Young women still have to fight for independence, says survey

YOUNG women who are demanding the right to a rewarding career could face opposition from a surprising number of young men who want them to stay at home, according to new research.

Neil Bentley of WorldSkills UK Photo: Professional Images/@ProfImages
Neil Bentley of WorldSkills UK Photo: Professional Images/@ProfImages

The study from WorldSkills found that 65 per cent of girls and young women believe that a career is the way for them to achieve independence. Seventy three per cent of the young women who were quizzed as part of the study did not believe that a woman’s role was to look after the home and family. However 24 per cent of the young men who responded to the survey said they believed the opposite.

The research shows that gender stereotypes still exist in the 16-19-year-old age group, with both girls and boys feeling their gender can be a barrier to certain career paths. Young women are concerned that their gender could be considered a barrier when they are thinking about careers in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM). The online survey of almost 2,000 16-19-year-olds and their parents, conducted by Opinium, provides a snapshot of how they are feeling as they approach decisions over choosing to go to college, university or apply for an apprenticeship.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Dr Neil Bentley, the chief executive of WorldSkills UK, said: “The results of this study reinforce the need for parents, educators and employers to work ever more closely together to support all young people, so they make the choices which are right for them and meet the UK’s economic needs. Decisions made at this stage can have long-term consequences in terms of earning power and life chances.

“Young women seem to have the edge over young men in having the key skills employers value, but need support to make informed choices, particularly about careers in tech, where young men are more confident.”

The study concluded that mothers and teachers are the key influencers when it comes to careers guidance.

While both girls and boys understand the importance of careers advice, they often find the volume of information overwhelming and want to learn about potential jobs through hands-on experience, the study found.

The study found that parents of 16-19-year olds feel that careers advice has changed significantly.

Two in three (65 per cent) feel that careers advice now is based less on gender and more on ability.

A similar number (63 per cent) think that careers advice is better than when they were a child, according to the study.

WorldSkills UK is a partnership between businesses, education and Government that aims to help young people move up the career ladder.

It is behind The Skills Show, which runs until Saturday at the Birmingham NEC