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This house agrees: the future belongs to female leaders

Cass debate marks International Women's Day

After a heated debate at Cass Business School last night, a narrow majority (56%) of participants voted in favour of the motion: the future belongs to female leaders.

The event was held on the eve of International Women's Day.

Speakers cited how far women have come (the Queen is older than women's suffrage in the UK) and how far we have to go (women currently only comprise 17.2% of the boards of FTSE 350 companies).

They also questioned what success will look like and the business models of the future.

Neuropsychologist Dr Anne Moir began proceedings arguing that men and women are different in terms of their cognitive abilities.

Since the 'female brain' is more networked, Dr Moir suggested that most women have sharper emotional intelligence, more acute moral awareness and greater sensitivity to the impact of the decisions they make. She suggested traditional 'female brain' traits are vital in the new digital knowledge-based business world.

However, business executive coach Anne Chatroux was less optimistic, citing the lack of women in all leadership spheres - C-suite, boardroom, politics and medicine.

Chatroux argued that "people of advantage or privilege cannot relate to the unearned privilege that they have. You cannot find a guy in the City who can tell you what part of his career success is down to the fact that he is a man … where is the Martina Luther King of this conversation?"

Next to the podium was Cass Senior Visiting Fellow and business coach Douglas Board who seconded Dr Anne Moir in support of the motion. 

He pointed out how far accepted practices have changed in a relatively short time. While women had to leave their jobs when they married in many professions in the 1950s, 70 years later the idea seems outlandish.

Cass MBA candidate Oliver Blower agreed with the other speakers, but argued that the motion 'the future belongs to female leaders' shut out male talent: "This word 'belong' invokes a sense of entitlement and I would argue that it belongs to neither but involves both."

He called for a "revolution" that would spark a "paradigm shift" to involve women alongside men as part of a "healthy leadership change".

The event was chaired by Cass Senior Visiting Lecturer Julie Verity and a summation was made by consultant, journalist and "militant mother" Indra Adnan.

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