Thursday, April 28, 2016

4/28/16- Golden Moments

Have you ever been in a moment where you know it's special and good and awesome and happy and that it's going to be burned into your memory forever?  Like if people or aliens use A/V technology to see your life (think Minority Report when there's flashbacks of a person's life), that one moment will be on the screen? I call these moments golden moments.

Sometimes you may not know it's one until later, when you're reminiscing and remembering the good ol' days. At other times, you may know you're experiencing that golden moment as you're living it. That happened for me the other day; I knew I was experiencing a golden moment.  Hubby, Jack and I were in Jack's room playing pretend cooking/eating right before bedtime. Jack was cooking and handing us food to eat. We'd pretend to gobble it right up, making silly eating sounds.  Our actions were making Jack grin huge, and even garner actual giggles (he smiles easily, but is choosier with where he hands out laughs). Then he actually starts chewing on the play food himself.   I don't image plastic hamburger really tastes that good, but he seemed to enjoy "eating" it.  :o)

We are all so happy and content, and nothing else was on our minds at the time.  None of the adults were on cell phones.  Jack wasn't distracted by something else in the room; his full attention was on us (we know the day will come when he doesn't always want to play/hang out with us).  We were just being a family, having fun.  And I knew right then that'd this moment would be a memory I'd remember forever.  It was a golden moment.

When Johnny describes to Ponyboy (from the movie "The Outsiders") Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay" poem, and then tells Ponyboy to stay golden.  That is what I'm talking about.  The staying golden.  I'm not saying our children or ourselves stay golden (oh how I wish), but some of the memories we make with our children, some the memories we made and will continue to make with our own parents, some the memories we made and will continue to make with good friends and grandparents/siblings/aunties/cousins/and such, the golden moments, will stay forever.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

4/21/16- More Money Talk

Last week's post about my salary resulted in some great discussions with other working professionals, so I thought I'd follow up this week with more money talk.  First, I learned that I wasn't alone in having a below average salary as an engineer.

One person shared that her husband makes $90K more than her, even though they started in the tech industry at the same time.  Yes, she's aerospace and he's software, and he works at a big, private company (whose profits and stock do very well).  However, shouldn't those differences really only result in a $40K-50K difference? $90K is a really large gap, and I'm thinking there is some bias there...

Another friend shared (who works at the same company as me) that she makes just above $100K; she has a BS in Computer Engineering, a MBA, 16 years experience, and a whole bunch of certifications (Six Sigma and related).  Checking, she should be starting at $120K.  And both her and the person mentioned above have consistently received "exceeds expectations" on their performance reviews.

For my performance reviews, I've got "exceeds" at times and other times I've got "meets."  If any of us were on a performance improvement plan (which we're not), then you could totally call us out on our expectations to get paid more.  But we aren't. We're doing good, but being paid so-so.

I also received the advice, to get more money, go to a new job.  And I know there's some truth to that. I've seen others increase their salaries by changing jobs. However, I'd have to sacrifice the benefits that 11 years at the same place gets you; more vacation time, service awards, flex schedule, etc.  And what if the work culture was worse?

I at least work on a team oriented project. I've heard of places where throwing each other under the bus and managers who never talk to you (except for the annual review to tell you how bad you're doing) are normal.  No thanks.

Alright, so now I want to bring up more money resources that are out there for you.  You remember from last week.  There's also GlassCeiling/Salary to compare salaries, as well as other great info on the main page (like articles, statistics and job postings).  And DailyWorth talks about Women and Money.  I recommend DailyWorth even for the guys out there-- they talk about how couples plan and manage money.

I probably could spend a whole post about how my hubby and I plan and manage money, but this one is already getting long, so maybe another time.  Planning and managing money whether as an individual or a couple is important.  I want to you to be educated and empowered, and there are many money advice websites out there (DailyWorth isn't the only one).  Shoot, I think my bank offers free budgeting software, and yours might too if you need that kind of resource.

Okay, I'm off my soap box.  That's really all I have to say, for now, about money and salaries. Have a good week everyone!  Hope the week is "money" for you!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

4/14/16- The Salary

This work week should have been a high; I got a raise!  3%-- not too bad following the fact that the previous year I got a promotion and much bigger bump then.  But it's actually been a low point at work this week.  Additionally, there's been a deadline that was impossible to meet, and no team members were able to help me out because they either didn't know how to do the task or already had their own insurmountable workload.

How was a raise a low point?  Well even with my 3% raise, my salary is still way below the low end of a Systems Engineer with of a 11 years of experience (and MS Tech).  I'm a little above $89,000/year right now (and that is based on 40/week; my work prorates the full time salary for my part time schedule), and according to, a Systems Engineer IV's starting pointing is $92,090 for my city (reading the job descriptions on, I believe SE IV is closest to my job) .  I had a feeling I was underpaid, but actually confirming it, wow, talk about bumming yourself out.  It's such a kick in the gut.

I know I'm a woman, who works part time, but I didn't think I'd get dinged that much for my gender and my chronic illness.  And here's the part that's going to bum you all out (and it bums me out too): I don't have any fight in me to go ask for more.  I like calling myself an engineer, but I've been over the place that I work for about 1.5 years now.  And I just can't muster up enough concern to tell my company they're way under paying me.  I feel like I might be letting you and more importantly myself down in doing so, but I just don't care about that place anymore.  I'm ready to move on, and working on a plan to do so. Maybe at my next gig I'll be paid the average, or at least, the low end of the scale

In happy news, hubby and I are going to a nice resort in a nearby town this weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and Jack will be staying the night with his cousins.  Jack's already done a sleep over, so we're not freaking out about that (and with the first sleep over, there was chaos; so for me, the freaking out/being nervous/sad to leave the baby was the first and second time he was with a babysitter for just a couple of hours).  We're both really looking forward to the little vacation.  Might go check out a local winery, lay by the pool, get a massage, eat at a fancy restaurant. It will be enjoyable.  And it comes at a good time.  Happy weekend to everyone!

Here's a link to the salaries for Systems Engineer IV.  You can check out your exact position too.  And if you're brave enough, I encourage you to post in the comments your job/experience and salary.  I think being able to share that information is an important step towards equal pay.

Just an extra note:  I also feel I get so many other perks, working from home, part time, that asking for one more thing, a fair salary, seems selfish.  I don't know if I'm being silly or realistic.  It's hard to know what the truth is when I'm in this spot.  Am I right to think I deserve more? Am I wrong? Somewhat both right and wrong? I believe in taking responsibility for my actions, so am I a bad employee? Or is there blame to be had on the company?  Maybe it's both.  I honestly don't know.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

4/5/16- The Trend

Want to know the latest trend this spring?  Just look at social media feeds and other news sources, and you'll discover that what is being talked about over and over again is Women in STEM.  In particularly, the lack of females in Computer Science and Engineering (sorry Medical Science, but you seem to have close to the 50/50 ratio that CS and engineering only dreams of, so we won't really talk about you).  You'll hear stats like 18% of CS workers are women, 10% of engineers are female, etc.  And that it's been this low for decades.  And the different approaches to get more women in tech/engineering. And all the horrible things women in tech/engineering have to put up with/overcome.

As an advocate for women in engineering (and to extend the outreach branch a little more, CS/tech), I'm excited there's so much dialogue about the issue and how can we change the industry to be 50/50 and equal.  Yay for people talking about it, and it being everywhere!  But what is the cost of it being trendy, I wonder?  When will this trend end?  Is it just a fade? All fades/trends seem to end. Or best case scenario, it's cyclical, and Women in STEM will be a popular topic again in 10 years.

Also it's time for a true confession (like in Real World; just image me in my confession booth).  I really dislike that it's popular right now to be a woman in engineering/tech.  In general, tech is the cool; it's in, it's hip (whatever the kids on Real World 50 are saying these days).  The rebel in me enjoyed being an engineer (in part) because it was not cool. It was counter-culture; now it's popular culture.

It is also giving me a big ego.  I'm so cool and awesome and special because I'm an engineer. It's what everyone is talking about and what everyone wants or wishes to be (in my skewed Real World view).  In a way it is like being a reality star celebrity; hot one minute, and probably forgotten in the next fifteen minutes (when the next social cause comes along).

Now that I've done my confession, I'll get over my dislike and ego trip of being a trend because my care and passion to get more women in the industry outweighs my need to stand out, to be a rebel.  I'm sure some of you will be receptive to how I feel (maybe even some of you also dislike how popular it is), and I'm sure some of you will be upset (and wish I wasn't an advocate because how could an advocate wish for people to stop making tech cool?).

The question facing this trend then, is how to make sure that the topic of Women in STEM doesn't just fade into the background?  I'm not sure I really have that answer, but here's my hope. Hopefully, the advocates from before it was trendy, and the advocates who are jumping on this bandwagon (may they never get off the wagon), keep up their work to recruit and retain women in the fields of STEM. Even when the topic is not cool anymore.

For a great op-ed on the trend, check out Amy's editorial on US News:
Why Do We Need STEM Toys for Girls?

And then kind of related, online discussion about "pink STEM toys":