One of the proposals in an education bill to be debated in Parliament today is that schools will have to give impartial careers advice to young people. There are concerns that teachers are encouraging teenagers down gender stereotypical career paths by promoting hairdressing to girls and the construction industry to boys. At the moment, only 3% of apprentices on childcare courses and 8% on hairdressing courses are men. In engineering 3% of apprentices are women, and in construction only 1% are women.
Of course there are some people who would say that these figures reflect the fact that the different genders are suited to different roles in life – see this review for example. But surely teachers are only one factor in the career choices a young person’s makes. Much more influential are the role models that they see around them, not least in their own families, and the cultural expectations that they grow up with. And that’s where there’s a vicious circle. If boys grow up, for example, with all female teachers especially when they are young then they are less likely to see teaching as a an ‘obvious’ career choice for them. It will need more than impartial career's advice to open up those possibilities.