Social Mobility, Diversity and Career Changes

As I rushed through the shopping area of my local town center last week, I could not resist looking left and right into the windows on either side of The Galleries. There were huge advertisements in practically every window. They weren’t simply advertisements of a service or offer; the words within adverts sounded almost like a job vacancy for models to showcase the signature haircuts of one salon, nails in another and a full body spray tan in the tanning shop.

‘The Galleries’ is an architectural signature building in Wigan, where the shopping areas are located. There are also shortcuts from one part of the town center to another and I am often commuting via The Galleries on days when I am in town. As I carried on walking, I smiled thinking about how an orange-colour spray tan might not suit someone at all even if it was heavily discounted or even at no charge for the volunteering models.

As I approached an exit from The Galleries my eyesight curiously explored other windows, expecting that this “model wanted” trend could catch up with other shops specializing in menswear, mobile gadgets or health remedies.

Those memories of my experience inside The Galleries rushed back as I took a moment to think of an article for the OULS website. My mind became somewhat fixed on the concept of modelling and how this concept varies from one context to another. At the same time, I wanted to write an article about judges. Not all of them; only about a hundred of judges who are also models. Yes, they are models and if anyone at this point is questioning the factuality of this statement, I must admit that the context here is not that of catwalk modelling. The context here is diversity. Diversity models are one of various ways in which to describe what those judges do as part of their voluntary roles.

The first thing that anyone may be thinking is that modelling is a profession of fashion models. It is a profession surrounded with myths. It is difficult to avoid the temptation to think of modelling as an easy job for anyone who meets a very specific criteria of body measurements and looks. It is perhaps not the best of comparisons, but legal professions are surrounded with just as many myths and barriers. Are those barriers of physical kind or of social kind? Another role of those judges is to “remove myths and misconceptions” as is mentioned in the article on the official page for Diversity and Community Relations Judiciary

When I became curious, questioning whether law would be a professional area where I could realistically be successful, my chats with friends became centered around this subject. I half expected that someone would try to talk me out of it. I was almost sure that if it was me making this choice, it would raise eyebrows. And it did, but comments I heard were encouraging.  “If you have brains for it, go for it”. Yet, I didn’t want to stand out as someone with a different kind of brain. It would make me too different. Whilst already speaking with an accent and even speaking a different language sometimes, I did not want to draw attention further.

Later on, my neighbor asked: “so are you clever then?” right after I told her what I’ve began to study. Without giving it much thought, I reassured her that I wasn’t. “Of course you are if you are doing that” her argument followed. At this point I had not tried to debate this issue any further. My neighbor is a priceless source of common sense and common sense is one currency that does not drop in value.

It seemed that I might not be likely to run out of brain matter, but planning a career in law requires much more than that. There are many other things that run out and are hard to replenish. There is nothing new about barriers in the way of anyone with a professional ambition. Some barriers are harder to remove than others. It is not only motivation that needs to be replenished.

Those walking past the same advertisements in the shopping galleries may have wished to be a hair model, but what if they haven’t got any hair for one reason or another? What if their skin is already shaded one of the many beautiful shades other than white? A spray tan is unlikely to be at all an option. Some people are immobilized in one way or another and have very limited opportunities to get out of their homes or use buses like everyone else does. Immobility is a word frequently associated with physical limitations. However, there are many more immobilizing factors whenever a person is thinking of a career change.

I couldn’t name them all. But if anyone reading this feels that way, it may interest you to know that the DCRJ’s can be supportive of anyone who may be affected by social mobility issues and it is very easy to get in touch with them.


The OULS is keen to support OU students in any way possible. We hope that in the New Year, other students will follow by Anya’s example and submit articles for publication on the OULS Website.

Written by Anya Yates – OULS Member


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