Female Leaders – 4 Truly Great Leading Ladies

female leadersMarch 8th 2020 is International Women’s Day. It’s the ideal time to reflect on 4 of the UK’s visionary female leaders.

Female Leaders – Challenges

Research shows that more women than ever before are receiving graduate business degrees. But, sadly, women are still struggling to be on equal footing with their male counterparts in the corporate realm.

In June 2019, only seven percent of FTSE 100 companies had a female chief executive officer at the helm of their organisation. For FTSE 250 companies, there were even fewer female CEOs with just five companies having a woman at the head of these businesses.” – via www.statista.com

The trend in narrowing gender gaps in all areas of business is encouraging. Women considering roles in leadership should take inspiration from some of these leading ladies:

Luciana Berger โ€“ Member of Parliament

Luciana Clare Berger is a British politician. She was the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree from 2010 to 2019.

Berger’s efforts to expose institutional anti-semitism led to threats to her personal safety as well as condemnation from some of her colleagues. However, she refused to be silenced.

In February 2019, at eight months pregnant, she resigned from the Labour Party and co-founded The Independent Group, later Change UK.

Berger is outspoken and remains true to her values. She’s committed to issues like mental health services, women’s sexual health and education.

Commenting on a research study by the Alliance of Jewish Women to consult Jewish females in the UK about their role in society, their hopes and fears, she said:

“I would encourage every Jewish woman to take part in the consultation. It will make a significant difference to ensure that all the issues that matter most to female Jewry are championed… Make sure your voice is heard.”

Helen Sharman โ€“ The First British Astronaut

We can’t write about female leaders without mentioning Helen Sharman. Born in Sheffield, UK, she became the first British astronaut in 1991 and the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station.

Sharman was selected from a massive pool of 13,000 applicants at just 27 years of age. This made her the sixth youngest out of the 556 people who had visited space at that timeโ€”a female leader in our mission to explore the universe.

She’d previously been awarded a BSc and then a PhD in chemistry. She was working in that industry until she responded to a radio advert asking for volunteers to be the first British astronaut. After 18 months of intense training, Helen flew to the stars!

To this day, Helen continues working on activities related to chemistry and her legendary spaceflight. In 2015 she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the British Science Association.

Typically speaking her mind when asked in January 2020 about the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms, she said, “Aliens exist, there are no two ways about it, but it’s possible we simply can’t see them”.

Bana Gora โ€“ Director of the Muslim Women’s Council

In 2015, Bana Gora created a worldwide stir. As a true female leader, she announced the Muslim Women’s Council’s plans to build the UK’s first female-led mosque in Bradford. When completed, the mosque will welcome members of both sexes and offer advice on divorce, bereavement and legal issues.

Gora says, “When I was growing up across the Bradford district, there was never a practice of sisters going to the mosque. We prayed at the house. But why couldn’t we go to the mosque on a Friday with our brother and father? We were told, women don’t go to the mosque. Well, actually, at the time of the prophet, women did, and they had the same access as men… (The new mosque) will be a symbol of inclusion โ€“ for all women trying to carve out a path in male-dominated societies”.

Despite facing opposition, she continues to work supporting developing female leaders and campaigns for social policy changes.

Dame Stephanie Shirley

A woman who most definitely deserves to be included in any post mentioning great female leaders is Dame Stephanie Shirley – also known as ‘Steve’.

Shirley, born in 1933, is described as a business information technology pioneer, a businesswoman and a philanthropist.

But, Dame Stephanie’s contributions to the world and her inspirational life mark her out as a truly incredible achiever.

As a child refugee in WW2, she found herself living with foster parents in the Midlands. Despite these humble beginnings, she achieved excellent qualifications in mathematics. She went on to build computer systems and write code in machine language.

Sexism was prevalent in her workplace; she remembers “being fondled and being pushed against the wall”. These incidents led to Shirley becoming determined to employ mainly talented women, many of them with dependents when she started her own company.

Freelance Programmers launched in 1962. Shirley only employed three male programmers when selecting her first 300 staff.

Shirley often used the name ‘Steve’ after realising that letters bearing her real name often went answered. By all accounts, her method worked well as recipients believed she was male.

These days, Shirley donates much of her wealth to charities and has achieved countless awards and honours for her outstanding work.

Female Leaders of the Future

To ensure we have more female CEOs leading the world’s companies, we have to look at women’s roles throughout society. New generations of girls have more opportunities than ever before to fulfil their dreams. Let’s keep reminding them of those who came before them.

If you want to be part of the future generation of female leaders, we have various courses that support personal effectiveness. From learning how to be an effective leader to mastering the art of leading with passion, we’ve got you covered.

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