As I've referenced previously, winning the First Women of Business Services Award in 2013 inspired me to go on and work in partnership with the team at Real Business and replicate their programme on a local scale. Milton Keynes, a place brimming with talent and my hometown, was the obvious choice for this launch. I wanted to bring the pride, excitement and celebration to other successful females and most importantly, encourage momentum and awareness around such an important issue.
Named 'Women Leaders of Milton Keynes', we felt 8 March 2015, International Women's Day, was a fitting date to launch. The 12 categories, open to anyone living or working in Milton Keynes, were kept consistent with the original programme and we were delighted to be able to announce that the winners will be entered into the First Women Awards 2016.
To my delight, the response and calibre of the nominations received has far exceeded our expectations, demonstrating that women are very much in the forefront of the business world of Milton Keynes. Certainly a great start to our programme and hugely exciting to uncover so many inspirational figures. That said, I can't help but be surprised by the lack of nominations in Engineering and Constructions categories.
Milton Keynes is home to many distinguished companies across both sectors. Not only are Network Rail and Red Bull based here, but it also boasts a rich portfolio of female professionals in the construction industry, from quantity surveyors and architects to structural engineers. And yet, none of the female talent from either sector has been forthcoming enough to submit for an award, so why is this?
Whilst these have of course traditionally been more male-dominated career areas, surely we have undergone a certain degree of evolution? Do these particular professional women feel that their career path is not worthy of an award or that their skills aren't valued? One MK car manufacturer has taken steps to overcome this, concentrating on employing and training women car engineers because they value the female input into the design and maintenance of their vehicles, and yet the awards tell a different story.
So what can we do about this?
'Women Leaders of Milton Keynes' was founded to raise the profile of the outstanding women making a notable contribution to the business world and their local community. In particular, we want to put the spotlight on the diverse professions that women have entered, especially the more male dominated ones of construction and engineering.
We hope events such as these will encourage women within these professions to become more aware and proud of their skills and their unique perspective in these sectors. Linking into the national First Women Awards will continue to raise the profile of outstanding women in the UK and to create role models for women entering their career path in these professions. With any luck, the stories and success emerging from our inaugural awards will inspire women from all sectors to come forward and celebrate their achievements next year.
Entries for 'Women Leaders of Milton Keynes' are now closed. Winners will be announced at a gala dinner on 20th November. For more information visit the website http://www.womenleadersmk.co.uk/.