Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Oct 27, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

Gender and Political Party

In the United States today, who has it easier: women or men?

As it turns out, your answer might depend at least somewhat on your political party. While 50 percent of Democrats say that women have a tougher time, only 19 percent of Republicans think so. Moreover, while more than two-thirds of Democrats say that we need to do more to promote equal rights for women, only 25 percent of Republicans agree.

While nearly everyone believes that gender equality is important, the country is largely divided about whether or not gender equality has actually been achieved. About half say that we need to do more for women, 40 percent say things are just about right, and 10 percent think women’s rights have gone too far. Political party seems to drive people’s opinions on this as well: while most Democrats say that gender equality improves the lives of both women and men, less than half of Republicans agree.

You may have noticed the #metoo movement that has been sweeping social media in recent weeks. Women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted post #metoo as their status to illustrate how common these harmful behaviors actually are. Yet even people’s willingness to acknowledge discrimination is affected by their political party. Women, Democrats, and college graduates are much more likely to say they have been discriminated against because of their gender than men, Republicans, and those without a college degree. In fact, Republican men are much more likely than Democratic men to say that the opposite is true: that they have been discriminated against because they are men.

What Do You Think? Why do you think people’s opinions about gender discrimination vary so widely? Please remember to be sensitive with your responses.

New Developments in Catalonia

Earlier this month, btw brought you the story of the vote for independence in Catalonia, a region of Spain. Despite major (and sometimes violent) political upheaval, the referendum passed to make Catalonia its own country, led by president Carles Puigdemont. However, since then, many have argued that the vote wasn’t valid. First, only people in Catalonia–not Spain as a whole–were allowed to vote. And second, the Spanish constitution prohibits any separatist movement, meaning that in the eyes of many Spanish citizens and authorities, the vote was meaningless to begin with.

Since then, tensions between the two sides have only deepened. Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, has said that he will remove the leaders of Catalonia and rule over the region directly. Moreover, he also announced plans to take away many of the powers of the Catalonian parliament, and take control of its local police force and broadcasting system.

But Catalonia has its own distinct language, culture, and traditions, and the people who live there might view this takeover as a threat to their whole way of life. The Catalonian police force is refusing to take sides, saying that they are police officers, not politicians. For now, the pro-independence movement is expected to respond with peaceful protests.

What Do You Think? Spanish police have been denounced worldwide for using violence to try and halt the independence vote on October 1. But Alfonso Dastis, the Spanish foreign minister, has called photos of the violence fake news and denied that it ever took place. Use internet resources to locate photos or video of the events of October 1. Do you agree with Minister Dastis? Why or why not?

Reverse Mentorship

Is there an adult in your life who is hopeless at technology? Maybe they sign their name to texts, send long strings of emojis, or spam you if you don’t respond to them quickly enough? CEOs of large corporations are finding that they are running into the same problems: in other words, they need help understanding how to appropriately use technology and social media. Many of them have addressed this issue by establishing “reverse mentorship” programs within their companies.

Here’s how it works: younger millennial workers are paired up with older executives. The millennials are asked to bring their bosses up-to-date, which can mean anything from advising them about social trends to being their glorified tech support. They might help their boss establish a social media presence, develop new projects, spot trends, or understand how to keep younger employees happy.

Inter-generational office relationships can be a great thing, with both older and younger employees learning from one another as well as breaking down age-based stereotypes. It can also be a very lucrative market for millennials: some charge as much as $20,000 per hour to give “generational consulting” advice to executives. However, it also changes the traditional mentorship structure in a way that can potentially be harmful for the younger employees. In the past, young workers would learn from and receive guidance from their superiors, so that they could eventually move up within the company. Now, they are being hired to help older employees, rather than the other way around.

What Do You Think? Think about a time when you helped an adult with something (rather than the other way around). How did you feel? Proud? Inconvenienced? Based on your own experience and from what you’ve read in this article, what are some possible positive and negative outcomes of reverse mentorship programs?

Drilling Versus Dinosaurs

Dinosaur National Monument, a national park located on the Colorado-Utah border, is famous for its spectacular views and, of course, its dinosaur fossils. However, the park may soon be facing big changes because of a decision by the federal government to allow gas and oil drilling on nearby land.

Oil Well Pump at Sunset

Thanks to an announcement made in December by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 94,000 acres of public land near the park will now be available for energy companies to lease. Critics are concerned with this change for a number of reasons. Drilling equipment now will be visible from the visitor center, interrupting the park’s pristine views. Industrial traffic will clog park access roads. Nighttime light pollution, dust, and noise are also issues, as well as possible air and water pollution. Local endangered species could also be threatened.

The plan is supported by the Trump administration and by Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, who is in favor of letting private fossil fuel companies have access to public lands. Herbert has asked that light, noise, and visual disturbances be limited and not affect the experiences of people visiting Dinosaur National Monument. As a result, the BLM has temporarily postponed action on 1,600 acres of land near the park entrance. While this solution has satisfied Governor Herbert, many critics are still concerned about the damage that industrial development near national parks will do to the ecosystem, wildlife habitats, and the preservation of wild places in the United States in the long run.

What Do You Think? Should energy companies be allowed to drill on public lands near national parks? Why or why not?