17-year-old Megan tells her story: from Basildon to BT Tower talk

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Megan Johnson, a 17 year old student from Basildon Upper Academy, was invited to speak at the launch of Inspiring Women in Sport to explain how girls in state schools benefit from talking with real life role models about jobs and careers. This is what Megan had to say.

An Inspiring Women event was held at my school a year ago and that day has opened up so many opportunities for me. Early last week I was invited to attend an event held at the BT tower in London, the launch event for Inspiring Women in Sport. It was a privilege to join such influential women, like Inspiring Women founder and champion Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, BT Sport broadcaster Clare Balding, 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and Minister for Sport Helen Grant. I was asked to speak about the event we held at my school and the long lasting impact it has had on me.
I was extremely nervous about speaking; the thought of it was so daunting. But from the moment we arrived everyone was so warm and welcoming. Clare and Miriam both recognised me immediately after attending my school. Miriam spent time talking to me before the event began, offering me words of advice, reassurance and encouragement. The event was opened by Delia Bushell, who introduced Miriam, the first speaker at the event. Following Miriam, Helent Grant spoke and then Clare Balding. I was to follow. I listened to them all speak. They spoke with such confidence, making me even more nervous. My heart began to beat fast, my hands were shaking with nerves. Clare introduced me and I stood in front of everyone, preparing myself to begin, everyone’s eyes fixed on me. I had my speech prepared and I began. Within seconds I felt so much more comfortable and confident. Everyone was listening to what I had to say. I even managed to get a couple of laughs which reassured me that they must have been interested.
After I had finished speaking, I had the chance to have photo’s taken with the other 4 speakers. They all congratulated me on how well I had spoken, especially for someone of my age. This made me feel so proud. I had managed to talk in front of all these high profile guests and hold it together.
I have so much gratitude for the Inspiring Women Campaign, for giving me the confidence to develop the key skills I need to succeed. I have begun mentoring younger GCSE students, which is helping me develop my leadership skills and ensuring they achieve their GCSE grades. I have also become Sports Captain for my house. This role includes encouraging and motivating students to participate in interhouse sporting events, competing with and alongside fellow students in each year as well as coaching and managing the teams in these competitions. Without the knowledge and encouragement I received from these Inspirational women, I do not think I would have been confident enough to grasp such opportunities.
I feel very motivated from what I learnt that day. I got to see how far hard work can really take you. With hard work, effort and dedication anything is possible, even when people say that your dreams are unreachable.
By having the opportunity to attend this launch event and talk about the impact it has had on me will hopefully encourage other women to join such a worthwhile campaign. I have taken so much from these events, even being offered work experience in PR for the communications director of rugby premiership. Clare Balding even said I could go and work for her!

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Inspiring Women reaches the rural South West

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Charlotte Sanctuary is the Director of the Client Council at KPMG. She recently took part in an Inspiring Women event in Bridport, West Dorset. She shares some reflections on her own career path and the importance of inspiring the next generation.

I work at KPMG on our client relationship and entertaining programme. To many clients I am regarded as the “face of KPMG” and host our major events on a, UK, European, and Global basis, for example at the World Economic Forum in Davos and the Ryder Cup in the US and Europe.

I started as a secretary and held a few roles at different organisations. It was whilst at Arthur Young that I got “my break” into the events world. My boss appreciated my organisational skills, firstly asking me to organise internal conferences, then small client events and this grew and developed into a more formal role organising events and hospitality events for clients.

l have become involved with the Inspiring Women campaign as I believe it is vitally important to ensure girls in schools realise the different career opportunities that are open to them, how to get there, and what qualifications or experience they need to achieve their goals.

I am delighted to report that we had over 90 girls attend our career speed dating event. We organised the event to give the girls in Years 10 and above the opportunity to speak with and chat to a variety of different women with diverse careers which has hopefully inspired and helped the girls make some initial decisions about their career path.

We had a total of 10 speakers, including myself and I would like to personally thank all the speakers for their support, enthusiasm and giving up their time, Dr Debbie Attrill (GP and Director at The Hive), Julie Breakwell (Senior Manager, KPMG), Lucy Chant (Director, AP Chant), Professor Jo Gill (Associate Professor at Exeter University), Dr Francesca Mikola (Dental Practitioner); Gemma Scott (Chef), Pamela Sibley (Veterinary Surgeon), Kay Taylor (Head Teacher at the Sir John Colfox School) and Linda Whitney (Journalist) for their support with this event, Andy David (Teacher at the Sir John Colfox School) for all the organising such a successful evening.

Here’s a Q&A with Andy David, teacher at the Sir John Colfox School, which hosted the event attended by Charlotte. It illustrates why the campaign matters.

Question: Why do you think it is important for girls to meet and talk to women doing different jobs?

Answer: It is absolutely essential and something I passionately believe in. Having worked in the city where there are so many more opportunities I think it is even more important that this type of thing happens in rural schools where aspirations tend to be lower and exposure to a range of jobs is limited. Unless you are fortunate to have parents who are aspirational you likely to only know about the jobs that have the most exposure either in the media or within the community.

Question: What did you notice in the interactions between the women and the girls?

Answer: It was an incredibly vibrant atmosphere and there was a real buzz. My first observation was that it was great to have such a vast number of girls together in one room who were genuinely keen to learn about career pathways. My second observation was that it did not really matter who the speaker was (I was worried some might switch off when they talked to someone who did a job they were not interested in) as they seemed curious about everything, grateful someone was talking to them and keen to know how this could relate to them.

Question: Were there any surprising or funny comments?

Answer: Nothing funny, but I have been teaching for 16 years now and you cannot beat the buzz of feeling like something you did made a real difference. To hear girls, particularly girls you did not think would even turn up, talk about wanting to be a doctor or a dentist is absolutely wonderful. To get the feedback I did was incredible as I genuinely thought some girls would not get it. I thought some would say ‘that was a waste of time’ or ‘there were no jobs I was interested in’ but this did not happen.

Inspiring Women in Sport launches at the BT Tower

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Female leaders from the world of sport including; BT Sport broadcaster Clare Balding, world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and Minister for Sport Helen Grant joined Inspiring Women founder Miriam González Durántez at BT Tower to launch Inspiring Women in Sport.
Backed by BT Sport, Inspiring Women in Sport is calling upon females working in this sector to pledge one hour a year to talk with girls in state schools nationally about forging a career in this traditionally male dominated industry.

As a curtain-raiser for the campaign, 30 schoolgirls from Queensmead School, Hillingdon participated in a one hour ‘career speed networking’ session at the top of BT Tower with influential women from sports governing bodies, professional athletes and sports media. More career speed networking sessions will take place across the country – including a showcase event at London Aquatics Centre on 25 February – during Inspiring Women in Sport Week – 23 February to 1 March 2015. The week is part of the wider Inspiring Women campaign, run by charity the Education and Employers Taskforce, which already has 12,300 volunteers across all sectors.

Speaking at the launch Clare Balding, BT Sport presenter, said: “There are so many exciting opportunities in sport and I want to help girls and young women realise the full range available to them – whether it’s a career in broadcasting, journalism, event management, coaching, marketing, physiotherapy, sports science or governance. There are so many options and with an exciting year of women’s sport ahead, the timing couldn’t be better to inspire a new generation of women to get involved.”

Miriam González Durántez, Inspiring Women founder and champion, said: “Sport is as important to girls as it is to boys. It should have no gender boundaries. There are amazing women whose names have made history in sport and there are many more women, less well known, who have fulfilling sport careers.
“We ask for all those women, for all girls all across the country, their sports team mates, their friends, their sport teachers…please join us at the Inspiring Women Sports Week between 21 Feb and 1 March and help us to inspire a new generation of girls looking at sport as something that ‘is also for them’ “.

Helen Grant, Minister for Sport, says: “This is a perfect opportunity to nurture and encourage the sporting talents of our young women. Female role models such as Clare Balding, Christine Ohuruogu, Kelly Smith and Stacey Copeland have made huge progress in the world of sport and are ideally positioned to inform and inspire the next generation of girls and women to follow in their footsteps. Sport should not discriminate, it should be inclusive – so show your support and back this campaign by getting involved in these inspiring events.”

Delia Bushell, Managing Director of BT TV and Sport , said: “BT Sport is delighted to be principal partner for Inspiring Women in Sport and to be hosting the launch. We actively support and showcase women in sport across our channels and this volunteering campaign to encourage girls to consider a career in sport is an extension of that commitment.”

To sign up and volunteer or for more information please go to http://www.inspiringthefuture.org or Twitter @Edu_Employers

Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edu_employers/sets/72157650381041432/

Read more: http://sport.bt.com/more-sport-hub/women-in-sport/bt-sport-host-inspiring-women-in-sport-launch-S11363955515750

What a difference an hour makes!

Photo©John Cassidy The Headshot Guy® www.theheadshotguy.co.uk 07768 401009

Writes Ruth Shaw, Chief Executive, Sports Grounds Safety Authority and Board Member, Women in Football.

The New Year is a great time to look to the future. This year, instead of making the usual resolutions to eat less, get fit, find love, or land that promotion, I’d encourage you to pledge an hour to Inspiring the Future and their Inspiring Women campaign. If you do, you might find that those 60 minutes could result in a change that lasts a lifetime for a girl or young woman. Inspiring the Future connects teachers with volunteers from the world of work, and invites them to commit an hour a year to talk about their jobs. The programme is a great way to expose young people to a range of careers and opportunities, and to encourage them to think big, or think differently, about their own futures.

I signed up to the programme and in December I was invited to attend a Career’s Day at a girls’ secondary school in Brent. Having attended a single sex grammar school in Lancashire in the 1990s I thought I was prepared for what lay ahead, but as I arrived at the school gates I felt myself shrinking back to the eleven year old me. Was this the right way in? Who should I ask for when I arrived? What if I needed the toilet? As I walked into the reception area the memories came flooding back of school dinners, navy gym knickers, and the chatter of the form room.

These thoughts were interrupted by the piercing trill of the school bell, and I was guided down the corridor into the main hall where a series of desks had been set up for the universities and companies who had been invited to take part. The aim of the morning was to raise students’ aspirations by enabling them to find out about the wide variety of careers available to them within the world of work. Small groups of pupils trooped around the tables to ask about the roles on offer from Deloittes to Network Rail and the NHS to independent entrepreneurs. The school had done a great job bringing in speakers from all walks of life so there was something for everyone, and a broad range of participants.

Most of the young people I spoke to didn’t yet know what they wanted to be, although I met a high number of aspiring fashion designers. Whether or not they’ll all make it to the catwalk I don’t know, although I was able to encourage them that growth in the creative industries was outperforming all other sectors of UK industry, and accounted for 1.68 million jobs in 2012.

Statistics aside, the best advice I was able to give was about the importance of doing something you enjoy. I didn’t know what I wanted to be at their age, and with a career that is likely to span another thirty years I expect I might be in for a change or two myself, but I am lucky to have a job I love, and we spoke about the importance of doing something that motivates you.

A number of students asked about how I ended up working in the world of sport, and I explained that my background was in working for central government, which had led me into roles on the Olympics and Paralympics, and more recently sports grounds safety. My role can take me to any of the 92 professional football clubs in the country, and as far afield as Brazil for the World Cup preparations. One week I could be in the Houses of Parliament advising on legislation, and another week I could be giving a presentation in Europe on the dangers of pyrotechnics at sports grounds. My job is really varied and interesting, and part of the point I made was that you didn’t have to be sporty, or ‘into sport’, to find an interesting and meaningful career in the industry.

I spoke to girls who wanted to be architects, broadcasters, medics and accountants. While sport might not have seemed an obvious choice for them, I explained that we need a future generation with the talent and skills to design sports stadia; we could benefit from more women on Match of the Day or Sky Sports; every professional sports team needs a doctor, a physio, a sports scientist, and others; and sport can be one of the most exciting and competitive businesses to manage from a financial or commercial point of view. Working in sport is not only for the ‘sporty’ and it is certainly not only for boys.

The world I work in is fairly male dominated. At a dinner I attended recently with senior figures from the world of football my place was set for ‘Mr Ruth Shaw’. I don’t take it personally! I’m often in the minority – the only woman round the meeting table for example – and while I can deal with that, it does worry me. Sport needs to attract the best of our future talent, male and female, in order to thrive. Part of the reason I wanted to speak to the girls at the Convent of Jesus and Mary language college in Brent was to encourage them that the possibilities within sport are limitless and extend across a broad range of careers. If just one of the young women I met is encouraged to think differently about working in sport as a result of that morning – if just one begins to question or challenge what other opportunities are open to her – then that was an hour well spent.

Inspiring the Future is not about channelling young people down specific routes, it’s about opening up new pathways. It’s about exposing young people to ideas and opportunities, and encouraging them to think big about their futures. It’s about giving pupils a map and encouraging them to explore. Pledge an hour and you might just change a career.

Register here to volunteer: http://www.inspiringthefuture.org/about-inspiring-women/

Inspiring Women in Sport launches next week!

On the 20th January the BT Tower in London hosts the launch event of the Inspiring Women in Sport campaign. Watch this space to hear more about how to get involved and events happening in schools and colleges near you. BT Sport is our principal partner for this event.

Why are there so few female philosophers?

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Philosophy stands out among the Humanities as one of the few subject where women are vastly outnumbered by men. A report by the Equality Challenge Unit has found that, among non-STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, philosophy is one of the most male-dominated with men accounting for 71.2% of the profession.

Interesting Guardian article about why and what can be done: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/jan/05/philosophy-is-for-posh-white-boys-with-trust-funds-why-are-there-so-few-women