After her mother-in-law had difficulty signing up for a Covid-19 vaccine, a Massachusetts woman created a website to make it easier for her — and she made it easier for everyone.
Olivia Adams built a website that pulls in vaccination appointments from across the state, including government sites as well as ones operated by private businesses. She called it macovidvaccines.com.
Photo Credit: CNN
The 28-year-old software developer from Arlington, Massachusetts, says she spent three weeks and about 40 hours building the website — and she did it while on maternity leave caring for her 2-month-old son, she told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Monday.
“I thought I’d take a look and I was surprised at how decentralized everything was and how there are a thousand different websites to go to,” Adams said. “I thought, ‘How can I put my software skills to use to make this better in my free time?'”
Free time usually happened when her newborn is sleeping, Adams said. She said her 2-year-old son is at day care, so she’s lucky not to be caring for both during the day.
The inspiration came after listening to her mother-in-law, who had a tough time signing up for an appointment. Her mother-in-law is a dental hygienist who qualified for the first phase of vaccinations, she said.
“She had a little trouble figuring out where to go and how to get signed up,” Adams said. “She was able to do it, but it took a little while and then she had the same problem when she was able to sign her father up when he became eligible at the beginning of our phase two.”
Her family isn’t alone in their vaccine sign-up struggles. People across the country, from senior citizens to others in the early vaccine phases, have faced with hours waiting on the phone and logging online to see no spots available.
She said she is used to making complicated software related to health care needs in her job as a lead member of the technical staff at Athenahealth, a health care technology company.
But, she’s never created a website quite like this.
“This was my first time making a complicated website myself,” she said. “The hardest part about it is that every website that has availability information I have to kind of tell my computer how to read that website like a human. That’s where all the man hours went in.”
The vaccine appointments are available at a number of sites, from those run by the state to those administered at grocery stores and pharmacies. Parsing all that information for each provider is where it got a bit time consuming, she said.
Adams has a script that runs every five minutes across about 20 different vaccine sites, she wrote in an email.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was asked about Adams’ vaccine website at a press conference on Friday. “Send us her name, we’ll talk to her,” Baker said Friday.
Professional Woman’s Magazine recently spoke with Ashley Mehta, chairwoman, CEO and president of Nolij Consulting, a woman-owned, solutions-focused healthcare IT company that specializes in digital healthcare modernization for the military, public and commercial sectors.
Mehta founded the Northern Virginia-based Nolij Consulting in 2013, and since then, has scaled the company to be the leader in healthcare IT.
We asked the Ohio native more about Nolij, her challenges as a female business owner and her goals for the future:
Professional Woman’s Magazine (PWM): Tell us a little bit more about your background. Were you always interested in IT?
Mehta: I am a graduate of the Ohio State University’s Max. M. Fisher College of Business. I have two children and am privileged to be in a position where I can create a positive, impactful work environment for my employees while giving back to the community and championing causes that I am passionate about, including veterans’ and women’s issues. I love working in IT because, whether it’s making systems more efficient, reducing client expenditure or producing better outcomes, technology is able to create a significant and real change in organizations and people’s lives. Yes, I’ve always been interested in technology as it increases business efficiencies and brings people together to solve the most pressing business problems.
PWM: What led you to create Nolij Consulting?
Mehta: I was a former stay-at-home mom with two young children who found herself in a position where I needed to go back to work. I joined a large consulting firm and had the opportunity to learn the entire spectrum of the business – from compliance to proposals, business development, technology and everything in between. As the industry started shifting from large business opportunities to more small business opportunities, I recognized my chance to start my own company and make a real difference in the industry while having the work/life balance I wanted so I could juggle all of my responsibilities. From there, Nolij was born. Over the past 9 years, we have made great strides against considerable odds in establishing ourselves amid a crowded GovCon marketplace! Ironically enough, I have trained several previously stay at home moms in this business and they now work for Nolij.
PWM: What challenges, if any, have you experienced as a female founder and CEO in this space?
Mehta: The biggest obstacle I’ve faced to date is the lack of prime IT opportunities specifically set aside for women-owned businesses. As Nolij has grown its footprint across the GovCon space, and is now expanding into the commercial sector, I’ve continued to focus on key areas, such as cybersecurity, RPA and AI, where we can expand our partnerships to create new opportunities for women-owned businesses.
PWM: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to-date?
Mehta: Building a successful, thriving business and creating an outstanding consulting company with a great work environment for my employees while being a great mother is my greatest accomplishment so far. Our employees gave us a 4 on Glassdoor, which is no easy feat to achieve for an organization. Glassdoor is a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies. I am proud of employing leading talent across the industry and having the expertise to serve our clients and add to their success.
Nolij is proud to give back to various charities and support the less fortunate in our community. As a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of having extra money to give to those in need.
I’ve been able to do this while raising two beautiful children who have worked hard as well and have bright futures ahead of them. These successes inspire me every day to keep moving forward.
PWM: What advice would you give to another female entrepreneur?
Mehta: I would say that leading by example, putting yourself in front of clients and marketing your company on social media is very important. It’s also critical to set yourself apart and create a differentiator for your company. Distinguish your company and invest heavily in training resources and certifications for your organization and your employees. To build a successful team, be sure you are offering the right benefits that will keep employees with you and give them the chance to grow professionally. It’s no longer expensive to provide the benefits and resources that larger companies do. It is important to create a strong foundation to make people feel valued and enjoy coming to work each day. And remember, once you have a strong service/product offering, no one will care if you are a man or a woman.
PWM: What are your goals for Nolij Consulting? What do you hope to achieve in the future?
Mehta: We are focused on strategic growth in a number of areas going forward to make the company future-ready. We are also focused on strong partnerships and relationships to further strengthen our capabilities to meet our clients’ goals. We’ve created three new joint ventures (JV) focused on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, emerging technologies and health IT services. These joint ventures are a combination of 8A, WOSB, Hubzone, and SDVOSB managed JVs. We also have a mentor protégé JV relationship with a large health IT company where we plan to win opportunities under relevant IT contract vehicles. We are currently working to win several contract vehicles that give us the ability to win task orders under those vehicles. We just recently won GSA 8A STARS III and Navy Seaport NxG. We are also strengthening our AI /ML solutions to establish a strong capability in software testing and Electronic Health Records (EHR). We just won an artificial intelligence sole source opportunity with Health and Human Services (HHS). We’ve established several emerging, next-generation technology product partnerships and are currently establishing a workforce that is well trained on delivering these products. Our goal is to achieve an even stronger health IT company focused on our employee’s wellbeing while providing excellent health IT services to our clients.
PWM: What is something colleagues would be surprised to know/learn about you?
Mehta: I have a twin brother who is also in IT. He is more in the sales and software product side of the business. My son looks quite a bit like him. I also have an older brother who is in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. I grew up with my father owning his own consulting business around continuing education for CPAs. He did not have the luxury of the business conveniences that we have today. Due to the lack of technology, he had to educate CPAs in person, ship heavy training materials for his classes and had to conduct business over a phone hooked up to a wall. Today we can offer e-learning opportunities, send large documents over the internet, use our mobile phones to have Zoom or WebEx meetings with clients across the world. As a business owner and mother, I have a tremendous amount of respect for what my dad accomplished while raising kids without the technological advances we have today.
PWM: Anything else you would like to add that we missed?
Mehta: If your company has predominately male leadership, if it’s not leaning more towards a healthy even split, then the next generation of women will consider your company yesterday’s product. A product not worth their investment and time; a place where innovation and creativity will be stifled by outdated norms.
I want to take a moment to recognize the bright daughters of my outstanding employees and all that they are accomplishing. It’s exciting to think about a future where their contributions will not only be recognized but will be sought-after. Ultimately, empowering women in the workplace ensures your company will be ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.
Britney Spears and Sam Asghari are ready to say “I do!”
Spears and Asghari announced their engagement on Instagram on Sunday after more than four years of dating.
The singer and actor-fitness enthusiast were first romantically linked after meeting on the set of Spears’ “Slumber Party” music video in 2016.
Spears, 39, and Asghari, 27, shared the happy news on Instagram, and Asghari’s manager Brandon Cohen shared in an additional statement to PEOPLE that he is “proud to celebrate and confirm the engagement.”
“The couple made their long-standing relationship official today and are deeply touched by the support, dedication and love expressed to them,” said Cohen, adding that Spears’ new ring was designed by N.Y.C. jeweler Roman Malayev.
“He couldn’t be happier to be involved and make this one-of-a-kind ring,” added Cohen.
In a sweet video, Spears — who a source tells PEOPLE exclusively is “ecstatic” about the proposal— showed off her new rock with Asghari by her side. “Yes!” she tells Asghari after he asks if she likes her new bling.
The singer has had a year filled with up and downs as she continues to fight to end her 13-year conservatorship.
In August, Spears praised her now-fiancé on Instagram for helping her through the “hardest years” of her life.
“Not only has this cute asshole been with me through the hardest years of my life but he happens to be an extremely good cook 👨🏽🍳!” Spears wrote. “Fast & Furious franchise, don’t miss out on your next star 🌟🏎️👗🤓 !!!!”
According to the American Psychological Association, the country is facing a mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.
This was brought on by the stress created by the pandemic, leaving many people to feel anxiety and worry more. With that in mind, it’s crucial that people prioritize relaxing and reducing stress in order to protect their mental health. The good news is there are numerous things they can do to help them achieve that goal.
“Being busy became such a trend, as though busy equated success – now freedom and flexibility are the symbols of success,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “It’s hard for people to chill out when their systems are programmed to be going nonstop and working nonstop. It takes a minute to down regulate the system in order to actually reduce stress and chill out.”
In a Pew Research Center survey, at least 60% of the adults reported that they sometimes feel too busy to enjoy life, with 12% of them saying they felt that way all of the time. Living like this is one sure way to increase stress and anxiety levels. Having long term stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, and depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
While many people want to reduce the stress in their lives, they are not always sure how to go about doing so. Here are 5 ways to chill out in a hectic life:
Mindfulness. Keeping yourself in the present moment can go a long way toward helping you lower stress, anxiety, and even depression as well as help you get better sleep and establish a better sense of well-being. Mindfulness is something that everyone can learn and practice anywhere at anytime.
Connect with people. Getting together with people we enjoy being around helps us laugh, feel connected, and make us happier. Those populations who are the healthiest in the world, such as the Blue Zones, tend to get together for social interaction regularly. Join a group or find some friends you like to be around and meet up on a regular basis. If you don’t feel comfortable being in person – create zoom social events; something is better than nothing.
Be in nature. There are many health benefits from spending time in nature. Even a view of nature helps us feel better and can improve our mood. Be sure to get outdoor time, taking walks, biking, gardening, or doing something else you enjoy. Nature-deficit disorder is real. Whatever you choose, just be sure to spend time outside and in nature.
Schedule free time. With the busy lives that people live today it may be necessary to put free time on the schedule. This way it will be a part of your plan and you will have to give it your attention. Don’t let other things crowd out your scheduled free time.
Set the intention. The first part of making your life less hectic is to set the intention that you are going to chill out. Setting the intention will get you to formulate your thoughts, plans, and goals. Determine what you want, what you will do to make it happen, and what you want the outcome to be.
“You can’t continue to put off reducing your hectic and stressful lifestyle,” added Sandler. “Having a more relaxing life with less stress takes being proactive and making some changes. You have to put work into it, some of it may seem counterintuitive, but what you get back is beyond rewarding.”
Sandler has worked with many people to help them identify a plan for personal achievement, take steps to reach goals, and identify areas that need to be worked on. She provides people with meaningful tools that they can use to help bring calm and insight into their life. In addition to working with individuals, she offers luxury impact retreats.
Sandler has a bachelor’s degree in psychology anda master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practice. She previously spent time as a research assistant while at Johns Hopkins, focusing on purpose in life. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.
About Katie Sandler
Katie Sandler is a popular impact coach and provides health and wealth coaching and personal and professional development. She offers retreats around the world, as well as private coaching and corporate impact coaching opportunities. She focuses on helping people become more successful so they can live with purpose and make an impact in our world. To learn more about Katie or her services, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.
Britney Spears is one huge step closer to being free. On Sept. 7, Jamie Spears—the star’s father and her conservator for 13 years—filed a petition to end his daughter’s conservatorship altogether, in what her lawyer called “a massive legal victory for Britney Spears, as well as vindication.”
“Recent events related to this conservatorship have called into question whether circumstances have changed to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist,” reads the filing, as seen by People.
“Ms. Spears has told this Court that she wants control of her life back without the safety rails of a conservatorship,” the filing continues. “She wants to be able to make decisions regarding her own medical care, deciding when, where and how often to get therapy. She wants to control the money she has made from her career and spend it without supervision or oversight. She wants to be able to get married and have a baby, if she so chooses. In short, she wants to live her life as she chooses without the constraints of a conservator or court proceeding.”
Jamie Spears had previously agreed to step down as conservator “when the time is right” after initially refusing to step down at all. But for Britney Spears’ lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, this wasn’t enough: The singer’s father should step down immediately, he said.
This new court filing therefore represents a huge leap forward for Britney Spears’ case. “As Mr. Spears has said again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the filing continues. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.”
Jamie Spears wanted to step down only if certain financial demands were met, but Rosengart was fully opposed to this settlement. “Having exposed his misconduct and improper plan to hold his daughter hostage by trying to extract a multi-million dollar settlement, Mr. Spears has now effectively surrendered. There is no settlement,” Rosengart told People.
He continued, “To the extent Mr. Spears believes he can try to avoid accountability and justice, including sitting for a sworn deposition and answering other discovery under oath, he is incorrect and our investigation into financial mismanagement and other issues will continue.”
Click here to read the full article on Marie Claire.
Kelley Flanagan is sharing “some not so good news” with her followers — she’s tested positive for Lyme disease.
The former Bachelor contestant, 29, posted a video on Instagram where she tearfully explains that she’s struggling with the news about her health.
“I’m not having the best day today,” Flanagan said, before sharing that she tested positive for Lyme disease. The reality star said that she suspected that something was off because her body “is so much more sensitive and super reactive to a bunch of things.”
“Two of my brothers have Lyme disease and a lot of their symptoms sounded really similar to me,” she said. “Cause I’ve just always had something off since I was young, and like, really really had to take care of myself.”
Flanagan said that she thinks “this is something that I’ve had maybe for a while,” and she’s partially relieved to have a diagnosis.
“It’s a blessing and a curse because now I can target why I feel off so often but also means several different lifestyle changes and extensive research on how to help/hopefully cure this!” she wrote in the caption. “I know this is going to be tough for me seeing what my brothers have gone through mentally and physically but I’m going to put so much of my time and energy into figuring this out and combatting this.”
Flanagan, crying, said that her diagnosis is “not the end of the world, but it’s definitely going to [lead to] a lot of changes.”
The reality star promised to take her followers “on this journey of me figuring it out.”
“I’m trying to stay positive,” she said.
Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment.
Naomi Osaka discovered what it’s like to be at the sharp end of a sporting governing body’s regulations this summer.
The four-time grand slam singles champion declined to attend press conferences as she began her French Open campaign in June — citing the importance of protecting her mental health and addressing the toll that media interviews had previously taken on her.
The French Open organizers responded by fining the world No. 2 an amount of $15,000 and threatening to expel her from future grand slams, after they deemed her withdrawal from press conferences as a failure on her part to meet “contractual media obligations.”
Osaka made the decision to withdraw from Roland Garros altogether, then skipped Wimbledon, before returning to play at the Tokyo Olympics.
What’s happened to Osaka over the last few months has left many critical of her sport’s handling of the situation, and wishing those who govern her sport had adopted a more empathetic and sensitive approach given she was dealing with mental health issues.
In fact, just after Osaka said she would be opting out of speaking to the press at the tournament, the French Open official Twitter account posted a since-deleted tweet that included photos of four other players engaging in media duties — Coco Gauff, Kei Nishikori, Aryna Sablenka and Rafael Nadal — which carried the caption: “They understood the assignment.”
The tweet appeared to be directed at Osaka and her decision to withdraw from media obligations. It was considered by several former tennis players and pundits as insensitive, and former doubles champion Rennae Stubbs said that the post could make Osaka “feel guilty” and described it as “humiliating” for her.
And while the rule itself — in which players are required to engage in press conferences throughout the tournament — may not be a racist or misogynistic one, the context in which Osaka found herself punished and seemingly mocked by officials is part of a pattern in which Black women in elite sports are subject to harsh scrutiny.
The rigidity with which Roland Garros responded to Osaka’s decision is reminiscent of the scrutiny that tennis governing bodies have previously bestowed upon other prominent players, including Serena Williams.
Osaka is a young, Black and Japanese athlete whose decision at the French Open is considered outside of the box by many. Her refusal to play by the traditional rules has seen her face backlash across the board in a particular right-wing media landscape that doesn’t look too fondly on Black women that diverge from the expected path.
And tennis has a history in the way it has dealt with Black women who do things differently.
By Susan Au Allen: National President & CEO, US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation (USPAACC)
The vaccines are here. This marks a critical turning point — a year into the pandemic — in the fight against a virulent disease that has wreaked months-long havoc to lives and livelihood.
Millions of Americans have already been vaccinated from COVID-19; millions more are awaiting their turn. This is welcome news that brings renewed optimism.
Our collective jubilation, however, is tempered by caveats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts estimate that the United States is still months away from reaching the threshold of herd immunity.
To cut the chain of transmission, at least 70% of the U.S. population — or over 200 million people — would have to recover from the illness and achieve natural immunity or undergo vaccinations. According to CDC, only 7.9% of the U.S. population — or just over 26 million people — have been given the recommended two doses.
This sobering reality is compounded by the arrival of highly contagious variants — increasing exponentially — which could spark new outbreaks and undermine vaccination progress. This does not augur well for the public sentiment that has been aching to return to a semblance of normalcy.
First the Fear, Now the Fatigue
In the early days of the pandemic, as the infection spiked, fear was foremost in everyone’s mind. Few questioned government-imposed lockdowns, restrictions of unfettered movements, enforced social distancing and other health protocols. Public compliance was high.
Today, more than a year later, the public attitude has changed: fear has been supplanted by fatigue. People have become more relaxed due to collective boredom, exhaustion, impatience or a sense of apathy — a phenomenon experts refer to as “pandemic fatigue.”
Uncertainty, a sense of lack of control and limited options fuel anxiety. This leads to profound shifts in social and work behaviors, as well as consumer preferences. Humans — social animals who are naturally in need of constant contact with each other — will keep on seeking out one another.
Signs are everywhere: recent outbreaks have been traced to bars, restaurants and air travel. An exhausted public has begun to disregard health protocols. This trend will continue.
What likely emerges next is a vicious cycle. When the public lets its guard down, health protocols will be broken. This will then trigger more infections. Eventually, this will lead to more restrictions — and pandemic fatigue will worsen.
The Business of Coping
There simply is no available playbook in corporate America and government today that offers guidance on how to effectively handle pandemic fatigue. Psychologists counsel that the art of mitigating pandemic-related fatigue begins with accepting the current reality.
It is also important to accept that the adaptations in how people work these days could become protracted or even permanent. With workflow significantly disrupted, output and morale are at their nadir. Employees have hit the motivational wall. Social calendars are wiped clean. Small talk among office colleagues — including spontaneous gossip sessions next to the water cooler — is replaced by seemingly interminable, back-to-back video calls that ironically lead many to feel more disconnected than ever.
Since the work-from-home set-up began, employees have also noticed that their working hours have been stretched. They struggle to follow a structured work schedule. It is difficult to set and adhere to work-related parameters at home, in part because they worry that they will lose their job or be seen as weak contributors to the team effort. These amorphous work boundaries, plus the associated stress, contribute to the energy drain among the workforce.
In response, companies of every size are bringing out myriad new initiatives from their arsenal to support their employees. A host of activities are offered that focus on connection, care and the well-being of staff — often ranging from tailored wellness programs to virtual happy hours. Managers are clearing their calendars to make themselves available for informal, agenda-free connections. Others are allowing employees to take more time off.
But more needs to be done. Organizations must empower teams, simplify unnecessary bureaucracy and enable a faster decision-making process. Conduct listening tours to take the pulse of employees and assess their needs. Apply innovative, best-practice work-from-home models. Help prioritize available work, put a pause on the introduction of new projects, limit work in progress and allow for respite and recovery.
Individually, employees must slow down. Keep a sense of calm and focus. Stave off ennui by virtually reaching out to a community with shared interests, such as gardening, painting and other hobbies. Take periodic breaks to replenish energy. Try breathing exercises and meditation, go for a stroll, read a book, engage in online shopping or “retail therapy,” etc. Channel fatigue into meaningful and creative endeavors.
Further, limit access to social media and avoid tuning in to negative stories on television that raise stress and anxiety levels. Do not let negativity foster.
The Untrodden Path to the ‘Next Normal’
A sense of loss is at the heart of pandemic fatigue — the loss of control in our daily life, work, business, finances, travel, important events, opportunities and more. On a personal level, it is the loss of connection to our family, friends, peers and community.
Understandably, stress levels remain high and taking their toll. According to Nielsen data, alcohol sales in the U.S. are up 23 percent.
As the U.S. crosses yet another grim milestone with over half a million deaths from COVID-19, the country’s policymakers have the daunting task of trying to deflate the rate of infection. They face a tenuous balancing act: enforcing a range of restrictions while weighing public health-related and economic repercussions.
Compliance wanes as pandemic fatigue spreads. Worse, as more people get vaccinated, many become more complacent and tempted to disregard precautions. Some take their cues from several state leaders who have announced the easing of restrictions, including the lifting of mask mandates and allowing businesses to open at full capacity.
The vaccines are no panacea for this contagion. If the public fails to adhere to minimum public health standards, it will only aggravate the current situation. To avoid reaching the tipping point of yet another coronavirus surge, safety measures must remain and be heeded. It is up to a conscientious public to do its share to ensure that our collective journey through this untrodden path to the “next normal” will be smooth, safe and healthy.
Susan Au Allen came to the United States from Hong Kong on an invitation from the White House in recognition of her volunteer work for people with disabilities. She received her Juris Doctor from the Antioch School of Law and LL.M. in International Law from Georgetown University. During her 17 years with Paul Shearman Allen & Associates of Washington, D.C. and Hong Kong, she became nationally recognized for her work on immigration, international trade and investment. Once an immigrant, she knows the obstacles that one must be overcome to achieve the American Dream, and she has dedicated her life to help entrepreneurs to pursue their Dream — develop, grow and build a successful business.
Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg – there are so many male leaders in tech. But what about Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Susan Wojcicki, Sheryl Sandberg and the decades of further women technologists?
Women are making an impact in technology, but the statistics are still shocking. According to the Women and Technology Study conducted for PwC in 2017, only 3 percent of women say a career in technology is their first choice, 78 percent of students can’t name a famous woman working in technology, and only 5 percent of jobs in the technology industry are held by women.
Luckily, times are changing, and more women are being encouraged to join the ranks of innovators and creators driving remarkable technological innovations for our world.
Tech is a very cool industry for women to work
So why should women choose to work in technology?
Technology is a modern industry with a modern workplace culture. Think of all the perks at tech giant Google—free food, on-site massage therapists, dedicated volunteering time, and dog-friendly offices. But it’s not just about the physical benefits.
Emma Yang, CEO and founder of the mobile app Timeless
A career in technology means working with diverse people who are some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the world.
Working in the technology sector can mean working on some totally out-of-this-world, near-on futuristic projects that can help millions of people globally. Being part of something bigger and making a long-lasting and tangible difference to society is very appealing.
Of course, one of the biggest reasons why the technology sector can be so luring is its rapid rate of growth. With every new and exciting development comes many opportunities for women to get involved.
The technology sector is always hiring, and here are some of the key types of projects you could work on:
Ever dreamed of a robot cooking you dinner? Time to wake up into this reality: robots are becoming more intelligent, more dexterous, and more adaptable to their environment.
Dactyl is a robot created by OpenAI – non-profit brainchild of tech leader Elon Musk – who can hold things with its fingers and learn to do tasks beyond its programming.
Watching a series on the computer can even see the effort of reaching for the mouse to click the next episode an aspect of the past.
Development of a brain-computer interface is underway – a very futuristic but very possible technological development where thoughts can control the computer.
Another Elon Musk startup, Neuralink, has already developed a system where a monkey has successfully controlled a computer with its brain. The company has been considering rolling out the system for humans to help with brain and spinal cord injuries.
Internet has become a staple part of many people’s lives, which means we’re expecting more and more from it. One frustration is slow internet, but innovators are solving that problem too with 5G. High-speed internet is great for individuals, and for the economy also via boosting businesses, increasing working efficiency, and making communication easier and more reliable – particularly for remote workers.
So, it’s not quite the sci-fi utopia of flying cars, but technology companies are developing driverless cars powered by artificial intelligence.
It’s a mammoth task to take on – mimicking complex human actions and reactions, scaling the product to make it affordable to the mass-market – but many technology companies are determined to bring this to streets of the future.
Plant-based, meat-free food
Technology is often mainly associated with computers, devices and further hardware but technological progress can also be seen in other types of products – and can even impact of people’s lives, such as their diets. Thankfully, many people have become far more environmentally conscious and the technology industry is responding to this via a wide range of plant-based, meat-free options that are lab-grown or even 3D printed.
What’s more, plant-based meat-free alternatives can be very nutritionally optimized and personalized through technology so as to suit the health needs of individuals, and products can be mass-produced without a huge environmental impact – a big step towards alleviating the food crisis worldwide. Better for health, and better for the planet.
Personalized cancer vaccines
As well as food, technology can also revolutionize health. One incredible leap forward for human progress is custom cancer vaccines where treatment triggers someone’s immune system to find and destroy the cancer itself.
This is truly what working in technology is all about – developing new innovations that can save lives and change the world for the better.
Two women who are leading the way in creating these sorts of pioneering technological innovations are:
Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor – a mobile job matching app that uses a blind recruiting strategy to overcome unconscious bias and diversify recruiting in tech companies. A 13-year career with technology companies like Lockheed, Microsoft, and TripAdvisor has familiarized Lampkin with the difficulties of ‘looking different.’ With the help of technology and data, her aim is to prove that diversifying the tech talent pipeline will add, rather than remove, value to the industry.
And Emma Yang, CEO and founder of Timeless, a mobile app that helps Alzheimer’s patients stay engaged and connected to loved ones. She is a keen coder and an advocate for women in STEM. Through her work, she wants to encourage further young women like her to pursue careers in the technology industry and use their talents to make the world a better place.
Making space for women in STEM
With such rising demand for new technology, there is a significant need for women to be better supported in pursuing a career in STEM. Educators, businesses and individual mindsets must be broadened if barriers are going to be broken, stereotypes challenged and obstacles overcome to regarding women’s participation in and contribution to innovation.
We need more coding clubs in schools. We need more female role models and mentors. We need to overcome gender bias in the workplace. Companies also need to provide a more flexible work environment for women, such as programs to support women returners or better maternity leave policies.
Grammy-winning artist Ciara encourages Black women to take care of themselves from the inside out in Hologic’s new campaign to raise awareness around cervical cancer. Playing on the phrase “serving looks” meaning looking good, Ciara is “Cerving Confidence” in the campaign created with the Black Women’s Health Imperative. The intent? Prompt Black women to serve looks on themselves, starting on the inside.
“It’s more than a manicure, getting our hair done or a new outfit, it’s taking care of our health inside and out. Your health comes first Sis—yes!” Ciara says in the debut video.
Other Black women in the video chime in with additional thoughts such as “Let’s normalize being on top of our stuff” and “If you can go get your hair done, nails done, make up done, you can go get that wellness exam.”
Ciara is an ideal ambassador for the campaign, thanks to her music, business leadership and frequent messages speaking out to empower women and especially Black women.
“She’s not just ‘a celebrity,’ but a celebrity and a personality who’s relatable,” Linda Blount, CEO of Black Women’s Health Imperative, said. “We talk about the lived experience as a Black woman, Ciara is someone who shares those experiences and talks about it openly and publicly.”
The campaign invites women on social and digital media to participate by uploading a photo and telling how they “cerv confidence.” Ciara will also host an online summit later this summer about the importance of self-care for Black women.
Blount’s hope is that Ciara and the “Cerving Confidence” campaign help advance the better outcomes for Black women that they’ve been working with Hologics on for years. Hologic’s recently launched Project Health Equality directly addresses the inequities in women’s healthcare for Black and Hispanic women and includes BWHI as a partner.
While racial and socioeconomic inequalities are not new in creating a disproportionate cervical cancer burden for Black women, the pandemic has made the situation worse. Black women, in fact, are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than white women.
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Dr. Jennifer Ashton’s anxiety attacks started to happen after she had a severe allergic reaction to a food. “I had a couple of episodes where I thought mistakenly that I had eaten that same food that I was allergic to,” said Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN. “And even though I was not having any true physical symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, once my mind went there, it was almost like a marble rolling off the edge of a table.”
“I started to feel dizzy. I started to feel chest tightness. My heart was racing. I was short of breath, but objectively, I was not having an allergic reaction,” she said. “And even though I recognized that I was having an anxiety attack, I was unable to stop it.”
Ashton spoke out about her own experience with anxiety during Mental Health Awareness Month to put a spotlight on a condition that is common but not always easily understood.
Anxiety is the feeling evoked when someone experiences fear of something bad happening, and it can lead to avoidance, attacks, excessive worrying or other symptoms. Everyone has anxiety sometimes, but when anxiety becomes overwhelming to the point it consistently interferes with daily life, or in the case of Ashton, prompts anxiety attacks that interfere with daily life, it can be an anxiety disorder, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health (OWH).
“Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime”
Anxiety disorders are so common they affect about 40 million American adults every year, according to OWH.
And women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, a discrepancy not yet completely understood from a medical perspective. Some experts say it may be due, in part, to women’s changing hormones and different responses to stress, and women may report symptoms of anxiety more frequently than men.
The prevalence of anxiety underscores that it is a serious mental health concern and not something to be dismissed by doctors or patients, according to Ashton.
“What I learned from my own experience with anxiety attacks is that I think a stigma occurs in a lot of society with people thinking that it’s not real, or it’s not serious or it’s insignificant because we all know that there’s no actual situation occurring,” she said. “But none of that matters. The physical manifestations, the symptoms that I felt when I experienced these anxiety attacks, were absolutely real.”
Ashton noted the coronavirus pandemic, an anxiety-inducing global event that has now lasted more than one year, should have highlighted for people the importance of taking anxiety seriously and treating it just as one would any other medical condition.
“There was not a week that went by that I didn’t hear from patients that they were experiencing anxiety,” she said. “I think what needs to happen is a very objective assessment, not only of ourselves as individuals, but collectively, and what’s going on in the world, so then you can say, ‘This is not surprising, really … it’s common. It’s understandable.'”