Construction degree’s only female fresher says she stands out ‘in a positive way’

Student news

Wednesday 15 March 2017

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The only woman on her university course in construction hopes winning a prestigious grant will inspire others and change the face of the industry – though her family still can’t imagine her in a hard hat.

Damilola Ola, 19, is more than a match for the men in the first year of her Construction Management course at Coventry University, which awarded her a prestigious scholarship.

The teenager was among a record number of 30 students to win the University’s Ada Lovelace Scholarship this year, which encourages women to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

The funding from 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust and Tata Technologies allows Coventry students more time to focus on their own studies and on outreach programmes with schools to encourage a new generation of girls into the field.

Coventry University wants to enable female students to become future STEM role models as diversity is a key component for growth and innovation.


Percentage of the female UK STEM workforce Stem Graduates 2017

Opportunities like the Ada Lovelace scholarship vital for encouraging women to study to continue to break down stereotypes.

The gap is already starting to close between the genders at GCSE level for the take up of core STEM subjects. This is great news for employers who say a shortage of skills and ‘engineers in the UK’ is a threat to their business (WES, 2016).

And there are many benefits to working in STEM too!

2nd for

Securing full-time jobs

Only medical students are more successful than engineering students (WES, 2016)


Happy with career choice

300 female engineers were either happy or extremely happy with their career choice (WES, 2016)

Damilola, from Northfield, Birmingham, said:

I’m the only girl on my course but that makes me stand out in a positive way. I want to be noticed and to make changes and already by talking to my friends and younger people I can start in a small way.

We go around construction sites and offices and there are virtually no women to be seen, it is so rare but there’s no reason for it to be like that.

My friends and family all questioned my decisions and now when I talk about being on site or in a hard hat they can’t relate to it - but they’re all interested and that’s the key because people really want to know more and it starts a discussion.

The problem is stereotypes and lack of knowledge, especially for young girls. But if we can show that these jobs exist and are open to anyone, then the changes will happen.

Michaela Haynes, 18, from Kent, who secured her award to help her on her mechanical engineering course added:

Not many of the girls studied maths or science based courses at A-Leveland there was definitely a strong divide between those who were on STEM based subjects and the majority who weren’t.

My friends found my choice of subject particularly strange, especially when we were younger though of course they got used to it.

I was inspired to do engineering from quite a young age and as the youngest of four I was introduced to ‘boy’ activities and toys or help with things like simple bike repairs or tiling floors.

The problem is stereotypes and lack of knowledge, especially for young girls. But if we can show that these jobs exist and are open to anyone, then the changes will happen.

Ian Dunn, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Coventry University said:

With Coventry’s history being rooted in engineering it seems only right that we look to securing the next generation of inspiring leaders in the city.

We are really proud of our Ada Lovelace scholarship and the talent that it promotes. All the work being done to encourage more girls into science and technology is a hugely important and we congratulate and thank all 30 of our worthy recipients for their dedication and hard work.”