Theresa May: Women must avoid imitating men in the office

Theresa May has called on women across the UK to avoid mimicking the behaviour of men in the workplace and instead support one another

Theresa May, the Home Secretary

Theresa May, the Home Secretary

The Home Secretary said that women should celebrate the "different approach" they take to male colleagues in the professional world.

Speaking at the launch of a new female mentoring scheme in London, today, she said: “It’s important to recognise that women may approach work in a different way to men. But that’s equally as valid an approach as men bring to a role. And it can achieve just as good results. That’s something we’re still tackling in politics."

Her words signify a break with tradition and highlight a new approach for Tory women at the top level of Government. During her time in power, Margaret Thatcher was often accused of acting ‘like a man’, even hiring a vocal coach to lower her voice.

Mrs May, who is the first Conservative female Home Secretary, went on to explain that “equality [has] started to become a dirty word” and added: “Equality of opportunity is important because everyone has talent. If you ignore the 50 per cent of the population that are women you miss a huge pool.”

The Home Secretary also said that more generally needs to be done to get women into leadership positions in Britain.

She spoke to group of around 150 women and men at the launch of the ‘Women Ahead’ mentoring scheme, which aims to connect women in sport and business.

Mrs May encouraged women to support one other, something she said they “weren’t always very good at”, explaining they should not feel that they need to achieve everything by themselves.

“We must encourage other women by demonstrating and sharing our own success. Men have networks, men have their champions. So women should too. Be part of saying ‘I have achieved, let me help someone else’”.

She also addressed a reluctance among young women to participate in sport.

“This isn’t meant to sound like a sexist comment but, for a lot of girls and young women, they don’t get involved in sport as they think it will affect their body image and will make them all muscly.”

“That’s why someone like Victoria Pendleton is an important role model. She shows you can look good as well as be successful.

"We have a real need to show people female role models."

Her comments come after Helen Grant, minister for sport and equalities, controversially encouraged girls to take up more "feminine" sports such as cheerleading, or zumba. In an interview with the Telegraph, she also expressed the need to identify why women are put off from playing sport and advocated: “Actually looking at our women and our girls and asking, what do they want?”

Claire Cohen