Anthropologist at Intel? Meet Genevieve Bell

Hearing Health & Technology Matters
June 23, 2015

The last in the series of the Keynote speakers from the Women’s Presidents Organization from late April is Genevieve Bell. She is an Anthropologist who works at Intel. Yes, you read correctly, an Anthropologist. She is a perfect example of working outside of traditional career roles. It took Intel about a year to coax Ms. Bell out of academia to come to work with the computer chip giant. She stated after she started working she went to find out what Intel’s goals for her were. There were only two, 1) what do women “want” and 2) what does the rest of the world “want.”

The word “want” can encompass more than a few things! And really these two groups are a wee bit large, women, as in 1/2 of the population and “rest of the world” was anything outside the United States.

What she developed was a top 10 list of what makes us human and which is really quite brilliant. What we care about does not change, but the technology around it will; the first five have been around as long as humans have; the latter five have evolved and will continue to evolve as technology changes.

1. We need friends and family. No matter if this is our immediate family, friends, work group or social groups. we surround ourselves with what we consider our family.
2. We want to belong to a community. These are the people who share our values and outlook of the world.
3. We want to have meaning in our lives. The meaning can be small or large and complex when it comes to the world.
4. We use objects to talk about who we are. These items can be concrete and literal or relative to who we perceive ourselves to be.
5. We need to keep secrets and tell lies. Really, when someone asks you if they look fat in their outfit, we don’t always tell the truth. There is not one person in the world that knows every little thing about me; those I have met later in my life, I haven’t told them all about my growing up.
6. We worry about our reputations. It use to be limited to those immediate people who know us, but this has evolved to online as well now. Nothing posted ever truly goes away.
7. We need to be bored, we want to be surprised. Genevieve stated that getting a bit bored spurred new ideas. We also want to get presents in life, but not always know what they are going to be.
8. We want to be different (or the same) and balancing. Balancing who we are and who we want to become becomes quite a balancing act. We can also be one person in one type of  our lives and be something different in another (live versus online)
9. We want to feel time. It can’t always be full steam ahead for most of us, we need to have the special moments (small as they can be) and reflect upon what we have been going through. Most need a time of reflection to move forward.
10. We want to be forgotten. For those times we do want to reinvent ourselves or start over we do have the need to have our past forgotten. This is trickier than it use to be.

It’s not just about technology but the humans behind it. As we grow we can’t forget about humanity. This is Genevieve Bell’s take away, and as hearing health professionals we do need to keep the humanity in our dealings with our customers/patients.
This concludes my three part series on influential women who influenced me in 2015 (so far).

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