There may be a ‘she’ in the Steel City’s name – but does Sheffield actually support its female population?
On International Women’s Day tomorrow, a band of women will strive to find out – and launch SHEffield.
The initiative aims to recognise female talent and create a level playing field in a city which pays women workers nearly 10 per cent less for doing the same job as men.
Women of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to attend tomorrow’s Valuing Female Talent event at Sheffield Town Hall, from 1.30pm to 3pm, and voice what the city’s women want and need.
Kay Dickinson, a former director of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said: “Come along and tell us your story, or about somebody who has inspired you. We want as many women as possible to attend. This is a fact-finding mission.
“A Question Time-style event will discuss how Sheffield can make the most of its female talent.
“We want to hear your views on questions such as why the majority of women work in low-paid, low-grade jobs, what makes a great workplace for women and should Sheffield’s schools do more to tackle the stereotyping and preconceptions about women’s roles?”
The idea for SHEffield sprang from a women’s meeting last autumn, hosted by Sheffield First Partnership, where more than 100 women from different backgrounds debated how they felt the city supported them.
The meeting was prompted by a report by Dr Helen Richardson, Sheffield Business School professor of gender and organisation.
She found that, while Sheffield has a wealth of female talent and entrepreneurs, city women are paid on average 9.6 per cent less than men for doing work of equal value and there are twice as many men as women in the city’s top managers’ and directors’ jobs.
In her report, Recognising and Valuing Female Talent in Sheffield, Dr Richardson said: “Women are enterprising and those setting up their own business are a rapidly growing group. Women are catalysts for change, creativity and innovation.
“Women at work are the solution, not the problem. We need to recognise and value female talent in Sheffield.”
Sharon Squires, Sheffield First director, said SHEffield is about women banding together to push for that.
She said: “We want Sheffield to be a great city for women to live, work, study and do business in.
“There are many groups in Sheffield doing great things for women, but we have identified a need for an organisation that will signpost them, while also driving causes.”