In a bold move, Teesside University pro vice-chancellor Professor Jane Turner OBE has thrown her weight behind the very first Tees Businesswomen Awards. Professor Turner, who will be the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony in November, explains why she’s so passionate about the awards…
I was very struck by the findings in September 2016 that Middlesbrough was the worst place to be a young girl in England and Wales.
This angered me but also made me so determined to change this shocking suggestion.
Having grown up here, I couldn’t help but notice that not a lot had changed around the male-female dynamic when I returned to work in the region two-and-a-half years ago.
I was at a business lunch recently when I was the only woman in the room – and that worries me, because women have so much to offer, but where are they?
If we are going to stand a chance of changing the trajectory for future generations of women then we need to take a stance now.
There are still perceptions that women should and shouldn’t be around specific industries.
There should be opportunities for all, no matter what gender. It’s about the right people with the right skills doing the right things and being fulfilled in their careers.
We also struggle with the number of young women starting their businesses and this needs to change. So we need to make sure we have the right support and role models around young women to give them the confidence to go out and run their own businesses.
Women often struggle to talk about what they’re doing and their achievements, but for one night we want to support that opportunity for women to share and showcase their achievements.
This isn’t a self-absorbed, ‘Look at me – how good am I?’ exercise. It’s women talking about their successes, and through the specific award categories we get to highlight what women are doing and achieving, and in turn be seen as role models for men and women.
For the Tees Valley, we also need more women to have a voice and therefore greater influence on the decisions that are made in the region, decisions which, at the moment, are predominantly taken by men.
So it’s time for change, and for a university with such a positive regional reputation, backing the Tees Businesswomen Awards will hopefully be the catalyst.
And we’re urging everyone – men and women to get involved.
Professor Jane Turner OBE DL