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Why Are Winning Women Ending Up in Second Place?

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This week Mark Carney will attend a meeting to discuss the complete lack of female representation on our bank notes. If we lose Elizabeth Fry from our five pound note, we are left with the Queen as our only female representative. Are we really unable to find a single historical female figure worthy of being commemorated?

Maybe we just can't collectively remember women that have done great deeds. That certainly seems to have been the trouble in sport this month. I was as excited as the rest of Britain when Andy Murray won Wimbledon. But, my elation was dampened by the ecstatic headlines proclaiming Britain's first winner in over 70 years. Unless, of course, you count Virginia Wade's win in 1977.

Virginia is just one example of the forgotten female. Some of the greatest historical achievements of women have gone missing from the history books, or at the very least, the collective British psyche. How many young people can name Lady Astor as the first female MP, for example? Does anyone know that Helen Sharman was the first British woman into space and so far the only astronaut to fly under the UK flag?

All of which makes me wonder who will be our daughters' role models. Whether on the face of a banknote or in the boardroom, the fact remains: successful women are being ignored. It becomes difficult to inspire the next generation of female sporting heroes, scientists or business women when it seems that their achievements will be disregarded by history.

Young women need to have someone to emulate if they are to achieve their potential. There are more than enough obstacles standing in the way of young people making a good start on their careers, the least we can do is offer them positive examples to emulate. They need examples of celebrated women across industries and professions.

I also believe that already successful women have a role to play in championing and encouraging those coming up behind them. As part of my role as a LifeSkills Ambassador, I was recently joined for a day by Jennifer Oteng, a 15-year-old work experience competition winner, at the West Ham United football grounds. I have no doubt that this was a rather intimidating experience at the start, but throughout the day her confidence grew and grew as she began to realise that she had the potential to become a business leader. This is a message I want to pass on to as many young people as I can. Hopefully in years to come, we will see many more young women like Jennifer growing up to start their own businesses or competing for top corporate positions. Employable skills, dogged determination and more role models are exactly what these aspiring young women need.

The country needs as many successful women as it can get but this won't be possible without first inspiring and instilling confidence in them. This is why our banknotes should have more female representation. History harbours successful women in abundance so why not represent them; the likes of Jane Austen or Emmeline Pankhurst would make excellent candidates and set a necessary example for young women entering or rising in the workforce.

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