Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Future Female Leaders?

We often hear about the glass ceiling affecting women in the work place. Some say it's been smashed, others proclaim it still exists.

And then we hear about alleged institutional racism - a hindrance to ethnics in the workplace trying to achieve their due recognition. 

Being a BLACK FEMALE, none of this makes me excited about entering the world of work. In fact, I will do just about anything to put off the inevitable and that includes travelling for 5 years. (Currently on the cards, but not if my mum has anything to do with it). Being President of my uni's ACS in my second year opened me up to a lot of inspirational avenues. There are now a million organisations of black empowerment, a gazillion awards to be given each year and even more people behind those awards and organisations profiting from the desire of MNCs to diversify by handpicking the country's best ethnic students. So that covers, one thing - the black part of me. 

The problem is that in all these awards and recognition (which I do not at all slate), the majority of the elites are male. Given the UK (and definitely London) gang problem, there has been more discourse on providing youths with male role models. Problem-children are often said to come from a single-mother home and I guess for the media and the elites, they've had too much female connection that doesn't seem to be working. That being said, what about the women? I think more than anything young people want to see that against the odds, whatever those odds may be and for whatever reason (be it race or gender) one has succeeded. Women in general are doing fairly well in comparison to maybe when I was born and clearly ethnic minorities are doing much better too. 143 of the 650 members of parliament are women, 27 of the 650 MPs are BME but only 9 of 650 MPs are BME Women. 

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was probably my first female role model after the women in my family. But where are the opportunities for a replication of her success here in Britain. It's funny how we're all searching for the first British Obama - David Lammy this! Chuka Umunna that! - when this country has proudly paraded a female as its leader for 11 of its toughest years post-WW2. When we think first black prime minister why aren't females included in the leadership race?

Until things change, I'm going to live in a secluded hut somewhere in the heart of Africa away from GPS, the internet and half-hearted social change.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

What the SAU don't say about reverse culture shock.

So I begun my first day of 3rd Year on Thursday.. before then, the last time I was sat in a lecture theatre for the purpose of learning was in Singapore. When it comes to uni vs uni.. if I'm gonna have reverse culture shock it would have been then. But actually I settled into the teaching style and length (Manchester teach for half the time as Singapore) quite easily. I quickly got into the habit of visiting the library (probably more the influence of NUS students than UoM) and the layout of campus and Oxford Road is tattooed into my DNA. Reverse culture shock isn't the noticeable things about the two cultures, like them driving on the other side of the road (not true in the case of Singapore) or different humidity, or food, or languages and customs. No. Reverse culture shock is simply the reverse of being shocked by culture. total apathy. Everyone asks you the same questions: where did you travel to? did you enjoy it? and then you want to tell them a funny story.. you've even been careful to explain context and everything so as to make sure they don't get the whole it's-funny-if -you-were-there feeling. This happens 10, 20, 100 times over and then that funny story that underpinned your whole evaluation of study abroad as the best decision you've ever made, is no longer funny. It's just some foreign bloke (or bird) in an even foreigner land doing standard things that you found funny at the time because you were high in the ecstasy of you being 7000 miles from home. Reverse Culture Shock, is when you avoid mentioning you were away and all talk of it. Or you bring it up yourself EARLY IN CONVERSATION SO AS TO SUMMARISE AND MOVE ON, because even you are beginning to be envious of the person you were 6 months ago. You're thinking "shut up already, you're not there now are you?! and even if you go back, your 485 friends from 86 different countries won't be, so stick it on your CV and move on!!!"

Reverse Culture Shock isn't acclimatising back to your first culture.. it's becoming bored of the fantasy you lived for 6 months - 1 year of your life.