Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Sexist Remark Heard Around the World

A male software engineer at Google recently wrote a 10-page memo in which he argued that women’s biological makeup causes them to be inherently less suitable for jobs in technology. In his rationale, James Damore named specific characteristics that supposedly make women ineffective tech workers. He wrote that women are drawn toward “feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas” and that these differences explain why women prefer jobs with a more artistic or social bent. He also wrote that women are more neurotic than men, which causes them to experience higher anxiety and lower stress tolerance, which in turn leads to their being underrepresented in high-stress jobs such as those in technology.

The document circulated around the company before making its way into the world, and the ensuing uproar led to Damore being fired.

The incident has ignited a debate about free speech in the workplace, specifically, what happens when an employee expresses an idea offensive in an organization’s corporate culture. In a written response to Googlers about Damore’s dismissal, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the diatribe violated “our code of conduct and cross[ed] the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Pichai’s response also noted that the company’s code of conduct requires employees to do “their utmost to create a workplace culture… free of harassment, intimidation, bias, and unlawful discrimination.”

Damore has since complained about his ouster to federal labor officials, saying Google is trying to silence him. However, attorneys knowledgeable about labor law say companies can legally prohibit speech and behavior that either harasses or discriminates against other staff. Furthermore, an organization may fire employees who violate the employer’s values.

Does doing so squelch free speech or provide a safe work environment?


  1. Does Google’s firing of James Damore go against its own platform of encouraging its employees to speak their minds?
  2. What impact might Google’s action have on other employees at the company?
  3. Do you think employees should have free rein to say anything in the workplace environment?





Perfecting Peer Editing

by Dana Loewy, the Guffey Team

Many studies point to the benefits of peer editing, but I admit to sometimes having my doubts after seeing the results of peer editing sessions in my lower division classes. However, I’ve come up with a series of steps that result in better outcomes.

Step 1  I collect first drafts and skim the content without grading. Instead, I compile a list of the most common misunderstandings and errors, such as lack of comprehension of the assignment, format, or mechanics. After the session, I e-mail or post the revision tips, or I bring them to the editing session, depending on the course format, online or in-class.

Step 2 I scramble the unmarked first drafts and distribute them among students so that no one reviews his or her own document. I tell the students to look for specific features, but not all at once. Rather, I announce the feature to examine, say, format. I request that they mark up the document. Then I give students time to evaluate the layout and formatting and invite questions, answering them when they are relevant. Such instances present a wonderful teachable moment! We move from feature to feature so students read the document looking only at the single element we are scrutinizing. Students are engaged and actively learning.

Step 3  When we’ve gone through all the elements, I ask each editor to jot down 2-3 positive aspects of the document they reviewed and 2-3 aspects that needed improvement. Time permitting, I ask students to pass on the reviewed documents two seats down to a second editor, again making sure that no one revises his or her own writing.

Step 4  After the second round of editing, the marked-up documents are returned to their authors, who complete their revisions at home and bring the second draft to the next class session—with the marked-up first draft stapled to the revised version.

This staged editing procedure has many benefits for students. Because they more readily find errors in their peers’ writing than in their own, reading other students’ writing provides them with perspective on their own work. Likewise, students benefit from my instructions directing them to pay attention to specific elements I’ll be evaluating when I grade the assignment.

For instructors, the plusses of this process are also clear. Most important, I find the work I grade much improved. Additionally, students appreciate the “freebie” of being able to revise their writing at home—they even view me as more supportive to their efforts, a real bonus! From a pedagogical standpoint, the guided revision puts the onus on students to do the work. And while some go to the writing center where they may receive too much help, they are learning, which is what counts!

Ultimately, I have found that peer editing can be an invaluable teaching tool.


How do you incorporate peer editing into your classroom? Share your stories

The Scoop

Networking 101 for Introverts

Career advice about the importance of networking is everywhere, but for the shy or introverted, the idea of charging into a social situation and making small talk can be overwhelming. However, the following tips can help even the most reticent person become a competent networker.

Find small events. Avoid large settings with big crowds and instead opt for a more intimate gathering. For the most reluctant networkers, reach out first on social media just to practice “meeting” new people.

Bring a buddy. Having a friend as back up can lessen the initial nervousness that comes with attending a new social situation.

Initiate a conversation. Rather than wait for someone to approach you, take the initiative to begin a conversation. One-on-one chats are easier than jumping into a group discussion.

Be yourself. Often introverts have the perfect set of qualifications to be excellent networkers—good listening skills and the ability to develop close relationships.

Ask questions. Asking about someone’s career trajectory or industry knowledge is a great way to break the ice. Additionally, consider memorizing several questions to have as conversation starters before the event.

–From Washington Post Jobs

The New Etiquette of Phone Calls

In a galaxy far, far away… well, not quite, but in the recent past, making a phone call simply meant picking up a phone and punching in numbers. Not anymore.

The preponderance of communication channels has changed the way to approach speaking on a phone. Below are the new rules of making a phone call.

  • Text before you call. Check with the individual you want to speak with to determine the best time to make the call. Unexpected phone calls can trigger a host of worries about emergencies or bad news. The before-call text is good business etiquette, too; it shows respect for the recipient’s schedule.
  • Use apps that enhance phone call quality. Some phone carriers provide an HD option to improve reception, but users must ask their carrier to have that feature enabled. Using Wi-Fi is another way to improve the reception quality of cell phone calls and has the added bonus of avoiding data usage.
  • Talk on speakers. Between Siri and Alexa, making a hands-free phone call is easy. However, remember to stay close to the speaker so you can be heard.

Phone calls are the best way to make a connection more human. Texting alone simply cannot communicate nuance and tone.

–From The Wall Street Journal

 Start a Great Career in Your 20s

Fortune 500 top executives such as Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft offer advice to those just starting their careers. Below is a sampling of their suggestions.

  • Have an incredible work ethic and be persistent—John Scully, Apple, Pepsi
  • Figure out what you want to be doing five years from now; be systematic about learning—Drew Houston, Dropbox
  • Dream big, especially women, and commit to things and make them a regular habit—Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook
  • Find something you’re passionate about. Work hard, have good ideas, and put yourself in a position to get lucky—Steve Ballmer, Clippers
  • There’s no substitute for hard work. You’ll be more successful if you put coworkers first—Dan Schulman, PayPal