According to a study by O2, youngsters still view the IT industry as being better suited to men rather than women.
Research showed that 47% of people aged between 11 and 18 think the tech sector is more suitable for men, while almost half of children aged four to 10 said men are better suited to become engineers. More than half believed girls were more suited to be nurses, nannies or hairdressers.
More than a quarter of young people also said the position of UK prime minister was better suited to a man.
O2’s HR director and a female board member of the company, Ann Pickering, said at various points throughout the research: “It is worrying to see just how deeply ingrained gender stereotypes still are, with many young people still impacted by the archaic ideals that may have held back their parents or grandparents from rewarding roles. Working in the tech sector, I see the impact that stereotyping has on our industry every day. But it’s not just male-dominated industries which are struggling, boys are just as susceptible to outdated ideas about which jobs are appropriate for them. A diverse workforce is a prerequisite to doing good business. Whilst it’s right that businesses focus on the number of women in their boardrooms, our research shows the importance of focusing on the next generation too. Better collaboration between businesses, educators and parents is needed to level the playing field once and for all on young people’s career aspirations.”
Parents play a significant role in shaping their children’s career too, O2’s research found that 84% of young people ask their parents for career advice.
More children want to hear from local businesses within their schools; to learn about jobs in local industry sectors and to hear first-hand experience from people within potential job roles. O2 has partnered with the charity Speakers for Schools, to improve career communication between industry and young people which helps to give UK children access to talks by industry leaders.
Founder of Speakers for Schools, Robert Peston, said: “These are shocking findings. It is vital that gender should have no bearing on what our young people choose to do in life.
“Speakers for Schools, which has to date organised 2,500 free talks in state schools, aims in part to help and encourage students to fulfill their potential, whatever their sex, whatever their background.”
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