Businesses are in need of more women leaders to make more women leaders, according to BBC The Sky at Night presenter Dr Margaret (Maggie) Aderin-Pocock.
Aderin-Pocock (pictured second from left) is the founder of Science Innovation Ltd. During the summit she said the lack of women in Stem is due to a “PR problem” since young girls are growing up with a stereotypical idea of what a career in engineering looks like.
She said to solve this problem the Stem industries need more “role models. We need more women leaders to make more women leaders.”
Aderin-Pocock also works with female scientists to prepare them for TV and radio interviews, so when they receive a call to contribute to a news story or debate they grab the opportunity with both hands instead of handing it off to a male colleague: “We need to be grabbing more opportunities, seeing ourselves differently. Especially in Stem fields. Science affects women’s daily lives, so it needs to be normalised and made to seem accessible.
“Role models are key. Every single one of us in this room is a role model,” she told the crowd. “Women can recognise women’s problems and solve them very efficiently.”
She noted that our understanding of gender roles are formed by age eleven and therefore we need to start at a young age: “Understanding balance can change the world. There are opportunities out there, but if we don’t take them, then we waste them.”
Also speaking on the panel was Halla Tomasdottir, (pictured centre) who said when she was the CEO of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce, she warned banks of the pending crisis but that they ignored the warning. She said there was too much “sameness” and not enough diversity to make the decision.
“Not that masculine values are bad, but in excess, they can be dangerous,” she said.
Tomasdottir, from Iceland, is the founder of Sisters Capital. She stressed: “Nothing works when women are not at work” and noted when Icelandic women opted to strike 40 years ago: “Women in Iceland went on strike. No one was educated, banks didn’t open and kids didn’t get fed.”
“Women need to stop being so obedient. The women who disobeyed in the past mean we, the women afterwards, have been able to follow in their footsteps.”
Tessa Ross, (pictured far left) former controller of film and drama at Channel 4, also contributed to the debate. Her work as a producer has included films such as Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave, and The Last King of Scotland.
She said: “Difference includes women. Difference includes colour. Difference includes all of us and we need to look for difference.”