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Meet Damilola, 19 - the only female student on her course

BUILDING HER EMPIRE: 19-year-old Damilola Ola, ready to get to work

DAMILOLA OLA is a 19-year-old Construction Management student at Coventry University and the only woman on her course. The Birmingham teen wants to share her story in the hopes that more women will apply for places on courses in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Ola landed the coveted Ada Lovelace scholarship, which is funded by Tata Technologies who are partnering with universities such as Coventry to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM. As well as providing the scholarships, Tata provide opportunities for students to contribute to outreach programmes with schools to encourage a new generation of girls into the field.

Ola says:

“I’m the only girl on my course but that makes me stand out in a positive way. I want to be noticed and to make changes and by talking to my friends and younger people I can start in a small way.

“We go around construction sites and offices and there are virtually no women to be seen, it is so rare but there’s no reason for it to be like that.

“My friends and family all questioned my decisions and now when I talk about being on site or in a hard hat they can’t relate to it - but they’re all interested and that’s the key because people really want to know more and it starts a discussion.

“The problem is stereotypes and lack of knowledge, especially for young girls. But if we can show that these jobs exist and are open to anyone, then the changes will happen.”

The University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) figures show that, across all universities last year only 450 women were accepted to full-time building degree courses, compared with 2,380 men.

Ian Dunn, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Coventry University said:

“With Coventry’s history being rooted in engineering it seems only right that we look to securing the next generation of inspiring leaders in the city.

“We are really proud of our Ada Lovelace scholarship and the talent that it promotes. All the work being done to encourage more girls into science and technology is hugely important and we congratulate and thank all 30 of our worthy recipients for their dedication and hard work.”

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