The workplace has continued to evolve, with roles that were traditionally seen as male occupations slowly changing, as more women enter the sciences, technology and typically male-dominated industries. Women make up 47 per cent of the workforce, and the Women and Work commission found that unleashing women’s full potential could be worth £23 billion a year to the Exchequer.
According to McKinsey, companies across all sectors with the most women on their boards of directors significantly and consistently outperform those with no female representation – by 41 per cent.
Even children’s programming is bucking the trend and showing their characters in varied employment roles. Miss Rabbit, a character from popular children’s cartoon Peppa Pig, is one of those pioneering role models. This character has a multitude of professions; Entrepreneur, firefighter, shopkeeper, helicopter pilot, she operates the crane at the recycling plant, she’s a train driver and manages the ticket sales at the local museum.
Paving the way for the future workforce
Children’s programming, books and toys all play a part in creating a gender biases, especially in the future of the workplace. The days of forming traditional roles of men and women is slowly changing, and Peppa Pig and other children’s characters are helping to create a generation of children who will have an open and accepting view of gender equality.
“Josephine Reynolds joined the fire service as a teenager in 1982. The work was physically and emotionally gruelling but the camaraderie outweighed the isolation. In the 1980s Josephine was interviewed on Breakfast TV and after being asked by Chris Tarrant if she was really strong enough to do “what is, essentially, a man’s job”, she put him into a fireman’s lift and carried him off the set. – Britain’s first female firefighter: “There was no way I was going to be the weakest link."
Women make up 5 per cent England’s fire service.
On the tracks
Kerry Cassidy has been a train driver for eight years, and you will find her travelling at 125 miles per hour on the Great Western Railway high-speed route between Plymouth and London Paddington.
“Modern trains have no need for heavy lifting: long gone are the days of shovelling dirty coal into the engine’s firebox. As long as you can do the job then gender isn’t really an issue,” – The Railways are no longer just a man’s domain: meet the female train drivers.
Women make up just 5.4 per cent of approximately 19,000 train drivers in Britain, up from 4.2 per cent in 2012, according to Aslef, the train drivers union
In the skies
“Major Laura Nicholson has received the Distinguished Flying Cross for twice calmly taking her Chinook into heavy fire to pick up casualties, while Sqn Ldr Charlotte Thompson-Edgar was made Associate of the Royal Red Cross for life-saving work in six tours of Afghanistan.” ~ Female pilot and nurse decorated for life-saving Afghan heroism.
Today, according to the British Women’s Pilots Association, there are many more women flying professionally but with only around 5 per cent of the UK pilot workforce being female and current estimates put the female GA pilot population in the UK at 6 per cent.
It’s all business
A recent study by Aston University in Birmingham shows British women who started their own businesses wanted more control over their work. Some 97 per cent of women polled cited freedom to adapt their approach to work as a key reason for starting their own businesses, while 85 per cent mentioned flexible working conditions.
If women set up businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an extra 150,000 start-ups in the UK each year. (source)
In our own offices at Condeco UK, women in IT are strongly represented, 22 per cent of the workforce being female, (compared with the average 16 per cent proportion of women in the UK IT sector) and the leadership team is represented by 14 per cent of women, compared to the average of 12 per cent of women in the UK hold board seats – Deloitte).
And as for Miss Rabbit, she has been recognised for her achievements in industry and was awarded the Queens Award for Industry (Episode: The Queen), but perhaps more importantly, she finally gets a day off.