Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mothers and fathers make ideal staff

Working mums and dads rejoice -- kids don't have to be career poison, a new study has found. Parent workers are better able to handle workplace stress, multi-tasking, negotiation and conflict resolution, it says. The survey of 347 managers, published in the latest American Journal of Applied Psychology, buries long-held assumptions that children and career don't mix. It found that parents make happier and more productive workers, and that child-rearing develops skills that become useful at work.

Co-author Marian Ruderman, of Clark University in Massachusetts, said it was the first study that showed being a parent improved not just personal well-being but work performance. "Being able to manage the demands of children and running a household helps respondents better mange the stress of work," her co-author Laura Graves said. "Family experiences help managers develop the ability to see other's views -- a capacity critical to supervising others, working in teams or relating to superiors."

Dr Graves said businesses could learn from the results. "While many organisations have adopted family-friendly policies, most still assume a family focus will detract from performance. "Our research suggests a family-focused manager may be the leader your company should have."



That seems to be the implication of a recent Harvard article. Summary below lifted from Taranto

The Harvard Crimson reports on a telling trend among selective universities:

While Harvard leads the nation in black student yield numbers [the fraction of accepted applicants who enroll], a high proportion of those enrollees may be recent black immigrants, not African Americans, a new study found. The study's goal was to examine reasons behind the high level of diversity in heritage and socioeconomic levels within black student populations at 28 American universities, said Camille Z. Charles, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. The report was published in last month's American Journal of Education (AJE).

According to data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen conducted in 1999, immigrants account for 26.7 percent of black students at the universities used in the AJE study. At Ivy League schools, the statistic reached 40.6 percent. Because first- and second-generation immigrants only accounted for 13 percent of all 18- and 19-year-old black students, according to the Current Population Survey conducted the same year, the numbers show that recent black immigrants are represented in these universities at higher proportions than in the general population, the study says.

The terminology here is awfully confused. For one thing, "second-generation immigrants" would seem to mean not immigrants at all, but native Americans whose parents are immigrants. For another, as we've noted before, the exclusion of immigrants from Africa (and their children) from the category "African-American" shows how senseless is the politically correct employment of that term. You wouldn't say, "His parents are immigrants from Ireland, so he's not Irish-American."

What is clear here, though, is that, at least as measured by enrollment in elite universities, black immigrants and their children are succeeding in America far more, on average, than blacks whose families have been in the U.S. for generations--i.e., the descendants of slaves. This is a strong argument against the proposition that black underachievement in America is primarily the result of present-day racism. How to explain the disparity? The Crimson article offers this:

Charles said the gap had less to do with value systems of immigrants as a group, and more with who immigrants tend to be. "In practical terms, immigrants, no matter what color they are, are a highly selective group of people," she said. "At some level, there will always be an immigrant-native difference because you only get the most motivated, best prepared, cream-of-the-crop set of immigrants," since their families have had to leave their native countries and start anew in the United States, she said.

Dear fun police, you'll never take me alive

By Caroline Overington

Late in 2004, gadfly Christopher Hitchens was asked by his editor at Vanity Fair to take a walk around New York City, breaking all manner of rules. Hitchens did as bidden: he sat on a milk crate, put his feet on the subway seats and rode a bicycle without putting both feet on the pedals. (It must have been something to see, since Hitchens often wears his shirts open to the waist to better display the hair on his belly, apparently known as the "Pelt of the Hitch".) He tried to smoke while drinking at a bar, putting forward the position that cigarettes improved his memory and digestion, and made him a finer writer. Still, he was quickly told to put it out.

For this orgy of lawlessness, Hitchens could have been fined many hundreds of dollars. The point, of course, was to demonstrate how safe (and dull?) New York has become, with so many petty rules in place. Surely the people would soon rise up and riot? In fact, it's getting worse. Last month, a New York lawmaker proposed a ban on the wearing of gadgets such as iPods while crossing the street because people have been killed doing just that, oblivious to cars while grooving away to loud music. There is talk of banning the word nigger - even in music - because it's so offensive.

Hitchens says there is "nobody good enough in the world" to be a censor, let alone of language. "No one should have that job," he said recently. "That is a flat-out fundamentalist proposition to me." Why, he complained, "is one not allowed to go to hell in their own way?"

Of course, what starts in New York spreads like lava across the globe and so the pettiness has come to Australia. Last week two Sydneysiders were banned from smoking in their home, a decision that came after organisers banned the Mexican wave at the cricket, which came after Sydney's Waverley Council announced a plan to ban trans fats, which came after music fans were warned not to wave Australian flags at the Big Day Out.

Then, last week, organisers announced a list of restrictions for the walk celebrating the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. People would not be able to just turn up on the day and saunter with abandon. Walkers would have to register in advance and say how many people would be in their group. They wouldn't be able to bring a skateboard or an excited puppy. Worst of all, they would be told what time they could start walking, and there would be no stopping on the way.

Australian Privacy Foundation chairman Roger Clarke who, as with Hitchens, has had it up to here with officialdom, says the issue is basically one of "gutlessness; we are quivering at the ludicrous". My colleague Peter Lalor, author of The Bridge, is also dismayed. In his magnificent book, he tells the tale of a nine-year-old boy who rode more than 1400km on horseback, unsupervised, from Leongatha in Victoria just to make the official opening. But that was 1932: now, even Lalor admits he won't let his nine-year-old cross the street without supervision.

We know why it's happening, of course: we are trying to take the pain and risk out of living. The trouble is, it can't - and shouldn't - be done. When I wrote about the rules for the bridge walk in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, a kind reader got in touch to say: "Yes, it's as if the length of life is the only thing that matters." Which, in turn, is like that old joke: if you give up alcohol, cigarettes, red meat and magnificent sex with people you hardly know, you may not live longer but it will certainly feel like it.

I can't count the number of reckless things I've done in the past week, but here's a sample: I rode my retro-styled motor scooter to the beach wearing not leathers but a bikini; I dived from a cliff into the sea at Tamarama while carrying a handful of my recently departed dog's ashes, even though the beach was technically closed and there were blue bottles all about, because I wanted to have one last swim with her; I sat in the garden with a neighbour and we laughed and drank so much red wine that we forgot it was a school night and let the children fall asleep in their uniforms on the loungeroom floor.

The following day, we bounced around on our trampoline, which is the old-fashioned type with no fence around it, so we could have fallen off at any time and snapped a bone. And when it started to rain we got so soaked we had to peel off our clothes. None of it was safe, not all of it was painless, but we felt magnificently happy and alive, and that is more important.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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