government

From Bletchley to Brexit – an utter disgrace

From 2008-2011 I ran the successful campaign to save Bletchley Park. As part of that campaign I met and got to know several of the codebreakers including Captain Jerry Roberts and Mavis Batey who was only 18 when she made major codebreaking breakthroughs. The work that was done by 10 thousand people at BP, 8000 of them young women shortened WW2 by 2 years saving 22 million lives. 10000 people working around the clock for years making sure that we can enjoy the freedom we have had all of our lives.

Bletchley Park to me epitomises what is best about Britain and the British. People from all different backgrounds coming together around a common cause, working for years, in secret, with no real personal reward or recognition for what they have done. Incredible people in incredible times. 

To me Brexit is the opposite of this. Brexit epitomises the worst of Britain and the British. People from privileged backgrounds seeking to manipulate others, to pit people against each other for their own personal gain. Selfish people creating a selfish atmosphere in selfish times.

At a time when other countries, like China for example are building infrastructure across the world with the Belt and Road programme, buying up land, building roads across Africa and Asia, lending large amounts of money to countries that possibly won’t be able to pay it back, we in the UK are showing the world quite clearly that we are unfit to be incredible pioneers as we once were, working en masse, working in collaboration with other countries, building the alliances that we have enjoyed up until now.

We are now operating in a global marketplace. There has never been so much opportunity in the world for us to create products and services that we can sell around the world. Technology is rapidly changing the way we connect with each other, the way we trade, the way we live our lives. It is creating social change through connecting us together with others that care about making change happen. #blacklivesmatter #metoo it’s incredible that through one word, one hashtag we can create global movements that are changing the world for the better, empowering people who previously had no voice.

Technology brings amazing opportunities for jobs, education, connections with people around the world to solve global challenges, but in the UK we  just look backwards and complain about how it’s taking away jobs.

In less than 100 years we’ve gone from seeing the best of British to the worst of British. I’m utterly ashamed of what’s happening here now with Brexit, to me it feels like the UK at a pivotal time in history with all the amazing opportunities that are out there, is committing suicide in front of the world. At a time when we should be joining together and collaborating with other countries to make the world a better place to live in for us all, we are throwing away opportunity under the lie of making Britain great again. What an utter disgrace.

Me on @BBCWorld news talking about the #Googlememo, #womenintech and #whitemaleprivilege

I was interviewed by Aaron Heslehurst for his Talking Business show on BBC World News channel yesterday about the memo “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” written and shared internally by a Google engineer.

“The author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he writes, going on to argue that Google’s educational programs for young women may be misguided.”

My main points:

  1. He has no idea what he’s talking about, he’s not a woman in tech and is displaying a classic case of #whitemaleprivilege
  2. “For those used to privilege, equality looks like oppression”
  3. It’s wonderful that we can now discuss these issues openly, it’s the first big step towards an equal society that cares about everyone not just the privileged few
  4. It’s great that the media now think of this as an issue, just a few years ago that wouldn’t have been the case, I’ve been in the #womenintech space for 25+ years and even though the change happening is ridiculously slow I’m delighted to see it finally start speeding up
  5. Mainstream media are becoming supportive of equality and feminism
  6. Many people in our society are backward looking and change averse like this engineer (and his country’s president), for us on this planet to have a successful future we need to work together to ensure that EVERYONE has equal opportunity
  7. Our society is misogynist, which is bad for women and men
  8. Engineering and software engineering are about cooperation and people skills as much if not more so than coding. It’s been shown time and again that one of the main reasons IT projects fail is because of the lack of communication in one way or another.
  9. Ada Lovelace invented the very idea of software (did her brain have “biological differences”?) and we have many amazing women in tech pioneers e.g. the incredible Dame Stephanie Shirley who set up F International 300+ women coding from home in the 1960s. They wrote the Concorde black box flight recorder software for example.
  10. We need quotas short term to redress the balance, to create a level playing field.
  11. It’s not about men vs women but about being enlightened and forward thinking rather than change averse and backward thinking white male privilege.
  12. It’s social conditioning, we know that behaviours that are seen as assertive in men can be seen as bossy in women
  13. It not about men vs women its about those that want to create the best products and services and see that change needs to happen for that to be the outcome and those that are change averse and have the privilege of being in the majority.
  14. I’ve been hearing this shit since I got into tech in 1989, it’s time for CHANGE!

Government ministers’ misogyny towards Kids Company CEO Camila Batmangelidjh 

Im disturbed by the way that all of the (mainly male) ministers and others being asked to comment on the closing of Kids Company and the demise of its CEO Camila Batmangelidjh use terms such as “mesmerised” and “charmed” as part of their defence in giving the charity large amounts of public funding. This smacks to me of timeless, insipid misogyny.

  
Image copyright The Guardian 

What is the job of a CEO of a large charity? Surely a large part of it is to make sure the charity can continue to run by bringing in funding. How do you bring in funding? I imagine by persuading people that your charity is doing great work and is more important than the others in the same space. 

  
From the Telegraph “Kids Company Camila Batmangelidjh – How we fell for this matriarch” 

Isn’t this what Camila Batmangelidjh did really well? 

Instead of putting their hands up and saying “yes, it’s a fair cop, we should have been more rigorous with our checks into the organisation” etc they all talk about how they were “charmed” or “mesmerised” trying to dodge the blame and put the onus on the CEO for persuading them to behave a certain way. 

There are of course many stories and behaviours going back centuries which promulgate the same misogyny, Adam and Eve and witch hunts for a start, so it’s interesting that in our society this blaming of women for men’s actions is still being used. But isn’t it time we moved on? 

I don’t want my grandchildren growing up in a misogynist world. It’s time for change.