Has the glass ceiling finally been shattered?

In 1975, Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party and, as we all know, went on to make history by becoming Britain’s first ever female Prime Minister. Now, some forty years on, the nation is set to have another woman at the helm. Love her or hate her, Baroness Thatcher broke through the glass ceiling of politics in the UK and demonstrated that gender need not play a part in the game of success.

Julia Hartley-Brewer argued in her article for The Telegraph that women may be being put off going into politics for multiple reasons. A lack of ambition and ruthlessness, an in-built reluctance to take risks, the demands of juggling work and family life, constantly being held to account with greater scrutiny compared to male colleagues, even a lack of the star quality that you see present in so many charismatic male leaders, are discussed.

But, she concludes: “perhaps the answer is even more straightforward than that. Maybe the women who are brilliant, charismatic and strong enough to make future Prime Ministers are simply too sensible to go into politics in the first place: they’re busy making their names and their fortunes on their own terms rather than surrendering their futures to the vagaries of the electorate or the political cycle.”

What is politics loss is technology’s gain. While it has taken four decades to get to the point of having another leading lady in British politics, the same does not hold true in science and technology – other traditionally male-led domains. Here there are many shining lights, as highlighted recently when Business Insider published its list of the 26 Coolest Women in UK Tech.

At number one on this list is Eileen Burbidge MBE. Like many who made the list, Burbidge is unlikely to be the first name on everyone’s lips when they think of successful entrepreneurs. But, having been honoured by the Queen, called on to advise Number 10 and the UK Treasury, and recently named as Chair of Tech City UK, Burbidge soon will be. Her CV is seriously impressive including the likes of Apple, Yahoo, Skype and Sun Microsystems prior to founding Passion Capital which itself has helped to bankroll major players DueDil and GoCardless amongst others.

The formidable females in tech list also features:

Sarah Wood: winner of Veuve Clicquot’s Business Woman of the Year and co-founder and CEO of social video advertising platform Unruly which was acquired by NewsCorp for $90m. A mum of three, Sarah champions diversity in the workplace with half of her employees being female, and has set up mentoring programmes to help women become more confident in business.

Nicola Mendelsohn CBE: Facebook’s most senior executive outside of the US, Nicola runs the social network’s presence in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa whilst being a Mum to four children.

Elizabeth Varley: serial entrepreneur and the founder of Tech Hub which first created shared workspaces for tech companies which has since gone onto partner Google in locations across the globe. As well as being the global community for startups, TechHub works with corporates to help them with innovation culture and connecting with startups.

Baroness Lane-Fox: perhaps Britain’s most well-known female entrepreneur, Martha founded Lastminute.com in the midst of the 90’s dot.com bubble and has sat on several boards including now Twitter. She was the youngest female ever to enter the House of Lords.

What is perhaps most interesting though, is that none of these women are talking about what it’s like to be a woman at the top of their game. They’re more interested in their game: the passionate entrepreneurial spirit and the potentially world-changing products and services that they’ve been instrumental in funding and developing.

Take, for example, Kate Unsworth, CEO and co-founder Vinaya, a fashion start-up that makes connected jewellery that buzzes when you receive an email or instant message while managing stress and emotions. “Utterly genius” commented the FT. She is currently researching how brain/human habits can be used in the product design process.

Or take Emily Brooke, CEO and founder of Blaze, a London start-up that has built a laser bike light that can help save cyclists lives by projecting a green laser image up to six metres in front of the cyclist, thereby making them more visible to drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists. With every Boris Bike in London due to be fitted with one, this is commercialised technology at its best.

With Theresa May coming into office tonight, and countless women like the ones we’ve mentioned taking their place at the head of the table, it’s clear that talent will out. So, we suggest keeping an eye on what our leading ladies of science and technology are up to. They’re taking risks and major steps forward with all the drive, ambition and demonstrable success of their male counterparts.