Katherine Butler: Women! Do everything and then learn how to shoot clay pigeons

Notebook

Share

Are you a woman aged between 15 and 51? Are you ambitious but discouraged by the failure of talented women like you to be promoted to senior positions in top companies? Are you in possession of a Hermès scarf?

If the answer to that last question was "No, I wouldn't be seen dead in a Hermès scarf", then you may want to question your determination to succeed. Because, apparently, this is an essential prop if you're ever to become a corporate ballbreaker in this country, let alone head the IMF. Other tips? Take up clay-pigeon shooting, gatecrash the Davos World Economic Forum, and, while you're at it, volunteer with a charity so that you can hob-nob with influential people as you fund-raise. Oh, and if at all possible consider hiring a driver.

A shameless 89 per cent of FTSE 350 companies still have no women executive directors at all, and it'll be at least another century before there is anything like boardroom parity, at the rate we're going. This is where your new Hermès purchase comes in. The scarf and shooting advice is contained in a new book, published in the week that Vince Cable tackles the "closed shop" culture of male-dominated boardrooms, as part of his initiative on excessive executive pay. Author Mrs Moneypenny – real name Heather McGregor, a businesswoman who presents C4's Superscrimpers – isn't waiting around for Vince to make a fuss; she wants women to tackle where they themselves are going wrong.

Her Careers Advice for Ambitious Women is not all regressively about professional blowdries (although hair matters, apparently) or carrying a spare pair of tights in your bag. It's also about sensibly saying No, and realising that while you are being ultra-diligent, your less experienced male colleague may be getting ahead by cc-ing the boss and strategically boasting about his own brilliance.

Every woman should be spending at least 5 per cent of her time on her own PR, Mrs Moneypenny claims.This is not, she insists, so much about attending networking events as seeking out "sponsors", or building a "third dimension" into your life, so that when you find you're sitting next to the CEO of Google on a flight, you have something interesting to talk about.

Most women I know are already excellent networkers: it starts in the playground. Where they probably have qualms is about seeming mercenary by asking a contact or connection to "sponsor" their ascent up the greasy pole or using charity work to burnish their public image.

And it seems unfair that women must absorb all the changes required to equalise corporate power. If Mrs Moneypenny is right, we must gain a top-flight education, then bore ourselves senseless taking extra accountancy qualifications to prove we are not a financial liability, and learn to shoot clay pigeons. Only then will we have the confidence to schmooze the people who matter. Are male executives ever sent on courses to learn how unconscious bias works?

Mrs Moneypenny would argue that we have to deal with the world, not some future theoretical nirvana. That certainly isn't coming any time soon, if Lord Oakeshott is correct. He told the FT yesterday that British business still picks its bosses from an "incestuous male gene pool". Maybe get your driver to run you to the Hermès store.

The power of canine intuition

Uggie the wonder dog from the French movie The Artist has achieved Hollywood glory and charmed the critics with his extraordinary scene-stealing. I am not in the least surprised. I accompanied a Jack Russell to the vet's the other day. Ellie, my mother's, is a big dog trapped in a small dog's body; scrappy and pugilistic when she encounters another canine. But she put on a convincing performance in the waiting room. A big rangy rescue dog "highly volatile" his carer kept warning the receptionist, was ahead of us. There was a whimpering labrador and a scared cat in a shoe box who'd been run over by a car.

Mayhem seemed inevitable But the Jack Russell imparted a kind of calm, and all the animals fell silent, like a truce in a UN green zone. Did she somehow communicate that they were all united by one aim: getting out of there alive? Or maybe the other dogs just hoped she might know where to catch a screening of Uggie.

k.butler@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape