Birmingham City football club’s female boss has urged women to challenge traditional career stereotypes and take up more unconventional roles, to help in Britain’s looming skills shortage.
Karren Brady, the first woman managing director of Birmingham City FC, has called on women to take advantage of new recruitment and career opportunities offered in the second phase of the government’s Women & Work Project, aimed at giving women the chance to improve their skills and careers.
Brady hopes the £10m scheme to help more than 10,000 women secure better training and support to fulfil their potential, introduced last September, will breakdown the barriers of women advancing in non-traditional roles.
On her way to meet the skills minister David Lammy, Brady told Personnel Today she was looking forward to discussing what the remaining challenges are.
She said: “What I’d really like to see is that the scheme is very much over-subscribed, so the government keeps going, because the money runs out in March 2008.
She added: “Women are not fulfilling their potential. The problem is that women work in only 12 occupational areas, including cleaning, catering, caring and clerical.
“Lots of women don’t think about football; they don’t think about construction as a career path. Really it’s about opening people’s minds to make them realise these are male traditional jobs but they don’t need to be. They’re well paid and highly skilled, so get the training you need to compete in them.”
She added: “We want to help women to come more into the male-dominated environments – the engineering and construction sectors – it’s really crucial that we break down perceptions of women so women can take control of their careers.”
Brady added that three-quarters of her management team are women, including an HR director that started with the company when she was 16.
She also denied there were any bad practices in employing women into non-traditional environments.
“It’s a misconception that these male worlds are full of these terrible men who are going to short you down at the first opportunity.
“I’ve worked in two very male-dominated communities – media and football. Your male colleagues are going to help – they adapt and work better with women around them.”
The gender pay gap
Brady said that mandatory pay audits are a good step towards addressing the gender pay gap, contrary to the proposals in the Discrimination Law Review Green Paper.
“In senior positions we need to take the lead in closing those gaps and making sure it doesn’t happen in those industries. Mandatory pay audits is a good step in addressing the balance. But individuals must take responsibilities in a commercial organisation to ensure that equal pay for equal work,” she said.