Miss Lancashire has shared how she deals with stereotypes as a model and an aerospace engineering student.

Jess Gagen, 26, recently won the title after competing for the second year in a row.

The University of Liverpool student from Skelmersdale decided to re-enter the competition after coming second last year, to inspire girls and young women across the county to never give up on their dreams.

Her motto is: “If you want something that much, you have to push yourself and go for it."

Those words have motivated Jess throughout her life as she was determined to study aerospace engineering despite not having the right A-Levels to do so.

Lancashire Telegraph: Jessica Gagen is in her fourth and final year studying aerospace engineering at the University of Liverpool Jessica Gagen is in her fourth and final year studying aerospace engineering at the University of Liverpool

She said: “My dad used to tell me I should do engineering, but I never thought it was for me. I just thought it was like woodwork because I’d never been introduced to it properly throughout my education so instead of doing physics and maths, I did biology and chemistry.

“Engineering isn’t properly marketed for girls, it’s just photos of women in front of engine stimulators and jets but that’s it. We’re not properly told what it’s about and what you can do.

“The seed is planted in boys’ heads before girls’ so it just never crossed my mind that it would be something I would want to do.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Jess next to an Armstrong Siddeley Stentor engine Jess next to an Armstrong Siddeley Stentor engine

In 2018, the 23-year-old refused to see this as a setback and applied for aerospace engineering through clearing. She was accepted onto a four-year course at the University of Liverpool and has balanced her modelling with a full-time degree for the past four years.

Jess says there’s an assumption that “there’s nothing in my head” due to stereotypes that come with modelling, especially studying a heavily male-dominated degree. To combat this, she visits high schools and speaks to young girls about different STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects.

Jess added: “Only ten per cent of my class is women which is really common because it is just aimed at men mainly.

“A lot of people do say as ‘oh my gosh I would never have guessed you studied that’ because people just don’t expect women to work in STEM subjects. I think that’s where part of the shock comes from.”

Jess has always been academically motivated, and the Miss Lancashire winner received ten As and A* GCSEs. However, part of her motivation came from her experience with bullying.

Lancashire Telegraph: Jess used to be bullied at school for having red hair Jess used to be bullied at school for having red hair

Jess added: “Kids in high school used to make fun of me for my hair and it would get brushed off as banter but when I was getting that every day, it was really difficult.

“I remember one girl put a coat up in front of me when we were on the bus and said, ‘only pretty girls in front of this point’ and that really made me upset.

“Those experiences really pushed me to be the best and put all my effort into my grades as my way of coping and focus on doing the best for me.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Jess with a turbofan jet engineJess with a turbofan jet engine

Jess’ resilience has carried on into her adult life as both a model and an aerospace engineering student and whilst it can be difficult to balance both, ensures she stays disciplined by not accepting modelling work during exam times, for example.

Despite all of the setbacks Jess has experienced in life, she remains passionate about helping young girls achieve their dreams – regardless of stereotypes or misconceptions.

Jess added: “Sometimes life happens for a reason, and whilst you may not get the grades you wanted or if you end up changing your mind it's okay.

“You just have to focus on being the best version of yourself and not listening to other people’s opinions and you’ll look back and be glad that things worked out the way they did.”