Women in Leadership Scholarship success

20 September 2018

Women in Leadership Scholarship success

Scholarship winners champion a revolution for gender diversity

Despite its prominence on the business world agenda, lack of female progression and gender inequality remains an unresolved issue. We have come a long way in the past century but revolutionary approaches must continue to create a truly equal business environment according to Catherine Williams, Communications and Public Affairs Manager at Google, and Prachi Mathur, Business Planning and Sales Operations Lead for the EMEA region at Apple Europe, who were announced as the winners of our Women in Leadership MBA Scholarship 2018.

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L-R: Dr Claire Collins, Prachi Mathur, Catherine Williams and Pavita Cooper

Now in its sixth year, the Scholarship is a collaboration between Henley, the 30% Club and Financial Times and designed to offer practical support for the development of strong female talent. The competition reflects the shared mission of the three institutions to encourage gender balance in leadership teams and the winners were announced at the Financial Times’ flagship Women at the Top event.

This year’s Scholarship applicants were tasked to share their insights and opinions on the following statement and question: “The evolution of women’s careers over the past century is disappointingly slow. Is it time for more revolutionary approaches?”

Catherine notes that, although there is still division in today’s world, we should not forget the progress made in the last 100 years following the suffragette movement and women’s right to vote. Many women are forging their way to a successful career but she sees the need for a cultural shift to alter the perception of women at work and increase gender equality in senior positions. She believes that a truly equal world of work requires employers to better address the gender pay gap and empower men and women to manage their own work life balance around personal and family circumstances. In addition, she adds that businesses need to address other forms of inequality and take a huge step forward to avoid being a society that favours the privileged few.

Gender imbalance goes beyond the business world and into the values and beliefs built into us as children and Prachi believes these foundations reinforce the underlying attitudes, stereotypes and limited support available for women. She believes that a social and personal revolution is needed to create a society where individuality is championed over conformity and we teach our children to be good humans, who cultivate mutual respect. Prachi sees the influence of social media, empowering social institutions and charities, educational policy changes and effective governance and monitoring as the route to arriving at ‘Zero Gender Inequality’ by 2033.

Dr Claire Collins, Associate Professor of Leadership Development and Behaviour at Henley Business School, comments:

“It is a privilege to be able to award scholarships to these two candidates. At Henley, we are making a sustained commitment to the development of capable women leaders and our partnership with the Financial Times and 30% Club demonstrates this. Although slower than ideal, progress towards gender balance in senior leadership is happening and the debates on how to achieve this are evolving and healthy; new ideas to support women in the development of their careers should be encouraged and nurtured. It is a pleasure to congratulate Catherine and Prachi on their awards and I am looking forward to watching their progress.”

Catherine Williams, winner of the full Scholarship, adds:

“I am extremely grateful and honoured to have been given this opportunity! We are living in an exciting time for diversity and inclusion and I strongly believe that women from any background should have access to further education and senior leadership roles. The only way to achieve this is to continue to offer support, encouragement and opportunities to all women, of which this Scholarship is a perfect example.”

As the winner of the Scholarship competition, Catherine has been awarded a fully funded scholarship for our Executive MBA, whilst runner-up Prachi received a 50% scholarship; both will take up their places next month. The programme provides an ideal opportunity for them to develop their management skills and knowledge whilst continuing to work in their respective roles, connecting theory with their on-the-job experience and real business opportunities and dilemmas.

Catherine’s full essay is available on the Financial Times website.

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