Women and Leadership conference to tackle issues around closing the gender gap

Wednesday, 07 September 2011


A two day conference entitled Women and Leadership - Closing the Gender Gap will this month discuss strategies to increase the representation of women in senior posts in the UK and abroad.

A two day conference entitled Women and Leadership - Closing the Gender Gap will this month discuss strategies to increase the representation of women in senior posts in the UK and abroad.

Organised and hosted by Oxford Brookes University the event on the 13 and 14 September will bring together senior women leaders from academia, Government, media, and law from across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The conference will debate issues such as the representation of women on business boards and in particular the experience of Norway, the first country to introduce statutory quotas. It will consider the role of head-hunters, issues of work/life balance and the senior representation of women in sectors including law, media and politics.

A number of senior women will be speaking at the event including:

  • Beverley Alimo-Metcalfe, Professor of Leadership Studies, University of Bradford
  • Jackie Ashley, Guardian columnist
  • Maggie Carver, Chair of ITN
  • Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty and Chancellor of Oxford Brookes
  • Elizabeth Coffey, founder of Spark Leadership and Board Member of Forum UK
  • Rt Hon Dame Janet Smith, High Court Judge and only the fourth woman to be promoted to the Court of Appeal
  • Rt Hon Jaqui Smith, Britain’s first woman Home Secretary
  • Dr Mari Teigen, Research Director at the Institute for Social Research in Oslo
  • Sara Thornton, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and Vice President of the Association of Chief Police Officers
  • Professor Susan Vinnicombe, Director of the Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield School of Management and author of the annual Female FTSE 100 Report

Over the last 25 years the number of women in employment in the UK has increased by more than a third. However, in 2010 women still only made up 12.5% of the membership of corporate boards of FTSE 100 companies*, and a similar picture is repeated across a range of sectors here and abroad.

Concern about the under-representation of women and the gender imbalance has prompted countries across the world to develop strategies that address these issues. The UK Government recently published a report recommending a minimum of 25% female representation on boards by 2015.

The aim of the conference is that learning from the event will be taken forward through a series of recommendations, further events and publications to help reduce inequality across different sectors.

Speaking ahead of the conference Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor for Oxford Brookes and who has led the development of the programme said:

'This conference will provide an opportunity to focus on the experience of women who have achieved leadership roles and to consider some of the lessons they have learnt.'

'I am delighted to be welcoming such a large number of illustrious speakers to Oxford Brookes and I am expecting challenging and insightful discussions and debates across the course of the two days which will help to change attitudes and help us to close the gender gap.'

More information including the full programme and biographies of speakers are available from the dedicated Women and Leadership conference webpages.