Women and Leadership: what can be done to close the Gender Gap?

This event has now finished. Please see our events website for details of upcoming events at Brookes.

Who this event is for

  • Staff - teaching
  • Staff - research
  • Staff - support
  • Current students - undergraduate
  • Current students - postgraduate taught
  • Current students - postgraduate research


Postgraduate Centre, Wheatley Campus


63% of new European graduates are female but “their academic achievements are not reflected in their career path, neither in politics nor in the labour market at large” (Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner, 2011). Promoting greater gender equality in decision-making and on the boards of listed companies is one of the goals of the 2010-2015 EU Gender Equality Strategy. On average, UK’s FTSE 100 companies have only 17.3% female representation on their boards, and in FTSE 150 companies women represent only 5.7% of the executive, board level directors. What can be done to close the gender gap will be discussed by:

Lesley Brook is the co-founder and director of Brook Graham Ltd, a UK-based global diversity and inclusion consultancy firm which works extensively on the ‘gender agenda’, helping organisations build their female talent. Previously, Lesley worked for Shell International where she led Shell Chemicals’ global D&I agenda and held a range of senior HR generalist and leadership team roles, based in both the UK and South Africa.

Melanie Richards is a Partner in KPMG’s Corporate Finance, Debt Advisory Services, a member of KPMG’s UK Board and a member of the 30% Club Steering Committee: a group of Chairmen voluntarily committed to bringing more women onto UK corporate boards. Her banking experience spans almost 30 years and includes 15 years at NatWest with extensive experience of bank lending, debt restructuring and capital markets’ instruments.

The panel will be joined by two successful Brookes alumni. Jo Howard is a leadership development consultant and executive coach working with senior teams and individuals embarking on major change with clients ranging from SMEs to multinationals.
Her extensive board experience includes Waterstones and WH Smith. Lou Willcock is co-founder and director of Indicater Ltd (a
leading provider of software to the hospitality industry), and winner of a People 1st Mentor of the Year award for her work in developing and launching the Bacchus Mentoring Programme for Brookes’ students.

The discussion will be chaired by Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor Oxford Brookes University.

This event offers an opportunity to students to learn from successful women about their career experiences and put their questions to them on how best to develop their future careers. Staff are also welcome to attend.