In UK, Girls Are Not Taking Up Traditionally ‘Male’ Jobs Despite ‘Gender Revolution,’ Study Finds

Kevin McCandless | November 15, 2018 | 9:08pm EST
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(Photo: NHS Foundation Trust)

London ( – Despite the “gender revolution,” young men in Britain are still not taking jobs traditionally dominated by women, according to a new academic paper.

The paper, released by the German-based Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), tracked what occupations were taken up by people who were born in 1958, 1970 and 2000 respectively.

While women have increasingly entered into fields previously dominated by men, such as law, the reverse was not true, it found. The already low representation of men in nursing has remained flat and even fewer than before are becoming school teachers.

Co-author Dr. Grace Lordan of the London School of Economics said when the study was published that the lopsided situation needed to be examined, particularly as the jobs that have been mainly filled by women are expected to explode in the coming years.

“More and more we actively encourage our girls to pursue occupations that are currently dominated by males,” she said. “However, boys are rarely encouraged to pursue occupations where females have had higher shares.”

At the same time, the study found that many women were still not aspiring to the most highly paid jobs, in fields such as finance, science and technology.

It found that boys were becoming even more competitive in striving for these jobs, while girls born at the turn of the century, on the whole, looked to take up jobs that are paid 31 percent less on average than those held by males.

The study concluded that society-wide changes might be needed to change the situation – from producing more science-oriented toys geared for girls, to shifts in the way the media portray successful men and women differently.

“If a mother encourages their daughter to be an astrophysicist, but the society she is growing up in sends different messages, the efforts may be lost on the average girl,” the authors wrote.

An analysis in March by NHS Digital, a wing of Britain’s nationalized healthcare system, found that 89 percent of publicly employed nurses are women.

Nursing unions accepted a new multi-year pay deal earlier this year and starting pay for new nurses employed by the National Health Service is projected to start at roughly £23,000 ($29,900) a year.

A study released in August by researchers from several Scottish universities found that young men were put off nursing by a lack of male role models in the field, and by the perception that it was a “female job.”

“By introducing more gender-neutral narratives we can show the potential of nursing as a worthwhile and rewarding career, regardless of gender,” Dr. Heather Whitford of the University of Dundee, one of the co-authors, said at the time.

This month, local NHS trusts in Edinburgh and Aberdeen gave primary school children miniature “gender-neutral” nurse’s uniforms to wear – for the first time without the cape customarily worn by female nurses.

Currently, only around two percent of the staff in nurseries and other early education centers in Britain are men. A 2017 Department of Education report, again, said that this was in part because childcare was seen as a female occupation.

The Fatherhood Institute, a British charity dealing with parenthood issues, has launched a two-year project with the University of Lancaster to explore issues relating to recruitment, support and retention in the area of childcare and early education.

The institute said there was no evidence that having more men in the field results in a better education. Rather than try to provide male role models for young children, it said the aim should be to represent the diversity of the larger society.

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