British engineering is facing a serious skills shortage. Yesterday, the think tank IPPR published a report claiming that 'an additional 87,000 graduate level engineers will be needed in the UK each year between now and 2020' in order to meet growing demand, but that 'the higher education system is only producing 46,000 engineering graduates annually'. Well as a starter for ten, that maths doesn't look good.
About a year ago, I decided I should read Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: everyone else had read it, and I thought I should catch up, plus I had enjoyed a profile about her in The New Yorker. As feminist, I felt I should know what other feminists were saying: hopefully I could learn something, find new ways of being a more equal person.
There is something to be said for the fact that women to date have had an even greater challenge than men to get their views heard and noticed, despite women's supposed excellent communication skills; So the race is now on as women take up the challenge, and men may have to fight harder to keep their positions.
It is unfair to blame any stigma around the feminist movement solely on the media representation of an archetypal feminist. I don't believe a true feminist hates men - they simply aspire to live life on a level playing field. Women should have equal pay. Men should have their parental value equally compensated. Equality gaps exist for both sexes ergo both sexes have a motivation to achieve parity.
Emma's set out the direction we need to head in, but in order to genuinely permeate our society's consciousness on the gender issue for good, we need to re-tune our media's frame of reference. Just think how many girls came to know of Emma's addressing the UN via an article dominated by images of her outfit...
I see gender differences in attitudes to competitiveness in my own family. My kids running down the stairs, shouting "last one down is a rotten egg" and the would-be rotten egg usually cries. So I discourage the competing, in a bid to avoid the tears. My husband on the other hand actively encourages competition - though usually as a means to an end.
There is something undeniably wrong with people who feel that they're not feminists but they believe in women's rights. Or they're not feminists but they believe in the strength of women. Or they're not feminists but they believe that women shouldn't be treated like crap by men. Or they're not feminists but they want to feel like their voice matters.
Thousands of girls - represented by Girlguiding - have entered the political fray, many for the first time. In Girls Matter, they make eight demands of politicians to put girls' interests at the heart of what they do across government. As an act of collective lobbying by a group of young women, it is unprecedented.
Women's lack of equality in so many crucial areas does eclipse many of the issues that men can feel unequal about. Yet, these opinions are often used in comments in feminism discussions/articles/blogs to belittle the progress and aim of feminism as a movement, but they need to be taken into context with the wider issues of gender equality.
Why can't excellent women progress in their careers in proportion to their talent? Every day, it seems, a new factor is blamed. We're too apologetic and indecisive. Or self-deprecating and cute. We lack confidence in the company of alpha males. We can't crack the 'boys club' mentality in the boardroom. Some of us over-compensate and play it super-tough or 'bossy'. What's best?
The problem with feminism isn't with the idea itself, but everything that surrounds it. From the misunderstanding of what the term actually means, to the idea that it is only for women. In fact, feminism is a threat to the way things have been for centuries, one which affects the demographic I belong to particularly: the white, straight, middle-class male.
School sport is exactly where we should be looking to address the discrepancy between male and female participation rates... We know that participation rates among girls are lower, but until we use data to identify and clarify the reasons behind this imbalance, it is difficult to address the problem.