Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Formula 1: there can be no equality in sport while women's bodies are used for promotions

Anna Tippett, University of Hertfordshire
The Dutch politician Roy van Aalst has spoken out against the removal of grid girls from Formula 1 motor racing, arguing that it is a way of patronising women. He boasted that the right-wing nationalist political party to which he belongs, Party for Freedom (PVV), will ensure that the grid girls are reinstated at the Zandvoort grand prix in 2020.
“Only a huge idiot can see a beautiful woman as a problem,” he said. “The rest of the people love it. It is part of motorsport and the PVV wants us to ensure that next year this beautiful tradition will be restored to its former glory.”
The replacement of grid girls with grid kids in 2018 marked a shift in Formula 1 to a more family-friendly atmosphere. But van Aalst’s comments echo the backlash against this transition – which included some grid girls arguing that they were being denied the right to work by “feminists”. Grid girl Lauren-Jade Pope took to Twitter to object:
Remarkably, the “feminists” so often mentioned in the debate were actually the Formula 1 bosses themselves. They made the decision to stop using grid girls because they no longer resonated with their brand values – with Sean Bratches, the managing director of commercial operations at Formula 1, stating that the inclusion of grid girls was “at odds with modern day societal norms”.

Employment opportunity?

One of the main criticisms of the scrapping of grid girls was that women would be out of work. Such criticism drew attention to the earnings that would be lost by the women as well as the idea that the decision was denying them their “right to choose” to use their bodies for aesthetic purposes and financial gain. The role of the grid girls was to carry out promotional tasks, most of which included bearing the names of sponsors to the public and cheering on the all-male racing drivers.
Prominent figures, including World Champion Lewis Hamilton, have called for the return of the grid girls. Hamilton’s rationale that “women are the most beautiful thing in the world”, alongside Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel stating he “likes women” because “they look beautiful”, serve to emphasise the deep-rooted sexism still entrenched in the motor sporting world. There is still a long way to go to eliminate these outdated views, particularly in sports such as motor racing which are traditionally categorised as male.

How The Sun reported the story. The Sun

Testimonials from former grid girls have indicated that their earnings were around £300 per day, bearing in mind the work was intermittent. Household names such as Kelly Brook, Melinda Messenger and Jodie Marsh all began their “careers” as grid girls, later crossing over to glamour modelling in lads’ mags and the like.
During the backlash to the decision in 2018, grid girl testimonies sought to label feminists as bigoted, with headlines “hitting back” at “middle-class feminists who are forcing other women out of work”.

No equality, no empowerment

Unequal representation in Formula 1 promotional modelling was itself enough to refute arguments of unfair treatment regarding employment being lost. The lack of promotional models from BME groups alongside the complete omission of men from this role highlighted a clear lack of equal opportunity (if you can call sexual objectification that). Promotional modelling also carries a rigid time limit, with “careers” in this field usually having to end by women’s mid-to-late 20s.
The message sent, particularly to young girls, was that motor racing is a male sport and – if you’re keen to be involved in it – you should aspire to be beautiful, sexualise yourself, and be prepared to drape yourself over cars and male racing drivers like an accessory.
This is a stark departure from the message being sent today, where excited grid kids – male and female – now walk on the grid with ambitions of becoming racing drivers themselves. Formula 1 must hold onto this message and not revert back to one that degrades, demoralises and dehumanises its female supporters.
That said, although Formula 1 has made progress, promotional modelling is still a feature across other sporting events, including walk-on girls (darts and cycling), ring girls (wrestling and boxing) and cheerleaders (football and basketball). Although darts walk-on girls were also axed in 2018, they made a recent “one off” return at the German Darts Grand Prix, supposedly due to prior sponsorship agreements.
There are also the “Crystals”, the all-female cheerleaders of Crystal Palace FC, who appear wearing bikinis in a promotional video for the club. Not so inspiring for any budding female footballers.

Full speed ahead

Formula 1’s move away from grid girls has indeed made it a more inclusive sport and it is time for other industries to follow its lead. Until women are given equal opportunities in sport, they will continue to be underpaid, undervalued and underrated.
Roy van Aalst’s assumption that only “huge idiots” can find beautiful women a problem emphasises the crude ignorance inherent in the many debates over the sexualisation of popular culture. Of course “beautiful women” are not a problem – nor are beautiful men, or beautiful people in general. But when you display only one sex as “beautiful” – although I think “sexualised’” would be a more fitting word for the grid girls – you serve to diminish half of society.
They are to be gazed upon and are never themselves given the authority to be the “gazers”. This is how you alienate women from aspiring to be sporting champions and instead relegate them to the sidelines, encouraging them to only ever be the cheerleaders.
If upholding the stance that favours gender equality makes me a “huge idiot”, then I am confidently and proudly one. I’m sure my daughter will thank me for it.The Conversation
Anna Tippett, Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology, University of Hertfordshire
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Getting your first job

The UK job market is looking good for new graduates and the number of vacancies is steadily increasing, so make sure your efforts are rewarded by doing some preparation. Getting your first job can be a daunting task, so we’ve put together a helpful checklist of the things you should do to help you through the first steps. Remember, if you need any advice or support with your job search and applications, talk to our team at the University’s Careers and Employment service.

Your CV
It’s worth having a top quality CV as it’s the first impression a potential employer has of you and gives you a much better chance of getting that vital face to face interview, so invest some time in rewriting yours into an up-to the minute cv style that doesn’t look dated. 
Once you have this, you can tailor the CV – and your application - to each job you apply for, highlighting the relevant skills and experience that match the requirements of the job description, personal statement, or competency-based questions in the application. 
Make sure to include lots of descriptive words that showcase your skills and experience and get you to the attention of the hiring manager, showing why you are the best candidate for the job. Don't be afraid to sell yourself.

Finding your job
Once you have a great looking CV, you are ready to start your job search. First check in with the University careers and Employment service who can help get you started with great advice, ideas and essential webinars to get your search started. 
Make sure you go to several careers fairs with your CV and find out about who the companies are and what they do. But keep an open mind about who you would like to work for as it’s much better to have a job and be gaining valuable experience than be waiting for the perfect role to come up. 
If you do have a great company in mind that you have always wanted to work for, then give the human resources team a quick call, it shows initiative and that your genuinely interested. They might have entry level or graduate positions that are not listed on the website yet, and speaking in person is by far the most effective approach as you can sell yourself and your skills much more effectively than in an email.  
Registering in person with high street recruitment agencies like Hays, Reed, and Adecco and also online job boards like Indeed, are also really useful, as they have access to temporary and permanent roles and can get you work while you keep searching for a graduate role. They also have job alerts and smartphone apps to help you apply for roles as soon as they appear, and make sure you update your social media profiles as recruitment agencies often connect and post new roles on them eg. LinkedIn. 
It’s also really useful to look through the traditional regional and national press job pages as they still carry entry level positions and are a really useful source of career information. 

The Interview
You gave a great application for the job and now they want to see you for an interview. Probably the best way to prepare is to have a good look through their website and social media and see what they are most proud of. Iif they have a new product or service about to launch and you know about it, it will show just how interested you are in the company. 
Also look through the job description again and see how you answered the questions as they might crop up again in the interview, you can also research common interview questions to give you an idea of what they will ask. Be confident, friendly and sell yourself - answer their questions clearly and succinctly but don’t ramble on. 

You gave it your best shot and… 
Maybe you didn’t get the job. You may be feeling a bit rejected when you went out at the application stage or after interview – and this is totally natural and something everyone experiences when they are looking for a new job. You can turn this to your advantage by contacting the company and asking for feedback about how the interview went. Asking your interviewer what you did well at, and where you can improve can really help you approach the next job application with an increase in self-knowledge and confidence and will help you get the next job!

You gave it your best shot again and… 
You’ve got the job! It’s a good feeling, and you should definitely go out and celebrate. Also make sure you fill out any paper work the company’s HR team send you and find out as much as you can about your first day of employment – where do you need to go, and who do you need to talk to. When you start on your first day, make sure you ask lots of questions, get to know your colleagues and enjoy the buzz of a new job!

Joe Bond
Internal Communications Coordinator

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Five Tips to Improve Your Portfolio

Portfolios are both a blessing and a curse. It allows you to let your work speak for itself, but also means that you need to put a lot of work into perfecting it. With some job listings receiving dozens or even hundreds of applications, it's easier than ever to be overlooked. But there are things you can do to make your work stand out above the rest. Here are some of the most important things you can do to improve your portfolio. 

1. Presentation matters

We like to think it's the content that really matters and not whatever is around it... But in reality, it's just not that simple. Whether it's hosted on a website or a printed portfolio, presentation says a lot about you. So, go all out! Develop a brand for yourself with a logo and a colour scheme, and be consistent in its application throughout your portfolio and CV. 

2. Go for quality over quantity

Though it may be tempting to show off all of your work, you should only pick your strongest, most recent pieces. It will be easier to digest for the recruiter and leave a much stronger impression of your work. Put more effort in the few that you do show off and go into greater detail.

3. Show off the process

It's not just the final product that employers want to see. Seeing rough sketches/ideas from the initial stages, things you tried which did not work for you, variations of the final piece of work... All of these are an important part of your thinking process, so don't be afraid to show it. And if you're breaking down a group-based project, make sure you're very clear about your role.

4. Don't forget the context

When it comes to context, we have to look at both the placement and content. You may not be a great writer, but that's no reason to ignore this vital part of your portfolio. Have people proof read your copy to filter out any spelling errors - which can be absolutely damning if left in. And there is nothing wrong with learning from the masters and copying a look you really like.   

5. The tailored approach

If there is a workplace you're really gunning for, then pull out all the stops. Tailor your portfolio to this particular company by doing some research. Look at their website, pick apart their work and figure out what they care about. Try to use some of the language they use in your portfolio and use examples of your work which is most relevant to them.

And finally, a secret strategy which has helped me personally: don't rely solely on your website and digital means. If you're invited for an interview, bring a printed portfolio and let the recruiters leaf through it. We humans are tactile creatures and being able to see and hold things simply makes us happy. 

Dana Stoof 
Animator at TopLine Film
University of Hertfordshire Alumna

Monday, 10 June 2019

Top 8 webinars to prepare you for Graduate life

Graduating this Summer? Take a look at our leavers programme of webinars that are taking place to help you over the coming weeks and months. Our online webinars will help you outline your career options as a new graduate and cover strategies to help you make informed decisions, plan your next steps and stay positive and motivated.

Starting your job search can be daunting, so we have online webinars to help you work out how to plan your job/course search and identify suitable websites and sources to find the right jobs, internships or courses for you.

We also have Webinars covering creating an effective CV, personal statements, preparing for online psychometric tests, networking on LinkedIn, pre-interview research, tackling competency questions at the interview and tips for negotiating your salary and making a great first impression.  As you can see, we’ve got you covered!

And if you decide that you want to continue to study and enhance your qualifications then watch our postgraduate webinar on how to decide on, apply and fund a postgraduate course.

Top 8 Webinars:

#2           How to search for a graduate job

#6           Getting the most from LinkedIn

#7           Preparing for Interviews

Book your place for any of these webinars through CareerHub by searching ‘Leavers’ in the events section.

Michael Chapman - Careers and Employment Officer

Friday, 7 June 2019

Living on Campus during Summertime

As an international student living on campus, it may seem like your summer is bound to be full of long, boring days – especially now that most students have returned home and have left the campus feeling a little deserted. But that doesn’t have to be the case! I stayed on-campus during the summer time for two years and found that there actually are great things I can do to keep myself from being bored all summer long. Here’s a few great ways I spend my time…

Although the amount of students on campus over summer is significantly less than at other times of the year, you definitely will not be alone. Just like you, there are other students on campus who are open to socialising and having fun – some might even be people you already know! So reach out to them and spend some time together – even if it’s just to do something small/inexpensive like watching a movie on Netflix together.

Travel and Explore
Being free from the pressures of deadlines and coursework is great, but you might start to get a bit bored when most of your friends are at home/on holiday and you’ve caught up on all the little things you wanted to catch up on. So, why not take advantage of your free time to visit your surroundings? From places close by, like Hatfield House and St. Albans Cathedral, to cities and towns miles away there are a million and one things for you to do here. And what better time for you to explore what the varying locations have to offer than during the lovely British summer?

Get a Part Time Job
In between all that travelling and socialising, you might end up spending more money than you normally would during term time, so you might want to consider getting a part-time job. It’s not only an additional way to fund your summer fun, but it’s also a great way to gain some relevant experience and develop your skills. However, it’s important to remember that you can only work for a maximum of 20 hours every week during term time – so make sure to take care when it comes to that! You can have a look on the Students’ Union website and the Careers Hub website  throughout the year to find some jobs that might appeal to you.

Attend Workshops/Events
Another rather useful and beneficial option I’ve found, is to attend workshops and events to develop my skill set. Over summer, there are so many events designed for you to build your professional network and potentially give your CV a boost. The events section of the Careers Hub is a great place to find workshops and careers fairs taking place both internally and externally – and the best part is that most of them are completely free to attend! An added benefit is that you can meet other people who are probably students living on campus and build some great friendships!

Written by Judith Ogboru - International Student

Thursday, 6 June 2019

The benefits of staying physically active over summer

Summertime is a less intense period in contrast to the past academic year. For others of you who are still on placements or working on research projects, there may still be a familiar sense of structure and routine. Either way, the benefits of staying physically active could help you maintain a healthy body and mind.

“Physical activity” can include any type of exercise or prolonged movement, but other activities like diet, sleep, hobbies/interests, socialising, and summer work are essential. Finding balance between being active and other commitments and/or your academic workload can be tricky, but the rewards can be fruitful.

Regular activity

There’s good evidence that regular (physical) activity can enhance our physical and mental wellbeing, positively affecting mood, alertness, and energy levels. The key word is “regular”. Regular and consistent physical activity among other helpful activities promotes a sense of purpose and commitment towards taking care of ourselves.

Different forms of regular activity work together more effectively than individually, e.g. irregular and low-quality sleep will affect our appetite, mood and energy levels. Our bellies can become confused about when to expect food if our sleeping/eating patterns are irregular, which can impact our diet, our capacity to exercise, work, socialise, etc.

A regular balanced diet can also help your physical and mental wellbeing. Investing time in your interests and socialising with trusted people can also provide ways of maintaining a support structure and help us cope with daily challenges. Socialising can produce pleasure; working can promote satisfaction; investing time in our interests/hobbies reinforces engagement and fulfilment—all things that contribute to staying physically and psychologically well.

However, maintaining regular physical activity isn’t always straightforward or easy.

Know your limitations

Putting too much pressure on yourself to stick inflexibly to a routine can backfire: unplanned events do happen, and we must find ways to adapt, which may involve postponing our planned activities without being destructively self-critical if we feel we’ve failed. Knowing your limitations is also important, so setting realistic goals plays a crucial role in maintaining wellbeing.

Prolonged worrying if you’re not able to sleep or exercise enough can cause anxiety, self-critical thoughts, and feeling low. Developing an understanding and tolerant way of being with yourself can enhance your resilience and help you recover from difficult or unfavourable circumstances.

Get support from those around you

You may find it difficult to socialise over the summer if, for example, many of your friends are not around. There may be some classes or activities at UH or around your local area, so it might be worth checking some of those out.

Sometimes you may not be in the mood to be physically active. Could you find ways to listen and understand what you need? In some situations, trying to be active even if you’re not feeling good can help lift your mood. Sometimes we may need to be active first even if our minds and bodies aren’t in the right frame of mind to do so. You can also reach out and speak to someone you trust: friends, family, your tutor, and you’re welcome to contact Student Wellbeing about any concerns you’re having.

Peter De Santis Counsellor University of Hertfordshire