Time to ‘slow down and fix things’

In last week’s blog post I spoke about the need to challenge the overarching (male) narratives embedded in our key societal structures and the critical need to embrace a plurality of thinking and views. In recent weeks, good friend and old colleague @corney_sarah and I have been discussing (usually over a pint or two) the ‘world views’ and possible biases that are being programmed into the algorithms that are increasingly dominating our world; algorithms that make decisions on our behalf and create ‘truths’. Of course, there is much to be said about the impact of technology on our lives (Cambridge Analytica anyone?!), and on our jobs. In this guest blog, Sarah highlights the need for greater diversity in the tech industry and time to put its house in order. Enjoy.

As a lesbian, I’ve benefitted from the greater levels of legal equality and the shift in societal attitudes over the past 50 years. Last summer we celebrated, and reflected on how far we’ve come (and have still to go) since the the decriminalisation of (male) homosexuality in the UK in 1967.

And as a woman I’ve benefited from the struggles and gains of the feminist movements. In February there was a similar period of taking stock, with the 100th anniversary in the UK of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and the (partial) enfranchisement of women voters. But as Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian in February (Will women be equal to men in 100 years?) reminds us ‘Liberation for women means digging up the roots of human culture, nothing less’. (Polly Toynbee)

So it was with dismay that I read recently of the rise of AI in the recruitment industry. The idea behind these programs is that a good prospective employee looks a lot like a good current employee. But in a workforce that still disproportionately understands a ‘good employee’ as male, white, straight, middle class, and non disabled, when AI turns that data into a score and compares it against prospective employees, who do you think misses out?

At this point in human history we’re rapidly refashioning human culture, to one that is based on technology, founded on machine learning and artificial intelligence.. Are we laying down new roots of inequality, roots that might be just as tenacious and insidious? Roots that might take an historic struggle to dig up?

After a slew of negative press and scandals (the latest the deeply disturbing revelations of Cambridge Analytica) we’re discovering that our technology isn’t ethically neutral – it’s shaped by the worldview of those who build and finance it.

I work in what we might think of as the ‘empathy’ side of tech – leading teams that build websites and online tools that very much have the user experience at its heart – in design, testing and delivery. I believe passionately in building technical solutions from a position of deep empathy for your end users – all your end users. And I’m increasingly alarmed by the rise of biased tech, particularly the algorithms and AI that we’re building to run our societies, that encode not just a poor user experience but an iniquitous user experience, particularly for women and minority communities.

The trouble with tech (with machine learning) is, as Sara Wachter-Boettcher writes in her book Technically Wrong that ‘the biases already present in our culture are quietly reinforced’. Tech inequality used to mean inequality of access and skills, but we increasingly understand it to mean how historical prejudice is being hard wired into the very system itself.

Investors are making a big bet that AI will sift through the vast amounts of information produced by our society and find patterns that will help us be more efficient, wealthier and happier.

The Guardian, Rise of the Racist Robots

But a few glimpses of the ghost in the machine allude to something darker: a Google image recognition program that tagged the faces of a photo of a group of black friends as ‘gorilla’; a Google ad that shows more higher-pay executive jobs to male job seekers than female; the now-infamous COMPAS program that disproportionately discriminates against black men in the US criminal justice system.

The problem is that these machines learn from vast sets of historical, and therefore often biased, data; they don’t invent a fairer future, rather they codify our unequal past. Without immediate-term intervention they could replicate by orders of magnitude ‘the sort of large-scale systemic biases that people have spent decades campaigning to educate or legislate away’ (The Guardian, Rise of the Racist Robots)

The problem is exacerbated further when these programs are shared with the wider tech community as open source code, using them as the foundation to build further products. For example Google’s Word2vec biased word-embedding program, designed to reconstruct the linguistic context of words. In their paper ‘Man is to Computer Programmer as Woman is to Homemaker?’ Bolukbasi et al. argue these word embeddings exhibit ‘female/male gender stereotypes to a disturbing extent’ and their widespread use ‘amplifies these biases’.

These programs not only encode the biases of the training data sets, but also the biases of those working in the tech industry. An industry that is emphatically white, male (and in the US in particular) from a handful of elite universities. A tech industry that prioritises, indeed lionises, programming over all other (particularly liberal arts) skills.

We increasingly have a trust issue with the tech industry. And as societal disquiet regarding its cavalier attitude to personal data and to ethics mounts, it’s starting to experience a backlash, from consumer activism (e.g. the #deleteFacebook campaign) to negative financial impact.

The threat of iniquitous tech needs to be addressed from many angles, with a web of interventions including legislative – there are some legal protections already in place or about to be (e.g. GDPR), but the law rarely keeps pace with technological change – and industry self-regulation (see for example the Institute of Business Ethics briefing February 2018).

There is increasing pressure on the tech industry to take responsibility for the monster they have and are creating. The mantra of ‘creative disruption’ and ‘move fast and break things’ is disruptive, is breaking things: personal privacy, freedom and democracy. And some working in the tech industry are slowly beginning to hold themselves and their colleagues to account (see @MariesaKDale’s Technologists hippocratic oath). Tech academics and thought leaders are also speaking out and searching for solutions to biased algorithms.

As Sara Wachter-Boettcher reminds us in her book Technically Wrong, User Experience (or UX) helped to hoodwink us into thinking that tech was our friend, to give up our personal data, with its intuitive interfaces and cutesey micro content. UX needs to grow up and take responsibility for inclusive user design and ethical testing. Designing for everyone, not just personas and defaults, and ethically stress testing AI-generated outcomes as real world scenarios: ‘would the result be the same if the person was gay, disabled, etc.?

But investing artificial intelligence with emotional intelligence isn’t easy. These are complex programs. Some of it can be done programmatically: The Turing Institute’s Counterfactual Fairness Project is leading the way on this thinking; Anupam Datta has designed a programme that tests for bias in recruitment AI. But some of it is down to the organisational culture itself: the tech industry needs to invest in diverse and inclusive teams that are more sensitive to bias and more responsible in the way that they design the programs we all increasingly rely on. ‘If your teams are diverse they’re much more likely to spot if an algorithm’s outputs disproportionately affect marginalised communities’ (Sara Wachter-Boettcher).

We need to encourage more women and minorities into tech. To quote the late Karen Sparck Jones (one of the architects of computer programming) ‘computing’s too important to be left to men’. Professor of Computer Science Wendy Hall Jones writes ‘for the good of society, we cannot allow our world to be organised by learning algorithms whose creators are overwhelmingly dominated by one gender, ethnicity, age, or culture’.

The tech industry must nurture organisational cultures that encourage and support ethical decision making at every level. It needs to hire not just for a diversity of cultural and racial backgrounds, but also for a diversity of ideas and thinking. Product teams that include programmers but also people with arts, social sciences and humanities training, who are better able to understand the historic and cultural context of the training data, who are better able to spot unconscious bias and who can deliver an ethical user experience. ‘From those differences will come a broader characterisation of the problems we face, and wider range of creative approaches to their solution.’ (Wendy Hall Jones)

I will remember that there is art to technology as well as science, and that empathy, craft, and remaining mindful about the consequences of my decisions outweigh the importance of my technical knowledge, the impulse for financial benefit, or allure of status. (Technologists Hippocratic oath)

Which brings us full circle back to those biased hiring algorithms, and why the people profession needs a strong view on this. When diversity and inclusion is part of the solution to building more ethical tech, to securing a fairer future, we need to be championing better, more diverse, more human recruitment.

Let’s hope we’re reaching an inflection point, where societies, governments and consumers begin to respond to the issue of biased and unethical tech. We must demand that the tech industry takes responsibility for the data it collects, how it processes it and the unethical and unequal outcomes of the AI that’s being built upon it. To regain our trust, the tech industry now needs to slow down and fix things.

Featured image is of Mary Jackson (1921-2005) NASA computer programmer and their first female engineer. Mary Jackson was also NASA’s Federal Women’s Program Manager (1979-1985), where she ‘worked hard to impact the hiring and promotion of the next generation of all of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers and scientists’ nasa.gov

The Pill and the Moon

All the talk in recent weeks and months about the lack of gender equality in society, from pay through to sexual harassment, reminded me of a statistic I was told about 10 or so years ago by one of my brilliant business book authors Avivah Wittenberg-Cox @A_WittenbergCox. (I wish I could remember the source she cited but I can’t – you’ll have to take my word for it!) It was the result of a poll that surveyed men and women on what they considered to be the greatest achievement of the twentieth century. The answers spoke volumes. For men, the greatest achievement was space exploration and putting a man on the moon. For women it was the ‘birth’ of the contraceptive pill. It’s just one statistic, one survey, but it made me think if we amplify that, what does it tell us about the choices that are made in all aspects of our lives? What does society place most value on? What and who do we choose to celebrate? Where do we choose to spend our money and for what purpose?

Sarah Corney’s recent guest blog cited the journalist Polly Toynbee’s assertion that gender equality and liberation for women “means digging up the roots of human culture”. On the 100th anniversary of (some) women’s right to vote in the UK, I was delighted to hear a discussion between two academics on BBC Radio 4’s the Today programme – who happened to be women – Alison Wolf, Professor of Public Sector Management at Kings College, London (amongst other things) and economist (amongst other things) Ann Pettifor. During the interview, which debated whether feminism is too interested in the top 1% (which is an important topic for another day) they touched on how feminism stays away from the subject of the economy. Acknowledging that the economics profession is male dominated, they suggested that this has a significant impact on the economic choices that we, as a society, make. Women, they posited, would typically prioritise and invest in the public sector, in our health and welfare system, in education. If our economic narrative is male, what stories do we choose to tell, which (to mix my metaphors) ‘green shoots’ do we choose to nurture?

It’s interesting to note that, following the global financial meltdown in 2008 (from which we are still suffering) many students of economics started to question the prevailing economic orthodoxy; what they were experiencing and witnessing at first hand was not what they were being taught. As Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England wrote in the Foreword to the book that came out of this movement, Econocracy, it was not only the neoclassical model of the economy that was ‘found to be lame’, but that policy makers placed too much reliance on narrow technical models, to our peril.

Of course, what gives me, and others, optimism, is that students across the world challenged and are challenging this prevailing orthodoxy. As Vince Cable, currently leader of the Liberal Democrats in the UK and former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, says in his review of the book, “It makes the case for pluralistic economics to address such questions as financial instability and climate change.”

We need a plurality of thinking, of views, if we are to change the over arching (male) narratives inherent in our key societal structures: not just in economics, but also in the legal and criminal justice system, in education, in health care as well as in business and the world of work. Of course, diversity of thinking is not just a gender issue, but it’s a good place to start.

So, in a world of finite resources, and facing the world’s grand challenges, where would you focus your efforts, what would you address? When people look back on the 21st century and speak of our greatest achievement, what will they answer? Will it be the 21st century’s equivalent of the Pill or the Moon?

Flying by the seat of your pants – why women should do this more!

I recently caught up with a colleague of old; since working with her she’d gone on to great things (I won’t take it personally, although every time I meet her she does remind me how I didn’t give her that job I’d interviewed her for! 🙂 ) having been CEO of numerous tech and start up companies and now successfully running two new start-ups of her own.

We met, as you do, in a coffee shop (in Hove actually) and she came with her usual effervescent energy and generosity of spirit. In recounting her story of her career journey since we’d last met, she said her success was based on “10% talent, 10% bravado and 80% prosecco” – she’d always been surprised at the roles she was offered. I wasn’t. Her willingness to ‘give it a go’, to challenge her inner critic, to play to her strengths, to keep growing and developing, to be generous with her time, herself, meant that those around her thrived; those around her had the courage to ‘give it a go’ too, to learn from their mistakes, to work as a team and play to their respective strengths (when running her first tech company someone in her team had to tweet for her as she wasn’t digitally savvy!).

Having arrived at the coffee shop in my usual jeans, T-shirt and boots attire, I left wearing red and white boots, blue pants, a red and gold top, indestructible bracelets and holding my lasso of truth. (The inspiration for the original Wonder Woman was taken from early feminists, in particular birth control pioneer, Margaret Sanger.)

In a recent post, I talked about the need for courage; it’s a value I hold dear. Courage to do the right thing, courage to believe in yourself, courage to try new things, courage to make mistakes, courage to fly. Not long after meeting my friend, I listened to an interview (on Late Night Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 – I know!) between the host, Lauren Laverne and her guest, Viv Albertine (guitarist with the punk female band, The Slits, amongst other things).

In the interview Albertine talked about all the brave things she’d done; play in a band when she ‘couldn’t really play’, break the conventional ‘rules’ in the 1970s (through dress, through attitude), direct films, write a book and tell an ‘untold story’. The Slits were on a mission to ‘change things for girls’ a mission that caused them to experience some threatening and scary situations. As Lauren Laverne described it, they were ‘pantsing’, flying by the seats of their pants, and challenging the status quo and existing structures as a result.

In another Radio 4 interview (I know, I know!) I heard the film director, Sally Potter (famed for Orlando amongst other films) talking about how women have interiorized the (male-dominated) structures out there, and how, as a result, in addition to battling against the lack of gender equality in society, we also battle against our own ‘self-limiting unconscious chorus of disapproval’. Potter’s brilliant response was to “try and write faster than the speed of my doubt”.

So, today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day and it’s 2018 campaign to Press for Progress, don’t limit your own selves, don’t censor your own voice, don’t under estimate all that you are capable of.

Whether it’s M&S, Victoria Secrets, Thongs or Big Pants, women of the world, let’s pantsy!

Radical change and rainbow alliances

In last week’s blog post I made mention of the importance of voice and, in the spirit of championing a diversity of voices, I asked an old colleague and friend, Sarah Corney (@corney_sarah), who is passionate about LGBT rights to write something in celebration of LGBT History Month. Enjoy. 

February is LGBT History Month (#LGBTHM18) and a moment to reflect on our #LGBThero (s). And so I found my thoughts returning to my early encounters with lesbians in literature. After reading The Well of Loneliness (yes, really!) at 19, I was surely ready for Rita Mae Brown’s breakthrough lesbian bildungsroman, RubyFruit Jungle and the sassy, sparky Molly Bolt. But my joy soon turned to disheartenment. As our hero Molly walks into a downtown lesbian bar and clocks the butch clientele, she declares:

“What’s the point of being a lesbian if a woman is going to look and act like an imitation man? Hell, if I wanted a man, I’ll get the real thing not one of these chippies.”

Rather than viewing the butches at the bar as people who subvert and challenge gender identity, they’re viewed as women who embrace patriarchy’s strict binary codes. But, it seems to me that Brown was also seeking to change social attitudes by claiming legitimacy for an emergent (real, femme) lesbian identity, by setting it up in opposition to the (delegitimised, butch) Other. Can we only have #LGBTHeroes if there are #LGBTVillains?

February 2018 also sees the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which extended the franchise to women over 30 (as well as adding 5.6 million more men to the electoral register).

This anniversary has seen much comment on the subject of how much has changed in 100 years. And watching this clip from 1970 election night special – and the supernova levels of condescension meted out to Janet (now Baroness) Fookes – it’s true that sexism is at least (generally) less overt than it was in my mother’s day. But with the backdrop of #MeToo and almost-daily scandals (the Presidents Club and the ‘swimsuit sexism’ of the gambling industry just the latest), there’s also much reflection on how much more needs to change.

Women may have won many legal rights over the past 100 years, but we have yet to live in an equal society. Many of the old structures of patriarchal power are still in place.

Never underestimate the size of the task to reverse all history since time began. To recreate society so women are fully equal to men, we are making a revolution more radically profound than any other ever. Forget French or Russian political revolutions, liberation for women means digging up the roots of human culture, nothing less. (Polly Toynbee)

So it was depressing to read of the current battle within the Labour party between (some) feminists and (some) trans activists over access to all-women shortlists. As Gaby Hinsliff writes in The Guardian, “it seems odd … to exclude a minority not currently represented in parliament from measures to make it more representative’.

If gender equality is a revolution that means nothing less ‘than digging up the roots of human culture’ there is neither room nor time for internecine squabbles. Legitimising and empowering one group by Other-ing another undermines the broader momentum for change.

Radical change is only possible when we don’t merely accommodate but celebrate difference and work together to deconstruct the neo-liberalist, patriarchal paradigm to build a more equitable society. Progressive political alliances, rainbow LGBTQI networks and intersectional feminism all recognise, as Jo Cox put it in her maiden speech to Parliament, that ‘we have more in common than that which divides us’.

Does that Make Sense?

Last week we celebrated a 100 years of the Representation of the People Act in the UK, an Act that, through electoral reform, began to give voice to women (and all men) through the ballot box. Recent months have also given witness to a depressingly sordid account of women’s experiences in the workplace: be it in the film industry, parliament or as women trying to earn a living in an economy where low pay is endemic, zero hour contracts rife and being told to dress in short skirts and high heels to satisfy the needs of powerful men is the best you can get.

Having voice is a central tenant of any democracy; the means by which a country’s citizens get to have their say on matters that affect them. (Of course, the most effective way to give voice is much debated and something I will leave to others more qualified than I to speak on.) I was fascinated to learn in last week’s celebrations of the existence of Suffragists, the women who, under the leadership of Millicent Fawcett, believed they would achieve this end using peaceful means – if they were seen as intelligent, polite and law abiding then women would prove themselves responsible enough to participate fully in politics. We now know that Emmeline Pankhurst became impatient with this ‘respectable’, gradualist approach and so the Suffragette movement was born under the motto ‘deeds not words’ and a more militant approach was adopted.

Reflecting last week – on voice, on words and deeds – also caused me to reflect on my own words and deeds and on how I use my ‘voice’ to best effect, particularly in the workplace. How do I, as a woman, express myself? How do I assert my authority and influence the decision making process, whilst remaining inclusive, ‘warm’, open and good-natured? As a woman I am only too aware of the classic dilemma we often face; too assertive and I’m classified as bossy and aggressive, too timid and I’m not taken seriously, my ‘voice’ is easily dismissed. Something I was much less aware of, but which a good friend and colleague recently pointed out to me was how, in meetings, I often finish what I’ve been saying with the question “does that make sense?” In my head I am using that question to connect with my audience, to check-in on understanding. However, what my friend pointed out (and it’s something psychologists have researched) is that, as a woman, in asking this question, I am communicating that I, the speaker, am not sure myself in what I’ve just said. I think what I have said might have been incoherent; so rather than check-in on understanding because I’ve communicated a novel or complex idea that needs time to ponder and digest, I give licence for my audience to think that what I’ve said actually doesn’t make sense! And I’ve discovered, that in women, these verbal ticks are hard-wired.

How often have you as a woman (or observed other women doing) stood up to make a presentation and apologise for taking the audience’s time? Reassure them that you’re nearly through your slide deck? How often have you started a sentence with a disclaimer, “of course, you’re all much more expert on this than I.” (In fact, rather ironically, I’ve even done that myself in this blog.) Research tells us, that men, as they are by default held in high status, are perceived as both warm and competent from the get-go. Women, as history and the present shows, don’t have that automatic ‘status’. So, for women in the workplace, and in society more generally, whilst these hard-wired speech patterns shouldn’t matter, they do.

As I started this working week with this new awareness, I made a commitment to myself to start re-wiring those verbal ticks. I want to find a way of communicating that doesn’t begin by apologising to my audience or finish by undermining myself. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop being myself; I will still seek other’s opinions and insights, I will still be collaborative and open, I will still seek out connection. But I will do this in a way that does not diminish my own competence, experience and point of view.

Does that make sense? 😉

The Courage to Be

Nearly 30 years ago a very dear friend gave me a copy of the book The Courage to Be by (I now know) the world-renowned twentieth century philosopher and theologian, Paul Tillich. Born just before the turn of the twentieth century, Tillich’s life experiences saw him witness at first hand the brutality of the First World War where he was chaplain in the Imperial German Army, and later led him to speak out publicly against the rise of the Nazi movement. Whilst an agnostic at best (depending on which world view you’re coming from!), I was curious about Tillich’s liberal, non-literal, existentialist theology. Whilst Tillich’s Christianity saw him finding courage via the ‘ground of one’s being’ (something that didn’t speak to me directly), I was intrigued by the notion of finding ‘courage to be’, courage as engagement with the world ‘in spite of’ all that is uncertain and challenging.

Thirty years on this book came to mind after I received a note from a very wonderful woman following my post from last week. Acknowledging the sense of bombardment that the process of change can give rise to, she reminded me of the need to see all change, however seemingly unwanted, as opportunity. However much we can feel out of control with the change that is happening to us, we can, ultimately, control how we choose to respond. And that takes courage: courage to believe in ourselves; courage to do the right thing; courage not to act in one’s own self-interest; courage not to put our head in the sand; courage to speak truth to power. If we look at those in positions of power now, do we see evidence of this courage? (And I mean courage in the sense of inner strength and commitment to a greater good, not the language of ‘bully boy’ posturing.)

Which leads me on to celebrating the incredible courage showed by all those extraordinary Suffragettes. As we mark the 100th anniversary of The Representation of the People Act in the UK that added 8.4 million women to the electoral roll (and an additional 5.6 million more men) it is right to both take stock of all that has been achieved in the pursuit of gender equality (maternity leave rights, equal pay, domestic violence legislation) whilst also recognizing that there is still much to be done and courage required to do this.

My Christmas stocking this year contained the book Women and Power: A Manifesto by one of my heroes, Mary Beard (@wmarybeard), the Cambridge scholar and classicist. In it, whilst she recognizes that women in the West have a lot to celebrate, Beard also notes that there is still much to be done. As she writes in the book’s preface “I wanted to work out how I would explain to her (her mother) – as much as to myself, as well as to the millions of other women who still share some of the same frustrations – just how deeply embedded in Western culture are the mechanisms that silence women, that refuse to take them seriously, and that sever them…from the centres of power.” And we only need to look around us now to know this is true – equality legislation does not equal empowerment.

Of course, as eloquently noted by Laura Harrison in her opinion piece A Few Good Men, women should stop thinking that they need courage to try a bit harder, work a bit longer, conform a bit more. Instead, women need the courage to be themselves, courage to trust in what they know to be right and courage to make the change they want to see, as our Suffragette sisters did over 100 years ago.

 

The Change

The Only Thing that is Constant is Change

These wise words, acknowledged to be from the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, over two and half thousand years ago, hold true today now more than ever. We regularly hear this refrain in the workplace and in our lives more generally. The accelerating pace of change, caused by technology and globalisation amongst other things, is disrupting the old world order. The world is moving at such speed that, at times, I feel I am having to hold on for dear life!

This giddying pace of change often refers to external drivers, tectonic plates that are shifting the ground beneath our feet: automation, the rise of populism, demographics. These external drivers are giving rise to grand challenges, many of which are hard to comprehend and, to be honest, make my head hurt!

Hand in hand with these external forces of change, is the rise of movements for change, groups that come together striving to work towards a common goal. High on my radar (as a woman and mother of two teenage daughters) are the events that led to the #metoo campaign and the desire for women, once again, to give voice to all that is unjust and wrong about women’s treatment in the world. And sadly, here, the pace of change is dizzyingly slow. But this lament is not my focus for today and, thankfully, is given voice by many others.

Instead, an often neglected narrative in the story about change, are the physical changes that men and women, but most especially women, experience throughout their lives, changes that can have a huge impact on their mental, economic and social well-being. As a middle-aged woman, a mother and person who has spent over twenty five years in the workplace, I am only too aware of the many transitions I have experienced as a result of my biology, but which have had a significant impact on other aspects of my life. Transitioning back into the workplace after having children is much documented and discussed (although that doesn’t mean we’re there yet) but the transition or ‘the change’ that women in their mid-40s and 50s experience is little discussed.

A recent poll by Comres for BBC Radio Sheffield and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, shed a sliver of light on the profound impact the menopause and perimenopause is having on women in the workplace. The poll found that 70% of women did not make their employer aware they were experiencing symptoms, whilst nearly a third said they had not visited their GP. Staggeringly, nearly half of respondents said the menopause had affected their mental health, while a quarter said it made them want to stay at home. Some had reached disciplinary stages at work, as they did not want to alert their organisation to the debilitating symptoms they were experiencing as a result of the menopause. Other stories highlighted how successful women had given up their work, their careers, as they could no longer cope.

Cliched ‘women’s problems’ are difficult to discuss and are often taboo. As someone who has very real experience of crippling insomnia, heightened anxiety and the joys of joint pain (and at a point in my career when I was chipping away at that glass ceiling) I am very aware of the embarrassment, sense of failure and mockery one can experience at this stage in life; a stage of life when experience, expertise and wisdom should mean women are at the height of their powers.

Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 wonderfully celebrated Menopause Week with a section of their programme dedicated to this subject. But let’s not make it a week once a year or something that’s only discussed on Woman’s Hour (as one of my girlfriends jokingly said, “when are they not discussing the menopause!”)

Let’s make it something that not only more women understand and can transition through successfully, but let’s also make it something that organisations take seriously, with policies and approaches that help women successfully transition through this stage in their lives.