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British politics taking gender equality to new heights…

 

While new Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has been commended in recent months for his efforts regarding gender equality within parliament and for appointing five women to his cabinet (an improvement from the previous cabinet), British politics has taken the gender equality issue one step further.

In March this year, comedian Sandi Toksvig and journalist Catherine Mayer formed the Women’s  Equality Party, which is dedicated solely to achieving equality in politics, business, education, equal pay, parenting and the media, as well as campaigning for an end to violence against women.

Since March, the party has covered much ground and has now gained 45,000 members; a considerable feat, considering Britain’s Green party has 65,000 members.

Last week, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Sophie Walker (a former Reuters Journalist) publicly voiced the party’s policies at a conference in London, with free childcare, fully equal parental leave, baby changing areas available to men and women and the criminalisation of those who pay prostitutes for sex,  as the party’s top priorities.

Walker has also called for a gender quota system to select MPs at the next two elections, in order to achieve equal representation in the House of Commons by 2025. At Britain’s last election (held earlier this year), women made up just 26% of all candidates. Without quotas, the party believes gender parity within the House of Commons will not be achieved until 2055 and in the House of Lords until 2100.

While there has been pushback from members of the public and parliament claiming quotas risk letting mediocre people in for the sake of achieving a set figure, Walker claims this argument is short sighted. “ A system in which you are fishing in a small pool of people who […]

The Best Advice from Fortune’s Most Powerful Women

 

 

This Wednesday, Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women’ summit wrapped up in Washington, where some 450 executives ranging from chief executive of IBM, Ginni Rometty to Michelle Obama, came together to swap stories, ideas and lessons learned through the trajectory of their careers.

The summit and the term ‘Most Powerful Women’ first came to being in 1998, when Fortune realised that women were gaining significant power within the corporate world and had just as much to contribute on leadership and the economy as men, yet were not being recognised in the media. Consequently, this list generated a significant following and gradually led to a Fortune community, which hosts live events and programs for women of influence and encourages them to use their power wisely and globally. This community now includes some of the most prominent leaders in business, philanthropy, government,education and the arts, while the ‘Most Powerful Women’ summit is now one of Fortune’s biggest inaugural events for women.

At this years’ summit, the level of talent in the room was considerable and highly valuable information was shared by some of the world’s most influential business leaders. Highlights of the summit included Michelle Obama’s speech on the value of education for young women and the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power’s emphasis on how to thrive outside your comfort zone.

A prominent theme however, that was present in the majority of speakers was the need for transparency and authenticity. Both Power and Facebook vice president of global marketing solutions- Carolyn Everson, emphasised the importance of being ‘real’ and ‘putting all your cards on the table’, when leading a team. For example Everson, regularly shares her performance reviews with her team to demonstrate the need for openness in […]

Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle leads to Australia’s first female Defence Minister

 

 

(photo sourced by news.com.au)
A key criticism of Tony Abbott’s government was a lack of women in senior ranks, and it seems that this is an issue new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is keen to address. A recent reshuffling has lead to the announcement of five women within Turnbull’s first cabinet. One of these, Marise Payne has become Australia’s first female Defence Minister.

In her first media conference as Defence Minister, Marise Payne asked the public not to let her gender define her within this new role.

“All that I ask is that I am judged on my performance, not on my gender” she said at the beginning of the conference.

She then went on to highlight the benefits of a women being appointed to the job.

“If as female Defence Minister and Australia’s first female Defence Minister, I can encourage, or my appointment encourages one extra young woman in this nation to consider a career in Defence, to consider a career in politics, or encourages one woman currently serving in the ADF or part of the Defence public service in what they are doing, I think that is an absolutely fabulous thing.”

Turnbull also assured the public that Marise Payne was elected based on merit and not just to fill a quota. Previously there has been a non-binding government policy, which was introduced in 2010 and set a target of 40 per cent men, 40 per cent women and 20 per cent of either for all government boards.

“She is one of our most experienced and capable senators,” Mr Turnbull said. “She has spent two years in the human services portfolio and has done an outstanding job in modernising government service delivery.”

Marise Payne’s appointment to Australian Defence Minister means that […]

CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap

 
“The most Dangerous phrase is, ‘We’ve always done it this way,”

This was the famous catch phrase uttered by Grace Hopper, also known as the Queen of Computing, The Queen of Coding and the Grand Old Lady of Software.

Grace Hopper believed that challenges could be overcome, through bucking the system and was a living testament to this, by breaking down gender barriers within the male dominated field of software engineering to become a pioneer in programming the first large-scale digital computer and for creating the first compiler. Hopper also discovered the first computer bug (literally) when she found a moth stuck in one of the electrical switches of the computer she was using. Grace announced that they would have to ‘debug’ the computer, a phrase that has stuck and is now popular terminology within the computer science field.

Despite all of her accomplishments and contributions to the computing world, no doubt Hopper would be saddened to learn that the progress made by women within computer science hasn’t changed much since she began her coding career in 1941.

Last year, several Silicon Valley companies acknowledged for the first time, just how few women they employed in tech positions (fewer than twenty percent in most cases). While there was a significant rise in the proportion of female computer science graduates in the mid-eighties in the United States, by the late 2000s there’s been a precipitous decline, with 0.5% of the college degrees awarded each year going towards women majoring in computer science. This percentage declines even further once these graduates enter the workforce. Meanwhile, the pioneering female engineers like Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace have become footnotes in an official history that has been inundated with the work and […]