Don’t scare girls away from ‘male dominated’ industries!

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Says Niri Arambepola- Structural Engineer at WSP, who was one of the 100 Inspiring Women at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School for our ‘Women Who Make the City’ event.

In some ways it is unfortunate that your teenage years are both when you are making important career decisions, and when you are often least confident and most aware of gender differences. For these reasons it would not be surprising to find that girls are nervous of taking a career path which would see them going into male dominated industries.
I work as an engineer, a profession in which 92% of the workforce is male. However, my experience, both in my current job at WSP (a large company with a mix of men and women) and in my internships at small companies where I was the only woman, is that my gender makes no difference. I am well aware that being female does not affect how well I do my job, and I am surrounded (in the office and on site) by professionals who feel the same.
Whilst it is important to highlight the lack of women in the industry, we shouldn’t do so to the detriment of girls’ career choices. It is important that girls do not feel scared to go into engineering for fear of sexism (which thankfully is not prevalent). We need to push girls to make their career choices based on what they are good at and what they enjoy.
This is where things like careers fairs, career talks and work experience can make a big difference. WSP had a stall at an Inspiring Women careers fair and I saw first-hand how this provides girls with much needed information about what jobs are out there and what they are really like. Many of the girls we spoke to had never heard of engineering before, but now I hope they will know enough to consider it as an option for further education.
Being informed gives young women confidence in their choices. And if they are confident, they are less likely to be put off by external factors, be it the male: female ratio or the length of a degree course. An informed young woman will be aware of the options available to her and can make decisions about her future based on what is right for her rather than on stereotypes.
Join the Inspiring Women campaign here:


The fashion for aiming high


Having talked with 100s of state school girls over the last year Inspiring Women campaign champion Miriam Gonzalez Durantez talks to The Observer about who girls see as role models and the power of image.

Read the article:

Inspiring Women reaches its first birthday

Today our Inspiring Women campaign celebrates its 1st birthday! Join the 11,000 women who have pledged one hour a year talk with girls about their job, careers and life experience in school near home or work:

Campaign champion, Miriam Gonzalez Durantes says; “why should a state educated girl feel any less than a public school boy who dresses in tailcoats to do maths?” This is the ethos of the campaign – to give girls in state schools the chance to speak face-to-face with real-life role models and give them confidence to feel that they can pursue their ambitions, whatever they might be. Our 11,000 volunteers come from all career stages, jobs and backgrounds.

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Inspiring Women in Scotland launches


New College Lanarkshire has hosted the Inspiring Women in Scotland launch event. Ten senior women from government, public and private sectors, and the arts took part in a speed career-networking event talking directly with 100 young girls about their experiences, their job and how they got there. The high profile ‘career speed networkers’ were;

Adriana Konjani, General Manager, Shell Business Service Centre
Angela Mitchell, Partner, Deloitte
Jackie Killenn, Director, Big Lottery Scotland,
Jo Swinson, MP for East Dunbartonshire
Kerry-Ann Duffy, Drilling Engineer, BP
Mary Contini, Writer and Broadcaster,
Maxine Dodd, Chair, Scottish Women in Games,
Merryn Somerset Webb, Editor in Chief, Money Week
Miriam González, Partner, Dechert LLP
Muffy Calder, Chief Scientific Advisor for Scotland
Prof Karen Vousden, Professor Cancer Biology, Glasgow University

The aim was to show a wide range of female role models across Scotland, to which young girls today can aspire. We hope to encourage thousands of other women in Scotland to join the Inspiring Women campaign and volunteer to pledge ‘one hour a year to talk to girls’ in a state school near home or work about their life experience, job and career route. Register here:

See some Inspiring Women in Scotland media coverage:

Scotland Tonight STV:

Sky News: