Sunday 19 February 2017

The inspirational women blazing their own trail

Published 13/06/2015 | 02:30

Pictured at the Women’s Executive Network Ireland’s Most Powerful Women Awards are (left to right) Caroline Keeling, Chief Executive Officer of Keelings; Pamela Jeffery, Founder of the Women’s Executive Network; Louise Phelan, Vice President of Global Operations at PayPal; Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft; and Christine Heffernan, Director of Corporate Affairs at Tesco
Pictured at the Women’s Executive Network Ireland’s Most Powerful Women Awards are (left to right) Caroline Keeling, Chief Executive Officer of Keelings; Pamela Jeffery, Founder of the Women’s Executive Network; Louise Phelan, Vice President of Global Operations at PayPal; Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft; and Christine Heffernan, Director of Corporate Affairs at Tesco

Having more women leaders is a serious societal goal. The dearth of women in politics at the time of Mary Robinson's ground-breaking election as President of Ireland was what prompted me and a handful of others to run for election. Frances Fitzgerald, now Minister for Justice, was, like me, involved in the women's movement in the early nineties, and we crossed the bridge from private to public life in electoral politics with a certain amount of trepidation. Since then the number of female TDs has remained stubbornly low at around 15pc and out of line with the participation of women in business and in other professions.

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It is, however remarkable that in the legal field women are not only equal, but leading. The current Attorney General, Chief State Solicitor, Chief Justice, DPP and Garda Commissioner positions are held by women; a clear sign the dial is moving.

We all enjoy approval for hard work and success. Indeed, to deprive people of recognition by ignoring achievements is a form of passive aggression and very destructive of confidence and performance. Too often the achievements of successful women have been minimised or disregarded. It may be that women too often imagine that if we work hard in our chosen field, whether it is public affairs or the corporate world, that due credit and advancement will be given on the basis of merit. Alas, no.

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