The women on BBC Radio 4’s power list have done some astounding things but in regards to inspiring the next generation of female leaders, it’s questionable how influential they are. With a few exceptions – the queen and Victoria Beckham – it’s plausible to say young girls won’t know what most of the women on the list do for a living. This is partly due to being more frequently exposed to celebrity role models from shows such as the X Factor.
In 2012, the Huffington Post covered some research on the gender gap in education, focused on the West Bengal region of India. In areas with long-serving female leaders in local government, the gender gap in teen education was diminished. Girls were setting higher goals for themselves and 25 per cent of parents came up with more ambitious goals for their daughters as well.
In a broad context, the study mirrors the power and inspirational effect that women leaders across the globe can have on the community, especially young women.
The Visible Women campaign – in partnership with Microsoft and Nokia – is being launched this week to champion women in leadership. The launch followed the release of BBC Radio 4’s woman power list, upon the critical realisation that most on the list were virtually unknown to young women.
“How many women grow up knowing or wanting to be the next Theresa May?” asks Barbara Kasumu, founder of the campaign.
This lack of knowledge about female leaders could be due to the fact that only 17 per cent of professionals within technology are women, while only six per cent of engineers in the UK are female. The Visible Women campaign believes that role models are key. In effect, they are trying to engage the next generation of female business leaders and entrepreneurs by showcasing female role models for girls in all walks of life.
“I want to see more women rise to the very top of businesses, and we are sadly still seeing a ‘leaking pipeline’ in the workforce,” says MaryMacleod, MP and chair of the Women in Parliament APPG. “The gender pay gap is closing but we are doing everything we can to make sure that happens even more swiftly. This is on top of significant work to boost mentoring schemes and make sure women have the confidence to be ambitious and aim for the top.”
Join us on May 15 at the London Hilton on Park Lane for the second Women of the Future Summit, which brings together political and business leaders, entrepreneurs and champions of change for a half-day of invigorating debate.