Chief encounters: Jackie Scutt says there is a shocking lack of female chief executives
In this week's chief encounters, Jackie Scutt, director of YWCA Scotland - The Young Women's Movement, asks why women make up more than half the third sector workforce but account for only 15% of the chief executives
What is your morning routine?
The first priority is a very large cup of tea. I like to get my head buzzing so reading an interesting article or chapter of a book with the cuppa is brilliant but more often it’s firing up the emails and planning the day ahead.
How many hours do you normally work in a week?
I feel strongly about the benefits of a work-life balance and I’d like to say exactly 35 hours. But in reality, our work is a big part of our life in the third sector so it’s more complicated. I don’t count the hours but I’m also mindful about burn-out for myself and my colleagues.
What are you working on at the moment?
In the last year, we’ve rebranded as The Young Women’s Movement and designed a new way of working as an “association”. At the moment, we are sharing our ground-breaking research into the Status of Young Women in Scotland.
What was your gender lightbulb moment?
I’m the youngest of three. My brother is in the middle but somehow his name always appeared first, before our oldest sister.
There are too many women playing down their talents in a support role – only 5% of third sector organisations are chaired by a woman
Are there enough women in senior roles in the third sector?
We are more than half the workforce but make up only 15% of the chief executives. That’s shocking. There are too many women playing down their talents in a support role. Even worse, only 5% of third sector organisations are chaired by a woman.
What about the private sector?
Having gender equality brings benefits for everyone. I think it matters across the board – private sector, public life, community leadership – everything. We need to hear all of our voices.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I struggle with this. It’s the small highlights every day that give me joy rather than the big prizes. I couldn’t wish to be in a better place than I’m in right now.
How do you relax?
Oh gosh, I have a weakness for quiz shows – Pointless, Eggheads, University Challenge – I watch them all.
Who is or was your role model?
My role models have been independent women who like and encourage other women; the unsung ones who are amongst my closest friends and colleagues. But we all need popular role models too. I loved Helen Mirren’s character in Prime Suspect – the way she kept her dignity, focus and self-respect solving the unspeakable crimes against women within an environment crowded with male egos.
If you were your boss would you like you?
I hope so! I’m passionate about what I do, highly focussed and work collaboratively. But I’ve also had bad experiences in the past where bosses have been threatened by me which is so disappointing.
How did you end up in your job?
By accident, of course, like so many of us in the third sector. I spent many years in further, higher, adult and community education then fell fortuitously into a challenging social enterprise role about 20 years ago. Now I’m lucky enough to have a job that uses all that entrepreneurial experience combined with my lifelong commitment as a feminist.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Look around at all the possibilities that life presents beyond the familiar roles and professions that tend to attract women. If something needs changing in the world, you can change it!
Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?
Mmmmm … how about Tilda Swinton and Jackie Kay?