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I Was Discriminated Against At Work And Now I'm Working To End It

06/03/2017 17:08 | Updated 07 March 2017

all women everywhere

Three in ten young women experience discrimination when working or looking for work. I am one of them. Like the other women responding to the Young Women's Trust survey that uncovered this shocking statistic, I was treated differently at work simply because I was born a woman.

When I was 17 I found myself in a council property with a young baby and nothing but ambition. I was alone and knew my best hope of escaping deprivation was to work hard. We are told we can be anything we want - all we have to do is work hard. Using this idea, I applied for an apprenticeship in construction. The pay was very low but I knew it would be the first step to becoming financially independent as I raised my son. I knew too that learning a trade would not just help me in the short-term, but would offer me a lifetime of opportunity. I was brimming with enthusiasm.

However, from the moment I stepped on to the building site, I was faced with it immediately: I was automatically treated differently. There was a view among the other apprentices that I didn't belong there; being only one of two women, it quickly became difficult to persevere. I experienced constant sexist remarks like "get us a cuppa" or "be careful, you don't want to break a nail". I tried approaching my course coordinator but the general response was, "it's only banter" - or, my favourite, "don't be so emotional" (which, let's be honest, is NEVER a good thing to say to anyone - and would certainly never be said to a man). I decided it would be more beneficial to terminate my apprenticeship and go straight into the labour market. I had sadly found myself in a place where my need to provide for my small family was overshadowed by my need to protect us.

It wasn't an easy time. I lost confidence in myself. How can I expect to be anything more if I am pushed back when I try? It took me a few years to realise these failures I had endured were in fact out of my control. This is when I decided to use my negative experiences as fuel for change.

I came into contact with the 'Work It Out' service run by Young Women's Trust and spoke to a coach about my desire to go to university. My coach was amazing and together we rebuilt my confidence. This offered me the ability to not only secure a place at university but also a full scholarship.

I am now in my second year of university and feel full of excitement for the future. While I know there are a long set of barriers in front of me - as there sadly are for most young women trying to start their careers - having confidence in myself makes these feel less intimidating. Moreover, my experiences and my studies (I am studying sociology) have given me the chance to learn more about tackling the stereotypes young women face, which makes them feel a bit easier to deal with.

There are great organisations like Young Women's Trust that are championing positive action for women in order to dismantle gendered views of work and end gender discrimination. This International Women's Day, I'm proud to be working with them to support other young women like me. Alongside my studies, I'm now working hard to help create an equal society - one where it would seem outrageous to be told not to be too emotional simply because you were born a women.

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today

Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com

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