Gendered horizons: boys' and girls' perceptions of job and career choices
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AbstractAt what age and how do children in Wales form ideas about work and gender? The research study report in Gendered Horizons draws on evidence from stakeholder interviews, a survey of parents, interviews with children in primary school and young people in secondary school and a literature review. It finds that children and young people’s awareness of gendered roles in the workplace is not well developed for example they do not recognise the pay and progression implications of their expressed choices or a range of work roles. Whilst the younger children were still expressing their career ambitions in terms of fantasy roles that were clearly stereotypical in most cases, the older age group were also predominantly talking about job roles that they saw around them and roles that conformed to stereotypical gender roles, such as psychology for girls, working outdoors for boys, and teaching for both genders. In their mid-teens these young people did however have a better understanding of the world of work and of associated gender expectations. Furthermore, some of them expressed ideas about consciously challenging those stereotypes. There was consensus that young people need good guidance on was what their options were. While there is always debate on when career-related learning should start, there was agreement that it had to be before Year 9 when subject choices needed to be made. There was some evidence from the stakeholders that suggested that if young people are given opportunities to see workplaces, to talk to people who work in those places (whether introduced through family or school or other networks), then they are more likely to consider these as possibilities. Further, if they are supported with a programme of career learning they will know where to find information about pay, employment conditions, job opportunities, qualification requirements and career progression –they will understand why knowledge of these matters is important and will begin to challenge stereotypical thinking that underpins career choices.
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