MindBullets 20 Years


Business & Government are the last male bastions to fall

1970 has been commonly regarded as the cusp for the emergence of the modern women’s rights movements.

By 2010, women in top executive and government jobs had become the norm rather than an oddity. Today, the revolution has come full circle.

This month’s annual Global Business Top 100 survey reveals that, for the first time in history, the sum of earnings of the top women executives in the list has outstripped that of their remaining male counterparts.

The parallel Government Value Top 100 survey reveals that those countries that rated within the top 20 governments in terms of service value, all had more than 50% of the top team represented by women.

Men in power positions have been in decline for most of the last century and this year signals the end of the dominant male.

With perfect 20:20 hindsight, what caused this step-change?

Social attitudes to, and the technology of, child-bearing have certainly played their part, just as the ‘The Pill’ did in the late 1960s, but the crucial shift has been the nature of world markets – making traditional female skills more relevant.

Put simply – women are better equipped to compete and lead in fragmented, chaotic and interconnected markets. “The 21st Century eco-system simply suits women’s innate ability to network, compromise and seek partnerships,” says Victoria Grulke, CEO of the City of London. “Head-on conflict and brute force have given way to demand for rather more subtle skills.”

During the past decade the idea of ‘the token male’ has emerged for the first time in resourcing discussions – primarily female business networks have felt a strong need to attract more male participants, even though it seems to be getting increasingly difficult as men retreat to their own networks.

“I hope we haven’t gone over some sort of tipping point beyond which a kind of ‘male apartheid’ rears its ugly head,” remarked Ashley Musgrave, editor of The Times.

“These are untested waters – and we don’t yet have a map for this future.”

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

Technological Drivers

As our culture makes rapid technological progress that promises to give ever more lifestyle choices, some will say that we are headed toward the spectre of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

One significant missing link remains – ectogenesis or artificial womb technology – which threatens to change forever our concept of human reproduction. But, in light of the progress being made at Cornell University and Juntendo University (Tokyo), the authors of Ectogenesis: Artificial Womb Technology and the Future of Human Reproduction believe ectogenesis will become reality within this decade.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Ectogenesis:

Ectogenesis (from the Greek ecto, “outer,” and genesis) is the creation of mammalian life outside the uterus. Ectogenesis nominally refers to the complete artificial creation of life, as described in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World. However, the term has been applied to all technological developments that would result in a shortening of the time required for the fetus to attain viability following implantation in the womb.

Ectogenesis involves the application of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to previable infants whose lungs are incapable of gas exchange. ECMO is a technique used in selected neonatal intensive care units to treat term infants with selected medical problems that result in the infant’s inability to survive through gas exchange using the lungs. It is not currently used on preterm infants. Such experimentation on human preterm infants has not been reported. However, experiments on fetal goats have occurred and have resulted in maintenance of life for several weeks outside the uterus in previable goat fetuses. Issues related to nutrition and hormonal stability remain to be addressed.

The application of ECMO to preterm human fetuses has the potential to avoid complications of conventional neonatal intensive care, such as lung damage and stroke. It also has the potential to move the threshold of fetal viability to a much earlier stage of pregnancy. This would have implications for the ongoing controversy regarding human reproductive rights.

Social Culture

It may be possible soon, but will it be acceptable?

The answer is clearly ‘no’ for at least the first generation. Much like ‘test tube babies’ that were generally abhorred at first as another example of ‘Man playing God’, they are today seen as business-as-usual by most. It is estimated that millions of test tube babies have now been born.

In our scenario on the future role of women in business and government, ectogenesis could be a significant catalyst to give further choice for women who choose powerful leadership careers, and remove the one powerful physical differentiator between men and women in the workplace. ‘Maternity leave’ may yet become an antiquated idea for our grandchildren.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.