#5SmartReads - February 1, 2023
Dr. Jessica Wilen on succeeding as a dual-career couple, affordable childcare, and the future of college
Dr. Jessica Wilen is an executive coach and organizational consultant, focused on supporting high-achieving working parents and women leaders. She writes the popular newsletter A Cup of Ambition on working motherhood and holds a faculty appointment at Yale University. She lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and two kids
All The Feels (A Cup of Ambition)
I'm super excited to share my interview with Liz Fosslien, author and illustrator of the best-selling books Big Feelings and No Hard Feelings, and an expert on emotions in the workplace. There are so many gems in here, but I'll highlight two of my favorites:
First, don't run away from uncomfortable emotions like envy, regret, or anxiety. Instead, look at what they're trying to tell you. For example, regret can be a powerful learning opportunity--how can we avoid making the same mistake in the future? Second, Liz recommends that when you're faced with uncertainty, instead of telling yourself you can't do something, tell yourself “I'm a person learning to__.” This is a great phrase to use with kids, too!
PS--If you liked this article, consider subscribing to A Cup of Ambition! It's a regular newsletter for moms (and enlightened dads!) who care about building a meaningful career and being an involved parent.
How To Help Your Kids Be Happy (Washington Post)
Bookmark this article and send it to every parent you know, because I think it serves as a lovely Cliff's Note version of parenting. The lead investigators of Harvard's 80 year long study on adult development have recently published a book detailing their findings, and they summarize the highlights here.
Most parents, when asked what they wish for their children, say happiness; but happiness is a fleeting emotional state. Instead, we should give our children the building blocks for a meaningful life. Some of the key components? Helping them learn to navigate challenges, modeling healthy and supportive relationships with friends, institute rituals for connection--and my personal favorite, practice "radical curiosity".
How Confidence Is Weaponized Against Women (HBR)
This is a must-read article for professional women... and men. Confidence is a highly fraught concept for women in the workplace.
As the authors point out: "While confidence is an ostensibly gender-neutral concept, our research found that confidence is not just gendered — it’s weaponized against women. When women fail to achieve career goals, leaders are prone to attribute it to a lack of self-confidence. And when women demonstrate high levels of confidence through behaviors, such as being extroverted or assertive, they risk overdoing it and, ironically, being perceived as lacking confidence."
America Is Choosing To Keep Children In Poverty (Bloomberg)
One silver lining of the pandemic? Due to the temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit, almost 3 million children were lifted out of poverty. Unfortunately, these gains will almost certainly be lost. This article explains the political resistance for the continuation of this policy, as well as the flawed logic behind it.
The bottom line? "Let’s face it: the US is completely capable of reducing child poverty. It chooses not to. Americans like to think that they live in a society of endless potential, where anyone with enough grit and determination can pull themselves up. Yet their elected representatives are unwilling to remove one of the greatest obstacles to prosperity — one that affects people at an extremely vulnerable stage in life, when they have no say in the matter."
The Incredible Shrinking Future Of College (Vox)
Even if you’re years away from buying extra-long twin sheets and sending your kids off to college, it’s worth keeping your eye on the impending higher education “enrollment cliff”. Over the past 80 years, colleges and universities have scaled precipitously, due (in large part) to increased demand. However, birth rates fell significantly during the Great Recession and never recovered.
As the author points out: “The relationship between demography and higher education is always a two-decade delay of cause and effect.” These days, some young people question the value of going into substantial debt for a college degree when worker shortages are driving up wages, leading to increased opportunity costs.
Highly selective institutions will be the least impacted by these demographic trends, but regional universities and community colleges—particularly those in more rural areas—will be the hardest hit. And some of them are likely to close altogether. Even those that don’t close will need to shift their emphasis to remain marketable—perhaps by increasing an emphasis on athletics and eliminating “unprofitable” (read: liberal arts) majors altogether.
Obviously this has ramifications for my colleagues in higher ed, but it also has implications for broader society—namely, increased class stratification and the further widening of political divides.