Tuesday, July 16, 2024

How young people’s ambitions have changed over 20 years with girls wanting careers in fashion over teaching and nursing – while boys set their sights on tech jobs

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Children have ditched dreams of becoming teachers and business managers –  instead longing to be influencers and online stars, a new survey has revealed.

The research, conducted by BT Group, compared young people’s career ambitions across the UK in 2024, in contrast to what they were in 2000.

The rising popularity of the internet over the years impacted findings, with children aged 11 to 15 years old listing social media-savvy professions as some of the most desirable.

Elsewhere, the data found how 20 years of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education has been more beneficial to boys than girls.

Young females in 2000 listed teacher, doctor, lawyer, psychologist and nurse and midwife as their top five dream jobs.

And 24 years on, the selection has also come to include influencer and social media manager in the high ranks.

Meanwhile, young males in 2000 wanted to be business managers, ICT professionals, engineers, doctors and sports people.

Today, they also yearn to be video game designers, software engineers, and IT managers.

The research seems to shows a clear impact of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education on the future workforce. 

STEM reached schools nationwide in September 2001.

In 2000, a poll conducted by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) found that ‘ICT professional’ was the second most desirable job goal among boys.

At the same time, girls expressed a lesser ambition to work in STEM-related industries.

This year, new research polled 1,000 11-15-year-olds to compare findings and discovered a complete shift in the dream jobs for today’s children, with four of the top 10 jobs listed by boys and girls being STEM-related.

The research found that more girls and boys aspire to pursue a job in STEM today compared to in 2000

The research found that more girls and boys aspire to pursue a job in STEM today compared to in 2000

Girls’ job aspirations in 2000 vs. now 

  1. Teachers
  2. Doctors 
  3. Lawyers 
  4. Psychologists 
  5. Nursing and midwives 
  6. Business managers 
  7. Veternarians 
  8. Writers/ journalists 
  9. Secretaries 
  10. Hairdressers 

  1. Nurse 
  2. Fashion Designer 
  3. Lawyer 
  4. Influencer/ entertainer
  5. Video game designer
  6. Beautician/ hairdresser 
  7. Doctor
  8. Social media manager 
  9. Sport
  10. Software engineer 

 Source: BT Group

However, the data also pointed to a gender imbalance because more boys claimed to feel suited to STEM jobs – and were more likely to have chosen careers in STEM compared to girls.

Four out of five of the top five jobs listed by boys are STEM-related, including video game design and software engineering.

However, while STEM jobs also appeared on the girls’ top 10 list, there were a less common feature.

The rise of social media was also accounted for in the findings, and both boys and girls said they would like to pursue jobs in the field as influencers.

Boys’ job aspirations in 2000 vs. now

  1. Business manager 
  2. ICT professional 
  3. Engineers 
  4. Doctors 
  5. Sportspeople 
  6. Teachers 
  7. Lawyers
  8. Motor vehicle mechanics 
  9. Architects 
  10. Police officers 


  1. Video game designer 
  2. Sport
  3. Software engineer
  4. IT manager 
  5. Influencer/ entertainer 
  6. Builder 
  7. Data scientist 
  8. Doctor 
  9. Lawyer
  10. Architect 

 Source: BT Group

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Director at BT Group, said: ‘When compared to boys, many girls feel like tech careers are not for them.’

However, she said this isn’t due to a lack of interest or confidence with tech on their part.

‘To a lot of girls, careers in tech feel exclusive to men,’ she explained.

The research by BT Group also indicated that certain stereotypes might be reinforced at home and at school.

The results found two-thirds of girls have felt encouragement from families and teachers to pursue a job in tech, compared to more than three-quarters of boys.

Meanwhile, 25 per cent of boys described themselves as ‘very well suited’ to a career in tech compared to 13 per cent of girls.

The study also found that over 51 per cent of girls believe tech careers advertise more to boys, and nearly 78 per cent said there are not enough female role models in the tech industry.

‘Our research reveals there is still a lot of work to be done in supporting girls to thrive in the world of tech,’ Victoria added.

‘It is critical we get this right now, rather than having to try and undo the problems it may cause in the future.’

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