After leaving school, with my O-Grades and Highers (for those of you who remember those!) I took on what many people consider a typically ‘female role’ in Administration working in a local manufacturing production office. I got married and had my two children fairly young and so had to change to a job with the flexibility that allowed me to continue working part time and bring my family up at the same time. It wasn’t a bad job, but it wasn’t really a career choice for me, but very convenient for family life.
As my children grew up, I decided that it was time for me to go back to work full time, but after having worked part time for 12 years, I thought this might be difficult without learning some new skills and I wanted to really do something that I enjoyed.
I decided after a lengthy debate with myself that I was going to go to college and learn about something that had always interested me. I loved computer programming and technology from a young age, so decided to do an HNC in Computing at the University of the West of Scotland. I was a bit Apprehensive as I knew that I would be in the minority being a) A mature student and b) A female in a predominately male subject. I had need not have worried, I felt very comfortable and encouraged. My HNC turned into a BSc in Applied Computing after attending University.
After finishing University, I registered with a few employment agencies and got a call to attend an interview to work on a large Civil Engineering project, North east of Glasgow. I thought ‘why not?’ . I’ve always had a love for Bridges and that’s where my career in STEM began. Almost straight away, I could see that again, I was in the minority again, being a woman, and as I continued working in Civil Engineering projects, I could see that I really wanted to promote Women in Construction and Engineering as there was quite clearly an imbalance there. I joined the National Association of Women in Construction, and also became a woman in construction ambassador, attending the Scotbuild 2019 event in Glasgow. I also became a STEM ambassador and was striving to reach as many young people as I could to promote the industry, and tried to involve female engineers to become role models to inspire the next generation of Engineers. This also encouraged me to start studying again myself – Civil Engineering this time!
For me though, there was something missing. I wanted to tell everyone what great career choices were available in the industry. I wanted to tell the communities in which I was working, about all the benefits of the work we were doing, but I just wasn’t comfortable with speaking in public. I did it if I had to, but really didn’t relish it. I thought it was one of those things that either you were good at, or you weren’t!
I saw that Equate were delivering a public speaking workshop and I decided to go along. I walked into the office at FDM in Glasgow and was warmly greeted by Talat and sat down amongst the large group of women and felt fairly comfortable until Talat mentioned that we would be doing a number of activities that would involve us speaking in front of the group…..Oh No! My worst nightmare. The usual thoughts went through my head. What if I can’t think of anything to say and dry up. What if I stutter and mince my words. What if someone asks me a question that I can’t answer. To my surprise and comfort, these were fears most people have about public speaking, so I was not alone. The workshop was amazing, and it really increased my confidence and gave me the answers to all the aforementioned questions. Talat was inspirational in both delivering the workshop and also giving me the ability to recognise that there are skills that can be learned to enhance your public speaking, and that it’s possible for anyone to learn these skills.
As part of my job, I liaise with the West of Scotland and the Aberdeen STEM Hubs. I feel that the skills learned at the workshop, will allow my STEM Ambassador activities to become more enhanced and interesting as I will hopefully portray my confidence and ability to get the messages across. This hopefully will help to inspire the future generation to choose a STEM career!
Stakeholder Engagement Co-Ordinator for Farrans Construction