How to tell your daughter 'she’s not worth it'…


I am writing this piece from the Southbank Centre which has become one of the go-to venues in London for university graduation ceremonies. It looks like a fun event, beaming students adjusting their ceremonial gowns, hugging fellow graduates and attempting to mimic that iconic image of mortar boards being thrown into the air (while trying not to take their guests’ eyes out!).

Incredibly proud parents dressed to the nines, try their best not to well-up and to capture every moment of the pomp and ceremony. It’s a huge investment of blood, sweat, tears and cash to put your children through university in the UK. According to NUS figures the average cost, per student, per academic year, is £10,133.

But, as I watch I wonder, at what point, if any, do parents who have invested equally in the futures of their sons and daughter, and watched as their children struggle with the same student anxieties, have the conversation about their value? And specifically, in the world of work, how their daughters will experience unfairness from the moment they begin their working lives - how do you tell your daughters that in the most jobs they are considered less valuable than their brothers?

In the largest piece of research conducted by the UK government in 2016, it was reported that within one year of graduation the majority of women will face a gender pay gap which then widens over time.



Excuses, Excuses

The Equal Pay Act came into force in the UK in 1970 so this is not a new issue, and unfortunately, though the lives of women have changed in many ways since equal pay passed into law, the excuses for the chronic underpayment of women remain almost unchanged. Here are some of the common ones:

1. Women are choosing to work in roles which attract less pay - a popular assumption by many but the data shows that women are paid less in almost all roles including those with pay grades.

“Even in nursing, a course dominated by women students, men were still earning about £2,000 more just a year after graduation”

Source Guardian article 14th June 2017

2. Women are less skilled. Again, women are paid less at all levels, and interestingly, while the gap has narrowed slightly in the UK, it varies in relation to seniority.

“For high earners (top decile), the gap for full-time employees has remained largely consistent, fluctuating approximately 20 per cent (18.8 per cent in 2016).”

Source Equal Pay Portal

3. But women “go off” and have children. For me, this makes no sense in the 21st century. It is an incredibly odd thing to say that we apply a tax to half the planet based on the idea that whoever is ensuring the survival of humankind automatically provides less value.

It’s a form of tax that pays no dividends (except for employers) and ensures pound for pound women always pay more for investing in their careers. There is no discount on student fees or professional membership for women - here there is absolute equality!

Continuing this pernicious practice into the 21st century is not just plain wrong, it ignores the strides made by women in transforming themselves and society. And while the UK government makes efforts to challenge the pay gap for women, it is also key to look in depth at how intersectional issues are further compounding messages on value being received by, for example, disabled women and women of colour.

Consigned to history

Should things continue as they are, it is predicted it would take 52 years to arrive at equal pay for equal work. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the graduates I saw celebrating at the Southbank could speak about this with their children as something consigned to history, like women not being able to vote or attend university at all? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they never ever have to have a conversation with their daughters about equal pay?


Built By Us and Southbank Place celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2017

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June 2017, Canary Wharf Contractors Limited (CWCL) welcomed Built By Us (BBU) construction career candidates and supporters to its Southbank Place development. Through visiting Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar’s mixed-use development, which will include residential, commercial and retail units, construction candidates were able to gain an insight into a working construction site.

Image courtesy of Suzanne Habuka

Image courtesy of Suzanne Habuka

The visit formed part of a programme of experience-based careers information, which BBU offers as part of its mission to connect diverse talent with construction businesses. Through providing careers support and inclusive recruitment services, BBU is able to connect companies with the right skills for their projects. Women who are considering a career in construction were encouraged to attend the event, which was open to those aged 18+.

Image courtesy of Suzanne Habuka

Image courtesy of Suzanne Habuka

Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar’s vision for Southbank Place, is to create a masterpiece in construction while maintaining communication and harmony with its valued neighbours and stakeholders. The event celebrated and recognised the work that Southbank Place is doing to engage with the local community.

Speaking after the event BBU founder, Danna Walker, said

“I can’t thank everyone at CWCL enough for making this visit possible. It represented a rare opportunity for BBU candidates to see an operation of this magnitude and complexity first-hand. The logistics, skills and dedication required to make such a complex project operate efficiently and successfully are truly impressive. “



About Canary Wharf Contractors Ltd

CWCL’s vision for the construction of Southbank Place is that it will set a new standard in the Waterloo district for the future residents and occupants of the homes, offices and shops in the area.

About Qatari Diar

Qatari Diar is a global leader in sustainable real estate, building landmark projects of unrivalled scope and vision. We create vibrant communities dedicated to capturing the hearts and imaginations of the people we serve. These developments are conceived from our commitment to preserving and reflecting local characters and traditions and our visions have created places with a sense of identity and purpose where people aspire to live, work and visit.

Qatari Diar’s European operation is based in London, and boasts several key local projects, including a landmark residential development at the 12 acre Chelsea Barracks site in Belgravia; Southbank Place, a mixed-use joint venture between Qatari Diar and Canary Wharf Group situated in a prime central London location on the south bank of the River Thames; 30 Grosvenor Square, the current US Embassy in London, which will become a luxury hotel, retail and event space; and East Village & Elephant Park, a joint venture with Delancey and APG, offering more than 4000 private residential apartments for rent. 

Qatari Diar seeks to harness the world’s greatest architectural and design talent in order to create sustainable communities that will stand the test of time.

About Canary Wharf Group

Canary Wharf Group plc has overseen the largest urban regeneration project ever undertaken in Europe, designing and building more than 17m sq ft of London real estate, which now houses local and international companies and renowned retailers.

The Canary Wharf Estate is a major retail destination comprising around 1m sq ft across five shopping malls, including the award-winning leisure development, Crossrail Place, housing one of London’s most stunning roof gardens.  It also has world-class, year-round arts and events programme offering over 200 diverse and culturally inspiring events performed throughout the Estate.

Canary Wharf Group is a wholly owned joint venture between Brookfield Property Partners and the Qatar Investment Authority.


Instagram: @canarywharflondon
Twitter @CanaryWharfGrp@YourCanaryWharf@Level39CW

Guest Blog | I'm an Architect - Yay! By Charlene Campbell

Finally, I have done it. I’ve reached my goal. Becoming an Architect is a personal achievement of persistence and dedication, as well as a great career move…but that was two and a half years ago.

In that time I have become a mother and a director at Green Tea Architects, a small firm in SE4. It is a practice that I have been working at for the past five years…and yes, in that order, mother and director!

I decided to write this piece and start a blog called Architect London in order to share my experiences with people interested in starting a career in construction and women reluctant to take the leap due to their current or future work-home life-balance considerations.

When I told people what I was studying, the most common question was - “Oh that’s a long course, you could have been a doctor!” Inside I used to think, but I don’t want to become a doctor, I wanted to be an Architect. I want to breathe life into new buildings and fix broken ones, not people.

What I like most about being an Architect is the varied nature of each project. No two jobs are the same, even small domestic projects. Not only this but seeing a project you imagined slowly come to life and finally see in use, is amazing. At Green Tea Architects, we have been fortunate to work on a number of projects which have created better environments for their inhabitants to work, play, live, learn and pray. This gives you a profound sense of achievement. Like the course, each project takes persistence and dedication but also requires teamwork and collaboration with other professionals.

As you may or may not know, the course is broken down into three stages. Part One – The Degree, Part Two – The Diploma and Part Three – Professional Practice in Architecture. Twenty-four months of experience is also required generally after Part One and Part Two. These months give real insights into working in an office and provide a new set of skills and knowledge that feedback into your university work. Part Three is undertaken part-time whilst employed at a practice and this is where you learn about contracts and running a business. This is the only time you undertake a written exam, submissions are otherwise portfolio based.

The course itself is varied in terms of what you need to generate - drawings from hand drawn sketches to CAD, and renders to maquette or detailed models to life size technical details. You acquire a great set of skills that you use throughout your career and life, which in turn enables you to be the Architect you want to be.

Whether it’s building bridges like Santiago Calatrava, London buses or an Olympic Caldron like Thomas Heatherwick, or even a brit award or Aquatic Centre like Zaha Hadid, the opportunities are endless!

I will end with what the course leader on the first day of my architectural education said to me - “Once you start on this course you will never look at anything the same again.”

By Charlene Campbell

Charlene Campbell is a thirty-one-year-old architect and new mother to an adorable baby named Bailey living and working in London. Currently a director at a small practice in South London situated in an old converted tea factory harmoniously named Green Tea Architects. Charlene is also a blogger documenting the intersections worlds of career and motherhood.

If you would like to share your story or write a blog for BBU then get in touch. Email for more info.


Let's Get Flexible

“Women are working more, men are understanding their value as caregivers, women are primary breadwinners—I mean, we could go on and on and on. Things are different. So we can’t keep operating like everything is the same, and that’s what many of us have done. And I think it’s up to us to change the conversation.”

Michelle Obama

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