The Paula Principle

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More

The PM and the Peter Principle

If you've read other posts on this site you'll know that they're all related - sometimes fairly loosely - to the fact that women's competences are under-recognised and under-rewarded. This is what I call the Paula Principle, and it's the simple mirror image of the much much more famous, 50-year-old Peter Principle, that "every employee is promoted to his [sic] level of incompetence." (The 'his' was of course used in those days as a universal; it had specific relevance in the case of Prof Peter's thesis, as only one of his 20-odd individual case studies was a woman: Miss Totland, an excellent primary teacher but a poor school inspector because…
Read More

Rebel Ideas

I've just read Matthew Syed's Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. It's an excellent read - Matthew certainly knows how to take a single point and construct a readable chapter around it. The main argument, as the subtitle says, is to promote diversity - making sure that groups contain sufficient variety of background and thinking to achieve the best results. The book has a good range of examples, from scientific innovation to mountaineering to national intelligence. The overall argument is very convincing. 'Recombinant' innovation, which draws different ideas and disciplines together, can be so much more powerful than incremental progress. Permitting the expression of dissent can be a crucial…
Read More

Covid19 and its implications for the PP

Blog Other things being equal it seems that men may be harder hit by Covid physically – a higher proportion are affected and die.   (If that’s for genetic reasons it prompts fairly hairy speculation about the likely impact of future pandemics - no space for that here.)  But other things aren’t equal.   For a start women are more likely to be key workers, and therefore more exposed to health risks.   It’s also been pretty clear for a while  the economic impact will be tougher on women, at least in the first instance.   As usual, the Resolution Foundation has come up with speedy analysis.  Their report sums it up: Our overall finding is that 36 per cent of…
Read More

Mill on the Floss – again, this time linked to the WMC

You may recall that The Paula Principle begins with scenes from George Eliot's Mill on the Floss. There again, you might not, so a recap: Tom and Maggie Tulliver are brother and sister; she is twice as bright (or 'cute, as her father puts it) as he is but he is the one on whom precious family funds are spent sending away for an education; the 'schooling' turns out to be personal tutorials in topics such as Euclid and algebra, given by Mr Stelling, a parson with an expensive wife to keep; Tom cannot relate these to his practical interests and so learns little; meanwhile Maggie devours books at home,…
Read More

The pension pay gap

By the time a woman is aged 65 to 69, her average pension wealth is £35,700, roughly a fifth of that of a man her age, according to a study at the end of 2018 conducted by the Chartered Institute of Insurance. The emphasis is mine. It's an amazing figure - one sex's pension wealth at just 20% of the other's. How does that rather abstract notion of 'pension wealth' translate into income difference? A recent report from the trade union Prospect (Tackling the gender pension gap) found that the gender pensions income gap (39.5%) was more than double the size of the total gender pay gap (18.5%), with the…
Read More

Drinking after work: a social capital comparison

A recent piece in The Times bemoaned the absence in New York of the habit of a drink after work with office colleagues. Apparently this is due in part to the highly competitive nature of American offices, so colleagues don't want to risk losing their edge; and in part to the dangers of behaving inappropriately in a highly litigious culture. A further reason is the high-octane character of American cocktails and the high alcohol level of some of their beers (10%!), not conducive to more than a single round. James Dean is the paper's US Business Editor, and so presumably has an accurate finger on the pulse of office cultures.…
Read More

Careers, diversity and productivity

This post links three interesting events/publications from the last week. First, I attended an invigorating conference on Women in Economics at Warwick University. The organiser Stephanie Paredes Fuentes and her team did a great job in bringing students from many universities (and countries - a very international group) together to discuss some of the challenges facing women doing economics - one of the very few subjects where men still outnumber women. I was present only for the panel session on the Sunday. Luisa Affuso, chief economist at Ofcom, graphically described some of the severe challenges she had faced as a pioneer in her profession, and this led to some discussion…
Read More

Chess and female empowerment

I had an unusual, and enjoyable, invitation last month, to speak on the Paula Principle - to a conference on chess and female empowerment. The primary focus was on encouraging girls not just to start playing chess but to continue after the age of 11. Until that age there are as many girls as boys playing, but apparently there is a very steep drop-off as they enter puberty. Why? Of course in part it's because girls find other things to interest them. I assumed the main reason was that they dislike the individual aggression, the hand-to-hand combat of chess. Well, we were told that girls are just as competitive. But…
Read More

International comparisons: WEF and PISA

It's that time of year again - when the World Economic Forum publishes its annual assessment of progress towards gender equality. This is a treasure trove of data and comparative rankings on four dimensions of equality: education, health, politics and economics. The headline news for the UK has been simple: the country went down 6 places in the overall ranking, dropping out of the top 20. I suppose you could take this as a timely signal of the slide into mediocrity - but I'm always one to avoid cynical pessimism. Here's how the UK's overall picture looks: Let me get my methodological beef out of the way. On education, WEF…
Read More

de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch

I don't often see the New York Review of Books, but I was trekking high up with a group of friends recently, with no access to papers, so we swapped our reading around. As a result I got to see a fascinating review by Elaine Blair of Kate Kirkpatrick's biography of de Beauvoir (accompanied by an elegant cartoon by Karl Stevens of deB at a cafe table, fag hanging from lower lip). I have always admired not just deB's brilliance, but the fact that she opened up not just gender but old age as fields for politics as well as philosophy. That's two pretty major strikes. The review argues that…
Read More