10 Facts that blow the lid off the history of gender and the toilet

The Recent controversy over trans people and bathroom use has exposed a subject we usually prefer to keep the lid on – the humble toilet.

The practice of sex-segregated pooping and peeing as a”natural” phenomenon is scarcely more than a century old, hardly registering on the scale of human history. Yet, for most of us choosing the “Gents” or “Ladies” is as natural as – well – pooping.

Let’s dive into 10 strange facts about the history of the toilet and gender.


  1. Toilet for 50

Ancient Rome is famous for its multi-seater bathrooms where people sat side by side on benches, without partitions, to perform bodily functions. In Hadrian’s Villa, a second-century site in Tivoli, Italy, there were multiseat facilities for Nero’s servants and staff, according to a 2003 paper in the Journal of Roman Archaeology. A stone bench that wraps around the room would have housed some 50 soccer ball-size holes, but no dividers. They also shared the same wiper – a sponge on a stick.

There are hints that a concept of privacy might have existed – at least, for the rich. The emperor and high-status guests seem to have had access to relatively private single-seaters. Even here, there was no notion of gender segregation.

“The provision of single-seaters, especially for guests, shows that, when space and money were no object, [the elite] preferred single toilets,” wrote study researcher and independent archaeologist Gemma Jansen.


  1. Valets And Chambermaids

The first gender-segregated public restroom on record was a temporary setup at a Parisian restaurant for a ball in 1739, said Sheila Cavanagh, a sociologist at York University in Canada. The ball’s organizers put a chamber box (imagine a chamber pot in a box with a seat) for men in one room and for women in another. The actually enforced the use of bathrooms by gender by specifying (male) “valets” to guard the men’s and (female) “chambermaids” for the women’s toilet area. This design was meant to indicate class standing and genteel respectability. Before this, public restrooms were unmarked or marked for men only.

“Everyone at the ball thought this was sort of a novelty — something sort of eccentric and fun,” Cavanagh said.



  1. Urinettes

For the most part, public facilities in Western nations were male-only until the Victorian era, which meant women had to improvise. If they had to be out and about longer than they could hold their bladders, women in the Victorian era would urinate over a gutter (long Victorian skirts allowed for some privacy). Some would even carry a urinette, a tube-like apparatus that was tied around the waist and hung between the legs so that women could urinate. They were made of glass, leather or ceramic.

Strangely, these urinettes were sometimes shaped like the male genitals.


  1. Female Urinals

As late as 1900, Canadian store owner Timothy Eaton was insisting that providing public toilets for women specifically was necessary to his business since peeing on the go would enable them to shop for longer.

Around 1898, a short-lived experiment was attempted in London when so-called urinettes were installed (yes, they used the same name). Smaller than average water closets, with curtains instead of doors, they automatically flushed like a man’s urinal. What was progressive is that they were charged a halfpenny. At the time, men could use urinals for free and paid a penny for a WC. Women paid a penny every time. As George Bernard Shaw noted this was an “absolutely prohibitive cost” for a poor woman.   Although urinettes continued to be installed into the 1920’s, they never took off.



  1. Urinary Segregation

In 1887, Massachusetts was the first state to pass a law mandating women’s restrooms in workplaces with female employees. By the 1920s, most states had passed similar laws.

The advent of urinary segregation was part of a push for total gender division in public life, as a paternalistic means of “[protecting] women from the full force of the world outside their homes.” This led to ladies’ reading rooms at libraries, parlors at department stores, separate entrances at post offices and banks, and their own car on trains, intentionally placed at the very end so that male passengers could chivalrously bear the brunt in the event of a collision.  Sex segregation was seen by regulators at the time as “a kind of cure-all” for the era’s social anxiety about working women.


  1. The Urinary Leash

The lack of female facilities reflected a notable attitude about women: that they should stay home. When women did venture outside the home, it was usually for a short enough time, that they were expected to just hold it.   This “urinary leash” remains a problem in some developing nations, said Harvey Molotch, a sociologist at New York University.

Women in India today, for example, often have to avoid eating or drinking too much if they have to be out in public because there is no place for them to go, Molotch told Live Science.


  1. Gonorrhea and The Toilet Seat

Between 1890 and 1940 doctors and reformers covered up evidence that white, middle- and upper-class American men were sexually abusing their daughters. Doctors had known for a long time that children could contract gonorrhea, but they believed that infections were confined to poor and working-class girls who had been sexually assaulted. In the 1890s, new technologies allowed doctors to discover that gonorrhea infection was so common among girls that they feared it was epidemic. Doctors found concurrent infections in fathers and daughters from “respectable” white families particularly strange.

Although they had no other theory, doctors refused to consider the possibility of incest. Persistently ignoring the obvious, health care workers and reformers revised their views about the susceptibility of girls to infection, not incest. By 1940, medical textbooks relied on untested speculation to put the blame on toilet seats. “Scientific advances,” ironically, obscured rather than illuminated the source of girls’ infection.


  1. The Seat of Power

It took until 1992 for the first women’s bathroom to be installed on the U.S.Senate floor. Previously, female senators had to make use of the public restrooms for the tourists, one floor downstairs. (Link 10) Even when a restroom for female senators was finally completed in 1993, it had only two stalls. 20 years and 20 female senators later, long lines were a daily nuisance. In 2013, when a few of the senators spoke up about the inconvenience, two additional stalls were added to their restroom.

Meanwhile, in the House, congresswomen also had to schlep to the tourist bathrooms in Statuary Hall until the 76 female members of the House finally got their own restroom in 2011.


  1. The Toilet Predator?

Two North Carolina lawmakers have said that eliminating separate bathrooms would “deny women their right to basic safety and privacy.” Research shows that trans people may be at risk in bathroom situations. A 2013 survey by the Williams Institute found that 70% of trans people reported experiencing denial of access, verbal harassment or physical assault in an attempt to use the bathroom. The idea that all women are in increased danger in mixed or gender-neutral bathrooms doesn’t make sense, as predators “are not waiting for permission to dress up like a woman to go into bathrooms.” (Link 10)

Today’s bugbear of the queer sexual deviant is directly preceded by the profoundly racist assumption, after World War II, that black men would prey on white women should they be allowed in the same public restrooms. As Gillian Frank detailed last November for Slate, the perceived sexual threat of sharing bathrooms with black people was coupled with a sanitary one — white women “emphasized that contact with black women in bathrooms would infect them with venereal diseases.”



  1. No thanks we’re British

British women being most likely to find sharing unisex bathroom unappealing.

Men are less phased by unisex bathrooms in all countries looked at – the biggest gender gap was in Britain, where 56% of women said they are NOT comfortable with the thought of using a unisex toilet, but just 27% of men. French women are the females least likely to feel uncomfortable sharing with the other sex – 40% said they are comfortable with using a unisex toilet in public, 38% of American and British women agreed.

Higher earners in America tend to be more accepting of using unisex toilets. 64% of Americans earning $80,000 or more in a year said they are comfortable with the thought of using a unisex facility, but just 43% of people earning less than $40,000 agreed.


The first computers were women – these top 8 women shaped space exploration and propelled us beyond the Moon

The rocket girls started out as a group of “computers” at the Jet Propulsion Lab. Using only paper, a pencil, and their minds they were responsible for all the mathematics in the lab.

They went on to become the lab’s first computer programmers and engineers and touched just about every mission you can think of. They may not have been astronauts, but they were groundbreaking adventurers. Many of their names, until recently mostly forgotten, were signed on test missiles.

In 2008, NASA held a gala to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Explorer 1. But they neglected to invite the women who worked on the satellite, including the women who had literally been in mission control at the time of the launch.

vermin of the skies


Eleanor Francis Hellin

Eleanor Francis “Glo” Hellin was a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in charge of a program that tracked asteroids that came close to Earth. Like the scientists in “Armageddon” she tracked what used to be called “vermin of the skies” (because they blemished photographs of distant stars).

She had joined Caltech in 1960 as a geologist interested in meteorites and the impact origin of lunar craters. Over time, her interest shifted to studying potential impactors in Earth’s vicinity. When a collision occurred 65 million years ago, it devastated thousands of square miles and hurled enough dust skyward to block sunlight, chill the Earth’s climate, destroy food plants and caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. She believes there is a good chance that an asteroid up to the size of a football field could hit Earth within the next century. She has described “..a city-destroyer. We don’t know when and where that object may be lurking.”

The Minor Planet Center lists Helin among the top discoverers with over 500 asteroids and a dozen comets discovered or co-discovered. Helin was awarded many honors, including NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal and the naming of the minor planet (3267) Glo. More unusually, The USS Helin (NCC-1692), a starship in the Star Trek franchise, was named after her for “having discovered an unprecedented number of asteroids and comets.”

look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man and work like a dog


Macie Roberts

In 1942, NASA promoted Macie Roberts to be a supervisor in the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in California. Roberts took her new role to heart and made a decision to hire only women. In Macie Roberts’ words, she would hire any woman who could “look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man and work like a dog.” She decided it would be too difficult to hire men. She felt they would undermine the cohesive nature of her group. She also worried that, at that time, it would be difficult for a man to have a woman as a boss.

Early computers were plagued by unreliability, breakdowns, and overheating. They were passed off to the women, who became responsible for them. IBM offered computer-training courses, and women frequently enrolled. Armed with expertise, they then became some of the first computer programmers in the lab.

When other women became supervisors, they kept Macie’s attitude of hiring women.

no degree necessary


Janez Lawson

Janez Lawson saw one of the JPL ads “Computers Wanted “and knew that “no degree necessary was a secret code for women can apply.”

Though Janez had a degree in chemical engineering, she knew it would be almost impossible to get a job as an engineer. She was an African American woman at a time when African American men had trouble getting jobs as engineers. She applied to JPL after seeing this ad, realizing this was an opportunity to get her foot in the door. It was a huge deal when she was hired. She was the first African American working in a technical position in the lab. Macie Roberts was the supervisor of the group at the time and vouched for her. She wanted to make sure her education and expertise wouldn’t go to waste, so Janez was one of only two people sent to a special IBM training school.

She certainly had much more to contend with than the other women, not just because of the color of her skin, but also because of the geography of where she lived. She had a lengthy commute from Los Angeles to JPL every day. She was a part of many important missions and went on to become a chemical engineer and enjoy a brilliant career later in life.

multi-billion dollar industry


Barbara Paulson

Barbara Paulson arrived at JPL in 1948. In those days, JPL designed rockets for the U.S. Army. Paulson calculated rocket paths or trajectories. The massive, noisy calculating machine (Frifens) they had couldn’t do logarithms, so she used books that had been calculated by Work Projects Administration people during the Great Depression.” One rocket trajectory would take an entire day.

Paulson also played a role in the historic launch of the JPL-built Explorer 1. On the night of Jan. 31, 1958, she was assigned to the operations center for Explorer 1. She plotted data coming in from the satellite and a network tracking station.

Paulson: Well, Explorer 1 was launched Jan. 31, 1958. And that would’ve been after Sputnik had been launched. … I was asked to graph the results coming back from the Explorer 1 satellite. And I worked most of the night, through the night, at JPL with my mechanical pencil and graph paper and light table that I was working on. And that was all the equipment that I had.

The U.S. space program went on to eventually win the Space Race in 1969 with the landing of the Apollo 11 crew on the Moon. Explorer I marked the beginning of the U.S. using satellites for space science and touched off a multi-billion dollar industry.

if you didn’t give them a chance, they’d never get a chance


Helen Ling

Macie Roberts and, later, Helen Ling, both supervisors for the group, hired only women. Their attitude reflected a general cultural belief of the times that some kinds of jobs were more appropriate for women than for men. “Men back then always thought they knew more than you did,” Ling remembers. “So if you hire them under you, they’re uncomfortable, you’re uncomfortable. So I just hired women just out of college. I thought that if you didn’t give them a chance, they’d never get a chance.” She made a point of bringing in women who didn’t have the education to be hired as engineers. She encouraged them to go to night school and watched become engineers.

Ling also liked to rehire women who left JPL. In the 1960s, before the Lab had a family leave policy, women who were having children had to quit. Paulson left to have her first daughter and returned in 1961. Many of the women took advantage of Ling’s phone invitation to return. This was huge because in 1960 only 25% of mothers worked outside the home.

Ling developed software for many missions over the years, including the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, Magellan, Mars Observer and Topex/Poseidon. Charley Kohlhase, the Voyager mission designer didn’t want anyone else to develop his software. Ling retired in 1994 but still keeps in touch with her former colleagues.

can’t add, doesn’t even try



Most of the engineers at that time were men and they were suspicious of computers, because they weren’t very reliable in that era. They tended to overheat. Even in the 1960s, calculations for most NASA missions were done by hand, using paper and pencil. But because of the men’s distrust of computers, these women ended up being the first programmers in the lab and developed this special relationship with one of the computers.

Cora was an IBM 1620. She had her own little alcove off to the side of the women’s offices. On the door were the words “core storage.” The women decide this would not do, so they renamed her “Cora”—and put a list of all their names, including a nameplate that said “Cora” on the door.

With IBM, the 1620 had another nickname: the CADET or Computer with Advanced Economic Technology. The programmers there jokingly said the acronym stood for “Can’t Add, Doesn’t Even Try”.

that’s my number!


Sue Finley

One of the first “computers” still works there as NASA’s longest serving woman: Sue Finley. She turns 80 this year and was still working on the Juno mission to Jupiter. Her initial job was performing trajectory computations for rocket launches by hand. She is now a software tester and subsystem engineer.

One of her earliest memories at JPL is the flight of Pioneer 3, launched on Dec. 6, 1958. She was called in to calculate velocities from telemetry data when the digital computer that was supposed to do it failed. “I punched this data into the Frieden [calculator] as Al Hibbs relayed it to me from his telephone connection with the receiving antenna. I went home around 6:00 a.m. after everyone realized that it hadn’t reached escape velocity, so it wasn’t going to leave orbit. My husband was up watching the news. They had a little blackboard with the numbers on it I had calculated. I said ‘that’s my number!’

She performed many tasks during the next 15 years, but one stands out in her memory – software she helped develop for the Mars Exploration Rover missions. These used a “semaphore-like” communications method during their plunge through the Mars atmosphere. The spacecraft’s transmitter sent back specific tones, or musical notes, by radio after each phase of the descent. Finley’s software received the signals from the DSN and interpreted them so the projects’ engineers would know what was going on.

In her half century at JPL, she has most enjoyed “being part of exploring the universe, space, our solar system.” Finley still enjoys her work, and she has no plans to retire “unless things start to get really boring.”

americas’s first satellite


Barbara “Barby “ Canright

Barby Canright was the first female computer, joining JPL in 1939. Melba, Macie, Virginia, Freeman and Barby were responsible for calculating the potential of rocket propellants. The calculations couldn’t be done quickly since they were all done by hand. Analyzing one rocket firing could take a week or more for the human computers. Barbie liked to stack the 6-8 notebooks for each experiment on her desk. At the end of the experiment, she’d clear the notebooks off.

Barby plotted the path of America’s first satellite. She had already helped to design the rockets powering the tube-shaped spacecraft. She was well aware that if her calculations fell short of perfection, it would spell America’s loss in the Space Race with the Soviets.

“When she calculated that the satellite had left Earth’s atmosphere, the critical juncture, she kept quiet… “that’s my number!” she said triumphantly, twisting around in her seat to see the reaction. Behind her, a room of her colleagues, almost all men, broke into cheers.”

10 Surprising trends in brand buying attitudes and how and why people choose or reject your brand

  1. Around half of this year’s new buyers won’t buy your brand next year

    Don’t feel bad but half of your new buyers will not buy your brand next year. Sometimes this is deliberate rejection.  More often it’s simply down to circumstances.  Maybe you weren’t listed in the on-line shop they visited. Maybe you were out of stock.  Perhaps you weren’t on promotion. Likely, you weren’t at the top of their minds. Even for a brand’s penetration to remain static there has to be a constant recruitment of new shoppers, and that’s before considering the incremental buyers needed for growth.


  3. Most buyers only buy your brand once

    Every brand – tiny or huge – has a frequency curve of a similar shape. Most buyers will buy once; the second largest proportion will buy twice, and so on. Bigger brands will be able to weather this better, but it’s a pattern universal to all brands and all categories.Individually, these one-time buyers may seem insignificant, but their collective contribution to your brand’s success is invaluable. Don’t ignore them.

    The good news is that brands achieving a higher penetration nearly always see an accompanying increase in purchase frequency.


  5. Your buyers don’t belong to You

    Consumers by their nature are not monogamists; they are polygamists.   The flip side of most buyers choosing your brand infrequently is that the vast majority are also flirting with other brands.Even the biggest brands, for instance in the UK, only command an average loyalty figure of 36%.

    In fact, for those 10 biggest brands in their biggest categories, their most loyal shoppers only account for 8% of brand spend.


  7. Penetration is King

    Only 2% of all the brands analysed reach more than 80% of a country’s households.  Nearly one-third command less than 5% penetration.  This shows there is plenty of headroom for growth, even among the largest brands.Of all the brands that grew over the past year, 79% of them did so by recruiting more shoppers.

    In 2015, Colgate’s boosted global penetration to 67.7% adding 40 million new households to its buyer base, more than any other brand in the ranking.There are plenty of categories where overall adoption rates remain low. In personal care, for instance, more than 40% of the global population does not yet purchase deodorants, hair conditioner or make-up.


  9. Spend on local brands is up

    In good news for nimble local brands, you are proving better at exploiting growth opportunities than the 5,700 global brands included in the Brand Footprint report.Local brands are particularly strong in the food and beverage categories, catering to local tastes. In large emerging markets such as China, India and Indonesia, many buyers see local brands as not only familiar but also more affordable and widely available.

    But spend still tips in favour of the multinationals: local brands make up 46% of sales compared to the 54% from global brands.  Perhaps this is because the value of an average shopping decision tends to be lower for local brands.  Local brands command almost double the spend of purchases below $2USD, but as the price point increases, so too does the likelihood that global brands will win. This, however, is changing.

    Local brand growth tends to be driven by three factors.  Firstly, it’s easier to distribute when you’re based locally.  Secondly, where global brands are better suited to modern trade, local brands understand traditional trade and will probably flourish in emerging regions. Finally, local brands fill the ‘affordability gap,’ bringing products to consumers who would otherwise be unable to buy them.


  11. Physical Convenience

    Ease of access is always top of the list when it comes to choosing a store: 79% of Chinese shoppers prefer a store close to home while half of British shoppers cite location as the key reason for choosing their supermarket, well ahead of price and range.Not all consumers interact with brands through supermarkets. In the Philippines and Thailand so-called ‘modern trade’ accounts for only 30% of sales, compared to around 80% in Western Europe.

    Especially in markets where modern trade is not well developed, brands are finding innovative ways to take the product out to the consumer. Mobile coffee stalls have become a common sight across Africa. The ‘Yakult Ladies’ show the strength of a direct distribution network: a dedicated workforce of mostly women, who fulfil the dual role of being brand ambassadors and physically delivering the product.

    Mobile accessibility is changing how shoppers interact with e-commerce and using a phone or tablet is becoming the normal way of shopping online. By 2018 it is projected that 71% of global internet users will be using a smartphone. Whether accessed through mobile or more traditional computers, e-commerce FMCG sales continue to grow strongly, up by 15% globally in 2015. South Koreans still lead the way, buying 13.7% of their groceries online.


  13. In Store Convenience

    Discount retailers have boomed, particularly in Europe in recent years.  Opening more stores has increased their physical availability and made them more convenient for more people.  Some observers attribute the discounters’ success in part to having smaller product ranges. Faced with an overwhelming number of options on supermarket shelves, it has been suggested that limited choice actually acts as a magnet for shoppers. One reaction has been for mainstream retailers to streamline ranges.

    In 2015, Tesco raised eyebrows when it announced it would no longer stock beer brand Carlsberg to reduce the number of beer brands on its shelves. However, as the big retailers reduce lines, discounters may well consider introducing more branded and premium own label items to widen appeal and avoid a growth plateau. In the UK, only 10% of lines in discounters are brands, while in Germany these stores are around 30% branded.

    The ultimate inconvenience for a shopper is the retailer being closed, a problem that has disappeared in one Swedish supermarket. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week the store has no staff, and is completely self-service for pre-registered shoppers. Barcode scanning is used to both enter the store and select items for purchase.


  15. Trust Through Innovation

    It is no surprise that the majority of brands seen on this map are local champions, developing products which identify and celebrate the people buying them. 2015 saw home-grown brands Colanta and Yili rise to the number one spots in Colombia and China, fending off other beloved local brands.

    The premium UHT brand, Milk Satine, rocketed following a nationwide marketing campaign which used popular Chinese singer, songwriter and actress Wang Faye as the brand ambassador. QQ Star, Yili’s flavoured milk drink sponsored the reality television show Dad! Where are we going? popular among its target audience: children and parents.This resulted in an impressive 14% value growth for the brand.

    Driven by fresh thinking at the top and brilliant execution on the ground, Yili retained its solid reputation among Chinese consumers and rose to the top of the country ranking for the first time. Yili is bought by nine out of 10 Chinese urban households.


  17. The Health Wave

    Awareness of the quality of ingredients, particularly in packaged goods, has reached an all-time high. While low calorie variants and fresh produce are king in some Western markets, transparency and safety reign across Asia, where trust in certain beloved brands has plummeted. The moment people reach for a snack or indulge in an extravagant meal, more and more they recognise the consequences it will have on their health.  A third of millennials use their smartphones to track their calories against exercise.  Thirty minutes of high-intensity exercise to burn off a snack may be a greater barrier to purchase than the price.

    Pursuit of a healthy lifestyle is demonstrated by a growth in free from ranges and low-calorie alternatives. Irish food giant Kelkin’s 2014 partnership with nutritionist Aveen Bannon showed parents how to prepare healthy snacks for their children. This nutritious streak is offset by a hunger for something naughty. Swiss-born Lindt climbs three places in the global food ranking to 34.

    In Latin America governments have tried different policies to reduce obesity levels. Clearer packaging and public education are trickling down into consumer decision-making at the shelf. Mexico’s sugar tax reduced sweetened beverage sales by 12% in its first year, according to the British Medical Journal. In 2015, the Brazilian government imposed strict advertising regulations, limiting brands’ rights to advertise unhealthy foods to children. A similar sugar levy in the UK is imminent.


  19. Europe is Split

    The prospect of a divided Europe was not limited to politics in 2015. Brand Footprint data showed a highly fragmented group of shoppers, both within communities and across borders.The European as a homogenous character is fading away. An older woman in a French hypermarket is likely to choose products with larger print and smaller, easy-to-open packs.A British Millennial is a rare sight in supermarkets: they prefer prepared meals from smaller stores or a snack from a corner shop to eat on the go.

    A young family in Russia, under pressure from rising inflation, is taking advantage of a growing discounter share and decreasing cost of private label products seen in 2015.

    The continued popularity of discounters stitches together an otherwise divided continent. While the highest share is in Poland (25.3%), and the lowest at 10% in the UK, both are showing double-digit growth.


To download full report from Kantar World Panel click here.

This program raised kids IQs by 10 points, improved behaviour and diet dramatically

In an amazing program, the IQ scores of the children involved rose by 10 points.

The participating 233 families were split into either an intervention or a control group; the mothers were followed from pregnancy until their children were entering primary school.

13% of the intervention group children scored below average for cognitive development at age four compared to 57% of the control group. Children in the study were less likely to be overweight (23% compared to 41%) and had fewer behavioural problems (2% compared to 17%). They were more likely to receive their recommended dietary allowance of protein (33% compared to 23%) and were immunised earlier.

The “Preparing for Life” program is one of the first of its kind ever carried out in Ireland or Europe.

Parents taking part in the program received about 50 home visits from trained mentors. The programme supported parents at each stage of their child’s development by providing tip sheets on age appropriate topics.

Program mentors used role modelling, demonstration, coaching, discussion, encouragement and feedback. Parents were encouraged to participate in a Triple P positive parenting course when their children reached age two.

Impact was measured through questionnaires, observations and direct assessments when the children were 6, 12, 18, 24, 36 and 48 months old.

Mother went from being afraid to say ‘no’ to saying ‘no’ as much as possible

Marian Dennis told the Irish Examiner that she went from being afraid to say ‘no’ to saying ‘no’ as much as possible and remaining constant in her message.

Her son Jamie, 5, spends no time online, neither using a phone nor a computer, and his IQ has increased. Marian says his playtime is one-on-one and includes him drawing or playing Lego with his friends.

Price of a good sofa

“Preparing for Life” is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs through the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP). The total cost? €2,000 per family.

Noel Kelly, the study’s manager, has called for it to be rolled out nationwide.

Let’s hope so.

To download the full report, click here.

How to accelerate a retail giant : Target hired disruptive entrepreneurs as agitators and irritants

Imagine that thirty million people visit one of your shops each week, and 25 million use your app.

That’s the story of Target, the giant retailer.

Digital sales accounted for only 3% to 4% of all of Target’s overall sales in 2015, putting it near the bottom of the top 12 retailers, according to eMarketer.

Pretty dismal return for a $1 billion spend on Target’s e-commerce unit.

Drastic measures were needed.

Back in March of 2015, Target launched an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) program.  The idea? Disrupt from within.  The goal?  To help Target, with its nearly 1,800 stores and 340,000 employees, think like a startup.

EIR programs aren’t unusual in big business or universities (think Google or MIT) but they’re rare in retail.

West Stringfellow, one of the Entrepreneurs-at-large is in charge of a mysterious internal tech startup codenamed “Goldfish.” He’s recruiting engineers and product managers in Silicon Valley, but is keeping schtum except for describing the project as “super cool, “baller” and “brilliant.”

More openly, Target launched a retail startup accelerator in partnership with Techstars that starts in June. Techstars provides startups with mentorship and funding, and Target will be able to invest in or potentially acquire startups that graduate from the accelerator.

Other deals include Target’s agreement with the store-pickup startup Curbside and its pilot program with grocery deliverer Instacart.

Target hired entrepreneurs who hate email, don’t respect titles, break rules constantly and aren’t motivated by money. Whether these tame(ish) entrepreneurs continue as Agitators or Irritants remains to be seen…

Learn How to Cook Like an Azeroth Warrior in new World of Warcraft cookbook – coyote tails and spider meat, anyone?

Want to get World Of Warcraft recipes without having to train, find a random vendor or go on a dangerous quest?

Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, the author of the official Game of Thrones cookbook A Feast of Ice and Fire, has written a cookbook based on and inspired by recipes in the World of Warcraft game.

She started writing the cookbook by asking fans for their must-have dishes.

After that, she had to choose World of Warcraft ingredients. Boar meat and rylak eggs are surprisingly hard to source! Tough questions like ““Do night elves have access to tomatoes? “ had to be tackled ( she decided yes since tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family). She looked to nature for inspiration. “Crunchy Spider Surprise” substitutes an unlucky crab for the crunchy treat.

Luckily for Monroe-Cassel there are only four spider recipes in the game :

Are you still at apprentice skill level at cooking? Never mind. Beer Basted Boar Ribs is just beer-soaked ribs basted with more beer. Add beer. Honey-Spiced Lichen? Easy to make – if you want. It’s leaves with dirt and honey. Add garlic and cayenne pepper. Have more advanced skills in the kitchen? Venture into “Expert” level with DragonBreath Chilli or Sweet Potato Bread.

For those curious about food and beverages in World of Warcraft, thanks to we have a breakdown of what food and drink are consumed in the game. Players are a protein-loving, beer-swiggin’ lot by the looks of it, and vegetables get the shaft. There are no carrots, onions, spinach to be seen –  not even broccoli!




Monroe-Cassel’s favourite World of Warcraft recipe? Rylak Claws, flaky pastries with a cinnamon-almond filling. Yum.







It’s official – The things your mother always says about the Irish Summer are true

Strawberries and cream please, we’re Irish.

It’s official, according to an Avonmore Survey – the things your mother says are true. The main thing people look forward to after a few days away IS their own bed (58%), followed by a nice cup of tea.

More than 1 in 3 Irish people are looking forward to Summer for strawberries and cream, followed closely by pavlova. Which they hope to enjoy at least once a week.

It shouldn’t be a problem getting their hands on those traditional desserts since one-third of the population plan to spend their Summer holiday in Ireland.

The Ring of Kerry was named the favourite Irish escape during the summer months (39%), followed by Galway city (21%).

Most (57%) of those surveyed say that their favourite place on a summer’s day is in their own back garden with family and friends.

6 key things a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist looks for in Irish start-ups and developing companies

Silicon Valley Bank – specialist lender to technology, innovation and med-tech companies – is doubling the amount it’s lending to Irish companies.

So far, it’s committed funds to 15 Irish businesses including AMCS, Amplience, Accuris, Boxever, Clavis Insight, Diona, Fieldaware, Lincor, Logentries, Movidius and Profitero.

Here’s what David Flanagan, CEO of Boxever, had to say :

“This year we accessed debt funding from Silicon Valley Bank that will help enable Boxever to create up to 100 high-value technical roles in Ireland,” explained Dave O’Flanagan, CEO of Boxever…..The team at SVB quickly understood our business model and thought creatively about what we were seeking to achieve with our series B round – it’s a great working relationship.”

So what exactly are the things that the Silicon Valley Bank is looking for in an Irish company?

1. The management team must have a game plan and an understanding of the market they want to disrupt. How are things going to change and what technologies are enabling that change?
For example, Location-based services on mobile phones create a new business model because they enabled companies like Uber to be established.

2. Enterprise value that will be created over time.

3. Products or services that are going to make big changes that will influence big industries and, therefore, make companies that can scale over time and across borders.

4. Investors and capable management teams who have come out of larger corporates and are repeat entrepreneurs.

5. Access to early-stage equity funding through angel programmes and accelerator programmes.

6. Links in general with the US from history. For example, the health care linkages to Boston and the technology bridge between Dublin and California are strengthening.

source : Kehlan Kirwan interviews Philip Cox from Silicon Valley Bank

60 Irish start-up companies formed per day in 2016

7,665 new companies have been formed in Ireland between the 1st January and 12th May 2016.

That’s an average of almost 60 per day.

Most are in the professional sector – accountants, consultants, legal practice and the like.

Finance and wholesale & retail sectors were the second and third most popular industries for start-ups.

The construction sector has rocketed with a 29% increase in numbers this year.

Meanwhile, 9,864 businesses were registered in Ireland. 65% (6,377) were set-up by sole-traders, 26% (2,517) by companies and the remainder by partnerships (two or more individuals).


From “I’ve never heard of it” to “It’s too powerful” – hilarious 10 step response to innovation and invention

The typical path of how people respond to life-changing inventions:

I’ve never heard of it.
I’ve heard of it but don’t understand it.
I understand it, but I don’t see how it’s useful.
I see how it could be fun for rich people, but not me.
I use it, but it’s just a toy.
It’s becoming more useful for me.
I use it all the time.
I could not imagine life without it.
Seriously, people lived without it?
It’s too powerful and needs to be regulated

#1–#9 by Morgan Housel, Time
#10 by @peterpeirce
Thanks for brilliant list, Chris Dixon

The top 5 times during the day for your business to reach and sell to digital and mobile customers

You know that people are buying online.  You know that you need to talk to customers and create interest and excitement in your product or service.  But when are people most receptive to your message?  How do you avoid  the danger of being seen as spam?  

Luckily, there are 5 proven prime times for retailers to reach out to their busy digital customers. Here are 5 of the best times to interact with your customers :

  1. What are morning commutes for?  For most people, it seems to be catching up on emails.  8 out of 10 people are reading emails, including emails from their favourite brands.
  2. The next most popular time to read emails?  The evening commute home.
  3. Tempting as it may be, don’t send out too many emails.  1 out of 3 people only want to hear from businesses once a week.
  4. Lunchtime on desktop computers is prime shopping time, with over 7 in 10 people going on-line to shop.
  5. On the weekends, around lunch or after dinner is the most popular time to buy on-line.

So you’ve managed to catch your customer at the right time.  Great.  Avoid these 3 things that customers hate and could still lose you the sale :

  1. Not knowing what the customer has previously purchased. (37%)
  2. Not using the customer’s name.(35%)
  3. Not being aware of his/her personal style and product preferences. (25%).


Data from recent survey of 1,000 consumers .


Using your Marketing Budget to specifically target Women? Don’t

GenderNeutralMarketingAccording to the latest Fluent Report on Marketing to women, an overwhelming majority prefer gender neutral advertising over advertising specifically aimed at women.

Much of the advertising aimed at women is emotional, as in the cases of brands like Hallmark, Pandora, Electrolux and Huggies. Inspiring and/or empowering messages tend to drive campaigns as seen recently from Dove, Lane Bryant and even Dodge.

Do ads aimed at the genders even work? When Ad Age compiled the top 100 advertising campaigns of the 20th century, most of them could be considered unisex. Who doesn’t like Smokey the Bear or the Energizer Bunny? The top-ranking ad that could be considered male-oriented was the Marlboro Man, at No. 2 on the list. The highest-ranking ad geared toward women was a 1957 Clairol ad that claimed that only a woman’s hairdresser would know if she dyed her hair; it topped out at No. 9.

Brands that are getting it right marketing to women,according to women in the marketing industry aren’t even aiming specifically at women: Apple and Nike. More honest emotion please, all 10 women agreed, including humour.

When it comes to a successful advertisement, it may be more important to be funny, smart and memorable than to worry about pleasing a particular gender. Above all, the brands that win realise that women’s interests go beyond just looking pretty and being the best mom in the world.

As an audience, women tend to be more interested in things that are new and exciting BUT are far less forgiving. Brands have to be careful not to alienate and push off the gender that makes or informs 80 percent of household purchases today.

Why is Belgium-owned Budweiser Beer changing its name to America and what does a hot dog have to do with it

You may have heard that Budweiser Beer is changing its name to “America” from May 23 for the duration of the election season. Budweiser is clearly expecting an extra-patriotic Summer with the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics coming up, plus soccer’s Copa America Centenario taking place for the first time on U.S. soil.

Bud’s “America” rebranding doesn’t stop at the name—the packaging will be smothered with All-American phrases including “E Pluribus Unum,” “Liberty and Justice for All” and “Indivisible Since 1776.”

If that wasn’t freedom-loving enough, the ultra-patriotic label will include the words “Land of the Free,” “Home of the Brave” and “From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters this land was made for you and me”.

Yep, according to Budweiser VP Ricardo Marques: “We are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen”.

This isn’t the first time that food in the United States was renamed in a patriotic spirit, so successfully for some that the original name and reason has been forgotten.

As frankfurter is obviously a very German name, it was deemed unacceptable during World War I. In some places they were called “liberty sausages,” but it was another term that stuck —the hot dog.

And if you’ve ever wondered just what the difference is between Salisbury steak and meat loaf, the answer is World War 1.

Sauerkraut was renamed “liberty cabbage.” Dealers, farmers, and grocers complained of the steep decline in sauerkraut consumption and testified that they needed to give it a name that Americans without German associations. Likewise, Hamburgers became “liberty sausage”. Those rather awkward renamings didn’t catch on after the war.

“French Fries” famously became “Freedom Fries” in 2003 when Republican Bob Ney rejigged the menus in Congress in response to France’s opposition to the invasion of Iraq. The term quietly fell out of use as support declined for the Iraq war.

Budweiser has sold patriotic summer-edition cans for the last five years, so that’s nothing new. Actually renaming the beer “America” is a bold marketing strategy. Maybe this effort will propel Budweiser back into the American top 10 most patriotic brands, from which they’ve slipped since 1913.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 19.02.13

Proven figures that Ireland is becoming a tech, healthcare and recruitment hub – and Irish people are returning home for it

Recent figures from LinkedIn shows that Ireland is successfully luring talented professionals, especially software (up 36%), healthcare (up 20%) and recruitment professionals (up 14%).

More Irish people are defining themselves as entrepreneurs (up 80%) and sole traders (up 23.8%) while the number of small and medium size businesses is up nearly 12%.

“The really interesting insight gleaned from our data in this respect was that we saw new companies emerging in a range of diverse fields beyond the technology industry, such as professional services, architecture, and the entertainment sector.” – Sharon McCooey, senior director of International Operations and Site Leader at LinkedIn Ireland.

LinkedInFigures (1)

The password myth : Why passwords aren’t keeping us safe and can we fix our security systems

Bill Gates declared the password dead in 2004.

Why the password is a myth

The notion of a password being sufficient in itself needs to go into the myth bin. A staggering 76% of data breaches are caused by weak passwords. More often than not, an account is easily hacked because of a ridiculously easy password or the same password being used across multiple systems. Even when forced to use upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols to make our passwords “safe”, we use predictable patterns. We tend to capitalize the first letter, use a common word as the seed and add a number (probably 1 or 2) or one of the common symbols at the end (~, !, @, #, $, %, &, ?) We even know that women tend to use personal names, and men hobbies!

First data breach happened immediately after the first password

Most geeks agree that the first password came from MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System in the 1960’s. This system launched computing as we know it : e-mail, instant messaging, file sharing – and date breaches. Twenty-five years after it happened, Allan Scherr, an MIT Ph.D. researcher, confessed to the first password theft. To try and bump up his allotted time on the system, he printed out all of the stored passwords. He shared these with colleagues, leading directly to the first case of internet abuse, as one colleague left “taunting messages” on the bosses’ computer.

The problem with passwords is our brains

The key to cracking passwords is a flaw in our brains, says password expert and cracker Jeremi Gosney. Our minds are simply not suited to creating random combinations of words or letters. Brains seem to be more attuned to memories or pop culture tastes. “If your password is not random, we will crack it,” promises Gosney, who once deciphered 90 percent of more than 16,000 passwords downloaded from the internet in 20 HOURS as part of a contest.
When asked to create a “random” password, most people simply bash the keyboard. One of the most popular passwords in a recent leak of real passwords was “qweasdzxc”. If you find the Q key on your keyboard, you’ll see the obvious pattern. The same applies to 1qaz2wsx, mnbvcxz and other so-called ‘random’ passwords.

If any of these is your password, change it

“123456”, “12345678” and “12345” were in 2015’s top five passwords, according to Splashdata, which uses US and European data breach information to analyse password data. “123456” was, for the fifth year running, the most common password. However, “football”, “monkey” and “starwars” also have a place on the list. Interestingly, “football” moved up three places in 2015, overtaking “baseball”. The top 25 passwords are :

1. 123456
2. password
3. 12345678
4. qwerty
5. 12345
6. 123456789
7. football
8. 1234
9. 1234567
10. baseball
11. welcome
12. 1234567890
13. abc123
14. 111111
15. 1qaz2wsx
16. dragon
17. master
18. monkey
19. letmein
20. login
21. princess
22. qwertyuiop
23. solo
24. passw0rd

Can people create and remember 14 or 15 random long passwords?

Passwords should ideally be at least 16 characters long, and contain a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and spaces. In reality, we end up with a “system that not only is insecure but it’s totally unusable” according to Jeremy Grant, a senior executive advisor with the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. People tend to lose patience with passwords they can’t recall and use the same one or two passwords for everything.

Passwords worked pretty well during the early years of the web when the cloud didn’t have anything like of data it does now. Wired editor and hacking victim Mat Honan wrote in 2012 : “..the serious hackers were still going after big corporate systems.” The focus of hackers has changed to small business. A 2013 Verizon report found that 62 percent of breach victims were small to mid-size businesses. The lack of IT resources or security expertise makes small businesses honeypots for cyber criminals.

So how do you create a secure password?

• Don’t use the same password for everything. One super-secure password won’t be any good if someone cracks it.
• Take a memorable, unusual sentence like “I am a 10-foot tall purple unicorn” and use the first letter of each word with punctuation: “Iaa10-ftpu”.
• You can grab 12 random words, too: “Pantry duck cotton ballcap tissue airplane snore oar Christmas puddle log charisma.” When placed into a password checker, the 12-word pass phrase above shows that it will take 238,378,158,171,207 quadragintillion years for a brute force attack to crack.
• Use a password manager such as 1Password or LastPass, which can generate secure passwords of up to 24 characters.
• Use two-factor authentication such as Google uses, which will send a text with a code or use an app to verify your log-in.

Passwords are deeply ingrained in our culture. Will an entire generation learn and accept a completely different system of validation, like biometrics ? Maybe not. But we could start better security by using two-factor authentication, which requires a password AND a pin code or app. Multi-factor authentication — a system that would require passwords plus a code obtained via text message plus a fingerprint, or something similar — may be in our future.