Category Archives: News

A mainly sensible angle on current news stories.

Go For It Girls! Science and Engineering Week

National Science and Engineering Week is 15th to 24th March.  Although this IQ woman still has recurring nightmares about her A level chemistry exam, clearly there are many other IQ women that go on to greater things in the field of science and engineering!  Unfortunately though, whilst many women qualify as scientists and engineers over 70% leave the profession (compared to just 50% of men) and very few continue on to become experts.

Why is this ‘Braindrain’ happening?  Unfortunately it’s the usual old story of lack of employment flexibility, training and childcare options.  Not only that there is the ‘macho’ culture of these areas of profession which goes hand in hand with women’s lack of confidence.  Even these highly intelligent women working in these sectors are less likely than men to perceive themselves more competent at their jobs than their colleagues, and less likely to apply for jobs where they don’t exactly meet all the criteria.

What is being done to combat this brain drain?  Well, WISE (Women In Science and Engineering) promote ‘female talent in science, engineering and technology from classroom to boardroom’.  Their mission is to increase the gender balance in the UK’s science, technology and engineering workforce, pushing the presence of female employees from 13% as it stands now, to 30% by 2020. They also have the annual WISE awards for people who actively promote science, technology and engineering to women and girls.

It may be too late for some of us to enter the field of science/technology/engineering but we can certainly promote it to the younger ladies and girls in our lives.  The British Science Association have some great free activity packs for you to download and also a list of activities going on in your area.  Lighting your first Bunsen burner, sticking your finger into mercury, getting static hair on a van der graaf generator – science at school was fun.  Make this week the week where you do some science with your kids and remember the fun you had.  You may just inspire the next Marie Curie….

International Womens Day 8th March

It was in 1909 the first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.

Then in 1910 the Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament.

1911  as a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.

1913-1914 International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.

1917 Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for ‘Bread and Peace’ on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. In adopting its resolution, the General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and an increase of support for women’s full and equal participation.

In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

In many ways we have certainly come a long way, but we still to this day battle for equality, especially in the work place. Women often have to work much harder to prove we can do the same job equally…

Be Cheerful and Keep Your Faith – do the little things

Today is St. David’s day. 1st March marks the day that the patron saint of Wales died. On his deathbed he is famously quoted for saying:

“Be cheerful and keep your faith and belief, and do the little things that you have heard and seen through me.”

1500 years since his death and his words are as relevant today as they were to his beloved followers at the time.

This IQ woman, not being Welsh, and therefore ignorant of most things Welsh (including their patron saint) hears the words ‘St. David’ and automatically thinks leeks, dragons and lots of ‘L’s! But clearly there is more to St. David than a vegetable often left wilting in the fridge!.

Despite being famous for leeks, St. David went on many pilgrimages from his Welsh base – from Glastonbury to Jerusalem. He founded religious centres, was made an Archbishop and even created miracles – from curing blindness to making the ground rise up.

Clearly to have a legend lasting 1500 years or more – the man must have been quite something. What can we take from his deathbed advice?

The 1st March is the perfect day for being cheerful and keeping the faith. The days are getting longer, the sun is coming out – there is light to help us keep the faith!

Do the little things – 1500 years before Tesco, St. David knew that ‘Every little helps’! The little things are everything in life: a smile and a wave to a driver who lets you in; a cup of tea made for your husband in the morning; the dishwasher unstacked without asking; your favourite song on the radio, etc. The smallest thing can put a smile on your face and change the course of your day.

And don’t forget that you have the power to do those little things for other people and change the course of their day….

Another U turn

Is it just IQ Woman that thinks Cabinet Ministers seem to have to justify their jobs by making big policy changes just for the sake of it?  And then back tracking?

Today Michael Gove renounced his policy of abolishing GCSE’s in favour of the EBC (English Baccalaureate Certificate) despite publicly rubbishing GCSE’s only last September.  Teaching friends of IQ Woman are thrilled as they viewed the EBC as an ill-thought out waste of time, but where does this leave the thousands of teenagers due to take their GCSE’s this year and next?

Whilst IQ Woman applauds Gove for his original statement about the ‘race to the bottom’ by exam boards vying to make their syllabus and exams the easiest to engineer higher pass rates, perhaps he should have fully conceived and planned his reforms before belittling the existing system still in place for our teenagers?  After all the pupils in his education system are asked daily by their teachers to read their questions properly, show their workings out and give fully reasoned answers!

Let’s hope he doesn’t backtrack on his other pledge to take A levels back to being examined at the end of the two year period of sixth form, rather than with the present system of AS levels and modules.  IQ Woman, a 70s child, took A levels when they had exams at the end of the two years.  However on a whim 9 years ago IQ Woman decided to do English Literature A level ‘just for fun’ as an evening course.  IQ Woman took the AS level and got an A (very pleased with herself!) but on the results sheet it said that even if she didn’t go on and take the A level exam she had already acheived an E, i.e. passed it without even sitting it!  What a mockery!  

Our exam system needs sorting out with some urgency – but reforms need to be properly thought through to give them any credibility or support from the teaching profession, parents and pupils.

Behind Closed Doors…

IQ Woman’s heart goes out to the ex-cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce today.  The nitty gritty of the disintegration of their marriage was broadcast to the nation via recordings made of telephone calls discussing whether Ms Pryce had really taken the infamous three speeding points which were rightfully his.

Mr Huhne pleaded guilty earlier in the week to perverting the course of justice.  Even though this has led to him resigning as an MP and will probably lead to a prison sentence – it is looking like the more sensible option to the one Ms Pryce has taken, pleading not guilty to perverting the course of justice over the same issue.  The ‘not guilty’ plea is resulting in a trial where their dirty laundry is being held up for the world to see.

Today as well as the publication of telephone calls that record arguments and swearing, Ms Pryce also referred to an abortion she had in the 1990s under pressure from Mr Huhne and details of how the marriage ended with Mr Huhne’s admission of an 18 month affair.

We’ve all had arguments, said things we’re not proud of, and done things we’ve regretted. But to hear those things repeated in court and broadcast to the nation must be very hard. It seems that this issue, which arose from a casual (but admittedly bitter) remark to a journalist, has blown completely out of control.  It must be incredibly difficult to end a marriage without any bitterness or acrimony but to take things to this level can’t be beneficial to anyone, let alone the three children from their marriage (can you imagine your own parents wranglings being aired and discussed in this way?).

These trials were always going to be in the public eye and yes as voters we have a right to see our MPs being treated the same as everyone else.  But who benefits from the publication of such private information?  Why could this trial have not taken place in privacy?

Maybe there is a lesson for us all there somewhere in that whilst revenge is sweet, it can sometimes backfire horrendously and end up harming the very people you care about most.

Female Boss for Eddie Stobart

“A woman at the top of a haulage firm is a rarity” (The Week) but today a reality! A female surviving, let alone excelling, in the world of transport and logistics is definitely something that we like at IQ Woman

Yesterday trucking world celebrity firm Eddie Stobart, appointed a female chairman – Avril Palmer-Buanack. Palmer-Buanack began her career as a desk clerk for a car hire company.

Great news for the logistics industry – great news for women.