One in five women say a teacher was their role model when they were 18 years old, a new poll for Women in Business suggests.
The figure is the same as the number of women who say their mother was their primary inspiration aged 18.
The survey, conducted by independent business advisor Friend Partnership, investigated the attitudes of working women across three generations. A majority of women of all ages said they lacked a positive female role model later in adult life and many said this had been a major hurdle to their career progression.
The report was led by Denise Friend, founder of Friend Partnership, and Sarah Evans, former principal of King Edward VI High School for Girls.
Evans said: “The survey has revealed some interesting insights into the impact of school on the career potential and progression of women in business.
“It suggests that women’s career choices have widened hugely over recent generations and confirms the significant impact of the years at school in shaping the mindset and careers of their female students, especially the critical role of teachers for many female students.
“However, advice at crucial stages of a student’s educational life is still a concern. GCSE subject choices made at 13/14 years old are not necessarily well informed and can limit career choices later in life – and this is consistent with the views shared through the qualitative aspects of this research.
“These choices are influenced by many factors, not only schools and teachers. The role of parents and guardians is significant. Along with teachers, parents are the stable presence for most children, and 20% of respondents in the survey name their mother as their role model at age 18.”