SA Women’s Day 2013 – What is the biggest hurdle for a modern woman?

women_empowered

Here at Origin Interactive we believe in getting all the answers before making an informed decision. In light of Women’s Day, we conducted a little “user research” to find out what the members of our team feel the biggest hurdle for the modern women is. Since we are a team, we wanted to understand men’s views as well; do they relate to or understand our battles everyday as women? Do they notice beyond our appearances as a gender, the way we think, the subconscious things that influence our decisions daily, at work or otherwise?
Here are some of the answers we got: 

 

Jacques:
Development as an industry has traditionally been male dominated. There are amazing female developers working in this industry and although they are generally accepted by their male counterparts as equals, there remains a small percentage of men who either artificially value these womens’ contributions because of physical attraction, or simply dismiss their contributions because they are female.

I think the greatest challenge for women is to accept that, sadly, some men will never change their idiotic views, and not to marginalise themselves due to this. Things will only get better in this regard, but a woman has to see herself as an equal and not allow the small percentage of sexist views to get in their way of achieving great things.

Tshepo:
Nothing different from the things that stop men.
PS: Most feminist arguments I’ve heard all come from a victimised state of mind, you hear things like “it’s his fault, it’s their doing”. Because of this urge to pit the two sexes at odds; whether they are male or female- feminists have failed to make feminism an attractive movement for many.

Mike:
Balancing maternal, marital, social & highly demanding career commitments – and doing a good job of it.

Michael:
I would say the most challenging thing for women still today would be the transitions between being a housewife/family woman and being an independent woman. Now women are working in the high positions doctors, CEOs, Directors Women now dominate the work space and some women still have responsibilities especially if they have children. like my mother is a doctor, she is sometimes on call for 48 hours non stop and she still comes home and makes food for us before she goes to sleep. So that for me is the most Challenging thing, for women who already have children that take multi-tasking to the next level.

Zwai:
I believe women are most of the times their own worst critiques/enemies. Apart form the fact that they can multitask and still look after their families, whilst maintaining a full time job. There seems to be a lack of “sisterhood” amongst them and this in my opinion contributes a great deal to their hurdle.

Catherine:
I think there are two main obstacles, listed below in my order of “seriousness”:
1. Balancing your career, life, and (one day, for me) children. It’s the age-old one, yet it is still with us.
2. I still get people asking me “you work in digital?”, “you play games?”, “I didn’t know women could do that.” Getting the respect we deserve for the work, art, industry-specific innovations we do, and the hobbies we keep.

Candice:
Trying to have a family while working. The hormonal, emotional and physical turmoil of pregnancy is ravaging and yet you’re expected to perform even better than usual so that nobody thinks any less of you just because you’re pregnant.
Also, it is not South African law that companies have to pay their female staff maternity leave, in any capacity. So if a company chooses not to pay you maternity leave, too bad, you’re screwed. Sort of gives the impression that companies don’t really want you, as a woman, once they’ve hired you to have more children.

NQ:
Of course there are the balancing issues with work , being a mother and taking care of home etc. I think women still have to work twice as hard to prove themselves in the work place. Sometimes the balance is also lost with trying to be the boss and they over do it because they feel they need to prove a point. However women have come a long way and not all, but some hurdles have been knocked off . Its great being a woman all the  strength we need to survive in embedded in our  DNA !

Neety:
– Balancing the thin line she is trying to differentiate between objectification and independence. (I’m dressing up smart/powerful to feel smart, not to impress men, or to give them a platform to tease and pass judgement)
– The non prevalence of sisterhood. (There is really a lack of understanding among women. Ever heard of the ‘Bro code’ type stuff? Where’s the Sis code??)
– And propagation of this idea of the ‘standards’ one has to reach to be looked at as beautiful or passable. (Widely prevalent due to media nowadays – not being comfortable in your own body, constant comparing yourself to others, wear your heels even if your feet give up, trying to fit into a set image of  ‘Perfect’ , is very very self defeating, to all womankind).
Women need to work together and understand each other, and themselves.

In the spirit of conducting an open discussion and in light of the above answers, what do YOU think the biggest hurdle for the modern woman is in today’s society? We’d love to hear what you think!

What are you doing on Mandela Day?

“Following the success of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in June 2008, it was decided that there could be nothing more fitting than to celebrate Mr Mandela’s birthday each year with a day dedicated to his life’s work and that of his charitable organisations, and to ensure his legacy continues forever.

The Mandela Day campaign message is simple: Mr Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.

Mandela Day is a call to action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did.”

Source: http://www.mandeladay.com

Following the iconic leader’s admission to hospital and the conflicting reports that have followed regarding Madiba’s health, we’d like to take this opportunity to focus on what Mandela Day is all about; celebrating life, and using your life to improve someone else’s. There is no better gift than giving. Whether it is your time, your knowledge or even just a couple coins you have stashed in your car’s ashtray to the beggar at the stoplight. The act of giving, and seeing how you have positively impacted someone’s life, even if the contribution feels small to you, is even more rewarding when it is done with the right motivation. And not just on a personal level.

On that note, let’s give some attention to ‘Social Responsibility’ in Corporates. Most big corporates have a social responsibility obligation. To keep the Karmic scales in balance (and to keep government happy), they give back to specific charities or non-profit organisations they have identified that align with their core business objectives. According to the CSI Handbook, South African companies spent R6.9billion on corporate social investment (CSI) in 2011/2012.?

 While it is perfectly acceptable for a company’s business objectives and CSI strategies to align, the corporate investment agenda musn’t be too narrow. If there is a lack of balance between business objectives and community needs, the value and meaning of CSI is minimised. It is always best to invest in a long-term program that provides sustainability, rather than a numbers-based initiative. A little bit of integrity can go a long way. Especially in today’s world where, thanks to the power instilled by social media networks, the customer really is king.

Consumers can become much more aware of companies’ activities and more vocal on social media platforms. They associate strongly with companies’ brands and values, and are more outraged when they feel they have been let down or misrepresented. The best way for a company to launch a social initiative that is perceived as genuine is by using their talents to give back, or focusing on skills development within their specific industry. 

Even though there is a need to understand and appreciate the business return on development programs, the key to doing it right is to find the balance between the two, where you are actively and authentically contributing to your community with business benefits as a bonus, you are more likely to see a meaningful, memorable and long-term impact.

 So what are you and / or your company doing this Mandela Day? Have you successfully identified your community’s specific needs and giving back in a way that will actually make a difference? Or will you just be dropping extra silver coins into the SPCA’s collection tins at your local supermarket till? 

Permission to fail- an open letter

“Whatever you are, be a good one”, so said Abe Lincoln. People say that’s easier said… and it’s true because getting good takes a lot of trying things out by yourself, a lot of learning, and a lot of risk in taking failure.

Around this time of year in South Africa is when all sorts of youth talk come around. And the old folks calling us lost and trying to nudge us into the boxes that they think we should fit.

But we are young, the envy of gods, and we are rebels of our own cause – a far cry from the collective-cause of the 70s youth. What this means for a society that is becoming more and more individualistic is that we own our successes as much as we own our failures.

Although it is more accustomed of us to to show rather than tell: I’m keen to share with you a rather personal story, I’m still somewhat underwhelmed with my accomplishments so far regarding the goals I have set for the day I turn 25, but in my experiences I’ve come to realize that naivety is one of youth’s finest qualities. It enables us to disregard the odds and carries us forward when common sense would not. It sets apart wise men from the fools that changed the world, for good or worse.

My brethren, I have been long at this keyboard and wish to close off this letter with our beloved mantra: make love, art, and live free.

May you spirits stay forever young.

Discover + Define = Great Web Copy

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads” – Dr. Seuss

Many people think that writing is a natural talent; it’s god (whichever yours is) given and that you either CAN or you CANNOT write. Granted, some people are just naturally better at it than others, they have an inherent knack for it, but without the right process, thinking pattern and getting it wrong a couple times, no amount of knack is going to do you any good!

Writing great web copy

The key to writing focused, result driven content for a website is the method behind it. Much like the UCD (User Centred Design) process, it is user focused and even shares similar steps.

The first step is research. Get to know the user, the product and the competition as if you were writing content for your own company website. As in the Discover stage during the UCD process, this can be the most intensive and time consuming, but is the most valuable. Interview users; ask them WHY they use your client’s product/service? What made them choose your client over others in the industry? How would they describe the service / product to others?  How does it make their lives easier? This information will help you define the tone and language to use for the copy, ensuring you are speaking directly to the user.

Interview your client; interview their staff, ask them about their processes, projects they were most proud of, company culture. There is no one person whose opinion is more important than anybody else’s. By sourcing content directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, you are doubling your chances of effectively capturing your intended audience.

Secondly, write a brief outline of the information that is going to be on each page. Help to define the content strategy by working with the Information Architect, UX Designer and Development team. Collaboration with these resources is vital in ensuring you contribute towards an engaging and effective website. Similar to wireframes generated during the Define stage of User Centred Design, this outline will help you complete the work faster and ensure that you stick to the flow.

Writing copy for the Web

The pen is mightier than the sword, but I prefer my laptop!

When you start writing and filling in the blanks of your outline, remember to base your tone and language on your users. Don’t be overly technical, scientific or vague. Be direct, specific and concise. The point of website copy is to get potential customers to do / purchase something, become a member etc. Users who are looking for a specific service / product on the Internet are already interested, so there’s no need to blast them with unnecessary jargon. They are already halfway there; all you have to do is close the deal. Give the right information, the benefits and why it is better than the competition. Make sure the information is relevant, interesting and unique.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" Leonardo Da Vinci

Wise words from my man Leonardo Da Vinci

One of the main things you should avoid doing when writing website copy is base it solely around the company. No user wants to know how many cute bunnies you’ve saved; they want to know what you can save for THEM. Also, stay away from listing product features. Instead, talk about WHY the product features would best suit your audience’s needs, for instance why a mini van is more suitable for a soccer mom than for a young, male college student. Obviously, if you are writing copy for a charity that is trying to raise money to help them save the bunnies, or an e-commerce site that is selling various washing machine brands, the above “rules” are malleable. Basically, employ a little bit of logic when necessary, but please, PLEASE do not bore your audience with too much information that is useless to them.

Finally, no first draft is ever perfect. Anyone who tells you any different is lying! Read a lot, write more and never stop asking questions.

Origin Interactive @ Tech4africa conference

TECH4AFRICA is a South African conference bringing together some of the most respected people in technology to share, teach and interact with Africans, in Africa. The Web and emerging technology conference, is breaking the convention by placing special emphasis on networking and direct access to some of the industry’s most internationally-recognised names that make up the events speaker line-up.

Origin Interactive’s founder Mike lewis will be on the panel for one of the sessions being held at the concurrence (How we redesigned PayFine.co.za, and why you need to know). Origin will also be there in full spirit with an exhibition stand to showcase our work and methodologies, so come say hi.

Tech4Africa runs from 12-13 August 2010 at The Forum in Bryanston. The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations.

Come along and get inspired! http://www.technovated.com/

Yip we’ve got a blog

People have been going on about having a blog for years now and to be honest it just seems like a pain in the a$$. Anyways, we’ve eventually taken a step towards and have decided to start blogging about all the cool and exciting things happening in the world of Origin Interactive.

Watch this space…