While we’ve come a long way in the fight for gender equality in the workplace, it seems that there’s still a way to go. Hot on the heels of a report published by the World Economic Forum last week- which claimed that women still earn less than men and make up a smaller percentage of the workforce in almost every industry- comes some new research from O2 that reveals worrying attitudes among young people.
O2 surveyed over 2,000 young people aged 4-18, and discovered that archaic gender stereotypes are very much alive and well. Asked which careers were better suited to women, 65% of children aged between 4-10 chose nurse, 79% said nanny and 63% opted for hairdresser. And when the same group of children were asked to identify the roles better suited to men, almost half (49%) said engineer, while 29% said scientist.
And it’s not just the younger children with such views. 47% of secondary school pupils aged 11-18 said that men were better suited to the technology sector than women. In fact, only 4% thought that women were better suited to tech jobs.
Of all the young people who took part, a whopping 28% (that’s one in four) agreed that women were not suitable to take on the role of Prime Minister.
O2’s HR Director, Ann Pickering commented: “It’s worrying to see just how deeply engrained 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.”
In response to the findings, O2 is partnering with Speakers for Schools to mobilise its most senior employees to go into schools and speak to children about the opportunities within the tech sector in particular. Robert Peston is the founder of Speakers for Schools and said that “These are shocking findings. It’s vital that gender should have no bearing on what our young people choose to do in life.”