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Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

Want a lolly? Hop on an Aussie bus.

September 21st, 2015 Comments off

 

I’ve been back in the Australia homeland for a month or so, and impressed with the old place – especially the ditching of the loathsome Tony Abbott as prime minister, although his “self-made all-round genius” successor Malcolm Turnbull may not be a massive improvement.

People are generally nice – polite and considerate – more than in the dirty old Anglo-Celtic capitals of the northern hemisphere, Donald Rumsfeld’s “Old Europe”. The locals, of course, do an exercise in mouth-wrinkling and sotto voce scoffing when I offer this opinion.

On a Melbourne suburban train, when another middle-aged lady and I were the first passengers into a well-populated carriage, two teenage school students in uniform rose immediately from their seats and moved aside for us. Could have knocked me down with a feather. The only young person who ever gave up a seat for me in Dublin was a young Travelller boy, some years ago. The privileged sprogs of the south county Dublin bourgeoisie lounge around comfortably, with their schoolbags providing an insurmountable obstacle course.

In Sydney, on a crowded late-afternoon bus, an elderly gentleman asked the father of a toddler, as they settled in their seats, if it would be okay to offer the little boy lollies [sweets]. “Thank you, but no, too much sugar and he gets hyper,” the father declined with a smile. You don’t see such exchanges on the 46A in Dublin or the no 29 in London.

Getting lost in Melbourne, a couple of girls walking their dogs fished out their mobile phones and Googled my destination – not a bother.

And most remarkably of all, when I was wandering lonely as a cloud along a central Melbourne railway station, looking for the airport bus, a rail employee actually approached me and asked if I needed help!! He nearly had to pick me up off the floor. Read more…

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Why aren’t there more women in the digital business world?

November 6th, 2014 Comments off

As I write these words on November 6 2014 [there’s a classic intro for you], the Web Summit in Dublin is about to hear a talk about the topic of the scarcity of women at such gatherings, and in the world of digital technology in general.

Coincidentally, I’m watching a webinar from the US, sponsored by the Knight Foundation, on open data and ‘the next big thing’. There’s a lot of talk about open data and emerging platforms, and the first panel featured four men and one woman.

In the second session, a woman did give the presentation, but, to the relief of the stereotype-seekers, she was dressed in shapeless jeans, shirt and jumper and messed up hair. Just like a male geek (the term will not give offence, I hope, for it is so short and handy).

I’ve been to so many conferences and hackathons, so many meetings on digital issues of interest, such as open data, and yes, females are in the minority. At a BBC-sponsored hackathon in Dublin earlier this year I handcounted the crowd of around 120, and put it at about eight to one. But why the hand-wringing? Why oh why aren’t there more women in this field?

I’ll tell you why. Read more…

So what will we do between 55 and 70?

June 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Retirement age is being pushed back in countries all over the world, with the latest being the Australian government’s plan to make 70 the life-point when the old-age pension begins.

There’s no doubt people are living longer, with the average span now being in the mid-80s for both men and women, in the west.

And many people would be happy to remain in the labour force, and earning a reasonable income, till their late 60s.

But colliding with this scenario, and not being addressed anywhere by governments, is the problem of what to do with these older workers, in a world where looking for a job over 50 is like the famous needle-in-a-haystack quest.

Evidence is everywhere: in Britain, the 2013 Commission on Older Women report found that a government programme to get people into work had a 28 per cent poorer result for the 55-64 cohort than the under 55s.

[The recession was particularly unkind to older women, with a 41 per cent rise in unemployment among the 50-64 age group between 2010 and 2013. In the population as a whole, the rise was just one per cent.]

Read more…

Youth unemployment ‘could destroy the EU’

September 28th, 2013 Comments off

The world of work can be a pretty rotten place. That’s even setting aside the boring tasks, colleagues with bad breath, and unpleasable bosses. But at least it’s work. Work is turning to a monster for many people because of the conditions imposed on them to hang on to that job, and a wage that continues to shrink – if you get a wage at all. Unpaid internships have ballooned out of control, and here in Ireland unscrupulous employers have been quick to jump on the government’s ‘JobBridge’ bandwagon to grab staff for nothing. (In JobBridge, the person employed is paid only €50 a week on top of their social welfare transfer. See also Scambridge, a website which tries to expose the failings of the scheme.) These morose ruminations came as a result of a seminar on employment and a living wage, organised by Irish Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, and colleagues in the Labour Party.

Read more…

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After Lean In, The World Needs ‘Clean In’

May 27th, 2013 Comments off

There’s been a lot of buzz generated by Lean In, the snappy book from Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO (and if you don’t know what COO stands for, the book is perhaps not for you).

It means “chief operating officer”, which makes Sandberg a Very Important Person indeed in modern corporate America. And the world, given Facebook’s claimed billion users, with around 650 million of those active daily.

The title refers to a Sandberg exhortation to women in business to “lean in” when they’re at meetings, rather than hanging back, not speaking, lurking in the corners of the room. It’s a manifesto for career women to stop accepting second place, Seize the Day, and the balls of the alpha males. And it’s good.

Setting aside the relentless energy and obsession with work – which Sandberg acknowledges – the book has a lot of universal truths about the respective roles of men and women in society, whether dressed up as equality in western countries, or blatantly unequal in other regions. When it talks about women downgrading their skills (often internally), not going for the big job, dropping out of a promising job because they can’t juggle children and career, it makes a lot of points easily recognizable by any woman who’s worked outside the home in the last 30 years.

Read more…

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