Where the Women Are Not: Alone in Higher Education.

For most of my educational life, I didn’t give much thought to how my experience might differ from that of the males in my class. In high school, my honors and AP classes all had a lot of girls. Outside of that group, it sometimes felt like boys were intimidated by smart girls. That was their problem and not mine.

There are more women going to college and graduating from college every year at all levels from undergraduate to doctoral programs. Women are certainly taking every opportunity to become better educated and more successful. Yet, that was not my experience. I imagine that the world I face was more similar to the university life around 1900 than the typical female university experience in the year 2000. I was definitely in the minority, and everyone was not happy to have me in the classroom.

Physical science majors (physics, chemistry, geology, and astronomy) are about 25% female. None of those women were in my physics classes. I literally never saw another girl in an upper-level physics class. In the year that I graduated, my class was three boys and me. I was the 25%. Yet, no other girls had graduated from the geophysics program before me, and none graduated after me. So, the 25% can be deceiving. In fact, I was alone. My experience was that scientists are pretty open-minded. Everyone thought it was cool that I liked what they liked, and nobody ever made it seem like I shouldn’t be there. Sure, it got a little weird when all the physics Ph.D. students thought I should be their girlfriend because I liked physics and was nice to them. Other than that, I never had a problem.

I didn’t run into many women in my classes or as my professors, but that didn’t bother me. I was friends with the guys in my major, and the lack of women never made me feel like I didn’t belong there. I had one female professor in my major classes. She didn’t champion me with a “girl power” talk or really encourage me in any way. She was just there doing her own thing, and I’m not even sure that she liked me all that much. So, there was no female mentoring. I came to depend on getting support and advice from men, including a great advisor.

In the end, I switched fields and switched careers in graduate school. It had to do with the career path I was on and my realization my senior year that I would not emotionally survive a doctoral program in geophysics. I ended up in a doctoral finance program. Women in 2014 made up 42.3% of business doctoral graduates. Those women, however, are mostly in fields such as management and marketing. They are not in finance. Women were 27.7% of the doctoral degrees awarded in finance in 2014. Once again, I find myself in the 25%. I was the only female admitted in the year I started, but since people hang around for several years, I did get to know other women getting doctoral finance degrees. The university usually graduated one woman per year with a finance Ph.D., which meant there were about 4 of us there at any point in time. Half of them were Chinese students. If you want to be a minority in your field, be a white woman in finance. Even worse? Be a black woman in finance. They are almost non-existent.

Business Doctorate Recipients, 2014

I didn’t have a single female professor in graduate school. Maybe that was part of the reason some of the male professors were less than welcoming of women in their classes. This was the first time in my life when I ever experienced harassment and a clear message that the male professors didn’t want me there. There were two in particular who targeted me for their attacks. Luckily, I had a great advisor and enough of an attitude to be unbothered even then. I survived and thrived, which I am sure bothers them to this day. I didn’t have a female role model or mentor in my career because they just didn’t exist. Instead, my mentors and colleagues have been men who respect me and look out for me. Sure, there are times when it would have been helpful to have another woman in my corner. Finding people who you trust, however, should always come before anything else.

 

 

 

Financing the Olympic Dream

Is anyone else out there a super-fan of the Olympics? Ordinarily, I don’t spend a lot of time watching sports. When the Olympics start, however, I’m glued to the tv for two weeks. I’ll watch anything and everything. I’ve been like this since I was a kid and my friends and I would make our own flags and medals to create our own Olympic Games.

Training to be an elite athlete is a full-time job. There are multiple training sessions a day, strength training sessions, physical therapy sessions, and time spent focusing on rest and nutrition. Yet, none of those activities make the athlete any money. Actually, every single one of those people helping the athlete needs to get paid. So, how do they pay them along with all of the real-world expenses like rent, gas, and phone?

Countries like Russia and China are known for providing strong government support for Olympic athletes. The United States, however, is one of only three countries in which the government provides no financial support at all for the development of Olympic athletes. Olympic hopefuls in the United States have to depend on corporate sponsorships and appearances. While corporate sponsorships for equipment are not difficult for elite athletes, they compete against professional sports leagues and athletes for corporate sponsorship dollars. As a result, most Olympic athletes in the United States can’t depend on paying their bills with sponsorship funds. Adam Rippon’s story about stealing apples from the gym has gone viral.

Sure, we can come up with names like Lindsey Vonn (net worth around $6 million), Shaun White (net worth around $40 million), and Michael Phelps (net worth around $55 million). They, however, are the outliers even among Olympic athletes. Many depend upon support from their parents and university athletic programs. Other Olympians have a side hustle. Speed Skater Derek Parra worked at Home Depot, and Pete Fenson (curling) runs a pizzeria. Olympians have been known to have side hustles as teachers, janitors, coaches, freelancers, waiters and waitresses, and even attorneys and accountants.

Training expenses alone can easily total $100,000 per year. So, that’s tough on athletes being supported by their families and those trying to make it on their own. It’s no surprise that some Olympic athletes even resort to crowdsourcing to fund their Olympic dream. Keep all of that in mind while you enjoy the athleticism and artistry of the Olympics. Appreciate not only the physical and emotional struggles it took for them to get to this one moment but also the financial struggles they have overcome as well.

13 Ways to Save on Summer Fun

13 ways to save on summer fun

So, school is out, and summer is officially here. If you are anything like me, summer tends to really ignite your sense of wanderlust.  Parents not used to having their kids at home all the time also start to get a little desperate looking for ways to keep the kids occupied. Don’t let these things break the bank. There are some really inexpensive ways to get out and have fun this summer.

 

  1. Check out your local library. Pick up some fun, free summer reading and see what activities they have planned for your kids.
  2. Visit your local park.
  3. Pack a picnic lunch and take the family on a day hike.
  4. Try geocaching around your town.
  5. Make popsicles in your favorite flavors.
  6. Rather than going out for ice cream, make your own ice cream or frozen yogurt bar at home.
  7. Help your kids create their own version of the Olympic Games (and get ready for the Olympic festivities in August while you do it).
  8. Practice your photography skills.
  9. Try something new. Have you been wanting to learn a new language, how to use some software, or how to cook a particular dish? Start learning this summer.
  10. Take a free online class.
  11. Plan a movie marathon with your friends or family.
  12. Instead of going out to a bar, create a new summer signature drink and invite your friends over to try it.
  13. Volunteer your time. Find some way to give back to your church, homeless shelter, food pantry, school, or pet shelter.

 

Do you have a fun, free (or nearly free) plan for the summer? For more ideas, click on over to my Summer Savings Roundup Pinterest board!