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Guest blog: it's time to foster business ambition in girls(11 Posts)
A recent report from The Women's Business Council looked into women's opportunities at all stages of their working lives - and found that, though girls tend to do well at school, their own career ambitions don't always match their educational attainment.
The report urged investment in the futures of girls and young women, in order to maximise their economic potential, and increase the UK's competitiveness in a global market.
Here, WBC chair Ruby Macgregor-Smith CBE argues that fostering greater business ambition in girls is crucial - and suggests how we might go about it.
"I'm passionate about unblocking the obstacles that restrict talent rising to the top of business. And for me, a critical stage is in 'starting out'.
I'm often asked how I got to where I am, and what the key enablers were that made it possible. When I was young, I faced many of the same obstacles your children face today - attending a local state school, I was given little information and even less inspiration about what I could achieve. Academically, I didn't stand out at school, and I didn't pass my exams with top marks. I went into accountancy simply because my dad was an accountant. When I left school, I had no idea I could lead a FTSE business: I understood what one was, but that was about it!
I've been really lucky during the course of my career to be hugely supported by those I worked for, who always told me I was capable.
Getting into BDO Stoy Hayward to train as an accountant was the first time I realised I could do really well - and when I joined Serco, it was the then CEO who said he saw some real potential in me. That belief from people who employed me gave me the confidence I really did lack.
When David Telling and Ian Stewart asked me to join the board of MITIE I had never been a PLC director before, but their message was simple - they said they could teach me the things I did not know. The fact that they were prepared to do that explains how I've got where I am today. We all need to be supported in our careers and aspirations: no one gets anywhere without it.
If I can do this, so many more of our daughters can. We need to give them the opportunity, the confidence and the belief to do so; if we do this, they will do the rest.
If we want to fix the talent pipeline and get more girls into business, we urgently need to broaden career aspirations and career choices. We need to open our children's eyes, minds and hearts to the opportunities and the possibilities that today's global economy offers them. We need to provide them with more than just information, we need to provide them the inspiration that allows them to realise what they can achieve.
So, how do we do this? And importantly, whose job is it? The simple answer is it's everyone's job. Children are the product of their collective experiences, and the more we can broaden these experiences, the better equipped they are to make the right choices and the more likely they are to succeed.
There is no doubt we radically need to improve the way careers advice and work experience is delivered in our schools - it doesn't work. The result is that our children are leaving school without the skills needed to enter the workplace - this simply isn't acceptable. For me, an education is about more than passing exams - it has to prepare our children for the evolving modern world they enter upon leaving.
But schools can't be the only answer, if we are to drive the change that is needed. Business has a significant role to play, and business must continue to reach out to schools. I am a real believer in the Speakers 4 Schools programme - we need to provide girls with access to role models at every stage of their learning.
The wider the range of role models the better - and in my opinion, everyone regardless of their position within business can be a role model. By getting leaders, entrepreneurs and employees into schools, we will increase understanding, but more importantly we will raise aspirations and we will inspire girls to achieve. I ask that at every opportunity, you encourage your schools to engage with these programmes and with business within your local area.
Finally, the role of parents is critical. Our children's future, as mine was, is shaped so much by their parents. Parents need to be proactive in creating opportunities for their children to understand what their future could be. As part of the WBC recommendations we have proposed a 'parent pack' that will give parents a single location for the information they need to help their daughters broaden their aspirations. I would encourage you to use this as it becomes available.
'Starting out' is only one of the obstacles that restrict women achieving their potential: we have to do more around reducing the costs of childcare, we have to create better solutions for flexible working in our businesses and we need to do more to help women gain the skills necessary to set up and run their own businesses. Only through raising aspirations for our children, whilst also removing these obstacles, will we will fix the talent pipeline and give them the opportunities they deserve.
The WBC report is a start, it identifies the scale of the task ahead and the path we must travel. The journey will be long and hard, it involves fundamental cultural change both within our schools and within our businesses. I have never been surer that the destination is worth the journey, and that through inspiring our daughters and removing the obstacles in the work place, we can make a difference - for them, and for future generations. The role of parents is critical and as a mum, I'd encourage everyone to support this journey.
To learn more please do read the WBC report."
The Women's Business Council report is a great start in identifying some of the barriers girls and women face in reaching their potential in life. Luckily I was encouraged by my mother to pursue my ambitions to go to university - a first in our family - and go for whatever job I wanted. I definitely want to instill the belief that 'the world is your oyster' to my own daughter - despite the spectre of debt resulting from a university education.
The real challenge for many women is juggling a job and family commitments (not least for us Mums who, despite our best intentions, end up as single parents). Support and mentoring when you return to work after having a child, more flexible working and affordable childcare will be essential to help keep women like me - who have worked so hard to get to senior management positions - losing momentum in our careers when life has thrown us a curved ball.
Can I just add that girls need to think about all businesses, not just the traditional female ones.
Totally agree about careers service. It hasnt been right imo going back for decades.
I think it may have got even worse, partly becuase there are just so many different sorts of jobs.
Would also add, to anyone reading this, to get careers books out of the library. They are actually quite good, and have reasonably up to date information, including salaries, qualifications needed, skills needed etc etc.
And go through it with your sons and daughters.
It may well open their eyes to oppurtunities thwy had not thought of before.
[might stop others going to accountancy just because their parent did ]
I believe that young women should be encouraged to think of their careers, and I agree about not just directing them into 'female' careers.
I worked in a female-dominated industry for some years. It's female until middle-management, then it's dominated by men...
I met a young woman some years ago. When the IT course at her school was oversubscribed, all the girls who'd signed up for it were (without consultation) put on to a Childcare course instead. There must be a shift in the way people think about looking after children - it's hugely important, but it should not simply be the job of mothers and women to think about it. We should be teaching young men that if they become fathers, childcare is also their responsibility.
I agree that girls and young women should be directed towards Business and not just jobs.
We already encourage dd to think of ways she can make money fior herself. She has so far sold stickers sheets that she made to her school friends...which didnt work hugely well but we suggested she think again and now she makes and sells homemade cards. Profit so far is £12.50...but Her website is a work in progress and she's hugely excited about getting it up and running to take her cards to a wider audience. She's 7, and we'll keep suggesting ideas that play to her strengths and helping her pick herself up and carry on when things don't work. Teaching our girls not to be scared of failure, but to gsin from it, is as important as how to succeed!
Definitely. In the UK more women under 40 are millionaires than men. 60% of new graduates are female. Women earn more than men up to age 30.
So it is really important women do what I did (and I have done pretty well) which is work full time, lean in, do not play second fiddle to some man and his career and never for even one day tolerate sexism at home.
We had a women who earn £1000 a day thread on mumsnet and it was interesting to see what careers and businesses the women had. Plenty of us own rather than work under PAYE as employees for others. Some were contractors particularly IT and management consultancy.
One reason I prefer to own rather than be hired is you can keep all the money and you decide everything yourself.
Xenia. Somewhere on MN I linked[I think], on a link that said that women, or maybe graduates, up to the time of having babies, are on a higher wage than men.
Someone asked for the link, and I couldnt find it.
Now I am wondering if it was you who posted the link.
So can you find it? Or something else about where you are getting that part from please?
Xenia please answer. I know you dont like people to think you make things up
I don't make things up. I have a 158 IQ. I tend to remember what I read....
I just did a google search of women up to age 30 earn more than men. I presume even women with an IQ under 150 can do such a search... so am surprised others were unable to find the link. I would have read it in The Times. It seems to have been in Time, the Daily mail and a lot of other places too and it makes sense as girls do better in all exams these days and make up 60% of new graduates so of course they are going to earn more until they marry sexist men and become happy little housewives earning nothing if they make such a foolish choice.
So any woman under 30 on here who doesn't earn much or less than men need not blame sexism. It is probably because she is not very bright or does not work very hard or has come from a sexist home or made bad career choices. Change things Become one of the women on the women who earn £1000 a day thread. Everything is possible. Seize the day.
I am on a thread eith other people.
They have sent me links that disagree with this.
I tried to google it myself, but only can up with links that refuted what you are saying.
Will read your link
Here is the thread that I am talking about.
I am at the end of it with others.
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