FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to smash the glass ceiling to "smithereens" as she prepares for her first meeting with one of the most powerful women in the world ...

the Queen.

Sturgeon will have ­discussions with the Queen during a visit to London next month, and will be sworn in as a member of the Privy Council on the same day.

The announcement was made as the Scottish Government's new leader pledged to work to "ensure there are no limits on women's ambitions".

Sturgeon has made ­addressing inequality a key focus of her administration, with a pledge to increase free childcare if she is in power after the 2016 Holyrood elections and a challenge to businesses and others to ensure half of their board members are female.

Meanwhile, her Cabinet team is the first in Scotland to have a 50/50 balance between men and women.

The new SNP leader also wants more women in the party to consider getting into frontline politics. She urged them to play a greater part when she addressed the SNP's second annual women's conference in Ayr yesterday.She said: "Throughout its history, strong women have played an important role in shaping the SNP - Margo MacDonald, Winnie Ewing and Margaret Ewing are just a few of the women who have helped the party become the social democratic force for change that we are today.

"As First Minister, tackling inequality is at the heart of all I do. Smashing the gender glass ceiling to smithereens is an important part of making progress."

Sturgeon stressed: "My simple message to girls and women across Scotland is this: if you are good enough and work hard enough, you can achieve anything. As First Minister I will work to ensure there are no limits on women's ambitions.

"I am delighted to be attending the second annual SNP women's conference and will take the opportunity to encourage more of our members to consider getting into frontline politics."

Sturgeon highlighted steps her government was taking to create a more equal society.

"Our new Scottish Business Pledge will invite companies to commit to extend payment of the living wage - a move that will benefit women and build on progress made since the SNP introduced the living wage," she said.

"Our 50/50 by 2020 pledge will challenge all public, private and third-sector bodies to commit to take action on gender equality, with a pledge to get a 50/50 gender split on boards by 2020. I also underlined our continuing commitment to major expansion of childcare, a move that will help more parents - especially women - back into work after having children."

Sturgeon continued: "The SNP in government has acted to expand childcare hours - with provision for three - and four-year-olds up 45% since 2007, saving families up to £707 per child. From August next year, all three, four and eligible two-year-olds will receive 16 hours a week.

"Next year, we'll start planning to ensure we can deliver on our commitment to double the number of hours of free childcare from 16 to 30 per week by the end of the next Parliament if we are re-elected."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The First Minister will be in London on December 10, when she will be sworn in as a member of the Privy Council, and is looking forward to an audience with Her Majesty the Queen on the same day."