29th Jun, 2017

Construction student proves she's more than a match for her male classmates by scooping Ada Lovelace scholarship

A CONSTRUCTION student at Coventry University who is the only girl on her course has said she stands out in a positive way.

Damilola Ola is more than a match for the men in the first year of her Construction Management course at the University after being awarded a prestigious scholarship.

The 19-year-old hopes winning the grant will inspire others to change the face of the industry, though her family admit they cannot imagine her in a hard hat.

Damilola was among a record number of 30 students to win the university’s Ada Lovelace scholarship this year, which encourages women to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths careers.

The Northfield student said she wants to be noticed and make changes in a small way.

She said: “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.”

UCAS figures show across all universities last year, only 450 women were accepted to full-time building degree courses – compared with 2,380 men.

Also receiving an Ada Lovelace scholarship is Neelam Akmal who is studying aerospace systems.

She said science has taken her from stripping plane engines to dreams of tackling stereotypes through NASA or Formula One.

The 18-year-old added: “People think a career in sciences is all about lab coats and is very boring, but I spend my time on aeroplane engines so it couldn’t be more different.

“I’m working for a career at NASA or Formula One which shocks a lot of people, but in a good way and I want other girls to be in the same position.”

Ian Dunn, deputy vice chancellor at Coventry University said it’s only right the next generation of engineering workers is secured in Coventry given the history.

He said: “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 a hugely important and we congratulate and thank all 30 of our worthy recipients for their dedication and hard work.”