Women in Leadership Scholarship winners

27 September 2017

Women in Leadership Scholarship winners

Gender diversity was the topic of the day yesterday when Henley, the 30% Club and Financial Times announced the winners of the 2017 Women in Leadership MBA Scholarship competition.

Scholarship winners debate the merits of gender diverse leadership in ensuring societal benefits from technology

Gender diversity was the topic of the day today when Henley, the 30% Club and Financial Times announced the winners of the 2017 Women in Leadership MBA Scholarship competition. Elizabeth Garber, a Senior Marketer for Ordnance Survey, and Marta Fiorentini, a Consulting Manager for International Data Corporation, impressed the judges with their essays on the merits of leadership diversity in ensuring that technology is used for the benefit of society and have been awarded funded places on our Flexible Executive MBA programme.

Now in its fifth year, the Scholarship is designed to offer practical support for the development of strong female talent and reflects the shared mission of the three partner institutions to encourage gender balance in leadership teams. Gender diversity and technology are key themes that are shaping the future of business and this year’s entrants were tasked to answer the essay question: Can gender diverse leadership help ensure that technology is used to benefit society

Elizabeth’s winning essay discussed that gender diverse leadership on its own does not guarantee that technology will be used for social good: instead, it demonstrates institutional intent and readiness to embrace the positive use of technology. Diverse leadership can be seen as an indicator that knowledge sharing and varied perspectives are valued and, perhaps, that the institution in question is aligned to a positive purpose. Combined, this creates a promising environment for using technology to deliver social benefits.

Female stereotyping and the male-dominated technology industry was tackled in Marta’s runner-up essay, with examples of innovations that are tailored more to the characteristics and needs of men. She believes that gender diverse leadership, in fact diversity in general, is crucial to ensure that technological advances are free from gender, race or social bias and ultimately benefit society as a whole, rather than select pockets of the community. As the acceleration in technological innovation radically transforms society and the interaction with reality is shaped by algorithms carrying the inherent bias of their human developers, diverse thinking in leadership becomes crucial to avoid technology propagating bias and unintentionally amplifying social inequality.

Professor Ginny Gibson, Deputy Dean, comments:

“Helping women to develop their leadership potential has been at the heart of our programmes for many years and we are proud to have such talented individuals joining our MBA programme. Elizabeth and Marta have demonstrated their passion for diversity in leadership and how it can create a solid foundation for developing technology that benefits the wider society. We are excited to be able to support their learning and development and I look forward to seeing them taking full advantage of the Henley experience.”

Elizabeth Garber, Winner of the full Scholarship, adds:

“I am profoundly grateful to Henley Business School, the 30% Club and Financial Times for this opportunity. The conversation is important: Women – especially minority women – remain dramatically underrepresented in positions of power. This stifles economic growth and impacts everything from the products we design to the global political agenda. To move the needle, leaders of both genders must have brave conversations that lead to systemic change. This award strengthens my resolve to speak up and my capability to take action, and I’m delighted to hear these brave conversations happening among current and future leaders in the Henley community.”

As the winner of the Scholarship competition, Elizabeth has been awarded a fully funded scholarship, whilst runner-up Marta received a 50% scholarship; both took up their places earlier this month. The Flexible Executive MBA provides an ideal opportunity for them to develop their management competencies whilst continuing to work in their respective roles, connecting their on-the-job experience with theory and current, global, organisation issues.

Photo (L-R): Marta Fiorentini, Professor Ginny Gibson, Elizabeth Garber & Pavita Cooper (30% Club)
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