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Harry Potter author tops the list of entrepreneurial female role models for young women

JK Rowling has been voted the most inspirational and admired entrepreneurial female role model for young women in the UK.

According to The Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), the Harry Potter author was followed by fashion designer Stella McCartney and TV Dragon's Den star and successful businesswoman Deborah Meaden in a survey of the nation's 14 - 24 year-olds.

The research also revealed 75% believe it is more difficult for women to get ahead in business while more than 80% felt they needed to work harder than men to get ahead. And, less than 8% had ambitions to run their own business.

However, more than 90% felt positive female role models will help to pave the way for more young women to reach their full potential.

Karen Moir, director of organisational development at The Co-operative Financial Services, said: "Inspiring the next generation to realise their dreams and potential is vital for business and the UK economy if it is to achieve its full potential.

"It is a real concern to see that so many young women believe it is harder for them to succeed in business and, that a lack of female role models is restricting their career aspirations. At CFS, inspiring young people is one of our key aims. We are committed to offering equal opportunities to all colleagues and to supporting the positive contribution that young people make - both at work and in the community.

"In our latest employee survey, more than 95% of young women at CFS believe the business is committed to treating employees fairly regardless of gender.

"Together we are working to create a great place for our people to work, grow and develop. However, much more must be done by business and society if we are to fully address gender inequality in the UK."