to miss all of that. I took a vacation just after my last exam in April to relax on a beach in Mexico. It was phenomenal! I did nothing and thoroughly enjoyed myself. But even as I lay there soaking in the sun, I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling of an assignment I forgot to do or a test I forgot to study for. I just hope that feeling doesn’t last too long once I’m officially done.
I think this means I’ll have *MUCH* more time to work on my pet projects…in theory. Life commitments seem to appear out of nowhere. For now, the end is near….I can taste it!
Let the ranting begin:
Enrolling in courses not of your PoSt at U of T is the biggest pain ever. I’m currently on the waitlist for 4 of the courses I want to graduate. Sure, I was a little late to the process, but 1 hour shouldn’t have made that much of a difference. There has to be a better way. If I don`t get into these courses, there`s a good chance that I`ll end up taking more next summer (which I already have to take a credit in.) My other alternative is to take an extra semester (because I REALLY want to give the university THAT much more of my money and time.) Sure, all students are treated equal after priority lift, but should we really be? As a student trying to graduate this year, shouldn’t I get to take the courses I want and need to be able to graduate on time?
Sure I could enroll in some other ‘bird’ courses, but I’m not interested in any of the other courses. Shouldn’t university be the place where you can study subjects that your interested in? I want to make the most of my university life and take courses that I actually want to learn about. Second year geography doesn’t interest me. Astrology doesn’t interest me. I don’t care if the course I want is hard, I want to take it. I don’t care if it’s not a ‘GPA booster’, I want to learn about it. Some people give me funny looks when I tell them that. As if the only reason to be in university is to get a good GPA and a piece of paper to prove it.
Sadly I can’t do anything to change my current position. I can only continuously check ROSI to see if my place in line has moved.
Ok, so I’ve been home for over a month now. So many things to update anyone who’s interested on.
Leaving Japan was rough.
Saying goodbye to my office and co-workers was so sad! I didn’t expect it to be so emotional, but it was embarrassingly so. Everyone in the office helped make my transition and life there that much easier. Sure, it was difficult to conversate with them at first, but afterwards, I had so much fun. My Japanese is still terrible (and only getting worse), but being able to still have basic conversations makes me really happy.
One week before I left, I shipped two boxes of *stuff* and packed my suitcase full of everything else I could fit. I was rather peeved, when customs opened one of my boxes. I wouldn’t have been if they had managed to re-pack it so that my things were not destroyed, but they could not. I came home one day to find that my box had been opened, and poorly retaped with clothes bursting out of the seems. They managed to bend several of my books ways that they should not be bent! (I like to keep my books in pristine condition, and they were not longer that).
My last days in Matsumoto were great. I finally realized that I truly enjoy being outgoing and meeting new people. One night I managed to encounter a traveller passing through Matsumoto. We talked a lot about his travels and adventures around the world and I offered to try and show him around the city the next day. Apparently I’m a terrible tour guide, since I really didn’t know much of Matsumoto regretably. At any rate, his travels should take him to North America sometime, and perhaps I can show off Toronto a lot better!
Travelling to the airport was rather easy. I shipped my larger luggage to the airport the day before so I wouldn’t have to carry it on the train and around Tokyo with me (why don’t we have services like this in Toronto? If we do, why is it so unknown?) I spent my last weekend in Tokyo with my friends, Megumi and Maya. It was a very relaxing weekend. We went to some nice restaurants, met with Isaac, and went clubbing. No more shopping (I had no space to carry anything else home). At the airport, Maya and I had some farewell sushi and then I left.
I was incredibly excited to go home and eat everything in sight. That is exactly what happened too. Being home now, though, I miss Japan terribly! It was much more relaxing there. This is partly due to my freedom and lack of resposibilities and obligations. Living alone was a big plus as well. There are also so many little things that made living there that much easier.
Everyone asks me if I’ll ever go back to live and I seriously want to, but I’m not sure if I could live and work there forever. Job opportunities and work environment might drive me crazy. I enjoy living in a country of ‘equal’-er opportunities for women.
After seeing friends and family again, I’ve realized how much I’ve changed. Someone once told me that the friendships I make in Japan are only temporary, but I really don’t think so. I intend to make them last and I miss them dearly.
- ROM – Terra Cotta Warrior exhibit
Wonderland The Ex – Must go shopping
- Jersey Boys
Rain the Beatles Experience
- Miss Saigon
- New York/Boston/California – anywhere really…I want a *real* vacation
Taste of the Danforth
Some ongoing things for the summer:
- Going to the beach
- Working out
- Work (still at EPSON)
- Summer school – Intro to Psychology
- Spend time with friends and family
- Trying new restaurants in and around the city
It’s no surprise that Japanese people are workaholics. They do try to take measures to keep it to a minimum. At my office, they have “no overtime” days. Just two days a week, but I suppose it is something. I happened to be working late one of these nights. At precisely six o’clock they start playing very loud music. I happened to notice they were playing a version of “Mr. Lonely”. I thought this was funny and let out a little chuckle. What is sad, though, is it’s very likely that someone working overtime is not going to be alone…
The music isn’t just something that my office does though. While studying at the library, 10 minutes before they close, they begin playing very loud classical music. It is their way to encourage you to leave without actually telling you to. I took the hint and just packed up to leave. I wonder if they would approach you and tell you to leave if you didn’t.
December is upon us and so comes Christmas. I’m not a religious person, but I always enjoyed the holiday season. Sure it’s incredibly over commercialized but I still think that people are put in a more giving mood than usual. At any rate, I decided to start the Christmas music in my apartment. Grooveshark is awesome for putting on random music at the drop of a hat. So I was listening to music and doing some laundry. While hanging up my clothes I felt like I should be putting up Christmas decorations. The thought was mostly just to make my apartment more homely (though we don’t decorate much back at home). I probably won’t though.
For my entire life I’ve always been with family for Christmas. My parents may not have been there every year, but with the large family that I had, it was always lots of fun with lots of noise. My aunt and uncle would graciously host Christmas dinner for upwards of 40 people (at least 15 being kiddies) in their modest home. Recently the number grows since we’re all growing up and bringing home our girlfriends and boyfriends. In the end, it’s just always a good company, good food, and good conversation. When I started working, I got to buy presents! I loved that! Trying to find a reasonably priced gift that was useful. That can’t be stressed enough. My family is all about getting useful things. When my parents finally moved home. I got to buy them presents. This was always hard. What do you buy the two people who have everything they ever wanted? They didn’t like knowing that my siblings and I spent money on them. They would rather us save it. I don’t think they realize that we know we don’t have to, but we want to. Well I do anyways.
Last year I had 2 families for Christmas. This year I’m halfway around the earth. Number of families: 0. This won’t stop me from buying gifts for my family back home though. (Going shopping on Sunday after my test.) They probably won’t be very extravagant, but something small for everyone. In all honesty though, I’m not sure how this Christmas is going to be. I’ll probably stay in Matsumoto and work that day. I’m going to find people to spend Christmas dinner with though. There is NO way I’m spending it alone in my apartment. I probably be busy with work and whatnot.
For now I’ll just worry about what I need to send home. Just made my list. 33 gifts to send home. Now that that’s done, I’m excited to go shopping. I wonder what I’m going to get them. ; )
Single sex education is supposed to help focus the students. Keep the distractions of the opposite sex out of the classroom. I’m beginning to think that this is not the way girls should be educated. After reading Unlocking the Clubhouse, i have realized that there are trends and stages of acceptance that girls go through during high school. I don’t think that I have ever questioned my capabilities until I reached university. The book said that girls in computer science courses in high school often question their ability because they compare themselves to the boys. In an all girl environment, I was at the top of my computer science class and enjoyed it. I used my peers as a reference of accomplishment. Then i got to university and realized just how intense the men in my program were about computer science. Many did in fact live and breath programming. It WAS/IS their hobby. For some that’s all they do. I found that incredibly intimidating. I felt like (and still do) I was way behind in what I was supposed to know. Yet curiously, I still did fairly well in my first year courses.
I know the advantages of single sex education. yes, there are no boys to distract in class. Girls don’t worry about their appearance. For the most part, most of the girls are outspoken and not as afraid of looking foolish or too smart. Great. I truly did enjoy that environment. I could be whoever i wanted to be without trying to impress anyone. However, it did not prepare me for what would happen in university. i can only remember one class where gender was discussed in high school. That was physics. Our physics teacher felt passionately about the gender divide among the sciences because she was exposed to it. However, at the same time it didn’t hit home that hard. Most of us didn’t concern ourselves with those issues because it didn’t seem prevailent in today’s world (since our teacher was slightly older). I still naively believed that things were fairly equal and that men knew how to behave around women. I wasn’t completely wrong, but i think that it would have been useful to have been more forewarned about the environment in which i was entering. This is where single sex environment did not help me.
Right from the first week of classes I realized that I did not know as much as other students. This scared me. I knew that I was going to be a relative nobody and I was prepared for that. I knew that there were going to be smarter student than me. But I didn’t know how common it was to have already written and hosted several websites, and written numerous useful applications outside of high school assignments. My high school education did prepare me for what I was going to learn and was able to maintain a decent mark. But, I still remember one of my first tutorials from a theory class that was supposed to be taken in the second semester (i thought I was smart enough to do it in the first). The first exercise we were supposed to pair up, so i paired up with the guy behind me and we started the exercise. Truth tables. In high school I had NEVER seen a truth table or any logical reasoning in those forms before. However, he knew exactly what to do and essentially did the whole thing. This was the first time I felt inferior and questioned my place. But I worked hard to understand that course, went to see the professor during office hours and managed to pass. At the time I thought this guy was really smart. He had confidence, and knew what he was doing. I’ve learned now, that he isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. Second year was a little bit rough for me. I continued to push myself and take third year courses. I worked hard in all my courses, but my marks dropped. Some of my friends (guys) struggled with me but, I knew that there were others managing just fine.
So did single-sex education help me in realizing what being a woman in computer science would be like? No. It may have led me to that path, but then once on it I think I had a more difficult time than I would have, had I been in a co-ed computer science classroom. I think that if my high school offered a course in gender equality, many girls would take it since I think it’s important to know and be aware of. Teaching a course like that would be beneficial to the girls as long as it doesn’t become a man-bashing course. It could even just involve reading important research done in the field and discussing it. It sure would have been useful to me to have read Unlocking the Clubhouse before entering university.
This is of course just a personal opinion full of my own anecdotes, but I think it’s something that should be considered. Especially for single-sex schools that are held on high prestige.
So I feel like almost everyone I know has a drug of choice. You know, something that just takes you away and lets you forget your problems. For some people it’s music, others actual drugs. Mine: Hugs. Not the kind you get when you’re saying goodbye to an acquaintance. You know, those kinds that are like hugging someone who smells really bad. You usually get those out of formality and it’s become part of modern culture to hug as you say hello or goodbye. I’m not interested in those. I want a good solid hug. The kind that makes you feel safe, as if nothing in the world could harm you because you are wrapped around this other person.
Anyways, I bring this up because I realized that I could *really* use a good hug. The lack of human contact is troubling to me. I would go out with a sign for free hugs only I’m sure everyone would stare at me funny or not get their hug because I might have Swine Flu.
The last person I hugged was a friend. She was cold.
I need to get my hug fix.