Women in Leadership Think Tank – From Glass Pyramid and Tiara to Gender Equality

Business leaders, academics and researchers from across the world gathered in Grove House at the University of Roehampton this week, to share ideas, progress gender research and increase the number of women in positions of leadership.

Posted: 27 May 2016

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Sue Pritchard speaks to attendees at the Women in Leadership Think Tank

This two day conference hosted by Professor Carole Elliott and Professor Sharon Mavin, Director of Roehampton Business School, brought together a wide range of professionals to discuss research and share knowledge to improve gender diversity for women leaders, and was sponsored by the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies. 

Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), talked about the glass pyramid that women face; with every step up the corporate ladder, the walls close and it becomes harder for women to reach higher level positions. It is estimated that around 60% of junior managers, 40% of middle managers, 20% of senior managers, and less than 10% of senior executive positions are held by women.

Francke also commented that the Government’s move to publish the pay details for men and women would highlight the significant difference between the two, and also identify the organisations that are doing little to change this.

Another key point was that women have a tendency to just work hard and hope that someone notices, often referred to as “The Tiara Syndrome”. Francke suggests that women should “be more American” and shouldn’t be afraid to show how competent they are and put themselves out there.

With such a change in society required to overhaul the gender gap, some of the recommendations taken from the conference were:


  • Focus on the benefits of gender equality in leadership – to business and to society.
  • Be transparent about progress (and non-progress) and set targets.
  • Call out bad behaviour, don’t be scared to highlight when someone is discriminating.
  • Forget the Tiara syndrome – “Be more American” as Francke put it.
  • Continue the conversation and network. Be proud of achievements made so far, and highlight these.
  • Collaborations across different bodies, sectors, and countries will help to widen engagement and build a supportive network.


Professor Sharon Mavin, “The Think Tank has been incredibly insightful. Discussions have drawn upon a diversity of backgrounds, research and knowledge from those attending and re-enforce how critical it is to increase the number of women leaders. Gender inequality is pervasive; it spans all sectors, and solutions will have impact across society.”

Professors Mavin and Elliott collaborate to contribute towards advances in understanding women’s experiences of organisations, management and leadership, and the changes necessary to advance gender equality in the U.K

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