Careers Advisor and students. Challenging Gender Stereotypes

Insights: Challenging gender stereotypes with a unique Women in Business event  

With International Women’s Day and National Careers Week coinciding, Wendy Lavin, Employer Engagement Officer at Career Connect, explains how Career Connect used both the content and format of a schools’ event to challenge stereotypes and create an impactful experience for pupils.  

“We were tasked with organising and delivering an event for Year 9 pupils, aimed at raising aspirations and challenging gender-based career stereotypes.

“Each year in partnership with the school, we deliver a Women in Business event – and each year the volunteers attending the event grows and diversifies.

“We arranged for inspiring women from a range of occupations and employers to attend school. Prior to the event, each attendee was briefed, and the concept of the event explained. We also supported attendees to prepare for the event in terms of how to present the information they wanted to discuss with pupils, and feel more confident in sharing their own career journey and lived experiences.

“The school supported the students by giving them time to think of questions they wanted to ask, and to take time to understand the different occupations of the attendees.

“On the day, each attendee was welcomed to the school and supported by Career Connect staff with the timings and running order. 

“Pupils made their way around a carousel, speaking to each attendee and asking them a series of questions…

“…and then the students were challenged to guess their occupations! 

“The ‘big reveal’ was made during a panel session, where each attendee discussed their profession and career journey.

“There were audible gasps from the pupils as some of their guesses were wrong and some right!

“Our guests were able to challenge stereotypes, with many of them working in non-traditional roles or STEM careers, and some not looking how the pupils expected someone in that job to look.

“The feedback from pupils and staff was that the event really opened their eyes to what could be achieved, and what sort of careers were open to them after school.

“Having a diverse range of professions was key and the students asked insightful questions which furthered their knowledge and understanding.

“The feedback from the professionals who attended was fantastic too, as they got a lot from the event and all were really passionate about inspiring the next generation of potential employees.

“After the event, the pupils were given the opportunity to reflect on their experience, discuss with their form tutors what this may mean for their future career choice, how they were inspired during the event, and what they were planning to do next.

“While the benefit for the pupils at events like this is clear, the benefit for employers and professionals is key too.

“It is a significant way for employers to engage with the next generation, challenge stereotypes and meet their social value commitments; to give back in local communities, promote their work and organisation.” 

We work with really committed businesses and employees, and we want to say thank you to all of those who continue to support us each year and inspire young people across the UK.

If you are a school or business and would like to find out about working with Career Connect, get in touch with our team via our Contact Us page.

Insights: What works in engaging employers with school events?  

This National Careers Week, Wendy Lavin, Employer Engagement Officer at Career Connect, shares best practice on how schools can engage well with employers and build long-term relationships that can benefit students for years to come.  

“Offering school pupils meaningful employer encounters is not only a key Gatsby Benchmark, but regular contact with employers is also a proven method for increasing future employment prospects,” says Wendy.     

“One of the key drivers for our team is to support schools and colleges in delivering inspirational and motivational events that are relevant for young people. It can be challenging to align the curriculum, the school day, and inspirational volunteers from the world of work, but there are things that you can do to make your event a success and build lasting relationships with local businesses and national employers.” 

Here are Wendy’s top tips. 

 Some of our non-negotiables when arranging employer events  

Give employers a lot of notice. A minimum of 8 weeks’ notice to attend events often yields the best return in terms of attendance  

Over-invite the number of people you need. Often things don’t go according to plan, and people have to drop out both prior to the event and on the day. Make sure you have invited more people than you need  

Think about the timing of the event. Some people will not be paid before 9am and others will work shifts, therefore sometimes a later start (such as 9.30am) can really help in achieving good attendance rates 

Preparation is key. Offer employers a chance to discuss with you what is expected of them. It can be really intimidating to stand up in front of a group of young people and talk about yourself, especially if you didn’t realise you had to!   

Prepare your pupils. We often find that the most positive relationships are built when pupils are well prepared for events and embrace the opportunity to meet with employers. Let young people know who is attending in advance, and perhaps ask your students to research them.  

It’s all about the welcome! It is essential there are enough staff on the day to manage lots of visitors throughout your event.  

Make sure you have a budget for refreshments. Everyone appreciates a tea, coffee and something to eat. It makes visitors who have given their time feel valued. It’s small but goes a long way. If there are specific times for refreshments or breaks, try to let them know in advance – employers may want to use this time to reply to work emails or take a call.    

Ask for feedback every time. It all helps you to plan your next event, and it keeps the conversation going with the employer. Hopefully this is the start of a long and fruitful relationship!  

For a chat about how Career Connect can help you with your employer events, contact us on:

Pictured: Career Connect’s Education and Business Team at an employer Skills Fair organised for schools