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Our Gender Bender discussion panel saw a great topic being openly discussed, with a fantastic input from our audience members (thanks) and one of the most balanced population we’ve had at an even (guys, you’re always welcome). We discussed the roles of parents, men and women, who should stay at home, how the Hong Kong helps and disables us with role changes, how employers react and behave and what we can hope for in the future.

To recap some of the points made, here is our #wmniwd stream of live Tweets, from the event:

#wmniwd_20150326



No regrets, say the Chinese women who chose independence over marriage. The girls who took a lifelong vow of chastity are now in their 80s, the last survivors of a unique custom

Her mother carefully undid Liang Jieyun’s plaits, combed out the strands and pinned them into a bun. When her friends put up their hair, they wore the red clothing of brides. But as Liang left her girlhood behind and stepped across the family threshold, she was embarking on a lifelong commitment to remain single.

At 85, Liang is a rare survivor of a custom stretching back to the early 19th century in parts of southern Guangdong. Women here could vow to remain a “self-combed woman”, or zishunü, leaving their parents’ home to work without marrying. “If I hadn’t become a ‘self-combed woman’, the landlord would have forced me into marriage,” she said.

(Read the rest here)

90-year-old Huang Peirong, who is believed to be the oldest self-combed woman in Guangdong

90-year-old Huang Peirong, who is believed to be the oldest self-combed woman in Guangdong

I loved this piece, it was something I hadn’t heard about before. 

When I came across this article in The Guardian, I couldn’t believe that I had never heard about this tradition before. These are women who gave up the chance (which might not be a good one) of marriage in order to remain single and to work and support their families for their entire lives. While it sounds like a sacrifice, the piece in The Guardian shows that for many, given the era, it was a form of liberation. There are few such women alive still today and if you Google it, you will find some other articles but no Wikipedia page (which shows how unknown this tradition is, if you ask me!).

 

I had to share this with my fellow WMN organisers. It’s like a historical take on the having it all issue, of course, these women sacrificed having it all, really, in order to have more than they might if they married (because marriages then weren’t formed the way they commonly are now!).

 

Our ex Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin was excited by the article and shared this with us:

 

“What a touching article.

 

We were fortunate to have had during our childhood and into teenaged years an “amah” called “Lau Cher”, who was not single but was a widow who chose to have her 2 children raised by relatives in Penang while she was our live in housekeeper in KL. She sent money faithfully every month to support her children, and very sadly, they resented their mother for not raising them, and she spent her last days with them not being very loving to her after she left our family.

 

Lau Cher exemplified the women in the article – denying herself any comforts (she dressed in “black and white” amah uniform), and I remember going with her during her monthly trips downtown to send money to her children, when as a treat she would buy a wonton noodle lunch for herself and me.

 

How strong women are! It’s very encouraging to remember this!”

If you have any stories to share on topics like these, please get in touch!

 



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This event was Tweeted about with the event hashtag, #wmntrafficking.

With the help of our sponsors, Thomson Reuters, WMN put together a panel about human trafficking, inspired by the Thomson Reuters’ reports on the Rohingya people, winning Pulitzer Prize.

The panel consisting of staff member Tara Joseph, Tom Leander, a member of the Society of Publishers in Asia’s Awards Committee and editor-in-chief for Asia for Lloyd’s List, as well as Archana Kotecha who is best known for her work in social issues like human trafficking and her work with Liberty Asia. (You can learn more about the panel members here). Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin performed her last role for us, by moderating the panel.

Rohingya People

While the panel started with a chance to watch a short video about the Rohingya, I’d like to start the blog with a definition of human trafficking, which is not the same as human smuggling. Trafficking is essentially slavery and while we think of that as a thing of the past, it is not. Check out some of the event tweets to learn some shocking statistics about it.

Joseph starts things be questioning whether media have been paying attention to human trafficking is a question in itself. She notes that a lot of people who have risen in journalism in the last 20 years were looking at finance and Wall Street. But corporate social responsibility plays a bigger factor now and that affects society, the audiences and therefore media.

Leander says that the media is also under an economic pressure so these stories can be left behind, but what’s reported and how, is still important. “Stories create value, which generates revenue. It used to be ruled by columns inches but it isn’t anymore. That changes some of the approach to journalism,” he adds.

Leander and Joseph

And for Reuters to win a Pulitzer Prize shows that a decision to follow that story was made despite that it didn’t create revenue. But the award surely has created prestige?

Kotecha, who has dedicated most of her career to such things, answers somes questions: “Before, these stories were left to organisations like Amnesty International,” she explains noting the difference in smuggling and trafficking, which reporting doesn’t always make clear. “Thomson Reuters reported that, noting that the Thai Government had referred to it as smuggling, which it was not,” she says.

Moving deeper into the reaches of human trafficking, she says, “another correlation that people don’t understand is how the prawn on their dinner plate does link back to the slave on the fishing boat. So, human trafficking benefits us in ways we don’t know.” She adds, that prawns used to be considered a luxury and now, they are common-place.

In fact, companies that don’t do proper due diligence on their supply chains might easily be buying materials and products from factories and companies with outright slavery conditions, poorly paid and cared for workers and so on. Customers might not think about this at all – but CP foods, who sell huge supermarket chains in the UK, got caught out.

But human trafficking and slavery is in our every day lives. Kotecha says, “where there are brothels, there are sex workers. Mainland construction workers who cross the border every day, what are their conditions? If you are worried, don’t buy just any chocolate, buy fair trade chocolate. We make choices.”

Kotecha

Looking back at media, Joseph says, “it was easier in the past for these large stories to disappear quickly, especially when it’s not clearly occurring on your doorstep. But computers and globalisation changes that. As does the ability to get data – journalists in the field are at risk, there are considerations to covering such stories.

And if you think it doesn’t happen in Hong Kong? Migrant workers come here for work, often in debt from getting here and are stuck working in a household and with the agency holding their passport. Kotecha says, “in LegCo and elsewhere this is overlooked now because it’s become a tired topic.”

The story of Erwiana can’t be ignored by Hong Kongers, can it? Kotecha discusses this with the audience, wondering how such a sick woman could get through the airport without any notice? With her own tired and crying children, Kotecha receives stares and attention. The case is now in courts so watch this space.

Of course, this raised some awareness in Hong Kong and many found it shocking. “Highlighting personal cases makes the cause stronger within the news, helps people to understand and give it attention,” says Joseph. But Kotecha wards off that, because it creates a hierarchy between victims. “So if your wounds are less visual, are you in a better condition? If you can’t see the emotional and physical wounds, does it mean that people won’t feel the story?” She asks.

“A lot of between-the-lines issues occurred during the case, which was not reported, despite the reporters being aware. The difficulty perhaps being that the Indonesian economy does rely on these overseas workers sending money home, just as Hong Kongers rely on their help to go out and do their work,” says Kotecha. Her very real criticism is that the wider issues were not covered in Hong Kong media.

WMN

Leander notes that human rights organisations often criticise how the media reports but the Rohingya story was a good example of how to do it. “It’s necessary to really define the issues and definitions as well as follow up – what about the court cases, what about the outcome?” This is a big issue for Kotecha, who says we need more than an amazing story that captures attention and then dies out, we need a more sustainable approach to the stories. One of the reasons the Rohingya story worked is that it didn’t focus on a single person. Leander asks “why isn’t naming the criminals as compelling as naming the victims?”

But there is a brighter side. Joseph says that it is getting better, even compared with a year ago, and Kotecha agrees. Her experience in helping to employ and rehome women like the Rohingya, in detention centres, changed entirely after the Thomson Reuters report came out, with strangers contacting her to help. “Human trafficking makes people into objects – no name, no passport, no home, no bank account and suddenly they are not human and no-one will help,” Kotecha explains.

Follow the conversation @wmnasiapacific

Follow the conversation @wmnasiapacific

If you’re interested in this topic, please contact WMN. There is also this TED talk about it.

Join the conversation:

@wmnasiapacific

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2014-05-22 20.18.06

Have you ever done an MBTI or Myers Brigg’s Type Indicator test to figure out your communication style? I haven’t. And by the sounds of it, that’s ok.

Last night we held a small Lumina workshop, which is a development from MBTI which works differently, assessing us as people that are changeable and wear different hats in different situations. We were there to learn more about communication styles and to learn how to read others.

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As some 22 people piled into the Thomson Reuter’s boardroom (thanks for the lend!), I was interested in seeing us huddle together with our colleagues and friends –  there were only two other WMN staff alongside me, with a majority of TR guests, followed by those from Turner.

Having already answered the questionnaire (so that Lumina could give us our profiles at the end of the session) I was aware of a few behavioural aspects: Do I take charge in a group? Do I like to bring others around to my point of view? Upon meeting Donna from Lumina, I quickly said that I was aware when answering, that my responses for work-based situations were different than those for family, friend or social interactions.

When it came time to sit and start the session, guess who was there saying “no, don’t sit on the side and it’s ok if you didn’t do your questionnaire, please sit in the middle so we have a nice audience”? Me, of course! Hey, I was there for work, I’m a WMN staff member. And I knew that we wouldn’t not be sitting still for too long. But I also noticed how in these situations, we do herd together.

The session, which took us through personality ‘areas’ (not types, because it can all be blurry), which you can see partially in the image below. It’s broken into:

Yellow – Social, imaginative, spontaneous

Green – Intimate, collaborative, empathetic

Blue – Observing, Evidence-based, Reliable

Red – Purposeful, Competitive, Takes charge

But note the blurring colours inbetween, too.

Lumina

And did you know that we make our first judgement of a person – all non-verbally, this fast?

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(But don’t worry, we make a more lasting, detailed judgement within 30 minutes).

We started our activities with three cards each from each suit (one of the four colours) and we then met people to trade out those cards which held statements that we felt didn’t apply to us. The statements varied from things like “In a group I prefer to listen first” to “Others see me as a rebel” (that one resonated with us WMN ladies).

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We also did group work to come to understand the potential character attributes and style of each ‘colour’ to see if we could understand what kind of personality each colour represented. Then, we looked at ourselves and decided what order rating we would give each colour, in describing ourselves. Again, I laughed as Event Manager, Sheli, and I came out with the same – we have similar day jobs too.

The next task was to move around the room, try to talk to at least five people who would then decide what colour order I was, as I did the same for them. My first meeting was interesting, I got talking – and before I knew it, Donna came along and told us to hurry on as we needed to meet more people. What did that mean about us? I quipped.

I was interested to see that I had been rated exactly the same by the four people I met (am I one dimensional? My brother once said I was, but only because I was given three of the same Marmite cook book for my birthday one year. I’m not one dimensional. I just really, really like Marmite). More so, I was interested to see that actually, I think those appraisals were right and it was slightly different than what I had first guessed for myself.

But to be clear, we all take on different aspects in different situations, so we’re all a bit of each colour and our profiles provided by Lumina break down into the underlying persona, the every day persona and the overextended persona. Lumina also recognise that these types have negative aspects – for instance,  someone who’s tough could be too blunt for others, or aggressive. Or you could become isolated if others see you as a rebel.

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Towards the end of the session (which Lumina kindly reduced to only 1.5 hours) Rachael took us through the ‘Spark Mandala’ and asked a few to take steps forward, when the question asked applied to them. We did one set for Introverted personalities (by starting from the opposite side of the wheel, printed on the mat) and another for extroverted personalities. Again, I laughed – and announced – that the two most extroverted personalities on that group were both from WMN.

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It’s easy to see that Lumina has a rounded view of how people are and behave – and that it’s helpful both on a personal and professional level to have an understanding of your style. After all, as a ‘yellow’ person I would say that life is all about those relationships, work might mean professional relationships, some of which crossover to personal, but really, our interactions with each other, with strangers, friends, family, colleagues, loved ones and even those we don’t like so much really makes up the colour of life.

To learn more about Lumina, visit these sites:

Illuminate Training

Lumina Learning

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Join the conversation:

@wmnasiapacific

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For our International Women’s Day event, we decided to turn things around a little and discuss whether some women block other women’s careers. Learn more about the event description, here.

Folllow the Twitter conversation and event highlights, here. If you want to join, please use #WMNIWD

Our wonderful panel was made up of Christine Brendle, Founding Partner of Kids Dailies and Independent Non Executive Director at The Red Flag Group Kimberley Cole, Head of Specialist Sales, Asia at Thomson Reuters andMariko Sanchanta, Asia Pacific Regional Managing Director, Media at Burson Marsteller, with the amusing and candid MJ Jennings, Director, Training & Executive Coaching, Active Communications as Moderator

Brendle: Was the only woman on her first team/ job – and the only one who knew how to use a computer. Therefore, there were no women in senior ranks. After moving to New York, she found supported female bosses… She quotes Madeleine Allbright, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Sanchanta: Had good sponsors and mentors as well as some issues – she joined the panel because she couldn’t believe that women would block each other.

Due to a fire, our Hong Kong President, Christina Pantin had to step in for Cole at the beginning. To start us off, she shared some information: For the first time, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y millennials are working together now.

  • Lawyers under 40 prefer working for men who give better direction and constructive criticism.
  • 40% of workplace bullies are women.
  • 70% of the time a woman is bullied is by another woman.

 

 

So, why might women step on each other?
Some women who play the lone female at work might feel threatened by other women that come into the work place. When women work together and become friends, they might also share some very personal stories and secrets – perhaps becoming a root cause for future bad behaviour with one another?

Cole shares that she tries to see which women at work always have their heads down, and then tries to mention to others about their work, to help them connect with each other.

 

Should women working in Corporations play by the men’s rules?
Sanchanta: I’ve always refused to do so – and I’m a small Asian woman so I just can’t take that presence. I’m feminine and a woman and kept a mix of friends. In my experience a lot of workplaces are gender neutral, for instance after work activities like drinking in the pub are quite inclusive.

Brendle: Those rules exist but I don’t think you should play by them. Moving from France to the US, it was like the ceiling was raised by about 50 meters!

But the same company can be a totally different place depending on the corporate culture there. Encourage women leaders. Think about who is replacing you and what that brings. I’ve seen women who I’ve hired and am grooming take a hundred steps back as they become Queen Bees or try to assimilate more with the men.

Pantin: If a man is running the business, then it is under such rules because women have different career tracks and styles. But until you accept and take into account the different biology, those differences will be clear.

Why do women leave the leadership stream? Do they settle or do they just not want it? Fostering women to move up the ranks to the top is a big change that has to be approached at all levels of the company and management chain.

 

How do you juggle your life balance?
Cole: My kids were born in the UK where maternity leave is fantastic and practical. I came back to Asia to have them looked after!

Women feel guiltier going back to work and feel bad – men take it differently. I don’t think you can have it all, at the same time.

Brendle: For my second child I stopped work and enjoyed it because for my first born, I missed out. When you leave and come back to work it’s great to feel welcome – don’t bring them back and give them a second rate job.

 

Women are delaying careers for their family but might still go for new job interviews while pregnant. What are the compromises?
Sanchanta: Most of my colleagues don’t have wives who work. I have a baby and if I don’t leave by 6.30 I won’t see my daughter – I told my husband to stay home with her tonight instead of supporting me. I couldn’t miss bath time for a whole week but I think some men can.

Audience: I started my own business so that I could spend time with my children, when it became evident that between my and my husband’s career, we had no time at all.

In your early thirties in places like the US, you can’t afford a nanny or day care, so the pay gap between husband and wife determines who goes back to work.

I have three boys – once, they were all under five. I’m aware that my boys can learn why mummy shares responsibilities with daddy and why mummy needs to have a good job. We try to balance it as a team but I know my boys will be future workers. I’d prefer a good hour with them in the evening than time when I’m trying to do all of it, working from home, etc.

Cole: I always intended to have it all and have a career and children. I would have gone back even if my work only covered the childcare, but I was probably lucky to have those six months paid maternity leave in the UK.

 

Who do you turn to when you’re afraid? A cultural shift in your organisation or managing your lives better? What about mentors and paid mentors?
Sanchanta: “I’ve had a range of different female mentors in my life – but only ever been sponsored by men (in hiring/decision making positions).

Brendle: I’ve had mostly male sponsors and mentors – usually the same person – but I have also mentored.

I never looked for a mentor but it happens sometimes. At one point I had two men above me in different arms of the company, but I learned a lot. If you’re hiring the staff you might have a lot of wisdom and be a great sounding board.

Cole: I’m task oriented so I needed a sponsor – if that person can be a mentor as well that’s great. I now have one woman who was my mentor but she’s been so elevated now is that she could also be a sponsor. But it’s great to have both internal and external mentors and sponsors, because if people leave, what will you do? You get the balance.

 

How do you celebrate success?
Brendle: If you only have one discussion a year about your pay rise, it’s something that most people don’t feel too comfortable about. Doing this, you have metrics that are measured, and some women feel quite trapped by having men measure this – “oh growth in Asia, well, anyone could do that” – make sure you have your facts and proof behind you. Prepare.

Sanchanta: In Japanese culture you should be humble – so it took me a long time to unlearn these things. Working for American companies, you have to learn to trumpet your achievements.

Audience: Have a yey me folder to track and recall your successes.

JJ: Share feedback about people within the organisation, about a team etc – it will impress managers too. What goes around comes around!

 

What helped you on your journey to keep growing and taking a step forward?
Brendle: I waited ‘til after I was 50 to become an entrepreneur, by enjoying the means I could from corporations. I’m still learning a lot – I’m good with the big picture but I find being detail oriented a struggle.

Sanchanta: I have had several catalysts that make me do things differently. Having a child encouraged me to leave my 15-year comfort zone of journalism. Networking is great and amenable here because of the size of the city. I just keep going and perhaps I’ll end up doing my own thing one day too.

Cole: I like a challenge but the reason I keep taking them is financial independence. I was brought up by a single mother and she always taught me to have options and being able to be in control. 



For our International Women’s Day event, we worked hard to create a relevant and interesting topic, with a great panel to discuss our topic: Do women step on each other to get to the top?

With the event description below, here’s a range of videos to get you thinking about how women are portrayed and why they might feel the way they do – stepped on, or stepping on. Have you had such experiences? How did it make you feel? Come along, with your experiences, thoughts and feelings for an interesting session on how we can change the way women are viewed, how we view ourselves and how we view each other.

The hashtag for this event is #WMNStep

Event description
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” and she found lots of agreement across men and women for this admonition.

So what is the fate of women who not only don’t help other women in their careers, but hinder, sabotage and block?

As women’s groups everywhere celebrate International Women’s Day in March, Women Media Networks is hosting a panel discussion that is a little less conventional, and likely controversial, but relevant and real.

All of us probably have stories about women bosses and managers who were helpful or hellish. Or female colleagues who were catty instead of collegial. Some of us have also endured outright warfare as we advanced in our careers from our own “sisterhood”.

Are some of these anomalies and caricatures of the dreaded “lady boss”? Have things changed as more women take the helm of companies? Are there cultural elements at play, where patriarchal and traditional countries deliberately enjoy inflating the legend of terrible career women?

Or is it a cold, hard fact that most women prefer not to discuss openly?

Learn about the panel or book a ticket, here.

Join the conversation:

@wmnasiapacific

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Since our evening with Jane is tonight, we thought we’d share a blog post with you, to get you thinking.

 

Ambition is no longer the kiss of death for women’s careers. 

Just ask Sheryl Sandberg and the 1 million people who bought her book, “Lean In.” Sandberg should be roundly applauded for creating greater awareness of women’s work challenges, and for encouraging more conversation to emerge. But it’s important to realize the limitations of her message, which doesn’t translate in China, as Quartz recently reported, and in other Asian cultures as well. 

Here’s why:

Words, often the simplest ones, across cultures create confusion. For the Lean In movement, “ambition” and “family” are at the root of the cultural disconnect. 

Having facilitated many (predominantly female) workshops for multicultural and multi-generational teams across Asia, I can tell you that when the question of ambition comes up, which it often does, most participants felt the word and subsequent definitions to be blunt, boorish, and not reflective of their professional aspirations.

To ask, “How ambitious are you?” in Asia is fascinating. In China, women are more comfortable speaking about their ambitions than women in Japan, Hong Kong or Singapore, where the question is often met with silence or a detached shrug. For many women I encountered in Korea and Vietnam, ambition does not square with leadership, and instead has more negative than positive connotations. Being seen as “ambitious” still conjures a pejorative image for women.

Read the rest, here.

jane

Join us at our event, tonight.



WMNPRES

Kicking off 2014, Women Media Networks hosted an event about personal and presentation communication skills (#wmnpres). Our friend and supporter, @TheModernBelle_ writes up her takeaways from the event.

I was invited to blog about the event, covering a topic I find especially interesting. Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin, offered valuable tips on how to present yourself and also revealed her big secret on public speaking (I’ll come to that later).

Pantin has a love for the art of communication and has worked in over five countries around the world, which includes 25 years with Reuters. Her experience is evident as she makes us think about our personal brands.

What makes a brand?
The talk begins with Pantin asking us to consider, “if I were a brand, what would my label say?” She showed us an example of a food label, which often use positive buzz-words, like organic, natural, healthy, or improved recipe.

Brands always present themselves in a positive light, so that’s something to think about applying to your own brand. She also asks, “what do people look for in a brand?” Image is everything, so having a high-resolution, professional photograph of yourself is important. Think about how you want to come across in your photo – friendly? Professional?

Being unique is another important factor. What makes a brand stand out? Why is it different to others? What makes it memorable? Pantin cites National Geographic’s iconic magazine cover from 1985, of the girl who was an Afghan refugee and was photographed for the very first time – it’s a great example of uniqueness. And something that most remember, because of the girl’s expression and the look in her eyes which told a story of war.

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What makes a personal brand?
Appearance, voice, written and verbal communication, experiences, upbringing, values and most importantly, market value are all facets contribute to defining a personal brand. Pantin advises us to understand our market value within our industries, explaining that many women tend to shy away from their real market value. 

She also advises us not to forget about the digital side ­­– be careful when expressing yourself on social media, as it can be potentially damaging to your personal brand if you come across as negative or controversial.

WMNPRES

Citing Kiran Bedi as an example of a great personal brand, we saw a short clip of Bedi’s TED talk
 where she tells the story of her upbringing. Her family (in India) broke traditional roles and she was educated instead of staying at home. She went on to work in a prison and managed to make a significant change. Bedi’s passion and courage was evident in the talk, which helps her to be a great personal brand – being personal helps people to feel connected to you.

Presentation
Who are you and what do you want to say?

Pantin reveals her No. 1 tip when it comes to personal branding: Trust yourself.

You know yourself better than anyone else,  and you are your best story-teller. Pantin points out that we each have more control over the impression we make than we think we do, so consider about your opening line and the type of language you use throughout the presentation.

Of course, content matters. Make sure you your facts and figures are well researched and correct and don’t over-complicate the presentation. Rehearse until you feel comfortable enough and remember your notes more. Every crowd is different, so anticipate your audience’s needs – especially if they’re a smaller crowd.

Among the facts Pantin shares is that 75% of women decline an invitation to speak publicly. SO here’s Pantin’s big secret tip: Everyone gets nervous and afraid, so don’t worry about presenting. She advises trying to look comfortable and to wear comfortable clothes – there’s nothing worse than being nervous and physically uncomfortable! To help, familiarise yourself with the location before the presentation and get used to the setup. And when you present, remember to give eye contact and pause every so often.

photo_1

 

Conference calls
You might not consider this public speaking, but con calls can be tricky – more so because you can’t see the other people involved in the conversation.

Pantin advises to prep beforehand and know who and how many people will be on the call. If you have a moderator, it’s useful to ask people to announce themselves when they speak. Follow a pre-arranged agenda and make notes during the call. Now, your voice is your image, so be mindful of your tone – smiling when you speak can really help, here. Interrupting someone who goes on too long can be hard – the audience offer a few ideas here, like waiting for the right moment or interrupting with a clarifying question. And finally, make sure there’s a backup plan if you have technical problems.

Ending a call is as important as ending a presentation – end strong, say thank you and smile. One of the best tips Pantin offers is to always have a Q&A session after the presentation or call – it’s the best opportunity to get valuable feedback.

 


 

 



Event hastag: #wmnkids

I know that this is an long write-up, but today’s fantastic event really deserves it!

It’s taken a lot of emails and turning over of ideas to get our CASBAA panel topic and guests just right. Recognising that we create the world in which we live, especially with such strong media influences, we will look at how today’s media affect our children – tomorrow’s leaders – how it shapes our thoughts, how children consume media and how they then see the world.


 

Our panel is made up of moderator and CNN International anchor/ correspondant, Kristie Lu Stout, with panel members: Christine Brendle, founding partner of Kids Dailies Limited and non-executive independent director of The Red Flag group; Jeremy Hall-Smith, Managing Director, Persuasive Networks Ltd; Jay Oatway, leading social media authority in Asia-Pacific; Alice Wilder, Educational Psychologist. 

wmnkidscrowd

 

Lu-Stout opens the event admitting that as a youngster she watched it all, from Degrassi Junior High and Duck Tales to prime time shows like Golden Girls – totalling about five hours of media content a day. Now, we have more screens and different devices, on top of the web, apps and video games.

While second screen viewing is common, it’s something we didn’t experience as children. Wilder says that media kids can access as much media as they like. But she points out that kids don’t change – media does. “Their developmental needs and the impact media has on them doesn’t change, despite all these devices,” she says. Even from pre-school and early primary, children access things like YouTube and play with apps via their parents’ devices. What is the impact?

Defining ‘impact’, we look at language development. According to Brendle, from birth to five, parents push tablets and are proud at how fast children learn to use the right kind of technology, say for for language acquisition, especially when learning more than one language or how to write.

But after that age, parents want children to use pen and paper and take away access to the tablet. It’s a confusing message for children. “This needs reconciling. Our children’s minds will be different if they don’t learn to write the way we did, that’s part of how our brains develop, through tracing and copying.”

For Oatway, it’s about parental choices. Digital devices feel like unchartered waters when it comes to child rearing. “We’re weary of just plopping our kids in front of the TV and apps,” he says. There’s so much content now, accessible on so many devices that you have to co-view.

Lu points out that parents now curate what their children see, which was not such a factor in the past. Managing what your children watch or what app they use takes time to research and curate, Outway points out. But some apps and games are developed for learning and can be used well. Another point is that parents don’t often use parental locks, but typically the same device is used around the house, so kid can and will access programs used by adults too.

“What’s allowed into your house?” asks Wilder. It’s true, you wouldn’t have just any babysitter but the screen acts as one.

Do you converse with your child about what they have seen and what they feel about it? For instance, a program like Wilder’s Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids, which teaches financial literacy to 7-12 year olds, might encourage a child to talk about money with their parents, learning about something important.

But Wilder points out, conversations at school, even if your child didn’t see it, gives an experience of it. Hall-Smith re-iterates: Most parents don’t engage with their children over their TV viewing. “It’s more ‘I don’t have time at the moment,’ than a tool for discussion”. Perhaps in truth, we don’t approve of screen babysitting.

 

Kids online
Children going online is another media issue for parents. “In the past, it was the geeky kid who went online but now, all kids might do that, finding friends online who like what they like.” says Oatway, He says benefits include increasing self esteem. On top, the social currency is that you find things online that you talk about in the playground, making you cool and part of a group. It’s cool to be geeky.

Using Twitter in the classroom has also been positive according to Wilder. Young children learn about communication and if they tweet out, parents can see it and know what their child did that day, but also, children learn how to write messages and share their day.

Cyber bullying is a recent and heavy issue. Currently the story of three girls in Florida is all over the news. This unchartered territory is one that parents will have to watch this as their kids grow. But Oatway says “social media is open and transparent so cyber bullying isn’t secret – it’s not the back alley behind school, so why is this happening?”

If anything, social media should teach kids to be open and friendly but also learn how to build the right network of reliable friends and reach out if something bad happens. An issue that Oatway points out is that media is changing so fast that some children haven’t known to reach out and nor have adults been aware of the issues. Bad things have happened. Wilder reconfirms her belief that parents are responsible for discussing their kids activities with them: What have they been doing? Why? Perhaps again, the issue here, is lack of time.

Children’s digital footprint and privacy are another issue for Internet use. Online privacy classes might well be taught in schools eventually, alongside sex ed. “Being online and private depends on what network you use,” says Oatway. Twitter can be private, but Facebook is harder to manage in terms of managing privacy. But he advocates that Google + and Facebook encourage the use of real names, which leads for a more bona fide online friend. “The worst online trolls usually hide behind an anonymous mask. Here’s another conundrum: We want privacy but we also want transparency.”

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Copying what’s on screen – or do ratings matter?
In China a video of two boys were caught having tied a nine year old to a tree and set fire to him. They were copying a cartoon. But Hall-Smith points out that this is no different to the Three Stooges, it’s not new media.

Video games are something that parents and producers both consider when it comes to age appropriateness – and laws ensure that. But does that thought reach further? “There’s no longer a separate bubble of adult and child content,” says Brendle. Lu-Stout steps into the discussion with an anecdote: This conversation happens regularly at CNN International, who have recently introduced a “WARNING” alert on screen so that parents can stop their children from seeing inappropriate news content.

Rating systems or lack thereof matter – TV and apps are ungoverned, but broadcast is much more regulated than digital. Oatway says, “digital has a better chance of fixing this issue than broadcast will, because as people increasingly log into content via a social media account like Facebook, the channel or media source can identify the supposed age of that user. TV doesn’t have that luxury.”

Hall-Smith quips, “you’re pre-supposing that those running such platforms have an interest in verifying the age of the person behind the account. Children will subvert any controls they can. The genie is out of the bottle and always has been. Look at what they’d do to get GTA!”

Brendle reminds us again, “we need to consider what needs to be protected from the past, from traditional roles of education.” Her concern is less over morals but what brain activities, what stimuli we know works. Wilder adds that technology is just another tool, nothing else. Pre-schoolers are curious and are life-long learners, so as adults creating content we should capture that, and use technology to help. The invention of the printing press didn’t make everyone an author. The invention of the camera didn’t make everyone a director.

 

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This blog was guest written by an adorable, energetic and sweet friend of mine. I had no idea that this woman, who works for our sponsor, Turner, was also into stage performances! So, when she told me one Sunday that she was working on a play about maids who want to kill their boss, of course I wanted to go! Then, she told me that the two lead roles of the maids were written to be performed by men, a wish that had rarely been carried out. Ok, now she really had my interested. And then the other conversation came up – how does she do that, and her full time job? Can she have it all?

– Vickie, WMN

 


 

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Having a full time job in Television, like most jobs in Hong Kong really, means long hours. And in a competitive environment like ours it also means a lot of mental energy invested towards that job.

I chase a career, which I love, spend time with my husband and go to the gym sporadically. I could consider myself underachieving, compared to women who are doing it all. Those marathon-running, brownie-baking, soccer-mum, investment bankers. And that’s usually ok.

I write usually, because there is a part of me that lies untapped that I wish I had time to expand on. A part that is too exhausted to get up and do it. And that’s my love of theater and more importantly my love of directing for stage. Owning the stage is a part of me, an integral core of ‘me’.

The stage is my medium of expression and art. I see the space and shape of a stage and think of a script. ‘Could I perform

here?’ I see actors and think ‘how can I mold them?’ I see spot lights and imagine them cast as shadows. I see the empty seats and think ‘how can I engage the audience?’

But my full time job means I can never do justice to a script. To perform a script is to live, breathe and feel the script . And as a director it becomes all-consuming.

I had nearly given up on my dream to direct, when a month back, the phone rang and out of the blue I got an offer to co-direct a script. Sometimes when the opportunity to live your dream appears in front of you, don’t rationalise or evaluate, just jump right in. I jumped in and said YES. And then rather belatedly remembered I hadn’t asked what the piece was which is not the deep thinking director I thought myself to be. Content is King and Script is Prime.

And then a panic stricken realisation that I had said YES to an insanely short timeline to put together a performance for the public!

Don’t think, just make a commitment and move ahead to make it happen.

Lucky for me the script turned out to Jean Genet’s classic The Maids. And the most intriguing thing about this play is the fact that Genet wanted the two female leads to be played by men.

As the protagonists perform their roles, they also role-play. They act out their anger, their frustration and play-act their murderous plot. Through this maze of truth and lies, the audience is forever reminded that something is being performed for them. The illusion of reality is broken.

 

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I spent very real days at my desk at work and then surreal evenings directing female roles forgetting our actors were men. Weekends spent discussing hair and make-up, costumes and props.

I am sleep deprived but feel like I have run a marathon too. I did it all in my universe.

As the play opens in November, I will feel like a proud mother. Whatever the outcome, its my baby and she is amazing!

 

The Maids runs from November 6th-9th at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. To book tickets to see The Maids, contact Urbtix

 

Tina is Associate Director Sponsorship and Promotions – Creative Brand Solutions at Turner International Asia Pacific Limited. Follow Tina’s blog.


 

 

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