Speaking Up For “Introverts”

As one who ends up more on the introvert side than extravert when I do a Myers-Briggs test, this TED talk by Susan Cain resonated with me. At last, one of us has managed to survive the glare of attention long enough to mount a defence of the introvert take on life – or asContinue reading “Speaking Up For “Introverts””

A Dragon In A Pigeonhole: Gender and Stereotyping At Work

Hilary Devey’s Women at the Top

Despite not being a huge fan of this Dragon’s Den business celeb, I was quite gripped by her documentary  about inequality in employment between the genders. There was nothing very new in it, but it was great to see a “queen bee” (as a powerful leading woman in a male-dominated business gets called these days) being jolted out of her previous simplistic take on gender in the workplace – basically the “I managed it, why can’t they?” approach. Interesting in particular to hear the success of changing gender awareness and gender balance within the ranks at P&G.

There are some areas that will always be male dominated, one suspects – but some are just that way because no one has bothered challenging received wisdom. More than a decade ago I carried out some qual work on a gender issue in the British Army and interviewed soldiers right across the ranks. I can’t share the detailed insights on here, fascinating though they were. But it is a matter of public record that there are women who can pass the physical tests for entry into the infantry – there are some superb and very tough female athletes in the Army. The barriers to the Army accepting women into the teeth arms of the British military are not physical but to do with group dynamics, culture and psychology – no less real for that, but not what you might have expected coming at the issue afresh.

The infantry is perhaps exceptional because its personnel decisions have life and death consequences, but Hilary Devey’s warehouse was all male also for no good physical reason, just a cultural one. Women have not been encouraged to think they could train as forklift truck drivers and so there are few out there. But there’s no obvious reason other than the work culture to exclude women from training up for that kind of job. And warehouses don’t have the life and death excuse. But cultural stereotypes are powerful.

I also wasn’t surprised to see in the team exercise experiment, the mixed gender team out-performing the single gender teams. That’s been my experience of workplace teams too and I’m a big believer in not just mixed gender in teams but mixed personality type and mixed as much as possible. It’s that coming together of different perspectives that is so effective, especially in my line of work, qualitative research.

I’ll watch the rest of the series with interest. 

Olympic Britain: Substance 2012

So I’ve waved goodbye to this phenomenon that breezed into my life, swept me off my feet for two weeks and now leaves me pining at the airport, watching the vapour trail. No, I’m not having an affair with a wayward airline pilot, I meant the Olympics. (I hear the Olympic village usually turns intoContinue reading “Olympic Britain: Substance 2012”

Proust Wasn’t A Neuroscientist: Another Icarus Falls

Another young journalistic Turk bites the dust: LA Times: Jonah Lehrer resigns, book recalled over invented quotes. Having read and enjoyed some of his stuff, I feel more than a little betrayed. But it’s a reminder of the pressure on writers to keep producing. Perhaps Lehrer just needed to do some inner crop rotation andContinue reading “Proust Wasn’t A Neuroscientist: Another Icarus Falls”

The Happiness Objective: the ONS Reports on British Well-being

The ONS’s first reporting of the “happiness” statistics – based on “subjective” answers to specific survey questions, rather than so-called “objective” forms of data – came out on Tuesday 24th July. No big surprises and it will only become really interesting, I think, once it beds in and we get year-on-year comparisons going. I wasContinue reading “The Happiness Objective: the ONS Reports on British Well-being”

Driving Our Man Machines Towards Distraction: Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows”

The Sunday Times described it as a “bold reactionary book” – and so it is. I’ve just finished reading Nicholas Carr‘s The Shallows (subtitle: How the internet is changing the way we read, think and remember). Its main point is a simple one: the Internet is a medium that revolves around distraction and our usageContinue reading “Driving Our Man Machines Towards Distraction: Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows””

Young Guns Go For It

Here’s the video for the AQR’s Young Guns pilot evening, which Lesley Thompson and myself moderated. This was a fascinating evening spent talking to a group of young researchers from some of the leading research agencies about what life is like for people early in their qual research careers now. Some fascinatingly different perspectives, forContinue reading “Young Guns Go For It”

Longitudinal Qual: Triangulating With A Spiral Staircase

An excellent briefing yesterday on a new study I’m excited to be involved in. Massive team of us involved, but the interesting thing is the project is a proper piece of longitudinal qual. And it’s inspired me to mix geometrical metaphors like William McGonagall sharing a third bottle of Talisker with Kevin McCloud on theContinue reading “Longitudinal Qual: Triangulating With A Spiral Staircase”

The Glorious Land: TomTom Club On Tour

So, I’ve negotiated the straits between Scylla and Charybdis and my sat nav is raring to go. On the off-chance a random client strays by mistake onto my onanistic blog, this is a public service announcement (without guitars). I’ve been on a break for the last few weeks, yesterday was my first proper day backContinue reading “The Glorious Land: TomTom Club On Tour”

Olympics 2012: Good Time For Fieldwork Outside South-East

A bit of self-promotion here, but hopefully a useful tip too. It’s to flag that, this summer, there’s a particularly strong reason to base your qualitative fieldwork in the Midlands or North, rather than the South-East region. And get me to do it, obviously. Many of us will have received another Transport for London emailContinue reading “Olympics 2012: Good Time For Fieldwork Outside South-East”