Portsmouth High School | Blog | Why women make certain career choices

Part 3: ‘What motivates women to choose particular careers?’

“…realise that within a certain career or profession, there are so many avenues you can take, and you don’t need to decide immediately exactly what you want to do.”

Headmistress, Mrs Jane Prescott, asked our alumnae network ‘what motivates women to choose particular careers?’

Below, is the third instalment of some of the replies.

Careers advice was sadly lacking when I was younger compared with what’s on offer now. I knew I wanted a job that was more outdoors than indoors but was a mix of the two but I had no idea what my potential options were at that time. By the time I discovered my passion was conservation I had already left full time education and couldn’t afford to retrain so I volunteered for many years and still do now. Volunteering gives valuable experience, whether or not your qualifications are relevant, and also helps to build contacts in your desired industry. For me, my love of nature and of teaching makes this a perfect blend for me.
(Jacky, 44)

I was at Portsmouth High School from 1975 until 1988. I am a doctor and have been qualified for 23 years. I have wanted to be a doctor since the age of 4 but Portsmouth High School enabled my choice of career to be realised. Kathryn (46)

I chose a career working in Supply Chain and Logistics within manufacturing/engineering companies. My current role is Supply Planning Manager at McLaren Automotive in Woking. I chose this career because it gives me an opportunity to utilise my problem solving, project management and planning skills. I have remained in this field because of the satisfaction I get seeing how my (and my team’s) actions contribute to the successful operation of the production line.  Liz (33)

The saying ‘you’re good at what you enjoy and you enjoy what you’re good at’ motivated me to choose my career (setting up my own training and coaching business). I really enjoy my work, the people I work with, no two days are the same and I also love the freedom of being my own boss and knowing that I am building something for the future. My business has been running for 5 years and has grown significantly every year. Deborah (40)

I distinctly remember sitting in the school library, where it used to be above the staff room, when I was in Y12 and reading an article in one of the periodicals about Rosemary West and Myra Hindley having in common the fact that they were both uneducated women who were manipulated into wrong doing by domineering men. And that was when I knew that if that was how important education was, then I would be a teacher. Every so often when I am feeling tired of it all, I think back to that moment and it keeps me on course. Eleanor (38)


I don’t believe most women are motivated by money in the same way as men. Rather, they looks to see where they can add value and invest their energy to achieve not power but progress. Georgina-Kate (29)

…I think for me I always “just knew” that I wanted to be a dentist. Since the age of nine, I had a fascination with wobbly teeth, and I had a wonderful female dentist growing up who was a great role model for me. She helped me realise you could combine having a challenging profession with being a Mum (something I’d always wanted to be, and still do).  

One of the best bits of advice I can give when thinking “what career to choose” is to realise that within a certain career/profession, there are so many avenues you can take, and you don’t need to decide immediately exactly what you want to do.

I am now a Dental Officer (Flight Lieutenant) at the largest UK RAF base.  There are so many opportunities to find what suits you, and there’s no immediate rush to find your dream job/career path. It takes time. It took me several years after graduating to find something that really suited me as an individual, and I now really enjoy my job.  What motivated me to decide to become a Dental Officer in the RAF? – a combination of wanting to improve my skills as a dentist, wanting to work as part of a big team (not only in the dental setting but in the wider air force), and having the opportunity to excel further at my sport (Triathlon). Samantha (27)

I’m a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. I do it because it’s really very enjoyable and a great privilege. Over the last weekend I was on call (I’m just finishing) and on Friday night had 3 hours sleep, then worked from 8am-5pm Saturday. Unfortunately in the morning, a patient with an overwhelming infection died in theatre despite my best efforts to save them. On Sunday I was in the hospital from 8am to 1pm. I was talking it over with a colleague whose son is considering a career in medicine. I’ve had a relatively busy and difficult weekend, but I really wouldn’t want to do any other job. Lucy (44)

It is my belief that we choose careers that we find fulfilling – ones that we can commit to with passion.  

Given that we spend so much time at work and a career is something we dedicate many years developing, besides paying for rent, socials and perhaps some holidays along the way for a good work-life balance, I think we are motivated to choose careers that suit us, that we can excel in and ultimately find purpose in what we invest our time in. Priscilla (26)