A line-up of high-flying young women who recently left King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham have staged an inspirational panel discussion as the culmination of the school’s ‘Girl Boss’ Careers Week. The women, from a diverse range of backgrounds, debated a variety of topics related to the female experience in the workplace, like the importance of mentoring, building self-confidence and the need to speak out against discrimination of all sorts. The panellists included Jyoti Sehdev, 24, an award-winning Civil Engineer currently working on the redevelopment of London Bridge Station and a respected STEM Ambassador, who described how she learned to cope with her own heavily male-dominated workplace and encouraged more young women to follow in her footsteps. Mita De who read History and Anthropology at UCL also gave humorous examples of the struggles she had faced in the predominantly male culture of the music industry where she is now a respected agent and producer managing top rap and rock artists.
Two former KEHS quiz mates who reached the finals of the National Schools Challenge Challenge Championship together, Madeline Grant, 25, and Catherine Hodge, 24 were also reunited on the panel. Madeline, a recent Mastermind semi-finalist is now a media officer at the free-market Westminster think-tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. Catherine, a former member of the quiz team at Robinson College, Cambridge, is a Project Manager for the NGO Network for Africa and recently worked on an educational project in Sierra Leone.
Panellist Lola Oyebode, Associate Professor of Health at Warwick University brought her new baby with her, and described how her older male boss had sent her out to Kenya soon after she came back from maternity leave with her first baby, while she was still breast-feeding. “He had never thought of the extra problems this would cause” said Lola, “but with a lot of effort I managed to make the trip against the odds which I was determined to do, to prove that it’s possible to juggle motherhood and a high-flying job.”
“We were thrilled to have such a fascinating range of careers represented among our panellists,” said Laura Quigley, Head of Careers at KEHS. “They’re mainly recent leavers, making their way in demanding professions so our girls identified with them strongly. They talked about their own experiences and the particular challenges women face in the workplace. Afterwards our Sixth-formers were able to network with the panellists and discuss their own career aspirations. Everyone said it was the highlight of what’s been a really productive, stimulating ‘Girl Boss’ Careers Week.