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Half of young people think tech jobs are for men

A charity looks to get top tech employees to speak in schools

By Jennifer Harrison February 3, 2016

It’s no secret that women still have it tough in the tech industry, whether it’s harassment or the gender pay gap. There was some good news this year as Lord Davies’ target of 25% women on boards was met for the first time but there’s still a long way to go. New research conducted by O2 suggests that young people today are held back by the same stereotypes that previous generations faced.

O2 surveyed 2000 young people between the ages of 4 and 18 to get their opinions on whether certain jobs were more suited for men or women. 1 in 4 young people believed that men were better suited than women to run the country. Tell that to the women who turned up to the US Senate after Storm Jonas hit the United States.

When asked which jobs women are better suited for, the top answers were nannies (answered given by 79% of children), nurses (64%), and hairdressers (63%). When asked the same question for men, almost half of the young people (49%) thought men were better suited than women to be engineers. Science didn’t do much better, with 29% believing men were better suited for the job compared to 10% for women.

Just 4% think women are better at tech

Perhaps the worst result was how the young people viewed gender and the tech industry. 49% believed that men are better suited for tech jobs compared to a tiny 4% for women. These stereotypes are obviously heavily influenced by parents.

84% of the young people said they would go to their parents for advice about careers. However, the research revealed the importance of school as a way to change stereotypes: 73% of secondary school pupils said they would like to hear local business leaders talk about jobs but 53% couldn’t remember this ever happening in their school.

O2 sees this as an opportunity and is partnering with education charity Speakers for Schools to get the company’s most senior employees to speak to children in schools about tech jobs. According to the research, young people want to hear about these jobs but nobody talks to them.

If we’re ever going to see long-lasting change, tech companies will have to do their bit to combat the stereotypes facing young people. Speakers for Schools has already held 2,500 talks in state schools but they want more companies to follow O2 and make a difference. It breaks my heart to think there are young people out there who won’t even consider their dream job because of expectations associated with gender. Down with that sort of thing.


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