It was an excellent event, part of a monthly meeting held by a group of universities and colleges in the area that come together to promote, learn and assist each other in their entrepreneurship programs.
Whilst I was extremely honoured to be asked, I was also a bit puzzled as I don’t really thinking of myself as an entrepreneur I think of myself as a business person, a professional – but I did start my own business so I suppose I qualify.
And this is what the discussion was aimed around, that last statement “I suppose I qualify” – how can we as educators help and promote women to be leaders in both corporate and entrepreneurial environments.
There is a brilliant book written by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman just out this year which examines women’s attitudes and approach to leading. During my time in the corporate world I never really thought of myself as a “woman leading” I thought I was another ambitious professional. My sister who was in the stratospheres of The City, also thought of herself as another professional determined to get ahead. Even though both of us worked in industries where women in senior roles were few and far between, manufacturing and banking, we didn’t consciously strive to make a stand for women. Should we have done?
Our Mother whilst having many traditional values was certainly advanced for her time and had a career with the BBC and always kept an independent financial situation. And although she wanted both of us to get married and have children, she worried about what “we were going to do” and whilst she didn’t articulate it as “you need to find yourself a career and be financially independent” that’s what I think we both took away.
A friend and colleague of mine has two young daughters and has taken I think, a fantastic approach to their growth. At the beginning of the year they both took a programming and coding course and just recently I saw on FB they had completed their latest ballet exam. How clever of their Mother to expose them to the skills typically learned by men, whilst giving them all the grace and elegance traditionally aimed at women. At single digits what a variety of skills and talents they are honing!
Are you a woman leader or an ambitious professional? Do we need the distinction? Will defining women by what they’re not, move us to where we want to go?
As ever, I would be very interested to learn your thoughts?
Look Gorgeous, Feel Fabulous - Sophie