Career expert: Stereotypes and subject choices

about 2 mins

Beth Urquhart, careers adviser, explains why you shouldn't let stereotypes get in the way of your subject choices.

‘These blue jobs are for boys and those pink jobs are for girls…right?’ A class of secondary school pupils say, ‘That’s wrong!’

As a careers adviser working in school, I had a class discussion about gender stereotypes with a group of young people who were about to make subject choices. The class agreed that there’s no such thing as jobs for boys or for girls. 

But when I asked them to imagine what type of person they associated with certain jobs (doctor, army officer, nursery assistant, hairdresser) they admitted they thought of someone of a specific gender.

What can we do about it?

One way is to stop using ‘man’ or ‘woman’ in the job title. 

Try tradesperson instead of tradesman, fire-fighter instead of fireman and so on.

Can you think of some? Are there some job titles that are trickier to find gender neutral equivalents for, like binman (waste disposal operative or refuse collector)?

Thankfully, you can now pick a career path (and subjects) based on whether you would enjoy and be good at it.

In the past, this thinking has given us female scientists, pilots and doctors, male nurses and make-up artists. And we’re the better for it.

You are so lucky, because you can do anything you want to. With career choice (and subject choices) your gender is no longer a barrier.