OFF THE FENCE: Havant MP Alan Mak talks about the gender glass ceiling

Havant MP Alan Mak
Havant MP Alan Mak
European workers including nurses, social workers and teaching assistants protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London before lobbying MPs over their right to remain in the UK.  Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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As your local MP, supporting schools and backing young people is a key priority.

I have visited nearly every primary and secondary school in the constituency, including some more than once.

I believe passionately in engaging with our young people, and encouraging the next generation to achieve their ambitions.

So it came with a tinge of sadness that during one of my school visits, a pupil asked me if girls can become MPs.

For that question to be asked, it shows how much more work we need to do to break the glass ceiling.

The rise of powerful female role models, for example in politics and public life, will hopefully go someway to inspiring the next generation.

No matter your allegiance, the emergence of Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas and Diane James as leaders of four of our political parties can only be a good thing.

As we near the 100th anniversary of female suffrage, this is all the more poignant. We see great female role models in other walks of life too, paving the way for others to follow in their footsteps.

Whether that is businesswomen such as Karen Brady, or our first female Church of England Bishop Libby Lane, girls are starting to see successful women cracking the glass ceiling.

Apart from female business leaders, many girls at school will look up to those who achieve success locally in our community.

For instance, Kelly Edney, founder of local cleaning business The Dust Dolly, and Emily Warne, founder of HeadRomance hair salon, are both local success stories.

In local government, Councillor Liz Fairhurst represents Leigh Park and Bedhampton on Hampshire County Council, but also serves as a Hampshire cabinet member for adult services, overseeing an annual budget of £428m.

These women show that in modern Britain, as long you have the drive and the determination to succeed, your gender doesn’t hold you back.

The recent prominence given to female leaders, driven by the fact that Theresa May recently became our second female Prime Minister, is welcome.

But we need to reach a point where no girl feels she has to ask if there is a job she can do.