More than 600 young women from across South Wales and west of England came together at the fourth annual Keeping It Equal careers and training conference, staged once again at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.
Organised by Cardiff-based social enterprise, Full Circle Education, the Keeping It Equal event seeks to engage female pupils and students aged 11-24 with careers and training programmes that are not traditionally seen as female or in which women are underrepresented.
Held annually since 2013 to mark International Women’s Day, the event has doubled in size year-on-year.
Nikki Giant, founder and director of Full Circle Education, explained why it was important that girls open their minds and challenge ‘jobs for the boys’ mentality. She said:
“We want to show to teenagers that they do not have to follow the ‘traditional female route’ and should aim high and go for the career they want.
“This event will show girls that they should aspire to be whatever they choose and that their opportunities are as broad as the future as boys. We want them to be inspired and potentially find the job of their dreams by keeping it equal.
Event sponsors Western Power Distribution (WPD), Willmott Dixon, Opus International, and GMB Cardiff are advocates of equal opportunities across their workforces and fully support the opportunities provided by Full Circle and the Keeping It Equal event.
WPD’s corporate communication manager, Paul Bishop said: “We are pleased to support this initiative and to have the opportunity to discuss careers in engineering with a young female audience. We are always looking for talented, highly motivated people to join our apprenticeship schemes regardless of gender”.
Opus International are keen to promote engineering as a career option for girls. Ffion Jones, learning and development officer, commented:
“Opus International is delighted to be involved with the fantastic Keeping It Equal initiative. This opportunity to talk with so many young women about engineering as an exciting career is one we couldn’t miss.
“The future of our industry lies in attracting the best talent, regardless of gender. We need to ensure that girls are given every chance, as early as possible, to think about becoming engineers.”
The event is very ‘hands on’ and the young delegates are encouraged to mix with many female role models and representatives exhibiting at the event from BBC Wales, ITV Cymru, South Wales Police, Network Rail, GE, Cardiff and Vale College, Western Power Distribution , See Science, RAF, Ministry of Life and many more. The event will also see the launch of Full Circle’s ‘Manifesto for Girls’ Rights’ which the organisation hope will raise awareness of the need to invest more time and resources into addressing the issues affecting young women in Wales.
Nikki Giant was excited by this year’s line of keynote speakers. She said: “We have a fantastic line up of inspiring women who will tell their stories and encourage the girls attending to think about their career choices. I am delighted that we will be joined by Oxford graduate, Lydia Lewis; Sony Engineer Jessica Jones; and Capital FM breakfast host, Polly James.”
See more at www.FullCircleEducation.org