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Not All Teleworkers Created Equal

By Olga Khazan // The Atlantic // August 25, 2014

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"How can you become a telecommuter?" asks one of a profusion of online guides on this topic. "You can start by doing your homework, creating an action plan, and being flexible." 

You can add "don't be female" to that list.

For women, there are major drawbacks to requesting to work remotely, according to a new study by Christin Munsch, a sociologist at Furman University.

Munsch had 646 people read a transcript of a fake phone conversation between an employee and a human-resources representative. The employees asked to alter their schedules for a period of six months, requesting either to work from home two days per week or to come in early and leave early three days per week. Perhaps unsurprisingly—given what we know about women and likability—this went over better when the worker was a man.

From the study release:

Among those who read the scenario in which a man requested to work from home for childcare related reasons, 69.7 percent said they would be "likely" or "very likely" to approve the request, compared to 56.7 percent of those who read the scenario in which a woman made the request. Almost a quarter—24.3 ...

Gaming and GIS: Working with a Virtual World

By Caitlin Fairchild // August 19, 2014

 A scene from the video game, "Call of Duty: Ghosts." The game is a first-person shooter and features interactive maps.
A scene from the video game, "Call of Duty: Ghosts." The game is a first-person shooter and features interactive maps. // Activision/Infinity Ward/AP

Geographic information systems professionals have been seeing an increase in career opportunities lately -- from working for specifically map-based enterprises such as Esri’s CityEngine and Google Earth to helping the public sector with its geospatial needs. 

But now, a new avenue has opened up in the world of GIS: video games. Many games have begun to feature complex interactive maps, as seen in Grand Theft Auto V, which has blown away gamers with its attention to detail, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, where multiplayer maps play an important role. Other games such as SimCity allow you to build your own world.

"Whether it is introducing an improved user experience for games or creating more dynamic public spaces for our citizens to enjoy, there are so many ways in which GIS data can be leveraged to improve the world,” Stephen McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel University, said in a statement. “3-D environments that simulate the real world help us to understand and plan sustainable environments."

If you're a GIS professional looking for a job, gaming is one route to consider. 

The Joys and Sorrows of Late-Night Email

By Derek Thompson // The Atlantic // August 18, 2014

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At 10:13 PM last night, I sent Atlantic assistant editor Joe Pinsker an email to say I was writing an article about all the after-work time we spend on email.

Before the clock struck 10:14, Joe had replied: "Sounds good."

Without having any idea that I would share his correspondence, Joe anticipated that I needed an anecdotal lede, and he kindly provided it. For a certain class of workers, late evening isn't time off work. It's time on email, time to show your addressees the true meaning of workaholic, and time to return to a job from which you can never truly sign out.

The specter of endless email doesn't haunt all workers equally. The most common jobs in America, like cashiers, retail salespeople, and food and service workers, don't need to be email-intensive. They often work within a stable flow of customers and do routine-heavy work for clients whose needs don't change dramatically from day to day.

But in other white-collar industries—law, consulting, advertising, fashion, media, non-profits, fundraising, politics—individual workers are constantly working with new clients and partners, whose needs require constantcontactingpingingbase-touching, out-reaching, and so on. Email ...

Forget Traditional Hiring. This Startup Allows Tech Workers to Auction Off Themselves

By Diksha Madhok // Quartz // August 8, 2014

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The traditional hiring process puts job seekers at a disadvantage. Rare is the candidate who is able to play one prospective employer against the other in a process that will result in perfect price discovery for her wages. Most job seekers make employment decisions with limited information about which companies are seeking the skill sets she has.

An Indian startup now wants to change that—at least in some sectors. The company’s website allows people to put themselves up for an auction that employers can participate it.

Talent Auction was started by three Indian Institute of Technology-trained engineers in February this year. The team claims that if job seekers use their platform, they can “sit back and relax” and the right job will find them.

“The power basically shifts to high-quality candidates,” says Mayank Jain, a 27-year-old co-founder of Talent Auction. “Instead of she running after employers to seek job interviews, now the companies compete for her.”

Candidates first have to fill their profiles online. Typically 50 of them are shortlisted for the “auctions” that take place every three weeks. During these biddings, companies can view candidates’ profiles and approach the ones they like for an interview. Details such ...

If You Want To Be Rich and Powerful, Majoring in STEM Is a Good Place to Start

By Jonathan Wai // Quartz // July 28, 2014

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The standard narrative today is that science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) education is important because we need more data scientists, engineers, and STEM professionals. But promoting STEM education is critical for another reason: it teaches creative problem solving, which is widely applicable and more necessary than ever today. STEM education is linked to success not only in STEM fields, but in many other disciplines and even among many of the world’s most wealthy and powerful people.

At the heart of mathematics is pattern recognition and the joy of numerical play. What psychologists might call fluid reasoning, or mental power, is what you use when you’re struggling with a problem and don’t know what to do. This includes pattern recognition, abstract reasoning, and problem solving, and can be considered the engine powering numeracy. It is fundamental to so much of human and technological progress, as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee noted in The Second Machine Age. Math education, then, is really about training people to think creatively within a logical space and to solve problems.

And yet, the majority of people, even many who majored in math, do not end up as mathematicians. They do, however, translate ...