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Children 'conforming to gender-based career choices from young age'

10/11/2016 Joanna

Expectations associated with traditional gender roles are governing children's education and career choices from a young age, according to a new study.

Research from the children's amusement centre KidZania has indicated that a gender-based divide in children's career choices can be seen as early as age four - a development that underlines the need for greater efforts to encourage children to think beyond stereotypes when considering their own educational futures.

The study examined 400,000 boys and girls aged between the ages of four and 14 taking part in activities at KidZania, which allows children to role-play different scenarios within a miniature city.

Although children are give a free choice as to which career they will be assigned within the city, the figures indicate that significant gender divisions appear to be affecting their decisions, even among the youngest age group of four to six-year-olds.

Among children in this demographic, 80 per cent of those choosing to be pilots were boys, with a similar proportion seen for engineering jobs, whereas 63 per cent of those acting out the roles of cabin crew members were girls.

The gender split was roughly the same for each profession at ages 11 to 14, showing that ingrained perceptions may be holding girls back from aspiring to positions that rely upon disciplines such as maths and science.

Dr Ger Graus, director of education and partnerships at KidZania UK, said: "Children can only aspire to be something that they know exists. They tend to choose to do something that they are already familiar with.

"What this data shows is that gender stereotypes are formed much earlier than you would expect, and poses the question of what is happening with these kids up to the age of four."

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