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Construction Students Featured on Channel 5 Live News

Channel 5 Live visited our construction department on Monday 11 October 2021 to interview female students, turning the tide against gender stereotyping. The symbolic day was the ‘UN International Day of the Girl’, and the day on which Plan International, a global children’s charity, released a report showing that 68% of girls in the UK feel held back by harmful expectations.

Arina with reporter Leyla Hayes and camera and sound recordist Jonny Bonny
Arina with reporter Leyla Hayes and camera and sound recordist Jonny Bonny

1000 girls aged 11 to 18 were surveyed in the UK, with 60% reporting that girls are taught they are not good at DIY or fixing things. The Channel 5 news team – reporter Leyla Hayes and camera and sound recordist Jonny Bonny – interviewed apprentice Niamh, and students Arina and Seema, to find out why they chose to make their careers in construction. 

Niamh, who is a plumbing apprentice aged 17, said: “I’ve always been into physical work and the construction industry has really interested me, and I just wanted to show that women can be as good as men in more of the “manly” careers.”

Arina is aged 18. She is studying electrical installations. Arina said: “There’s not a lot of women working in the construction industry, and construction itself is just cool, you know. You can do so many like… it’s such a broad range, and you can do so much with it as well, but I’ve never had anything negative. Maybe a look, like “What’s she doing here?” but then when they see what I can do they’re like “Okay! Never mind”.”

Seema, aged 54, is also training to be an electrician. She said: “This trade has always been associated with men, so why not women? So, I thought if women can do other jobs, why not do construction jobs?”

Niamh with the Channel 5 crew
Niamh with the Channel 5 crew
Seema with the Channel 5 team
Seema with the Channel 5 team

Head of Construction at West London College, Mandy Bahra, said: “I’ve been Head of Construction for a couple of years now, and I’ve seen the growth in female learners coming here, so I feel optimistic about that, so I think the change in mindset is happening, but it’s very slow.”

Whether on television and films or from their friends, family and others, the majority of girls surveyed in the poll say they are being taught that women and girls are: irrational or hysterical (60%), better suited to housework and/or should take care of the home (72%), ‘bossy’ if they are being assertive (61%) and not good at sports (53%). More than half had been told they could not do something that boys or men are allowed to do (52%).

In the survey, girls said they felt that being attractive was the quality most valued by society – while they themselves felt being clever or intelligent and assertive and confident were the most important qualities in girls. They felt that young women like tennis player Emma Raducanu, climate activist Greta Thunberg and education campaigner Malala Yousafzai are good role models for girls. To find out more about the results of the Plan International UK report, click here.

You can see the Channel 5 broadcast here:

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