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The bailout is dead, long live the bailout

But what Greece needs is a plan for growth.

The agreement reached in the early hours of Tuesday is indeed of paramount significance. It draws a line under months of speculation around the Eurozone's response to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. It reduces Greece's debt obligations by more than 50 per cent and at the same time decreases the interest rate Greece has to pay for the remaining of its debt, allowing the country to turn the corner and move forward with a significantly reduced debt burden.

But it is worth acknowledging that most of the €130bn is aimed at providing "sweeteners" to private sector bondholders for agreeing to participate in the debt restructuring, to capitalising Greek banks so they don't bring down with them European banks in case of a default and to paying off interest.

What is left will be used to service Greece's remaining debt, leaving very little to be invested in the Greek economy and measures to achieve growth.

With the private sector weakened by recession, consumer confidence at an all-time low and foreign direct investment unlikely to come while uncertainty about the country's future persists, growth can only come from public sector investment.

Reducing Greek debt is an important step towards fiscal health but if the country is to prove wrong the Cassandras who argue that a default is inevitable, the EU must put together a "Merkel Plan" to be invested in growth-generating measures in Greece.

That fund should be separate to the one aimed at paying off the Greek debt and it should focus on the following things; promoting entrepreneurship and offering assistance to start-ups and small businesses across the country, rebuilding tourist infrastructure, investing in research and development, harvesting renewable energy available in abundance in the country and training the already very well educated workforce in new technologies and specialised manufacturing.

In the meantime a coalition government of national unity is needed to implement the ground-breaking reforms necessary to make the most of the investment mentioned above. A single individual or a single party cannot undertake the Herculean task of changing the Greek economy and political system.

The coalition government should commit itself to confronting vested interests by liberalising the professions and opening the economy to competition, as well as reforming the tax system and tackling tax evasion. Tens of billions are wasted every year due to tax evasion and the black economy. Equipping the system with the necessary mechanisms to collect taxes effectively and, above all, fairly can make an enormous difference to Greek finances.

At the same time billions can be saved by downsizing the public sector, mainstreaming its operations and making it more efficient in delivering true public value and services.

Last but not least, the clientalistic relationship between the electorate and their elected representatives must be severed, and for that to happen a combined effort is needed, both by ordinary Greeks and their leaders.

"Buying" votes in return for political patronage is responsible for the unsustainable size of the Greek public sector. Offering assistance for start-ups and SMEs, re-awakening the Greek spirit for entrepreneurship and making the economy fertile for competition and open to new entrants will offer more employment prospects and make a job in the public sector less appealing.

Taking those steps will go a long way towards regaining the trust of Greece's EU partners as well as that of the markets. Changing Greece cannot happen overnight so trust is imperative if Greece is to be given enough time and space to reform its political system and re-engineer the economy, which is the only way to achieve growth.

The future for Greece and its people does not have to be dire. The EU has invested a lot in helping Greece and the Greeks have sacrificed even more to remain in the Eurozone. Avoiding a default is in Greece's, in the EU's and the UK's interest. But without growth all this effort and sacrifice will be for nothing.

Petros Fassoulas is chairman of the European Movement.



Petros Fassoulas is the chairman of European Movement UK

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This Ada Lovelace Day, let’s celebrate women in tech while confronting its sexist culture

In an industry where men hold most of the jobs and write most of the code, celebrating women's contributions on one day a year isn't enough. 

Ada Lovelace wrote the world’s first computer program. In the 1840s Charles Babbage, now known as the “father of the computer”, designed (though never built) the “Analytical Engine”, a machine which could accurately and reproducibly calculate the answers to maths problems. While translating an article by an Italian mathematician about the machine, Lovelace included a written algorithm for which would allow the engine to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers.

Around 170 years later, Whitney Wolfe, one of the founders of dating app Tinder, was allegedly forced to resign from the company. According to a lawsuit she later filed against the app and its parent company, she had her co-founder title removed because, the male founders argued, it would look “slutty”, and because “Facebook and Snapchat don’t have girl founders. It just makes it look like Tinder was some accident". (They settled out of court.)

Today, 13 October, is Ada Lovelace day – an international celebration of inspirational women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It’s lucky we have this day of remembrance, because, as Wolfe’s story demonstrates, we also spend a lot of time forgetting and sidelining women in tech. In the wash of pale male founders of the tech giants that rule the industry,we don't often think about the women that shaped its foundations: Judith Estrin, one of the designers of TCP/IP, for example, or Radia Perlman, inventor of the spanning-tree protocol. Both inventions sound complicated, and they are – they’re some of the vital building blocks that allow the internet to function. 

And yet David Streitfield, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, someow felt it accurate to write in 2012: “Men invented the internet. And not just any men. Men with pocket protectors. Men who idolised Mr Spock and cried when Steve Jobs died.”

Perhaps we forget about tech's founding women because the needle has swung so far into the other direction. A huge proportion – perhaps even 90 per cent - of the world’s code is written by men. At Google, women fill 17 per cent of technical roles. At Facebook, 15 per cent. Over 90 per cent of the code respositories on Github, an online service used throughout the industry, are owned by men. Yet it's also hard to believe that this erasure of women's role in tech is completely accidental. As Elissa Shevinsky writes in the introduction to a collection of essays on gender in tech, Lean Out: “This myth of the nerdy male founder has been perpetuated by men who found this story favourable."

Does it matter? It’s hard to believe that it doesn’t. Our society is increasingly defined and delineated by code and the things it builds. Small slip-ups, like the lack of a period tracker on the original Apple Watch, or fitness trackers too big for some women’s wrists, gesture to the fact that these technologies are built by male-dominated teams, for a male audience.

In Lean Out, one essay written by a Twitter-based “start-up dinosaur” (don’t ask) explains how dangerous it is to allow one small segment of society to built the future for the rest of us:

If you let someone else build tomorrow, tomorrow will belong to someone else. They will build a better tomorrow for everyone like them… For tomorrow to be for everyone, everyone needs to be the one [sic] that build it.

So where did all the women go? How did we get from a rash of female inventors to a situation where the major female presence at an Apple iPhone launch is a model’s face projected onto a screen and photoshopped into a smile by a male demonstrator? 

Photo: Apple.

The toxic culture of many tech workplaces could be a cause or an effect of the lack of women in the industry, but it certainly can’t make make it easy to stay. Behaviours range from the ignorant - Martha Lane-Fox, founder of, often asked “what happens if you get pregnant?” at investors' meetings - to the much more sinister. An essay in Lean Out by Katy Levinson details her experiences of sexual harassment while working in tech: 

I have had interviewers attempt to solicit sexual favors from me mid-interview and discuss in significant detail precisely what they would like to do. All of these things have happened either in Silicon Valley working in tech, in an educational institution to get me there, or in a technical internship.

Others featured in the book joined in with the low-level sexism and racism  of their male colleagues in order to "fit in" and deflect negative attention. Erica Joy writes that while working in IT at the University of Alaska as the only woman (and only black person) on her team, she laughed at colleagues' "terribly racist and sexist jokes" and "co-opted their negative attitudes”. 

The casual culture and allegedly meritocratic hierarchies of tech companies may actually be encouraging this discriminatory atmosphere. HR and the strict reporting procedures of large corporates at least give those suffering from discrimination a place to go. A casual office environment can discourage reporting or calling out prejudiced humour or remarks. Brook Shelley, a woman who transitioned while working in tech, notes: "No one wants to be the office mother". So instead, you join in and hope for the best. 

And, of course, there's no reason why people working in tech would have fewer issues with discrimination than those in other industries. A childhood spent as a "nerd" can also spawn its own brand of misogyny - Katherine Cross writes in Lean Out that “to many of these men [working in these fields] is all too easy to subconciously confound women who say ‘this is sexist’ with the young girls who said… ‘You’re gross and a creep and I’ll never date you'". During GamerGate, Anita Sarkeesian was often called a "prom queen" by trolls. 

When I spoke to Alexa Clay, entrepreneur and co-author of the Misfit Economy, she confirmed that there's a strange, low-lurking sexism in the start-up economy: “They have all very open and free, but underneath it there's still something really patriarchal.” Start-ups, after all, are a culture which celebrates risk-taking, something which women are societally discouraged from doing. As Clay says, 

“Men are allowed to fail in tech. You have these young guys who these old guys adopt and mentor. If his app doesn’t work, the mentor just shrugs it off. I would not be able ot get away with that, and I think women and minorities aren't allowed to take the same amount of risks, particularly in these communities. If you fail, no one's saying that's fine.

The conclusion of Lean Out, and of women in tech I have spoken to, isn’t that more women, over time, will enter these industries and seamlessly integrate – it’s that tech culture needs to change, or its lack of diversity will become even more severe. Shevinsky writes:

The reason why we don't have more women in tech is not because of a lack of STEM education. It's because too many high profile and influential individuals and subcultures within the tech industry have ignored or outright mistreated women applicants and employees. To be succinct—the problem isn't women, it's tech culture.

Software engineer Kate Heddleston has a wonderful and chilling metaphor about the way we treat women in STEM. Women are, she writes, the “canary in the coal mine”. If one dies, surely you should take that as a sign that the mine is uninhabitable – that there’s something toxic in the air. “Instead, the industry is looking at the canary, wondering why it can’t breathe, saying ‘Lean in, canary, lean in!’. When one canary dies they get a new one because getting more canaries is how you fix the lack of canaries, right? Except the problem is that there isn't enough oxygen in the coal mine, not that there are too few canaries.” We need more women in STEM, and, I’d argue, in tech in particular, but we need to make sure the air is breatheable first. 

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.