“What Should Our Girls Want To Be When They Grow Up?”

For my two little monkeys, the prospects of future employment are so far off in their future that it is barely worth thinking about. However, for me, it is something that I have seriously been considering of late.

Since I can remember, I have wanted to do a job that involves science and as I also love food, Food Science seemed to be the logical and pragmatic way to go. As an A-level student I attended many courses arranged by my Grandad whom was working in the food industry at the time. From a factory tour round Mars Incorporated where I saw Mars bars being produced and the new designs for Starbursts that had yet to be publicly re-branded from their original Opal Fruit fa├žade to the small scale purpose built mini factory at Reading University, I couldn’t get enough. And somehow I knew this is what I wanted to do when I “grew up”.

I hadn’t really even considered the fact that science-based degrees were historically considered to be a male pursuit. It wasn’t until I started to ask these questions introspectively that I realised that my parents had shielded me from the still evident sexist divide present in the 90s and had encouraged me to make up my own mind. But what do we as a society perceive to be a typical female role?


Bloomberg Business Week provides us with a very interesting breakdown of the number of women in certain employment sectors. It would seem that the vast majority of female roles reside in the educational, health and government sectors, where women are found to be in a position to nurse, educate or administrate. From looking at this study it is evident that in modern day society you are more likely to find a female doctor than you are if you looked back 90 years and we as women seem to be making attempts to surpass our male counterparts despite the outdated barriers enforced by our gender.

The Forbes Top 20 Best Paid Jobs For Women has a similarly positive outlook for women in the 21st century. It states that the average female income has risen by 63% and that a third of wives also earn more than their husbands. More promising still is the prospect that the top paid job for women is that of a pharmacist where women consist of 56% of the workforce. Good odds indeed.

Despite these positive affirmations that the job market is shifting in favour of women, there are still very few in positions of authority similar to men with the same skill sets and abilities. So why is such a divide still evident in today’s modern and supposedly undiscriminating environment? There are certainly more rights for women workers and they are protected more by employment law than they were, but I am not sure the mentality of individuals has altered much. Personally, I believe that the divide still exists partly because women are still considered to be the ones that have to stay at home with the children and also the fact that they are simply just not as keen to progress as men.

One area where there seems to be little change is that of the British Armed Forces. From a recent BBC article on Women In The Armed Forces I have learnt that of their 187,060 members, a mere 9.4% of those (17,620) are women. Is this due to the fact that women a considered to be a distraction on the front line? Possibly, but I would think that again this is likely to be a case that the women are more inclined to stay with the children than their husbands and so, the dominance still remains. Similarly, of the 557 astronauts that have actually entered space, only 56 of these have been women, but this is likely to be a result of physical ability as opposed to a definitive imposed gender divide.

So with positive moves in the direction of job role equality over the last 100 years, there is a very favourable chance that my girls will have every opportunity to undertake any job that they deem as both interesting and fitting to their skills sets. I hope that they will chose wisely and strive to gain the best qualifications they can to put them in a good stead. But even if their ambitions lead them to being a restaurateur or an astronaut, all I can ask for is that they try their hardest and pick a path that will make them happy. I won’t be the one to tell them what to do, they should be encouraged by society to embark on a career of their choice with no boundaries to overcome.

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4 responses to ““What Should Our Girls Want To Be When They Grow Up?”

  1. i have 2 girls as well and my eldest is 15 so we are really starting to think about career well at least i am bless her Imogen doesn’t have a clue. Such a hard decision and so important

    • I don’t think there is really any help out there for children nowadays with regards to showing them the options that they have available for them. It is so difficult to give them a direction without seeming bossy unless they have picked an idea for themselves. I hope Imogen is able to find some form of direction soon :-)

  2. My daughter is not quite 5 but I have also given it a lot of thought. I want her to be able to choose what she wants with no pressure from society as to what is appropriate. I want her to have the same opportunities that a man would (assuming she is physically capable of the job)

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