Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More

Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More

Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More

Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More

Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More

Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More

Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More

Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More

Telling Daughters, and high profile examples of the Peter Principle

Melissa Benn's new book What Should We Tell Our Daughters? dives into a heady mix of issues: body image, pornography and sex, self-esteem, motherhood, ambition and quite a few others.   The book has a lot of forthright argument, but is not as prescriptive as the title might suggest. One of the  book's many good and encouraging features is the way it expresses the ambivalences which parents feel - - about what lessons they should try to pass on to the next generation of young women to help them fulfil themselves in different ways.   It speaks more directly to mothers, but fathers are very much there in the picture.  (Declaration of interest: Melissa and…
Read More

The shrinking (part-time) student

"Part-time students, particularly mature undergraduates, seem to be an invisible and, in national policy terms, poorly understood cohort. "  This is Professor Sir Eric Thomas, introducing a recent UUK report on part-time HE.  The report makes grim reading, for the most part.  Over the past decade or so, whilst full-time undergraduates  have grown considerably (11%), the numbers of part-timers have shrunk, by about 17%. Much of my professional life has been spent promoting lifelong learning in one form or another, and especially part-time learning within universities, so this makes painful reading.  My last full-time job in the UK was with the country's oldest provider of such opportunities, Birkbeck, and I'm…
Read More

Ibsenning

I've been lucky enough to go to two Ibsen productions in the past week: Ghosts at the Almeida and The Doll's House at the Duke of York.  I enjoyed both, but for me the former was far the stronger, with tremendous power and a beautiful rhythm to the production.   The climax, with Helen Alving cradling her dying son Oswald, could be entirely depressing, but here we saw the sun rising as he slipped away, and although her future is hardly a bright one the visual effect was one  of some kind of redemption for them both.      I was again amazed at Ibsen's boldness.  In one play he…
Read More

OECD Skills Survey: gender and the use of skills

The OECD survey of adult skills was published yesterday, and triggered a torrent of publicity. It's a massive piece of work - 166000 people aged 16-65 interviewed across 24 countries, and directly tested on a variety of information-processing (literacy, numeracy, ICT etc) and generic (cooperation, problem-solving etc) competences. I know a little of just how much work went into getting this off the ground. Most of the immediate attention in the UK was focussed on our poor ranking in literacy and numeracy. This is always the temptation when league table information is produced. It's the aspect that journalists can most quickly get their pens on to, and we shouldn't complain.…
Read More

Hubris and humility

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic revives the Peter Principle (though he doesn't mention it), asking a number of questions about why more men rise to senior positions. The piece - and one of the academic papers linked to it - takes female 'humility' and opposes it to male hubris. Humility is a more positive way of expressing Paula Principle Factor 3 - lack of self-confidence - and the difference between the positive and negative expressions is worth discussing. But 'hubris' is an even more interesting term. TC-P argues that we are often unable to see the difference between competence and confidence. So people -…
Read More

great expectations, and household divisions

The recent excellent report from IPPR on gender issues has immediate attractions for me. It's great to see a thinktank using longitudinal data, as Tess Lanning and her colleagues do. They compare the experiences of women born in 1958 with those of the 1970 generation, and this gives us a powerful take on trends. They rightly warn against seeing any tidy linear progression towards greater equality. In particular, we can see major divisions opening up between top and bottom, amongst women as more generally. One illustration of this is the changes in the amount of domestic work done by men; this has increased over time - but mainly amongst men with more education.…
Read More

Japan’s glass ceiling

Today's Financial Times reports that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, moved yesterday to compel corporate Japan to promote more women. He asked them to set themselves a target - of at least one woman executive per company. As the Ft wrily remarks: "The request was polite and the scale was hardly European in ambition." In Japan women fill just 1.6% of executive roles (the European figure is 14%), so if even half of them they comply with their prime minister's wish it would mark a big jump forward. It's part of a wider tension within Japan about the role of women in the economy. This is powered in part by…
Read More

Discrimination against part-timers: a slightly unfair example

"The flexibility of Britain's labour market makes stagnation slightly more tolerable in the short-term than in countries where rigid labour markets have contributed to high unemployment. Yet there is a price to pay, as many jobs are part-time or temporary; when you take account of inflation, wages overall are declining." Thus Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of OECD, writing in this month's Prospect magazine. Nothing remarkable there, you might say. Padoan goes on: "If economic weakness lingers, there is a risk of further polarisation between full-time employees and those in part-time, insecure, often low-paid work." Again, the statement is in one sense unremarkable - except for the important warning from…
Read More

Working hours: do Brits work the longest?

It's a fairly common belief that the British are the long hours 'champions' of Europe (the commas are deliberately ironic - see below).  This is usually seen to be partly the result of our opt-out from the European Working Time Directive.   Some of those working very long hours are right at the bottom end of the wage hierarchy, and have to work massive overtime to make a living wage.  At the other end are those who have committed themselves to the corporation body and perhaps soul, working all hours but for very high  rewards. Certainly in my field of adult education when people are asked about what stops them taking part in education or training,…
Read More