JOBS FOR THE BOYS ...AND THE GIRLS! Students Challenge the Stereotypes Men Make Up Just 12 per Cent of Primary School Teachers While Only a Fraction of Workers in Sectors Such as Construction and Vehicle Mechanics Are Women. So What Is It like to Opt for a Career Where Most of Your Colleagues or Fellow Students Are of the Opposite Sex? Education Reporter LUCY LYNCH Asked Some of the Students at City College Coventry

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WORK experience in a hair salon was enough to convince Sammi-Jo Montgomery that she should follow her dream of working in vehicle maintenance and forget about doing a typically 'female' job just for the sake of fitting in.

The 19-year-old is one of two women on the college's second year diploma in vehicle maintenance.

Her passion for cars began as a child when she would help her father John change the wheels on his Jaguar. But as a pupil at Coundon Court School in North Brook Road, Coundon, Coventry, she opted for work experience in a hair salon.

She said: "I did work experience hairdressing because that was what my friends were doing and I wanted to fit in. But I hated it - I knew that wasn't what I wanted to do.

"So after that I thought 'I'm going to do what I want to do, not something to fit in with everybody else'."

There are 17 students in her year on her course. The two women on her course and another woman on the body repair course have become firm friends.

But Sammi-Jo is just as relaxed socialising with the men on her course in post college visits to the pub or on trips to car shows.

She said: "I get on really well with men. It's a lot easier to talk to them about cars than it is to talk to girls about cars."

Her ambitions include owning an Audi A4, becoming an experienced technician - and one day being in a position to take on a female apprentice.

She said: "I think there are women who would be good mechanics but they feel intimidated when they walk into a garage.

"I'm good at body repairs because I'm really fussy and I need everything to be just perfect.

"I think there are other women like that and they would be really good at the job."

Now the current challenge for Sammi-Jo is finding a job. While she has been invited to interviews, she says she feels managers of garages and car dealerships haven't taken her seriously - and haven't offered her job.

But the teenager has a message for them: "More fool them and it's their loss because I can do the job as well as any man."

Also challenging traditional stereotypes are Michelle Ansell and Marcelina Zarzeczna, both forging careers in the male-dominated world of construction. Michelle is on a part time BTEC level three in construction and the built environment at City College Coventry.

She does the course as a mature student alongside working as an assistant quantity surveyor for house builder Barratt David Wilson Homes at the company's Solihull office.

The married mum-of-two is the only woman on her college course and the only woman quantity surveyor in the department where she works.

Michelle's job is to take detailed plans prepared by others for construction projects and send out tenders, set up budgets, control payments and make regular site visits to check progress. She was working in administration for Barratt David Wilson Homes when she asked to be sent on a part time course to train as a quantity surveyor.

Her managers said yes and arranged for her to study one day a week at City College Coventry.

She said: "At the beginning of the course I felt I was in the wrong place but after a month or so and encouragement from teachers I felt much better. …