Math Skills Resources

Still stuck on that math problem? Having trouble pretty frequently with your math homework? Don’t worry, it’s definitely NOT because you’re a girl. Math can be tricky! And learning new things takes a lot of focus and energy.

So here’s a quick list of resources I’ve used in my past and highly recommend for coming to a deeper understanding of mathematics. Sometimes you really just need a quick review or “re-teach” of the topic when you’re experiencing difficulty. These sources will provide you that and some practice problems. Considering that I’ve been an A student through high school calculus and a B student in college Calc 2 and Calc 3, I think these resources are really worth checking out!

First, take a deep breath and relax, because you are already amazing and capable!

Be sure to designate a chunk of time (maybe 45 min to 1 hr) to read the relevant readings and work the practice problems in one or more of these sources. Don’t let your anxiety about getting everything done before class tomorrow get in your way! You can also supplement these online resources with your school textbook or tutorials with the teacher.

Here they are:

    • Schaum’s Guides
      • Pre-Algebra
      • Algebra I
      • Geometry
      • Algebra II
      • Precalculus
      • Calculus
      • Statistics

  • College Board SAT Official Guide, Mathematics sections (you’ll need this book to test for the SAT if you’re college-bound, anyway!)

              

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

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{Strategy} | Entitlement Versus Opportunity

Want to feel like this? Keep reading…

I had a rock-bottom experience in November when I quit my job and was looking for another place to work. I realized that I was putting way too much pressure on myself to get the “right” kind of job. And I also was requiring myself unnecessarily to be the Ubermensch kind of person I had always envisioned for myself. (Ubermensch: a German word meaning “super-man” coined by the philosopher Friedrich Nietsche for “special little kick-ass snowflake who doesn’t need anyone else’s help and also accomplishes a crap ton of things for humanity, with little need for self-care.) I was feeling entitled to have accomplished more by now simply because I had already put the work in at Purdue and UC, Berkeley. I believed that because I had already done so much work in academia, I was entitled to a life with little stress and lots of money.

But I didn’t feel like I’d ever have enough money. I was also spending out the nose on random things I liked at the mall or online. I felt like I was entitled to have things that made me happy. And yet after every shopping trip, I still felt a pervasive emptiness inside and even more stress and anxiety for having spent that much more money from my accounts. In other words, I felt like I was entitled to success, but I wasn’t willing to do any of the soul-searching work it took to define what the measures of success looked like to me.

And this is what was bringing me down and making me so angry at the world!

My Reality Check

But having money without having stress is not a common combination here in the States. Perhaps my idea of what life “should” look like wasn’t meshing well with reality. With this in mind, I finally had to get real with myself about what I could handle given my current mental health, my education to that point, and my energy levels. I decided that I need to settle into a “boring” routine following a conventional 9-to-5 career before I could start doing any of the other plans I had for my life. More on those plans here (coming soon).  So I started looking for a “chemist” job title and recognized that regardless of how much work I had already put in to my training, I still was bound to start work at an entry-level position at the bottom of the barrel.

Americans in the early 1900s used to see things like “education,” a “fast food job,” “mowing the lawn for an extra nickle,” or “doing chores to keep the house together” as opportunities, not given rights or even a pain in the butt. People appreciated the little things. For example, fruit was considered a gift or a treat due to its relative rarity – parents would even put oranges or apples into their kids’ stockings for Christmas (American Girl: Kit)! And in the media and letters we’ve kept record of since then, people who lived in that era were generally positive, grateful for what they had, and capitalizing on the opportunities available to them without scoffing because they looked or felt a certain way on the surface.

Today, however, many Americans feel overburdened, stressed, anxious, and fearful about the future. And yet we have more choice, more abundance, and we can buy fruit everyday from the local grocery! While people in other countries (take South Africa, lately, for example) are still struggling for everyday access to clean water, which is still not a certainty for them (National Public Radio FM 90.1). We’ve surpassed satisfying our need for water so much so that we literally don’t even think about water anymore! We now treat access to water as a right rather than an opportunity or privilege.

I personally believe that the present endemic is connected to a shift from viewing choices as opportunities to viewing them as entitlements. How can we detach from this unhelpful habit?

Identify Your Entitlement, Regain Perspective

Think about the last time you cleaned your own floor. Have you groaned at the idea and instead just ordered a cleaning service to come do it for you, even though you know you can’t really afford it with your current income? Don’t know if you can’t afford it because you don’t even know what your budget is? Or perhaps the task just doesn’t even get done and you’re living in a filthy apartment for months at a time until you “get around to it”? This is an instance of entitlement. You feel entitled to having someone else clean your apartment because you are too good or too busy or too important to do those things yourself.

Mind you, some tasks like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry are necessary elements of the human existence. Taking them away and delegating them to someone else when it is clearly (or unclearly?) beyond your means is doing yourself a disservice, because it doesn’t allow you to appreciate the in-body experience of living simply. Knowing how to do simple tasks light hanging a poster, changing a light bulb, scrubbing the floor, cleaning our your fridge, or folding your own clothes can be essential to your ability to feel competent, confident, and capable of functioning in times of difficulty. Whether that difficulty is a loss of income or an abundance of stress from some other aspect of your life, you need to take control of the low-hanging fruit.

Do you feel somehow slighted because you didn’t get invited to that party even though you have many friends already? Or you can’t go to the Coldplay concert with your friends? This is another instance of entitlement. We have it so good in this country that we expect every day to be great, fun, and exciting, rather than accepting the fact that most things in life will be mundane, boring, or typical. It’s not a wonder this nation is so depressed and anxious. When nothing exciting happens, or we don’t get to do the next great and exciting thing, we get disappointed. Angry or frustrated even!

When we get real with our own needs rather than wants, however, we regain perspective. We are able to experience gratitude for the many things we have that are already going well. Sometimes there is no meaning to life other than to live it. The acts of breathing, eating, sleeping, cooking, washing, communing with others, communing with nature, talking to a Deity, etc. Sometimes that’s the beauty of life itself. Life for the sake of living (Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck; the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha).

In that new context, doesn’t it seem a lot easier to make a budget and live it out every month? Forget about all of the advertisements swirling all around everywhere – your phone, the billboard outside your apartment complex, the ads at the beginning of every YouTube video or the radio station you listened to this morning on the way to work. You have to stay connected to the body and spirit of living. This will undermine any entitlement you may feel on a daily basis.

Please leave a comment below if you liked this article! I really hope it helps you regain perspective and feel more in control and happy with your current life situation.

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

To Love Others, Love Yourself First

Pleasers

Women are usually socialized early on in their development to please others. “Nurture,” “giving,” “sharing,” and “beauty” are traditionally held as feminine qualities; going against the grain of these ideals will get you in trouble. If you stand up for yourself and say, “No, I don’t want to do that,” “No, that’s not safe,” or “No, I’m not going to do that,” you’re easily labeled a bitch (Armstrong, et al. “‘Good Girls’: Gender, Social Class, and Slut Discourse on Campus.” Social Pscyhology Quarterly, 2014, Vol. 77(2) 100–122; Kalof, Vulnerability to sexual coercion among college women: A longitudinal study. Gender Issues, 2000, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 47–58 ; Women’sHealth.gov. “Sexual Coercion.” Strong, “Is It Rape If You Say Yes? Five Types of Sexual Coercion, Explained,” additional references listed at end**). Or if no one verbally called you that to your face, you always deal with the personal guilt of not having accommodated the people around you. As though it’s your responsibility to make other people happy? If you’re struggling with trying to please others rather than yourself, I’d encourage you to watch this video:

Tracy McMillan struggled to find the emotional connections and support she lacked in her childhood. She sought it out by investing in and marrying other people without addressing her own personal needs and growth first. Eventually she discovered that searching for care and love in other people rather than yourself would never be enough. And it makes sense, too. Nobody else has enough energy to take care of both their own adult needs and someone else’s. These are things that you have to learn to do for yourself. I call this cradling yourself or holding yourself (discussed below) – you need to do it most when you feel insecure or unworthy (Neuman, “Low Self-Esteem”; Lachmann, “10 Sources of Low Self-Esteem”; Stringfellow, “Crash Course in Confidence or Self-Esteem”; Stringfellow, “Additional Resources for Confidence Crash Course”; Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck; Harter, “Causes and Consequences of Low Self-Esteem in Children and Adolescents.” Self-Esteem, pp. 87-116.).

Why We Do It

In our Christian-influenced American culture, a major message hidden among the cultural mores is “love others, then yourself” in order to feel loved, appreciated, successful, and good. If we don’t do this, we are sinful or bad and should be shamed (Uhlmann, Sanchez-Burks, “The Implicit Legacy of American Protestantism.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2014; Kennedy, Cohen, & Bailey. The American Pageant: A History of the Republic Advanced Placement Edition 13th Edition).

What Research Shows About Happy People

Psychological research, however, disagrees with this notion. In fact, the research shows that those who love themselves first actually have the wherewithal and the self-understanding to be able to advocate for their own needs in the context of others. The people who love themselves first also know what they need from other people and where their boundaries lie (Baumeister, “Understanding the Inner Nature of Low Self-Esteem: Uncertain, Fragile, Protective, and Conflicted.” Self-Esteem, pp. 201-218; Neff & Vonk, “Self-Compassion Versus Global Self-Esteem: Two Different Ways of Relating To Oneself”; Montgomery, “Signs That You May Need to Set Healthier Boundaries”; Kashani, et al. “Characteristics of Well Adjusted Adolescents.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 1987. **additional references below).

Boundaries?

The reason why boundaries are so important for healthy and happy relationships with others stems from the fact that people who have the insight to draw their own limits around what they will and won’t share with others, or what they will and won’t do with or for others will know how they actually can help others without developing resentment, anger, and feelings of overwhelm (Montgomery, “Signs That You May Need to Set Healthier Boundaries”). Understanding our own limits first and foremost and being able to say no when additional tasks or pressures arise will keep us in the driver’s seat of our lives. Being in control of what we choose to let in keeps us safe and healthy in times of stress or crisis.

These negative emotions we often feel in the presence of other people are signs that we are overextending ourselves. When we overextend ourselves, we are no longer addressing our own needs and are instead trying to appease someone else’s. We’ve extended control of ourselves into control of someone else to control our own needs. When our needs fail to be addressed by the people we care about because they are either oblivious to them or unable to fulfill them, resentment builds within us. When we exhibit frustration around our partners, resentment builds within them because they don’t understand why we are treating them badly. Eventually, we lose respect, and consequently interest, in each other. We become like landmines waiting to be stepped on. No one knows how to approach us because they don’t know if we’re going to “overreact” or “flip out.” Eruptions like this actually lead us to experience a lack of intimacy, rather than the closeness to others that we overextended ourselves to accomplish in the first place.

Cradle Yourself

Learning to cradle yourself when you feel down protects you from being taken advantage of by other people. You don’t let your guard down against violators when you have clear emotional and physical boundaries between you and them. Moreover, you don’t seek after other people for the emotional cravings you experience because you have learned to healthfully and adaptively address them for yourself. When you don’t know your own boundaries, that’s when other people seeking things like coerced sexual favors will easily step in (Psychology Today, “Self-Esteem,” Stringfellow, “Crash Course in Confidence or Self-Esteem”Stringfellow, “Additional Resources for Confidence Crash Course”; Vilhauer, “4 Ways to Stop Beating Yourself Up, Once and For All;” Kenrick, “Do You Have To Be Self-Centered To Be Self-Actualized?” Chopra, “10 Wonderful Ways To Practice Self-Love;” Khoshaba, “A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love”).

We’re all just children inside, pretending to be adults. Like children, we have organic and emphatic needs and wants every day. Unlike children, however, who rely on parents to satisfy these needs, we as adults must figure out how to be our own “parent.” You wouldn’t give a child two large bags of potato chips for dinner! But maybe you yourself would binge on a couple of those bags when you’re feeling particularly awful. As your own parent (keeper), you need to maintain the discipline required to satisfy your needs for emotional connection, intellectual and spiritual stimulation, diet, health and wellness, financial security, and a place to live. And you shouldn’t rely on other people to do those things for you. You have to learn to do them yourself.

The Bottom Line

So, the bottom line is, if we truly want to love others, we must first and foremost love ourselves. We can’t count on others to satisfy our needs because they have their own needs they have to satisfy first.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha

**Additional References from above: 

  1. Nosek B. A., Banaji M. R., Greenwald A. G. (2002). “Math = male, me = female, therefore math ≠ me.” J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 83, 44–59. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.83.1.44; Kagan J. (1964). Acquisition and significance of sex-typing and sex-role identity, in Review of Child Development Research, eds Hoffman M. L., Hoffman L. W., editors. (New York, NY: Russell Sage; ), 17–43 
  2. Ebert I. D., Steffens M. C., Kroth A. (2014). Warm, but maybe not so competent? – Contemporary implicit stereotypes of women and men in GermanySex Roles 70, 359–375. 10.1007/s11199-014-0369-5 
  3. Runge T. E., Frey D., Gollwitzer P. E., Helmreich R. L., Spence J. T. (1981). Masculine (instrumental) and feminine (expressive) traits: a comparison between students in the United States and West GermanyJ. Cross Cult. Psychol. 12, 142–162. 10.1177/0022022181122002
  4. Spence J. T., Buckner C. E. (2000). Instrumental and expressive traits, trait stereotypes, and sexist attitudes. Psychol. Women Q. 24, 44–62. 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2000.tb01021.x
  5. Spence J. T., Helmreich R. L., Stapp J. (1975). Ratings of self and peers on sex role attributes and their relation to self-esteem and conceptions of masculinity and femininity. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 32, 29–39. 10.1037/h0076857
  6. Ellis, “Ego-Identity Development and the Well-Adjusted Lesbian: Reclaiming Marcia’s Identity Status Model.” Feminism & Psychology. 2000
  7. Taylor, S. E., Lerner, J. S., Sherman, D. K., Sage, R. M., & McDowell, N. K. (2003). Portrait of the self-enhancer: Well adjusted and well liked or maladjusted and friendless? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(1), 165-176
  8. Gaertner, et al. “On Pancultural Self-Enhancement.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2008
  9. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1980). Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38(4), 668-678

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

Struggling with Suicidal Thoughts?

For all of those who may be struggling out there today, I wanted to share my story with suicidal thoughts and how I dealt with a year and a half of turbulent health, emotional states, and severe psychological stress.

Suicidal thoughts affect members of every people group – every ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender identity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and so on. Suicidal thoughts also disproportionately affect members of the LGBTQ+ Community, and their chances of resorting to self-harm severely increase in the face of traumatic events (Suicide Prevention Lifeline Web site; Human Rights Campaign LGBTQ Mental Health). Women are more likely to attempt suicide (more frequently through overdose on pills), but men are more likely to successfully commit suicide because they often resort to more drastic means (shooting themselves, for example) (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention).

When I was in graduate school working on my Master’s, I actually had a really rough time the entire 18 months I was there. Most of the time I felt like a disabled oddball, due to my relatively unusual gender expression as a Femme-presenting cis-woman in a mostly male-dominated field (hence the name, LikeAFemmeBoss.com!). I also felt like people didn’t respect me and that I had to prove myself more than the rest of my cohort because of stereotypes that linger about “valley girls,” “rich girls,” “slutty girls,” and “blondes.” I felt awkward asking simple clarification questions from the professors and fellow cohort because they would always give me a funny look as though I were stupid to be asking that. Imposter syndrome – also known by the less stigmatized term “imposter phenomenon” (Sakalku & Alexander, Int’l. J. Behavioral Sci., 2011) – invaded my entire experience.

I got to a point where I was absolutely flailing. My boyfriend and I had recently broken up. I had no security or safe space among the people I had to spend the most time with (that is, the other Chemistry graduate students). I literally did not have the hours in the day to go do community service or another activity that would have put me together with like-minded peers. I was touching people on the arms (innocuously, though obviously) at Chem Keg every Friday just to feel the touch of another human. I would sob every day, some days multiple times. I was struggling in my classes and couldn’t seem to get the help I needed to get better than the absolute lowest passing grades (I even failed a class because I didn’t even have the prerequisites for it but my guidance counselor had told me I had to take it first semester!). I even experienced food insecurity, resorting to ramen noodles and beans and rice to make it to my next paycheck. I stopped being able to eat because I was so incredibly anxious and depressed all the time.

Every step of this was anxiety-inducing and defeating. I got to a point staying up till 2 in the morning struggling through a problem set where I just gave up, went outside in the utter darkness, and started saying to myself, “This is hopeless. I’m never going to get to do what I’d always dreamed and I’m going to fail out of this PhD program, which is more painful than death.”

At UC Berkeley the chemistry buildings are clustered together in a complex. There is a terrace in the middle overlooking a patio with metal grate tables and chairs. I saw the ledge over by the terrace. I started heavily thinking about jumping off that ledge. I felt so out of control and basically so f*cked in life.

Luckily, my mom and my previous experiences with talk therapy (also called counseling) had ingrained in me the idea that this kind of suicidal thinking simply means that something is wrong, something needs to change in your life. And fast. And it does not mean that you are worthless or hopeless, just perhaps that your current path in life is. So instead of killing myself in that moment, I stepped away from the ledge and started to walk home.

Thank the Universe that those people had spoken up about suicidal thoughts in my past, or perhaps I wouldn’t be here now.

In the aftermath, I knew I needed to get back into counseling. I started attending sessions long-term and went to crisis counseling on campus anytime I felt like I was about to have a panic attack. The next morning, I went to a crisis counseling meeting with a very kind therapist who directed me to long-term therapy with a DBT & Psychotherapy specialist in the Bay Area. I also made a safety plan with this crisis therapist to keep me from being scared about taking my own life due to feeling out of control.

A safety plan? At first it sounded so ridiculous to me, but it was actually really important to make sure I had something secure to do when all else felt hopeless. A safety plan is a set of steps that you agree with the counselor that you will take if you are alone and the suicidal thoughts become intrusive and overwhelming. It could be anything that helps to ground you in the present moment. For me, I knew that watching some funny/silly YouTube videos about animals would help get me out of that headspace. I also agreed with the therapist that I would eat something sweet, like chocolate, to get me back into my body and out of the brink of suicide. If those things weren’t working, I would then call either a friend or a therapist for further support.

Later in the week, I also finally had a meltdown about a problem set (which was a symbol of everything else going wrong) in front of one of my fellow grad students, Rebecca. She turned out to be very sympathetic and starting inviting me grocery shopping and to her apartment for ice cream and Anime.

I also reached out to people via online dating. I found a really nice guy named Ceasar. He also had shared a similar experience with suicidal thoughts and burnout in college, and he was very empathetic and comforting. He also similarly liked physical affection and prolonged eye contact. He often would treat me to breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the weekends. He would cuddle me anytime I felt like I was having a panic attack. He liked sharing experiences and since he knew I had no money. He was just the salve I needed in a time when I felt like my whole world was collapsing. We ended up dating for a whole year!

I will never forget the generosity and friendship of these people.

Being around other people who weren’t pursuing Chemistry PhD’s helped me frame life in a different light. Instead of having to go straight through all of my education to PhD status, why not take a break in between the Master’s and PhD? Or just terminate with the Master’s and forget about getting that PhD in Chemistry? Was a reputation and a status of power as a professional PhD in a sea of politicians who only listen to those who have the highest qualifications more important than my quality of life? What was missing from my life that kept me crippled and feeling like a failure everyday? How else could life be acceptable to me? It took me about 8 months to figure out that, regardless of which career I pursued after graduation, I needed to terminate with the Master’s and pursue personal care. A break from the academic rat race. And a release from everyone else’s (at least how I perceived it) opinions about my worth to society. It turns out the only thing I had to prove to myself was that I was still a good and caring person who wanted to use my talents for holistic social good. And so I started this blog the month after I left California and graduated with my Master’s. See how much better life can be just a year after I had these severe and scary suicidal thoughts?

If you find that you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, I encourage you to consider reaching out to any of the following resources:

I’ve also put together a map to help you search for free mental health clinics in your area. I call it mental health, because it does have to do with your thoughts. But please do not let the stigma that still surrounds the idea of talk therapy keep you from talking to a professional. They are trained to help you get past the challenges that are causing you to feel the way you’re feeling. And they only do this as a profession because they genuinely care about people like me and you.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Please remain hopeful that you can and you will find a way out of the temporary problem! Taking control of a situation in which you previously felt powerless is incredibly important for getting to the dreams you envisioned for yourself all along!

Please leave a comment below if you felt that this post was at all helpful.

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

{Stop Harassment – & Save Yourself Some Heartache!} | Why Does Harassment Happen?

Harassment happens for a variety of reasons:

  • A lack of education about gender expression, similarities, capabilities, and differences, on the part of the harasser
  • A lack of education about what harassment can look like to someone else
  • Poor communication skills between the harasser and the survivor of the harassment
  • An assertion of dominance or control because of fear, hate, or uncertainty about a woman pursuing work that has traditionally been considered “men’s work”

It’s important to note that statistics show that over 90% of sexual harassment ends once women have confronted their harassers personally and directly (Petrocelli & Repa, 1992). While it may send a mixed message to meet a harassing coworker in a secluded place or at a location outside the workplace, it makes sense for a woman to have a direct conversation about her disapproval of the harasser’s behavior or speech in a relatively private place. Taking the discussion to a corner of the room or to one’s private office (with the door slightly ajar, not closed) reduces the likelihood of retaliation due to embarrassment in front of coworkers. Chances are the harasser really didn’t even realize that what he was saying or doing was harassing (Petrocelli & Repa, 1992).

Men an women often have different perceptions of what harassing behavior looks like. In a Los Angeles telephone survey of 1,200 people, 67% of the men said that they would view being propositioned by a female coworker to be flattering, while only 17% of women said that this would be flattering.  Additionally, 75% of men thought that they would be flattered if a coworker made sexual advances to them at work; more than 75% of women thought that same behavior this would be offensive. Furthermore, eyeing someone up and down appeared to 24% of the women surveyed as harassment, while only 8% of men thought this.

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

{Stop Harassment – & Save Yourself Some Heartache!} | How Can Harassment Manifest?

The following is referenced by a book written by two attorneys who advocate for women’s rights in the workplace. This is a summary of the different ways that harassment can manifest in the workplace and which kinds of harassment qualify as sexual harassment (using sex – or even gender identity – as a factor in the harassment). This article also explains what elements need to be present to present a scenario before a court of law as a sexual harassment case. Note that this article does not substitute for professional legal advice, even though it will provide you a guideline to follow when considering whether you have been subjected to sexual harassment at work.

Questions to answer when considering whether something that took place at work was sexual harassment:

  • Was the conduct sexual in nature?
  • Was the conduct unreasonable?
  • Was the conduct severe or pervasive in the workplace?
    Was the conduct unwelcome?

A. Harassment falls under a bunch of categories:

This includes anything from (1) sexual advances (e.g., sexual favors) to (2) outright hostility only to women employees or a singular woman employee to (3) lewd, sexual, or pornographic images, languages, or jokes that contribute to creating a sexually-charged atmosphere that is both humiliating and offensive. The environment can be developed by supervisors and other in authority, by coworkers, or by customers and others. If preferences are shown by one party to another, this also may be due to using sex or gender identity as a distinguishing factor in discriminating behaviors in the workplace. This is also a form of sexual harassment.

B. The Reasonability Test

The reasonability test has to do with the idea that if a reasonable person were to hear about these events, would they also think that these events were mortifying and of a sexual nature? This type of test is important in situations where there may be ambiguity in terms of how specific exchanges, behaviors, and phrases were interpreted. The test (and how you can win your case) consists of the following: can you show evidence that you indicated clearly to the harasser that you found his conduct unreasonable? And did he furthermore violate that standard once you set it clearly? Start documenting the evidence of this as soon as you realize that it is happening. You can use a journal with dated entries discussing the details of the violations and how they affected you.

The reason for this test is to avoid using the law to “serve as a vehicle for vindicating the petty slights suffered by the hypersensitive” (quoted in Petrocelli & Repa, 1992, 2/15). Note, however, that the vast majority of times women accuse a man of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is because they have exhausted all other means of resolving the situation first and have still encountered severe emotional, psychological, physical, or other difficulty in being able to complete their jobs at work in the face of this type of sex-targeting behavior.

While the reasonability test originally was held from the perspective of a reasonable man, court precedent has now made the reasonability test qualified from the perspective of a reasonable woman, since the woman is usually the person who has had to deal with the unwanted activity to begin with. Clearly the man thought himself to be reasonable or he wouldn’t have done it.

C.  Conduct that is severe or pervasive

Is the sexual conduct you’ve witnessed so severe and so pervasive in the workplace that it makes the working environment hostile or offensive? Consider the following ideas when coming to your own personal judgment about this idea:

    • Whether the conduct was physical, verbal, or both
    • How often it happened (frequency)
    • Whether the conduct was patently offensive and hostile
    • Whether the harasser is a supervisor or coworker
    • Whether others also participated in the harassment once it was started
    • Whether the harassment was directed at a group or at an individual
    • Maybe it’s not one event that defines and encapsulates the harassment, but actually a period of several distinct events that add up to a totality of a sexually harassing environment

D.  Conduct that is unwelcome

To prove her case in a court of law, a woman has to show that the sexually-charged conduct in question was unwelcome and offensive to her at the time it occurred. This can be difficult to show since interpretation and reflection are very subjective in nature. Here are some factors that would be taken into account to show that the conduct has been unwelcome:

    • Voluntary but unwelcome – a woman may have voluntarily submitted to an employer’s sexual advances, but she did not actually want to do them at the time. Why might a woman be in this situation? Perhaps she is in fear of losing her job or a promotion, so she submits to the sexual favors the boss is asking for.
    • The employee’s appearance – the courts unfortunately still judge a woman’s “sexually provocative speech or dress” as evidence as to whether she was “asking for it.” While this is still a politically-heated criterion for evidence, it, nonetheless, still matters in court. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if the beholder is a man, he may think that a woman’s dress is more provocative than she ever intended. To combat this criterion used as evidence against a woman’s claim that the assailant has sexually assaulted her, a woman needs to be able to show that she explicitly articulated to the assailant that those advances were not welcome.
    • Coping strategies – signs that a woman has been subjected to sexual harassment while at work. These signs manifest, for example, as any of the following mechanisms:
      • denying the impact of the event
      • blocking out an event
      • avoiding a harasser or the entire workplace
      • telling the harasser to stop
      • engaging in joking or other banter that tries to defuse the harassing situation
      • threats to make an informal or formal complaint against the accused

To prove a legal case using coping strategies as an argument, a woman needs to show that she has corroborated the intent of engaging in such coping strategies only out of fear and not out of a desire to participate in them of her own volition. Perhaps she is in fear of retaliation for objecting or of losing her job. She should confide in as many people (friends, coworkers, relatives, etc.) to provide evidence that she did not support the behavior and instead found it extremely unwelcome.

    • Breaking off a relationship

By being in a romantic relationship with an employer a woman does not forfeit her right to protection from sexual harassment. However, moving forward a woman must make it clear to her harasser that any further sexual advances are no longer welcome. A prudent thing for a woman to do in a situation where she breaks off a formerly welcome romantic relationship with a coworker is to make it apparent to many others in the office that she no longer is in a relationship with him and is no longer welcoming any romantic/sexual advances from him.

    • Employee’s limited consent

Under the law, employees have limited ability to consent to a relationship with an employer. This is because there is an obvious unequal balance of power between the two parties supposedly “consenting” to the relationship.

Additionally, just because a workplace may include work of a sexual nature (e.g., modeling, Playboy/Penthouse, strip club, escort service), it does not imply that a woman has forfeited all of her rights to her own body. Just because her work is of a sexual nature does not mean that she should be required to submit to sexual advances from clients or others in the workplace. Behavior that falls outside the normal nature of the work (for example, a man fingering a stripper over or through her thong while she is giving him a lap dance) does constitute harassment, because it is coerced sexual activity that she did not explicitly sign up for when accepting that job title. She is still perfectly in the right to file a sexual harassment suit against that man for touching her inappropriately at work, even though something like stripping is work of a sexual nature.

Please note that even if your specific experience with sexual harassment has not been covered in this article, you may still be able to file a viable suit against your aggressor. Please consult professional legal advice when considering whether it makes sense to move forward with a suit.

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

{Strategy} | Effective Time Management

Hi, Femme Bosses!

Ever feel like you’re running around like a wild chicken with her head cut off? I’ve definitely been there. I feel ya. Well, if you’d like to figure out a stepwise approach to getting rid of that feeling, fear no more – your instructions are here!

How to plan your hours:

If you haven’t done so already, make a Google+ account. This will give you access to Google Drive, where I link this free printable Google Sheets worksheet. Make a copy to store in your personal Drive account. Open the sheet and proceed to the following steps:

Remember that you have 24 hours per day X 7 days per week = 168 hours per week

  1. First, emphasize the importance of sleep – start by blocking out 8-10 hours per night depending on your personal needs.
  2. Plan at least 30 min before bed and 30 min in the morning to prepare for bed and to adjust to waking up (stretch, brush teeth, meds, wash face, etc.)
  3. Fill your class times into the grid. This visual will help you figure out when u need to travel and when you’re going to have time blocks to do your homework, studying, and other personal things.
  4. Remember, a 3-credit hour course assumes you will need to spend 9 hours per week outside of class on FOCUSED studying. No phone, no social media (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), no breaks included, no doctor appointments or FaceTime or dinner interrupting. Plan those things for OUTSIDE of those hours you plan to study (you will take care of those distractions in step 5 below). So taking 18 credit hours implies you should plan out 54 hours per week to straight-up study.
  5. Once you’ve blocked out your travel time, meal times, bedtime and morning prep times, study times, and in-class times, you may be surprised with how little (or how much) time you have left! This time is where you can now schedule in fun stuff, regular therapy or doctor appointments, grocery shopping, planning, meal prep, laundry, balancing your finances or budget, etc.
  6. Set smart goals (check this article for how to do this) for what you will accomplish during each hour block of your study time for your classes. This will get you to stop worrying about how and when your hw assignments and readings will get done. It works because you have indicated to yourself that you’ve already planned out ample time and space for this and any hiccups. This method of reassuring yourself through engineered control measures YOU have set for yourself is providing a safe atmosphere (environment) for your brain to relax. That way, when you study you will actually be much more efficient because you won’t experience pervasive panic thoughts or other intrusive/adhd type distractions.
  7. Look at this chart EVERY NIGHT before you go to bed. This prepares your brain for the next day. It will also help you feel much more in control of your life and your goals. You will worry less, and be more excited about the fun things you’ve scheduled. You’ll even start to enjoy the things you used to “dread” or get worried about because you now know they will be efficient, contained, easier, and manageable.

If you can figure out how to schedule your life effectively for when you are a college student, you will have no problem managing your time after you graduate and get your first professional job.

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.