October 20, 2014

He Cooks, She Cooks

I didn't realize how long it had been since a He Cooks, She Cooks until I started flipping back through pictures...but holy cow! Lots to share today. Since we've been trying to eat a little cleaner recently, you'll see lots of whole-foods dinners below. We just got back from a mountain trip with Steve's parents and we maybeee fell off the wagon a little but...oh well. That's what new weeks are for, right? :)

She Cooks: Spaghetti Squash with peppers, onions, & Italian sausage (recipe).

Let me be honest here - Steve was verrrry skeptical when I brought home a spaghetti squash. We had italian sausage leftover from making a pizza (below!), and I thought it might 'man it up' a little bit. He still won't say that he likes spaghetti squash...but he did eat all of it ;)

He cooks: Pork chops with mashed potatoes & green beans.

Pork chops are one of my favorite things that Steve cooks! They've been on our rotation for a long time. Yum yum.

She cooks: Baked chicken with smashed sweet potatoes & green beans.

This was a lazy dinner night :) Some weeks I'll bake a ton of chicken on Sunday night for us to eat throughout the week, so on this night all we had to do was cook up some green beans and bake two sweet potatoes. I took the skin off my potato and smashed it up with a little bit of salt and cinnamon - a surprisingly good combo!

He Cooks: Hawaiian pizza with sausage, pineapple, peppers, onions, and mozzerella, on a homemade crust.

We bought the sausage, peppers, and red onion at Trader Joes, and when we told the cashier we were making pizza suggested to add in some pineapple with it. Best idea ever!! We had some homemade ranch leftover from having wings the night before, and this pizza dipped in ranch was a major win.

She Cooks: Turkey Chili (recipe).

So it's not the most gorgeous picture, but this has been a favorite for me recently so I had to include it - in fact, I've made this chili twice! I used ground turkey, left out the beans (and added extra veggies) for the first batch, and used the beans in the second batch. It's good both ways!

He Cooks: Potato Hashbrowns with a fried egg + Strawberries (Saturday morning for the win!).

For Saturday mornings at home, it never feels right to just eat our normal smoothie or eggs - after sleeping in some, Steve will get some coffee brewing and then one (or both!) of us will start whipping something up. It was french toast a few weeks ago, but for this particular Saturday we went for a more savory breakfast. Yum.

Coming up next in our kitchen?

These buffalo chicken stuffed peppers, because my friend Laura says they're amazing.
This apple crisp, because woah we have a ton of apples to use up right now.
And these zucchini fries, but I have a feeling that I'll be the only one eating them ;)

What's on your cooking list this week?


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October 17, 2014

From A Woman In The Tech World

Today might be a little all over the map. I just have some thoughts, and I need to get them out.

My degree is in mechanical engineering. Have I told you this? If it's news to you, this is normally the part where you say something like "Oh, there aren't many girls in that, are there?" or, "Oh, is that hard?"

No, not at all. And yes, yes it is.

I started college in 2008, and loved my university. One of the big reasons I chose my school was because of the way they encouraged women in science and math fields - there were floors of dorms reserved just for women in the sciences, and you could join a number of clubs for support. I even had a female advisor, even though my degree had a ratio of 90/10!

Despite this, once I was in class - classes like physics, thermodynamics, calculus, or fluid mechanics - being in the minority gave me insecurities, and I rarely felt good enough. I felt like I wasn't taken seriously because I was a woman, and I felt like I couldn't be girly or feminine at all or else I really wouldn't be taken seriously.  I wanted the 90% of my classroom that was made up of men to respect me; to think that I was smart and hardworking, and to know that I was just as capable of being in that class as they were. I put on a tough face and worked really hard, but through all four years of college, my biggest fear was consistently that the guys would brush me off and think I was 'just a girl.'

Despite the insecurity and a few occasional comments, I graduated with my mechanical engineering degree in 2012, with the words "BOOM DONE!" painted on my graduation cap. I worked in product development for a little while straight out of college, and now I'm a Project Manager for a start-up tech company.  And through all of it?  I've kind of loved being the minority in the tech world. It also makes me feel all, "you go girl!" towards myself, and I've had some great opportunities so far. I would tell any girl out there who's thinking about it to go into math & science, without a doubt.

At the same time, though,  I just have to say it -  it's surprised me how often I've still seen gender discrimination creep into life. It's not obvious and I know we've come a long way, but it still sneaks up in tiny, subtle ways. I've gotten so many little comments over the last six years  - like the professor who  said during class that there was no point in the women being there,  or the time a friend casually told me that he 'wouldn't want to date an engineer' (the 'no offense, Haley' didn't help). Even recently, more than six years after I started college? An older man approached our company table at a career fair last month, looked me straight in the eye and said "Let me guess - he's the developer (motioning towards my partner), and you're the recruiter."

So yes. Sometimes, it's complicated to be a woman in the tech world. I have had awkward conversations, occasional hurt feelings, and mixed emotions about things.

A former coworker asked me to come to lunch with him and a female buyer once, telling me that  he makes it a policy to not spend time one-on-one with women who aren't his wife. This has come back across my mind recently because I've seen a blog with similar advice pop up in the last few days, and I hate to say it...but it's made me cringe. And maybe even feel frustrated? Let me clarify - I do think it's important to protect your marriage, and Steve and I work hard at that. But the thing is, if you're a man in the tech world, it's no big deal to have that kind of policy. If you're a woman in education? Or in marketing, even? Also no big deal. If you're a woman in a male-dominated field, though, it's all but impossible. At my last job, there was only one woman in R&D who was higher up than I was - and trust me, I was at the bottom of the food chain - so for me to learn anything about  career growth in engineering, product development, or project management, I needed to have some kind of working relationship with men. For me to have a boundaries policy like that of my coworker's would mean cutting myself out of networking, mentorship, or professional learning relationships with about 90% of my department.

Thirty years ago, being a woman in the tech world was incredibly difficult. And now? It's absolutely possible, and hugely encouraged - but that doesn't keep it from feeling complicated. It's like there's a pendulum swinging back and forth, back and forth, telling you different things and pushing you towards different extremes. Do you see it? It starts on one side, with, "Be strong! Be a woman! Break the mold!"

And there it goes, back the other way: "Just...be careful when you're around other men." (which, in the tech or engineering world, is all the time.)

Another one has hit the news this week, and made me really think - Apple and Facebook both introduced benefits policies that help cover costs for women who want to freeze their eggs, in order to  let them "carve out the lives they want," or, in the exact words of the article, "be more productive human beings."

Do you see it again? The pendulum swings to one side: "Oh, you're a woman? Surely you're the recruiter."

And it swings to the other: "QUICK! Freeze your eggs and chase your career. A family can wait! The men are climbing that ladder quickly; you better catch up."

As a woman in the male-dominated tech world, I am all for gender equality. I have felt overlooked and disrespected before, and I have worked really hard to begin a career that I'm proud of.  I want every chance to chase my dreams, and later down the road I want my daughter to grow up and know that she can be whatever she wants to be.

The thing, though, is that I'm tired of the pendulum. I'm getting whiplash from the back and forth that the world is telling me, and I'm having a hard time keeping up with what I'm 'supposed' to be doing.

I think women should chase their adventures - but we should be able to chase any adventure. It doesn't make me less of a woman to have a career in the tech world, but it won't make me less of a person if I decide to stay at home with kids one day.

Women belong in the tech world. 

But they also belong in the classroom.

And in hospitals, and in government, and design, and business, and photography, and in the home.

Whether you are working forty hours on a construction site, sixty hours in an office or one-hundred-and-sixty-eight hours chasing kiddos - you are absolutely capable of being there, and you are absolutely a productive human being I fully believe this, friend - no matter where you are or whether or not it's where you want to be, you have gifts that can and should be used in that place, right now.

So, girlfriends? Keep working hard and chasing those dreams - whatever they are. Don't let anyone make you doubt your gifts.

I'll try and do the same.


p.s. If there's one company that's starting to make a difference for women in science and engineering, it's Goldieblox. They're working hard to help get girls hooked on innovation at a younger age, and that's HUGE! If you haven't checked them out, you should do so here
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