Monday, 25 May 2009

Yay! I'm not alone!

There are other people out there blogging about the same kind of thing.

On livejournal, but let's not hold it against them...


And the Post that Spawned it

And another one. My favourite quote from which is from the comment at the bottom:
"The best option available [to prevent rape] is to teach everyone from a young age that female bodies aren't public property, to hold rapists responsible for raping people, and to stop holding girls and women responsible for not getting themselves raped."

This is almost a post for my own sake, rather than for anyone reading (helooo... Is there anyone out there....?) but still, they make good/angry reading.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Follow Up

BBC Documentary asking "Why can't women succeed in the workplace?"

Solution, from my point of view:

6 months mandatory paternity leave.

Wont go down easy with bosses and chiefs of industry, but it's absolutely, 100% the easiest/best/only option. The others being:

Women stop having children. (downsides would include destruction of human race)
Women go back to the home. (About as fun an option as above)
Being able to control the female "biological clock". (we don't yet have the science)

We need to get more men in the home. Simple as. Men find it easier to succeed because they don't have the pressures of family - they have a wife to take care of that for them. Women find it immeasurably harder to do the same as men if they don't have the support network that men do (ie a wife/unpaid domestic labour*). In order to get more women into careers, you have to get more men into the home. Once it's seen as "normal" for men to stay at home if they want to (or if their wife needs them to) then it should follow** that it will be seen as "normal" for women to be bosses. We need to dissociate gender-roles from biological sex.

Interesting point raised about half-way through, is that women in investment banking are eminently desirable, because it would probably stabilize economic trends. High levels of testosterone are responsible for the boom-and-bust phenomenon, as men take more risks. Women as women (not women behaving like men - see previous post) are better at assessing those risks, and while they wouldn't "boom" quite as often, they'd be far less likely to go bust.

* The "unpaid" being the important part. Most women find there's no point in earning a top salary if most of it has to go on hiring the nanny, chef and cleaner. If they could get that for free, they'd most likely keep working instead of staying at home.
**I say should, but there's a bit more to it than that.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


A couple of things in the news at the minute that caught my attention.

Women, even in the same job as men, still earn less.

It's not going to get better for another 180-odd years.

Apparently they don't earn as much because they have less of a sense of entitlement than men do.

Though I see an interesting correspondence with this, and wonder whether or not the women claimed as much as the men... interesting

And an interesting article about how even other people view men with more of a sense of entitlement than women. (ok, it's not quite about that, but I wanted to make it all fit nicely.)
Seriously though, if anyone has any doubt that women are still treated like second class citizens in this world, take a look at some of those comments under the article. Plenty of straight-up woman-bashing like:

"What exactly stops women forming their own corporations and filling their boards with women? Oh no that's too hard, easier to legislate yourself onto boards that don't want you"

"Half the cabinet wouldn't be there but for all women quotas."

Commenter1 : "the woman filling the post has to have at least the same skills as a male applicant."
Commenter 2:
"I disagree. Rather, the same or better!"

"If a man is currently filling a post, then a woman replacing (displacing) him must be at least as competent and qualified as the person she is replacing, if not more so." (my italics)

Lovely. A woman has to be better than a man to get exactly the same job. This is, and has been the status quo for decades. My Mum had to get better grades at A-level than her male peers just to get an offer at a university, and that was thirty years ago, give or take. You'd never see that today, and yet as soon as it gets beyond education and into the actual jobs market, that's suddenly fair? Hmm...

Oh, and of course the whole bell-curve IQ argument gets dragged up again. In summary, for those of you who don't know, there has been research done to suggest that the spectrum of IQs runs like this:
Women: Very pointed bell curve; Lots of women in the middle range of IQ, not a lot at either end (so not many really stupid women, but not many exceptionally smart ones either)
Men: Flatter bell curve; generally wider distribution of IQs with both ends higher than the female line. (So the bulk of very high IQs are male, but also the bulk of really low ones)
Never mind that the standard IQ test is a highly artificial way of measuring intelligence, people keep trying to suggest that this is a good thing for men; that because most of the high IQs are male, that men in general have a higher IQ than women. Wrong. Firstly, the average IQ (taking either the mode or mean average) is higher for women (using the medium, it's exactly the same). Secondly, that top section where men do better is only the very top end of the spectrum. In general, people being hired for board management are somewhere below that, so actually, women are still going to have better IQs at that level. And thirdly, statistics can be manipulated and presented in a way to show anything you damn well like, so really, I wish people would stop using this argument to try and suggest something it doesn't.

When it comes down to it, I'm actually in favour of this kind of quota as a temporary solution. Because the only other way, it seems, for women to get into top jobs is to act more like men. Once you have a good percentage of women at the top (rather than one or two token females), the criteria are going to change - You're going to have people at the top who can recognise the positives in typically female traits, and how they can be an asset to your business, people who can understand that soft-spoken is not the same as lacking confidence, that there is not just one set (male) way of doing things. And this is the clincher: they can hire women who are as good as men, but not, as the case is now, exactly the same as men. People have got this confused. They judge success by a purely male yardstick, and so in order for women to succeed in companies where men get to set the standards of merit, they have to behave like men.

It wouldn't surprise me that some people will think, with a quota system in place, that women at the top got there purely because of the quota. Yes, people are going to think that. But just because some people take a prejudiced view isn't a reason not to impliment a measure that could be immesurably beneficial.
People are going to see what they believe to be less-qualified women promoted above more-qualified men, but what they don't realise is that these women may actually be more qualified than the men but their positive qualities are not being recognised and, in fact, that at the minute being a woman in itself is a positive quality. The unpalatable thing to accept is that a woman in a top position is (at present) intrinsicly better than an equally qualified male candidate simply because she is a woman, and because she can start re-setting the yardstick to include the typically feminine merits that are currently being overlooked by men in charge.

I don't see quota having to be in force for long. A generation at maximum. Just enough to make people see that women can be successful and can promote success in their orgnaisations without having to behave like men. The thing is that if we don't, at the pace change is coming, we aren't going to see equal gender representation until 2225. And I don't even see that. Because unless we do something radical now, even the women at the top in 2225 are all going to act like men, because that's what they had to do to get the job.

We need quotas, no matter how unpalatable they may seem. Unless there is another measure we could take that allows women to succeed without having to compromise their identity and integrity, but at the minute I can't see one.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Dont Panic!

So the big story to hit the headlines at the minute is this Swine Flu problem. Which probably isn't as big a problem as all that. Only the BBC and to a certain extent the WHO* seem to be trying to make it worse. Yes, scandal and fear sell papers, but really BBC, I expected better.

The thing is, when you look at the actual facts, we have a virus which has, outside of Mexico, been very mild, and outside of the Americas has had less than a handful of cases. It's no worse than the average dose of human influenza. And lets face it, human flu is a bit of a crap virus. It makes you feel grotty for a few days, maybe a week, and then you make a full recovery. The only problem with that is when you get a secondary infection, such as pneumonia - which is treatable, but which can cause deaths in people whose immune systems are already compromised, or people who are less robust, such as the very young or the very old. I would be prepared to bet that the majority of deaths in Mexico aren't actually down to Swine Flu, but down to this kind of secondary infection. It doesn't help that Mexico doesn't have the healthcare and resources that Britain or the US have. Even if Swine Flu does start spreading among the UK populous at large, I highly doubt we'll see more deaths from it than we would see in the average year from regular human influenza.

But when you get the press jumping up and down on a story, you get terror and panic, and that just ends up causing more problems than it solves. Being the massive hypochondriac that I am, phrases like "There are numerous cases elsewhere - the highest number outside Mexico is the US - and Europeans have been told it is certain there will be deaths." really, really don't help anyone.
From the same article:

"It really is the whole of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic."
"It is not a question of whether people will die, but more a question of how many. Will it be hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands?"

And it's not just the press who are fueling this - the first quote was from Director General Margaret Chan, of the WHO, the other from Robert Madelin the European director-general of health and consumer protection. These are really people who ought to know better. I have no problems with telling people about the risks, I don't condone lying, but phrasing things in such an emotive way is just as bad as lying because you're giving them a false impression of the situation. Now is NOT the time to panic, and comments like that from officials, supposedly in the know, are just going to exacerbate an already tense situation.

The other thing is that people are splashing around the word "Pandemic" without telling people what it actually means. So you can see why Joe Bloggs on the street is confusing it with "apocalypse". When another WHO person is saying that "Clearly we are on track for a pandemic in the coming months." might it not be a good idea that we know what he's talking about?

A pandemic, just so everyone is clear on this, just means an infectious disease, with human to human transmission, affecting people on more than one continent. Stage 6 of the WHO guidelines require "increased and sustained transmission in the human population". So there's actually a few pandemics already going on without us noticing, we've already got an HIV pandemic going on, for example. And a TB one. And they're much more serious than the flu.

Really, right now it's time to take advice from Douglas Adams...

*Be careful to pronounce this "double-you aitch oh" not "Who", or you might get the same thing I did, which was my fiancee thinking I was accusing Keith Moon of scaremongering...