Gender Should Not Influence Career Choice

Article excerpt

Today's gcse results will begin to focus youngster's minds on future careers as they decide whether to stay in education or begin training for work.

In theory the choice is vast but in truth many teenagers continue to wear an occupational straitjacket.

It makes sense that career selections are influenced by talent and temperament as well as exam results. Someone with patience and an eye for detail may well favour a branch of technology, while an extrovert personality might fancy a sales career.

What makes less sense, however, is that choices are still so heavily influenced by gender.

Research by the Equal Opportunities Commission and ourselves in Chwarae Teg shows that, despite efforts to the contrary, boys and girls are still drawn to stereotypical careers.

This was underlined in an analysis of work experience by Careers Wales Gwent.

They found that, last year, a massive 97% of pupil work placements in engineering were snapped up by boys and a mere 3% by girls.

It was much the same in construction, with 95% of placements going to boys.

Conversely 89% of places in the caring field went to girls and 96% in hair and beauty.

It could well be that the gender associations of occupations like these are too strong and it will take quite a while to break down prejudice and peer pressure.

But it's particularly worrying that some newer occupations, such as IT, also seem to have become male preserves. A massive 88.5% of work placements in IT went to boys and 75% in science and technology.

Not only is this trend limiting for individuals of both genders but it takes its toll on the economy. …