February 28, 2014, by Beth Dawson

Cracking the glass ceiling: women in business

Did you know that women invented the coffee filter, the water heater, the windscreen wiper and the chocolate chip cookie? As our Women’s Networking Event approaches we’re looking at the contributions women are making to the UK economy and what can be done to ensure further workplace equality.

“We are now moving to a place where it is unacceptable for the voice of women to be absent from the boardroom.” (Lord Davies)

In 1997, Marjorie Scardino became the first female CEO of a FTSE 100 company and currently Severn Trent Water, Imperial Tobacco, Easy Jet and Burberry have female CEOs. In FTSE 100 companies, the proportion of women on boards has topped 20% for the first time and now there are only three of these high profile companies that have all male boards. The Equality and Human Rights Commission suggested that FTSE 100 companies should aim to have a minimum of 25% of women on their board by 2015. With companies such as The Times Top 50 Employers for Women offering opportunities like Linklaters’ and PwC’s Women’s Leadership Programmes, this target appears reachable.

It isn’t just the amount of women contributing to the success of established companies that is increasing – the number of female entrepreneurs and self-employed women has risen in recent years. From 2008-2011, 80% the new self-employed were women and there are now almost 1.5 million women who are self-employed: an increase of around 300,000 since before the economic downturn*.

We have seen many of our alumni go on to become industry leaders. Below are just a handful of examples of the women who have studied at The University of Nottingham and have gone onto hold prominent positions within companies in a range of sectors:

“Women are the most underutilised resource on the planet” (Hilary Clinton)

Even though there have been improvements in the representation of women in business there is still work to be done. According to a higher education survey, across the whole of the UK graduate market, female graduates are more likely to earn a starting salary of £15–£23,999 while there are a higher percentage of male graduates with starting salaries of £24,000 and above*₂. Likewise, throughout the whole of the medical, legal and financial sectors the gender hourly pay gap is above 10% *₃.

However, businesses are contributing to closing the gender pay gap. Nearly a third of companies in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women are from the financial sector and examples of the schemes to support women throughout their career include:

If you want to join the number of women running and working in successful businesses, attend our Women’s Networking Event to hear from and meet sector experts. Keep updated about this event by connecting with us on Twitter. If you can’t make the event or want to join the conversation online, we’ll be using the hashtag #UoNwomen to give you all the news from the event. If you want any advice about your career, book an appointment with one of our team via MyCareer

*Facts, Prowess 2.0 Women in Business

*₂ Think, Act, Report: Two years on, Government Equalities Office

*₃ Graduate Market Trends, Spring 2013, HECSU and Futuretrack


Posted in EntrepreneurshipPhD StudentsPostgraduate Taught StudentsWork experience