Tuesday, 28 February 2012
One of my favorite activities is blogging so I just hate that I haven't had time to say much lately. There's quite a bit to talk about including my first academic research presentation, a visit to my family in Missouri and the first signs of Spring in East Tennessee.

Let's start with the Young Scholar's presentation at the University of Missouri in Columbia, shall we?

I told my parents that it was like my first few live shots as a TV news reporter... I got through them but it wasn't pretty. I looked pretty, however. (My appearance had to be close to perfect so I could get a tiny boost of confidence when standing in front of people, nervous.) I wore a blue suit with a skirt and black patent heels. My briefcase came along with me instead of the JanSport backpack and I had several copies of my Powerpoint presentation on flash drive, emailed to myself and on my computer in case something went wrong.

The guy that presented before me was also wearing a suit and his study was more qualitative so he didn't have many numbers to talk about. I did. Did I practice before the session? Yes, but I didn't write out specific notes for each slide and that was my downfall. I suppose I thought I could just ad-lib it like I did live on location for years. Bad idea. Since I was nervous, I raced through the slides and was finished in about 10 minutes without really adding much to the social media/journalist discussion. (At least I didn't think I did.)

Thankfully after some silent, uncomfortable shifting in chairs people in the audience started asking questions and giving advice on how to advance my research. At the beginning of my presentation, I was honest and told everyone that I was a new researcher and a new PhD student. Point being, I was open to and thankful for constructive criticism. After the session, we all went to dinner and one woman stopped me to ask for MY advice on a similar study she was conducting regarding social media. I was surprised but we had a nice discussion and I felt the little knowledge I had gathered was helpful in some ways.

The same paper was selected for presentation at UT's 34th Annual Research Symposium in Communication and Information Science so I present tomorrow. I'm prepared with notes for my slides and feel more confident. Although, I'll be speaking in front of my peers and professors so I'm sure they're going to be a lot harder on me. Here's what I've learned so far about how to respond when someone is ripping on your work: Smile and nod. Smile and nod. :)

Girls with Hair, without Makeup

Tuesday, 21 February 2012
I just finished an excellent book that is not required for class so of course I feel guilty for wasting time but at least it is non-fiction and centered on gender issues.

An Unconventional Family is written by Sandra Lipsitz Bem, a professor and PhD at Yale. She gets married in her early 20s to another PhD/professor and in the 1970s they decide to attempt a egalitarian marriage. Egalitarian marriage centers on the premise that both husband and wife do equal work and have equal say in sex, money, chores and parenting. This is more commonplace today but in the 70s it was regarded as ridiculous to some conservatives. This lifestyle was as much as her husband's idea as hers and they published many articles together and traveled the US giving lectures on the idea.

The most interesting aspect of the book to me came into play in the parenting department. The Bems wanted to bring up their children with gender-neutral influence and pay specific attention to teaching their son and daughter about homophobia, sexism and racism. They went so far as to purchase gender-neutral books (not every police officer was a man, not every nurse depicted was a woman...) and gender-neutral toys (both children played sports and had toys such as building blocks, sidewalk chalk, jumping ropes, etc...)

How did the experiment turn out? The son (a young adult at the end of the book) isn't intimidated by wearing a pink shirt to school and has had fulfilling relationships with women because he is able to listen to and communicate feelings. He is fulfilled sexually and has close gay and straight friends.

The daughter seems to struggle more. She suffers teasing because she doesn't shave her legs (considered to be "gross" in our society) and doesn't always wear makeup. Emily even describes how she has to convince herself that it is okay to not shave her legs and actually wears pants more often than she would like to in order to hide this. On the upside, she is confident in her body and in deciding not to sleep with a man even when it seems to be expected in a relationship. She pays more attention to her emotional needs. Both children turned out to be very smart.

Mind you, with this book review, I'm not advocating shaving or not shaving legs, wearing or not wearing makeup... My point is just that we don't realize how much women are still expected to look a certain way in approaching beauty. I wouldn't even consider taking a week off from wearing makeup because I'd be embarrassed to show my face without makeup to the masses. That's sad in a way. Women are conditioned to cover up true appearance or at least augment what we look like. This is cultural construction, yes, but interesting to consider in the scholarly realm of gender issue studies.

Ladies, would you be willing to forego makeup for a week and blog about it?


Friday, 17 February 2012

COLLEGE: You can only choose two: Good Grades, Social Life, Enough Sleep

GRAD SCHOOL: Pick one and expect to fail at it: Good Grades, TA and RA Jobs, Timely Thesis, Adequate Clinical Skills, Enough Sleep, Social Life

Not sure where this meme came from. It's traveling around Facebook and must have been constructed by a PhD student...

Have a great weekend!

To Love

Tuesday, 14 February 2012
I have loved to the point of madness
That which is madness
That which to me
Is the only sensible way to love.

-Francoise Sagan

Sagan was a French playwright, novelist and screenwriter. She was called "rebellious" because she wrote about sexual themes in her novels. Sagan's first novel, which became quite famous, was published when she was just 19.

She was married twice, once to a man 20 years her senior. Sagan liked to travel in the United States and kept the company of Truman Capote and Ava Gardner. She loved cars and owned a Monte Carlo, Aston Martin and Jaguar.

Sagan was once quoted in an interview saying that she didn't believe in love, only passion.

My hope is that your Valentine's Day is filled with love AND passion. We deserve it. :)

The Horror of Double Texting

Thursday, 9 February 2012
I'm on my way to Missouri to present a research paper at a conference and see some of my family members. While stuck on the plane, I wanted to share something I learned from an undergrad student this week while teaching.

My students started a blog this semester and post weekly. This helps familiarize them with writing shorter pieces and generally become clear, concise writers. Two weeks ago the assigned topic was "Pet Peeves." While almost all of my students are becoming talented, young journalists, one of the posts stood out and I just had to share.

There is apparently specific text message etiquette that those from an older generation may not be aware of. For instance, if someone texts you, even if is to give you a directive or piece of information, you should always respond.

For example, if you receive this message:

Joe: On my way. C u in 10.

You would never consider not responding. Instead, you would text something back like this:

Jane: K. C u then.

Then, depending on the relationship between the two "texters," the messages could continue in this sort of rapid fashion:

Joe: Cool
Jane: :~)
Joe: B rt there
Jane: K

And so on... This isn't the only rule to keep in mind, however. A major no-no in the texting world is the so-called "double text." As my student wrote in her post on pet peeves, "Everyone knows you don't double text. It is so uncool. Who does that?"

I had to ask about this phenomena in class on Wednesday. I have 20 students. The discussion went like this:

Me: Who knows what double texting is?
Class: (No one speaks but everyone raises their hand.)
Me: Okay. Who thinks double texting is uncool?
Class: (Everyone raises their hand again.)
Me: What IS double texting?
Class: (They look around at each other hiding a glimmer of disbelief and patronization.)
Me: (I start laughing because I'm obviously way out of the loop.)

A student finally says, "You know. When you text someone and they don't text you back so you text them again. That's double texting. It's kind of annoying."

There is an entry in the Urban Dictionary for double texting so I guess it's legit. I'm learning so many important things as a doc student. 

Decisions, Decisions

Friday, 3 February 2012
Word to the wise: If you are planning to go for a PhD, maybe just thinking about pursuing one, narrow down your research interests TODAY. 

Our profs are teaching us to use every class assignment to get one step closer to nailing down dissertation details. I really like that idea but I CANNOT decide what to do with myself and the next 30+ years of my life. 

I actually wake up thinking about research ideas and go to sleep considering different areas of journalism and electronic media. The thing is, you want to be known as an "expert" in your field of study so you'll certainly be stuck with your area for years and years to come. Scholars need to constantly search for knowledge in their field and report the findings. That's our job. This isn't to say someone can't conduct research outside a certain realm but people just don't deviate much. 

We are supposed to be passionate about our field and area of research and desire to constantly gather more information. Plus, once you select an area of research, you still need to decide which paradigms you subscribe to and methods of research you prefer. 

Yes, I have ideas on what I'd like to focus on for the rest of my life but my head is spinning a little bit with the idea of committing to one area and a topic for dissertation already. I need to get on it, though. It's almost like the question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I feel like I'm eight years old (in the world of scholarly study) and if I make a decision now, it'll be immature and uniformed. Maybe I can buy a few more weeks of childhood...