older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More

older women

Jackie Ashley's piece in today's Guardian  is subtitled 'the nation's great untapped resource' and makes a strong case for paying attention to the competences of older women.  This generation of 50+ women is the first to have a high level of qualifications, and far fewer of them have no qualifications at all.  So we need to think much more about how they can play a full part in paid as well as unpaid work.  She makes a powerful argument that this affects us all, for fairness and efficiency reasons. Ashley quotes some significant changes in attitude compared to 30 years ago.  In 1984 65% of women agreed that a husband's…
Read More

Aspirations and ambitions

In Winifred Holtby's South Riding, published in 1936,  Lydia Holly is the eldest daughter of a large and poor family living in a converted railway carriage.  She is 'an untidy fat loutish girl in a torn overall' - but she shows evident signs of cleverness, and her mother sees this.  "Her mother  was a fighter; her mother had insisted  that she take the second chance of a scholarship to Kiplington High School.  When she was eleven she had  won a place at Kiplington, but her parents had needed her to escort her small sisters to the village school, so she had missed her chance.  Now Daisy was old enough to…
Read More

Resilience, conscientiousness, openness – do these matter more than cognitive skills?

We're all  told, and most of us believe, that education makes a  big difference to people's lives;  but what exactly is it about the education that has such an impact?  I've just been at a meeting organised by the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, where I used to work.   One of the meeting's primary topics was how far so-called 'non-cognitive' skills/characteristics such as resilience, conscientiousness or ability to relate to others contribute to individuals' success, as compared with traditional cognitive skills such as levels of literacy or numeracy. The project is looking particularly at the social outcomes of learning,  ie how education does (or doesn't) affect issues such as crime, health…
Read More

‘Part-time’ working again, and inequality

Two strong further prompts that rethinking how we use 'part-time' is an urgent and important task.  I visited Emma Stewart, co-founder of WomenLikeUs, and she told me about their work in developing a better match between supply and demand in higher quality part-time jobs.  Only a tiny proportion of job vacancies - around 3% - are available on a part-time basis and at a salary level over £20K.  This contrasts with the 55% that are available full-time at this level.  So for every 'good' part-time position, there are 18 full-time positions.  This fits  very poorly with the large numbers of people - mostly women - who are well qualified and capable…
Read More

Measuring education: learning curves and black boxes

The Economic Intelligence Unit has just published The Learning Curve, which will certainly attract much attention.  The report looks at international evidence on educational performance - or, I should say, on school system performance, since it concentrates wholly on schools, a familiar if frustrating pattern for those of us concerned with lifelong learning.  Having had my minor  beef about that, I want to say that overall the report marks a big step forward in how we ought to approach the measurement of educational performance. My first big cheer is for the report's explicit declaration of humility in the face of complexity.  Those involved have undeniably a very high level of…
Read More

Demography, price-earnings ratios – and the PP

The  Money section of the weekend's FT - yes, a regular read for me, though usually as a bit of financial anthropology more than anything else -  carried a piece by Norma Cohen which suggests that the investment growth of the late C20 will not be recovered for a long time, if at all.  The reason for this is the change shape of Western populations:  the passage of baby-boomers from middle age into retirement, and the shrinkage of the youth population.  The proportion of people aged 65+ in the UK has risen to 17%, and is projected to go up to nearly 25% in the next two decades. Conversely the 35-54 group is declining.  This…
Read More

Parental aspirations: a pair of literary examples

Parental aspirations are a powerful influence on educational achievement. They must also have some effect on what kinds of job young people want to do, though I'm not sure what the research shows on this. We do know from Ingrid Schoon's analysis of cohort data that girls' aspirations are higher than boys, at all levels of socio-economic status. (Schoon also shows that for the generation born in 1970 the class gap in aspirations is wider than is was for those born 12 years earlier; once again we have trends in gender and class pointing in different directions.) I have been looking generally for passages from literature whic illustrate the Paula…
Read More

ONS and part-time pay

The Guardian today carries a full-page item on 'Gender pay gap could close...by 2040'.   My first point is to give the paper a big pat on the back for its visual presentation of the statistics.  They really do work hard with the design to make the different magnitudes easily accessible, even to those of us who lack intuitive gasp of numbers.  I note also that they judiciously choose green and orange for men  and women, carefully eschewing steretypical gender colours.  I've had some intrafamilial disagreements on whether I should do the  same for my Paula Principle charts. The Guardian piece gives good prominence to the place of part-time pay.  But it's definitely worth…
Read More

Pauline conversion? Bishops and other authorities

I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't comment on  the non-decision of the Church of England on whether or not to have female bishops.  But the issue gives a particular twist to the arguments around  how competence is recognised, and so adds a novel dimension to the Paula Principle debate.  And as I come to later in this blog, the arguments recur in surprising places. I haven't followed the church  debate in detail, so what follows is musing rather than analysis.  One line of argument from those opposed to women bishops could be that women could technically do the  job perfectly well, but unfortunately for them the theology forbids it.  A different line would be to…
Read More

Labour Women sharing skills

I went yesterday to a Labour Women's Network meeting, and listened in on some very energetic discussions.  I was welcomed as a guy by ex-MEP Carol Tongue  standing  next to me  in the queue for registration, who said there were too few of us there (maybe 5%).  My being in a minority, and feeling an outsider despite the welcome, is not exactly a mirror image of a woman being in a meeting with 95% men, since a) that is unremarkable, and b) men do not consciously draw strength from their male majority.   Anyway, it was an energising experience even for an outsider, though I could only be there for part of the day. In…
Read More