Do babies slow women down and knock them off the fast track? Does a sudden drop of the shoulder signify that a person is lying? These two very different but equally intriguing questions were addressed by two experts in their fields – Dr Mary Ann Mason, author of Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers, and “human lie detector” Dr Paul Ekman, at a National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series event.
Speaking to an audience, which included a select group of community leaders, law enforcement and government officials, academics and friends and donors of NUS, eminent psychologist Dr Ekman talked about facial ‘microexpressions’ which can be used in detecting lies. Dr Ekman’s focus is on lies that have severe or criminal consequences. An advisor to the producers of the popular television show Lie To Me, Dr Ekman illustrated his ideas with clips of OJ Simpson’s defence witness Kato Kaelin and Britsh spy Kim Philby.
Next door, Dr Mason, a professor and former Dean of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley, kept a roomful of powerful women riveted with her research which shows that despite increasing numbers of women graduating and entering the workforce, a disproportionately low number are making it to the top. What’s to blame? Motherhood.
Dr Mason says, “A major factor which determines whether you’re in middle management or at the top depends on whether you have babies.” But the good news is that more family-friendly policies put in place by governments and organisations can make a significant difference, as Dr Mason saw at the University of California, Berkeley, where between 2003 and 2009, the percentage of female assistant professors with at least one child more than doubled, from 27 per cent to 64 per cent, after new family-friendly initiatives were put in place.
Meanwhile, Dr Mason’s tips to mothers who don’t want to become a depressing statistic: Stay in the game. Have mentors. Take a chance on second chances. Don’t marry a jerk.
”Losing confidence is the No. 1 thing that happens to mothers,” she says. So, have a 40-year plan and don’t give up.
The talks were followed by lively Q&A sessions, lunch and networking.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society.
To know more about NUS Greater Good Series events, email Jeanne.firstname.lastname@example.org