In a series of articles to celebrate 100 years since women won the right to vote, the Gazette is finding out more about the challenges and triumphs of being a woman in 2018. We spoke to Petroc principal Diane Dimond...

Diane Dimond has been principal and CEO of Petroc since April 2015.

Here she talks about how she came to land the top role at the college, and whether she feels there are equal opporunities for men and women in the industry.

How did you get into your chosen profession? Can you describe your career path to your current position?

Circuitously! I studied A levels at college and then went to University. On graduating at 21, I was torn between becoming a maths teacher and training to be a chartered accountant.

I settled on the accountancy route and qualified as a chartered accountant working in the private sector.

But I really wanted to ‘give something back’ to the education system which had served me so well, so in the mid 90s, I went back to university and trained to be a maths teacher. From that point, I have mainly worked in education.

Who and/or what was your inspiration to enter into your chosen career?

My O level maths teacher, Mr Magnall, was an inspiring teacher and he is responsible for my life long love of maths.

What challenges have you faced both professionally and personally?

Personally, my most challenging time was returning from a very brief maternity leave period to a full-time job with three children under two.
Professionally, it is challenging, but very rewarding, to be responsible for nearly 900 staff and 10,000 students in my current role.

Do you think there are still challenges due to gender?

In the UK it is much better now than it used to be when I started work in the 1980s, but there are still challenges. Even now, I think many women still feel they have to choose between having a successful professional career or children.

Are there as many opportunities for women as men, and has this changed since you first entered into your profession?

There are still many careers which are male dominated. Accountancy and teaching are two professions where I feel there are similar opportunities these days.

Is there a gender pay gap?

Many higher paid roles are in male-dominated eg STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). As a country, we still need to do more to encourage women to consider careers in this field.

At Petroc we have secured STEM Assured status – a quality mark in this area – and we actively support women to consider STEM career options.

What advice would you give your younger self in terms of career, life, etc?

Have confidence to put yourself forward for opportunities when they arise.

Do you use your right to vote, and why/why not?

Yes. I’m glad to live in a democracy where we have a vote. I’d like to see votes at the age of 16.

What’s the best thing about being a woman in 2018?

In 2018, with global connectivity, women are more aware of the many influential and inspirational women around the world and feel more empowered, respected and confident than ever before.

Have you ever faced discrimination/harassment in the workplace/outside of work because of your gender?

Yes, at a short list interview when I was in my 20s, the male interviewer remarked that he could see that I was married and asked for an assurance that I would not start a family in my first five years of employment by his company. Needless to say, this was not an employer I wanted to work for.