Young women still avoid traditionally male-oriented careers, says report

March 5, 2018 / Keith Osborne
Young women still avoid traditionally male-oriented careers, says report

A new report sees young women in the UK still avoiding careers usually associated with men and that they feel that their options continue to be limited by their gender.

Based on a survey of 2,000 young people and 2,000 parents, ‘Closing the Gender Gap’ has been released by WorldSkills UK and The Careers & Enterprise Company and shows over half the participating young women aged 17 to 19 (56%) believe their gender limits their career options. Only 37% of young men felt gender limited their own options.

The report finds young women aspiring to lower salaries than men – by around £1,000 per year – and that they aspire to salaries considerably lower than their parents believe they are aspiring to. It also finds that young people of both genders influence their friends by promoting career options based on gender rather than on ability and interest.

More positively, the research finds that engagement with role models from the world of work can significantly increase salary aspirations of young women, providing a clear call to action to employers and businesses across the UK.

Dr Neil Bentley, chief executive of WorldSkills UK and a panellist at the upcoming WhatHouse? New Homes Debate on careers and diversity, says:  “These findings are particularly shocking to me.  The report is a wake-up call for all, especially when you consider that the young people interviewed were born at the turn of the 21st century. Showing that progress on gender equality is not inevitable, the findings require us to think more deeply about the influences on young people. We want all young women to have an open mind about their career choices and make the most of the opportunities available. That’s why we are encouraging all young people, their teachers and parents to speak with more employers, for example at the Skills Show, and understand that career choices in this day and age should be about chasing your dreams, not following traditional paths.”

Claudia Harris, CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company, says: “This research is counterintuitive. The fact that young women are more gender conservative than their parents is the reverse of what many of us would have assumed. It points to the fact that progress on gender equality is not inevitable and raises tough questions about the influences setting expectations among young people today. The good news is that the research also identifies a clear way forward. Engagement with role models from the world of work raises aspirations among all young people and specifically increases the salary expectations of young women. We are calling on employers and businesses from across England to work with us at The Careers & Enterprise Company to ensure that all young people have the wide range of interactions with the world of work that this research shows is so important.”

Come to listen and talk about housebuilding careers – apprenticeship, diversity, training and leadership – at our New Homes Debate in London on Thursday 15 March 2018.


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