Before joining the teacher profession, David Kavanagh worked in industry, and is keen to point out that these days, that doesn’t mean working purely in STEM. ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about connectivity,’ he says.
‘That means working with customers and delivering excellent service, whether that is in software design, technology, communications and more.’
David first worked with us when Gaia Innovation (the social enterprise that powers the Automotive 30% Club) delivered two Women in Engineering Days at his school. ‘You will find that many Heads of Computer Science departments are still men,’ he explains. ‘So it is important to actively encourage girls and young women and show them real models. We need diversity of thought: female students might think very differently in the way they consider methods and design.’ The day, themed around renewable energy, included a speed networking event with representatives from Rolls Royce, Bentley, McClaren, ARUP, Arm and Sheffield AMRC, amongst others.
David’s Computer Science department is proud of all of its students’ achievements, but is also pleased to be able to give some specific examples of girls in particular standing out in the subject. He has helped female Y12 students to secure work placements at the AMRC, McClaren and Rolls Royce. In September 2019, the all-female King Edwards Y7 team won the national SUMO Digital Game Making competition. The department has 50 students taking Computer Science at GCSE, and David is pleased to report that there is a 50-50 gender split in the cohort. He has also brought a group of female students to our IAW Day event each year.
In response to the Automotive 30% Club agenda to encourage more young women to consider a career in automotive, David is enthusiastic. He cites the research which found that gender diversity in management positions actually increases profitability in companies. ‘Young women are, to a certain extent, still a relatively untapped workforce,’ he says. ‘They might communicate differently, think differently, but there is no intrinsic difference between the way men and women work, and in opening up opportunities to women who might not have considered them up to now, you are automatically increasing your access to talented and promising staff.’
When asked about his motivation for wanting to contribute to addressing the gender imbalance in the automotive and technology sectors, David is clear: ‘I didn’t do it to win prizes or even to be an ambassador. We just have to stop overlooking all these amazing people, and start making sure they are aware of the opportunities available to them.’ With a hint of irony, he concludes, ‘It’s not rocket science!’
If you would like to get involved in the Automotive 30% Club Outreach Network as a volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Engagement Manager at email@example.com.
If you are from an educational establishment and would like a visit from a member of the Automotive 30% Club, our Schools Outreach Co-ordinator would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by Cathy Walker, Outreach Network Coordinator, Automotive 30% Club