As a senior executive with Google, Marissa Mayer may be one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley, influencing how hundreds of millions of people access information on the Web every day. But as a former ballet dancer with a penchant for cupcakes and the fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, she's no ordinary geek.
A Stanford grad who never even owned a computer until college, Mayer only became a techie by accident, having reportedly swapped majors because of Stanford's "exorbitant tuition fees".
Despite her unchartered success, Mayer is concerned that just 15 to 17 percent of all Silicon Valley engineers are women -- that's less than 20 percent of all engineering and computer science majors in the U.S.
It's a dearth Mayer blames on tech’s "image problem". While for many of us growing up, computer jockeys were stereotyped as bespectacled loners who spent hours typing away at a screen, it's a different picture today.
According to Mayer, “The number one most important thing we can do to increase the number of women in tech is to show a multiplicity of different role models. The stereotype... really hurts people's understanding and ability to identify with the role and say, ‘Yes, this is something I can be in and want to be in.’”
However, Mayer is confident that sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as smart phones and apps, will be a catalyst for changing the ratio in technical fields of computer science.
Mayer predicts that as women become more familiar and curious about tech, more and more of them will want to work in computer science and engineering fields. “...girls are experiencing a lot of computer science and a lot of technology on an everyday basis,” said Mayer. “I think it will create a curiosity and spur a lot more women into computer science and the technical fields.”
How would you feel about your daughter becoming a techie? Would you be proud of her ability to break into a male-dominated market, or rather she went into a more traditional, less "geeky" field?
Image Credit: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"
A provocative discussion in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that parents of extremely obese children should lose custody for not managing their kids' weight. Experts suggest in serious cases, the government should step in and put children temporarily in foster care.
It begs the question, if a child is obese, does that necessarily follow that the parent is abusive? Obesity specialist at Harvard-affiliated Children's Hospital Boston, Dr. David Ludwig thinks so. He believes the state must act "in children's best interest", even if that means removing them from their families.
While there is no doubt that parents of obese children need educating when it comes to food choices, isn't state intervention a little over the top? After all, aren't parents only one piece of the complex obesity puzzle?
"Obese children are victims of advertising, marketing, peer pressure and bullying — things a parent can't control," claims University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan.
Approximately 2 million U.S. children are deemed extremely obese, some of whom have conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties and liver problems that, according to Ludwig, "could kill them by age 30". These are the kids said to benefit from temporary protective custody.
Ludwig investigated the issue after treating a 90-pound 3-year-old girl several years ago. Her parents were disabled and poor. At age 12, she weighed 400 pounds and had developed diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
"Out of medical concern, the state placed this girl in foster care, where she simply received three balanced meals a day and a snack or two and moderate physical activity," said Ludwig.
A year later she lost 130 pounds, her diabetes and apnea disappeared, and she remains in foster care.
No one likes to be controlled by Big Brother, but in light of the crisis sweeping across North America and Britain, is state intervention the wake-up call parents of obese kids deserve?
Though it may strike you as something of a no-brainer, new public health warnings have cemented the link between smoking during pregnancy and birth defects.
From missing or deformed limbs, facial defects and gastrointestinal problems, to miscarriage and premature birth, the possible risks of smoking while pregnant would seem deterrent enough to kick the nicotine habit.
Yet it's estimated that 10.5 per cent of Canadian women and 17 per cent of British women carried on smoking throughout their pregnancies.
In the journal, Human Reproduction Update, British researchers examined 172 research papers on birth defects associated with smoking. Risks identified included having a baby with missing or deformed limbs, club foot, gastrointestinal defects, skull defects, eye defects, and cleft lip or cleft palate.
According to the researchers at University College London Cancer Institute, not enough is being done to educate women of the potential birth defects of smoking while pregnant.
"These specific defects should be included in public health educational information to encourage more women to quit smoking before or early on in pregnancy, and to particularly target younger women and those from lower socioeconomic groups, in which smoking prevalence is greatest."
Do you think adding birth defects to the already long list of health hazards would persuade pregnant women to give up cigarettes? Or are risks a moot point in the face of an addiction like smoking?