- Home Secretary spoke at female mentoring scheme Women Ahead event
- Launch held in London aims to connect women in sport and business
- Mrs May said Victoria Pendleton is an important role model
Theresa May has called on British women to avoid imitating men's behaviour in the workplace and instead support one another.
She said that women should celebrate the 'different approach' they take in comparison to men in the professional world.
The Home Secretary was speaking at the launch of Women Ahead, a new female mentoring scheme aiming to connect women in sport and business.
Mrs May spoke to a group of around 150 women and men at the event held at Google's UK headquarters in London yesterday.
She stressed: '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.'
She takes a notable break from tradition in women at the top level of Tory party politics - Margaret Thatcher famously adopted a male approach, even hiring a vocal coach to lower her voice.
Mrs May's words reflect recent research showing companies with women on the board are more likely to make decisions that are fair and benefit everyone.
Researchers found women tend to consult others in the decision-making process, leading to a more cooperative feeling in the firm. The study, which surveyed 600 board members, concluded that female-influenced companies were more successful than male-dominated ones.
Mrs May, who is the first Conservative female Home Secretary, went on to explain that 'equality [has] started to become a dirty word'.
She 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, say the Telegraph.
Mrs May said women aren't always good at supporting each other, and that they should make more effort to do so, 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, hailing glamorous female sporting role models.
'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.'