STEMpoint Manager

Laura Keenan

Job title:
Stempoint Manager

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be in the job you are currently in?

The job uses a mixture of both sets of careers I have. I started off my working life as an Architectural designer and latterly became a Graphics and Technology (woodwork and metalwork, resistant materials, product design) Teacher. This job actually needed someone with both an industry and a teaching background.

What attracted you to this area of work?

I was attracted to it because it used my knowledge from both industry and teaching.

In what ways were you encouraged or discouraged to pursue your chosen career? Please explain further.

I wasn’t really encouraged or discouraged when I chose to become an Architectural Designer. I just decided that was what I wanted to do and did it.

Did you encounter any barriers trying to pursue your chosen career along the way?

There are no barriers that I can actually prove. One employer when interviewing me straight out of school commented that I was the first female he had interviewed whose Physics results were higher than my English results and I consequently got that job.

Have you had to make any compromises to do so?

I made sure employers did not know I had a family unless I was specifically asked.

What subjects did you study at school/college/university?

Physics, Maths, Graphics, Construction, Design, Building Technology, Building Services.

What attracted you to taking those subjects?

I just enjoyed doing them and was told they were the sorts of subjects I needed to do.

What advice would you give to other girls and young women who are thinking of pursuing the same career as you?

Not to be put off by stereotypes and to go for what you want or are good at. Don’t let anybody tell you that you have to act like a man to get the jobs or that you’ll end up being manlier because you do that job. Most employers do like to have a balance in the workplace. Also don’t go with the thought that you have to work harder than a man to prove yourself your qualifications and manner will speak for them.

Finally, in general why do you think less girls and young women study science, engineering and technology subjects?

These jobs are probably seen as being harder to fit in a career and a family. Unless you are fully focussed on your career you won’t get anywhere, so I think other jobs are chosen so they can have both.

Any further information?

Both careers I have chosen are still male dominated though it’s not as bad as some e.g. engineering but most people realise you all have the same qualifications and are just as capable of doing the job.

 STEMpoint Manager