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Schoolchildren's interests 'still divided along gender lines'

13/09/2017 Joanna

Gender is still having a significant influence on the subjects and careers that schoolchildren are most likely to be interested in, according to a new survey.

Mintel's Lifestyles of Children and Teens UK 2017 Report has revealed that 49 per cent of boys aged between seven and 15 regard IT and computing among their favourite subjects, followed by 47 per cent who favour sport and PE, and 41 per cent who like maths. Among girls, these figures fall to 26 per cent, 30 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively.

By contrast, 43 per cent of girls say that art is one of their favourite subjects, followed by English with 32 per cent and music with 23 per cent. For boys, the respective percentages were only 19 per cent, 16 per cent and 12 per cent.

These gender-based divisions in academic preference appear to be reflected in longer-term perceptions of which careers are suitable. Some 44 per cent of children aged between seven and 15 say that being a plumber, builder or electrician is a job for boys, compared to just five per cent who believe this is a job for girls. Conversely, more children saw teaching as a job for females rather than males, by a margin of 19 per cent versus 16 per cent.

The findings underline the importance of schools making efforts to challenge gender-based stereotypes in order to ensure that both girls and boys are able to pursue any subject or career with an open mind.

Jack Duckett, senior consumer lifestyles analyst at Mintel, said: "While the UK has taken huge steps in terms of equality over the last 50 years, gender stereotypes remain apparent among today's children and teens, as shown by their continued belief that certain subjects and professions are more suited to one gender or the other."

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