Monday, 17 December 2007


I had to give a talk last week about my research on gender discrimination. The audience was made up of business leaders from the region and academics from my university. The topic is always a bit controversial, especially because you run the risk of alienating people if they think you are accusing them of being sexist.

But, by the end of it, I thought I was doing OK – achieving that balance between being political (and feminist) and being an objective scientist. I made all the arguments about how subtle discrimination can be, and demonstrated the role of stereotypes and gendered expectations.

There was lots of head nodding – so I thought I had made my point. That was until the end when people came to chat to me afterwards. One guy, a business leader, came up to me and said that he found my talk all very interesting, but that I had left out the main reason why women weren’t achieving leadership positions – hormones. He argued – straight faced – that women were never going to be successful, because they were so unpredictable – you just talk to them one day and they snap at you.

My instant reaction, even though it wasn’t ‘that time of the month’, was to snap at him. But instead I reminded him that this was an argument that had been made for a long time (remember the old cold war argument that a women could never be president as she might launch the bomb in a fit of PMT). I also asked him if he was worried about men’s hormones (that testosterone has been linked to aggression and sexual drive, you know). He wasn’t too convinced (I was only a women after all) – but it made me realise how far we have to go to convince some people that women deserve to be treated as equals. I wonder whether this guy realises that the reason that women keep snapping at him is not because of their hormones – but because he is a bit of an idiot.

new blog

Mmmmm, so I now have my own blog.
I never thought that I would be the sort of person to blog. I never really had a diary as an angst-ridden teenager, I'm not sure who would be intrested in my musings, I've always been a high self-monitorer, and to be honest (now), I always worried too much about what someone reading it might think - so, and attempts at diaries were never entirely honest.
But a friend of mine has been extolling the virtues of anonymous blogs - so I thought I would give it a go... so here we are.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

From Nose to Tail

It was the chef's birthday this week, so we took a trip up to London for a birthday treat - lunch at St John's. They specialise in all those bits and pieces that most people are happy to relegate to supermarket sausages. Chef Fergus Henderson has a couple of cookbooks out (From Nose to Tail Eating, 1 and 2), and they are currently my chef's favourites.

The restaurant in located close to Farringdon tube, and is accessed up a little alley way. It is all very industrial and unpretentious, you walk through the cafe and bakery into the dining room proper - lots of white, high ceilings, exposed pipes, and terribly competent waiters who are willing to crack a smile.

I was a little worried that the menu would be offal-rama. I am, for the most part, pretty open-minded about food - but brains, kidneys, and sweetbreads tend to make me a bit squirmish. Chef ordered bone barrow for his starter - served with toast and a lobster fork to get every last morsel - it was incredibly tasty - but incredibly rich as well (chef paid for it later that evening). I played it a little safe and had a salad based on jeruselem artichokes, but I am a sucker for a root vegetable.

Chef had pig's head for his main - unfortunately not a whole pig's head served on a platter (that certainly would have had the wow factor) but rather bits and pieces of a pig's head. Chef was kind enough to share the choicest bits - the cheeks were delicious, and the ears weren't as chewy as I thought they would be (my only experience with pig's ears being my dog's special treats). I chose the smoked eels with bacon and mash (ahhhhh, those root vegetables again)- which was fabulous.

As I had to put on my psychologist hat that evening with a talk at Birkbeck, we went easy on the wine, but we did finish off the meal with a few glasses of dessert wine, the Vin De Pays D'OC Rouge (2004) Domaine Olivier Pithon 'Vitriol' - which was amazing - I am very much enjoying the trendiness of a red dessert wine.