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The Week That Was: Plenty of Questions

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What would Winston Churchill say? Bowing to public pressure, the Bank of England has admitted it is putting into place a female-friendly contingency plan for the new £5 note. The governor of the bank, Sir Mervyn King, has asked his staff to draw up a version of the banknote with a woman in pride of place, after his plans to give Churchill the top spot - and in the process leave the Queen as the only woman appearing on any British bank note - left women across the country reeling.

With an online petition gaining momentum, the threat of legal action under the Equality Act, and now a number of MPs and peers calling for King to reverse his earlier decision, the bank might still be defending its choice, but is at least conceding there might need to be a Plan B.

Before those of us who have signed the petition get too excited, Sir King is still standing by his decision to replace the current face of the £5 note, Elizabeth Fry, with the former Prime Minister, using the excuse that the Queen is on every bank note and Churchill is, well, a pretty top bloke.

Feminist campaigner and The Huffington Post UK blogger Caroline Criado-Perez, who has spearheaded the challenge to the bank's decision via her website The Women's Room, is having none of it. She told the £ Times:

"Whatever we think about the Queen's hard work, she's there on the basis of birthright, not on the basis of her achievements."

On the other side of the Atlantic, today's women are faring somewhat better to Britain's deceased ones, with £ American special forces' commanders opting to hire recruits who show intellectual aptitude rather than physical prowess into some of its toughest divisions. With brains winning out over brawn, women could be getting a chance for positions within the US Navy Seals, Army Green Berets and Rangers. Tough physical tests will still form part of the requirements, but would-be Carrie Mathisons can most definitely apply.

If a career in the US military doesn't sound up your street, there was good news for would-be Google employees this week: the internet giants have given up their infamous interview conundrums. Well known, and much feared by those smart enough to land a foot in the door at Google HQ, for posing such quandaries as, 'How would you weigh your head?' Or, 'Can you swim faster in water or in syrup?' The firm has acknowledged the questions "serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart".

Will British universities follow suit? The Oxbridges of this world are hardly strangers to the quirky interview set piece - just one of the reasons pupils who aren't groomed at private schools to sail through the intimidating interview process might be at a disadvantage.

The head of school inspection unit Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, had an idea this week that could smooth out the ride for everyone involved: pupil exchanges between state and private schools to ensure those at the latter don't end up on an "island of privilege" and those whose parents can't afford to fund their education still get the tuition they need to pass Oxbridge's entrance exams.

A neat idea perhaps, although school heads who already pioneer such pupil exchanges weren't impressed Wilshaw hadn't done his homework before making such recommendations.

A lesson learnt for many: do your research first and the critics will keep their thoughts to themselves. Something a certain governor of the Bank of England is no doubt all too aware of now.

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