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Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Thursday 29 September 2016

 

Young women need to be brave enough to ask a question at a big meeting, or to disagree with the crowd view. They need to be able to try, and fail, and try again with a positive attitude. In working life, these attributes are essential. Girls are overtaking boys in most subjects at GCSE and A level – and they’re getting more firsts at university. But this hasn’t altered disparities later in life. A recent survey of women on company boards, and any analysis of MPs, directors, leaders in the community or universities will show that women are still not represented proportionally.

In my chapel address on the theme of Leadership this week I spoke about the need for young women to shatter the ‘glass ceiling’ – that invisible upper limit in corporations and other organisations, above which it is difficult or impossible for women to rise in the ranks.

The statistics are startling:

  • Four in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions.
  • Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at just 24%.
  • The percentage of firms with no women at all in senior management is 33%.

Visionary Women

But thankfully the number of visionary women in leadership roles is increasing. I spoke in Chapel about six inspirational women who have taken responsibility for their successes and failures, and have taught us all a thing or two about leadership along the way.

BE A ‘DEEP LISTENER’

Katie Rae, managing director of TechStars Boston and founder of Project 11

PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING WRONG

Rachel Sklar, founder of Change The Ratio and The Li.st

BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

Danae Ringelmann, co-founder and CDO of Indiegogo

YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS

Kathryn Finney, founder and managing director of digitalundivided (DID)

ASK QUESTIONS

Monif Clarke, founder and CEO of Monif C. Plus Sizes

REAL LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT SERVICE

Binta Niambi Brown, lawyer and Mossavar-Rahmani senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School

Confidence and Ambition

The impressive array of Queenswood alumnae is testament to how our girls can reach the top of whichever field they choose, even in a male-dominated world. Take for instance the anthropologist Dame Alison Richard, Old Queenswoodian, who in 2003 was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. She attributes her remarkable success to the confidence and ambition instilled in her during her time at Queenswood, and we are very proud to have named our co-curricular achievement programme in her honour.

 

I am passionate about educating girls in a supportive yet challenging environment, where it is all right to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes and push oneself to the limits of ones abilities. I truly believe that Queenswood is a community where all the girls can achieve all that they dream of and more, in all aspects of their education both inside and outside the classroom.


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