TIME health

Why The Toxic Treatment of Doctors Needs to Change

The harsh culture of medical training is taking a toll on young physicians

A co-author of this piece, Dr. Ralph Greco, from Stanford School of Medicine, was interviewed in our story about the mental health of American physicians, published in the Sept 7, 2015, issue of TIME magazine. His co-author, Rhoda Feldman, is the mother of the late Dr. Greg Feldman, one of Dr. Greco’s former residents.

Every year we lose as many as 400 promising, talented doctors, whose lives our society can ill afford to lose, to suicide. Almost five years ago, Greg Feldman was one of these physicians. He was 33 years old, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School and had completed a 5-year residency in general surgery at Stanford. Then, four and a half months after beginning advanced training in vascular surgery in Chicago, he died by suicide. We lost him needlessly, and for that matter, so did all the patients he could have saved and all the young surgeons he could have trained.

MORE: Doctors On Life Support

What makes a man full of talent, full of empathy and full of love, a man with no history of depression or substance abuse, end his life? Is the culture of training programs to blame?

It is long overdue that the medical profession take a cold hard look in the mirror and acknowledge the brutal and often thankless road of medical training. It should surprise no one that a hierarchical program, where obedience and respect for those senior was mandatory, would breed abusive behavior. Stress and burnout are now deeply embedded in the medical profession.

In 2009, the American College of Surgeons surveyed its 20,000 plus members about this, and received almost 10,000 responses. Surgeons reported stress and burnout, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as suicidal ideation far higher than the general population. Moreover, a third of respondents said they would not recommend a career in medicine to their children. All of this should have been a wake up call for those of us in the profession, but again was mostly ignored.

Just as it has taken more than a decade to acknowledge that working more than 100 hours a week has deleterious consequences, it will take time and hard work to change the culture that drives young residents and those in fellowships to despair. The suicides of two more residents in major New York teaching hospitals must create a groundswell of support for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to require that every training program establish a curriculum to bring the lives of its residents and fellows into balance and to enforce zero tolerance for abuse, humiliation or ridicule of trainees.

The medical profession can be extremely proud of a stellar record of teaching residents how to take care of patients. Now it is time to teach them how to take care of themselves. The repercussions of yet another young life snuffed out, while doctors stood idly by, would be disastrous.

Rhoda Feldman is the mother of the late Greg Feldman and a retired educational consultant. Ralph S. Greco, MD, is Johnson and Johnson Distinguished Professor of Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.

TIME Opinion

Not Without My Smartphone: The Case for Somewhat Distracted Parenting

Mother holding telephone and hugging daughter (12-13)
Getty Images

Here's why being on your phone doesn't make you a bad parent

Somebody once told me I treated my smart phone like Wilson, the volleyball Tom Hanks turns into a friend when he’s stranded on a desert island in that movie “Castaway.” It’s an apt comparison: parenting a toddler occasionally feels like being marooned and your phone is your only connection to the rest of the world. Thanks to the Internet, moms like me can now get Amy Schumer videos and Instagram to help us survive the monotony.

But fellow parents, there is trouble on the horizon. A growing army of journalists and experts are calling for an end to using phones in front of our kids. They say it makes kids feel less loved, and teaches the wrong lessons about how to use devices.

To quote my three year old: “No. Noooooo. Noooooooooooooooo.”

That phone in my hand keeps me sane, not to mention employed. If anything, I’m writing a new movie for Lifetime called Not Without My Smartphone. Here are all the reasons I’m rejecting this latest round of parent shaming, and why I’m going to keep on cherishing my screen time, yes, in front of my kid:

Parenting can be boring. Brutally, mind numbingly boring. In a dispatch from her fainting couch, Jane Brody of the New York Times writes, “I often see youngsters in strollers or on foot with a parent or caretaker who is chatting or texting on a cellphone instead of conversing with the children in their charge.” Just asking: When was the last time Brody spent an entire morning pushing a stroller around town? It is like watching paint dry. Hell yes I’m going to be on my phone.

I’m not raising a self-centered brat. My daughter’s name is Estee, not Lady Mary, and I am not her valet, at her beck and call. Study after study has shown that making your child the center of her and everyone else’s world will destroy her competence, autonomy and resilience. That blog post I’m reading while my kid gives the State of the Union to her bath toys? It benefits her as much as me. Let her understand that I am not her raison d’etre (and vice versa), and that the world does not revolve around her. Let her have a moment to herself, to come up with a new song or bathtub game without my lavish praise of her every move – research shows that doesn’t help her, either.

My kid could use some space. Catherine Steiner-Adair, a psychologist with a new bestselling book on parenting and social media, attributes a 20% increase in pediatric ER admissions to a spike in screen-distracted parents. But wait: what about all those books telling me to let my kid fail, scrape her knee, and develop independence?

Okay, now I get it: I’m supposed to nag my kid to get down from that ledge and stop trying to catch a bee for the fiftieth time. Why should my daughter learn anything the hard way if I can protect her from ever having to figure out not to touch bees on her own.

There’s no way to win as parents right now. If I hover, I turn her into an incompetent basket case. If I let go and check my gmail, I send her to the ER.

I give up.

I have a job. Steiner-Adair told Brody that “parents should think twice before using a mobile device when with their children.” All this parent-shaming is distracting us from the fact that, like the dishwashers of the 1950s, smart phones are labor saving devices. In 2015, with the Feminine Mystique in our rearview mirrors and nearly 70% percent of moms working, my phone lets me work remotely.

These experts seem to be implying that I’m spending all my time with The Fat Jewish on Instagram (and, okay, I’m spending some of my time with him, and loving every minute of it). But I can be with my kid because I can pretend to be at work, using that smart phone to respond to emails and calls.

Experts like Steiner-Adair rightly point out the times to put away your phone, like school pickup and dropoff, and meals (and obviously, while driving). And I’m sure there are parents that need to hear this. But I am growing weary of the parent police. All this finger wagging, well intentioned as it is, implies that parents – code moms – are merely vessels for their children, and should attend to their every last need and feeling at the expense of all else.

If smart phones had been around for women in the 1950s, The Feminine Mystique might never have been written. The depression and ennui of housewives would have been blunted by Pinterest and Facebook. But this is 2015. Devices aren’t going away, for us or our kids. When parents pretend they don’t exist, kids don’t learn how to use them, either. Instead of telling me everything I’m doing wrong as a mom, it’d be nice if someone cut me a break and told me what I’m doing right. It’s enough to make you want to find a volleyball for company.

Rachel Simmons is co-founder of Girls Leadership Institute and the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. She develops leadership programs for the Wurtele Center for Work and Life at Smith College. Follow her @racheljsimmons.

 

 

 

TIME Religion

5 Lessons America Can Learn From Black Churches

Obama's eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney offered an illuminating glimpse into African American religious life

When President Obama sang the first few notes of “Amazing Grace” on Friday at the memorial service for Rev. Clementa Pinckney and the other 8 victims of the Charleston massacre, the mourners inside the church weren’t the only ones who rose to their feet and joined him. In that moment, much of America stood to her feet as well, supported by the smooth notes of the organ; united, comforted and hopeful.

It’s safe to say that for that brief moment, America went to black church.

And it isn’t the first time. Every so often – when tragedy strikes or when politicians perform – the nation gets a peek into the pews of a place that has for centuries uplifted spirits and soothed broken hearts, even those broken by hatred and evil. At times like this, even in the rich tapestry of our multi-ethnic, multi-racial, religiously pluralistic society, there remains a distinct appreciation for the colorful, thick threads of the black church. It is, in this way, among many others, an authentically American institution.

But outside of these galvanizing, transcendent events, it’s an institution that gets very little love and even less respect.

The mainstream narratives about the black church range from civil rights era relic to a manipulative made-for-tv mega-church. In TV and movies, on Twitter and Vine, it is a hilarious punchline full of shouting, dancing and excessive displays of emotion. In either case, it is rarely more than a caricature, one that either comforts, humors or repels.

As a pastor’s daughter, church leader and passionate, card-carrying lifetime member of the big, diverse community we call the black church, I know how deeply sad this reduction is. To see people misunderstand an institution that taught me my history, grounded me in my identity and gave me the tools to grow into a woman as well as a civic and moral being, is to see millions of people misunderstand the most valuable gift I have ever been given – and miss out on so much more.

So if, after turning off the TV you’d like to take some souvenirs home from the space that our ancestors spent years building and that today many (myself included) still fiercely love and find sacred, here are five that mean a bit more than just an organ and a drumbeat:

1. How to build community. Born at a time where there were few other places for African Americans demonstrate their full humanity with one another, today, the black church is where the hard work of building beloved community never stops. Where people show up for one another and have hard conversations. Where people offer money, food, emotional care, physical presence and touch. In an era when support often means no more than a tweet or a text, the black church is one of the few places where people still regularly come together to nurture one another, grow together and meet each other’s needs. It is where people share stories, wrestle with ideas, fight, forgive, break bread, and,literally and figuratively, wash one another’s feet. Where tears flow freely and accountability matters. The American community could learn so very much from this model and how wonderful would it be if our human community did the same?

2. How to honor the young and the old. This one seems oddly specific, I know, but in a society that often patronizes the young and isolates the old, the church is one of the few spaces that brings both together and holds each up on a pedestal of preciousness. How many other public spaces in America would have found a 26 year old out with his 87 year old aunt on a Wednesday night as was the case with Charleston victims Tywanza Sanders and Susie Jackson? Where else in America facilitates regular intergenerational dialogue and lift up the voices of both in the process? In the black church, each generation is appreciated for its unique wisdom and insight. Both the very young and the very old typically have seats reserved for them, are encouraged to take on roles of leadership and esteem. And most importantly, their happiness and engagement are seen as key measurements for the health of the community as a whole. Would that society at large operate the same way.

3. How to survive. This one speaks for itself. In the face of bombings, fires, shootings and attacks of all kinds, the people remain. Many black churches, still today meet in basements, movie theaters, schools, warehouses and storefronts. They push through obstacles and hardships to come together and commit to never letting go of their faith, their community, and most importantly, the act of living. This doesn’t just “happen”. It isn’t some superhuman, magical force that allows black churches to bounce back and hold on. They practice the deliberate, strategic art of survival every single day.

4. The nobility of faithfulness. How easy it is for us to abandon the hard things today. Work, relationships, causes that don’t yield immediate results – all can be discarded and replaced with the click of an email. But from the black church we learn the importance of commitment and faithfulness. The practice of showing up Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, week after week and year after year, come rain or come shine builds the character necessary to stick with the fights that our livelihood and democracy depend on.

5. How to fight a righteous fight. I am not sure when or where the narrative of the “prayerful and passive” church mother came from, but I’m convinced it was created by the same kind of people who created the pernicious welfare queen stereotype (Don’t quote me on that. It’s my own personal conspiracy theory.) The idea of the black church only bowing on our knees in times of hardship, is not only a historical and theologically inaccurate, but it flies in the face of those who, like Rev. Clementa Pinckney did, work every day to combat injustice armed with faith and sharp, strategic action. From time immemorial, the black church has known how to fight and has been inherently activist and political, even in its very formation. It is that same history that has always made the church such a beacon for those who have wanted to engage large swaths of black America in campaigns – and also for those who want to stop it’s powerful civic organizing through efforts as subtle as voting rights restrictions and as extreme as shocking acts of violence. It is this history that makes me hopeful about those within the church who lift up their voices against sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, and all other forms of oppression that still exist.

These lessons are certainly not unique to the black church or to religious institutions in general for that matter. But they are central to the identity of a place that is often only acknowledged for it’s music and jubilee with no regard for the experiences and practices that root said joy.

All of this is of course, when the church is at its best. The black church is, like most American institutions, deeply flawed. For as many for whom it represents freedom and love, it also represents pain and shame. Anyone who has been hurt by abuses of power and dangerous religious interpretations that shackle and bind instead of liberate has also learned lessons worth sharing. That history too, must be reckoned with. But even for those who longer call it home, the church will always be more than a caricature. It will always be more than something to watch and admire for it’s “soul”. If you dare look a little closer, you will find a well of joy that most only briefly drank from last Friday. Underneath the surface you will find that the black church in America is so, so much more than just a funeral and a song.

TIME Video Games

How the Oculus Rift Could Help Xbox Crush PlayStation

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift Oculus Rift

It's all about Windows 10

No one expected this: Oculus VR said Thursday its Rift virtual reality headset will ship with Microsoft’s Xbox One controller as the Rift’s de facto way to play games.

Yes, there’s a crazy new contraption called Oculus Touch, hyped by founder Palmer Luckey himself during Thursday’s Oculus VR presser. The Touch looks like a pair of left/right Fitbits glommed onto Wii U nunchucks. It’s at least one possible future for VR input, if Luckey has his druthers. But let’s talk about the Oculus/Xbox One gamepad partnership, because in my view, the reason it’s happening at all is pretty straightforward when you think about Windows 10.

Oculus Rift has been a PC-centric technology from the outset. Maybe that changes in half a decade and we’ll all be dongled in to our smartphones or tablets. But today, if you want to tango with the half dozen head-mounted conceptual thingies scrambling to vie for our hearts and wallets, you generally need a good ol’ fashioned computer. And what do the lion’s share of good ol’ fashioned computers run now? Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft’s Xbox One gamepad, whether you agree with Palmer Luckey’s contentious claim that it’s the best controller in gaming (“It just is,” he said, as if his words might subliminally objectify reality on the spot), is certainly the best gamepad Redmond’s crafted to date. And it’s formally part of the Windows ecosystem, driver and developer supported and backward compatible with anything that worked with the company’s old Xbox 360 controller. It’s how you game with a gamepad in Windows right now as well as how you will when Windows 10 finally arrives this summer (sure, you can jury rig Sony’s DualShock 4 PlayStation 4 controller to work with Windows, but Sony doesn’t offer its own Windows drivers).

So in hindsight, not having some sort of partnership with Microsoft ought to have been the head-scratcher. If we assume Oculus Rift’s early adopters are going to be predominantly PC gamers — and I’d bet almost anything that’s going to be the case given how not consumer-friendly as well as culturally exotic these headsets are going to be for non-geeks — then the Xbox One deal becomes a natural corollary.

 

Folding the Rift into the Xbox One ecosystem then becomes just a baby step sideways. That’s especially true when you factor in Microsoft’s plan to load Windows 10 onto its dedicated gaming system in the near future, solidifying its promise to have a single, unified operating architecture across all of its platforms (both a first for Microsoft as well as anything else in gaming).

Where the Rift-Xbox partnership goes down the road, by all means speculate freely. But it’s an unambiguous coup for Microsoft — or the Facebook-owned Oculus, depending whom you think’s the more important water-carrier.

And however well Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been doing sales-wise, the Oculus-Microsoft news has to be chilling for the company’s own VR effort, Project Morpheus, confined to Sony’s platforms. That, and given how competent HTC’s Windows-centric Vive VR headset looks already, at this point…well, Windows has been a continuous, indefatigable, interface-leaping platform, whereas the PlayStations have all been devices-of-the-moment. That Oculus is thinking about this in those terms is why you should, too. Because this is bigger than the console wars trope, and it’s why challenging Microsoft in the long term is about so much more than monthly platform sales.

TIME Opinion

How School Dress Codes Shame Girls and Perpetuate Rape Culture

Laura Bates is the co-founder of The Everyday Sexism Project which collects stories of sexual harassment and gender discrimination from minor incidents to more severe situations.

When teachers punish girls for wearing clothes deemed 'too distracting' for boys to handle, it teaches a damaging lesson

Some of our most powerful and lasting ideas about the world around us are learned at school. Hard work pays off. Success comes from working together. Girls’ bodies are dangerous and harassment is inevitable.

This might sound inflammatory, but it is not an exaggeration. It is the overriding message being sent to thousands of students around the world by sexist school dress codes and the way in which they are enforced.

In the past month alone a Canadian teen says she was given detention for wearing a full length maxi dress because it violated her school dress code by showing her shoulders and back and a UK school announced plans to ban skirts altogether.

These are just the most recent cases in an ever-growing list that has seen shoulders and knees become a battleground, leggings and yoga pants banned and girls in some cases reportedly told to flap their arms up and down while their attire was inspected, or asked to leave their proms because chaperones considered their dresses too ‘sexual’ or ‘provocative’.

Many schools respond to criticism of dress codes by citing the importance of maintaining a ‘distraction free’ learning environment, or of teaching young people about the importance of dressing appropriately for different occasions.

But at the Everyday Sexism Project, where people from around the world share their experiences of gender inequality, we have received over a hundred testimonies from girls and young women who are affected by the dress codes and feel a strong sense of injustice.

One such project entry read:

“I got dress coded at my school for wearing shorts. After I left the principal’s office with a detention I walked past another student wearing a shirt depicting two stick figures: the male holding down the females head in his crotch and saying ‘good girls swallow’. Teachers walked right past him and didn’t say a thing.”

Girls are repeatedly told the reason they have to cover up to avoid ‘distracting’ their male peers, or making male teachers ‘uncomfortable’…

“At my school our dress code dictates everything about a girls outfit: knee length shorts or skirts only, no cleavage, no bra straps, no tank tops. We can’t even wear flip flops, and girls will be given detentions and sent home for breaking any one of these rules. There’s no dress code for men, and the reasoning? Girls can’t dress “provacatively” [sic] because it could distract and excite the boys.”

I can’t help feeling there is a powerful irony in accusing a girl of being ‘provocative’ – in projecting that societal assumption onto her adolescent body – before she is even old enough to have learned how to correctly spell the word.

One student says she was given three specific reasons for the school dress code:

“1) There are male teachers and male sixth formers [high school seniors]
2) Teachers feel uncomfortable around bras etc.
3) Don’t want the boys to target you or intimidate you”.

This sends an incredibly powerful message. It teaches our children that girls’ bodies are dangerous, powerful and sexualised, and that boys are biologically programmed to objectify and harass them. It prepares them for college life, where as many as one in five women is sexually assaulted but society will blame and question and silence them, while perpetrators are rarely disciplined.

The problem is often compounded by a lack of any attempt to discipline boys for harassing behavior, which drives home the message that it is the victim’s responsibility to prevent. We have received thousands of testimonies from girls who have complained about being verbally harassed, touched, groped, chased, followed, licked, and assaulted at school, only to be told: “he just likes you”, or: “boys will be boys”. The hypocrisy is breath taking.

Meanwhile, the very act of teachers calling young girls out for their attire projects an adult sexual perception onto an outfit or body part that may not have been intended or perceived as such by the student herself. It can be disturbing and distressing for students to be perceived in this way and there is often a strong element of shame involved.

“I’ve been told by a teacher that the way I was wearing my socks made me look like a prostitute in my first year of school, making me 13, and I’ve been asked whether I’m ashamed of myself because I rolled my skirt up,” wrote one young woman.

The codes aren’t just problematic for sexist reasons. One project entry reads:

“At age 10 I was pulled out of my fifth grade class for a few minutes for a ‘special health lesson’. As an early bloomer, I already had obvious breasts and was the tallest in my class. I thought they were giving me a paper about reproductive health that’s normally given to the 12 year old girls. Instead I was told to cover my body more because I was different.”

Other incidents have also seen boys banned from school for having hair ‘too long’ or wearing traditionally ‘feminine’ fashion, from skinny jeans to skirts. A transgender student said he was threatened with having his photo barred from the school yearbook simply because he chose to wear a tuxedo to prom. Black girls are more likely to be targeted for ‘unacceptable’ hairstyles. The parents of a 12-year old African American student said she was threatened with expulsion for refusing to cut her naturally styled hair. Her mother was told she violated school dress codes for being “a distraction”.

At this point it starts to feel like such ‘codes’ are less about protecting children and more about protecting strict social norms and hierarchies that refuse to tolerate difference or diversity.

This is a critical moment. The school dress code debate will be dismissed by many for being minor or unimportant, but it is not.

When a girl is taken out of class on a hot day for wearing a strappy top, because she is ‘distracting’ her male classmates, his education is prioritized over hers. When a school takes the decision to police female students’ bodies while turning a blind eye to boys’ behavior, it sets up a lifelong assumption that sexual violence is inevitable and victims are partially responsible. Students are being groomed to perpetuate the rape culture narrative that sits at the very heart of our society’s sexual violence crisis. It matters very much indeed.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Economy

The Real Way to Fix Finance Once and for All

Bull statue on Wall Street
Murat Taner—Getty Images

Changing the way financial institutions operate will require more than calculations and complex regulation

We live in an age of big data and hot and cold running metrics. Everywhere, at all times, we are counting things—our productivity, our friends and followers on social media, how many steps we take per day. But is it all getting us closer to truth and real understanding? I have been thinking about this a lot in the wake of a terrific conference I attended this week on “finance and society” co-sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

There was plenty of new and creative thinking. On a panel I moderated in which Margaret Heffernan, a business consultant and author of the book Willful Blindness, made some really important points about why culture is just as important as numbers, particularly when it comes to issues like financial reform and corporate governance. As Heffernan sums it up quite aptly in her new book on the topic of corporate culture, Beyond Measure, “numbers are comforting…but when we’re confronted by spectacular success or failure, everyone from the CEO to the janitor points in the same direction: the culture.”

That’s at the core of a big debate in Washington and on Wall Street right now about how to change the financial system and ensure that it’s a help, rather than a hindrance, to the real economy. Everyone from Fed chair Janet Yellen to IMF head Christine Lagarde to Senator Elizabeth Warren—all of whom spoke at the INET conference; other big wigs like Fed vice chair Stanley Fischer and FDIC vice-chair Tom Hoenig were in the audience—agree more needs to be done to put banking back in service to society.

MORE: What Apple’s Gargantuan Cash Giveaway Really Means

But a lot of the discussion about how to do that hinges on complex and technocratic debates about incomprehensible (to most people anyway) things like “tier-1 capital” and “risk-weighted asset calculations.” Not only does that quickly narrow the discussion to one in which only “insiders,” many of whom are beholden to finance or political interests, can participate, but it also leaves regulators and policy makers trying to fight the last war. No matter how clever the metrics are that we apply to regulation, the only thing we know for sure is that the next financial crisis won’t look at all like the last one. And, it will probably come from some unexpected area of the industry, an increasing part of which falls into the unregulated “shadow banking” area.

That’s why changing the culture of finance and of business is general is so important. There’s a long way to go there: In one telling survey by the whistle blower’s law firm Labaton Sucharow, which interviewed 500 senior financial executives in the United States and the UK, 26% of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24% said they believed they might need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful. Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, and 30% said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.

How to change this? For starters, more collaboration–as Heffernan points out, economic research shows that successful organizations are almost always those that empower teams, rather than individuals. Yet in finance, as in much of corporate America, the mythology of the heroic individual lingers. Star traders or CEOs get huge salaries (and often take huge risks), while their success is inevitably a team effort. Indeed, the argument that individuals, rather than teams, should get all the glory or blame is often used perversely by the financial industry itself to get around rules and regulations. SEC Commissioner Kara Stein has been waging a one-woman war to try to prevent big banks that have already been found guilty of various kinds of malfeasance to get “waiver” exceptions from various filing rules by claiming that only a few individuals in the organization were responsible for bad behavior. Check out some of her very smart comments on that in our panel entitled “Other People’s Money.”

MORE: The Real (and Troubling) Reason Behind Lower Oil Prices

Getting more “outsiders” involved in the conversation will help change culture too. In fact, that’s one reason INET president Rob Johnson wanted to invite all women to the Finance and Society panel. “When society is set up around men’s power and control, women are cast as outsiders whether you like it or not,” he says. Research shows, of course, that outsiders are much more likely to call attention to problems within organizations, since not being invited to the power party means they aren’t as vulnerable to cognitive capture by powerful interests. (On that note, see a very powerful 3 minute video by Elizabeth Warren, who has always supported average consumers and not been cowed by the banking lobby, here.)

For more on the conference and the debate over how to reform banking, check out the latest episode of WNYC’s Money Talking, where I debated the issue on the fifth anniversary of the “Flash Crash,” with Charlie Herman and Mashable business editor, Heidi Moore.

TIME Social Media

How Twitter Can Become the Premier Site for Job-Seekers

The Twitter logo is shown at its corporate headquarters  in San Francisco
Robert Galbraith—Reuters

Twitter should add a traditional job board to its social media platform to enhance its value for job seekers

A new study shows that Twitter has more job openings than other social media sites and more job seekers than even LinkedIn. In addition, the number of Twitter users grew more rapidly than LinkedIn and Facebook in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. Much of this growth seems to be coming from young professionals and high income workers, fertile demographics for employers.

Despite that, only 15% of recruiters have actually found someone to hire through Twitter. A possible reason for this is a lack of response from job seekers to Twitter postings; the people surveyed by Software Advice cited inconsistency of job postings and poor communication by companies with job seekers as reasons for dissatisfaction. 76% of them indicated that their primary interaction with employers on Twitter is to check out company profiles, not necessarily to apply for jobs themselves.

All this begs the question of how Twitter can improve its performance as a matchmaker for jobs. One good way would be for the company to set up a traditional job board, organized by categories, along the lines of a Monster.com.

Currently, the primary way for a Twitter user to find a job is by following specific companies he or she is interested in or by searching via hashtags related to jobs, companies, or industries. While these methods can bear fruit, they’re a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. For example, a search for the hashtag #jobsearch will produce hundreds of tweets that are only tangentially related to actual jobs, including articles on job hunting, random thoughts, and junk tweets that use the hashtag for promotion.

In addition, unless you search for every possible hashtag an employer might use and unless the employer uses the right hashtags, you could easily miss a posting for your dream job. Not to mention that as new tweets keep appearing every few seconds, the process of finding an appropriate job can be extremely time consuming and difficult.

This might also explain why job seekers tend to use Twitter more for gathering information on specific companies than to check out job postings and even less to apply through Twitter. The pace of Twitter is so fast and the content so diverse and scattered that finding a job directly through the Twitterverse is simply too challenging.

Sites like Monster.com or CareerBuilder, on the other hand, provide a more attractive option by aggregating job postings and making it easy for job seekers to view jobs by different parameters such as functional area, industry, region etc. It’s less dynamic than social media but comfortably static for users.

What Twitter needs to do is add this functionality to complement the strength of its own platform. While traditional job boards are great for active candidates, Twitter can also be useful for general career development and to keep a pulse on the market for a future job hunt. It’s a real-time information medium that also allows users to gain market insight and to communicate directly with companies they may be interested in working for. That’s a huge advantage for Twitter.

The only real service that the company needs to provide is to curate tweets to differentiate between actual job listings and other types of tweets, and to aggregate those tweets under common verticals like function, industry, and region.

There is, of course, tweetMyJobs, a leading social media add-on service that enables job seekers to receive targeted job matches via Twitter and to send resumes to employers. The site also helps employers set up profiles and send out listings to job seekers through social media. But that further illustrates the tremendous opportunity that Twitter is failing to take advantage of.

By becoming a go-to site for job seekers, Twitter could potentially outpace its competitors in the space and create a new revenue stream in the future by charging employers for posting listings. As those looking for employment or career advancement search for new ways to find what they’re looking for, Twitter, by standing at the vanguard of social media, is uniquely positioned to help them.

S. Kumar has worked in technology, media, and telecom investment banking. He has evaluated mergers and acquisitions in these sectors and provided strategic consulting to media companies and hedge funds.

TIME royal baby

What to Expect When Your Name is Charlotte

of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge leave the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital with their new born baby daughter. (R) Chelsea Clinton leaves Lenox Hill Hospital with her baby, Charlotte, husband Marc and parents, Bill and Hillary Clinton.
(L) Anwar Hussein—Getty Images; (R) A. Ariani—Corbis (L) Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge leave the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital with their new born baby daughter. (R) Chelsea Clinton leaves Lenox Hill Hospital with her baby, Charlotte, husband Marc and parents, Bill and Hillary Clinton.

What's in a name?

Dear Baby Princess Charlotte,

Congratulations, you’re the most powerful infant in the world! Even better news: the second most powerful baby in the world, the newest member of the Clinton family, is also named Charlotte. (Your brother is a toddler, he doesn’t count.)

On behalf of the small but growing cohort of non-royal Charlottes, thank you for teaching the world how to spell our name. We may soon be free of the scourge of “good guesses” like Charlot, Sharlet, and Sherlit. It’s one small step for a baby, one giant leap for Charlotte-kind, and one big lesson for Starbucks baristas.

But that’s why ‘Charlotte’ is a special name; it’s simultaneously famous and rare. Until the birth of your slightly older future BFF Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, there were relatively few examples of notable Charlottes. But the few were mighty. Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre, a book you will love in high school. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a famous American feminist and sociologist who wrote the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, which will make you question your own sanity. Charlotte Hawkins-Brown was an educator and activist who started a school for black students in the South. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was married to King George III, who was King of England during the American Revolution. That’s something for you and American Charlotte to hash out later.

In fiction, the name has fared slightly better. The best Charlotte is definitely the spider in Charlotte’s Web, a book that is undoubtedly being shipped to your parents at this very instant, from all different parts of the globe. Because of this Charlotte, you may not have the aversion to spiders so common in other little girls. In darker fiction, Charlotte is the love interest in Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, and Lolita’s mother in Nabokov’s Lolita, which your parents will explain to you later. The most popular Charlotte in recent memory is probably Kristin Davis’s character from Sex and the City, which might have contributed to the resurgence of the name’s popularity.

And yet, there has never been a definitive Charlotte, a woman so important to cultural history that her identity is forever imprinted on the name. There has been a definitive Eleanor (Roosevelt), Nancy (Drew), Marilyn (Monroe) and Victoria (the queen.) But the spot for the definitive Charlotte is up for grabs. All I ask is that you do the name justice.

Until the last few years, Charlotte has not been a hot choice for baby girl names, never having the wildfire spread of Jennifer or Emily. In 2000, Charlotte was the 289th most popular baby name in the US, but in 2013, it was #11. Back in my day, you could not find tiny motorcycle license plates with “Charlotte” on them. Not even in Times Square.

Because of its relative rareness, many Charlottes are not accustomed to sharing their name. Unlike Emilys and Emmas, Sarahs and Sofias, most Charlottes have not yet come to the point where they need to call themselves by their full name or last initial in order to distinguish themselves from their classmates. But as a growing cohort of now-baby Charlottes prepare themselves for kindergarten, that time is coming to a close. As a result, Charlottes may soon be grasping for nicknames, and they may find slim pickings.

Unlike Elizabeth, Margaret and Alexandra, the nicknames for Charlotte are few and peculiar. Charlotte is long on the page but short on the tongue, which gives the impression that the name should be shortened. Charlie, Lotte, and Lottie are nice options, but they don’t suit everyone. Your name will inevitably be shortened to Char, which evokes images of fish entrees or blackened meat. Ultimately, I cannot guide you here. Each Charlotte must find her own path.

A final word of advice, young Charlotte: the best true rhymes for Charlotte are ‘scarlet’ and ‘harlot.’ With that in mind, try to avoid games or songs where a rhyme must be found for your name. You’ll thank me later.

Love,

Charlotte

TIME Economics

The Real Reason the Dollar Is So Strong Right Now

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Purestock—Getty Images/Purestock Close-up of American dollar bills

And why it could seriously hurt American business

When is a stronger U.S. dollar not a good thing? When it causes companies to sell fewer products overseas. That’s one of the big concerns at the moment among American CEOs, many of whom are worried about what the dollar’s strength against currencies like the euro and the yen mean for US exports–and corporate profits.

They have legitimate reason to worry. Each of the five major dips in U.S. corporate profitability since 1970 have occurred following reduced sales after periods of relative dollar strength. The Fed has recently expressed concerns about whether the dollar’s strength could hold back the US recovery, which has been lackluster to begin with. Wages are still growing at only around 2 %, not enough to push up consumer spending, which is the major driver of our economy. If US exports also begin to suffer, it could be difficult for the economy to sustain the 3% a year growth figure that is needed to create more jobs.

Some economists believe the dollar’s strength reflects the fact that the U.S. is still the prettiest house on the ugly block that is the global economy. (Certainly, to employ another metaphor, it’s the strongest leg on the global stool with China slowing sharply and the Eurozone debt crisis flaring back up as Greece looks likely to run out of money next month.) But I think it’s more about central bankers and their actions. The dollar’s strength reflects the Fed’s own recent indications that it will likely raise interest rates by the end of the year.

Indeed, the dollar’s strength almost perfectly tracks Fed statements about the coming end of easy money. The tightening of US monetary policy (or even the hint that policy will tighten at some point) has driven the dollar up (and oil down) even as Europe’s beginning of its own “QE” or quantitative easing program has driven the Euro down. None of it reflects the economic reality on the ground, but rather the fact that central bankers are, as investment guru Mohamed El-Erian frequently says, the “only game in town.” For more on what the stronger dollar might mean for consumers, companies and the economy as a whole, you can listen to Josh Barro from the New York Times and I discuss the topic on this week’s Money Talking.

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