Combating Gender Stereotypes in Determining Kids’ Future Ambitions

30 August 2016

O2’s board members and senior executives team up with Speakers for Schools and deliver talks to over 2000 students this year

In January 2016 our charity started working with O2 to see their top 20 UK executives join Speakers for Schools to help inspire the next generation by highlighting opportunities within the tech industry, dispelling gender stereotypes and sharing employability tips. This campaign focused on their research showing just how early gender stereotypes start when it comes to careers, with O2 hoping that they can be part of the solution by breaking down those preconceptions and inspire students to pursue their ambitions regardless of gender or perceived barriers.

What they had to say about the big picture



Ann Pickering, Director of HR for O2 UK,  shared insights from the top of a major international corporate in re-thinking what ‘skills’ one needs to thrive these days, how to make yourself marketable as well as how to stand out in job applications and interviews.

‘The talk made me think about alternative routes into a career other than university.’ 


Kate Whelan, Head of Reward & Pensions, encouraged students to voice their opinions, seize opportunities and try things they didn’t like.

‘Students were reassured that not knowing what to do at this stage is okay!’




Katy Liddell, MD Commercial Development, told students about preparing for the digital age and the skills required.

‘Students gained a really good understanding of the areas that are important to business.’

Robert Franks, MD for Digital Commerce, discussed the job market in Britain and how the digital revolution has affected that market. The skills, attributes and qualities young people will need to thrive in the future.

‘The speech was thought provoking and really got me thinking about how I can prepare for my future.’

Why is this important?

Despite the digital age we live in and rich opportunitiesO2’s research showed that over 45% of teens thought the tech sector was more suited to boys than girls, alongside other statistics on many careers being ‘suited’ to one gender over another.  Further, seven in ten secondary school pupils O2 spoke to would like to hear from business leaders about jobs in their sector, yet more than half don’t remember a local business person visiting their school in the last year.  We’re trying to change that with the support of industry leaders like O2 and the figures leading their company.

More from other O2 executives

Paul Pattinson interview


Paul Pattinson, Head of Service Management, encouraged girls to consider opportunities in technology and STEM.





David Plumb,  Director, Telefónica Digital UK, told students to find their passion and to not let a lack of confidence hold you back.



Abi todd


Abi Todd, Head of HR Business Partners, spoke to students about career opportunities as well as having big aspirations.



Edward Smith, General Counsel, spoke about the importance of seeking out any opportunities that are available to students and gave advice on how to present themselves effectively in their lives and future roles.



In January it was announced that we were teaming up with O2 to mobilise its most senior employees to go into schools and speak to students about the opportunities within the tech sector. 02’s own research has indicated a continuation of the worrying trend of gender stereotyping and how deeply ingrained this issue still is, limiting the ambitions of the next generation.


How do we work with leading figures and their organisations? Find out more about how we coordinate with employers, sectors and professional bodies here