Ben Black's monthly summary of everything you need to know about work+family - female leadership, flexible working, gender diversity and a bit of childcare and eldercare news to boot...
Progress in Saudi, and aggressive feminists!
Slowly, slowly - women finally won the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. The fact that the news was announced by the Saudis simultaneously in Washington and Riyadh highlights just how damaging old-fashioned misogynistic attitudes to gender can be. We will get there in the end!
Can aggressive feminism sometimes go too far? Undoubtedly as the "love-it or hate-it" discussion board Mumsnet found to its cost in September. Various advertisers are pulling their business away from the site - put off by too much anti-dad swearing!
Attitudes to gender
Meanwhile John Lewis won praise, almost universally, for unveiling a range of non-gender clothes. If you really want men and women to be treated equally then you better start by treating baby boys and girls equally. Not everyone was happy of course. Political correctness gone mad was the reaction of some with one wag wondering if we should now call John Lewis "Joan Lewis" instead.
Could life be about to get a bit easier for female MPs? Harriet Harman was on the case in September talking about enhanced maternity packages for female MPs. She is onto something even if talking about mothers rather than all parents was a bit brainless. If the Houses of Parliament can't find ways to to help its best talent combine work and family successfully then what hope is there for the rest of us?
Childcare challenges can impact mental health
There are more working mothers than ever before - the ONS confirmed there are some 4.9m now compared to 3.7m in 1996 but it's not getting any easier for them.
Willis Towers Watson released findings to show just how stressful balancing career and family can be. A third of all working parents said that their mental health had been negatively impacted by their childcare challenges.
This news round-up is rarely a sales pitch but the "stress" element of being a working parent is important. And it's one of the reasons that finding last-minute emergency childcare receives such amazing feedback from users.
Impact of flexing
Working Mums meanwhile produced a survey which highlighted why the debate around flexible working remains so polarising. Flexibility is fundamental to being a working parent. But working flexibly is also a pretty good way to undermine your career, according to the research.
More tech needed in eldercare
Is there a magic formula that will help fix the UK's broken social market? Undoubtedly not, but better use of technology will help, and employers will need to do more for their people.
Employers for Carers research illustrated just how isolating being a carer, whilst holding down a job, can be. 8 out of 10 reported feelings of loneliness and isolation - exactly the kind of things a thriving carers network can address.
Calm around childcare... for now
September was an unusually quiet month on the childcare front. Probably the calm before the storm of childcare vouchers coming to an unhappy end. What does good childcare look like? There's no strict answer but making sure children are "ready" for primary school is one of the acid tests. On that front we are doing worse than five years ago, according to the Family and Childcare Trust.
Progressive change in the world of Insurance
Insurance - in from the cold. The insurance industry used to be one of the most old-fashioned and male dominated sectors. How things are changing!
The annual Dive In festival (diversity and inclusion in insurance) has been brilliant - organised, passionate and effective in equal measure.