International Women's Day.

Coleg Gwent spotlights pioneering female leaders on International Women’s Day

8 March 2024

Wales’ largest further education college, Coleg Gwent, is encouraging more women of all ages to study for a future in STEM and related industries. 

The ambition is being driven by female leads at the college — who are calling for others to follow in their footsteps this International Women’s Day (8 March). 

Sarah Jones, Head of the School of Construction at Newport, and Kerry Hooper, Head of the School of Engineering at Crosskeys, both forged their careers in traditionally male-dominated workspaces — and are now using their influence to inspire female leaders of the future. 

For example, since its inception in 2022 Coleg Gwent has seen over 100 learners attend its Women in Construction course — resulting in additional evening classes required this year. Additionally, a new advanced level course will be introduced for the 2024/25 term to cater for the growing interest.  

Sarah Jones said: “I’m so proud to be bringing an Advanced Women in Construction course to our learners this academic year. Enabling students to build on skills learnt in the initial sessions, I hope it will result in a marked uplift in female construction workers in South Wales.”

International Women's Day

Head of the School of Engineering, Kerry Hooper, is similarly passionate about bringing more female players to the engineering industry. Indeed, her very role at Coleg Gwent was inspired by a UK-wide call for more people, particularly women, to consider engineering in 2019.  

Commenting on why it’s important for organisations to have women in leading positions, Kerry said: “Women can bring different qualities and perspectives to an organisation, especially in a male dominated environment. The more diverse our workforce is, the more access we have to varied opinions, skills, knowledge and experiences. Plus, it’s very difficult it is to aspire to be something that isn’t represented around you — so I’m dedicated to changing that!” 

Looking towards the future, Kerry added: “The recent Net Zero Agenda has driven changes in the industry. While there is still demand for traditional engineering skills, this industry and its requirements continues to advance. I think it is really exciting that many aspiring engineers will be working in job roles that don’t even exist yet! It’s a real opportunity for female engineers to stand at the forefront.” 

To provide more support for girls in education, Coleg Gwent is hosting an event on March 8th for young girls from local schools. The event will feature inspirational women from various industries and aims to engage girls in curriculum areas that are traditionally male-dominated and that they may not have considered as options. Afterwards, the girls will take part in interactive engineering taster sessions. 

Nkechi Allen-Dawson, Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Manager at Coleg Gwent said: “We are striving to consistently foster an inclusive culture, where we model and encourage inclusive behaviours, such as listening, empathising, respecting, and collaborating.  

“Through our staff affinity networks, we also create and maintain a safe and supportive space where everyone can express their opinions, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgement or retaliation. With the aim of raising awareness of this year’s IWD theme of ‘inspire Inclusion’, on the 8th of March Coleg Gwent’s Women Together staff affinity network is hosting a virtual roundtable event for staff with a diverse range of inspirational role models from across Wales.” 

Nkechi continued: “As part of Coleg Gwent’s new Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion strategy, by 2026 we intend to bring a natural consideration of diversity and inclusion in everything we do at all levels of the college. As an educational establishment, and as leaders in our sector, we need to lead by example — demonstrating true diversity of thought and action.” 

To find out more about Coleg Gwent’s diversity and inclusion initiatives click here, or to read our Strategic Equality Plan 2023-2026 visit here.