In a column about Why You Hate Work, Christine Porath, a Georgetown associate professor, and Tony Schwartz, chief executive of a consulting firm called The Energy Project, found that the jobs that make us happiest are those that include four characteristics: renewal, value, focus and purpose.
Renewal: Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well-being. The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become. By contrast, feeling encouraged by one’s supervisor to take breaks increases by nearly 100 percent people’s likelihood to stay with any given company, and also doubles their sense of health and well-being.
Value: Feeling cared for by one’s supervisor has a more significant impact on people’s sense of trust and safety than any other behavior by a leader. Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged.
Focus: Only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could were 50 percent more engaged. Similarly, only one-third of respondents said they were able to effectively prioritize their tasks, but those who did were 1.6 times better able to focus on one thing at a time.
Purpose: Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.
And the way venture capital often works is that the small number of big firms choose a founder that they like, invest money, take seats on the new company’s board, and provide a halo of other services including advice, mentorship, and job prospects.
When I interviewed Steve Jurvetson earlier this year, he talked about something called a "homophily bias," which means that people like people who are like them, and that yes, venture capitalists have a tendency to pick founders and employees who are a lot like them.
Minority students often perform better on standardized tests, have improved attendance, and are suspended less frequently (which may suggest either different degrees of behavior or different treatment, or both) when they have at least one same-race teacher.
All of these outcomes, however, are measured in the short run, and might not be sustained over time. Until recently, there existed no studies of the effects of exposure to same-race teachers on longer-run outcomes. A recent paper, however, provides important new evidence on precisely this question. Gershenson, Hart, Lindsay, and Papageorge demonstrate that if a black male student has at least one black teacher in the third, fourth, or fifth grade, he is significantly less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to aspire to attend a four-year college (as proxied by taking a college entrance exam). They find that these effects are especially pronounced for economically disadvantaged black male students. For instance, they find that a disadvantaged black male’s exposure to at least one black teacher in elementary school reduces his probability of dropping out of high school by nearly 40 percent. This estimated effect is not just statistically significant, but also highly educationally relevant.
One thing that makes this new study so compelling is that the authors show that the results are present in multiple settings, using multiple research designs. In one part of the study, Gershenson, Hart, Lindsay, and Papageorge make use of administrative data in North Carolina, and study what happens when the demographic composition of teachers in elementary schools varies from cohort to cohort. In another part of the study, they investigate the effects of being randomly assigned to a same-race teacher as part of Tennessee’s Project STAR class size experiment.
The book proposes this simple but radical solution: Women should not try to adapt to the male-centric corporate world, instead women should “lean out” and create their own companies. “I’ve figured out a way to create safe space for myself in tech,” wrote Shevinsky.
In a recent conversation, we discussed how the culture of overwork contributes to the problem of misogyny in many companies, and about how the singular focus on growth and profit drowns out ethical concerns that in the long run ultimately ruins companies. We also spoke about how feminism has said all it can, and yet things don’t seem to be getting better. And we discussed how a hostile workplace for women often indicates that a company has other ethical issues as well.
Author: Arsames Qajar
For Tech’s Deepest Problems, Women Are The Canary In The Data Mine