On Monday local business leaders gathered for the Business Leaders Forum to listen to Professor Michelle Ryan talk about how business leaders and academics can work together to understand gender diversity, Jess Hurrell Business Development Officer from Research and Knowledge Transfer, was amongst them…
Michelle’s work with the Royal College of Surgeons provided the basis of her talk. She is always captivating to listen to and once again she had the audience in the palm of her hands.
The Royal College of Surgeons are concerned that only 7 per cent of women completing their surgeon training. They approached Michelle to look into why this is the case and see if there might be any way to remedy this.
Michelle’s research group’s study identified that much of the reason for the drop in women completing their surgery training is due to their perceived fit in surgery and the number of women to look up to as role models.
There is also evidence to suggest that women’s ambition declines; however men’s may increase.
Michelle and her team spent many months completing a longitudinal study sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council and used the finding to work with the Royal College of Surgeons and put together a seminar series and vodcast to disseminate the research and makes sure there is a provision of role models both male and female for trainee surgeons.
The usual question and answer was replaced by Michelle setting the audience the task of discussing a series of questions over dinner amongst their tables to feedback to the room during coffee. These included whether members of the business community believe these issues exist within their own organisations, what we can learn from Michelle’s work and how we might redress the balance.
This led to a lively debate which included the idea of flexible and part time working and women taking time out to have children and then care of their children. Whether women are as ambitious as men. The issue of changes in generational beliefs and working habits and whether the best and most successful companies are addressing this problem already.
Another well made point included that not all women are good role models and that in actual fact women need good male role models as well.
Looking around the room it became apparent that women were prevalent in the audience and that maybe a lot of the men that usually attend Business Leaders Forum had opted out and the topic, choosing instead to send one of the women in the organisation instead!
One thing’s for sure, Michelle provided us all with food for thought amongst a backdrop of a beautiful red sky, a stunning view and chilli and cheesecake. She left our local business community with no doubt about the level of expertise that can be found ‘up there on top of the hill’ as someone so eloquently described us!
The next Business Leaders Forum is December 18. Please contact for more details on the next event and for information about joining Business Leaders Forum.