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Guest Blog: Colin Stokes On “Ban Bossy” Launch

Posted by Maura Welch February 27, 2014 11:18 AM

Girl Scouts and Lean In Team Up To “Ban Bossy”  | By Colin Stokes

“This is a perfect example of ideas in action–the entire section of the parent toolkit is inspired by the TEDxBeaconStreet talk.  I met Sheryl Sandberg and helped the Lean In team develop an activity that parents all over the world can use with their families to change the way children watch movies.”

Colin, on his collaboration with the “Ban Bossy” movement

I’m so proud to be a part of the new campaign “Ban Bossy,” organized by the Girl Scouts of the USA and LeanIn.org. I personally would be nowhere without the many take-charge women I love, some of whom I must confess I have called “bossy” over the years. (Sorry mom. Sorry honey.)

As Sheryl Sandberg and Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Maria Chavez summarize in their recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, the word pops into our heads when girls and women show leadership qualities. That’s not because we’re all sexist jerks. It’s because we’ve been trained to think that way, and the word is one way we get that training:

The word “bossy” has carried both a negative and a female connotation for more than a century. The first citation of “bossy” in the Oxford English Dictionary refers to an 1882 article in Harper’s Magazine, which declared: “There was a lady manager who was dreadfully bossy.” A Google Ngram analysis of digitized books over the past 100 years found that the use of “bossy” to describe women first peaked in the Depression-era 1930s, when popular sentiment held that a woman should not “steal” a job from a man, and reached its highest point in the mid-1970s as the women’s movement ramped up and more women entered the workforce.

Most dictionary entries for “bossy” provide a sentence showing its proper use, and nearly all focus on women.

Culture, including language, teaches each generation what to value and what to believe. As parents, we have a crucial role to play in helping our children filter the culture in a way that reflects the values we hold. So, if you want your children to believe that women and men can both be leaders, try not to signify through what you say and do that really, little girl, it’s kind of annoying when you raise your hand and have ideas and stuff.

Their teams have put together a fun website with tools for girls, parents, teachers, managers, and troop leaders. There’s also a highlights section called “Things We Love,” and I’m so delighted that my TED talk on “How Movies Teach Manhood” is featured. In fact, the talk has inspired an entire activity for parents!

“Leadership Tips for Parents” (PDF) I helped design the movie-watching activity on page 10 that will help you introduce great media criticism into your regular movie nights. Yes, the Bechdel Test figures prominently.

Girls Leadership Institute co-founder Rachel Simmons and the Girl Scout Research Institute have compiled 10 tips:
  1. Encourage Girls and Boys Equally to Lead
  2. Be Conscious of the Ways You and She Talk
  3. Make Your Home an Equal Household
  4. Teach Her to Respect Her Feelings
  5. Moms and Grandmoms: Model Assertive Behavior
  6. Dads and Granddads: Know Your Influence
  7. Seize the Power of Organized Sports and Activities
  8. Get Media Literate–Together (hey, this looks familiar)
  9. Let Her Solve Problems on Her Own
  10. Encourage Her to Step Outside Her Comfort Zone

Looks to me like an excellent handbook on how to ban bossy in your household (while cultivating the strong, brave, and compassionate children we want to lead the next generation).

Read the full Article on Colin’s Blog: Zoom In

Follow Colin Stokes: @stokescolin

Our Speaker Alex-Wissner Gross on TED.com Copy

Posted by Maura Welch February 27, 2014 11:18 AM

Congratulations to Alex Wissner-Gross, our first speaker to land on the homepage of TED.com! 820,054 views and counting… That’s the population of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville combined.

In November, Alex took to the TEDxBeaconStreet stage to discuss an innovative theory. He proposed a simple equation for intelligence, suggesting it is actually a force that attempts to maximize future possibilities. (Note: Good news for generalists??)

Even for non-physicists, this elegant thesis is digestible and contradicts the many Hollywood portrayals of domineering artificial intelligence, from Kubrick’s HAL 9000 to contemporary tales like Eagle Eye and I, Robot.

Will Smith can rest easy, not having to defend humanity from tyrannical robots overlords, but instead let the machines calculate the most efficient means of earning money, moving supplies, maximizing outputs, among other tiresome tasks. Machines become the middle managers and laborers, allowing humans to spend more time doing the unquantifiable things that define our “human-ness”.

Perhaps our great feats will not be measured by our ability to build thinking machines, but our ability to free up our own human computational power to tackle more substantial endeavors–to continually create and evolve.

For those skeptical about the great power and great responsibility of intelligent machines, Alex projects that the development of this technology with be met with stricter regulations:

“Whenever we’ve introduced through our technological genius, systems that are more energetic than we are, faster than we are, larger than we are, more massive, we’ve always found the need to introduce regulatory apparatuses of various forms that enable us puny humans to manage these systems.”

Give a listen to our full interview from the TEDxBeaconStreet press room, covering thoughts ranging from the Singularity to Skynet’s marketing problems:

Follow Alex Wissner-Gross: @alexwg

Interviewers: @mjbrender @thecatybird

Our Speaker Alex-Wissner Gross on TED.com

Posted by Maura Welch February 27, 2014 11:18 AM

Congratulations to Alex Wissner-Gross, our first speaker to land on the homepage of TED.com! 820,054 views and counting… That’s the population of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville combined.

In November, Alex took to the TEDxBeaconStreet stage to discuss an innovative theory. He proposed a simple equation for intelligence, suggesting it is actually a force that attempts to maximize future possibilities. (Note: Good news for generalists??)

Even for non-physicists, this elegant thesis is digestible and contradicts the Hollywood portrayal of domineering artificial intelligence, from Kubrick’s HAL 9000 to contemporary tales like Eagle Eye and I, Robot.

Will Smith can rest easy, not having to defend humanity from domineering robots overlords, but instead let the machines calculate the most efficient means of earning money, moving supplies, maximizing outputs, among other tiresome tasks. Machines become the middle managers and laborers, allowing humans to spend more time doing the unquantifiable things that define our “human-ness”.

Perhaps our great feats will not be measured by our ability to build thinking machines, but our ability to free up our own human computational power to tackle more substantial endeavors–to continually create and evolve.

For those skeptical about the great power and great responsibility of intelligent machines, Alex projects that the development of this technology with be met with stricter regulations:

“Whenever we’ve introduced through our technological genius, systems that are more energetic than we are, faster than we are, larger than we are, more massive, we’ve always found the need to introduce regulatory apparatuses of various forms that enable us puny humans to manage these systems.”

Give a listen to our full interview from the TEDxBeaconStreet press room, covering thoughts ranging from the Singularity to Skynet’s marketing problems:

Follow Alex Wissner-Gross: @alexwg

Interviewers: @mjbrender @thecatybird

Harnessing the Potential of Stem Cells for New Medicines

Posted by Maura Welch February 16, 2014 04:28 PM

By Charles Tiu

When we think about what inspires us to pursue our passions, we may think of wise words of a mentor, a loved one suffering from a chronic illness, or the friend who gave us a helping hand when we most needed it.  For Dr. Doug Melton, a stem cell scientist, he found inspiration when his son was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 6.  Since then, he has been on a quest to cure it.

“From diabetes to diseases of the nervous system in the brain – stem cells offer a great new hope for finding new drugs and treating those people… I don’t think we should be resigned to… deal with diseases the way we deal with them now.”

Through Dr. Melton’s work, he is creating a world where laboratories everywhere in the world interested in curing a disease can use stem cells to create copies of a patient’s defective cells to study the disease and search for a treatment.  “Let’s get rid of as much human disease as we can,” he says.  By creating a duplicate of the cells instead of taking them directly from a patient, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, for example, wouldn’t have to donate a portion of the brain, and laboratories from North America to China can gain greater access to defective cells for research.  It’s not immortality, per se, but “I don’t see why we can’t enjoy longer and healthier lives,” says Dr. Melton.

When asked what’s next, Melton returns to the core of his inspiration – his children. Melton hopes to use an implantable device with a “teabag” that will squirt insulin into the human body based on the body’s current glucose levels.  This way, patients will no longer need to inject themselves three times a day.  Instead, they only need to visit a clinic once a year or three times a year for a teabag replacement, thus allowing the patient to go on with as close to a normal life as possible.

February 12th: Virtual Conference Event

Posted by Maura Welch February 8, 2014 09:02 PM
hosted by TEDxBeaconStreet and MIT Media Lab in collaboration with MacArthur Foundation

We want to experiment this year with a number of different ways to advance ideas, i.e. to Ideas in Action. We have the opportunity to try an interesting new format – virtual conversations using the Unhangout Platform. We are inviting some of our speakers to be hosts of virtual discussion rooms on February 12. On the day of the event, there will be a kick-off webinar, after which people will proceed to the session they are interested in. In the individual discussion room, participants will hear from a speaker, view a TEDxBeaconStreet talk and discuss it. We hope this catalyzes interest, ideas, and the potential for follow-up to help advance the idea.

twelve speakers will join us in a virtual conversation room

SAME DAY: 

Also join the TEDxBeaconStreet Leadership team for an Annual Meeting.

February 12th, 7pm-9pm  @MIT Media Lab

About this blog

TEDxBeaconStreet is a Greater Boston TEDx founded on the mission IDEAS IN ACTION, with speakers carefully curated for a free conference series: TEDxBeaconStreet and TEDxBeaconStreetYouth. Save the date for our next conference Nov. 16 and 17. More »

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