Ada Lovelace

mother of computing, Ada Lovelace courtesy of Wikipaedia

portait of Ada Lovelace


Ada Lovelace

October is Black History Month, but also the month for overlooked women such as Ada Lovelace mother of computing.  Lovelace worked with Babbage on developing the first computing machine.
Two years ago,in at the  Oxford, Bodlian Library there was a small exhibition.

The after dinner speech was given by “Steve” Dame Stephanie Shirley, the only woman whose painting hangs on the hallowed walls of Balliol College Oxford.

Dame Stephanie, as a philanthropist and role model, has made massive contributions to life in Britain, not just through her initial software company providing jobs for women, but most importantly the current work she does as Patron of Autistica and raising awareness about Autism.

Dame Stephanie Shirley

Dame Stephanie Shirley
first all woman software company

A refugee herself, from Nazi Germany, she has more than repaid back the country that took her in.
“I look at it purely in an humanitarian way. 10,000 unaccompanied children were welcomed in this country in 1938/39. We are now talking about 3,000 unaccompanied children in a much wealthier Britain. I can’t understand how people can turn away from the humanitarian issue, of children, unaccompanied, milling around in Europe trying to find a safe place and I do relate to that,” said Dame Stephanie Shirley.


©2018 ionthecity.


Language is not gender neutral.

Language is not gender neutral.

Sheboard empowering girls and women

Explicitly or implicitly, certain adjectives are female, and certain adjectives male.

If you type in “women”, the app suggests words such as  “lead”, “smart” and “strong”.

The keyboard app suggests empowering words, such as changing the word “beautiful” to “happy”

Type the phrase “you look so” and it suggests words like “confident” and “smart”. “Beautiful” changes to “happy”.

It also replaces popular phrases. When you type “my little”, the keyboard suggests “adventurer” before “princess”, and if the texter commits to using the phrase, Sheboard offers solutions to make your little princess more empowered, such as  “good” and “leader”. Continue reading

Windrush or Mayflower ? Sam King

Sam King as Mayor of Southwark

Sam King as Mayor of Southwark

The Windrush Generation, who saved London Transport and the NHS, came to support industry.

My strongest memory from the 90s. leading a team working in Southwark’s failing schools was an assembly, in  a school, in Peckham, largely Afro-Carribean was addressed by a black man, followed by a security guard.

That man was Sam King, Mayor of Southwark, he had worn the real, chain of office. So he was followed by a security guard.   40 roundels in gold, each worth £1,000. I don’t remember what Sam said.   But I do remember the look on those kids’ faces.  If ever there was a role model and inspiration, here he was. It’s possibly he set me off on my path of interviewing inspirational people. People who quickly disappear from History.


When he was nominated to become Mayor of Southwark, The National Front let it be known “that if Sam King became the Mayor of Southwark “they were going to slit my throat and burn down my house. My reply was … I am not against them slitting my throat, but they must not burn down my house, because it is not a council house.”


“After about six months as a councillor, they said they were going to make me the mayor of Southwark,” he said. “When I went home, my wife was in bed and I said, ‘Mother, you know these people are silly; they said they want to make me the mayor.’ She replied, ‘Sam, you’ve got no ambition. You can be anything if you want it.’”
Sam King set up the Windrush Foundation with his friend Arthur Torrington in 1996 to celebrate the arrival of people from the Caribbean to Britain following World War Two.

Mr Torrington said Mr King believed “the ship was no different from the Mayflower” which transported English separatists to America in 1620.
“He was the one who really kept alive the importance of the Windrush”, he said.
Despite the blue plaque, Southwark has not yet named June 9th as Windrush Day, which would be a fitting tribute to Sam

Sam King, community activist and politician, born 20 February 1926; died 17 June 2016

We will be interviewing Thornton heath residents, who knew Sam or who have family members or memories of Windrush. Leave details at St. Paul’s Church for Community Plug-in Fridays 10 to 12.30.

©2017 Christina of the Green

Celebrate Windrush with Baroness Floella Benjamin

3 of the Windrush originals

Graphite portrait of Windrush arrivals by Jasmine Williams.

Baroness Benjamin tells it like it was.

“No coloureds welcome”

…was the sign that the Windrush pioneers faced in 1948 because the Government did not make it absolutely clear that the Caribbean people were invited to come to the UK to rescue the NHS, the transport system and factories after the war.”

Baroness Benjamin

Baroness Benjamin

Baroness Benjamin asked this question in the House of Lords on Jan 8th this year.

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in June 1948 carrying Caribbean people who had been encouraged to emigrate to the United Kingdom by the Government, to come to rescue the NHS, the transport system and factories after the war.”

We are currently looking for families of Windrush who would like to share their experiences, with a view to celebrating their heritage, especially for teenagers in South London.

A recent programme shows the kind of welcome and accommodation they recieved

©Christina 2018

Alison Balsom Trumpeter

Alison Balsom Trumpeter

Artistic Director of Cheltenham Festival


Baroness Helen Kennedy, recently profiled in The Times, has said.
“If you want something done get a busy woman.”

Alison Balsam is a pretty busy woman, as the new Artistic Director of the Cheltenham Festival from next year.  But the very best part of her plan is that all participants should be committed to education. Like many musicians, and educators, she is appalled at the gradual decline of music and music teaching in schools, not because it make s kids learn better, but because it enriches and excites their lives, which creates a fertile ground for good education.   Not data driven testing.

Now she is taking on the Cheltenham Festival , so we look to see great programming.   She doesn’t believe in theming the festival, because it becomes restrictive.   Just get the very best musicians. sounds like a plan.

We know that women traditionally are expected to be modest, down playing their achievements, Quiet and polite you should be, but the first sound anyone makes with a brass mouth piece is a raspberry. How very unladylike. Continue reading

That’s What She Said

Joanna Lipman

That’s What She Said

a few quotes from reviews

But as we deal with the salacious hand-up-the-skirt revelations, does the dirt of daily discrimination that has held back women’s earnings, participation and potential get shoved further under the rug, where it’s been festering for decades?

Instead, she offers a persuasive examination of the innumerable institutionalized prejudices, roadblocks and often unconscious undermining that women face in nearly every aspect of public and private life.

She starts with a sketch of just how male by default the universe is, from the standard office temperature (set to accommodate the higher metabolic rate of 40-year-old, 154-pound, suit-wearing men) and male-centric design at Apple (the iPhone 6 Plus was too big for many women’s hands and pockets) to the potentially dangerous side effects for women of the original prescribed doses of Ambien, a drug that was tested only on men, a still-common practice.

Here’s Tip 13: Legislate equal pay.


43% women employees in the bank in 2014

Westpac top Australian bank

Gail Kelly CEO


Let’s talk numbers.

Lord Davies has said he wants to see a 25% increase of women on boards. The Director of the BBC Tony Hall promises there will be at least ONE woman on every panel show, a promise he finds hard to keep. Other people are asking for an increase of 30%. The Lord Mayor feels it is just as important to have more women at all levels through an organization, and suggests ways in which more flexible working might be encouraged.

95% is the percentage of flexible workers at Australia’s Westpac bank, headed up by a woman CEO who has achieved, 43% women employees currently and intends to have 50% by 1917, for the bank’s 200 year anniversary.

As the President of the Law Society here in Britain says: “If career progression was based on pure merit, some male business leaders and law firm senior partners would never even have seen the paintings on the boardroom wall. This is disappointing for the talented women who lose out, but is also damaging to the organizations which lose what they have to offer.”
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff as outgoing chair of the Law Society 2013

It is possible that the Australian achievement is partly helped by the legislation put in place in the 1980s, Continue reading