Archive for April, 2017

If you need to see it to be it then here’s more role models for girls

Monday, April 10th, 2017

femaleleadEdwina Dunn, famous for setting up the mother of big data DunnHunnby, has retired from her previous life in data analytics and is tackling a problem dear to all our hearts, how to inspire young women.

Her new book, The Female Lead, is designed to inspire the next generation of girls.  It takes the idea that you need to see it to be it and delivers at scale. The Female Lead is a non-profit organisation dedicated to making women’s stories more visible and offering alternative role models to those ever-present in popular culture. The project highlights the breadth of female achievement in order to offer inspiration for future generations.

The Female Lead creates a variety of spaces to present these stories including a book of 60 amazing women from around the world published in February, together with an online and social media presence, and an outreach programme for girls in schools, celebrating female role models who shape the world.

Edwina was interviewed at AdWeek Europe by Natasha Pearlman editor of Grazia.

Dunn talked about the gender divide that she’d seen in girls’ role models.  She said that girls have a smaller range of people that they look up to.  They will name their mother or sister, perhaps a celebrity (Kardashian inevitably).  Whereas boys seem to have a wider spectrum – footballers and business men included.

Our longitude study RWI’s Connected Kids, which has been surveying 1,200 8-19 year olds in the UK for over 15 years, shows that when specifically asked about people in the public eye as role models, girls do come up with business women, even if they might be celebrities first as well as sports heroes just as boys do.

When asked who in the public eye who they might see as role models the boys’ list includes: David Beckham, Alan Sugar, Bill Gates, Wayne Rooney, Richard Attenborough and Richard Branson.  Girls name: Emma Watson, Kylie Jenner, Beyonce, Scarlett Moffat, Little Mix and Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Furthermore girls’ career aspirations are far broader than when our survey started when hoped for careers were dominated by movie or pop star hopes.  So junior school girls now say that when they grow up they want to be a vet, teacher, policewoman, doctor, dentist and yes dancer.  Senior girls say: teacher, scientist, doctor, vet or lawyer.  For comparison boys say: Engineer, footballer, doctor, IT and gaming and scientist.

The Female Lead book will encourage even more young women to embrace a variety of career aspirations, including business.

Meanwhile at another highlight of Adweek, when Matt Schnecker himself interviewed Jamie Oliver, Oliver struggled to answer the question about who he considered a role model.  Eventually he arrived at Mayor Bloomberg (who was obviously a businessman who turned to politics – does this indicate Oliver’s future plans?  Might we get the Naked Mayor?)

He pointed out that Bloomberg is criticised by some for not achieving all of his goals.  Oliver’s view is that Bloomberg cast a stone into the pool and it is the ripples that are his achievement.  Even if all of his objectives haven’t necessarily been met.

The Female Lead is another stone into the pool of the status quo, and here’s hoping it creates ripples that deliver lasting change for young women.




Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Twitter chief Bruce Daisley used to have the wrong photo on his LinkedIn feed as he explained on the MediaCom Connected Podcast this month.   Instead of his happy smiling face, for a long time he had a picture of iconic British comedian Bob Monkhouse, a man who frankly does not bear much physical resemblance to Bruce.
Not many people are that aware of Monkhouse these days.  Jon Culshaw calls him the “Rolls Royce of gag tellers”.   The only joke that I can remember of his was that he used to say “They laughed at me when I said that when I grew up I wanted to be a comedian…. Well they’re not laughing now!”


Bruce takes comedy seriously.  He says that he “laughs every day in his job”, which might be a key part of his road to career success.


Being funny really drives status.


Colleagues who make others laugh are seen as more self-confident, competent and higher in status, according to a series of experiments by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Harvard Business School and reported by WSJ.


The average British worker has over 6000 meetings during the course of their career.  It would be a bit grim if none of them made you laugh.


The right sort of humour is crucial however.


During the course of writing The Glass Wall, Kathryn and I came across a gender divide as far as humour is concerned.


There might be a culture of banter in the workplace that blokes find incredibly funny, and women find very excluding, even if they laugh along with the jokes.


Creative legend Dave Trott explained the gender divide with his own joke: “Men insult each other all the time in the workplace, but they don’t really mean it.  Women compliment each other all the time at work, and they also don’t really mean it.”


This led us to ask: “Do women take “funny” seriously enough as a career boosting technique, and do men allow them to do so?”


One story that didn’t make it into our book involved a young account director at a creative agency who was specifically told by her boss (a man) not to open a presentation with a joke, because it was inappropriate for her status in the agency.  Was it because he thought it wasn’t a funny joke?  Or was it because he didn’t like the idea that she was funny?


There was a media storm last year when a City receptionist was sent home because her heels weren’t high enough.  Note that the story wasn’t about the fact that she was dressed smartly (no one was suggesting that she was wearing trainers or flip flops).


This led Times’ journalist Deborah Ross to write: “No woman has been told (as far as I’m aware) that perhaps, after lunch, it might be a good idea to reapply her wit if she wishes to get places…just lipstick and heels”.


On the contrary in The Glass Wall, we absolutely recognise the power of humour for women, both to respond to (and hopefully put a stop to) uncomfortable banter, and to win over your audience.  Everyone (regardless of gender) should consider putting the same amount of effort into devising the appropriate opening joke for a big presentation as they put into the rest of the content for that meeting.


Being funny is a serious career move.