A tour of Teesworks – the UK’s largest industrial zone – to encourage young women into STEM careers, plus a panel on levelling up with some of the region’s top female business leaders, has taken place to mark International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day is a global day held on 8 March celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women while also acting as a call to action to accelerate equality.
Ahead of the event, a one-off bus tour took place at Teesworks to give women in industry and girls interested in pursuing a career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths an inside look into one of the UK’s most exciting industrial developments.
Students from Middlesbrough College, alongside women in leadership roles in the sector, were welcomed to see how work is progressing on-site, which will become home to the Net Zero Teesside carbon capture, utilisation and storage power plant as well as SeAH Wind’s huge monopile production facility for the offshore wind sector.
A question-and-answer session was also held with the students and representatives from Teesworks Skills Academy, which has been established to help local people take advantage of the opportunities being created there.
Alongside this, the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority hosted a Levelling Up panel at Teesside Airport, bringing together influential women from a range of sectors to highlight the importance of levelling up and what that means for the future.
The panel included TVCA Group Commercial Director Alison Fellows; Yasmin Khan the Director of Halo Project Charity and Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership’s Member for Inclusive Growth; co-founder of Wander Films Chloe Clover; Tees Components’ Managing Director Sharon Lane; Asma Shaffi, the Principal of Prior Pursglove and Stockton Sixth Form College; and Bibi Rodgers Hunt, Supply Chain and Sustainability Lead for Quorn Foods.
It covered a range of topics, including how high-level female representation in is important, how women can be encouraged into the STEM and manufacturing sectors and how this landscape has changed, alongside the challenges young, female entrepreneurs face, and how education can play a part in encouraging women to succeed locally in their dream careers.
Julie Gilhespie, the Chief Executive of Tees Valley Combined Authority Group, said: “The Tees Valley is home to many, many brilliant women business leaders working across every sector, inspiring and leading the next generation and breaking down barriers. However, we can always do more to encourage young women into industries, especially those that are traditionally male-dominated.
“Women make up just a quarter of the UK’s STEM workforce, and we want to show girls that they can stay local and go far right here, securing the careers they want and playing a vital role in the future of our region.
“With today’s Teesworks tours showing the huge potential in these subjects, and by telling the stories of those women who have made a huge impact here on our panel, we have helped to highlight just how young women can get ahead and proved the sky’s the limit for our home-grown talent.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Teesworks, as part of the Teesside Freeport, has an unparalleled chance to change the landscape of our region, making us a premier UK site for offshore wind, as well as a driving force for the country’s low-carbon ambitions.
“2022 is our year of construction and it was great that we could host these students so they could see first-hand the scale and opportunity in what we’re doing. This isn’t a short-term project, but everyone from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool will benefit from this once in a generation transformation – a transformation that is creating the good-quality, well-paid jobs in the cleaner, healthier and safer industries of the future.
“Our panel gave real-life, relatable and inspirational stories of how local female business leaders have accomplished amazing things, which shows success is there for the taking if you just reach out and grab it.”