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Female firefighter helps extinguish job stereotypes

Published on 10/05/19

Britain’s first female firefighter, a male childminder, and a personal trainer who uses a wheelchair have helped students at The Hewett Academy to look beyond the stereotypical careers they might think are open to them.

At a careers morning for the school’s Year 7 students, pupils were asked to guess which jobs matched nine guest speakers, including Jo Reynolds who joined the fire service as a teenager in 1982.

“Women make great firefighters, but there are still very low numbers - we need to challenge this, because they do a great job,” she said.

Some pupils were taken aback at the results – which also included a male hospital matron and a female construction sales executive.

Subrina Nailim said: “I was very surprised because I thought only men could work as firefighters.

“Now I want to be a firefighter myself when I grow up.”

Pupils held a ‘speed networking’ session with the speakers, quizzing them about their chosen careers and the obstacles they’d overcome to reach their goals.

Personal trainer Joel Connor-Saunders explained how he had faced barriers in his career because of being in a wheelchair.

“I could have done with an event like this when I was at school, because it would have made me much more confident to achieve what I wanted to,” he said.

The morning is part of a series of careers events for pupils across the school, run in partnership with the Norwich Opportunity Area which aims to improve social mobility in the city.

Hewett Academy careers lead Natalie Freeman said: “Our aim is to broaden our pupils’ horizons, and help them understand that whatever their passions are, they can pursue them – whatever their background.”