What motivates women to choose particular careers? Portsmouth High alumnae offer their views.

‘I am motivated by the feeling of success and seeing others motivated to succeed…’ 

Several weeks ago, the Head of Portsmouth High School, Jane Prescott, posed a question to alumnae of the school – ‘what motivates women to choose particular careers?’. The school has had an overwhelming response, some of which we have already shared. Here is the second instalment of responses.


“For me it was security. It was important for me to have a career that would support me on my own. You never know what will happen in life so I never wanted to be reliant on anyone else. For information, I’m an actuary.”

Amy (29)


“I chose my career (I run a Honey Farm) because I wanted the freedom of being my own boss. I had done three quite useful jobs before that to help me (in banking, in the courts service & in industry). In addition I did an MBA at University. Being self-employed has its advantages and disadvantages; the latter being that the buck stops with you. The former was that at one time the advantages were paying less tax as a business owner because you could pay yourself mostly dividends instead. But this has now all changed; recent changes in taxation mean that apart from deciding your own strategy and paths forward, I cannot see that there is now any decent monetary reward for the risk of being an entrepreneur in the United Kingdom.”

“So what may have motivated women to choose a particular career in the beginning is probably still as it was; the hope of working in a field that you enjoy with hopefully the added bonus of being able to earn a sustainable living in that field, with plenty of paying customers, either from themselves or via their taxation. Some women will be motivated by geography, maybe to work abroad or to travel as part of their work. Others have altruistic values, or feel a vocation for their choice of career. Whatever they choose, their career is unlikely to remain exactly the same as it was in the beginning, as employers and individuals adapt to changes in technology, legislation and their own requirements.”

Theresa (55)


“I think it’s partly down to a person’s values, whether they value a service ethic (or ‘giving something back’) over monetary reward eg a business career. Without wishing to sound ‘puritanical’, this is certainly true for me (career choice of librarian). Of course some people change careers during their working life, as their priorities change, but perhaps values (learned from family etc) don’t change that much?”

Annabel (44)

 “I value autonomy and variety and the price I pay is security and being part of a recognised system.”

“I tried to work in companies but felt stifled and found myself clock-watching which I just couldn’t bear. Working for myself on projects that have meaning to me unlocked my ability to work incredibly hard. I accept that my ego is a driver, when people say ‘you did WHAT?’ that is like food for me. I understand that this is false pride but it is balanced by the real pride I have in knowing that my businesses create jobs, that they put meals on tables.”

Fleur (43)


“Generically I would say that a combination of opportunities, (both educational and within industry/workplace), positive experiences which contribute to personal growth, and social environment all contribute to produce the motivation for the careers women choose. Motivation is a constantly fluctuating entity, but strong identification with a particular career can also be a greater motivating force then the apparent benefits, whether monetary or otherwise.

Personally I am motivated by the feeling of success and seeing others motivated to succeed, whether they are the students I teach or the clients and their animals I treat (I am a McTimoney Animal Practitioner and HE lecturer in Animal Manipulation and Animal Management and Care at two colleges.) “

Nikki (40)


“My own motivation was initially simply following my passion – history – and also then driven forwards by a realisation that I love communicating this passion in ways that people find engaging and enjoyable. To be able to make a real difference to one young person’s life is reward enough; to have had the opportunity to have made a difference to so many more students and, now, colleagues, over 25 years in the profession is a humbling realization.”

Amanda (50)


“The essence of the feminine is creativity, expression, fertility, compassion, love, embrace. How do we, as women, channel these qualities through that which we do in the everyday, the mundane, even? To find this on both a conscious and subconscious level is perhaps essential to nurturing our inner nature, as women.”

Katy (39)