Let’s celebrate city’s unsung heroines

Surriya Falconer
Surriya Falconer
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Female empowerment is real in Sheffield. In all areas of business, this region has an increasing number of women who are self-assured, talented and brave.

But I believe we are still not making the most of the female talent we have - hence my support for Recognising and Valuing Female Talent, an initiative introduced by Sheffield First Partnership in 2013 to look at job opportunities for women in the city and ensure their skills and talents are being maximised.

Women need recognition and encouragement. It is often said that when a woman is deciding whether or not to apply for a job, she may decide against it because she thinks she can only do half of the specification, whereas a man decides to apply because he believes he can do half of it.

Until this statement no longer receives such knowing groans of recognition, the region cannot be sure it is making the most of the women who work within it.

But while women are not yet represented in the region equally in every sector, there are plenty who are making their mark. These women making a huge difference to the way the Sheffield business sector works are not yet household names, but they are starting ripples that will soon turn into waves.

This issue of Business Monthly lists influential women in Sheffield – that is good because they have a profile and can act as mentors, lead by example and so on. And I can vouch for many of them.

But I also want you to think about that wider group of still hidden female influencers. You will all know women who fit the bill. Don’t think seniority, don’t think big companies, but think influence, skill – and the power to sell and persuade, the power to get things done without making a huge amount of noise or needing to feed a huge ego.

For me, those women of influence include many from the cultural community, which needs recognition for contributing to our economy. I work on the Off The Shelf Festival and sit on the board at Sheffield Theatres and Yorkshire Artspace and I know how dedicated its people are.

There is Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Head of Cultural Engagement at Sheffield University and director of the Sheffield-based National Fairground Archive. She is a true individual whose passion and ability gets things done. There’s Heather Croall, outgoing Director of the Doc Fest, whom the city can thank for putting Sheffield on the international film map.

Sandra Barley, Centre Liaison Manager for The Moor, I nominate for loyalty to that piece of the city.

Sheffield Literary Festival Off The Shelf organisers Maria De Souza and Lesley Webster, I nominate for being so modest about their skill at persuading literary giants to come to Sheffield.

And there’s Claire Murray, communications and fundraising director for Sheffield Theatres who has incredible drive.

This list of unsung female role models is just the tip of my iceberg. Who is on yours? Surely they deserve a name check too. Go to Facebook.com/sheffieldstar to leave a comment and your nominations on the post of this story. You can also add your childhood ambition and photograph.