Despite having an alarm on at 6:15 this morning, I jumped straight out of bed as soon as it started ringing. This was a stark contrast to my usual 1-2 morning snoozes. The reason it was so easy to get out of bed was the women’s breakfast event that was hosted this morning for Imperial College Business School female students and alumnae as part of Women@Imperial week.
The event started with a delicious breakfast spread and networking, followed by an enthusiastic welcome by Diane Morgan (Associate Dean of Programmes), who set the tone for the rest of the event. She exclaimed that “today is a great day to be a woman”, and emphasized the need to celebrate the progress that has been made already in achieving gender equality in the workplace and in institutions like Imperial College Business School, while at the same time acknowledging the need to improve in certain areas. After she finished, we engaged in exciting round-table discussions, where we had the opportunity to meet and mingle with people across different programmes and alumnae from a broad range of industries. The highlight of the breakfast was a talk by Gulenn Tambre, Partner at EY, who spoke of her experiences at Imperial and her journey to becoming a Partner. It was extremely inspirational, and prompted interesting discussions on the barriers that we observe as millennial women today.
It made me reflect over my own experiences as a woman in business school. In my programme (MSc Economics and Strategy for Business), we are a perfect 50/50 split, but during my undergraduate degree it was closer to 70/30 (with the 30 being females). I had never really thought about it as an issue for me personally, but when I entered the workplace in an industry where 90% of the employees were men, and women were blatantly missing from the managerial and executive positions, I realized that the gender inequality I had heard so much about is definitely still present. It begs the assumption that during the years of education, the inequality between the genders is more difficult to trace, possibly due to the lack of opportunities for discrimination connected to aptitude-based testing. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the workplace.
I would love to see more women like Diane Morgan and Gulenn Tambre, both highly successful and inspirational, who have worked hard while being extremely driven to get where they are now and contribute to breaking down barriers for others by showing that women are also great leaders. I will probably be faced with a glass-ceiling at some point in my career, but women like Diane and Gulenn will inspire me and give me the strength to break through.
Sofie is studying our MSc Economics & Strategy for Business programme.