In response to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/10244637/Ukip-treasurer-Women-are-not-competitive-enough-for-the-board-room.html.
When I entered the Ladies' World Backgammon Championship in 2010 there were two notable differences between that and the main open tournament (which I had also entered, but I had been knocked out in the third round). First, not as many players entered and secondly, the average standard was much lower. To answer Stephen Wheeler's accusations by pointing to successful women in backgammon (or in chess, bridge and poker) is disingenuous - these women exist but they are still few and far between.
This is also true in the boardroom, and throughout the industry in my own sector, technology. There are excellent women, but women on average are performing at a lower standard. The difference in the boardroom is that having women on the board is now widely recognised to have many many benefits for a business, from cultural improvements to better staff retention, and some studies show a diverse board leading to increases in a much more concrete area - profits. Apart from a more enjoyable experience for participants, I can't see any compelling need for the government to work to increase the number of female poker players.
Discussing differences between men and women is an area fraught with danger. I frequently come nearly to fisticuffs with my own family when debating "nature vs nurture". Luckily we do not need to solve this question in order to ascertain whether more women could be qualified to sit on boards in the future. We simply need to look at how the landscape has already changed. Just 100 years ago (a short time frame compared to that of human civilization), a discussion around having any women in the boardroom would have been unthinkable. Yet women were already working in roles previously barred to them such as teaching, secretarial work and nursing. And we all know what happened a mere 5 years later...
I have no doubt that, gradually, the landscape will change further with more and more women entering the top roles. If we want this change to happen sooner and we want to realise the benefits of a properly diverse and inclusive board structure, we need to do things differently to how they are being done already. Quotas, affirmative action and "success lists" like the Management Today 35 under 35 are a sign of the future and we support them because we hope they will bring the future to pass more quickly.
The Cruellest Game contains an important admonition. It's one we should all know already, yet countless heroines of crime novels forget. Ladies if your husband works away from home a lot, never trust him. Call that emergency number he left you, cross check it with the company headquarters and never, ever let him manage your finances.
Hilary Bonner's tenth novel continues her previous form in bestsellers No Reason to Die and When The Dead Cry Out. The book opens and continues with beautiful descriptions of Dartmoor and life in the West of England, no doubt reflecting the author's personal experiences (Bonner was born in Bideford on the North Devon coast). Lovely local characters such as the practical vicar's wife and strikingly smart lawyers add some comfort to an otherwise desperate scenario.
The story is fast paced - within ten pages we are confronted with the first death, the suicide (or is it?) of the protagonist Marion's son. The plot is then revealed via the uncovering of various layers of deception by Marion's husband, allegedly away at work on a deep sea oil rig for large parts of the year. Has he changed his name? Where does he get his money? And why does he react so badly to Marion's best friend entering their house - what does he have to hide?
The Cruellest Game is a great read for lovers of crime fiction and thrillers, and finishes of course, with the compulsory twist at the end of the tale...
My name is Zoe and I am a typical technologist. I played with coding on a ZX Spectrum as a small child, I read about Schrodingers cat as a teenager and I pursued mathematics, chosen by a whisper above the more practical engineering, as my degree subject. I joined Softwire, a bespoke software development agency, straight from university and worked as a programmer. I also LOVE Star Trek.
Technology jobs are ideal for people like me, but that is not the subject of this post. The subject of this post is that technology jobs are also ideal for people who are not at all like me.
Technology is a relatively new sector. Companies that we consider “tech companies” are at most half a decade old. This has a massive impact on the culture of these organisations. The stereotype of a sandal wearing, pizza eating geek may not be accurate, but the concept underlying that stereotype – that technology workplaces are modern, non-conformist and diverse – is absolutely spot on.
Technology is also expanding as a sector. Not only are new tech start-ups mushrooming into existence at a rate of over one a day, all organisations in all sectors are finding that tech must play a part in their strategy if they are to survive. Finance is almost completely digitised, fashion is being led by technology and education, medicine and retail are being transformed. Technology jobs pay well now, and are going to pay even better in the future.
Nor are the only jobs for arithmophilic, geeky, four-eyes like me. (Although, to be clear, you guys know you have a job here already, right?) As internet connectivity expands to cover fridges, garages, tables and glasses, so functionality becomes more complex and comprehensive. Paradoxically, as more can be delivered, we demand slicker, simpler and easier to use interfaces. Many key roles in technology – designer, product owner, user-interface expert, user-engagement expert, start-up founder and advocate – do not require you to be able to understand code and do require heavy doses of people skills.
In today’s world, smart people no longer work just for a pay-check. Those who are most successful talk constantly of passion, engagement and fulfilment. Technology companies, particularly fast-growing ones, have a plethora of roles available that will allow you to discover your place in the world. And that place will be around brilliant people, challenging work and maybe, just occasionally, a little bit of chat about Star Trek.
This post first appeared on the Talented Heads website.
Managing Director of Softwire, technology and backgammon presenter. Plus a little bit of new music radio.