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Agender - Challenging gender stereotypes at work

Partnership information



The Agender Partnership has drawn partners from the voluntary, community, public and private sectors including Primary Care Trusts, public authorities, Sure Start programmes, Children’s Centres, Information, Advice and Guidance networks, local businesses and business brokers.


The Agender partnership set out to promote positive images of people in non-stereotypical jobs. A key aim of the Agender Partnership has been to help local women and young females to aspire to higher level careers not traditionally associated with women’s employment by:

  • Developing support centres that combine family support (childcare, child and adult health services, social service support, etc.) with advice about jobs and careers
  • Offering training delivered by advisers who are expert in higher level jobs and non-traditional careers
  • Working with employers and intermediaries to identify where women are under-represented in the workplace and developing positive action strategies
  • Developing new routes into careers using learning and qualifications.


The DP has focused on centres for family support and Information, Advice and Guidance services in areas of significant deprivation within the Birmingham and Solihull areas, some of which contain high levels of minority ethnic groups or lone or teenage parents.

The DP has been working with employers and intermediaries (eg recruitment hubs, developers) in a number of settings.  These include: redevelopment brokers who are active in Birmingham and Solihull; New Super-Hospital hub (University Hospital), DiverCity (positive action group for the Professional and Financial sector), Construction Employment Alliance and the Public Sector Compact.

The DP has been building new routes into careers not generally thought open to women and has been actively involving public sector planning and funding bodies in developing the solutions to gender inequality. The methodology has been to invite innovative project proposals from partners to deliver programmes and services that will pilot redress to job segregation, in sectors such as women into construction (in a variety of guises), women entrepreneurs, access to HE and and higher earnings in early years management (for children’s centre staff), film and TV production, engineering etc. 

The Agender DP has also been looking at issues surrounding men into childcare and health care occupations, working with the Children’s Information Bureau in Birmingham and the local PCT’s.

Target Groups

  • Women and men in non-stereotyped jobs in areas of deprivation
  • BME groups
  • Unemployed people
  • Lone parents




Round 1 to Round 2

In Round One, Birmingham and Solihull Learning and Skills Council was the lead body for the DP FORWARD and has brought key personnel and experience to this Round Two partnership.

Transnational partnerships


Leon Edman, Learning and Skills Council Birmingham and Solihull,


Action 2: 31 December 2007
Action 3: 31 March 2008

Equal theme

Gender equality


woman gardener

Birmingham City Council had established a regional group to focus on gender issues in employment. This regional group was the starting point for the development of the DP


Labour market returnees, Lone parents and people with care responsibilities, Unemployed, Women
Total beneficiaries: 210


camera woman

1.  Achievements of main objectives 

Develop centres that offer support to women and girls:

  • The Agender partnership developed this objective by imbedding Informantion in Advice and Guidance services within Children Centres in Birmingham & Solihull

Work with employers to counter job segregation and gender pay inequality:

  • This was achieved by finding Employers willing  to employ and train Women  within a non-tarditional setting. The project produced DVD's capturing perceptions from Employers and benificaries experiences.

Develop new career pathways into non-traditional careers:

  • Funding enabled innovative ways of delivering learning to local women. Women were able to learn male related occupations this was achieved through a number of projects which are displayed on the website.

Develop a marketing strategy to attract men into care occupations:

  • Work was undertaken through contracting with speacialist within this area.  Birmingham City Council Childcare Breau enhanced their existing services to increase the recruitment of men into the  childcare profession. And as a result Employed a Mal worker to promote the service further.

2.  Number of people achieving each objective


No. of beneficiaries
Objective 4 (Marketing Strategy) Men into Childcare 1
Objective 1 New Empowerment 8
Objective 2 New Equal Opps /Employers Supported 19
Objective 3 New IAG 225
Objective 3 New Learning 47
Objective 3 New Qualifications 64
Objective 2 New Studies / Research 77
Objective 2 Jobs created 37
Objective 2 New Business Start up 2
Objectives 3 / 4 New Business Support /Leaflets 20
Objective 1 Pilot Children Centres 18

woman painter and decorator

3.  Dissemination of Agender

The two-day event at the International Convention Centre was for policy-makers, delivery agents where Equal Development Partnerships highlighted the successful outcomes of the programme and the role Equal can play in future policy development. The conference featured Margaret Prosser, Commission for Equality and Human Rights as key note speaker and Steve Wallace, Office for the Third Sector.

Findings from work under taken drew out and highlighted recommendations to carry forward. Workshops were conducted around the following cross cutting themes:

Businesses, particularly in a climate of low unemployment, were made  aware of the impact of good employment and working practices on their ability to recruit and retain staff. Deciding on the best approaches to work-life balance and CSR can be more difficult. As well as networking with other businesses and support organisations, the speakers and workshops at the symposium enabled us to explore emerging policy and practice and meet individuals who have implemented new ways of working. Additionally Agender were able to try-out tools and techniques that have been shown to enable change in working practice and  explore emerging issues affecting business and the workplace. 

men in childcare

4.  Mainstreaming

Agender has mainsteamed the following through project activities that will be sustained after the end of the Equal programme

  1. Bournville College Women in to non-Traditional Employment OCN qualification
  2. Pertemps People  Development Group Sports Coaching Programme
  3. Family Housing  Direct Labour Housing Programme
  4. Connexions IAG service to Children Centres
  5. Film Academy film production training
  6. Birmingham City Council Men into Childcare Programme
  7. Pertemps People Development Group Individual Advancement Programme
  8. Agender Website Will remain live for a limited period after Action 3 March 2008, and thereafter on Equal-Works

Intended impact/ sustainability

Develop and mainstream support centres that combine family support (childcare, child and adult health services, social service support etc) with advice about jobs, careers and training, delivered by advisers who are particularly expert in higher level jobs and non-traditional careers. The DP will work with existing Children's Centres to develop these broader support functions, and seek to establish the broader functions at other centres across the region.

Scatter plot

Process X
Practice X
Product X X
Policy X X
City Local Regional National European


Decisions made to equip Children's Centres with standard IAG information at other centres, and provide additional resources to support staff in their IAG role.


Taster courses in non-gender traditional employment will be rolled out at more children's centres.


The project has been producing atoolkit which is being promoted at local level.


The project has been producing atoolkit which is being promoted at European level.


Local pilots re the role of Children's Centres in addressing non gender traditional employment will become embedded in the local strategic plans


Local pilots re the role of Children's Centres in addressing non gender traditional employment will become embedded in the Regional plans

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Main outputs

Activities and products

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