This week’s news has highlighted what the world may look like as women continue their unprecedented, planetary rise. When the gals get into power, they often seem keen on saving the planet. I have written in the past about the four big, transformative 21st century issues every company I work with is addressing. I call them the 4 W’s: web, weather, world and women. Technological revolution, climate change, globalisation … and the massive arrival of women into political, economic and social power for the first time in human history. I’ve always thought these 4 W’s were inter-connected, and here are two timely examples. A smell of spring – for all of us.
A Marriage of Tech & Climate
Microsoft UK and the UK’s Met office, the weather forecasting service, just announced a plan to build one of the world’s most powerful weather forecasting supercomputers. It “will take weather and climate forecasting to the next level,” promises the Met Office. Yet every bit as fascinating as the astonishing power of this machine (60 quadrillion calculations every second) is that the CEOs of Microsoft UK and the Met Office are both women, Clare Barclay and Penny Endersby respectively.
Microsoft used to be a typical, male-dominated tech company (full disclosure: they were a client). A decade ago, there was barely a woman to be found anywhere in its techie corridors. But under CEO Satya Nadella it has pushed for more gender balance. Clare Denby’s predecessor as head of Microsoft UK, Cindy Rose, is now President of Microsoft Europe. When promoted, the ladies are launching climate supercomputers. Just saying.
OK, you may object, this is just a feminist advocate’s fanatical attention to irrelevant detail. You may argue I’m doing a disservice to the ladies by mentioning their sex. But I will argue that the girls’ club looks climate focused and collaborative. Check out an earlier article about five female economists, all big on environmentally-inclusive policy design. Next, take a look at Germany.
Women Push Weather Into Mainstream
Germany needs to elect a leader to follow in the formidable steps of 16-years-in-power Angela Merkel. The Green Party just anointed Annalena Baerbock as their candidate for Chancellor. A young, 40-year old MP, she has, rather incredibly, turned the Green Party from an unelectable, junior coalition partner to potential leader-of-the-country. The two male contestants vying to lead Merkel’s CDU Party are in a fight-to-the-death turf war. It isn’t pretty.
In 2019, Baerbock was re-elected with a resounding 97% vote count. She offers a dramatically young and female contrast to the old, familiar male faces she will be running against. Watch this space in September’s election. But even the sober Economist magazine is enthused, saying “a Green German chancellor is no longer an outlandish bet.”
Just think a moment what the future could look like. A female-led German Green Party teaming up with Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, an outspoken advocate for climate responsibility. Von der Leyen is the driver behind what she calls “Europe’s man on the moon moment” as she launches her Green New Deal, aiming for Europe to become the world’s first climate neutral continent.
They may call in Christine (Lagarde) over at the European Central Bank to devise smart fiscal incentives to build momentum, based on the wise advice from economist Mariana Mazzucato and the other female economists putting climate at the heart of public policy making. And get Kristalina (Georgieva) at the IMF to build global agreements to prioritise our planet’s health.
Web, weather, world and women. When I first wrote the formula 20 years ago, it was an emerging trend and a wild wish. Now, it’s gathering momentum. And power.
(I can’t help noting that in the same week tech’s leading ladies were launching their climate supercomputer to help save the big ball we call Earth, the media was rather more entranced with the rumpus over a few male-dominated football clubs boldly launching – and promptly failing – to create a soccer superleague.) On which ball are we keeping our collective eyes?
Women managed the covid crisis better than their many of their male counterparts at the helm of countries. If this pandemic was a dress rehearsal for the climate mayhem coming down the pipe, we should get more women into power to face it head on. Let’s level the playing field. It’s time to start playing with some serious balls.