What do you want to be when you grow up?
I haven’t decided yet.
I always quite fancied being a ballerina, but I think I’m past that now. I never really had the thighs for a leotard anyway.
At school, I remember filling in one of those career questionnaires and it telling me I should be an insurance underwriter. Honestly, how dull must my answers have been that the quiz thought I’d get my kicks organising family travel insurance?? Weirdly, years later, I found myself working for an insurance company, training to be an actuary. It was the most hideously boring two years of my working life. Every day I would go to lunch and want to run away for ever. Afternoons were spent resisting the urge to smash my head into my PC screen.
My week of work experience as a teenager did little to develop my career ambitions either. I remember leaving the organising of it rather late, and ending up in an estate agents. I didn’t actually mind it too much – my sister and I spent many happy hours as children playing estate agents, so I knew what to do – but it didn’t exactly raise my aspirations.
At least I didn’t spend the week as a hairdresser though.
According to a new survey from Ofsted, reported in the Guardian today, the majority of girls end up in stereotypically female work experience placements such as hair salons. Of the 1,700 girls surveyed, less than 10% spent their work experience in ‘unconventional’ roles, while the vast majority worked either in education, hair and beauty, offices and shops.
Are we failing the next generation of women? Are girls taking on these traditional female roles out of choice, or simply because they aren’t encouraged to explore other options?
What did you want to be when you grew up? Did your school and your teachers encourage you to challange gender stereotypes, and follow your dreams and your talents, or were you just shuffled unquestioningly into a ‘conventional’, gender appropriate job?