Developing female leaders

Women’s lives are full of transition, juggling roles and chapter changes. The different roles that women play across their lives bring unique challenges and opportunities to the leadership journey.


  • You don’t have many senior women in your STEM organisation and you’re keen to support those that you have..or women from the senior and mid-levels of your organisation are choosing to leave and you’re not sure why.
  • Women say they’re missing out on promotions, or on getting their voices heard at your top table… or your lead team is full of men.
  • You’re measured on your pay gap and diversity figures and you’re not making the grade..

Or on the other hand:


  • The women in your organisation are absolutely on fire and you want to support their fantastic work even further. You might be building a reputation as an aspirational place to work for female STEM leaders.
  • You have some incredible women further down the organisation and you want to inspire them to stay. Maybe you’re building a new culture which is diverse and inclusive – a successful place to be a talented female scientist, engineer, leader.
  • You may be unsure where to invest time and money to develop female leaders in your organisation, and looking for specialist help.

Working with these scenarios is absolutely our speciality, so let’s talk.

Is this right for you?

If you are:

  • Responsible for developing female leaders in a STEM, biotech or pharma organisation
  • Looking to support women across transitions, including maternity leave and return
  • Aiming to retain more women in senior STEM roles

3 ways…

There are three core pathways at clearworks to support your female leaders:

121 Coaching for
Women in STEM:

Coaching for Maternity Leave Returners; for transition; for impact and leadership confidence. Step up to the new role; First 100 days, and many more.

Clearworks Coaching Circles

Semi-structured group coaching programmes for women in STEM: “The six by six”: Six leaders, six months, one specialist coach.

Early STEM Career Development Programme

Leadership development for new and aspiring leaders in STEM on the specialist Lab To Leadership™

Recent examples

Maternity Leave Returner

A scientific leader worked with us prior to and after her second maternity leave, preparing for the transitions out and back into role. We aligned expectations with her manager and she explored her strengths, networks, support structures, goals and vision for the return. She focused on balance, wellness and performance in combination. On return to work she explored her new identity, responsibilities and hopes and fears for herself and her team. She described the greatest benefit as the chance to speak without judgement to identify and plan the most impactful conversations at home and at work, that made her feel resourced and excited to return.

Sole female in the Lead Team

A senior female leader in a digital team was frustrated with feeling she wasn’t having impact in her board presentations. She said there was no “real discrimination” but still found the team “blokey” and difficult to break into. With her coach, the leader explored all angles of the situation, from the parts she could control herself and the parts she needed to feed back to the team. She completed an EQi 360 process and was shocked to uncover the high level of respect from her peers. She used this to open up conversations about making the most of diversity in the room. She gained confidence in her own authentic style and was able to flex in some ways that didn’t serve her. She has recently been promoted to the board.

Women they call “Bossy”

A senior female leader in the Engineering sector was repeatedly being given subjective feedback using words like “scary” and “bossy”. She felt it was unfounded and unlikely to be used with the male leaders. She had considered raising a complaint but said she was “caught in a catch 22” where complaining could reinforce the stereotype. She loved the work and wanted to stay. The leader worked with her coach to understand various lenses on the situation. The potential biases in her organisation which might have been leading to stereotyping of leaders; and at the same time an uneasy awareness that she could sometimes allow people to push her too far before a snap. Working with a coach, without judgement, meant she could a) affect change in herself b) raise conversations to influence the experience of women in general c) prepare for specific conversations with individual peers. She has remained in post and describes feeling much more relaxed, and stronger in role.

Woman stuck in “the middle place”

A senior female leader was managing teenagers, career-peak, aging parents and the menopause, all while leading an all-male team of scientists in a globally visible role. She had decided to resign from her role in despair, despite not wanting to leave. She was offered Executive Coaching to explore her options as the organisation wanted to keep her. A combination of coaching, advice on wellness, exercise and self-care, in addition to mentoring and plenty of fresh air, helped this powerful leader rediscover her balance. She focused heavily on delegating, asking for help, saying no, as a first step, then realigned with her vision and purpose to decide what to do. She stayed in role and as well as making her own changes, negotiated reduced hours and increased support in the office. The organisation was fully supportive.