Candide Modo Fortiter Re

Candide Modo Fortiter Re (Gentle in Manner, Strong in Deed). This is the motto of the Winchester-Thurston School (WT) where I spent many years developing not only intellectually but also interpersonally. Being an all girls’ school, I was sheltered from sexism and sex-discrimination. No one told me I couldn’t or shouldn’t have particular ambitions because of my sex. Although looking back, preconceptions about what women should or should not do did influence some of my career choices.

What WT also sheltered me from is how downright mean men can be in the workplace and because of that, perhaps coupled with my eternal optimism, I never anticipate just how ugly things can get until I am in the middle of them. I get blindsided and ambushed and then behave suboptimally because I was not steeled for a battle I did not foresee. Sometimes I cry. That is not my biology betraying me; it is because I am profoundly disappointed in my fellow humans.

I do not derive any pleasure out of humiliating, intimidating, or harassing other people. I remain incredulous when I am on the receiving end of this kind of behavior from male colleagues. It infuriates me that I have to write about this. I just want to be doing science, not having to bark yet again about sexism in the workplace. I believe the older and more accomplished I get, the worse it has become. Many men simply cannot deal with accomplished women and they have to put them down in order to build themselves up. The very men who should defend us in this situation are bound by some silent bro-code and sit idly back and watch the abuse.

I read all of these “How to deal with sexism in the workplace” articles and many miss the mark. You can’t fix sexism on the job just by having meetings with women and building female coalitions. It helps, and it makes us feel supported, but is just one piece of the solution. We can meet all we want, but we’re still segregated. I recall a revealing story told by a colleague in the UK who was deeply concerned about inequality in the workplace. They organized a monthly meeting called “Women in the Workplace” and invited colleagues of both sexes to attend. No surprise, only women showed up and men presumably used that hour to get more work done. Frustrated, they renamed the meeting, “Sex in the Workplace” and the next month the place was packed with women and men! Then they could make headway.

I firmly believe that displays of egregious behavior at work would decrease if we had more women at the table. Not just one, or two, but an equal number. I have seen this on teleconferences. The more women there are on a call, the more the women speak freely—not just when queried or from pre-scripted presentations, but true creative and scientific discourse.

A close colleague recalled a meeting of muckety-mucks—mostly men. Many of the men knew each other; she did not know most of them. The chair launched straight into the content of meeting. My friend asked whether they could start with introductions, as she did not know everyone in the room. The chair said, “Oh, OK, fine, well then why don’t you start since it’s so important to you.” On how many layers is that demeaning? The bros know each other so let’s dive into it. Overlook the social etiquette of meetings. Demean and trivialize the woman’s request. Send the clear message that “We are going off topic for you.” Are you done now? Anything else the little lady would like before we get down to real business? Nothing worse than a token actually having a voice. Had there been more women in the room, someone could have partnered with her and chimed in saying, “Great idea, it’s important to me too to know who’s at the table, so I’ll start.”

Nick Kristof wrote a good piece in the NYT about old white men not actually realizing when they are being biased. While this might be the case, I think plenty of them are entirely aware and it is a conscious strategy to get to the top. Ninety percent of the people who read this blog will be women. The men who read it will be the ones who already get it. We need to reach the rest of them and hold them accountable for their behavior. If it can’t happen naturally, then it has to be legislated.

I can see how dealing with sexism year after year in academe, the corporate world, or politics can harden women. It would be easier not to care about cooperation, harmony, respect, and humanity. It takes energy to have a conscience.

I fantasize about becoming a battle-axe at times (full ironic use of term intended), but then I see that placard on the wall in WT: Candide Modo Fortiter Re and remember that is not who I want to be. I want to do excellent science, be collegial, and retain my respect for others.

Don’t get me wrong; I am infuriated that I have to spend my time writing this blog. I should be working on a grant right now. Straight old white men don’t have to take time from their work mission to raise awareness and strategize for equality. They line up at the urinals, on the green, or at the bar and make things happen without us there.

How do we get these men to behave better in the workplace? My first thoughts turn to sports. We need more referees like in soccer. We can walk around with yellow and red cards in our purses. If we get manterrupted or mansplained, we hand out a yellow card. If we get manmiliated, we hand out red card and kick them out of the meeting. Men can give us cards too, but for the same offenses, not for requesting introductions. The number of cards you get becomes public record and goes into your job performance and salary considerations.

Although the soccer idea is appealing, real change is necessary. The European Union is taking concrete steps to legislate female presence on corporate boards. According to the NYT, Norway, Spain, France, Iceland, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands all have quotas. Germany has recently passed a law requiring that 30% of seats on corporate boards have to be held my women. The 30% club is pushing the issue globally with branches in 10 countries. As reported in the NYT, legislation has been necessary to address inequality, as greater representation of women, “has not happened organically, or through general pressure.” The same should happen in academe, which in many ways remains the most impenetrable bastion of the old boys’ network.

This PEW Report on Women in Leadership is not a new story but it is a current snapshot. No wonder I do not feel as if my interests are represented by my government, by corporate America, or in my workplace.

We have a problem and it will not change on its own. One very real consequence of speaking out against inequality is being labeled as militant, a malcontent, or another word used to describe women with strong opinions. Labeling is just another strategy for silencing. You can call me anything you want; the numbers speak for themselves.

To help with this, we need more men of conscience to work with us. The bro-code of silence needs to be broken and more men need to request and even demand the presence of women in leadership positions. Gentlemen, it is not emasculating to advocate for equality, in fact, quite the opposite is true.

My motto for the day is, “One is not enough.” Men in leadership positions cannot assuage their conscience by making room for a lone woman at the table. Having us there in numbers will improve your ability to make decisions that represent your stakeholders, make the team smarter and more creative, and keep your behavior in check. Yellow card!

#NIMHchats Follow Up, Prevention, and (of course) Genetics

As promised, I wanted to return to some of the excellent points that were raised in the field yesterday during the #NIMHchats on #BED. Tweets were flying by so fast I just could not catch all of them. The storified chat can be found here, but it does not include all of the tweets from the field. I have pulled out some questions that were representative of a number of great questions and am just expanding on my responses (or nonresponses) a little here. Plus adding in one topic from Twitter earlier in the week, namely prevention.

Out of Control

@dontlivesmall It’s frightening because that feeling of being out of control in BED is maddening

The concept of out of control is challenging. There is no blood test for BED, so we have to rely on people’s self-reports. For some people it is not a big deal to admit that they feel out of control. For others, that is just not a phrase that they would care to use about themselves (at least at first). So it is important to come up with other ways to describe the feeling and the behavior—like not being able to put the brakes on, feeling compelled to eat, continuing to eat even when you are not hungry, mindless eating, intense craving, urge, grazing, addicted to food, compulsive eating…whatever it takes to gain entrée into the conversation. I am not saying that all of these phrases mean the same thing, because they don’t. I am saying that it is important that we find ways to talk about this phenomenon that resonate with people who engage in the behavior. Then once you are in the conversation, gather details to help understand if they are indeed engaging in binge eating.

Talking to Loved Ones

@dailyRx What’s the best/most sensitive way to approach a loved one about their #BED?

@ConsumerMedical What are some of the best ways to support a loved one with an ED or #BED

We have found through our research on couple therapy that partners desperately want to help but have no idea what to do or what to say. Often they become so fearful of saying the wrong thing that eating just becomes a “no go zone” for conversations between them. All too often, the electric topic becomes weight and weight control. We all know that nothing good comes of that. Being armed with information is a good start. Always approaching someone out of care and concern is a critical first step. They might not hear you the first time, but come back at it with tact and timing. We are working toward developing interventions for all eating disorders that include the partner in treatment. It helps provide guidance as to how to support and react, lends support to the individual with BED, and helps with basic relationship functioning. You can read more about UNITE here.

BED and Diversity

@CROWRDREAM How do eating disorders appear in communities of color? #MentalHealthAwareness

@MLReyes_PR and therefore treatment delivery in Latinos should be different

@CROWRDREAM #BED can also be triggered on #LGBTQ youths who are afraid to eat with family members who shame them #GotYourBack

Bingebehavior.com has been collecting information about how #BED lives in diverse communities. You can read more about that here. Dr. Mae Lynn Reyes has been conducting a study at UNC called PAS “Promoviendo una Alimentación Saludable” and has been finding some intriguing differences in the Latino population. The first observation is that the eating disorders she is seeing don’t necessarily fit into a tidy DSM-5 box. There tend to be more variations on the theme, presentations that fluctuate, and many stressors related to immigration and poverty that influence the face of the eating disorders. Because of this, she cautions that we can’t be too fast to just apply standard evidence-based treatments to Latinos with eating disorders. In fact, if you look at the demographics of people who participate in most clinical trials, they are not terribly diverse. Dr. Reyes-Rodríguez is testing out new ways to bring family members into treatment to aid retention and improve outcome—an approach that is congruent with the value of family in Latino culture.

We need more information on mental health in #LGBTQ youths across the board, not just eating disorders! If you feel like your identity is already under scrutiny or disapproval by your family or friends, the family meal or the school cafeteria can be pure torture. #BED is but one potential adverse outcome of situations in which being yourself meets with disapproval, teasing, or bullying from others. Follow @AmyKaufmanBurk

Diagnostic Crossover

@KAKPhD How common is it for patients with ANR to convert to BED? #NIMHchats #BED

During the course of someone’s illness, there is often diagnostic flux in eating disorders symptoms. For example, around half of people with restricting anorexia nervosa may develop bulimia over the course of their lifetime. The transition from bulimia to BED is also common. Anorexia to BED and BED to anorexia is somewhat less common, but it does occur. Something we are seeing more and more of is the emergence of anorexia nervosa post-bariatric surgery. This is highly concerning from a medical perspective and can be very dangerous. We are currently conducting research in Sweden that will give us a better idea of just how frequently all of these transitions occur. Ultimately we’d like to have predictors so that we can pre-empt some of the patterns and perhaps go toward remission rather than crossover!

Physician Bias

@dontlivesmall RT YES YES YES @WeightDebate We need to remind Doctors, therapists,et al to avoid their own prejudices when dealing with #BED

This topic came up quite a bit on the chat. Physician bias is a frightening thing, but doctors are human. If you live in a country where you can choose your primary care doctor, then you might need to shop around a little until you find someone with whom you are comfortable talking freely about your eating disorder. Talk with others in support networks to seek out sympathetic and knowledgeable doctors. If you are basically assigned a provider, then come armed with information and keep your guard up. It’s really hard when you want your physician to be someone you can rely on and open up to, but if it is never going to be that kind of relationship, then just get what you need from him or her and find your support elsewhere! And if the doctor tells you to lose weight, don’t let it get under your skin and cause a binge. Remind yourself that in this case, you know more about the topic than your doctor does and he or she has no right to trigger a binge.

Men

@PeerWorker How can #SocialMedia be used as a tool to combat male-oriented myths about #BED?

Several of you asked for us to be sure that we are talking about men and women when we discuss eating disorders. I think social media has been really helpful in spreading the word about eating disorders in men. But there is still disbelief, and it is still hard to reach guys who may be suffering but aren’t comfortable reaching out. I honestly think having people like @bcuban tweeting about sports, politics, law, and eating disorders is a great example. Some of his followers might be following him for sports, but then they are exposed to a topic that they never would have sought out voluntarily—eating disorders. Even if he only reaches a few guys with that tweet, it has to start somewhere. Advocacy groups that focus on males are also safe havens. We also need to work on understanding how partners (female and male) should talk with their male partners who they suspect have an eating disorder. Much of the work in this area has focused on “how to talk to your wife/girlfriend about an eating disorder.” But we have not developed scripts that work when, for example, you husband has become obsessed with working out and body fat to the point of illness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Night Eating Syndrome

@PeerWorker How does #SeasonalAffectiveDisorder increase #BED factors?

What about night eating syndrome (NES)

There is not a lot of research, but seasonal affective disorder can definitely exacerbate binge eating. Many individuals with SAD report that their eating becomes more out of control during the fall/winter months.

Night eating syndrome also goes hand in hand with BED in many cases. Our work in Sweden revealed a genetic correlation between of 0.66 suggesting considerable genetic overlap.

Recovery

@TeenHealthGov A4: It is possible for individuals w/ #BED to get help & get better

BED is treatable. People do get well. For some people, a round of self-help goes a long way to getting BED under control. Those are the minority. Others find that they need a course of psychotherapy (the duration depends on the individual and the type of therapy). Lots of people on the chat said that they found an array of interventions to be helpful—some traditional (like cognitive-behavioral therapy), some more alternative like yoga or art. Many people talked about the benefits of mindfulness approaches and that is reflected in the literature although more studies are needed.

Sleep

@AscentNH Why does it affect sleep so much? #NIMHchats

BED affects sleep for several reasons. First off, binge eating often occurs in the late afternoon to evening hours. Having that much food in your stomach simply interferes with the ability to sleep. Second, many people with BED also suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which can also affect sleep. Third, especially in larger individuals with BED, sleep apnea can seriously affect sleep quality and efficiency.

Bullying, Teasing, and Trauma

@emotionquotien How does trauma affect #BED in people. #Discrimination #bullying #abuse

There are some excellent data emerging about the role of bullying and teasing in BED—interestingly both having been bullied and having bullied others. So many individuals with BED recount horrible stories from their youth about being teased or bullied about their size or other aspects of who they were. They recall from early on burying their shame and anger in food. Progress is being made, but there is still so much more to do to convince teachers and parents that bullying is not a normal or acceptable feature of childhood.

Words to live by

@MaliykaisHealth And just like any other illness ppl should be helped and not ostracized

Prevention

Earlier in the week, I was asked about my thoughts on prevention. Do we really know enough to roll out eating disorders prevention efforts or should we focus on early detection and intervention. I will preface my statement with an acknowledgement that I am not a prevention researcher and that is by active choice. My passions are figuring out what causes eating disorders and how to treat them. If we can figure out what causes them, then (and only then) am I likely to become a prevention researcher. If, for example, we discover the scores of genes that give rise to anorexia nervosa in or ongoing genetics project ANGI (see below), then, I will engage in work that considers whether that information can be of assistance in preventing genetically high-risk individuals from developing the disease. Now, I don’t feel as if I know enough about causes to design the kid of prevention that I would like to design.

In deference to my prevention research colleagues, everything they are doing is worthwhile. They are giving youth tools to improve their self-esteem, their body esteem, their media literacy, their emotion regulation, or to reduce their thin-ideal internalization. These are all extremely valuable tools and they probably do prevent a certain number of individuals from engaging in behaviors (e.g., extreme diets or obsessional body checking) that could be first steps down the path to an eating disorder. These approaches are less likely to have an effect on that individual who is highly anxious, experiences unplanned negative energy balance, and finds him or herself lured into the anxiolysis of starvation. Nor will they affect that individual who develops a serious illness, loses a lot of weight, and finds that to be an unexpected gateway to anorexia.

As with treatment, with prevention interventions, the first law is to do no harm. My personal quest is to unravel cause better so that we can do a better job of identifying who is at high risk, and of catching these disorders in the earliest stages before they catch hold.

Genetics

Finally, no post from me would be complete without a section on genetics. We are getting there with anorexia nervosa. The Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI) is a four-country initiative striving to collect DNA and clinical information from 13,000 individuals who have had anorexia nervosa at any time in their life by the end of 2016. We need a similar initiative for BED so that we can make the same kinds of discoveries we are making for eating disorders that we are making for other psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, and major depression. Collections such as this are costly and we have had to rely on philanthropy for ANGI. We could do this. We know how to do this now and have the social media networks to reach out to thousands of individuals with BED to participate. Only one thing is lacking. This is an outright plea to anyone who has the energy or means to get this ball rolling. I have to focus on the science right now. But for inspiration, take a look at what Charlotte Bevan and Laura Collins did in the UK in creating Charlotte’s Helix. It would be fantastic to get something similar started for BED that did not have to emerge from tragedy.

The Day I Resigned

I had one of those Wednesdays that was filled with back to back meetings, telecons, and fires to be put out. I had had a grand total of 20 minutes to exercise in the morning (far below my sanity dose), I left work, still on a telecom, had to stop at the grocery store because the refrigerator had gone empty or foul while I was out of town for three days, grabbed a combination of pre-prepared and make it yourself foods, and drove home. As I got out of the car, my lumbar roll fell onto the wet driveway, I dropped a bag because I was trying to carry everything in in one trip (I should know better), and my key ring got stuck on my finger under the grocery bag and it hurt! I fumbled with the key finally making my way in the side door, only to encounter a husband (who has asked to remain unnamed in this blog post) sweating away on his indoor bike robot, watching something mindless on Netflix, and asking, “When’s dinner?”

So, let’s get a little back-story. I had been cooking dinner for our family for 25 years. Back when we were grad and medical students in Berkeley, we went through this “share the cooking” period, but as the kids were born and grew, our gender roles became more stereotyped. But even as the kids left the nest one by one, I was still doing all of the shopping and cooking.

The year before, I had asked said unnamed husband to cook just once a week. Wednesdays were always my busiest day, so I thought, “Surely, he could manage one meal a week.” The first two weeks went well, although his repertoire was limited to garlic pasta and pasta alla puttanesca, at least there was dinner on the table. The third week, I drove up, walked up to the door and didn’t smell anything cooking. I started getting irritated. There he was on the exercise bike. I said, “Honey, it’s Wednesday.” He said, “Crap, I’ll order a pizza.” It was late and I was hungry and didn’t want to wait, so I just made myself a salad. I was not pleasant. I asked how someone who was so successful academically and could herd academic cats better than anyone I knew could not remember to cook one night a week.

After describing his disability to his team at a party one night, they tried to help out by compiling a book of local take out options. But even with that handy guide, he could not manage to remember to feed us on Wednesdays.

So this particular Wednesday, lumbar roll on the wet driveway, keys strangling my fingers, I had had enough. I put the groceries down on the floor next to his bike and resigned. On the spot. Only one child was left at home and she was an omnivore so there were no special diets or preferences that needed to be considered (aside from my dislike of Brussels sprouts and tendency to turn green and vomit when I eat scallops or clams), so surely he could figure out a way to feed us.

He was a little gob smacked, but it must have been clear by my affect that I was not kidding. I was really resigning. Tears were shed and a rant was had. Watching him exercise oblivious to my Wednesday plight pushed me over the edge. After about an hour, I realized what I had done and tried to back paddle. I tried revisiting the Wednesdays only idea, but in a moment of brilliant insight, he realized that he was an all or nothing kind of guy and if he was going to do it, he was going to do it all the way. No half measures. Shopping and cooking was now his domain.

I was petrified. This was the guy who would come home from the grocery store with moldy strawberries, expired milk, and the wrong brand of everything even if meticulously written down. Had I just destined us to perpetual oscillation between garlic pasta and pasta alla puttanesca?

So it was a bit of a rocky start. The turkey nachos didn’t go over too well and the shopping trips lacked a few essential ingredients, and included a few peculiar ones, but once he figured out how to digitize the process, things got smoother. He installed a note-sharing program on all of our devices and building the shopping list became a shared project. I could take pictures of products and say “BUY THIS ONE” and he could compare what he was grabbing to what we needed—no thinking involved. We went on a few field trips to Whole Foods and I demonstrated how to find firm grapes, where to check for strawberry mold, and I introduced him to the vegetable section!

On my end, I promised not to complain and not to make fun of him if he bought rotten fruit. I assured him that I would give honest, non-affectively laden or judgmental feedback. And I promised to clean up after his cooking.

He gradually started getting a little more adventurous with his recipes, found a way to get the recipes to populate his digital shopping list, and it all seemed to be becoming almost fun. He asked for more feedback! We could ask for more vegetables, teach him how not to kill the broccoli, and decide what stayed on the recipe list or got deleted forever. I loved my new role. I could work right up until dinner and do the dishes and clean up afterwards. At first this was quite the project as he had not yet learned how to clean up as he cooked, but gradually he got more organized and my job became more reasonable.

Gradually, some other things started happening. He started getting impatient if we didn’t come down to dinner the minute he called us. I remember that feeling. Then he started talking about the food—nuances of flavor and spices and the techniques that he used to cook things. There was some eye rolling at the table when the kids came home from break as they wondered when their dad had been replaced by the Galloping Gourmet. He started sharing recipes with my mother! He moped if a dish didn’t work out and at one point turned to me and said, “ I can’t believe this, it really hurts my feelings if you guys don’t like something I cook.” One night, he folded my laundry.

My parents couldn’t believe I resigned. My dad said that I would be “out on my butt” if I were his wife. My mom thought it was a bold move, but wondered how it would affect his job! Ahh! What about my job for these past 25 years! No one cared about the impact of all of the time spent shopping and cooking on my job. To that point, my husband thinks that this new responsibility has made him more efficient. I think it has made him more empathic and attentive. It has made me less stressed and irritable and so much more appreciative.

I wouldn’t trade my 25 years of shopping and cooking for the world. I loved finding special foods that made my kids or my husband smile. But, I don’t miss it—at least not yet. I had to go shopping a few weeks ago when he was out of town and I discovered I had lost my shopping radar. They had moved everything around in the store and I no longer had the ability to beeline to precisely what I needed in the shortest amount of time possible. I bought the wrong half and half!

He has become a better cook than I am. Granted, he doesn’t have to wedge cooking in between school and soccer practice or trips to the skating rink and he doesn’t have to deal with all of the kids’ at times incompatible preferences. He can take his time and cook for someone who is overjoyed about being cooked for. I love washing the dishes and making him a cup of herbal tea to drink when he goes back to his computer after dinner.

A new ritual has been born and we have evolved into our new less stereotypical roles. As I write this, he is reading up on modern Swedish cooking and contemplating all of the new dishes he’s going to try while we’re in Sweden.

I am glad I resigned. It has made us both better people.

On Women. It’s 2015. It’s time

A syzygy of experiences and articles has jolted me back into a state of outrage about the status of women in 2015. So I have decided to start a new blog. I promise that all of my posts won’t be this long, but this one has been brewing for a long time.

file0002057392851About a month ago, a female colleague told me a story how she coached her children to compliment their father liberally on those rare occasions that he cooked. Regardless of whether they liked the meal, she encouraged them to thank him for cooking and tell him how great it was. When the kids asked why they needed to do that for Dad, she responded, “Men are like that, they need to be praised.” The next night, Dad donned his man apron and grilled, and the kids slathered him with compliments. He puffed up with pride. This little orchestrated round of applause increased the likelihood that Dad would put meat to grill in the near future and give Mom a break from her daily cooking routine. She ingeniously worked with her kids back-channel to get Dad to cook more often. I imagined the other six nights a week when Mom cooks, kids rushing away from the table, throwing their dishes in the dishwasher, and heading off to do their homework. The take home message is that when moms do what they have to do, they neither need nor expect thanks or praise, but when dads do something ordinary, you better bring out the gold stars.

Soon thereafter, I was awarded a very handsome research grant and an unnamed official announced this achievement in a meeting. Had the awardee been a man, cigars would have been smoked and there would have been back pats and man hugs all around. This person in authority announced the amount of the award and congratulated me, but then erased any semblance of praise by saying, “But it is a 10 year award so if you do the math it comes down to just about $5.99 a month.” Caught off guard, I reflexively laughed along with the gang as the tape delayed ire rose in my cheeks. I would have walked out of the meeting had I not had important business to attend to related to female colleagues.

As I continued to process the meaning of these two encounters, three excellent pieces of writing came to my attention. Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote a revealing piece about why women stay quiet in the workplace. No surprise to many of us who have been there, when women speak up they are likely to get interrupted (by men) or alternatively, male colleagues will jump in and appropriate their ideas. Whereas men get performance kudos for speaking up, women do not; in fact they get judged negatively for speaking up or labeled as too aggressive. This article hit home with me as I tallied the number of times that I have opted not to speak up in meetings but rather strategized to talk with the chair later one-on-one to make my opinion known. I realized that my approach was a learned behavior rather than something characterological. I vividly recall one teleconference when I made a suggestion, which was re-introduced later in the call by a male colleague whom we will call John. At the time I debated whether to say something like, “John, so glad to hear that you liked my idea!” or to take it one step further and say, “Yes, as I suggested earlier, John also thinks that my idea is a good one.” But I opted not to because I didn’t want to sound petty. Then at the end of the call when the idea was adopted and the chair thanked John profusely for his brilliant contribution, I fumed. None of the women on the call said anything, but I got four emails from them within two minutes of hanging up saying that it was appalling that John got credit for my idea. Sometimes it all happens so fast that you don’t have your wits about you to do the right thing. And, we don’t stand up for each other in real time.

The second piece that grabbed me was a Science article and the popular press that ensued revealing that academic fields whose members most valued sheer intellectual brilliance (e.g., philosophy, physics, and math) were the least likely to have high ranking women. I swallowed hard when I read this line, “The disciplines in which the “spark of genius’ was least emphasized such as education, psychology and anthropology had greater numbers of women.” I will add that even though the results about women got all of the press, the data held for African-Americans as well. How many careers has this brilliance bias detoured? On a more general level, if we don’t expect women to be brilliant, are they less likely to explore and express brilliance themselves? This bias starts young. The most enlightened of primary school teachers will heap more praise on boys than on girls for the same level of performance. Is it that men need more praise than women or are they just conditioned to get it from early on and women become complacent with not being recognized? “Dad, the steak was awesome! Thank you so much for cooking.”

The final nugget was a fascinating article reviewing two studies that explored what makes some teams smarter than others. The magic ingredient for smart teams was not IQ, motivation, or extroversion and it wasn’t just having greater diversity. The critical three ingredients were: 1) everyone participated (rather than having one or two people holding court), 2) team members were better at reading other people’s emotions (whether face-to-face or online), and 3) there were more women. The take home lesson wasn’t that you should just make sure you have a woman on the board, but that you should have more women and they should all speak up!

To illustrate how deeply ingrained this tendency to overpraise men and underpraise women is, I saw it in my own behavior. I had just transferred all of our old home movies from my childhood to digital format. It gave me the opportunity to watch my parents parent me from the day I was born until about age 12. I sat down and watched some of the videos together with my parents and found myself going into the living room and giving my dad a hug and telling him what a great dad he was. I kicked myself mentally because it was my mom who was behind the camera taking pictures of him playing with me and there were no videos of all of the things my mom did with me and for me on a daily basis doing when he wasn’t around to take videos! So I made absolutely sure that I gave her a parallel hug and thanked her for having been such a great mom.

Back from college for winter break, I overheard one of my daughters thanking my husband for taking her clothes out of the dryer. It’s not that he folded them and delivered them lovingly to her room; he just took them out of the dryer and tossed them into the basket so he could dry his own gym clothes. Yet this simple action garnered heartfelt thanks. I am not saying that she never thanked me for the twenty odd years that I did her wash (including folding and delivering), but it struck me that he got thanked for something entirely ordinary that I would never have been thanked for. Did I teach her that? Did I model that behavior?

Collectively, these forces create a treacherous vortex for girls and women. Maybe when we’re young we start off speaking up in class, but then we get interrupted or we see boys getting more praise than we do for things that equally or less brilliant. We become quieter in groups. We watch and learn to praise boys and later men. We don’t ask for or expect praise for our efforts. We are workhorses. Dads are less likely to remind their kids to thank Mom for what she does, so all she gets is a carnation on Mother’s day if she’s lucky. Since we are saying less, we are perceived as less brilliant. We are less welcome in the fields with brilliance bias because since we are often quiet, we rarely let our brilliance shine and if we do we might get interrupted or scooped. We suffer from misperceptions about what we are capable of. There are fewer of us on teams because of this learned withdrawal. Teams without us are less smart. The world suffers from our absence.

How do we change this? Clearly, it is not as simple as making sure your board or your team has a woman on it. We have to look at how we compliment, pay attention to, engage, and praise other women. We have to be mindful of our own tendencies to overpraise men and under-acknowledge women. If someone interrupts a woman, we need to stop him or her. If someone scoops a woman’s idea, we need to rightfully re-attribute the idea in real time, not back-channel. We need to start thanking our mom too and telling her that dinner was great—even if she only had time to do mac and cheese from a box because she had to drive us to soccer practice. Dads need to coach their kids to thank Mom, and not just on Mother’s day.

This systemic prejudice needs addressing via multiple channels. We have a responsibility to ourselves, to each other, and to our daughters to work toward change on a micro- and macro-level. We don’t need to become arrogant and demand strokes at every turn, we just need to become accurate in our self- and other- perceptions and expect equal treatment and recognition. We need to encourage each other to use our voices so that we can be that smart team. It’s 2015. It’s time.