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Gender differences in young peoples aspirations for their future Anna Bagnoli and Jackie Scott Department of Sociology, PPSIS Faculty.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender differences in young peoples aspirations for their future Anna Bagnoli and Jackie Scott Department of Sociology, PPSIS Faculty."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender differences in young peoples aspirations for their future Anna Bagnoli and Jackie Scott Department of Sociology, PPSIS Faculty

2 Presentation outline Young people and SET Family background and young peoples choices The BHPS Youth Survey Questions on future aspirations and on future job Quantitative and qualitative analysis Gender and SET subsample Conclusions and next stages of analysis

3 Young people and SET The Roberts review (2002) highlighted significant downward trends in the number of people taking scientific qualifications, particularly in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and engineering. Girls seem to be put off early from scientific studies, and even if their overall number studying scientific subjects has increased, in some disciplines, like physics, they remain under-represented (Greenfield, 2002). Recent statistics (UKRC, 2009) show that girls do well in SET A levels, but are still fewer than boys:

4 The number of girls attempting SET A levels in 2009

5 Girls and SET Despite achieving good results, girls and women drop out from every stage of a scientific career at a much higher rate then men: the leaky pipeline. The reduced number of women entering the labour market with scientific skills is one key factor associated with the persistence of a gender pay gap (Purcell and Elias, 2008). For girls, an early interest in science seems discriminating as to whether they will eventually choose a career in SET (Schoon et al, 2007). Boys may just drift into science, SET careers being more open to them, because of their being perceived more gender appropriate.

6 How do young people choose a scientific career? It is important to consider young peoples agency, as well as the structural conditions in their lives. Family socioeconomic background has a strong impact on young peoples life choices, and education is a crucial mechanism through which families transmit their dis/advantage to their children (Scott, 2004; Sullivan, 2007). Through the transmission of cultural capital privileged families ensure educational advantage to their children (Sullivan, 2001, 2007). Families in which parents are educated more easily provide a context in which education is valued (Brookes, 2003; Scott, 2004).

7 Young peoples life choices and family background The educational and occupational attainments of children is related to the education and occupation of both parents, with parental characteristics being stronger for same sex children (Lampard, 2007). The effects of maternal employment have been widely investigated and there is evidence that they are beneficial for girls, for whom working mothers provide role-models (Scott, 2004; Kiernan, 1996). Particularly in some professions young people may be reproducing existing family patterns in their choice of occupations (Devine, in press).

8 The BHPS Youth Survey The BHPS is an ongoing longitudinal study which began in 1991 and which annually surveys a nationally representative sample of the UK population consisting of 5000 households. Since 1994 the BHPS has been running a Youth Survey of the young people in households aged 11 to 15. Once they reach 16, young people enter the adult panel.

9 Future aspirations Thinking of your own future, what would you like to be doing with your life in about ten years time from now? This open-ended question was asked in waves 12, 13, and 16 (2002, 2003, and 2006) to young people aged 13 to 15. In 2002, the respondents were 723, with 379 girls and 344 boys. In 2003, total respondents were 694, 361 girls and 333 boys data have not been transcribed yet. The first two mentions in young peoples responses have been pre-coded. However, the codes do not go into much detail. For instance, one code applied is particular career, which does not distinguish what sort of careers the young people mention. Qualitative analysis of the young peoples responses.

10 Qualitative analysis Initial focus on aspirations regarding job or studies. Identifying from the open-ended answers those young people with an interest in SET. SET careers categorised as: science professionals; engineering professionals; IT professionals; architects, town planners, surveyors; science and engineering technicians; draughtspersons and building inspectors; health professionals.

11 Panel data and open-ended questions Including some qualitative elements in panel surveys may be beneficial: the use of some open-ended questions may be insightful, allowing respondents the possibility to describe some aspect of their social world in their own words (Scott et al, 2009). Neither panel surveys nor open ended questions are new methods, but they are rarely combined. Their combination may be fruitful.

12 Coding responses as SET-related Some difficulties in coding the responses as SET related: in many cases there are only a few words, and often these words are vague: I would like to work with animals Working with animals or working in a zoo I hope to have finished school with all my exams and be a member of the R.S.P.C.A as I would enjoy working with animals The responses were coded as SET-related if respondents indicated more clearly that their wished-for job required some specific SET training: I would like to become a vet because I like animals and I want to help them after they are ill I would like to be working with marine animals and to help them with their environment

13 The SET subsample in the BHPS Youth Survey SET-related careers YearTotalBoysGirls Percentages YearTotalBoysGirls %11.8% 12.2% % 7.8%12.4%

14 SET career interests There is a drop in boys SET interest in The percentage of girls interested in SET careers is very high, and even higher than that of boys. However, a high number of these SET-related responses is due to a large interest in health professions. The career interests of these young people already at this young age indicate gendered choices:

15 Gender and SET interests mfmf Doctors 3746 Nurses Other health Vets IT Engineers6011 Architects8150

16 Gender differences in interests Already at age 13 to 15 boys and girls are orienting themselves towards different occupations: The majority of those interested in health related professions are girls. Being a doctor, and to a lesser extent a vet, is interesting for both boys and girls, but there is a predominance of girls who are interested. All of those who want to be nurses are girls. Very few girls are interested in engineering, architecture, or IT. The vast majority who are interested in these disciplines are boys.

17 Future jobs and SET What job would you like to do once you leave school or finish your full-time education? This question was asked to all young people aged 11 to 15, both in 2002 and in The data have not been transcribed, but have been coded according to the Standard Occupational Classification. There are 932 valid responses in 2002, 427 boys and 505 girls. 86 boys, 20.1%, give a SET-related response.120 girls, 23.7%, give a SET-related response. There are 915 valid responses in 2003, 428 boys and 487 girls. 59 boys, 13.7%, indicate a SET-related occupation, 110 girls, 22.5%, indicate a SET-related occupation.

18 Gender and SET jobs m fmf Doctors Nurses Other health Vets IT Engineers Architects

19 Conclusions These data on the jobs the young people would like to have after leaving school confirm that those boys and girls who express an interest in a SET-related occupation are already orienting themselves towards different occupations at an early age. Re-coding the responses on future aspirations was necessary to discern what the young people had said regarding their wished for careers. However, the qualitative analysis of these open ended questions did not add much to what could also be found through the more specific question on the jobs they would like after school. Perhaps a qualitative analysis might be more insightful with regards to the other dimensions that young people mention amongst their future aspirations: for instance with regards to the articulation between career, relationships, and family formation.

20 Next stages Analysis will move on to look at family background in relation to interest in SET. Young peoples data will be linked to data from the adult sample concerning family background characteristics, such as the occupation and education of mother and father. This will allow investigating the extent to which young people may be reproducing family patterns in their interest in SET, as well as whether parents may be role-models to their children. Longitudinal analysis of those young people who expressed an interest in SET will also be carried out, to see whether they are in fact pursuing a career in SET a few years later.

21 Contacts Dr Anna Bagnoli tel:

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