Do You Care Who is on Your Banknotes? Plus, WWBC!

Ada Lovelace, Scientist

Do you remember back in 2013 there was a campaign to persuade the bank of England NOT to replace the only woman (apart from the Queen) on banknotes with a man? That campaign was successful (see here for my post on it) with Jane Austen eventually being chosen but it caused some controversy. However, the bank has clearly taken notice. Hooray, and all credit to Caroline Criado-Perez who raised awareness as well as money for that campaign. A new £50 note is being introduced and the Bank is this time asking for suggestions from the public.


The new £50 note will feature a prominent British scientist, with the public being asked for nominations. In addition to the Queen, the note will include the portrait of an eminent late scientist from fields such as biology, astronomy and medical research. The public can offer suggestions on the Bank’s website over the next six weeks, so please do! It would be great to see another woman represented, although I do have a lot of time for those who want to see Alan Turin on a bank note. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney said:

There is a wealth of individuals whose work has shaped how we think about the world and who continue to inspire people today. Our banknotes are an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of UK society and highlight the contributions of its greatest citizens.

Nominations can include anyone who worked in any field of science including astronomy, biology, bio-technology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medical research, physics, technology or zoology. A shortlist will be drawn up by a committee, including four experts in the field, and a final decision will be made by Mr Carney, with the note entering circulation at a date yet to be announced.

There will also be a new signature on the banknote – that of Sarah John, the new chief cashier of the Bank of England. A woman! My vote will go to Ada Lovelace, the unsung woman who contributed much to computer science but was unacknowledged in her time. Who will you nominate?


Women Writers Book Club

Thank you for all your comments on last month’s suggestion, The Lie of You by Jane Lythell. We had a very lively inaugural meeting with opinions diverging widely from loving it to not being so keen on the characters. One of our group was very attracted to the portrayal of Markus while another couldn’t see what the attraction was at all. It’s probably pertinent to say that of our group of 7, 6 of us were in fields relating to nursing, social work and psychiatry so we had lots to say about the potential impact on the baby involved. I can’t say more without ruining the story for you.  What we were all in agreement on was that we thought it would make it a really suspenseful film and can’t wait to see it when it comes out next year. Rupert Graves is cast in the Markus role (although he appears to be called Eddie) and he is very close to how I imagines Markus. He certainly has that detached quality.

Author Jane gave us a few questions to ponder and I asked her to share her answers to them here. Do you agree?
1.  The story is told from the perspectives of two female characters, Heja and Kathy. Who do you think is most important to the plot? Do you feel sympathetic towards them?
Jane Lythell: Heja is most important to the plot because she is the initiator of aggression and it is her actions which drive the narrative forward. Heja is the stalker and Kathy is the stalked.
The book asks: can you have any sympathy for a woman who is trying to destroy another woman? We know from the opening pages that Heja hates Kathy and wants to destroy her but we don’t know why. A key aspect of the book is the gradual revealing of why Heja behaves as she does.
Most readers were sympathetic towards Kathy. But whether or not to feel sympathetic to Heja divided book clubs and readers. Was she a villain or a victim?

In writing the novel I did feel some sympathy for Heja. Without giving the plot away she had a very difficult set of cards handed to her both in terms of her health and the psychological shocks she had to face. I enjoyed writing her.

2.  Mothers and children are an important theme. How do you think the mothers of the main characters, Luisa (Kathy’s mum) and Solange (Heja’s mum) have affected their daughter’s lives?
Jane Lythell: The impact of the two mothers on our main characters Kathy and Heja is critical to the plot. Kathy’s mum Luisa is Portuguese, warm-hearted and affectionate. Her daughter and her husband are at the heart of her life. Knowing she is so loved has helped Kathy build resilience, which she needs to draw on later in the book.
In contrast Heja’s mother Solange is cold and critical. She lost her beloved son and has never felt the same about the daughter she had later. From an early age Heja has experienced the critical gaze of her mother and has turned to her father for love and affection. This has turned Heja into a woman who does not trust or feel any solidarity towards other women.

If you want to share your thoughts please do so, either by replying to this if it came as a newsletter, or on Twitter using hashtag #WWBC. It’s always lovely to hear from you!

So, onto our next book club choice. It was chosen by one of our group and is from a writer new to me. It’s called Three Things About Elsie and was published earlier this year to great acclaim and was longlisted for the women’s prize for fiction 2018. The author is Joanna Cannon. Joanna is mad busy on her third book at the moment but I am hoping we can ask her a few questions about the book.

Upcoming Courses

Quite a few of you have been asking about the next RenewYou course. A lot of RenewYou courses are being delivered in house now, which is great; Edinburgh University and the University of the West of England are both using it, for example. However, it’s not helpful for individuals who want to attend so I am planning to put on an open course in March in Bristol. If there is sufficient demand I am happy to include London, too, so please let me know if you’d be interested. I’ll confirm the date next post.

If you are a trainer within an organisation do get in touch to discuss how you can use it to complement your diversity initiatives (see here for more information). If you are an individual trainer you can also add RenewYou to your existing repertoire. Get in touch.

Changing People licences experienced trainers to deliver its International RenewYou programme for women.

Read more about it here.


Posted on November 12th, 2018 by

Leave a Reply

Jane's Book

Paperback or Electronic copy

Free Updates
Simply fill in your details below to get regular updates in your in box. Your details will not be shared – ever.

Connect with me
facebook twitter google+ linkedin RSS