Girls will be girls at work . . . and boys will be boys

21st March 2003 at 00:00
GIRLS want to do what they have always done and boys want to do - well, what boys have always done. Their attitudes are defeating the best efforts of the drive on sex equality in the workplace.

As work experience wriggles its way into the centre of the curriculum, a study of 521 girls and 477 boys in S4 shows that girls favour placements in jobs dominated by women, such as looking after young children and hairdressing, and boys want to fix cars and work with wood, pipes and wires.

The research for the Equal Opportunities Commission Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority confirms traditional sex stereotype choices in work-experience placements, ahead of the next week's EOC focus on equality in education.

Some 38 per cent of girls (196) chose placements in nurseries, playgroups and primaries against 7 per cent of boys (32), one in three of whom were physical education assistants.

Eleven per cent of girls (57) and 3 per cent of boys (15) opted for placements in health and social care but of 50 pupils choosing the motor trade, only one was a girl. Similarly, 70 boys chose trades such as joinery, plumbing and electrical work against five girls.

The gender balance was more even in office work, with a split of 41 girls and 28 boys and in outdoor and leisure with 86 boys and 52 girls. But in hairdressing 47 girls chose to work in salons and no boys.

Rowena Arshad, EOC commissioner in Scotland, said: "It is deeply concerning that work-experience placements are still operating along such traditional outdated models. We are never going to get rid of women's work ghettos where women are concentrated in low-pay, undervalued sectors unless sex stereotyping is actively challenged in school."

It was not acceptable that girls who wanted to work in a garage could not do so because there was no women's toilet.

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