Female staff at Durham County Council have been sharing their experience of working in traditionally male-dominated roles, as part of this year’s International Women’s Day.
In order to celebrate this year’s theme, Choose to Challenge, the local authority hosted a webinar for County Durham schoolchildren, encouraging them to question gender stereotypes in the pursuit of their dream career.
The council is an equal opportunities employer with a gender balanced Cabinet, leadership and senior management team. Its gender pay gap is also one of the lowest among local authorities in the region.
Its webinar was delivered to hundreds of students from Whitworth Park Academy in Spennymoor, and featured a female highways inspector, fitness instructor and the council’s corporate director of regeneration, Amy Harhoff.
Amy joined the council last year, bringing significant experience in regeneration and strategic transport, following a number of senior management roles at other local authorities, Transport for Greater Manchester and Transport for the North.
Each of the speakers discussed their current roles, career journeys and aspirations for the future before taking questions from the pupils.
They also offered a number of hints and tips about applying for jobs and how to stand out against other candidates.
Amy Harhoff, corporate director of regeneration, said: “It is such a privilege to be able to speak to so many young people as part of International Women’s Day as it is so important that we recognise the achievements of women of all ages and backgrounds.
“There really is no limit to what can be achieved and I hope that in hearing more about the range of roles available within Durham County Council, we have helped to inspire more of the students to believe anything is possible for their futures.”
Amanda Jackson, Whitworth Park Academy’s senior leader for personal development, said: “The webinar delivered by key speakers at Durham County Council was inspirational. It was a brilliant opportunity for our students to learn about the different careers available to them once they leave school, the qualifications needed, different pathways into the roles and the importance of doing a job that they love and are passionate about.”
Cllr Angela Surtees, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for social inclusion, said: “It is absolutely vital that everyone has access to the same opportunities and is treated equally in all aspects of life. Challenging stereotypes and our preconceptions around those are key to moving towards this equality.
“Gender should never be a barrier to your dream role. Whether more men go into caring and creative roles, or more women pursue careers in construction, business, technology and finance, your ability and passion for what you do is all that matters.
“I hope that our female staff have helped to reinforce that key message this week and I look forward to seeing our younger generations work together to create a more equal future for everyone.”