Wednesday, 26 May 2010
It was in 2007 that I heard a conversation on Radio 4’s ‘woman’s hour’ with the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone . He was berating careers advisers in schools for ‘still assuming that girls would want to do “caring, teaching, nursing”.’ I rather dismissed this and did what I normally do – shout at the radio! However I was recently shown some destination figures for last year’s leavers which suggest that about 75% of girls still choose to begin their careers in the ‘5Cs’ – Caring, Catering, Cleaning, Cashiering and Clerical. Will the new statutory principle to challenge gender stereotypes do anything to change things? I’d like to think so, and I’m sure that introducing career learning into the primary years will help. However until we engage more with parents, anything we deliver to young people may be whistling in the wind. Should we be doing more to work with parents so that not only gender stereotyping can be challenged, but aspirations more generally are addressed? Part of the Parent Guarantee says that parents should have access to information advice and guidance so that they can support their children’s choices. Will this help or are these perceptions of what girls and boys can do too deeply engrained?