Sara Rigby: Hello and welcome to the Science Focus Podcast. I'm Sara Rigby, the online assistant at BBC Science Focus magazine. In this week's episode, I'm talking to Professor Linda Scott, an expert in women's economic development and America's DP World chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Oxford.


Her book, The Double X Economy, has been shortlisted for the Royal Society science book prize 2020. In it, she argues that when we economically empower women, we all succeed. So thank you for talking to me today.

Prof Linda Scott: Happy to be here.

SR: So first of all, what exactly is the double X economy?

LS: So I coined the term 'the double X economy' to describe and denote the global economy of women, which has a very distinctive pattern of inequality in every country of the world, and is held in place by the same mechanisms in every country in the world. And so women around the world share the same experience of struggling with economic exclusion.

And that is some that's what I call the double X economy.

SR: So, I think to me, the most obvious example of this would be the gender pay gap and this being talked about a lot in the UK in the last few years. And there seem to be quite a few people who don't quite believe that it exists or that it's a problem. How would you go about convincing someone that it really exists?

LS: Let me just first say that, yes, most people's first experience or primary experience with the double X economy is the gender pay gap. So it's a very important topic. But it's also very important to say that the double X economy includes a full 360 degree exclusion of women. So it's exclusion from capital and credit and all kinds of other things besides pay.

There's been a very destructive meme that has floated around for the last maybe I would say 10 years that says the gender pay gap is a fiction. This is based on disingenuous - I would even go so far as to say dishonest or perhaps incompetent - mismanagement or manipulation of databases about pay. OK. And wherein people say, well, when we controlled for this, this and this factor, the gender pay gap didn't exist. And therefore, if women would just not do X, Y and Z, they would be paid equally. In other words, there's no sex discrimination going on here. If women would just learn to behave more like men, they would deserve to be paid the same. OK.

Now, the problem with this is that the variables they control far are the very items that reflect and then enforce gender inequality in the first place. And so this is why I don't understand why any reputable vehicle would published a study like this. It's just not good practice at all. But of course, there are lots of people out there that want to push out a meme that says, you know, gender pay gap is a fiction because they're trying to defend male dominance.

It's important to understand that. And if I may, I find that people often can understand this better with an analogy. And even though it's drawn from the US, most people are aware enough of our racial issues that they kind of get that. All right. So in America, black men are paid less than white men.

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Now, if you had a bunch of statisticians or economists who came around and said, well, you know, it's not really true, because when you control for residence in a disadvantaged urban zip code or number of arrests or time spent unemployed, we find that, in fact, black men and white men are paid the same.

Therefore, there's no such thing as racism in America. If black men would just act like white men, they wouldn't have a problem, right? Well, we'd be horrified by a thing like that. It wouldn't be good science because because the very things they've controlled for are the things that reflect and enforced racism in America. Right. But we would also ask ourselves the question, what is up with these people that they even want to say this?

What is their motivation? Why are they pushing this bigotry out on us? OK. And we need to be saying the same thing about this meme about the gender pay gap, because it is completely false. There are lots of ways to measure the gender gap in pay worldwide. Lots of different people do lots of different ways. And all of them. All of them come out with the same conclusion. That is that there's a pay gap.

SR: So why is there a pay gap?

LS: There is a pay gap because women are generally seen to deserve less across the whole double X economy.

So we see them cheated and shortchanged on pay, but also, for example, by customers in the business or suppliers in a business or by bankers when they apply for credit or investors when they apply for for funding. And so it goes right across the economy that the world economy and world culture, that women just simply shouldn't get as much.

And the fact that women shouldn't even be interested in money, that it's somehow immoral or or selfish for women to want money. So that's really what this is about. It's not about deserving less. It's not about being, you know, less competent or any other asset.

SR: It seems that one of the the factors that affects this is when a couple decides to have children, that the women is disproportionately affected in terms of future career development, is that right?

LS: Oh, absolutely. Yes, that's true. Although increasingly we are also seeing an impact on fathers. And it's not nearly as much as the impact on mothers, but it reflects what I think is truly behind what we're calling now, the motherhood penalty.

Motherhood penalty is a phenomenon that is well established and demonstrable across nations, and that is this practise of paying women less and holding them back in their careers regardless of their performance as a result of motherhood. And it's not so much that motherhood is the reason as it is the means. It's the justification for holding them back. Right. And pushing them out. And we see this especially in the pandemic. Right.

Pushing them out of the workforce by virtue of the fact that child care is made highly costly and not sufficiently available. Right. So this causes them to be pushed out.

And is often considered somehow justified and rational on the part of employers, and even natural. You know, neither one of which are are are good reasons. They're just not valid.

SR: So that reminds me of something that surprised me in your book - one of many things that surprised me in your book - was the statistic that in Western Europe and North America, the number of women in the workforce is actually sort of levelling off. It's not rising anymore. Do you think that's to do with, as you just said, rising childcare costs? Or do you think there's other reasons behind that?

LS: There are a couple of things. I would say the main reason for both the unequal pay and the flattening of the curve on female labour force participation are due to insufficient childcare. And Britain in particular has been singled out for this. It is a particularly bad problem in Britain. And the thing that is really ironic about it is that it causes these countries to hurt themselves, right, by wasting investment and by holding back their GDP.

Female labour force participation is without question, the most reliable way to increase economic growth. And holding back your women is crazy. It would pay for itself, honestly. It would pay for itself in GDP if the British government got serious about childcare.

And so, you know, this is a problem. The other thing is that in Britain, as in the rest of Europe, you've got about 30 percent more women in higher education than men. And this has been true for a very long time. Women also do better in school and they get more degrees.

And yet they have this societal burden that people keep loading onto them like some kind of antique impetus.

Right. OK. And that means that the nation is ploughing tax money, scholarships, all kinds of, you know, cash, investment and families, right, money into educating these women and not letting the investment pay off. It's like building a road system and not letting anybody drive on it. It's just foolish.

SR: So we've got all these highly qualified women who can't contribute to the GDP, right?

LS: Yeah, it's nuts.

SR: And so one thing that I've heard said a lot is that the reason that women aren't reaching the highest levels in these high-paying careers like finance or business, is that women are somehow not cut out to be for those sorts of jobs. What would you say to that?

LS: Yeah. So this is a bad problem, this belief that keeps getting pushed out. And this is why so much of the book is is reliant upon updated science is because we have in particular two false, allegedly scientific claims that float around and are used against women, one, that it is somehow natural for them to be second class citizens and particularly natural for them to withdraw from life as mothers. And neither one of those things are true.

And then the other is this, this kind of notion of cognitive superiority in particular. So their brains just are, you know, defective. There is no performance or neuroscientific evidence to support that notion. None, zero, zip. It is a falsehood.

There was a time when there was a theory of testosterone in utero making a difference in boys brains. It never went anywhere. But the idea stuck with the public. And that's because this idea that men are better and need to be better is very tenacious in its hold on the public.

But we know now. So, for example, on a macro level, test scores have closed, particularly in Britain. The gender gap has been closed for a long time. 20 plus years. And we also know that it varies much more by other things than it does by gender.

But in particular, it changes over time and has changed over time by admitting girls to higher maths classes, for example. I mean, somebody should've thought of that. And it actually varies by gender equality directly. In countries where there's high gender equality, women perform high in maths. And when there's low gender equality, they perform low. None of this could occur if this were a biologically hard wired difference. You could not have that kind of variation.

And in addition, the neuroscience at this point has completely moved on to a notion of building synapses and the connectome, which is the sort of overall pattern of the synapses that is how we learn and how we carry, acquire or lose skills through life. And this was a statistic that I wanted to bring forward here, is that actually when we're born, we only have about six thousand genes available to start creating those synapses.

But we have to make a hundred billion of them in order to function normally as adults. So that is what the difference is, that you only have enough to make about 10 percent of that hundred billion when you're born. So everything else about what you know and can do is acquired by learning. Right. So this idea that I mean, it's just it's old fashioned poppycock. It's just folklore. It's just not true.

May I add one more thing about that, too? One of the things that- I noticed this a lot in Britain, in British documents, even those produced by the government, which is shocking. The idea that women don't do STEM, they don't study STEM in university. Right. Right. This is balderdash. OK. It is unbelievable to me. The only way you can say that is if you define science, the S and STEM in a way that excludes all natural, biological sciences and medicine.

You can only make that claim if you're going to exclude all of those sciences, which we can all agree I think are science. OK. Because in those fields, women dominate. And if you include those, then the male advantage disappears. Right. So it's total baloney and it's wrong of major institutions, which we see all the time perpetuating that nonsense, it's harmful.

SR: All right. So good to know that, you know, there's nothing biologically stopping me from, you know, succeeding in business. But if I did want to start a business, what problems would I face, that, say, a man with the same level of qualifications as me wouldn't?

LS: OK, so this is another thing that is uniquely problematic. And Britain is the idea that you can't do anything differently for women without disadvantaging men.

And yet, because of the history of the advantages that men have had, those have piled up into extreme advantages in the present moment. All right.

So if you want to start a business, for example, a woman is immediately disadvantaged because she will not have as much access over capital.

Now, you can trace this directly to legal and financial practices in British law that pre-date written lots. OK. So that, for example, up until the end of the 19th Century, women were not allowed to own land in Britain and that was the main store of wealth.

And so that has rolled up into this huge advantage, control over capital that men have. Women still to this day in Britain only own 13.7 per cent of the land. That's less than the global average, which is almost 19 per cent. So it's huge. The capital disadvantage. And unless you take intentional steps toward evening that out, it's never going to happen. It's never going to happen. They're not going to be equal.

You have the same kind of problem with prejudice of the banks against women loaning them money for business loans. And so it's really pervasive. That's what I mean about. We need to look beyond equal pay and labour to understand this.

SR: Now, I don't just want to talk about developed countries. So let's also talk a bit about developing countries. So what specific economic problems would women in developing countries face?

LS: Right. OK. So, as you know, this is actually most of my own initial work was and I've done it a lot since with the statistics and the science.

But most of my career has been spent in very poor, poor nations in their poorest areas amongst the poorest women. And what we see and this was put got me started on this idea of is this a global issue? Because whether I was in Bangladesh are Ghana, I was seeing the same pattern of economic exclusion and I couldn't understand why it was so, so much the same from place to place.

And this is now something that that I would say the Women's Economic Empowerment Community, which is kind of an international force at this point, that we all have noticed this, that despite our expectations, it's the same. So what you see in these remote areas is that the women can't have capital, they can't own land, have no property rights, but they also can't control their earnings.

So if they make money, they have to turn it over to their husband or father and they can't have a bank account, so they can't save. So they have literally no economic resources of their own. And what this does is that it makes it possible to utterly control them. They are literally dependent on men for food and shelter. This, in turn, gives the men the freedom and permission to treat them in a very hostile way.

They basically treat them like slaves. They are brutal in terms of domestic violence. And it's here we can recap where we can really see that the economic exclusion is just as important as the legal ramifications, the legal system, because it's the economic disempowerment that allows a lot of that to go on and that keeps women from being able to claim even the legal rights that they have.

SR: There's a quote in your book that I like quite a lot, and you said: "women's economic empowerment is the best available weapon against poverty." Could you just tell us a bit more about that?

LS: Yeah, yeah. This is something that is also pretty well established. And I would I would call attention to any listeners to the UNICEF State of the World's Children report in 2007, which is, I think to this day, one of the best summaries of what we know, even though, you know, we've gone another fifteen years, right, almost in adding more evidence.

But it's basically because it is mostly because of the way that women spend their money, that it makes such a big difference if they have money and the freedom to decide how to spend it, they inevitably spend it first on their children and next on their broader family. And then in their communities, they actually spend the last on themselves, which is actually, I think, a problem.

But we know that from an economic development perspective, that is to say poverty fighting perspective, that some of the most important things that you can do is, for example, to keep children in school, particularly girl children. And it's the mothers who usually are responsible for that, whether they have the means or not.

If the mothers can pay the children's school fees and expenses, those kids will stay in school. We need for those children to grow up healthy and strong. Their mothers will make sure they have nutritious meals and if at all possible, medical care.

And the fathers just don't. And I'm sorry to say that, but they just kind of don't some do that. The typical practice, unfortunately, is to put that on them, on the women in in those very poor remote areas. So if we want to fight that poverty, yes, get money in the hands of the mothers. That is the number one thing to do.

SR: And once they have money, they need somewhere to put it. So what could you tell us a bit about how access to bank accounts could help women living in poverty?

LS: Right. So I'm just actually finished a three year study for the Gates Foundation where we that's what we did. We've got women bank accounts, mobile bank accounts. And it was really it did increase availability for all kinds of positive expenditures toward school fees, but also purchasing productive assets and things like that. And it did make a very big difference.

It also, though, we think what we've discovered here is the practice of what I've termed defensive savings. It's being able to put aside things for the possibility that the husband will leave or that you will need to leave, which both of those happen a lot.

And in that. Saving for a rainy day kind of thing, being able to deal with a child who gets sick for instance, these things allow not just the women and their children, but families as a whole to weather the ups and downs of agricultural life, which are considerable. So, yeah, it's really important.

SR: So why do women and poor countries struggle to have access to bank accounts?

LS: OK, so women around the world have been excluded from the financial system, I would argue since it was invented, it's been set up to exclude women. And and that's, you know, in a way you can see the relationship.

If they couldn't own wealth, which they couldn't and they couldn't keep their own earnings, which they couldn't even in the Western countries up until very recently, how are they going to have assets to invest in the financial sector now? In truth, what has happened over time and has been encouraged more lately is that women develop their own informal systems of saving and lending.

But it is obviously it's not on the scale of the financial system. So what that means is that it has only been since the 60s and 70s that women in Europe and North America have been able to have bank accounts because they were not allowed to have them and they had to have their husband's permission or they couldn't have them at all. All right. And so that is still the case in the developing countries now.

And so even if the law in that country says the women can have their own bank account, out in the far out districts, right, people still don't know that. And so the bankers won't open an account if the woman goes in there or they'll do something like notify the elders of her community, who in turn tell her husband, your wife has opened a bank account, get your house in order, you know? And so it's just it's yeah, it's hard. It's not easy to get them to bank.

SR: And you've done a lot of work in developing countries and, you know, different ways to to help women economically. And there's one case study which I found really interesting, which was helping women to sell Avon makeup and Avon products. Could you tell us a bit about this, please?

LS: Yeah. This was something this is actually a project of my own invention, though. I was successfully I was able to get Avon's cooperation. They did not pay for it. And they did not in any way trying to interfere with that.

And the reason I did it was because I have done a history of that include women in them, in the modern economy, in America, and at the time that the modern economy got going, businesses like Avon's made it possible for particularly married women in rural areas, which is where the bulk of the problem is in the developing world today to our money. They were able also to provide a community with them, sense of confidence for them. It was really quite positive.

And so I went to see whether or not that same approach could be used in developing countries today. And so I contacted a lot and got permission to study their operation in South Africa. And it was remarkable because we were comparing it to the microfinance schemes that were so popular 10, 15 years ago that were so much part of the news.

And it was substantially more effective and less risky for the women than the microfinance stuff was. They didn't go into debt spirals because the Avon system doesn't allow that, they have a better possibility of success with these products than selling, for example, produce or curios. So.

SR: Can you just briefly explain what microfinance is?

LS: Yeah, OK. So microfinance is something that was supposedly invented by Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh in the early 2000s. OK. And it basically is where banks give very, very small loans to the very, very poor. And who then use it supposedly to make businesses. Now, from the beginning, Muhammad Yunus will tell you that he has said many times that he didn't intend to empower women with this.

But from the beginning, it was women who got these loans because and it was women who provided the innovation. OK. Because microfinance loans have extremely high rates of interest - I've heard of them as high as 100 percent. And there have been loan sharks since money was invented. Right. People are lending to the poor at astronomical rates.

The difference here is that these banks were willing to lend to women. And in a country like Bangladesh, where women were not allowed to have credit. This was a very big deal. And so what happened was, is they would take the credit and they would invest it and they would make businesses go. They did it in groups like the informal systems I was talking about before.

Women's standards groups, they're called. And they would make investments, they would make decisions together and they would pool their funds and they would make money that they could then spread out to the whole membership. And it turned out that they had like a 98, 99 per cent loan repayment rate, which is very high.

And banks have a tendency to assert without evidence that women aren't good customers for banks. But in fact, it turned out they were very good customers. So it was quite successful. But the problem was, is that their interest rates are still very high. And so it could be extremely risky for the women.

SR: Right. OK. So back to Avon. What is it about selling Avon products that was so, so useful for women in poverty? That was so different to say, you know, making products themselves to sell, or just buying things and selling them on.

LS: Yeah, OK. So they can buy things or make things to sell. But if you're driving around the roads in South Africa, for example, you will see women along the side of the road at card tables or sitting on blankets. And it will be whatever vegetables are in season. So literally for a mile on the road, you'll see everybody's selling avocados. All right. Right.

And it's out there in the heat and everything perishes and everybody's selling exactly the same thing. So as a result, you get a lot of avocados that go unsold so that you see that the women don't make any money, but also that a lot of food goes to waste. Right. So there's a food security problem involved here as well. With the handcrafts, the problem is that traditional handicrafts are all about making the same objects the same way.

So you get the same kind of deal on blanket after blanket of the same stuff. There's no variation. And also, there is the danger and discomfort of sitting out on the side of the road. Right. It's hot. And there's a lot of rape on the side of roads in Africa. Right. It's not a safe thing to be doing. And the women don't find it a very dignified thing to do either.

So the Avon stuff. But to any other kind of business reports on capital, like microfinance is used for. Avon, basically, you can start up out of your purse or your closet. OK. You do not have to sit down on the side of the road. You do it in group events or going door to door. People selling within their own communities. But actually, Avon encourages them. And we found that they do go out and sell outside their communities. But it's done in a much, much more fluid way. Not like just sitting out on the road side.

And it provides them with a different kind of product that is high quality and reliable and it has a lot of repeat purchase. And they sell products for men and women and children. So it has very wide appeal. And they make it a very, very good margin on it. And they can grow their businesses to be quite large and actually make quite a lot of money.

And we found actually that the women - we only studied poor black women in Africa, South Africa, and that they could make after 16 months in the system, they could make enough to support a family of four, except they couldn't cover the whole rent. So they would have to have some other kind of income or share. We found that most of them shared households with other women.

So it's really quite it's very low risk for them. Now, in the developed world, there is a lot of concern about Avon and complaining amongst ex-Avon representatives because of. It's actually because women use their credit cards to finance their inventory. Avon does not do that. OK.

But they use their credit cards. And women do tend to use their credit cards to finance business because they don't have access otherwise to capital. And this causes them to have a credit issue.

SR: And you've travelled to a lot of different developing countries for your work. What have you seen or learnt there that surprised you the most?

LS: Well, initially, it all surprised me, right? Initially, I was freaked out every time, someplace new. It was just, you know, so grim. Eventually, at this point, I'm not easily surprised. I'm not easily surprised. Recently, I'll tell you two things that surprised me. One is in this project that I did with the Gates Foundation for the Gates Foundation.

We did counselling, family counselling on finances. And as a result, we learnt that the husbands were - we knew that they were not sharing financial information with the wives. And as part of this, they did. They had to share information with the wives and they chose to.

And we found that they were basically not contributing to the household and that all the household expenses were growing, were being supported by the women on very meagre and risky earnings. And the men were basically blowing everything they had on beer. It was astonishing and I knew this. I'd been working in Uganda more than a decade.

I knew they drank a lot of beer, everybody knows they drank a lot of beer. But the amount of it, the amount of money that was going to it was shocking. It was, in some cases equal to the average household income. So that surprised me.

The other thing that is, I don't know, surprise is exactly the right word, but concern maybe more, yes, shock is what's going on in Eastern Europe right now. The backlash, the populist backlash and repression of women's rights that's going on in Eastern Europe right now is this historic turn.

And it's scary. It's the kind of thing that could lead to a total, total backslide. And that is frightening. And I think that's a new development that many people are not aware of. It's really scary.

SR: Right. So what what do you think are the next steps for governments, say, in Eastern Europe, that you would like them to do to support women economically?

LS: I think that the answer to as far as the outward facing, you know, international aid part is to allocate more of their international budget that they already have to women. We know it's more effective than the way they spend their money the rest of the time. And the women only get a tiny slice of international aid budgets and and DFID, by the way, in particular, has been a leader, but spends a penny compared to whatever else is spent.

So that may be the first thing. And in terms of the internal their own citizens, I think that they're the they need to start taking it seriously, that they are violating the rights, the basic rights of half their citizens by not enforcing the equality law. Now, more than half their citizens, if you include male minorities.

But from a gender perspective, this is how they're citizens and they're just looking the other way. And I actually think that in Britain it's particularly bad and particularly bad in the sense that the government has not looked in the mirror sharply enough and to say: what is it about the way we've construed this system that keeps women from being able to be equal? And I would say the positive discrimination doctrine is the number one problem. Now, I've talked about this a lot in the book.

There's a whole chapter, in fact, on the failure of equal pay. And then it compares what happened in Britain to what happened in the United States. And, yeah, there's a lot of things the British government could do. And actually the failures have been pretty uniform across all the developed nations. It's basically women are not paid enough because the governments don't have the will to make sure that they have equal enforcement under the law.

SR: And if I, or one of our listeners, decided that I wanted to do something to support women's economic development. What could I do?

LS: So I propose kind of a radical idea in the book. And I call it the 80 per cent Christmas.

I absolutely think it will work. You have to start thinking about where do women wield power? The place where women wield most power in the world economy is in consumer purchasing. All right. And they virtually totally control it. On average, I'm saying the developed nations, 75 percent of consumer purchases are made by women. All right. It's also important to understand that a significant part of GDP comes from retail purchasing, from consumer purchasing.

It's really quite a high number. Some places high, 70 percent of GDP comes from that. And that most of that comes in the last two months of the year. In those countries where Christmas is celebrated. And so that means this is like the the vulnerable underside of the economy is Christmas shopping. I mean, who knew? Right. And so I proposed that what people do and they can do it is a grassroots effort. It would be very simple, really.

It would be no more difficult than women. The women's marches, we've seem to say, OK, we're going to we're going to spend 80 percent less on Christmas this year than we did last year or in this case, probably 80 percent less than what we have budgeted or what we can't spend. And we're gonna keep doing that every year until the gender pay gap is closed.

Now, I would argue that we can all afford to spend a little less on Christmas and that a 20 per cent reduction isn't very much. I figure I could do it just by putting more fruit in the stockings and buying cheaper wine. All right. You can just you can do it right. And nobody even has to know that you're doing it right.

And it's not like striking where it's so public and there can be retaliation. Nobody even has to know you're doing it. But we would know because retail sales for Christmas shopping are measure like week by week. And if the if the women announced they were going to do this, I promise it would get people's attention. Retailers in particular.

SR: So what would the ongoing effect of that be? How would that help to close the gender pay gap?

LS: Yeah, I think that the problem is that women have not used the one power they have and they have not otherwise had power to force governments to be to step up and be honourable about enforcing the equality laws. And they have to realise that things like marches, you know, really they make a big splash, but mostly they don't have you.

Most of the time they don't have much of that. Strikes do not address the situation for women. And so they need to do something else. And I think that if people could see that they actually had the power to squeeze the economy where it hurt. All right. That I mean, that's what strikes are about, right, is to say, OK, we're going to stop the trains here until you do something about this. OK. All right. So what, you stop Christmas?

Well, we're not gonna stop it, but we're gonna make it a lot less profitable. Right. OK. And we're going to keep doing that until you figure this out. Really? It holds their feet to the fire. It flexes muscle that women have not flex and that they do have. So I do think we'd have an impact now in the book.

I've also suggested that it would roll around on a real roll around the globe as, for example, the 80 per cent lunar new year. 80 per cent Diwali, 80 per cent Ramadan. 80 per cent Hanukkah. And that would have been going pretty much 24/7, 365. It would be it would be a statement. And I think I think you would get some attention.

SR: In terms of women's economic development, what gives you hope for the future?

LS: Well, what gives me hope for the future? Several things. One is that we now have all this data that show, without question, that the gender that gender inequality is not a fiction. And we also, as I explain in the book, have the data to show that it is extremely damaging, not just in terms of holding back growth, but in terms of causing violation of rights, causing hunger.

There is causing human trafficking. And it just has a lot of really bad impacts. And so so I think that helps us to argue for why it's important to do something about. I think that's really important. I think for that reason, there are a lot of major world institutions now that have been, you know, committing some resources and attention to it. And that is not something the women's movement has ever had before. So that's great.

I think the main thing that concerns me hope is the sea change that we've seen in men's attitudes in the Western countries in particular. I'm just more familiar with that data. And in Britain in particular, all the surveys show something in the neighbourhood of 75, 80 percent of the men are onboard with gender equality. Right.

It is no longer appropriate to be trashing men as a group on this. Instead, we need to allow them to be our allies and advocates. And I have a lot of hope because of that. That's huge. We did not have that 50 years ago. That's a big accomplishment.

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Sara RigbyOnline staff writer, BBC Science Focus

Sara is the online staff writer at BBC Science Focus. She has an MPhys in mathematical physics and loves all things space, dinosaurs and dogs.