Why There’s A Need For Female Role Models And Mentors

LADY BARBARA JUDGE on OPENING DOORS FOR WOMEN to become CHIEF EXECUTIVES

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In a recent 30% Club Ireland report Máire Geogheghan-Quinn stressed the importance of possessing hard facts (“where constraining assumptions are relentlessly tackled by data”) in underpinning the effort to proactively empower women to realise their full potential. One of the most interesting findings of this report commissioned by the group, is that in Ireland more women tend to be in executive director roles in companies where the CEO is female, by comparison with those where the CEO is male. This suggests the need for female role models and mentors.

One of the speakers at the 30% Club Ireland event, Lady Barbara Judge, the first female chairman of the Institute of Directors in the UK, stated that one of her key priorities in this role was to open doors for women to become chief executives. With a long and distinguished career in law and banking behind her, and reportedly “the best connected woman in Britain”, for every board Judge serves on, her stated policy is to place at least one other woman, though preferably three, on the same board. “One woman is an oddity, two is ok – but at three you’re not “women” rather it’s just “people”, and once you’re just people the dynamic changes.”

On the need for mentoring, she is an advocate for ambitious women having a supportive group from which to seek wise counsel; “Everyone needs their own board of directors.” The difference between mentors and sponsors, Judge clarifies as, “Mentors talk to you, sponsors talk about you.” On women wanting to be CEOs, she stresses the importance of instilling self-belief at an early age; “Women who study maths earn one third more than those that don’t.” On the influence of her mother on her career, when Judge said she wanted to be an actor, the “only acting I was allowed to do was in front of a jury.”

This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this don’t miss our next issue, out Thursday April 6.

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