Thursday, 7 August 2014

Trying to 'Lean-in' has made a difference to my life

When Sheryl Sandberg's book was first published I refrained from buying it on the basis that a CEO of a multinational would have nothing to say to an ordinary woman like me. What could I posssibly have in common with a woman who is worth millions and lives her working life on a 24 hour clock? However, after some missed opportunities at work I decided to give it a read and I can safely say that my initial analysis was wrong.

'Lean-in' is a wonderful literal and a metaphor for the way women hold themselves back. My favourite quote from the book is: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" This quote has proven to be a font of inspiration for me. There were many things that I had considered as Plan B career options but had never articulated them in a constructive manner. I now have a two page list.

Another favourite quote is: "Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder". We are all taught to think in a vertical manner when it comes to career progression and, yet, life does not work that way all the time. Being freed from the strait jacket of vertical though has allowed me to be far more bold in my plans.

The biggest leap forward has been in the way I have managed to convince my daughter to 'Lean-In'. She was at a debate forum recently where volunteers were needed. She tells me that she remembered to 'Lean-In' and was the only girl who put herself forward.

I am seriously thinking of starting a 'Lean-in' circle in South London for mothers. If anyone is keen please email me at:

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Sarcastic Look at Rape's Blame Culture

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Are Strikes about class wars?

KARL MARX observed in 1865 that wage levels can only be “settled by the continuous struggle between capital and labor, the capitalist constantly tending to reduce wages to their physical minimum, and to extend the working day to its physical maximum, while the working man constantly presses in the opposite direction.”1 Indeed, as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote in the opening to the Communist Manifesto, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles

Teachers with banners

Sunday, 6 July 2014

My Encounter with an Orthodox Jewish Woman

On Friday I was passing through a busy London train station. A small group of Orthodox Jews caught my eye. I have always been fascinated by their traditional dress (the men) and how the women are compelled to cover their hair with wigs. My daughter often tells me off for staring at them, such is my fascination. Anyway, the group consisted of two men, a woman and some children. The woman saw me looking at them and started drumming her fingers in a 'walking' manner up and down her thigh. There was fear in her eyes. I was going down the escalator and they disappeared from my sight. I was rushing to get home to cook for a dinner party that I was hosting only three hours later.

The look in the Jewish woman's eyes disturbed me. The penny dropped the next day. The woman had been using her fingers to to alert her male companions to my presence. She kept glancing at them nervously but they were engrossed in their smartphones. It seems so obvious now that I don't know why I never thought about it before. Yes, I know it is rude to stare but why was she so scared? She must have thought that I was a Muslim. Brown skin equals being a Muslim in the Western world. Only a few days earlier my new boss had asked me if I was observing Ramadan. I don't. I am an Anglican, a CoE regular attendee. Recently, people whom I meet for the first time have started asking me whether I am Muslim. This has never happened before. Nobody assumes that I am Christian. Quite strangely, nobody makes an assumption that I am a Hindu either. The latter would qualify as being quite an educated guess with a high chance of being correct. Many in my family are Hindus.

The whole strange episode has got me thinking. The blowback of Israel's policy against Palestinians seems to be a feeling of individual and personal insecurity within their own people. Jewish friends who live in North London tell me how they have to be extra careful over their personal safety whenever Israel launches an attack on Gaza etc.  If a woman sitting in a London station could fear a brown skinned woman dressed in a business suit then their individual fears multiplied across their population globally must amount to some sort of breach of their own liberty. If you cannot live in peace even when you are not physically caught up in the conflict zone then surely it is time to question what good the policy is and for whose benefit?