- International Women's Day was this past Wednesday, and this report that shows how the number of women in design declines as the career arc continues: from 67% female at the Junior Designer level, dropping to 39% at the Leadership level. This echoes what is seen in certain STEM professions as well- it's often not a pipeline problem as much as it is a retention/promotion problem. Willoughby, the design firm that put together the presentation based on AIGA design survey stats has their own commentary on why the wage and seniority gap exists, but we don't think extrapolating from their internal anecdotes is wise. There's a lot of work to be done inside and out of the design industry when it comes to equality, representation and ethical practices.
- Stories of microdosing various illicit drugs to boost focus or creativity have been coming out of Silicon Valley for awhile. What is new and warrants some exploration is how workplaces should deal with microdosing of now (in some places) legal marijuana. While there might be a knee-jerk response to say that obviously such substances should be banned in the workplace, the arguments against are not so clear cut. Generally offices tolerate or even encourage caffeine to boost productivity. U.S. workers and students consume a huge amount of Adderall (a prescription amphetamine) every year, and anti-anxiety drugs help many to meet the work day with reduced stress and higher productivity. Substances and labor have intersected (legally, illegally, formally and informally) and where problems arise, there tends to be an underlying workplace or management environment that is unhealthy: abusively overloaded workers can turn to stimulants to keep up with an inhuman pace, beers-after-work can transform quieter, chronic harassment into something louder and more acute. In other words personal and organizational responsibility both figure into whether chemistry in the workplace helps or harms.
- Architects attempt to build workplaces that improve employee health by design.
- Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times says that our communication increasingly hinges on the visual and that Snap Inc. is the company placing the biggest bets on this trend continuing. Snap has been well-attuned to how cultural and technological trends collide and collude; understanding earlier than most that the cell phone as connected camera meant photography turned into as much a means of communication as it as a means of capturing and archiving.
Solutions from the Down the Supply Chain:
- There's a new podcast called Containers about the global supply chain, logistics, shipping technology and how that all intersects with society. There are two episodes out so far and they do a great job of telling the complicated story of trade from a very human perspective.
- Sending goods across the sea by ship is highly fuel efficient but there are some incredibly dirty legacy ships still cutting across the ocean. This article from the Economist states that 15 of the largest ships emit more oxides of nitrogen and sulphur than all of the cars in the world. Upgrading these systems to something clean(er) is expensive, and so-called green lending arrangements are necessary to make it all happen. Addressing climate change often feels like an insurmountable task - but stats like these reveal how strategically targeting the right things at the right time can mitigate immense harm.
Our Weird Future:
- Hooking humans up for an EEG and sensing brain responses can be used to 'train' robots. Basically, watch a robot do a task the wrong way and your brain will throw a certain signal, which can be read and translated into revising actions on the robot side. According to the article it's still an imperfect process, but it is a fascinating experiment that hints at how brain-machine interfaces may function in the future.