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Exploring women’s place in the East Anglian business world on International Women’s Day

How can women in Stem careers help the next generation of girls to follow in their footsteps? Picture: Bill Smith

How can women in Stem careers help the next generation of girls to follow in their footsteps? Picture: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

Today the world marks International Women’s Day – a celebration of past and present female achievements and an incitement for women to reach higher in the future.

It is a day for both sexes to reflect on how many barriers for women across the world – to education, to work, to autonomy – have been broken down and how many more there are still to tackle.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at some of the issues which still exist for women entering or in the working world in Norfolk and Suffolk.

First we looked at the battle to engage more girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Leading industry figures in East Anglia said initiatives to encourage girls in these subjects, and eventually careers, were beginning to bear fruit, but that engagement and outreach would be key in continuing to close the gap.

Next we explored the part which confidence plays in success in business, in particular the outward, “masculine” toughness which has formerly been considered integral.

Coaching and wellbeing experts who are helping women of all ages in the counties to climb higher up the career ladder say this perception is outdated – and the benefits of having women in the top team are becoming ever more obvious.

Finally we looked at motherhood and the barriers it can still throw up for women in the workplace.

Business leaders and mothers said more needs to be done by employers to level the playing field for women with or expecting children, and the unconscious bias against flexible and part-time workers in terms of promotion and progression must be addressed.

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