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Inspiring Women Series: Bea Montoya

In celebration of International Women's Day, we'll be spotlighting some inspiring women who also just happen to be Mums of some of our fantastic Debate Mate Virtual students! First up, we have a blogpost written by Bea Montoya, COO at Simply Business.

Hello, I am Bea Montoya, COO at Simply Business and a long term admirer and supporter of Debate Mate. 

I first met the impressive Debate Mate team in 2018 - they helped me run team days in my role at Simply Business. I was so impressed with their work that soon I ensured that my two daughters also had access to the programs. Between them they’ve done 7 years of debating - which will no doubt serve them very well in their future (although in the short term it means they keep us on our toes - their negotiation skills are second to none)! 

I am honoured to share my thoughts on the importance of Debate Mate’s work with girls and women in commemoration of International Women's Day.

As a senior female professional, I am far too familiar with the challenges women face in the workplace. Although I feel privileged to live in a part of the world where women have access to education and can have a career like mine, there is still plenty of work to do to bring gender equity and equality to the world place.

In a 2022 report, consultancy The Pipeline highlights that only 6% of CEOs in FTSE 250 companies are women and the percentage of women in roles with P&L responsibility in FTSE 350 companies is just 16%... yet companies with more women at the top do better. Our own Simply Business research, amongst women who run small businesses, show that shockingly, four in five of them say they've experienced sexism, gender inequality or unequal access to opportunities whilst running their businesses and many have told us that they find it difficult to be taken seriously by investors compared to their male business partners.

And the work has to start early -  with our daughters, god-daughters, granddaughters, nieces, … that’s where the skills taught by Debate Mate become invaluable. 

Critical thinking, confidence, and effective communication are essential in today's fast-paced and competitive world. These skills can help girls and women overcome obstacles and achieve leadership success in their chosen fields - and quite frankly help the world become a better place.

And no doubt there is a snowball effect - the more women we have in leadership positions, the more role models we will have, which in turn will inspire others.  I have been lucky to work alongside brilliant women who have inspired me, from previous bosses, to current colleagues, to inspiring ladies that I interact with on a regular basis not to mention women like Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Obama, and Jacinda Arden who have all broken down barriers and made the world a better place.

On International Women's Day, the most important piece of advice I would give to young women thinking about their careers is to believe in themselves and never give up. Women face many challenges and barriers in the workplace, but with determination, hard work, and a positive attitude, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.