Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Gender divide in teenage ambitions

A survey reveals that girls are more likely to aspire to be teachers or work in fashion, while boys want to work in IT or engineering

As teenagers pick up their GCSE results, a new survey has suggested a gender divide still exists in their ambitions for the future.

It reveals that girls are more likely to aspire to be teachers or work in fashion, while boys want to work in IT or engineering.

Both sexes are keen on careers in healthcare, dreaming of working as doctors or nurses.

The poll, based on a survey of just over 500 14 to 16-year-olds, also reveals that boys are more keen than girls on the idea of running a company.

The survey, commissioned by JP Morgan Asset Management, asked teenagers which sector they would most like to work in for the majority of their careers.

The top three answers given by girls were healthcare (chosen by 22%), education (11%) and fashion, art and design (10%). The top three for boys were IT (16%), engineering (12%) and healthcare (10%).

More than one in four (27%) of the youngsters questioned said they would like to run their own firm, the poll reveals. Over one in five (22%) would like to be the boss of a company, with 26% of boys saying this is the level they would ultimately like to work at, compared with 20% of girls.

Keith Evins, head of UK marketing at JP Morgan Asset Management, said: "They are no doubt feeling nervous this morning, but the nation's GCSE students are still an ambitious bunch. It is fantastic that teenagers in Britain are aiming high and aspiring to emulate a Lord Sugar or a Bill Gates."

An observation published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) questions the purpose of GCSEs. It says that England is "unusual" in having a school leaving exam at age 16. "Most countries focus on exams when most young people in fact leave school at 17 or 18," it says.

"The system in England looks rather like a leftover from a time when the majority of young people did expect to leave school at 16. Now that the vast majority stay on past 16 to do further qualifications, there must be some question over the role of a set of exams which may signal to some that leaving at 16 is expected, particularly in the context of Government policy to raise the 'education participation age' to 18."

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