Happy International Women’s Day!

Top Four Women_v1[3]

What does a female entrepreneur look like?

If the disruptor bank Starling’s survey is anything to go by, she’s a young 30-something woman. If you’re over 35, sorry ladies – you don’t look like an entrepreneur to most people.

Clearly that perception is wrong.. after all – this magazine is run by a dynamic all-women team, only one of whom is under 35, and we know of many, many more women –  (whisper it), who are over 50 and still running hugely successful companies.

But actually, most people think that entrepreneurs could be women. Starling Bank’s research revealed that of the 2,000 participants who were shown an ‘identity parade’ of all ages and genders and asked to respond in less than three seconds which images could be entrepreneurs, the image that most people (70 per cent) agreed looked entrepreneurial was that of a young (30-something) woman, compared to a little over half of respondents indicating the same for a middle-aged man.

Anne Boden, the founder and Chief Executive Officer at Starling Bank (who is 61 – imagine that!), said: “It’s encouraging to see that assumptions about business ownership are changing and that many rightly view women as entrepreneurial as men. But the reality now needs to catch up with perceptions, and the study also reminds us that some outdated views of women in business still very much exist.”

The reality is that the average business owner is a 51-year-old man, and where only 27 per cent of businesses are owned by women.

The research also showed the degree to which entrepreneurial ambition is strong (and growing) among women, with more than 1.5 million women having started their own business in the last 12 months and nearly three times this number harbouring ambitions to start a business very soon.4 Self-believe in business skills among women is equal to that of men, too. And young women (18-34) are more likely to see themselves as running their own business than young men.

‘Construction is a good place to be’ say female site workers on International Women’s Day

Women working on construction sites say they are seeing more female faces alongside them than ever before – but more needs to be done to encourage others.

Stonewood Partnerships, based in Tormarton and Castle Combe, now has women in almost half its roles, many of whom are members of Women in Property, which promotes female progression in the industry.

Int Women’s Day Lily Elder & Holly Simkiss[3]Planning Manager Holly Simkiss (pictured with Lily Elder),  who has been visiting sites for 15 years, says the complexion is gradually changing, but not quickly enough. Before joining Stonewood last year she was a planning officer at Stroud District Council.

“Before I started at Stroud it was predominantly all male but there has definitely been a shift in the tide and there are far more women in planning in local government now,” she said.

She said being a woman on site 15 years ago was far more challenging than it is today. “I have been on site in the past and I definitely have felt like I have had to have explanations dumbed down for me because they think I won’t get it. Now I think it is a given that I understand, it’s a very level playing field.”

She said her early experiences on site were probably shaped more by her lack of experience than any prejudice. “There is a massive anxiety when you are going on to a site and it is all men, particularly as a planning officer when you are a decision maker,” she said. “It was like pack mentality, all blokes together and ‘we’ll show the woman’ but that has changed massively, it just doesn’t happen anymore.”

She feels still more must be done to encourage younger girls to consider construction as a career. “I think there’s a place for it because there is a perception that girls will shy away from jobs in construction and you need women like me saying ‘no you could do it, you should do it’.

“Those who are working in this environment should be telling girls that it is a good place to be, an equal place to be.”

Assistant Quantity Surveyor Lily Elder started working at Stonewood two years ago. “I was terrified, I think it was because it was male dominated and at that time I was the only female on the construction side,” she said.

“But I’ve grown in confidence now and I really don’t think being a woman makes the job harder. But you still need to have a little bit of strength to stand your ground when you are in dispute with someone. There’s no obvious sexism but sometimes there is a tone when you are telling someone they haven’t won a contract.”

Banbury businesswomen recognised as an ‘inspiration’

Lisa-Marie Mallier_BlueJacketLean[1]NatWest, in partnership with Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) and the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, is spotlighting 100 women from across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc who have worked tirelessly in their local communities or shown resilience in leading their business through a period of rapid change.

Banbury businesswomen Lisa-Marie Mallier, a freelance marketing consultant and prolific networker across Oxfordshire is one of the 100 women to have been recognised as an ‘inspiration’ for International Women’s Day and to feature in the 2021 e-book.

Lisa-Marie, owner of No Fluff Communications, said: “I am truly humbled. The last twelve months has been tough, it has been a time for both personal and professional resilience. I hope to inspire entrepreneurs and working parents that it is possible to do your own thing and work flexibly around the family. I look forward to celebrating and meeting all the inspirational women who have been nominated.”

As well as hosting a live event on Monday 8 March inviting inspiring women from across the region to share their experiences in a joint conversation, NatWest and SEMLEP will be launching their #ChooseToChallenge e-book celebrating all 100 nominated women from the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

Richard Byard, director of Business Development at OxLEP, said: “As the local enterprise partnership for Oxfordshire, it’s important for us to inspire women of all ages to understand the opportunities that exist in business. Whether it be giving women the confidence to start their own business, discover what apprenticeships can bring, or realise the world-leading sectors and organisations that all call Oxfordshire home.”

The NatWest and SEMLEP #ChooseToChallenge e-book celebrating all 100 nominated women, will be published on March 8th and available to view on the NatWest Business Hub.

The International Women’s Day 2021 campaign theme is Choose to Challenge.

Pandemic positively impacts careers of women in cybersecurity

Nearly half of women working in cybersecurity say that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their career in a positive way, with just nine per cent of female cybersecurity professionals saying that the pandemic negatively impacted their career. This is according to a new global report from human layer security company Tessian, published this International Women’s Day.

In fact, cybersecurity jobs appear to have weathered the Covid-19 storm as 94 per cent of women in cybersecurity said they recruited new staff members to help support their team in 2020. In addition, 89 per cent of women working in the industry reported feeling secure in their jobs.

Despite the industry offering promising opportunities, there is still plenty of work to be done to encourage younger women to consider a career in cybersecurity. As part of the report, Tessian surveyed university graduates aged 18-25 years old and found that men in this age group were more likely to consider a job in cybersecurity – 42 per cent versus 26 per cent of women. Interestingly, though, 87 per cent of younger women said that they found the industry “important” and 73 per cent said it was “interesting”.

When female cybersecurity professionals were asked what would encourage more women into cybersecurity roles, equal pay topped the list with 47 per cent of respondents saying this would help bridge the gender gap. This was closely followed by “more female diverse models” (44 per cent), “a gender-balanced workforce” (43 per cent) and “a greater emphasis on STEM subjects in schools” (41 per cent).

A significant percentage of Generation Z respondents were, however, on the fence when it came to considering a career in cybersecurity. Nearly half (45 per cent) are not sure whether cybersecurity is the career for them and when asked why, many are worried that they don’t have the skills needed to thrive, while others are not sure how to navigate a career change.

Encouraging greater gender diversity in cybersecurity would have huge benefits, though. A previous Tessian revealed that an additional £4.4 billion would be added to the UK economy if the number of women working in cybersecurity rose to equal that of men.