APM Women in Project Management SIG meets Gabriella Oakley

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Posted by APM on 15th Sep 2015

APM Women in Project Management SIG meets Gabriella Oakley in advance of the 2015 National Conference Women in Project Management, London being held on the 24th September.

  • You are Engagement Manager for Inspiring Women Campaign – can you give us a quick overview of the Campaign?

The Inspiring Women campaign aims to address the additional challenges faced by girls regarding gender stereotypes and careers.  It does this with a very simple idea.  We ask women across the UK working in all kinds of jobs and all kinds of sectors to pledge one hour per year to go to a local school and talk to girls about what they do.  We already have over 16,500 women registered with us who have collectively spoken to 250,000 girls! 

  • What’s your typical working day like?

There is no typical day!  I’m out and about a lot meeting inspiring women who are passionate about supporting the next generation.  I hear some amazing stories!  I often meet with women’s networks and with CSR and HR professionals to talk about how companies and organisations can sign up to the campaign.  And if I am in the middle of organising a big event – like our last one, which took 200 women and 800 students to the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern – I can be doing anything from finalising the guest list to making sure there is enough bottled water!

  • What’s your favourite thing about working with Inspiring Women Campaign?

I meet all different kinds of women doing all different kinds of jobs, which I find personally very inspiring.  I am also touched by the enthusiasm of our volunteers for giving something back to the next generation.  (Plus as a sports enthusiast it was pretty exciting to meet Claire Balding!)

  • What’s the biggest challenge facing girls to make career choices?

Gender stereotypes around careers.  This comes from many different sources and starts from a very young age (age 6 according to the latest research!) so it can become internalised and accepted as the norm.  This can lead to girls self-censoring themselves out of certain subjects and closing off certain career paths.  It can also lead to girls not always getting the support and advice they need.

  • 'Why is it important to know more about the opportunities that are out there? - This can link in with the roles such as project management

Kids at school actually know very little about the world of work and the different kind of jobs that there are.  The average 15 year old probably knows very little about project management or what a project manager does, let alone the variety of roles, sectors and organisations that you can work in doing project management.  The more and better information they can have about the world of work, the more informed choices they will be able to make about options, work experience, further study etc. plus they will have more understanding of what jobs they could do.

  • Why should we (professionals) get involved with Inspiring the Future? What do students say that we bring to them when they receive a visit from a professional? 

Students receive so much from visits from a professional.  The opportunity to hear directly from people in the world of work brings it to life and makes a connection between work and their studies.  They also really love meeting individuals doing all different kinds of jobs and hearing their stories – they love to know about the journey; about how you got to where you are today.  For students making big choices about their futures, it is invaluable to hear from people who have already gone through that.  It is also inspirational to hear from people doing interesting things and can encourage the students to aim higher.  For girls, there is the added value of seeing positive female role models – which is vitally important as the last Girl Guide study showed that over half of all teenage girls in the UK don’t feel they have enough positive female roles models.  So sign up – you will make a big difference to someone’s life!


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