I sat in a presentation today where the senior managers of a company gave a talk about their role in the big picture (basically fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together). As I entered the conference room looking to find a seat at the back row in preparation for a long and boring corporate talk, it appeared everyone else had the same idea and the only few available seats left were those on the front row (Damn! I should have come earlier). Right, I need a strategy to stay awake and look enthused, I thought to myself.
As the entourage of managers entered the room, my strategy to keep eyes wide open and appear interested soon went out of the window. Rather, an interesting observation had caught my eye and suddenly numerous clichés came flooding through my mind - the glass ceiling effect and the issue of women in science and in senior management positions.
Of the 13 managers who filed into the room and gracefully took up their seats in front of their audience, only two were ladies and of the two ladies one was the head of communications (Cliché!) and the other actually headed one of the scientific divisions. It turned out the talks were not boring after all but throughout the hour I kept staring at these men in suits and wondering what happened to the ladies. I remembered an interview I conducted with Professor Athene Donald of Cambridge University who talked about how she only became conscious of the fact that she was a woman in a men’s world when she got to the top of her career and she'll turn up to board meetings or sit on committees full of men who automatically thought she was the secretary.
All this talk about the lack of women in Science and in senior management positions was staring at me in the face and it was almost as if all along I'd been wishing the stats were wrong and there was some explanation for the numbers. Now the issue was on my door step and it was real. I was really saddened by this sight.
I asked myself, are the women holding themselves back, are these positions being filled solely on merit or is it really a case of recommending your golf buddy. I can't answer these today but I certainly intend to continue my quest to inspire young girls to be the best they can be and break through the glass ceiling.
Last week I had the privilege of being in a room with fellow women doing great things (post coming soon) and being addressed by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE. One week on, the experience is still lingering.
As we approach international women's day next Saturday (8th March), I urge all women to step up and take up the theme for this year's celebrations – “Inspire Change”