Workplace culture

15 Jul

Recently, over a dinner with some friends, we entered into a discussion about workplace culture in NZ. These discussions stemmed from an article that was written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former US State Department official and Princeton Professor titled ‘Why women still can’t have it all’. The article told her story and experience of attempting to have a high-powered career and be a mother and wife. She claimed that this was an impossible task. The article caused a stir in the feminist world. An interesting perspective can be found in a response titled ‘Feminism didn’t lie to women about “having it all’. They criticise the way that she claims women to be ‘naturally’ more family oriented than men and her narrow definition of “having it all” – being a having a career and a family and that there is an underlying assumption that this is something that men have and women don’t.

In saying all of that, I am not writing this to get into debates about what feminism looks like today. What I would like to discuss is the conversations that were spurred around the dinner table as a result. In considering the current workplace culture in NZ, we decided that there are issues that impact both men and women alike and as a result the wellbeing of people in their jobs. Continue reading

‘The Help’ in Togo

3 Jul

Marianne from elevenhoursahead has written a post about the ethics of living and working in Togo on our sister blog elevenhoursabroad. It starts like this…

“I was talking to my Dad on skype the other day and he asked me how my maid was. It was a question that felt strange and unnerving to me as I became confronted with an image of myself that I was uncomfortable with; that of the expat ‘development’ worker who hires a local (Togolese in this instance) maid.

I bring up my own involvement as an employer in the domestic service industry not as a well-paid development consultant, or even as an averagely-paid development assistant but rather as a barely-paid intern. The cost of labor is sufficiently low here that even while paying Esther[2] well above the minimum wage, on my meager wages I am easily able to afford this service. I am able to have a kind of lifestyle I would not be able to have ‘back home’. This troubles me.”

The full post can be read here.

Well-articulated rant #5

22 Jun

This week, ElevenHoursAhead will be publishing the thoughts of current and former students on the real value of the student allowance system. Here is the last personal reflection from Amanda Thomas:

Some friends of mine once jokingly typified me as being from the school of hard knocks. Comparatively I’m not really. My parents separated when I was eleven and for a while my mum (who was working six nights a week as a nurse), two brothers and I lived on mince on toast (the main reason mince now makes me want to hurl). Yep, we were povo, but by the time I was leaving school for university, my family fell into that awkward gap of “no, your family’s not poor enough for the student allowance but not well off enough to help you financially”. So I paid for my undergraduate and honours degrees with a student loan, and waited until I was almost 20 before I went flatting, knowing that getting living costs ($160 per week at that time) on my loan as well as fees was going to make it balloon.

Continue reading

Well-articulated rant #4

21 Jun
This week, ElevenHoursAhead will be publishing the thoughts of current and former students on the real value of the student allowance system. Here is today’s personal reflection from Gradon Diprose:

“They get on TV and they can make a bit of a racket … dragging a few rubbish bins around, they need some Greeks to show them how to do it”. “It gets reported, mainly because it blocked the traffic, [but] who’s listening? Most people actually think the students got a pretty fair go and they should count themselves lucky that they’ve still got interest free loans and get on with it because, you know, get your training finished and get a job and start contributing.”

These were Bill English’s comments in relation to student protests in Auckland and Wellington after recent budget announcements which included significant changes to student loans and student allowances. For about three days I was so angry about these comments I kept waking up in the middle of the night wanting to punch English in the mouth. I’m not used to having such physical reactions to a Politician’s comments. However I got thinking about why I was so angry and here are a few reasons.

Well-articulated rant #3

20 Jun

This week, ElevenHoursAhead will be publishing the thoughts of current and former students on the real value of the student allowance system. Here is today’s personal reflection from Raven Cretney:

“I am the first person in my family to go to a university, it was an incredibly big deal to my Mother who wasn’t able to get a degree. I now wish to continue my post graduate studies as I would love to teach at a tertiary level. But I will not be able to continue my studies unless I, by some good grace of god, get a scholarship (btw the government has also cut $6.3million from their scholarship fund). I was raised in the generation of Ruthenasia, which appears to have not yet ended. For me the cuts to the student allowance are about justice with austerity. We all acknowledge and know we are in too much debt, as citizens and as nations. But our youngest and oldest generations are unfairly paying for the baby boomer generation to continue their reign of privilege, they have had free education, near free health care and they are now beginning to collect non-means tested superannuation. The austerity needs to be fairly shared, not placed on us as students and on our oldest citizens in the form of health care cost hikes and increased power bills. It is simply not how a fair society operates. We want our situation to be acknowledged and for us not to be subject to austerity measures over and above what others are facing simply because we are guilty of being young.”

Well-articulated rant #2

19 Jun
This week, ElevenHoursAhead will be publishing the thoughts of current and former students on the real value of the student allowance system. Here is today’s personal reflection from Hannah Mackintosh:

In 2004 I finished my Bachelor of Arts. I found myself in a position where I was considered barely employable. The resounding response that I got was, “you have a BA, what does that mean you can offer us?” So I left New Zealand in search of more opportunities. I volunteered and lived overseas for three and a half years. I couldn’t see any opportunities for me in New Zealand. Here, I was considered over-educated for ‘un-skilled’ jobs and inexperienced for ‘skilled’ positions. I was unemployable. Continue reading

Well-articulated rant #1

18 Jun

This week, ElevenHoursAhead will be publishing the thoughts of current and former students on the real value of the student allowance system. Here is today’s personal reflection from Kiri Stevens:

When does that moment come when a parent looks at their children and says “Stupid socialists, dumb communists…I’ve got a f***ing living to make, I had to pay fees too and now I have to work to pay them off!” Okay so maybe the person who said this doesn’t have kids but he did yell this at some Auckland students protesting the changes to the student allowance. When I read that I felt pretty upset – like the comments were directed at me, and since when did it become okay to swear at a bunch of young people. Actually when did it become okay to swear at anyone? But as I read, I was only to become more upset when another bystander was quoted as saying “There are ways to be political and blocking other people is not one of them…[a]nything that doesn’t inconvenience other people would be better, they’re disguising their selfish naivety as noble.” Hang on now, when did protesting become about making sure you are NOT inconveniencing people? Perhaps this guy should have a yarn to um, I don’t know, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Te Whiti, all those peeps in east Germany in 1989, Egyptians, Tunisians, Burmese, Chinese at Tiananmen square, the millions that took part in Occupy worldwide … So okay, the things that us students are protesting are almost embarrassing to say when viewed in this company, but people protest when they feel like they aren’t being listened to, that their everyday life, however lived, is somehow being judged as not as important as someone else’s. I have got through University relatively unscathed. With the help of a student allowance my student loan is only $20 000. I pity the students that fill my space in the University. Someone just told those future nurses, doctors, teachers, council workers or, dare I say it our future political leaders, that they don’t care. Which is a shame, because us students – well we’re you’re future.

(Which actually as your future representative in parliament – could become a real bummer for you when we decide to cap you superannuation at three years, or four for life lived with honour).

Kiri Stevens

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