All-girls schools lead to bright businesswomen

EARLIER this week, I met a new friend for breakfast – an M&A man for some of the biggest media executives.

He told me all about his daughters; one will represent the UK at the Olympics, while the other is an accomplished actress. He explained how he had raised them, and two of the things he said chimed with my own views on what makes women achieve their full potential.

Firstly, they both went to an all-girls school. As I get older, I can see more and more wisdom in this. As he explained it, in a girls’ school, a girl always tops the class.

That shows the pupils that girls do achieve, that they can be the best. When they get older, they can transfer that to co-ed environments, but in their formative years it is important that they see models of female achievement.

Secondly, every weekend he took his daughters for breakfast so they could spend time alone with their dad.

Being the centre of your father’s attention is a huge gift to a young woman, who then learns to expect respect from men – she learns that she deserves to be the centre of a man’s focus.

I’m always amazed at how men behave when it comes to their daughters, men who might treat their PA or female colleagues in a less respectful manner.

They are proud beyond belief, and defend their little girls against anyone who would harm them in any way. Men need to understand that every woman is someone’s little girl; they close the loop when it comes to their daughters, but don’t always extend that understanding to other women.

Men do things out of self-interest. Women who want the world to be filled with strong, feminine women, need to show men that it is in their interest to raise confident daughters that demand respect, that view themselves as their best investment opportunity.

If men are convinced that their daughters will benefit from a world where women have equal opportunities in respect, they will join forces voluntarily and proactively to ensure that such a world exists.

The key to unlocking your daughter’s potential could well be the right relationship with her dad.

Julie Meyer is the founder and chief executive of Ariadne Capital, which pioneered the “Entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs” model in 2000. She is the Dragoness on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den Online, and the founder of Entrepreneur Country.