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Women on British Banknotes – what’s this got to do with leadership?

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The Bank of England may sound like an unlikely location for the latest battle for gender equality.  Some people may argue that there are more important fields of feminist battle, than whether a woman, other than the reigning monarch, should appear on a banknote.

The background to this is that the Bank recently announced that Elizabeth Fry is to be removed from the £10 notes, to be replaced by Winston Churchill.  As a result, in this age of so-called gender equality, the only woman to be featured on banknotes will be the Queen.  Whatever her achievements, she is there because of her position, and an accident of birth.

Nor am I denying a place to Churchill.  It’s just that the Bank of England have paid insufficient regard to the serious issues of equality.

Women's Room UK Banknote campaign

Link here to the Women’s Room UK Banknote campaign

This campaign is one way of raising the wider issues, as well as bringing together men and women who care about gender equality.  You can read more about the campaign, and connect to the press coverage, here

So what are the ‘wider issues’?

National Institutions, whatever their purpose, should represent all sections of society.  Women are NOT a minority either.  We’re 51% of the population and when properly deployed in British business add around 11 extra points to an organisation’s success.  We’re tax-payers and wealth-creators.  Personally I will have worked for 40 years next year and I know I’ve put back into the economy more than I’ve taken out, to date.

This is about leadership

We know that having greater equality in society leads to a more successful, and peaceful society.  Having women recognised for their contribution is one further step towards that success – which benefits us all.

The Bank of England is an influential organisation.  It’s a figure-head for the British economy.  I’m looking forward to welcoming it’s new Governor, Mark Carney.  Perhaps even more significant is the appointment of two women to the Bank’s senior team: Charlotte Hogg will become its most senior female employee in 300+ years.  Ex-BBC Jenny Scott will become its Director of Communications.

A significant part of leading and developing others is to have meaningful role models in all walks of life.  When younger women see that it’s possible to progress their careers in this institution, perhaps they’ll raise their sights as a result.

Perhaps one of these women leaders might assign a task to one of their team to search out potential women to put on the British banknote?

This is why have I spent time researching a partial A_Z of significant British Women

“I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth now. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body, and my outraged daughters.”

Bouddica

One letter deserves particular mention – Q – for Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps

This is dedicated to all women working in the military, past and present – and in all parts of the armed forces.

The list I’ve compiled doesn’t pretend to be complete, but with its scientists, artists, writers and political pioneers, it does show that there are many women who deserve to take their place on a British banknote.The list is not beautifully edited, or original – I totally acknowledge it’s existence is thanks to the cut and paste method.

I also acknowledge and thank the following sources:

http://www.biographyonline.net/

www.biography.com

www.wikipedia.com

Octavia Hill http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/gallery/2012/mar/04/ten-best-female-pioneers#/?picture=386781632&index=8

Chartist’s Association: http://chartists.net/Walker-and-Inge.htm

Any errors and omissions are mine.  I’m very conscious that I haven’t got an ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘Z’ yet – and I hope that you, dear reader, will contribute ideas.  If you’d like to propose additional names for this list, please do.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Author: Helen Caton Hughes

Leadership and Team Coach based on inspirational and practical tools. Works with leaders around the world; trains coaches to International Coach Federation standards. Passionate about finding best ways for leaders to inspire themselves and get the best from their teams

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