Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Yes, Sadly There Are Still Jobs for the Boys; Women Are Deterred from Many Roles, Thinking They Are Mainly Suited to Men. If the UK Is to Address Its Skills Shortages, Particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Careers, Attitudes Need to Change, and Quickly, Writes Niki Chesworth

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Yes, Sadly There Are Still Jobs for the Boys; Women Are Deterred from Many Roles, Thinking They Are Mainly Suited to Men. If the UK Is to Address Its Skills Shortages, Particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Careers, Attitudes Need to Change, and Quickly, Writes Niki Chesworth

Article excerpt

Byline: Niki Chesworth

WHILE progress has been made on gender equality with 25 per cent of boards made up of women for the first time in 2015 when it comes to career choices, the next generation of workers still believes in the outdated stereotypes held by their parents and grandparents.

More than a quarter of young people aged up to 18 believe that men are best suited to being Prime Minister, according to research released today by O2, which is calling for business to play a bigger role in tackling gender stereotypes that are impacting young people's views of many fulfilling careers. These deeply ingrained beliefs include that women are better suited to careers as nurses, nannies and hairdressers, while half of 11 to 18-year-olds think that the tech sector is more suitable for men and only four per cent feel the sector best suits women.

The survey follows a report from Right Management, the career expert arm of ManpowerGroup, which found that leaders believe it will take an average of 17 years an entire generation until women have the same opportunities to reach senior leadership roles as men.

In more technical roles, the gender gap is even wider. Women account for just one-fifth of the EU's eight million IT jobs and, in the UK, only four per cent of engineering apprentices are female despite an annual shortfall of 55,000 people with engineering skills.

So what is the solution? Fiona Jackson, head of strategic resourcing at EDF Energy, says: "We need to work together to encourage young women to pursue the study of and careers in STEM. Our #PrettyCurious campaign aims to do this by showing girls that there are inspiring female role models working in these areas and doing exciting and unique things."

One of these role models is Jenny Griffiths, who designed her fashion app Snap Fashion having studied computer science at university.

Ann Pickering, O2's HR director and a member of the O2 board, agrees that role models are key.

"It is worrying to see just how many young people are still impacted by the archaic ideals that may have held back their parents or grandparents from rewarding roles," she says. …

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