Category Archives: women

It’s a Girl Thing: why are there so few women work in tech and what can we do about it?

Veteran mobile journalist Tim Green called this year’s Mobile World Congress “so ludicrously mono-demographical it’s almost funny”. And the most largely represented group, in case you were wondering, was “middle-aged, white males”.  

Look within the tech industry, and at leadership roles across other sectors, and funnily enough, this story isn’t unusual – LadyGeek calculates that the number of UK technology jobs held by women actually dropped from 22 per cent in 2001 to 17 per cent by 2011. Only 22 per cent of MPs are women, and despite a drive following the Davies Inquiry to reach a pretty reasonable target of 25 per cent female directors in the FTSE 100, the number is stubbornly stuck around 17 per cent. Six of the FTSE 100 boards are still all male. 


Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, and clearly one of the most powerful women in business, has caused a stir that even she says she hadn’t expected on the launch of her book, Lean In. Pragmatist and feminist, she argues that often women hold themselves back, uncomfortable with the decisions they make in their career. You cannot wait for the institutional barriers to fall down around you, she says. 


A year ago, and before Sandberg’s book had even gone to press, Women in Wireless (WiW) London launched to promote and develop female leaders in the UK’s mobile and digital industry. The four founders, Jen Macrae, Rimma Perelmuter, Rhian Pamphilon and Jen Hiley, have a formidable combination of expertise, killer contact books, drive, vision and a bit of humour between them. 


Today, the network has more than 700 members, and within its first year, hosted eight events across its Connect, Develop and Promote streams within its first year.  The London branch was established after Macrae, who is currently working as VP, digital wallet market development, at MasterCard on the UK deployment of its Masterpass payments system, was approached by one of Women in Wireless’ global co-founders about setting it up. “Although there were many networking organisations, there was an opportunity to create something member-led, targeting career development needs, and serving to promote and support the development of women to more senior roles,” she says.  


Things kicked off with a launch led by former Nokia CMO Jerri DeVard, followed by an entrepreneur debate hosted at Telefónica’s Wayra Academy, and then an international careers event with leading female executives at QTel and Microsoft.  At the end of last year, WiW London commissioned its first (if not the first) survey into women working in wireless in the UK, with the help of Telefónica and Diffusion PR. The study sought to understand the barriers and opportunities for women in the industry, to raise awareness of diversity issues, and set priorities for their work. The survey garnered more than 600 responses. 


Mobile is a young industry, with, the survey found, many younger women working in it. 43 per cent of those surveyed were aged 25 to 34 and a further 9 per cent are in the 18 to 24 age group. Just 14 per cent are 45 to 54 and only 2 per cent are 55 to 64. Not surprisingly, as stereotypes go, the most popular career for women in wireless is marketing – while just 5 per cent work in product development or innovation, 4 per cent are engineers, and only 2 per cent have financial roles.


While there are many initiatives to encourage more young women to get coding skills and take-up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects, Jen Hiley, who is currently a senior consultant at Infosys Lodestone and social coordinator for WiW, says it is the myth of all tech jobs being “techy” that can deter women in the first place.  “There is a mystique of it being a very technical field, whereas, in fact, there are so many non-engineering career paths in the industry,” she says. “Today’s marketplace for technology is no longer about meeting the internal needs of big business. It has shifted to meeting the ever-growing demands of the everyday consumer, which in turn is driving innovation and creativity, and opening up masses of new opportunities.”  


Many of the women surveyed are yet to make it to senior roles – just 15 per cent currently hold one – fewer still – just 10 per cent – have directorships. Rimma Perelmuter, who has worked in mobile for 13 years and is now CEO of MEF and co-chair of the WiW development stream, believes it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the causes of why women are under-represented in senior industry roles. “The survey reveals some surprising results,” she says. “83 per cent of respondents between 35 and 54 believe that it is harder for women to succeed in their careers than it is for men, with 36 per cent identifying ‘a male dominating culture’ as the reason they are under-represented at senior levels. While culture is clearly a challenging issue to address, the survey is a wake-up call to the Industry to take action.” 


“The survey shows a stark reality,” says Dereck McManus, COO of Telefónica in the UK and board lead for diversity and inclusion, who helped to analyse the results. “The majority of people we spoke to believe it is harder for women to succeed in their careers than men, and two thirds seeing culture as a barrier to the progress of women to senior positions. I believe that businesses have a responsibility to do more to ensure that women are represented at all levels in business. At Telefónica, we’ve launched a number of initiatives, including our Women in Leadership programme, to do exactly that. “One finding that I found interesting, but perhaps not that surprising, was the fact that flexible working was seen as one of the top ways companies can support women in their career. Just last year we ran the biggest ever flexible working pilot, with 3,000 of our people working remotely for a day. It sounds ambitious, but the pilot showed what’s possible when flexible working is done properly.” 


While some businesses clearly see the benefits of helping employees manage their career and busy home lives – just 11 per cent of survey respondents said they have an excellent work/life balance – Yahoo’s first female CEO, Marissa Meyer, recently banned her staff from working at home. All of the WiW founders emphasise the need for personal initiative as a means to success – whether that’s finding mentors, sponsors, networking opportunities or going to educational events. 52 per cent of those asked said they had never tried to find a sponsor, while 41 per cent had not identified a mentor. 


“At our inaugural event, inspirational speaker Jerri DeVard made a poignant remark that’s stuck with me: ‘We all stand on someone else’s shoulders’,” says Peremulter. “It speaks to the importance of going beyond ‘superficial’ networking to building relationships with mentors, sponsors and colleagues that you can learn from and that are there to support you.   

“Equally, it is important to take the time to share your experience with others and give back. I’d like to see more leaders in our industry take the time to live up to this ideal regardless of whether they are women or men.” 

It is natural networking abilities, Jen Hiley believes, that should bring success to younger women. “We are widely recognised to be more empathetic, task-orientated and extremely thorough. Women are born networkers, with the ability to forge strong and lasting relationships, seeking out opportunities and alliances. Creating groups like Women in Wireless will hopefully inspire more C-level women to share their extensive knowledge, whilst providing a forum for ladies who can feel comfortable asking for support.” 


Self-belief and confidence was highlighted in the survey as one of the top enablers to support career progression. But what happens when that takes a knock? Jen Macrae says: “Our survey respondents have told us, and we have all experienced it, that when personal initiatives fail, it can have a negative impact on career opportunities and confidence. Our challenge now at Women in Wireless is to provide a support structure that helps those wanting to progress to overcome their own internal barriers.” 


Telefónica’s McManus concludes: “As an industry, we need to do more to turn this around. Whether it’s running mentoring schemes to support women throughout their career, or using positive role models of successful women in the industry – all businesses can make a difference. If we don’t take action, we run the risk of missing out on the vital skills of a generation of women.”


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and first published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/it%E2%80%99s-girl-thing#KLXduxDsrktJQkfx.99

Advertisements

Will I be pretty, will I be rich?



If, like me, you aren’t wealthy or sexy, last week really wasn’t your week. But when is it ever your week? That’s why fashion and adverts were created right? Shoulda, woulda, coulda etc etc etc.
While you’re checking your back fat in the mirror I know your mind has been wandering back to the inevitable question… “WHO IS BRITAIN’S SEXIST WOMAN?

Worry not. It’s Sexy Week at The Sun. Which means our British beauties have been adorning the paper’s pages for your perusal. “Britain has indeed Got Talent – just look at those endless legs!” the piece assures us when commenting on pop idol and BGT on Ice judge Alesha Dixon. Does Arctic Monkey gf 34B Katie tickle your fancy, or good old blonde Rhian Sugden, 26? Both were huge hits on Page 3, if that helps clarify your thoughts. Whose assets do you most admire? With your crucial decision made, you can pop along and vote for your Brittiest Brit on The Sun’s website.

Yet you can’t vote for your Brittiest man, lest he feel ogled and ashamed like the first in the queue at the wedding buffet. Rather unfair I hear you say. Fortunately another ‘who’s who’ went live recently, the Sunday Time’s Brit Rich List. Unfortunately, this is less of a democratic, participatory process, more of a cold hard numbers game. But if you have a penchant for unattractive, older gentlemen, this is your lucky day. STOP PRESS. BALD AGING MAN HAS MORE MONEY THAN YOU.

The top 10 is notably absent of women, much like most who’s whos as we calmly demonstrate our way through the glass ceiling, a former Miss UK makes it in at number nine with her monied hubby. And another rounds of the shortlist along with Mr Rich having both inherited her father’s Heineken fortune. I’m sure he loved her for her great sense of humour and not all the money and free booze. Unlike The Sun’s list, just one of the top 10 rich Britons is British born. And they’re all pretty not-sexy; apart from their wallets.

The Queen (wealthy winner of the Rich List when it started in 1989) isn’t a noted GILF, so she hasn’t even made the shortlist of 50 British fitties. She even slipped down the wealth rankings when they decided not to count her land. Coz as her loyal subjects we really all own her land and can run rabid at Buckingham Palace just like Prince Harry. Wait…

So do you fancy yourself as a regular Billie Piper in a cocktail glass (see image) or are you and your brother just dying to be the next Sri and Gopi Hinduja? They’re billionaire exporters, if you’re into that… Well here’s the disheartening bit.

The BBC notes that in 1989 you would have need ed wealth of £30m (about £65m today) to make it into the Rich Lists top 200. Last year, to get into that same 200, you would have needed £450m. In 1989 the wealth of the top 200 amounted to £38bn. Last year it added up to £289bn. And you actually have to be ‘sexy’ to get into the Sexy Week list. While mere mortals can only learn from Gok Wan one series at a time, it actually turns out that having a bit of dollar isn’t too bad for getting into the fit list either. There’s a Jagger on both. Handy if you’ve got genes like Jagger; less so if you can’t quite afford Jagger’s jeans.

The moral of the story…? Wealth doesn’t guarantee attractiveness, but it can’t hurt. And being hot might make you a bit rich, à la Knightley and Middleton, but you might have to suffer loads of blokes – and even women – staring and judging you for the rest of your life.

Just remember, many studies have shown, that there is no direct link between wealth and happiness. Yes, that is probably just what a poor and unattractive person would say.
::
Illustration by Ben Rider

Written for and first published here: http://www.letsbebrief.co.uk/kirsty-styles-will-i-be-pretty-will-i-be-rich/

Turning the tide of media sexism

Written for and first published here: http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kirsty-styles/turning-tide-of-media-sexism

Comedy and social media are targeting Britain’s Page 3 culture. With Lord Leveson’s inquiry lashing the tabloid press for ‘reckless prioritising’ of sensation, now is the time for activists is to reach out beyond the middle class Twittersphere says Kirsty Styles…

Peter Ustinov said that comedy is simply a funny way of being serious. So a comedy show put on by two young women who have created very modern campaigns to highlight and change the way women are seen and treated in Britain was the perfect setting to laugh, and look seriously, at 21st century Britain.

Lucy-Anne Holmes, who started the No More Page 3 petition, and Laura Bates, founder of The Everyday Sexism Project, presented the Stand Up to Sexism show with the tagline ‘get your gags out for the girls’ at a historic theatre in London’s West End. Comedians gave their time for free for the cause. A crowd of 600 raised £4,000 for the End Violence Against Women campaign and proved that two young women can think, do and lead.

For over four decades, Britain’s leading national daily newspaper, The Sun, has featured a large photograph of a semi-naked woman on page 3. ‘Page 3’ is now synonymous in British culture with a woman’s breasts. Holmes’s campaign aims to close that chapter in British newspaper history. But even in the midst of the biggest crisis to hit the British media sector this century, with a massive formal inquiry into press culture and ethics, the Sun’s editor, when giving evidence to Lord Leveson, felt quite able to justify his paper’s commitment to reporting the news of girls in their knickers. He said that he believed the daily photograph was ‘meant to represent the youth and freshness’ and ‘celebrate natural beauty’ and amounted to an ‘innocuous British institution’.

At the comedy show Viv Groskop, a writer, broadcaster and stand-up comedian, highlighted that Page 3 ‘celebrated’ its 42nd birthday the same weekend as the gig. “That’s more than 13,000 editions. 26,241 nipples. Why the one?” she asked. “Melinda Messenger had her hand over her tit on one picture. Was it a protest? Was it a cry for help? Or was she just a bit chilly? We are not saying ‘boo’ to nipples, but boo to the outing of nipples. When you’ve seen that many, it’s not really news anymore. Yes, we still have nipples.”

Lucy Porter, compere for the evening, has built a successful career as a female comic, in a media environment where even she wasn’t immune from the sexist culture. In the 90s, she worked as an assistant producer at the BBC. When she was groped by a well-known male DJ, her superior said ‘come on love, laugh it off’.

“But the people who were laughing loudest and longest were the men who were getting away with it. One tragedy of being a woman is that, when you can finally stand up for your tits, pervs don’t want to touch them anymore.” There are stereotypes of feminists as ‘man hating lesbians’.  “But the women who really hate men tend to be heterosexual,” she said. “It seems there is nothing like sleeping with someone of that sex to lower your opinion of them,” she laughed.

She wasn’t surprised that the No More Page 3 campaign was taking off. “It’s creepy and weird… I’m hopeful for the future of feminism,” she said. “These campaigns have been created by young women with lots to say.”

She noted that what was once called ‘being a twat’ has been rebranded as ‘banter’. Her husband told her a joke, “watching your wife giving birth is like seeing your favourite pub burn down… Misogyny can sound quite funny at first. But ‘banter’ is actually men saying things that they know are unacceptable.”

It’s hard to underestimate the power that social media is giving to both campaigns, helping to build sufficient profile to fill a major London theatre for a fundraising night of comedy. ‘Humourless’ feminists have come a long way and the sound of tables being turned is getting louder. Holmes is collecting signatures for her petition, which already has more than 55,000, with lots of work put in on Twitter to get people to see and share her vision. She also arranged a protest outside the Sun’s HQ. When the police arrive, they signed her petition.

#Everydaysexism’s Bates is collecting 140-character examples of sexist incidents experienced by women. In little over six months, 10,000 women have lodged their complaints. But her campaign still exists in a virtual world where #boobs is also regularly used by the Sun to direct its frothing audience to their site.

Kate Smurthwaite, said that Page 3 makes her feel ‘embarrassed’, especially when friends around the world happened upon this Great British institution.

The Sun is not the only culprit in the race for depravity, Kate noted. The latest issue of the satirical magazine Private Eye highlights this article: “Teenager Elle Fanning shows off her womanly curves… The 14-year-old took to Instagram to share a photograph of her Hallowe’en outfit and wasn’t afraid to flaunt her curves for the camera.” Not a paedophile website, no. But the Daily Mail, the world’s number one online site. Even in a media world rocked by the revelations of child abuse by the late entertainer Jimmy Savile, once one of the UK’s biggest TV stars, this is somehow considered ok.

Joe Wellspicked out Front magazine, where they proclaim a ‘no fake boobs’ policy. “Yes we objectify women like pieces of meat, but they are 100 per cent organic.” He said that when writer Laurie Penny said that there were not enough women on BBC television’s Newsnight, Katie Price, glamour model and reality TV and tabloid regular, was invited to talk about the ethics of breast implants. “By far the worst editorial decision of Newsnight to date. Like getting a pig to debate EU farming regulation.”

Tiffany Stevenson came out and told the audience about her ‘muffin top’. “But I’ve come out here and slagged myself off – why do that when I have magazines to do that for me?” She said it’s weird that as you grow older you almost ‘miss sexism’. “Would you mind not talking to my face, they’re right here,” she said pointing to her chest. “But that’s what I was told I was worth my whole life. Your whole self-worth is tied up in how you look.”

“People now get botox in their late 20s as a ‘preventative measure’. Let’s stop carving our faces up. It never looks better, you should own your face, own your years. It’s the same with technology. You can’t judge a Kindle by its cover. Soon kids will be saying ‘Do you remember books??’ ‘Hey, remember old people?’ STOP IRONING THE WORLD!”

Poet Sabrina Mahfouz performed her No More Page 3 poem, one of the first overtly political pieces she had written, but something she felt compelled to do when she saw the campaign. “Even though I’d gone to grammar school. Not glamour school. And I was at university. It seemed to me that the only way I could see to the top was through desirability – ‘cos that’s what I’d seen non-stop in the papers, magazines, films and on TV.”

“Now fast forward 10 years and I hear of this thing – No More Page 3 – and it makes me so happy to think that finally, 84 years after women won the right to vote through protest and death, newspapers might actually start to fill pages with the sagest and most outrageous words of powerful women.”

Bates closed the event by saying: “Page 3 is everyday sexism. For 42 years, the largest female image in the biggest selling newspaper has been a woman with her breasts on show. Women should be represented with more respect. A mum sent me a message on Twitter saying that her young daughter wished she could turn into a boy so she could go to space. A quarter of seven-year-olds have tried to lose weight. 80 per cent of 10 year olds have done the same. Against odds like those, no wonder she’s thinking she has to change who she is to be what she wants to be.”

The timing of these campaigns is significant. The crisis sweeping journalism has also implicated British politics and the government. Despite the soft pedalling in Lord Justice Leveson’s report on figures like Prime Minister Cameron and former Media Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, the political fallout has plunged the coalition government and Parliament into splits and conflict. Leveson’s inquiryinto the British media was prompted by phone hacking at The News of the World, the Sun’s former Sunday ‘sister’ paper.

Even in the eye of a major political storm, leading British newspapers continue to publish sexist content with impunity with no detriment to their sales figures. Lucy Porter also noted that the Stand Up audience was a very middle-class show for a very middle-class audience. The next task then for No More Page 3 and Everydaysexism, at this moment of opportunity in the wake of the Leveson report, must be to take their campaigns beyond the Twittering classes, to the people who read the Sun and the people who don’t read much at all. So women everywhere can be sure that finally in the 21st century, they will know that assets means more than just breasts.

Women in Wireless London – Building your International Career

Written for and first published here: http://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/women-wireless-london-building-your-international-career

 Women in Wireless London welcomed two internationally successful women in mobile to talk at their event last night, ‘Building your International Career’.

Both Cynthia Gordon, CCO at Qatar-based network Qtel, and Marianne Roling, MD of Mobile for Microsoft in Central and Eastern Europe have had impressive 20 year careers that have seen them living all over the world.
Cynthia Gordon 
Cynthia GordonCynthia’s roles have taken her from the -35 temperatures she experienced when working for MTS, the largest mobile operator in Russia, to the +50 heat she now works in at the Qatari firm that serves 90m subscribers and generates $10bn. “One tip – it’s all about clothing” she said.

“Europe and the US are quite similar, there are commonalities. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Rajasthan are truly different – the culture, the environment. If I can excite you about anything – grasp those opportunities to experience something that is totally different.”

GSMA MWomen Programme

She said that an international career gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn but also fantastic opportunities to help other women in the customer base or company you work for – women are often hugely underrepresented in emerging market companies.

She highlighted the MWomen Programme of the GSMA. “In Iraq – women are killed for having a mobile phone. Men think they will have affairs or it will take them away from their families.” The GSMA created special TV ads to address the cultural barriers and have increased the female user-base from 20 to 30 per cent. “How many women have the opportunity to use mobile phones is a big issue in emerging markets.”

From the Berlin Wall to real-time global translation
Marianne Roling 
Marianne RolingAfter the fall of the Berlin Wall, Marianne had the opportunity to work on a Hungarian project funded by the World Bank to build telecoms infrastructure, where just 8 per cent of the homes had a telephone line.

She has seen the internet boom and bust, the development of the mobile industry and now the smartphone and tablet revolution. Micosoft recently performed a real-time translation between the US and China as if the American speaker was fluent in Chinese.”This is the most viibrant, amazing industry ever,” she said.

Work/life balance

She separated her success into having great networks and role models, identifying sponsors, mentors and coaches, as well as getting a work/life balance. She moved five times in five years while she was working for Lucent in South America, completely starting form ground zero every time.

“Now I don’t travel at the weekends and do lots of conference calls early in the morning. You have to create the rhythm with your family.” But Cynthia said she believes you can’t have it all. “My husband gave up his career even though when we met we were level.”

Her key advice to get that international mobile career you crave: “Numbers numbers numbers. Go into the detail – never skim over the topic, seek to understand it better than anybody else. Have confidence in what you can do and achieve, get on that plane, you can do it.”

Women in WirelessLondon -on startups at the Wayra Academy #WiWstartups


Telefonica’s Wayra startup hub couldn’t have been a better choice for Women in Wireless London’s first panel discussion. Wayra was started in South America, and is so-called because the word means a change of breeze, or a change of direction. There has been a great deal of attention of late around the question of women in the boardroom. Promoted onto the agenda by the publishing of a government review, the Evening Standard and then the BBChave both taken a stab at answering one of modern life’s most pressing questions: ‘why aren’t there more women in top jobs?’

This panel went some way to offering an alternative. Voted for by the audience at the Women in Wireless launch back in April, it appears many women want to be their own boss. Chaired by Olivia Solon, Associate Editor of Wired.co.uk and one of TechCrunch’s 100 Tech Women in Europe, but with her magazine confined to the ‘men’s interest’ section of WHSmith, she knows only too well what it’s like to be a woman in a bloke’s world.
She was joined by:
Michelle Gallen – co-founder and CEO of Shhmoozethe people discovery app for professionals- and TalkIrish.com an Irish language learning platform
Michelle likes straight talking, dark chocolate and Irish whiskey. She had delivered a project for the BBC ahead of schedule and under budget,  “it rocked”. Would she get a bonus? No. “I hadn’t a thing to go to and I walked”.
Claudia Dreier-Poepperl – founder and CEO Addafix – a caller ID service
Claudia wasn’t happy for a long time. The startup she had been a member of since day five had been acquired and acquired again. She was in the UK. Its HQ was in the US. “If I can put all that energy in to make somebody else rich – I can try for myself”.
Muriel Devillers – LUMU Invest – a provider of seed funding and mentoring
Muriel Devillers “married had children and then had a divorce… I thought I had to do something”.  She went on an adventure and started four pirate radio stations. She is now a business angel, advising and supporting startup projects.
Yael Rozencwajg – founder and CEO YOPPs Digital Media
Yael had a ‘typical life’ and was well-known among Paris nightclub scene. After two years, she decided to earn money from it.
Sabrina McEwen – communications executive for Hiyalife – a platform to co-create your life story using memories, a Wayra startup
Sabrina went from a corporate to… a funkier business, but still corporate… and had a difficult boss. She wasn’t intending to join a startup but hasn’t regretted it one bit. At Hiyalife, she is surrounded by “passionate people who want to succeed… interesting and full of ideas”.
Olivia: So you’ve got your idea on the back of a napkin… what do you do next?
Muriel: It’s not an easy one – I was travelling the world for over five years looking for the disruptive ideas. I listen. When I say ‘wow’ I’ve fallen in love with the idea. I get into the team to push, open my network, make you work.
Michelle: There was a gap in the market. There were 59 million people with an Irish passport and I was leaning Irish from 40 year-old books… Perhaps I wouldn’t sell my house… But today you can test your assumption. If you’ve got 50 people signed up… go for it.
Claudia: I had to find techies, to test whether the task was a yes, no, or a possibility. They have to be on the same wavelength, can you trust them? Perhaps find them from a previous job. Can you build something, a prototype without any funding? You don’t need a big amount of funding to get you through that. The further you get, the more impressed any business angel will be.
Olivia: Once you had launched – what was the biggest misconception about having a start-up?
Yael: Don’t be afraid of failing. Don’t worry about the money. The idea, the project has to be the main thing at every step. I strongly advise you to make mistakes – we learn after making mistake, misunderstanding the marketplace and failing.
Claudia:  Everything takes about 10 times longer than you think – time, energy, money, contingency is never enough. Over the years you become more relaxed about that – four weeks waiting on a contract from a big corporate is like four years for you.
Muriel: Invest your own money – this is showing in your guts that you believe in it. Use crowd funding – especially when you start. Friends and family support will show you are right and boost you to go further.
Michelle: No one tells you about maternity leave when you’re starting out on your own.
Sabrina: But there is actually lot of support.
Olivia: So what about the pitch process? What’s the worst pitch you’ve seen?
Muriel: 27 slides, loads of numbers. The best way to pitch? Please show me your guts. I don’t care about slideshares. I need to feel the love in three, four, five slides – don’t ever put your speech on it.
Olivia: How do you get a work/life balance?
Claudia: You don’t. You have to force yourself to stop – travelling all the time is bad for your health.
Michelle: 9am-11pm and then drinks gives me five hours in the week to see my baby. I want my friends to call me out on it.
Yael: You need time management – take distance from your project and see your friends.
Olivia: Studies show that men are better at multi-tasking. No?
Muriel: We are multitasking!! Pregnant, working… To risk and invest, I think we do it better.
A lot of VCs are male but business angels are mostly women. When you believe in it you go for it. We know how to push it to minimise the risk.
Olivia: Woman in tech – more men than women – advantages/disadvantages?
Yael: In tech, there is a big opportunity for women to reach the men’s table. Keep in mind – women have the power to connect and support each other. We trust in ourselves, focus and bring our self-confidence.
Muriel: I am a woman in a man’s world. The financial world. And I disrupt that. I shout. I put my fist on the table. What I want to see is teams build projects together – men and women together – we have qualities and men have qualities. We can approach it from 360 degrees.
Why do we get married and have children? Because we are complimentary – in your children, you integrate your qualities together.
Claudia: It depends on the situations. There are always so many men at tech conferences. If you are trying to sell something, I love it!
Muriel: There are now more than 60 per cent women studying tech in universities.
Michelle: There are no queues for the toilet when you’re a girl in tech! You can start doing the ‘I’m the only girl in the village’ bit. Try not to analyse – just be. Support everyone and call them out on things. When guys say ‘you have to have balls’, I say ‘talk to me about guts and I’ll show you them’.
To the audience.
My start-up isn’t working…
Michelle: I spent my 20s having really crap relationships. I was late to the party when it came to settling down. Be slutty as a startup – split up, lose it. You say it’s your baby, but it’s not. You wouldn’t be so precious about it.
Muriel: Branding is 60 per cent of your budget. There are co-working spaces all over the world – be together as much as possible, all you need is a place with a table, wifi, people to talk with and that’s all.
Do women think big enough?
Michelle: If you’re going to put the hours in, you have to care about it. If you’re ironing, you go for it, same if you want to be the next Facebook.
Claudia: The business has to be scaleable.
Muriel: Dream global before dreaming local and you will succeed. Make us believe in your dreams.
Yael: The world is not open to you; you have to open the world.
Olivia: One tip for the future?
Michelle: Always do your pelvic floor exercises and never fake an orgasm
Claudia: If the others can do it you can do it
Muriel: Believe in your dreams
Yael: Live them
Sabrina: Don’t bother convincing the non-believers

#Wow2012 an intellectual feast for International Women’s Day

The Southbank Centre never disappoints with its speaking events, and the Women of the World Festival 2012 really was excellent. On Sunday I attended three incredibly interesting debates, with a host of esteemed speakers.

Panel 1: ‘Margaret Thatcher – Feminist Icon?’ was bound to stir the emotions of a liberal left crowd…

Natasha Walter – author of the New Feminism
Dame Ann Leslie – journalist and pundit
Laura Liswood, co-founder and Secretary General of Council of Women World leaders

Chaired by Women’s Hour’s Jane Garvey

Dame Ann outlined the general mood when Thatcher was leader of the opposition:
Girlies can’t hack it
She changed that
China – leader of the opposition
She is the real thing
Our job was to manage gentle decline
Interim for the grand old gents
Throw people overboard when they don’t fit
She didn’t like women
Sexual magnetism – get men to switch
Sex appeal – she did it with Gorbachev
Charisma – personality

Natasha:
Should feminists be allowed to have sex appeal?
She was everything we raged against
Brace the bass
Shop the city
She thought market principles were the values by which a society should be run
Changed the way people saw women and power
Weren’t allowed to be competent
You could break through the barrier – could go all the way
Lower-middle class, it was also a class thing
Despised by the elite and the leaders of the left
Barabara Castle – failed

Laura:
Style of women leaders
Men are judged almost totally on policy/politics
How everyone else dealt with her
When tasked with interviewing all 15 living women PM/Presidents, Thatcher said: “come back after you’ve met all the others”.
Enormously curious
Great trait for a leader
Make things knowable to people
If I can balance my cheque book
Life isn’t fair
Justify by principle and argument, then put it across
Women would always take men into consideration, that’s the difference
Only ‘o’ in a room full of ‘x’ – take on their traits
Transactional
Apology

Natasha:
Backlash against women in power?
Authoritative and competent women
Hard for women to own authority and competence
Women are afraid – apologise for being there, not allowing themselves to own the authority

Ann:
Playing the feminist dingbat is great

Natasha:
Terrible – personal qualities, mockery and judgment on appearance
Ann:
You don’t have to be gay to be a gay icon
Barbara Castle ‘it will make our jobs harder, but we can’t help but feel a thrill’
*** Death of Colvin
Life is more than fighting in the jungle
Opt out of that kind of rat race
Small, Independent entrepreneurial businesses drive the economy

Laura:
Historically out of power groups represent change
Perhaps we need more self-indulgent female millionaires!
93% would vote for a female president
17% representation in congress
No quotas
Norway – 50%
Benazir Bhutto – 0 in cabinet, 3 in parliament under sharia law

‘Blair Babes’
Women are not celebrated and respected
Women held to a different standard
Over-scrutinised
Tolerance for mistakes is less

Panel 2: ‘Money, Money, Money’ – the need for women to be financially independent

Merryn Somerset-Webb, Editor-in-Chief of Moneyweek, author of Love is not enough and one of the stars of Superscrimpers
The FT’s Miss Moneypenney – Heather McGregor
Jill Shaw Ruddock, founder of The Second Half Centre

Chaired by Jude Kelly, Southbank’s Artistic Director and founder of WOW

75% of production
1% wealth
Women’s economic power would change political power in a massive way
Language of economics
Didn’t understand
How to enter debate?

Jill:
Power that women have unrevealed within them – post-menopause
Fortune – independence
‘Career advice for ambitious women’

Merryn:
0.5% interest – never lower since 1694
worst financial ever seen in the west
5 years – will only go up
‘My home is my pension’
Global finance, interest, property
Geared to global macro economic environment
Quantitative Easing – creating money
Prices go up
Currency value goes down
More expensive to buy things from abroad – inflation
Fuel up £4000 p/y
Plan for it
No such thing as politics – economics is politics
Political chaos/social unrest is only going to get worse
Plan to deal w/impact

Jill:
Right to work and succeed and the home
60% of people studying MAs are women
women in 20s get paid more than men in 20s
20% FTSE 100
Money gives women freedom, key to feeling independent
save/manage
Money is more important the less you have
2/3 pensioners in poverty are women
Half of all divorces are women 45 +
Instant gratification of credit cards
50 years old today – will live to 96
Save money for later years
Accurate planning
Keep working as long as you can

Heather:
30% club
children – ‘cost centres’
11 years – head hunting
1. understand personal finances
interest rate/credit card?
Financial finish line
2. as important as reading
3. chartered accountant qualifications – sustainable financially, have to talk money

Merryn:
It was a woman, Blythe Mastery, at Morgan Stanley who created the toxic CDO
Variety of mortgage instruments
Securitization process
Good/bad debt together
Homeowners mean a less mobile economy
Incompetence – regulation
Boom/bust
End of world capitalism
Government sponsored capitalism
Nearly 50% of UK GDP managed by government
Not much more in formally communist states
Management/corrupt
Herman Minsky – last stage – big government – only socially acceptable way
Do not borrow on your credit card
Whatever you earn – make it last
India – 1.3 million women co-op credit union

Heather:
Top 10 Tips
‘Camp in my garden’
Do not open store cards
Good credit = clectoral roll, job 3 years
Pay off credit cards over 3 months
The best way to help the poor is to not become poor yourself
1 hour per week manging your finances
Responsibility to family and society
You can only change the world when you have money
Responsibility to create financial security for yourself
Housing market is not straight supply/demand supply of credit
Need employment
Do your passion stuff on the side
Security/happy
Purpose greater than yourself
Give your life meaning
38 degrees, massive electricity transfers
4 million business in the UK – 0.5% greater than 100 people – 2% greater than 50 people

Panel 3: ‘Mary Whitehouse – Prude or Prophet?’

Cosmo sex psychotherapist, writer and broadcaster Rachel Morris – gives you change-your-life sex advice
Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC
Dr Julia Long is an activist with the London Feminist Network and Object.
Chaired by Jude Kelly, Southbank’s Artistic Director and founder of WOW

50s and 60s – Lady Chatterley’s lover was banned
People are entitled to find out about stuff
General censorship
Whitehouse was disturbed and aghast at the deterioration of morality, women were degraded and debased.
Women – sexually explicit in the way they behave and are talked about
Jacqui Smith/Claire short
Deposed – porn/expenses
You can close down sites
Link with slavery, violence, drug dealing
To do nothing is wrong
Underground – what healthy, positive sex looks like

Julia:
Longford report
Moralistic – Cliff Richard and MaryWhitehouse
Heroes of the sexual revolution
Anti-morality
Both were partriarchal
Both control women
Or public ownership of women – the pill etc.
Late 70s – fems ‘we don’t want either of these’
Porn –subordinates women
Economic relationship
Commodity to be shared
Prostitutues – from the Ancient Greek
Availability/nature
Kind of education that meets the needs of a modern society
We have censorship at the moment
Silences women
Learned about sex from porn, not from women

Afraid of standing up and staying something
More afraid of being attacked than standing up for each other
Absence of mutuality
Laws – censorship – not normal. Not acceptable
But desire, fulfillment, intimacy..?
Because of pleasure – torture
Porn – sexual violence – not complex!
Truly fucked!
Andrea Dworkin
Civil law – reproduction/restrict of consumption
Redress
Saturated
Becoming normal
Industry, lots of money from torture
The Sun – symbolic of a culture
‘tarts’
‘depraved’
Choice/consent
Normalizing effect
How the image functions
“blokes don’t see women in porn as someone who has made a choice to do that”
Prolofication of sexual imagery
More slavery than has ever happened in humanity
Sex trafficking – porn – consequences

Prudes/closing down sexual options

Impact on young people’s minds
Need to be active
We like to play with guns, drugs – established level of harm

Baroness:
Ban on Visa
Juries now don’t accept violence against women
Erotica
Creative space
Who was are as human beings
Children don’t know they have choice
Don’t suppress sexuality – no discussion about saying no

Behind every world leader is a mum. Mums matter.

First published for Oxfam at http://tinyurl.com/2vosq4b

Hasina Begum, 35, stands in the river which took her home, Char Atra, Bangladesh.

Hasina Begum, 35, stands in the river which took her home, Char Atra, Bangladesh.

Not enough money to feed your children. Fear, uncertainty, loneliness.

“It is women who suffer”, she said.

This is not an advert for a development charity, but Gail Cartmail of Unite union talking about how government cuts here will affect people.

Disproportionately the poor, in particular women, mothers.

Despite us all owing our lives to them, world leaders are forgetting mothers, daughters, girls, still, across the globe.

A thousand women die from pregnancy complications each day, for every woman who dies, 30 more suffer chronic illness or disability.

Preventable deaths

Ten years ago our leaders pledged to eliminate extreme poverty by 2015, with eight Millennium Development Goals.

At the MDG summit in New York next week, it is the fifth and worst performing goal, to improve maternal health, that international charities are pushing.

Although more than 90 per cent of maternal deaths are preventable, pregnancy remains a leading killer in developing countries.

Nick Clegg, who will be attending the conference, has now committed the government to focussing on MDG 5.

Women in Nepal are campaigning against domestic violence

Women in Nepal are campaigning against domestic violence

In Afghanistan- the world’s worst place to give birth– one woman dies every half an hour due to pregnancy related complications.

Clegg told the Guardian action would double the number of women and newborns saved (at least 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth, 250,000 babies) and allow 10 million couples to access family planning.

This is in addition to June’s G8 summit commitment to spend £750m on tackling maternal mortality and an overhaul of aid programmes.

Gendercide

A book by Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times and his wife WuDunn called Half the Sky details some of the other horrors still facing women in the 21st century.

With 60 to 100 million women missing, honour killings, acid attacks and sex slavery they call the current situation “gendercide”. Millennnium Development Goal 3, to promote gender equality and empower women, must not be overlooked.

According to Equality Now, in Somalia, 98 per cent of girls have their genitals mutilated.

Less shocking, but equally damaging, says Kristof, is the exclusion of women from healthcare and education.

Unlawful?

Despite harrowing stories internationally, mothers continue to suffer.

The Fawcett Society has requested a judicial review into the emergency budget in June; they say 72 per cent of cuts will be met from women’s incomes.

“Many of the cuts are to the benefits that more women than men rely on, and the changes to the tax system will benefit far more men,” they said.

Ahead of the spending review in October, newspapers are also reporting that women will lose.

More women work in the civil service, and some departments will be cut by 40 per cent.

According to a report released by the Chartered Management Institute, the gender pay gap in the UK will not close until 2067.

Nearly the same amount of time since the Equal Pay Act first legislated against sex discrimination in the workplace.

The CMI is calling for transparency, Mike Petrook said: “People should not be discriminated against because of one letter on a birth certificate, it’s the job that earns the money, not the individuals.

“If companies don’t do this, they will lose their best talent as they are not reflecting the market place.”

Dangerous and unpaid

Unpaid work done by women is thought to contribute billions to the UK economy every year.

In Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, unofficial care work accounts for more than 80 per cent of all women’s jobs.

Almost two thirds of women in the developing world work in dangerous, low-paid or temporary jobs.

Centenary of National Women’s Day

Next year on March 8th we will celebrate 100 years of National Women’s Day. But how far have we come?

Two out of every three countries now have the same number of boys as girls in school, and women now occupy almost 40 per cent of paid jobs outside of farming, compared to 35 in 1990.

Sri Lanka, Thailand and Honduras all took fewer than 10 years to dramatically improve women’s chances of surviving pregnancy. Thanks to some progress on this MDG the percentage of global deliveries attended by a midwife or doctor has risen from 9 per cent to 19.

We ought to celebrate reducing the number of women dying during childbirth from 1,400 to 1,000 a day. But that is still a third of a million every year to save.

Mums matter

There are now more people called David than there are women in the British cabinet. Women across the globe are still unequal and unheard.

Join:

Oxfam and the Women’s Institute now work together on maternal mortality, and they need your support.

Read:

Half the Sky is from a Chinese proverb, where women are said to be so important as to hold up half the sky

Be positive:

Suffragettes hadn’t known anything other than political inferiority, but they didn’t give up. According to the CMI, women in the UK are resigning in record numbers from positions where they aren’t treated the same as their male colleagues.

If we accept that the most well off countries must help those who are less fortunate, it is up to us, as women in relative comfort, to find the strength to help our sisters who are in greater need.