_thumbnail_id: Array
author: Array
_author: Array
article_modules: Array
_article_modules: Array
modules: Array
_modules: Array
modules_2_download_box_download_box_title: Array
_modules_2_download_box_download_box_title: Array
modules_2_download_box_download_box_button_text: Array
_modules_2_download_box_download_box_button_text: Array
modules_2_download_box_download_box_button_url: Array
_modules_2_download_box_download_box_button_url: Array
modules_1_title: Array
_modules_1_title: Array
modules_1_content: Array
_modules_1_content: Array
modules_1_download_box_download_box_title: Array
_modules_1_download_box_download_box_title: Array
modules_1_download_box_download_box_button_text: Array
_modules_1_download_box_download_box_button_text: Array
modules_1_download_box_download_box_button_type: Array
_modules_1_download_box_download_box_button_type: Array
modules_1_download_box_download_box_button_url: Array
_modules_1_download_box_download_box_button_url: Array
modules_1_download_box: Array
_modules_1_download_box: Array
modules_2_quote_author: Array
_modules_2_quote_author: Array
modules_2_enable_tweet: Array
_modules_2_enable_tweet: Array
modules_2_quote: Array
_modules_2_quote: Array
modules_3_title: Array
_modules_3_title: Array
modules_3_content: Array
_modules_3_content: Array
modules_4_title: Array
_modules_4_title: Array
modules_4_content: Array
_modules_4_content: Array
modules_5_background_image: Array
_modules_5_background_image: Array
modules_5_video_title: Array
_modules_5_video_title: Array
modules_5_video_thumbnail_url: Array
_modules_5_video_thumbnail_url: Array
modules_5_video_url: Array
_modules_5_video_url: Array
modules_5_video_duration: Array
_modules_5_video_duration: Array
modules_5_video_description: Array
_modules_5_video_description: Array
modules_5_video_embed_code: Array
_modules_5_video_embed_code: Array
modules_6_title: Array
_modules_6_title: Array
modules_6_content: Array
_modules_6_content: Array
modules_5_image_caption: Array
_modules_5_image_caption: Array
_yoast_wpseo_content_score: Array
article_modules_0_title: Array
_article_modules_0_title: Array
article_modules_0_content: Array
_article_modules_0_content: Array
_yoast_wpseo_primary_category: Array
_wp_old_slug: Array
_yoast_wpseo_title: Array
page_summary: Array
_page_summary: Array
modules_0_module_title: Array
_modules_0_module_title: Array
modules_0_background_color: Array
_modules_0_background_color: Array
modules_0_module_type: Array
_modules_0_module_type: Array
modules_0_filter_posts_by_taxonomy: Array
_modules_0_filter_posts_by_taxonomy: Array
modules_0_filter_posts_by_tags: Array
_modules_0_filter_posts_by_tags: Array
modules_0_link_text: Array
_modules_0_link_text: Array
modules_0_link_url: Array
_modules_0_link_url: Array
modules_1_text: Array
_modules_1_text: Array
modules_2_module_title: Array
_modules_2_module_title: Array
modules_2_background_color: Array
_modules_2_background_color: Array
modules_2_column_ratio: Array
_modules_2_column_ratio: Array
modules_2_editor_content_left: Array
_modules_2_editor_content_left: Array
modules_2_button_text_right: Array
_modules_2_button_text_right: Array
modules_2_button_type_right: Array
_modules_2_button_type_right: Array
modules_2_button_url_local_right: Array
_modules_2_button_url_local_right: Array
_yoast_wpseo_focuskw_text_input: Array
_yoast_wpseo_focuskw: Array
_yoast_wpseo_metadesc: Array
_yoast_wpseo_linkdex: Array
article_primary_tag: Array
_article_primary_tag: Array
_wp_old_date: Array
_dp_original: Array
_edit_lock: Array
_edit_last: Array
article_modules_1_title: Array
_article_modules_1_title: Array
article_modules_1_content: Array
_article_modules_1_content: Array
Why we need to ditch the ‘Superwoman’ role model

Why we need to ditch the ‘Superwoman’ role model

Jackie Bowie Private Equity October 2019

This article was first published by City AM.

Is it right to make a straight-out judgement on “good” and “bad” role models?

As a female chief executive working in a predominantly male industry, I am often asked if I had a female role model. And I have to be honest, it is not a question that I find easy to answer.

From the other side, as a mother of two teenage daughters, the observation is usually “you must be such a good role model for them”. Again, a statement I am not too sure about. The reality is, I am sure that my daughters, for now, would admire much more the qualities of the female Love Island contestants, or the latest make-up vlogger with millions of subscribers.

When I see these so-called role models, I am quick to dismiss their vacuous attempts at gaining popularity, admonishing my daughters for believing that there is anything substantial about these air-brushed, filtered and superficial people.

But while young girls may follow Instagrammers or popstars to keep up with trends, if you dig a little deeper, I have found that most can admire this from afar. They can emulate the style and selfie poses, but are not building their life on the hope that this will be the outcome for them. These social media influencers are not, therefore, true role models.

This anecdotal behaviour has been backed up by academic studies proving that celebrities are far less influential than we think, which is one less thing for us parents to worry about.

That doesn’t mean that role models don’t matter. Many surveys have found that girls considering STEM subjects tend to follow these subjects through to further education if they have had a role model to follow. While the role model does not necessarily need to be female, it does help to dispel stereotypes that maths and technology roles are the preserve of men.

What really matters is that the role model is someone who can inspire and motivate you to do your best, self-improve, and achieve greater success in whatever field is relevant to you.

This relevance point is critical – the success must be attainable. If too far out of reach, it can lead to feelings of failure, which is demotivating.

I have certainly observed and felt demotivated by unattainable role models in my own career.  The image of the “Superwoman”, with a top-class career, gifted offspring, and a perfectly honed physique makes us less extraordinary women feel incompetent by comparison.

I have been to countless talks by women offering to give advice as a mentor, all the while knowing that behind their presentation is an army of helpers, child carers, and personal trainers. If it doesn’t relate to my life, then I cannot relate to them.

Much more uplifting, then, are role models who have overcome adversity to achieve their success, or those people who seem similar to us.

A recent talk at one of my daughter’s schools was attended by Kate Richardson-Walsh, the Team GB Hockey Captain. Kate painted a picture of her younger self watching international athletes on TV and admiring them, yet at the same time thinking: “but I am just ordinary, that’s not me”.

She really hit the perfect note with the group of teenage school children who were left thinking: “well, if she can do it, why not me”.

And that for me, is a role model.


Recent Insights

Contact us

If you need hedging or debt advice or would like to speak to the team, please get in touch.