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Meet the men and women who are redressing the UK’s gender imbalances

At first glance, the fact that we have a female Prime Minister again suggests that the perceived glass ceiling that women face in the political and business worlds has been shattered.

Having picked up the Financial Services of the Year gong at the 2015 ‘Enterprise Vision Awards (EVAs)’, for her work with Stanmore Insurance Brokers, Jackie Hyde is one of many examples of high-flying women who are blazing a trail in the business world.

Speaking with other business owners and industry spokespeople – both male and female – Jackie Hyde further highlights the inspirational work that women are doing and how things are steadily changing for the better.

Women will be sat around the board table and it’ll have nothing to do with our sex!

As far as female representation in the boardrooms of major UK corporations goes, things seem to be moving in the right direction (albeit very slowly).

Jess Penny, General Manager of Sales at Penny Hydraulics, who has high hopes for the future, and feels that women are earning their places at the very top of British businesses, comments.

“At middle management level or higher within our company, there is one other female who is also at General Manager level. Jocelyn is a highly-talented engineer with a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I look forward to the day when we are both sat around the board room table, but this is based on the skills and experience we will bring at board level and nothing to do with our sex”.

Reversing deep-seated stereotypes

As Jess Penny alluded to, there are certain industries that are still dominated by men – engineering being a clear example.

However, some businesses are going above and beyond to eradicate traditional stereotypes. Janet Matsuda, CMO at Nimble Storage, explained: “One of the main challenges in increasing female representation is dispelling the myth of the engineering industry as a ‘boys’ club’, so highlighting the success stories role of women within the industry will be key to shift this mindset.

“At Nimble Storage, we make sure we celebrate the great work of our female employees, whether it’s in engineering, data science, or in the channel. Indeed, just this year we were delighted to see five talented women independently recognised for their amazing leadership. Supporting and championing women currently in the industry is essential to increasing the representation of women – for as they play a more visible role in Britain’s innumerable engineering success stories, more girls will be inspired to not just follow in their footsteps, but surpass what has been achieved so far.”

It’s sad that trail-blazers are needed… but thank goodness they’re there!

Martin Plenderleith, Head of Content at Media Managers, singled out one individual who has been particularly proactive in her attempts to create a level playing field in business.

Indeed, Maggie Philbin is the CEO of TeenTech CIC, as well as a former TV reporter and presenter of the BBC’s ‘Tomorrow’s World’ show.

Martin commented: “Maggie was quite inspirational to work alongside, as her solid determination to further the access teenagers have to STEM subjects is finally cutting through the business and education establishments.

“Maggie has always been a strong voice, always been an animated presence without sacrificing gravitas in her dialogue. It’s a tricky balancing act, but she carries it off with grace, style and effectiveness. It’s so sad that trail-blazers like Maggie are needed, but thank goodness she’s there!”

What’s it like to work with strong female leaders in a maledominated industry?

The insurance industry is another that is seemingly dominated by men.

Matt Tomkin, Project and Marketing Manager at dot2dot, explained how their company is already bucking long-standing trends.

The business is spearheaded by talented and experienced women, and having won an award at the aforementioned EVAs last year, dot2dot is now set to sponsor the 2016 awards. This is further recognition of the fantastic work that is being done.

“Working with a strong female leader who is making waves in a traditionally male-dominated industry is extremely inspiring,” Matt commented.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the possible introduction of gender quotas and large insurers pledging to increase the number of women on their boards this year. As you can see from the way our team is made up, we’re already way ahead of the curve and hopefully we can serve as a positive example for others in the industry to follow.”

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