Businesswoman of the Year champions next generation of female entrepreneurs

28 Mar

The civil engineer who won the prestigious Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year award 2011 – Michelle McDowell, chair of civil and structural engineering at BDP – has been lauded for her work in promoting engineering as a career for women.

“It is wonderful to see a standout businesswoman actively championing the next generation of female entrepreneurs,” said Veuve Clicquot brand director Elsa Corbineau.

Ms McDowell – whose work on low-carbon building also contributed to her receiving the award – said it has been a tough task convincing women that a career in engineering could be for them. “Women are scarce, perhaps it’s the image of construction – dirty, muddy boots; an unreconstructed working environment. But now the image is transforming, even on site. I’ve had to show a level of determination and hard work and make it easier for others to come through – through encouragement and bursaries.”

It’s fantastic to see a successful businesswoman pave the path for other women to follow. If more senior business leaders supported women in their pursuit of leadership positions, perhaps there might be less need for quotas to create gender-balanced boards.

If Lord Myners’ predictions come true – he was guest speaker at the awards – then women will make up the majority of board members in at least five FTSE 100 companies in 10 years’ time. He said the private sector had failed to capitalise on female talent, and that women’s “distinctly superior style to decision-making and leadership” was crucial for future economic growth.

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