#PressforProgress on International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the talented young women currently working for us at the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding enterprise partnership. We’re passionate about encouraging the work of emerging female talent in our region as we know our economy simply can’t function unless the entire spectrum of talent is available to our businesses.

With a strong gender bias towards men in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), we need to do more to enable girls to opt for a career path in this sector. Women make up only 24% of the STEM workforce nationally, yet at GCSE level girls outperform boys in STEM subjects. The opportunities to maximise achievement and aspiration in STEM are being lost.

Here at the LEP Kate McHugh, Beth Ellin and Yanina Opanasenko (pictured) are demonstrating their talent and maximising their career potential in typically male dominated fields. Kate and Beth, though starting at the LEP as graduate interns, have taken that first step up the career ladder and are chasing opportunities and further developing their potential.

Pictured: Left to right Yanina, Beth and Kate

Kate, having achieved a first-class undergraduate degree in Creative Writing and English Language, joined the LEP as a graduate intern to put her skills to the test. Kate herself notes that:

“Working at the LEP has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve gone from graduating with a creative degree and being convinced I had limited career choices in marketing, and now I’m exploring business analysis and supporting manufacturers- a typically male-dominated industry. It’s not something I expected to be doing!”

Kate regularly engages with the businesses in our area and is gaining invaluable networking experiences with the manufacturing and engineering business owners. She’s worked with food manufactures and skin care producers alike and is developing her own business analysis processes to improve the way the LEP is able to deliver support to businesses.

Beth’s experience with the LEP is taking her out of the organisation and into the heart of Yorkshire’s digital industries. While studying for her master’s degree in English Literature, Beth will soon be managing websites and writing web copy for businesses across the region and the UK to help them make the most of their digital assets. Beth knows that:

“Without the LEP, I wouldn’t have the knowledge or skills I’ve got now. Thanks to the training and support I’ve received from the partnership, I’m now able to take a look at a business’s website and help them improve it. From user testing to writing optimised web copy for both customers and search engines, I know I’ve got the specific skills I need to make a difference to that business’s online presence.”

Ukraine-born Yanina, having left her home at 15 for an English education, is now studying at York University for her undergraduate degree in Economics and Econometrics. She’s currently working for the LEP on a data internship to help us manage and process the information we need to improve our local economy. Having always had an interest in maths, Yanina’s drive and passion for the subject means she’s committed to developing the relevant experience she needs to go on and make a real difference once she’s finished her studies. We’re thrilled to say we’re able to help develop her skills and confidence and know she’ll go on to higher STEM work once she’s graduated. Yanina explains what brought her into the LEP:

“I am really interested in putting the skills I’m learning during my course to the test and want to apply my skills to real world situations. I like knowing that the data analysis I’m doing right now will inform decisions and influence the way support is going to be given to the people living and working here.”

Across industry, research shows that women account for only three per cent of technicians and six per cent of engineers. At the LEP, we’re seeking to change that, and to celebrate the ways in which talented women and a more diverse workforce would increase productivity in the STEM sector. We’re committed to closing the gender gap in STEM industries and want to celebrate the driven and talented young women we have in our region and in our team.

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