The cult of Superwomen deters women in business


Baroness Gabby Bertin, a member of Theresa May's new task force to encourage women in their careers, said that the cult of superwomen "having it all" is dissuading women from starting their own businesses. She said it is time to "be honest" about "how challenging' it is to be successful in a career while having children.

She added: "All the talk of superwomen having it all is not very helpful to most women in this country."

The conservative peer was a key aide to David Cameron during his time in Opposition and as Prime Minister. Bertin is part of a group of senior women who have been appointed to ensure all policy developed by the Government considers the impact on women and strives to increase their role in politics, business and society as a whole.

Lady Bertin criticized the philosophy of "lean in" which urges women to be more proactive at seizing career opportunitinies. "‘Leaning in' is all very well if you are a highly-paid executive with wraparound childcare, but less so if you are a single parent or if both of you work very long hours and there is a hard stop for nursery pick-up," she said. "It also should not be a crime against your career to want to see your children awake during the week."

The peer also criticized programmes like Peppa Pig for reinforcing gender stereotypes that hold women back. "Deeply ingrained gender stereotypes starts early on," she said. ‘It can still subconsciously drive women and men down different paths."

Lady Bertin also addressed the challenges working fathers face and called for the "stamping out of a macho culture that sniggers behind its hand at shared parental leave or dads playing a bigger role."

The Government's new task force strives to ensure all policy developed by the Government considers the impact on women and tries to increase their role in politics, business and society. Made up of a committee of peers, MPs and policy experts, the group is chaired by Nikki Da Costa, the head of legislative affairs at N010.

Helen Rose, COO of TSB and one of the most senior women in the UK's retail banking sector, has tried for many years to get more senior women in business. As a result, she is encouraging other senior women in business to share their stories to encourage women to make it to the top.

Rose meets with groups of women from across the business to share tips to make it in the business world. "I tell them the story of when I was offered the COO job at TSB and was given 24 hours to make up my mind," she said. "You have to just say yes and think later about how to make it work. Often women don't get as far as saying yes, because they've already thought about what would be difficult. Women need to be bolder, because if you're not, you'll find that one of your peers - often of the male variety - beats you to the top."

Rose climbed to the top despite working in a male-dominated environment. She started her career as an accountant and then became an auditor. "I was told early on in my career that it was a good idea for women to move into tax, as it was less confrontational!" Despite the difficulties, Rose stood her ground. "That didn't resonate with me, as I believe women can be good at resolving confrontations."

She launched her career in senior finances roles in retail and worked in the industry over 15 years - at Dixons, Safeway and Forte. Although the retail industry usually attracts more women, at Forte, Rose was the only woman out of all the senior staff worldwide. "There was a lot of locker-room banter. In that situation, it's hard to bring your whole self to work."

Things changed when she joined what was there Lloyds TSB in 2005 where two of her three bosses were actually women. "Everyone was very generous and welcoming, but there was still a traditional, paternalistic culture," says Rose. "One of my direct reports said to me: ‘I haven't offered Jo the promotion because she's pregnant and I don't want to put more pressure on her.' And I said, ‘Well, isn't that Jo's choice?'"

A new opportunity opened up for Rose and her team to create the kind of company they wanted when TSB separated from Lloyds after the banking crisis. "Building a bank from scratch was incredibly complex, but it was great to write our own mission statement and think about what we wanted our values to be," she said.

"From the very beginning we built a much more gender-balanced team - 37% of our senior managers were women. Now we're up to 42% and we're aiming for 45-55%." Thanks to this change, Rose said "you're much more able to be relaxed, be yourself and bring all of your talents to work."

Rose criticised the tag of "superwoman" and said it's possible to reach the top without being one. "I personally don't like that tag, as it puts women off. We all face challenges; we just need to be more honest and open about how we ‘made it'."

Digital addiction is similar to substance abuse

Digital addiction

Is digital addiction really a thing or are we talking about a mere dependence? For instance, as Internet is medium rather than an activity, it's more difficult to pin down a quantifiable, negative effect of Internet use. If you find you have a compulsive need to use your digital devices and to be online to the point where it is interfering with your life and keeps you from engaging in social activities or doing things you are meant to do, that's when this digital dependence becomes an addiction.

Whether you can't live without your phone, without interacting on social media or Internet in general, these are all categorised under the umbrella of digital addiction.

Phone addiction is a syndrome where users overuse their smartphones to the extent where it has a negative impact on their daily lives. Therapist Paul Hokemeyer said that this syndrome can be a manifestation of underlying behavioural health and personality issues. Some of these underlying pathologies include depression, anxiety and a socially challenged personality. As they are affected by these issues, they rely on their phones to find some comfort.

If you feel the need to document every aspect of your life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, then you are probably addicted to social media. Although there is no medical recognition of this addiction, recent studies have proved that overusing Facebook can decrease feelings of satisfaction and happiness.

Meanwhile, Internet addiction is defined as an impulse control disorder, which is also known as pathological internet use. People who are affected by this issue spend so much time online that they find it hard to differentiate between the virtual world and reality. This pathology increases the chances of overspending money online.

Before the days of smartphones and laptops, in 1997, psychologists were already testing the "addictive potential" of the World Wide Web. Even in its infant years, people who used the Net were already showing symptoms that manifest themselves with other addictions: trouble at work, social isolation, and the inability to cut back. What resulted so addictive about the Internet is the feeling of connectedness to something, rather than to an activity that could be accomplished via that medium.

Internet addiction started to be recognised as a real problem towards 2008, when The American Journal of Psychiatry published an editorial requesting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) - also known as the bible of psychiatry - includes Internet Addiction.

Psychiatrist Jerald Block said that a decade of research had proven that the 1997 study was right in suspecting the Internet could inspired the same patterns of excessive usage, withdrawal, tolerance, and negative symptoms associated with substance abuse.

Black concluded, "Internet addiction is resistant to treatment, entails significant risks, and has high relapse rates." Accordingly, Internet addiction is a pathology that needs treatment just like any other.

Nowadays, Internet is more widely believed to foster addictive behaviours in its own right. One report from 2012, for instance, studied nearly twelve thousand adolescents in eleven European countries and found that 4.4% suffered from what the authors named "pathological Internet use" or used the internet in a way that had a negative impact on the subjects' health and life.

When you spend too much time online and that interferes with your social and professional activities, Internet use could cause mental distress and inability to function associated with pathological gambling. Most of the surveyed adolescents who abused Internet also suffered from other psychological problems including depression, anxiety, A.D.H.D., and O.C.D.

There was not enough data to include Internet addiction on the list of officially recognized behavioural addictions in DSM-V. The landscape might change as the number of problematic use of Internet has been rising in recent years.

Marc Potenza, a psychiatrist at Yale and the director of the school's Program for Research on Impulsivity and Impulse Control Disorders, said Internet can be addictive as a medium. "I think there are people who find it very difficult to tolerate time without using digital technologies like smartphones or other ways of connecting via the Internet," he said. It's the feeling of connectivity or the lack of it what makes constitutes a problem.

A recent study by San Francisco State University concluded that digital addiction increases loneliness, anxiety and depression. It also found that smartphone use can be similar to other types of substance use.

The worst money lies people tell

business money lies

Money is not a particularly easy subject to talk about. When they do, they either feel uncomfortable or they lie about who much money they make, among others. We tend to lie ourselves about how much debt we are shacked to, and even how much money we are going to need for the future. There is great speculations about how to spend money and sometimes we lie to ourselves to feel better about our purchases.

The rule to all of this is that there is no rule at all. There's smart spending and then there are no rules that work for everyone. You don't have to sacrifice your avocado toast to buy a house - like Australian real estate mogul Tim Gurner advised young people - as long as you don't spend too much money on avocado toast regularly.

You can thrive financially by finding out what works for you. You may spend more money on smoothies, but then you ride a bicycle to work and you save money on transport. Therefore, that balances it out. Sometimes we just need to treat ourselves to continue working hard and saving on other things. The key is to not overdo it. Investing in the latest model of a MacBook might help you make more money as a freelancer, for instance. If you went out for breakfast, don't go out for dinner, unless you are on holidays, and then all bets are off.

The key to it all is that you need to balance it out. You can buy anything you want as long as you don't buy everything you want. You need to be selective and figure out what you really want, really need, and can afford without jeopardizing your ability to buy a house or having financial stability.

Here are some popular money lies people:

"Avoid credit cards"

Although this rule applies to people who can't control themselves and they spend too much money when there is not limit and then find themselves in huge debts, it doesn't mean that credit cards are the root of all evil. On the contrary, using credit cards wisely can help you to budget yourself better, help your peace of mind and to be at ease. Besides, the more you use your credit cards - for instance, when you are travelling - the more rewards you can claim. It is really up to how you function.

"You need a great deal of money to start investing"

There are many options out there for you to start investing with as little as $5. You don't need to have huge savings to start investing. It's only a matter of participating in some scheme that will pay off later on. Remember that small amounts that mean nothing to you now, overtime they can turn into huge investments.

You need to spend money to make money

This maxim depends on you go about it. Sometimes investing in business can lead to more money, but you can't always apply it to your personal life. If you don't need something, then you need to save it. There are other times, however, when you need to invest in a project or an instrument to make money.

Then there are the lies we tell ourselves:

"I'll have plenty of time to save money later"

It's not easy to save money. There's no instant gratification and it means you are sacrificing other things you want now. What it comes down to is why should you deprive yourself of what you want now to prepare for an uncertain future. Millennials, in particular, usually get that feeling of uncertain future as they don't usually have job stability which deters them from saving in some cases. However, if you can put aside a small amount of money overtime and try not to think about it being there, it can really pay off and it works easing your mind. It's important to have some backup this day and age.

"I can afford it"

You work hard and you feel like you deserve that very expensive object that you don't really need. You tell yourself that it might be a sacrifice and you will be low on money for quite a while but it will be all worth it. Then after you make that initial down payment and you commit to a monthly payment, you crunch the numbers and realize that this purchase is going to take a toll in your finances. You tell yourself you are going to save money on other things, but suddenly this new toy becomes your life and you have no money to purchase anything else, or pay what you really need to be paying.

All about the gender pay gap

business gender pay

Women workers have long been affected by the the gender pay gap, which is the average difference between the remuneration for men and women in the work field. This phenomenon occurs all over the world and across every industry, although it is more pronounced in certain countries and work fields.

Certain factors like maternity leave that make women take time off work contribute to lower yearly earnings for women. Although the pay gap has decreased over the past few years, it still exists, despite efforts by individuals, governments and organisations to narrow it.

There are two different types of pay gaps - unadjusted and adjusted. The adjusted pay gap takes into account the hours worked, occupations chosen, education and job experience. Unadjusted pay gaps are much higher. For instance, in the United States, unadjusted average female's annual salary has been cited as being 78% of the average male salary, in contrast with 88-93% for the adjusted average salary for college graduates.

Factors that contribute to lower pay can be due to both voluntary and involuntary choices. When someone chooses to work part-time when a full-time position is available is called a voluntary choice. Meanwhile, when someone has a low-skill job because they have no access to higher education, this classifies as an involuntary choice.

Even when the reason for the gap is voluntary, the gender pay gap presents a potential problem from a public policy perspective because it means that women are more likely to be dependent upon welfare payments, particularly in old age.

Evolution of pay gap

According to a meta-analysis by Doris Weichselbaumer and Rudolf Winter-Ebmer of more than 260 pay gap studies for more than 60 countries, from the 1960s to the 1990s, raw wage inequality on a global scale has fallen substantially from around 60% to 30%. The reason behind this decline was an improvement of conditions for female workers.

Economist Alan Manning of the London School of Economics, however, cautioned that the process of narrowing the gender gap has slowed significantly. Accordingly, women could earn less than men for the next 150 years due to discrimination and ineffective government policies.

Some of the factors that influence gender pay gap include gender-specific factors - gender differences in qualification and discrimination - and overall wage structure, the rewards for skills and employment in particular sectors, importantly influence the gender pay gap. Other factors that explain the pay gap is that men usually choose high-paying, dangerous industries such as mining, construction or manufacturing, which women prefer clerical jobs or to work in the service industry. The growing importance of the services sector has played an important role in narrowing the pay gap over the past years.

Almost all OECD have established anti-discrimination laws on grounds of gender. The OECD points out that: "herein lies a major problem: in all OECD countries, enforcement essentially relies on the victims' willingness to assert their claims. But many people are not even aware of their legal rights regarding discrimination in the workplace. And even if they are, proving a discrimination claim is intrinsically difficult for the claimant and legal action in courts is a costly process, whose benefits down the road are often small and uncertain. All this discourages victims from lodging complaints."

Nearly eight years after the Equality Act, the UK has data - the first of its kind in the world - that uncovers the gender pay gap in private businesses and the public sector. According to the report, men are paid more than women in 7,795 out of 10,016 companies and public bodies in the country. Meanwhile, eight out of 10 companies and organisations filed had a pay gap. These figures ring the alarm in terms of structural inequalities in the workforce and may be key to narrowing the gap.

Professor of the Wo+Men's Leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge business school, Sucheta Nadkarni, said that the error margin and other factors at work, the figures do show men are paid more than women on average.

She stated," Whether it is because women are getting paid less for the work that they are doing or because women are not getting equal opportunities to get into positions where the pay level is high - it doesn't matter what the reason is, but there is a gender pay gap and in most cases it's an issue of equality and justice. In both cases it's an issue of an imbalance of some sort."