Monthly Archive for February, 2021

Women in Leadership

In November 2020, Maia Sandu became Moldova’s first woman president. In the same month, the American people elected Kamala Harris vice-president and, on the 20th January, she became the highest-ranking woman in US history. This, along with the fact that many other countries currently have female heads-of-state, may lead us to the conclusion that women are finally beginning to achieve parity with men in leadership roles. However, the truth actually is that a surprising number of people across the world still don’t trust women to lead effectively. 

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership measures how people feel about women in power. It looks at the perceptions of legitimacy of both male and female leaders in politics and across twenty professions. It also measures how men and women differ in their views, and whether men and women are viewed equally in terms of suitability for positions of power.

The Index assesses these attitudes toward female leadership in the G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – as well as India, Kenya and Nigeria. The most recent survey of the index, with more than 20,000 adult participants, led to some surprising and disheartening results.

Only 38% of people in Japan were comfortable with the idea of a female head of government or a female CEO. Even more surprisingly only 41% of people in Germany said they were very comfortable with a woman being the head of government. This is in spite of the fact that Angela Merkel has been German chancellor for over 15 years. Current thinking in this area is that it is common for beliefs about leadership to default to stereotypes about masculine behaviour and this can lead to unconscious gender bias. 

It is certainly the case that the underrepresentation of women in the boardroom and other areas of power, such as politics, is a problem that has to be tackled head on. Having more female leaders will lead to change in all of our perceived conceptions about who can lead. Not only that, women in positions of power challenges the stereotypes about what qualities are necessary in a leadership position. Having more women in leadership roles breaks down barriers and makes things better for all of us.

Infero’s Women in Leadership course is for women seeking to enhance their professional careers, develop their leadership skills, and become leaders in their organizations. It is also for workplace professionals, including managers and leaders who want to learn more about women in leadership.

This course builds on research that identifies the key factors that have proved vital to successful women leaders. It aims to help women develop both their inner confidence to realise their career potential and the practical skills required to lead themselves and others effectively.

Delivery Method – Instructor led, group-paced, classroom-delivery learning model with structured hands-on activities.

Prerequisites – There are no prerequisites for this course

Course Objectives – Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Lead people in an organization.
  • Overcome common leadership challenges.
  • Gain leadership excellence through effective communication

Course Content

Lesson 1: Leading People in an Organization

Topic 1A: Recognize Your Leadership Potential

Topic 1B: Leverage Your Unique Leadership Strengths

Lesson 2: Overcoming Common Leadership Challenges

Topic 2A: Respond to Resistance to Your Leadership

Topic 2B: Gain the Next Foothold in the Corporate Ladder

Lesson 3: Gaining Leadership Excellence Through Effective Communication

Topic 3A: Achieve Clarity in Communication

Topic 3B: Deliver Constructive Criticism

Topic 3C: Resolve Conflict

Contact us at Infero Training for more details.

Hidden Figures – Women in Science History

Historically, science has seemed to be a male dominated field and though that is now changing, we have always been told that in the past, that although women became scientists, there have been no real women scientists of note, except for very, very rare exceptions like Marie Curie. Whilst Histories of Science celebrate figures like Newton, Galileo or Einstein, female scientists were never mentioned at all and if they were, it would probably be in a supporting role.

Except that this version of history is not true and has never been true. There have always been great female scientists, who have made incredible contributions to our understanding and knowledge. Anyone who has seen the film ‘Hidden Figures’ about African American female mathematicians who worked at the NASA during the Space Race, will be aware that the history of women in science is one where the accomplishments of women is just not acknowledged. In fact, women scientists have been actively written out of history. The historian Margaret Rossiter has devoted her life to bringing to light the ingenious accomplishments of those who have been forgotten.

In her book Women Scientists in America, Margaret Rossiter investigates the systematic way that the field of science actually deterred women, but also relates the ingenious methods that enterprising women nonetheless found to pursue knowledge in their various subject areas.

“It is important to note early that women’s historically subordinate ‘place,’ in science (and thus their invisibility to even experienced historians of science) was not a coincidence and was not due to any lack of merit on their part. It was due to the camouflage intentionally placed over their presence in science.”

There are many female scientists who actually changed the world, breaking boundaries and making important discoveries. Here are 10 of them:

Ada Lovelace – Mathmatics

Dec. 10, 1815-Nov. 27, 1852

Many consider Lovelace to be the first computer programmer, long before what we would now call computer even existed. After working with Charles Babbage, who proposed an Analytical Engine (a programmable, general-purpose computer) she recognised that the machine might have applications beyond pure calculation, and published the first algorithm (programme) intended to be carried out by such a machine.

Ada Lovelace

Janaki Ammal – Botany

Nov. 4, 1897-Feb. 7, 1984

Janaki Ammal was an Indian botanist who worked on plant breeding, with work involving studies on sugarcane and the aubergine She also worked in ethnobotany, and took an interest in plants of medicinal and economic value from the rain forests of India. She developed several hybrid species still grown today and advocated for protecting the biodiversity of India.

Katherine Johnson – Mathmatics

Aug. 26, 1918-Feb. 24, 2020

An American mathematician, made famous by the film ‘Hidden Figures’, whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first U.S. crewed spaceflights. Her calculations were also essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program, and she worked on plans for a mission to Mars. In 2019, Katherine Johnson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Katherine Johnson

Beatrice Shilling – Aeronautical Engineering

8 March 1909 – 18 November 1990

Beatrice “Tilly” Shilling was a British aeronautical engineer and amateur racing driver, who purchased her first motorcycle at age fourteen and later obtaining a Bachelor and Master’s degree in mechanical engineering During the Second World War,  after Royal Air Force pilots discovered a serious problem of stalling in fighter planes with Rolls-Royce engines, she designed and developed a small device – a brass thimble with a hole in the middle – to restrict fuel flow to the engine’s carburettor solving a problem that had jeopardised the life of pilots.

Beatrice Shilling

Jennifer Doudna – Biochemisty

Feb. 19, 1964-

Doudna is an American biochemist. She has made fundamental contributions in biochemistry and is one of the primary developers of CRISPR, a ground-breaking technology for editing genomes considered one of the most significant discoveries in the history of biology. She was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Emmanuelle Charpentier.

Rosalind Franklin – Chemistry

July 25, 1920-April 16, 1958

Rosalind Franklin was an English whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA. Along with subsequent related work, this led to Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins being awarded a Nobel Prize in 1962.  After finishing her work on DNA, Franklin led pioneering work at Birkbeck on the molecular structures of viruses. Her team member Aaron Klug continued her research, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982. Had Franklin been alive, she would very likely have shared the Nobel Prize.

Rosalind Franklin (Credit: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology)

Marie Curie – Chemistry

Nov. 7, 1867-July 4, 1934

Probably the well-known scientist on this list, Curie’s achievements include pioneering research on radioactivity. She developed mobile radiography units during World War One and with her husband, Pierre discovered the radioactive elements polonium and radium. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields.

Marie Curie

Chien-Shiung Wu – Experimental Physics

May 31, 1912-Feb. 16, 1997

Chien-Shiung Wu worked on the Manhattan Project and made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics. She is known for conducting the Wu experiment, which proved that parity is not conserved. The discovery resulted in her male colleagues Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang winning the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics, Wu’s contribution was only recognised when she was awarded the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978. She was nicknamed the “First Lady of Physics” and the “Queen of Nuclear Research”.

Chien-Shiung Wu

Vera Rubin- Astronomy

July 23, 1928-Dec. 25, 2016

Vera Rubin was an American Astronomer who was a pioneer in work on galaxy rotation rates, discovering a discrepancy between the predicted motion of galaxies and observed motion. Known as the galaxy rotation problem, it provided evidence of the existence of dark matter The New York Times described her legacy as “ushering in a Copernican-scale change” in cosmological theory and is the one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century.

Vera Rubin

Gladys West, Mathematician


Inducted into the U.S. Air Force Hall of Fame in 2018, Gladys Mae West is an American who has made significant contributions to the mathematical modelling of the shape of the Earth. Her work was eventually incorporated into Global Positioning System (GPS).[1] West was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame in 2018. After retiring, she completed a PHD in a completely different area.

Gladys West
US Air Force, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

History is full of many, many more women who have made enormous contributions to science.

What is SharePoint? A Guide for Beginner’s

You may have heard of SharePoint. You may even have used it, but what exactly is it and is it something that you or your organisation should know about and be using? It may well be that it is, as more than 250,000 organisations now use SharePoint. Not only that, more and more companies require people who are power users and who know the ins and outs of this software.

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a website-based team collaboration system. At its most basic organizations use it to create websites. What makes it so useful is that you can use it as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device. All that is required to use SharePoint is a web browser.

The fact that SharePoint is secure allows an organisation using SharePoint to control access to information and automate workflow. SharePoint is also:

  • A content management system which stores documents and allows them to be collaborated on.
  • A system that provides easy integration with other Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams.

SharePoint isn’t Just One Thing

Although we talk about SharePoint as if it is one thing, it can actually refer to one or more products or technologies. For simplicity, however, there are two main SharePoint alternatives:

SharePoint Server       This is a version of SharePoint that an organisation manages on its own premises. That is, that organisation’s IT department would install SharePoint on the company’s own servers. An Office 365 Enterprise subscription can be purchased from Microsoft to take advantage of all the latest features, but essentially this version of SharePoint is entirely managed by the organisation itself. This might be suitable for larger organisations.

SharePoint in Microsoft 365       In this case Microsoft hosts SharePoint as a cloud-based service. This is suitable for businesses of all sizes. There is no need for the company to install SharePoint on its own premises. All that is required is subscription to a Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) plan or to the standalone SharePoint Online service.

What most people won’t be aware of is that SharePoint allows sync with OneDrive, which many of us already use.

What Are the Benefits of Using SharePoint?

1. Create and Share Site Templates

SharePoint is a powerful and very flexible tool that allows you to fully customise your sites through the use of lists, workflows, own branding and logos. The added benefit of this is that once a site has been created, it can then be saved as a template and used again, as many times as you wish.

An additional benefit is that the template that has been created can hold all of includes the basic framework of the website, including its libraries, content, documents and lists. Templates can be imported to other SharePoint environments and even shared with other SharePoint users.

2. Use SharePoint columns

Devoted Excel users will be excited by SharePoint columns which enable users to group, filter and sort complex sets of data. SharePoint columns also allow users to apply specific criteria to lists and libraries across multiple team sites. For example, you might set up your columns so you can track invoices by customer name and region. 

3. Drag and Drop from Your Computer

The best SharePoint feature for many day-to-day users is its convenient drag-and-drop interface, which allows them to easily upload documents from their own device. Using Microsoft’s Edge browser entire folders can be uploaded at once.

4. Team Sites with Group Permissions

Many believe that one of the best features of Microsoft SharePoint is its ability to create Team sites. The process is simple; sign in to your Office 365 account and then run the site creation wizard which will take you through the process step by step. Whilst setting up your site, you will have the opportunity to create group email lists. You can also configure the site so it is available to everyone in your organisation or only specific groups.

5. Team Collaboration on Office Documents

Perhaps the most well-known and used SharePoint feature is that documents such as Word documents and Excel spreadsheets can be collaborated on, by a number of users, in real time. This Real-time collaboration allows member of a team working on the same document to know the position of other users in the document and see changes as they happen. Co-authoring allows users to apply updates made by others when they choose. SharePoint can be configured to allow multiple users to work on say an Excel spreadsheet without causing conflict or losing work.

Although it is extremely customisable and can scale up to extremely complex systems, at its fundamental level SharePoint is easy to maintain to understand. You can find out more about it and even download it here. Microsoft even offers a completely free, even if slightly older version, to download. At Infero, we offer a range of courses for beginners and advanced users.

Eight Things to Do with Unwanted Christmas Presents

Last year, people across the UK received £2.2 billion-worth of unwanted Christmas gifts. Now that January is over, it might be time to decide what to do with those that you don’t want or can’t use. Whether it’s a book you’ve read already, some socks that are not your style, a gift card for a shop you don’t use, or a shirt you couldn’t possibly wear outside of the house, there are a number of options for getting rid of those unwanted presents to ensure that they fulfil their purpose and don’t go to waste. After all someone else may enjoy them even if you don’t.

1. Return or Exchange

Returning or exchanging the gift is possibly the first thing we would think of. If the receipt was included with your present you should be able to take it back to the store. Without the receipt, all is not lost. You may be able to ask the person who gave you the present for the receipt instead, but if this isn’t possible, many shops will let you exchange undamaged goods for alternative items. If the present was purchased online, things are little more complicated, as there is a limited period to return and exchange items.

2. Regift It

Although this used to be an utter no-no, re-gifting is acceptable if some thought is put into it. It’s not about just getting rid of something that doesn’t suit you, but giving it to someone who’ll genuinely appreciate it. And this doesn’t have to be done immediately; keep a box of surplus presents and you’ll always have a gift on hand when you need one. You will also need an excuse if the person you re-gift it to asks for the receipt to exchange it.

3. Charity Shops

Donate items to a charity shop has the double win that someone else will end up appreciating the item and money goes towards an important cause. Most Charity shops, however, will not accept certain items for safety, hygiene or legal reasons. These include:

  • Prescription glasses
  • Children’s clothes with drawstring hoods
  • Microwaves and electric fires 
  • Medication
  • Objects that can be used as weapons
  • Bicycles
  • Oil heaters, petrol or diesel fuelled items
  • Computer hard drives

Most items are ok, but check with the shop that you wish to donate to. Keep in mind that the shop might be closed because of a period of lockdown. Also, when charity shops have been open, many have been overwhelmed by donations, so check this first too. There is always the option to sell the items yourself and donate the money directly to the charity, although this, of course, is more work.

4. Donate to A Refuge/The Homeless/The NHS

There are many schemes to donate to the Women’s Aid and Refuge charities, and to specific refuges although donations must usually be sent to a general PO box address. You can also donate clothes and blankets to homeless, who may be more in need of the socks, hats, scarfs, jumpers and blankets you might have received at Christmas.

Toys can also be donated to children’s hospital’s or children’s wards in the NHS. Great Ormond Street advises that the older children love board games, computer games, Lego, arts and crafts. Babies wards would love to receive mobiles and other developmental toys. Keep in mind that donated toys must be new, but this makes unwanted Christmas presents perfect.

5. Sell it

Not every gift – that giant bottle of shampoo for instance – can be sold on, but most can. Sites like eBay and Gumtree offer a quick and easy way to help sell items, but it’s important to be wary of the fees. Alternative sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Preloved, however, may allow you to advertise items you want to sell, along with images and descriptions, for free. Just be sure the person who gave the present isn’t following the auction.

For unwanted games, CDs and electronics, you can use websites such as MusicMagpie to post your items for an agreed amount of cash.

6. Swap it

You can always swap a gift with a family member on Christmas Day? If that thought has come too late, then talk to friends. Perhaps they have an unwanted gift you’d love, whilst a present you hate is just their cup of tea?  That way you both end up happy.

7. Keep It at The Back of a Cupboard

If it just doesn’t feel right to sell or donate something thoughtfully chosen for you by a friend or family member, do what many people have always done. Pack it away in a cupboard. Maybe one of these days you, or somebody else, might need it.

8. Recycle It

If all else fails, don’t just consign the unwanted present to the bin and landfill. Companies including H&M, John Lewis & Partners, M&S and Nike have schemes in which they will buy back your unwanted clothes and trainers, or offer you a voucher. The organisation Recycling For Good Causes works with over 5000 charities and good causes to raise funds by recycling unwanted, donated items.

The basic answer to the problem of unwanted gifts is to think a little more when buying presents and ask if the recipient genuinely needs the gift, or whether it is the fact that it’s a novelty gift, or on sale, that is making it more attractive?  You can also try checking if the prospective present is on the list of the 10 of the most returned Christmas gifts, we might not buy as many unwanted presents and it would follow that we would also receive less.