An important report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission draws attention to the low aspirations that it appears schools (amongst myriad other factors, surely) are fostering in girls from working class backgrounds (reported on here):
Trevor Phillips [chair of the commission] said: “The majority of young women who come from working-class backgrounds believe they will fail. They believe the best they can do is to be a hairdresser or work in one of the three Cs: catering, childcare or cleaning. These are proper careers and I don’t want to do them down. The problem is we have a society where young girls who aren’t from well-off professional families can’t see themselves as successful in anything but a limited range of jobs
And from the report:
Girls’ attitudes to career choice remain traditional despite moves towards gender equality in wider society. Regardless of socio-economic background, the top three jobs girls believed they would be working in were teaching, childcare and beauty. Four times more boys compared to girls believed they would go into engineering, with similar percentages of boys over girls choosing building, architecture, trade and IT careers.
Poor career and subject advice was also highlighted as a major problem, with information provided to young people often reinforcing class, gender, ethnic and disability stereotypes.
Importantly, a range of recommendations are made to try to alter these failings:
Recommendations made by the Commission in the report include:
- Reviewing the current £30 a week Education Maintenance Allowance with a consideration to increase the maintenance.
- Further Education colleges to consider offering vocational courses to young people who have no GCSEs as a way of re-engaging 16 year olds who leave school without any qualifications.
- The Department of Children, Schools and Families to introduce work experience and vocational options earlier to students
- The Commission to work with the National Apprenticeships Service on initiatives to open up apprenticeships to women, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities.