Am I… gender-biased?

 

Males and females are weighted differently in society.

Hello, my fellow readers! Today, I want to discuss gender inequality in our daily language. If you haven’t read my previous post on #MeToo movement, check that out.

Few days ago, I had an English class on language and gender. I was too excited for that class that I couldn’t sleep the night before. As an advocate for gender equality, I always had a sense of pride as a female, and didn’t let myself down just because of my gender. But guess what? My English class blew my mind off.

I was gender-biased; but I bet you are too. The everyday language is often gender-biased.

“He” and “she”

“Men” and “women”

“Male” and “female”

“Waiter” and “waitress”

“Actor” and “actress”

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.

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I can probably list them FOREVER. But anyways, do you see how we add “s” to “he” to form “she”? And add “wo” to “men” to form “women? And add “fe” to “male” to form “female”?

 

You get my point. This is gender-biased language.

 

The addition of prefix or suffix to the generic terms (words that refer to an inclusive group) indicates that a word refers to female, while a generic term is used to refer to males. To be more technical, we call them “unmarked” and “marked” terms. The generic term would be the unmarked term, and the addition of suffix or prefix would be the marked term.

Unmarked

  • Generic term
  • Male term

Marked

  • Female term

But doing so makes it seem like the males are the “standard” since we use the generic term to indicate males, while we don’t for females. The usage of unmarked and marked terms portrays the asymmetry between men and women, which exudes a power of male dominance over women. Thus, the unbalanced power that marked and unmarked terms provides portrays that the gender inequality is even embedded in pronouns that we use every single day.

Interestingly, English is not the only language with gender-biased terms. For instance, in Chinese, “” refers to “he”, “她“ refers to “she”, and “们” refers to “they”. (My Mandarin teacher will be so proud of me using Mandarin outside of her class!) As you can see, “him” and “they” use a same character, while “she” uses a different character, portraying the asymmetrical stance of male and female in the Chinese society. The fact that most languages have gender asymmetry reflects the ingrained gender inequality in our current system of languages.

 

Here’s some more: English honorifics portray the gender-biased language. For example, “Mr.” is used to address men, and it is an abbreviation for “master”. But doesn’t “master” sound authoritative and powerful? Usually, people address someone as a master if he is the head of an organization. So calling a man “Mr. X”, immediately lowers their own status, but shows high regards to that man, whether the he is poor, rich, well-educated, or powerless. Thus, the fact that all men are addressed as “Mr.” clearly shows the high stance that men have in society. Don’t you agree?

On the other hand, women are classified into “Miss”,  “Ms.”, and “Mrs.”, which all derive from “mistress”. “Miss” and “Mrs.” reveal the women’s marital status, while “Ms.” reveals the women’s political status. While men only have one honorific, women have two honorifics that indicates their marital status, whether the women belong to any man, under his name. Women’s association with marriage devalues women by classifying them as properties of men. Therefore, the honorifics diminish the value of women, while it augments the value of male, which leads to gender inequality.

 

So why is it important to realize that our language is gender-biased?

 

Before we answer this question, let’s try to answer these questions first.

Why do women and men have a pay gap?

Why do women get more verbally harassed than men?

Why are there more statesmen than stateswomen?

 

Yes, there could be multiple factors that caused our society to be gender-biased and led to these social problems. However, I believe that language is one of the major factors that led to the social problems listed above. According to a psychology professor at Rhode Island School of Design, decades of research have shown that how we speak influences the way we think. Since we use gender-biased language, we also think in a gender-biased way. Our subconscious gender bias that comes from the language have brought many problems that involve gender inequality.

Personally, I have experienced subconscious gender-bias. In Economics class, we peer-reviewed each other’s work. When I received my comment, I was baffled by what my classmate referred me as: “he”. My classmate decided to use “he” to address an anonymous person. Why couldn’t my classmate use neutral pronoun such as person and he or she? How did my classmate come up with a conclusion that the person he/she was grading is a boy?

But I’m certain that my classmate did not intentionally refer me as “he”, but his unintentional usage of non-neutral pronoun proves how people are unconscious of their usage of gender-biased terms. In other words, we all are gender-biased without knowing that we actually are. Gender inequality is prevalent in our society; yet it is so deeply ingrained in our daily lives that we don’t even recognize it.

 

Going back to the question of the importance of the awareness of gender-bias in our language, we need to identify the source of the problem. Being aware of the causation of gender inequality allows our society to know where to begin, and how to tackle the problem of gender inequality and other social problems derive from gender inequality.

Language is a way to communicate and reflects our thoughts and beliefs.If we gradually transform our language with gender-neutral words, wouldn’t the gender inequality alleviate as well as the problems that arise from gender inequality?

 

 

Good night~

This is the last blog post of our engineering unit, and now it is our time to showcase our final product to the world! Throughout the unit, I engineered a robot that can help us improve our sleep. Especially nowadays, noise from the roads and construction field continues till late night. The lights coming from buildings and streets are often too bright. Also, in some parts of the world, the humidity is low, and therefore causes problems like dry skin, asthma, and eye irritation. Specifically for me, the noise and dust coming from the construction site and road disturb my sleep, and that affects my daily performance. Because of lack of quality sleep, I often felt tired even after long hours of sleep. So I was interested in using science to solve these problems. So I came up with an idea to create a robot with a mini water fountain, red light, and Siri. The water fountain will produce a soothing sound of water (A research has shown that sound of water might help us sleep better because water is an extremely familiar sound to humans), and its water particles will circulate around the room and cleanse the air. The red light will help us get away from blue light, and bring us into the mode of sleeping. Siri will recognize your voice and get ready when you’re about to sleep.

This is a final design of SleePal

Through the process of engineering, I learned how our computer screens affect our sleep. Electronics emits blue light, and it has the shortest wavelength in the visible light spectrum. Because it has a short wavelength, it has a higher frequency than the other color of lights in the visible light spectrum. And that high frequency is what it disturbs our sleep. On the other hand, red light has the longest wavelength, has the least frequency. In addition, I learned how humidifiers work. Without the humidifier, it takes longer time for the water molecules to evaporate into the air, and circulating. However, the humidifier is skipping the evaporation process by spraying small water molecules out in the air, and thus humidifying the air. So instead, I speeded up the evaporation process by having a heater under the water fountain. The heat will make the molecules move faster, and build up kinetic energy quicker. Then it’ll change its form into a gas phase quicker, thus moisturizing the air quicker. Since steam has a high temperature, it also has the ability to warm up the room in colder weathers.

Liquid becomes steam when enough heat is applied.

Of course, these projects are not easy and can be done without facing any challenges. My biggest challenge was settling to a specific product that I wanted to make. What I wanted to engineer already existed. So I tried to use renewable energy in order to improve the already-made product. However, that would shift the focus of my research question, “How can I use technology to enhance our sleep?”. Then, I tried to narrow down to one or two factors that could improve our sleep, so I came up with a robot that has a mini water fountain, red light, and a Siri. These could adjust the humidity, provide optimal light, produce a calming sound of water, and be a pal by talking. However, the problem was that not all parts of the world is dry, and especially in Vietnam, people would want to decrease, not increase the humidity. Thus, I had to solve this problem by choosing specific targets for marketing. So I made a recommendation page on my website, so that I could target a specific group of people for the marketing.

For my product, my strength is the style of my final product. I used a website that is able to instantly grab people’s attention, and this was one of my reason to create a website to showcase my product. The program that I used has a lot of cool motion effects, so I’m pretty sure that it is visually appealing. However, my weakness would be the amount of text people have to read. Since it’s a website, I added lots of details that can fully capture what I’ve learned and applied to this project. However, it may be too long and it might, later on, on lose people’s attention.

This is a snapshot of my website

Click HERE to see my product.

Click HERE to see my citation.

SleePal is Coming for You

After the first blog post, I did quite a lot of research, and I found out many different ways to optimize our sleep: installing red light, adjusting the temperature to 60-67 Fahrenheit, playing calm sounds such as white noise, nature sound, and steady wave sounds. Also, I researched different factors that affect our sleep. High-level of stress, anxiety, blue light such as screens and LED light, disturbing noise, and consumption of caffeine are factors that affect our sleep. Also, I researched about the current technology on sleep, and the results were surprising. The list below is the name of the technology, and their functions. 

The moment that hit me, was when I saw DreamLife. I learned that DreamLife is an app that connects to the smart bedroom, which is basically what I wanted to engineer. So I decided to slightly change smart bedroom by powering with renewable energy. So I was coming up with innovative ways to create better lighting using renewable energy, ways to create energy during our sleep, ways to close and open the curtain with the least amount of energy, etc. However, I felt like my product wasn’t going anywhere. There were so many things that I was focusing on, that everything seemed so shallow. So I asked my neighbors for help, and they suggested to cut down some of the things that I’ve been working on. But, I felt like that would still not solve the problem, so I asked my teachers for help. They suggested me to focus only on one aspect of improving sleep such as blocking out the noise. Especially in Vietnam, there’s cars and motorbikes that run during the night, and the construction field never knows when to stop their work. Yes, I liked the idea, but that meant that I had to abandon my previous research, and my great, innovative ideas. So I decided to use my previous idea, which was to create a mini water fountain that produces soothing sound, and hydrating the room. And I thought I could improve on this, and create a multi-effective robot.

So this is my plan: SleePal (name for my robot) is a mini water fountain that produces a calming sound of the water, and when the essential oil is added, it spreads the soothing aroma. In addition, the water hydrates the room, so the humidifier is not needed. Another unique point of SleePal is that it is portable, so wherever you go, you’ll be able to bring your SleePal, and continue your high-quality sleep.

So far, I have been keeping up with my timeline. As you can see on the image below, my work is completed on time. I decided to create a website for my final presentation, and I did lots of research on the factors that affect our sleep, and current technology on sleep. Based on those research, I came up with various ideas to improve on current technology on sleep. I also know what physics units to incorporate into my final product.

Now, this is my other half of the timeline that I need to follow. I slightly changed the dates and added some comments from my previous blog post to match my current standing. 

 

 

Do you feel tired even after you sleep?

In physics class, we covered various topics such as light, electricity, and mechanics. For our final unit, we are covering engineering, and our project is to answer our essential question, “How can we use science and engineering to enact change in the world?”, based on our learnings from this year.

Image result for sleep

My project is about good quality sleep

We first brainstormed our interests, and out of all of the things that I listed, I decided to base my project on sleep. These days, many people, including students and workers are sleep deprived or have a low quality of sleep. First of all, this is caused not only because people are sleeping fewer hours, but also because their sleeping environment interferes their sleep. During the night, we have cars honking, construction site hammering, music coming from the bars, light coming from shops and restaurants, and etc. There are so many factors that interfere our sleep. That means, our body won’t be able to fully recover and prepare for the next day. Having a low quality of sleep can make people grumpier, and unfocused during the day. Because I also have the light and noise coming from the construction site right beside our apartment, I often get low quality of sleep, which affects my daily performance. So I’m planning to design a robot or a system that adjusts the sleeping environment to provide the best quality of sleep for people. The creation of sleep-robot could tackle the problem of sleep deprivation, and allow people to be ready for their next day. To fully explore this, I came up with a research question: “How can a sleep-robot improve our quality of sleep?”

Image result for busy street in night

Light and noise coming from LED display panels and transportations.

In order to effectively promote and sell my product, I’m thinking of either creating a website, or an infographic. A website has a lot of additional features that I can add to make my product really shine. It can fully capture my purpose of the product and my final product. However, it can be very time consuming, and I’m not into designing. Infographic is very visually appealing, and simple because everything can be seen at one glance. Because infographic has limited space to write, my writing has to be very concise, which can be a bit challenging. Since these two media are eye-catching, I think they are good candidates for promoting and selling my product.

This is my timeline to keep myself busy with the project, so that I won’t have to procrastinate at the last minute. Based on the deadlines, I set my timeline so that it’s spread out over the course of 2-3weeks. On this timeline, I listed specific things that I need to work on. For example, I listed things that I need to research on, and additional thoughts on what I could include in my final product.

I hope you enjoyed! 🙂

A Full Documentary of Future Career Prospect

Unfortunately, this is my last blog post on my project about how renewable energy affects our future careers. This topic is really important to me as well as other people, because our generations will experience 180 degrees different lifestyle from our parent’s generations because of rapidly changing world. Thus, I was really curious of what might happen in the future, and I specified the topic with “renewable energy”, because when I was in GIN club, I was very shocked by how much energy we use, and how harmful they are to our environment. So by making a documentary, I thought I could share my thoughts to the world so that everyone can contribute to protecting our future environment, because this is OUR Earth. Throughout process of making a full documentary about this topic, I have learned so many things.

Vertical Farms:
First, I learned how vertical farms are going to be so useful in our future. Because vertical farms are built in urban areas, the vegetables that people in the cities will have fresh vegetables for their meals! Not only that, but vertical farms use renewable energy, such as solar energy and wind energy to produce light to the plants. Another benefit is that agricultural water consumption will be greatly decreased, because the system in the vertical farm will automatically set ideal amount of water. That way, the least amount of water will be wasted. One last benefit for us is that we will be able to consume vegetables all year long, because it will never to affected by the weather or climate! Whenever there’s rain, typhoon and drought, people will still able to consume fresh vegetables.

This is a 3D design of a vertical farm

Fossil Fuel Power Plant workers losing job:
I always had the negative thought that people losing job is always a bad thing. However, if we think of it this way, it’s not always a bad thing. In the future, fossil fuel power plant might close down because of the advancement of the renewable energy, and the preference of people’s choices. When that happens, fossil fuel power plant will won’t be able to survive the competition against the renewable energy companies. Then, all the workers in the fossil fuel power plant will lose jobs. Yes, this is a bad thing. However, by them not producing fossil fuel, they are helping the environment! Another great thing is that if they work for renewable energy companies, then they are giving double the positive impact towards our environment, thus, ensuring that our future generations have a sustainable place to live.

Everyone is affected:
I realized that no matter what job you have, you will be affected by the renewable energy in the future. Just like how our jobs have been changing throughout our history, everyone’s jobs and lives will be affected to certain degree. Let’s say that you are currently a teacher, teaching English. In the future, when renewable energy becomes more prominent, you could ask your students to write a poem about renewable energy and bring awareness to students.

While making this documentary, I had so many challenges, but I overcame them. First, my script was only addressing the answer to “To what extent will renewable energy affect our future generation’s career prospect?”, but I realized that I was missing a big connection. “So what?” “What can we do about the changing world?” “How can we ensure that we protect our environment before it’s too late?” So I read through my script and found places where I could connect to these questions, and made sure that each of my arguments and evidences tied back to the question, “How can we ensure that our future generations have a sustainable place to live?”

When I was working on this project, I was thinking of making a video on Powtoons, but I realized that I had to pay for some of the features, so I decided to use an imovie and make it like Powtoons. However, iMovies did not have features that were interesting as Powtoons, so I watched tutorials of iMovie to check out any additional features that I did not know, and I figured out that I could features on Keynotes and upload it onto iMovie, so I for some parts of my documentary, I used Keynotes to make my video more interesting and comprehensible.

I think my strength is finding suitable pictures for the narration on my documentary. I spent most of my time finding for images and video clips to incorporate into my video. Even though it took me the most time I feel like they clearly represent my narration and boost the quality of the video. However, I could’ve done better on narration, because sometimes, I stuttered and made mistakes. First, I tried to record all of my script at one go, but it was very hard to not make mistakes for the entire 7 minutes. So I cut down into 4 sections, and it was much better than before. However, I still had some stuttering and slight mistakes. So next time, I could try many rehearsals before recording.

Finally, here is my final product of this project of sustainability.
I hope you enjoy it!
LINK

 

This is my timetable, and I mostly followed it, and I am finally done with it! 🙂

 

 

Will all careers be affected by the renewable energy?

This is a second blog post for the topic that I posted about “How can we ensure future generations have a sustainable place to live?” My goal was to finish researching until December 5th to get started on my video, and I am mostly done with the overall research. However, because I had some questions while doing the research, I am planning to do some extra research to answer them by today. On Friday, I’m going to learn how to use Powtoons, and finish writing up the script. During the weekends, I’m going to finish creating a Powtoon video for my final product. 🙂

Timeline

First, I approached my research by starting on learning about some jobs that are going to be disappeared and going to be popular within decades: Taxi drivers, fast food cooks, waiter/waitress, delivery man and broadcaster are jobs that are likely to disappear within decades. App developers, health service managers, electricians and lawyers are some popular jobs in the future. From these, I then focused on careers that are related to renewable energy, to answer my research question, “To what extent will renewable energy affect my generation’s future career prospects?”

While doing this, I faced a problem, because I felt like renewable energy will only affect jobs that are related to jobs that involve energy generating. My overall goal of this project was to learn how jobs that are indirectly related to renewable energy will be affected. However, this conflict was giving me a headache. So I then asked few people, including my friends and teachers, and I finally figure out that not only people who work in electricity-field are affected by the renewable energy, but most careers are affected, in some kind of indirect way. Therefore, I figured out my overarching theme: “Everyone should be aware of the future careers, because they are going to be affected by the renewable energy.”

One interesting that I am planning to put in my video is the history of the careers. I want to show the audience how the jobs have been changing throughout our history, and how it will change in the future as well.

It seems like the rocket engineers are distanced from renewable energy, but are actually closely related. In the future, the rocket engineers would figure out a way to use renewable energy in order to maintain a healthy planet. 

How can we ensure future generations have a sustainable place to live?

To what extent will renewable energy affect my generation’s future career prospects?

In my physics class, we are doing an individual project to answer “How can we ensure future generations have a sustainable place to live?”. We are creating a product that speaks for itself, so that we can share with peers, families, and even with the world. So I came up with my specific question, “To what extent will renewable energy affect my generation’s future career prospects?”. I want to answer this question because future jobs has spurred me to actually look through internet and learn what are some jobs that will be created, and what are some jobs that might be disappeared within few decades. Because I will have to live in a world that is rapidly changing, I wanted to be aware of the new field of jobs so that I can prepare for my future.

For this project, I am planning to create a storytelling-video. I want to tell a story of how jobs have changed over time (Past-Present-Future). Then, tell how renewable energy has affected, is affecting, and how it will affect in the future. Or, I could create a prezi that has cool effects of zooming in and out, and add a voice recording onto it and produce a video.

In order to complete my project on time, I would have to schedule out so that I would not have to cram everything on the last minute. I am hoping to use my given class time wisely so that I would not have to do so much work at home. So I’m planning to finish my research until December 5th so that I can work on my digital work afterwards. Because I am not good with handling programing and making videos, I want to make sure that I take some time to create a high quality video.