Don't call new Spark boss a 'ball-breaker' - National Council for Women

There are high hopes for the new female chief executive of Spark.

Jolie Hodson will be one of only four female leaders amongst New Zealand's top 50 corporate entities. She's taking over the telco from Simon Moutter, who has resigned after seven years in charge.

"I feel it's the right time to pass the leadership baton on and I am delighted the board has chosen an outstanding leader in Jolie to succeed me," Moutter said on Wednesday.

National Council for Women president Vanisa Dhiru is urging other companies to appoint women to top levels.

"That should show some signal of change to their staff internally and demystify past comments about females not being able to move up the leadership ladder."

Dhiru says her colleagues and media should pay attention to what kind of language they use to describe Hodson's leadership style.

"If they are women they shouldn't be called 'feisty' or 'ball-breakers' or 'bossy'. That can be incredibly damaging. What's important is that leadership is diverse."

Spark used to be part of Telecom. Chorus - the other half of the former monopoly - is also headed by a woman, Kate McKenzie.

"That is showing some progress across the telco industry," said Dhiru. "We'd like see other industries really start to make headway."

While Hodson is the first female chief executive of Spark, its former Telecom incarnation was led for eight years by Theresa Gattung.