About us

´When we were lucky enough to speak to senior women in the industry who had blazed a trail before us, and we heard their story, we felt energised and inspired to do more.  We would come away from even just a short conversation, feeling we could achieve our goals.  

If they had done it, why not us?

So we asked ourselves, ´how can we share this energy and passion amongst all women in the industry?  How can we pass this knowledge on to other women coming up through the ranks? ‘

Leanne Linacre

Director and owner of LILA*

I run a successful business with my sister. We have had and are still having the most amazing adventure with lots of highs and lows.

I’ve learnt a lot and have achieved more than most men in my field.

Yet when I stood for election to the board of ALTO, 4 years ago, I was more nervous than I’d ever been in my life.

The board was dominated by male owners of big chain organisations. I wanted to represent women and independent schools.  I was standing for something I passionately believed in.  I knew I could do it.

So why, I asked myself, was I so nervous?

I realised that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I doubted my own right and ability to be on that board.   I felt like an impostor.   As I stood up to make my pitch I had to take a deep breath, conquer my fears and lean in.

And guess what?

I didn’t make a fool of myself and no one stood up and shouted ‘who are you to think you can do this??!’ I was elected to the board, and 4 years on, I am now the Chair of ALTO and loving every minute.

Through Lead5050 I want to make sure that no woman doubts her ability or right to be in a position of leadership because of her gender. And that if she ever does suffer a similar crisis of confidence, she has a network of like-minded peers and mentors she can call on for support and guidance.

Leanne Linacre, Lead5050 Co Founder 


Maria Castro

Director and owner of Linguland

At 6 years old I got very upset watching cartoons.
“I want to be Dogtanian, I want to be Dogtanian!”
“No, you cannot be Dogtanian because Dogtanian is a boy and you are a girl. You are Juliet. I am Dogtanian!” said my little brother
“I am Dogtanian!! I´m older than you, so I get to choose!!”
“No way, you are Juliet”

It was the same with Superman and Lois Lane, Willy Fog and Romy and so many others – I just couldn’t relate to those female characters because they were wimpy and passive……..they fainted, cried and waited to be rescued whereas the boys got to do all the cool stuff.

Now fast forward a few years and I’m in my early twenties. Imagine a confident girl with great grades, good at sports and very supportive parents. That was me. And yet still I played “the damsel in distress” quite often in life because I felt that was what was expected of me.

Today I am older and wiser, and I have the confidence to say: No, I don’t want to play that role anymore. It is not my role to play.

For my daughter, for my son, for myself. I remind myself everyday to fight against that deeply ingrained gender stereotyping because it no longer serves me.

That´s one of the reasons why I am passionate about Lead5050: for the support and confidence gained from being part of a group of like minded people.

I want my daughter Elisa to know that she can succeed on her own terms. That she can be a leader and take charge if she wants to.

I want my son Leonardo to feel relaxed in the knowledge that boys don’t have to always be agressive and  dominant – it’s not a sign of weakness to be kind and gentle.

Roles should be determined by ability and character, not by gender.

Don’t let society tell you how to be a woman or a man

Maria Castro, Lead5050 Co Founder

#changethenarrative #runyourownshow

Ella Tyler

Director and owner of Mountlands Language School

I was lucky enough to be born to a single teenage mum in the early seventies.

I say lucky, because if I’d been born literally five years earlier I would probably have been taken away and adopted, or even spent my childhood in a care home.

Don’t get me wrong, it was no picnic for my mother, bringing up a little girl on her own, and studying at the same time.   But it is interesting how different my life would have been all because of the prevailing norms of society.

What was considered acceptable in the late sixties was beginning to be frowned upon five years later and I am the fortunate beneficiary of someone, somewhere who stood up and challenged the status quo.

So I believe that it is possible to make a profound difference to people’s lives in a very short time.

I believe that we need to stand up and say ‘Whaaaaat??  No way am I putting up with that’.

And I truly believe that we are stronger together – by which I mean women AND men standing up together and championing equality for the benefit of all.

This is why I am passionate about Lead5050.

Join us and help make things more equal in our industry.  It is possible.

Ella Tyler, Lead5050 Co Founder












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