Last week, we were asked to be part of the BBC Radio 4 show, Woman’s Hour, presented by Jane Garvey. The discussion focused on university alternatives and young women not going to university, and we were invited to share our thoughts, along another technologist who had completed her apprenticeship.
We went to the BBC studio in Media City, Salford (Manchester) where we signed ourselves in and waited for “The Pod” to become available. After eagerly arriving early, we made good use of our 30-minute wait by taking obligatory pictures on the mock-up BBC Breakfast set in the reception area and tweeting almost every move we made. We even spotted John Thompson, a Cold Feet actor, emerging from “The Pod” just before we were allowed to enter!
We didn’t really know what to expect from “The Pod”. It was effectively a black box, but, perhaps that’s an unfair description as it was definitely posher than that. Nerves and feelings of excited anticipation were brewing by this point. What was in “The Pod”, what questions would we be asked?
It was finally our time to enter “The Pod”, which was a small dark room containing two “radio style” microphones and headphones, and a very complicated looking soundboard. As the show was hosted from London, “The Pod” enabled a direct link into the studio as though we were really sat there with Jane. It was like a conference call, albeit, on air to the whole nation! Upon placing the headphones on, we could hear the producer urging a sound check, while in the background we could hear Jane Garvey introducing the show. Sound check complete and a flash of a light and that was it, we were officially “ON AIR”!
In the first instance, Jane introduced us and we were individually asked a range of different question, including the standard, “Why did you choose not to go to university”, “What benefits are there of choosing an apprenticeship over going to university”, “Were family/friends/colleges supportive of our choice?”, etc. Jane was also keen to understand the situation of an apprentice from a female point of view; “is it difficult as a female to work in such a male dominated industry”, “have you experienced any prejudice in opting for an apprenticeship”. There were some difficult questions to answer too, but we feel that we did a great job tackling them!
You can listen to the full interview on the BBC4 Woman’s Hour website.
We hope that our discussion on the show has reached as many young women as possible and that our message of an alternative path has been understood loud and clear. It is important, however, to not only reach out to these young women who are thinking about the next stage of their lives and career, but also to eliminate stereotypical views and misconceptions surrounding women in technology and about apprenticeships as a whole. The louder we shout about these opportunities, the more they will be heard.
Following the interview, we were inundated with positive messages on Twitter. It became clear that we had in fact reached our goal, many people heard our message and even spread our word to their followers too (an exponential effect!!).
Overall, we had a very exciting morning and if given the opportunity, we would love to do it again!
Amy Grange (Oracle Applications Developer) & Radhika Parmar (Oracle Financials Consultant)