Children need exposure to opportunities to experiment with computers, and encouragement to build their ideas
In the future world of work, many jobs will be automated. With that in mind, it makes sense for humans to focus on work that can only be done by us, requiring emotions and skills not replicable by machines, such as kindness, empathy and creativity. Despite this, our current education system focuses heavily on reading, writing and maths. They are certainly important, but focusing only on these is to the detriment of building rounded people. In my opinion, so-called “soft skills” are, in fact, essential skills for the future world of work. We need to prepare our future generations for working closely with machines by building their confidence in working with them and their agency over them.
To do this, children need exposure to opportunities to experiment with computers and encouragement to build their ideas with code. When I co-founded Code Club in 2012, which provides opportunities for children to develop coding skills through free after-school clubs, the aim wasn’t to turn every child into a programmer. It was to give them the confidence and the skills to work with technology.
The discovery that frozen sperm can survive space flight opens up tantalising possibilities. But there’s no guarantee of utopia
If you’re a woman who has despaired over the past week, as you’ve observed the questionable conduct of jowly white men in positions of power and subsequently seen it defended by both men and women – take heart. The good news is that when our species eventually abandons this burned-out, used-up planet for a brave new world elsewhere in the universe, we can leave the men behind too. According to new research by scientists in Barcelona, frozen sperm can survive zero gravity conditions without deterioration, meaning that it will be far more economical to transport only women and sperm banks to populate our new intergalactic home, just as soon as we find a viable alternative planet.
The overturning of the original verdict in a notorious rape trial is a sign that attitudes towards sexual violence are changing
Justice was a long time coming for the young Spanish woman gang-raped during the Pamplona bull runs in 2016. On Friday, the supreme court in Madrid overturned a lower court’s verdict and found the five men who attacked her guilty of rape rather than sexual abuse, and raised their sentences from nine to 15 years in prison.
The men called themselves la manada (the wolf pack) and their case revealed gaping holes in the Spanish legal system’s approach to sexual violence. According to Amnesty International, three-quarters of EU member states, including Spain, legally recognise an assault as rape only when physical violence, threats or coercion are involved. A victim must have demonstrated resistance, but, in this case, the terrified woman appears frozen in a video clip of the 30-minute attack. The defence argued she was consenting and so the lesser charge was applied.
Private nurseries are a boon for entrepreneurs, but – for all the sanctification of motherhood – women who are exhausting themselves to work are the people we actually care about least
My daughter has been looking at nurseries. I must admit it is a long time since I had to think about that kind of thing. What I have learned is that babies are more expensive than ever. Turns out you can no longer just put them in a drawer, and they have to be wheeled around in contraptions that cost more than an old banger. But childcare – well, childcare is impossible. The old feminist demand for free creches went the way of the habit some women used to have of demanding men pee sitting down.
Private nurseries have sprung up everywhere. The babies will be fed gourmet mush and entertained non-stop while their parents work every hour they can to pay for this.
When computer assistants reply in female voices, are they saying that women lack power in their world?
Within two years there will be more voice assistants on the internet than there are people on the planet. Another, possibly more helpful, way of looking at these statistics is to say that there will still be only half a dozen assistants that matter: Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa in the west, along with their Chinese equivalents, but these will have billions of microphones at their disposal, listening patiently for sounds they can use. Voice is going to become the chief way that we make our wants known to computers – and when they respond, they will do so with female voices.
This detail may seem trivial, but it goes to the heart of the way in which the spread of digital technologies can amplify and extend social prejudice. The companies that program these assistants want them to be used, of course, and this requires making them appear helpful. That’s especially necessary when their helpfulness is limited in the real world: although they are getting better at answering queries outside narrow and canned parameters, they could not easily ever be mistaken for a human being on the basis of their words alone.
A viral photograph of a couple breastfeeding their twin babies has highlighted the process that allows a woman to nurse a child she has not carried. So how does it work?
A photograph of Jaclyn and Kelly Pfeiffer breastfeeding their twin babies has gone viral, highlighting the fact that it is possible to nurse a baby you haven’t given birth to. Jaclyn didn’t carry the babies but has been able to breastfeed them thanks to a process known as induced lactation. It tends to be used by same-sex couples, as well as adoptive parents and women whose babies were carried by a surrogate.
The outcome can be variable, depending on the situation and what the goal is, says Helen Gray, from Lactation Consultants of Great Britain, an organisation that describes itself as the professional voice of breastfeeding. “They might want to try to bring in a full breast-milk supply and provide all of the baby’s milk, or, if they are co-parenting in a same sex relationship, they may be hoping that each mother will provide enough so they can share the breastfeeding.” Or they may want to provide a small amount to top up bottle feeds.
Female body hair is becoming more visible in popular culture and, while the issue has been around for decades, the new enthusiasm for hirsuteness has a 21st-century twist
I am usually late to catch on to shifts in the zeitgeist; this one came to my attention just recently. While watching the HBO show High Maintenance, I noticed that Lee, the protagonist’s hip and beautiful love interest, was sporting hairy armpits.
“Look!” I cried to my husband, as though I’d unexpectedly spotted a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of my favorite obscure band. For the past couple of decades, I have seldom shaved my armpits. Now, all of a sudden, I was on-trend.
When people ask what it’s like to be a woman in this sector, I long for the time we stop boxing people into stereotypes
If there was a single key to levelling the gender imbalance in engineering and technology careers, we’d have cracked it by now. Plenty of evidence shows programming of prejudice starts with babies, and girls begin to be put off engineering between the ages of five and nine.
We need a shift in thinking so people are treated as individuals from birth rather than pigeonholed. There are many good initiatives targeting teenagers – we just need to reach younger children.