The Impact of Gender Stereotypes on Young People's Career Choices-featured

The Impact of Gender Stereotypes on Young People’s Career Choices

Gender stereotypes, deeply ingrained in society, continue to shape the career choices of young people. These biases limit individuals’ opportunities and perpetuate gender disparities in various professions. That’s why it is crucial to recognize and challenge these stereotypes to foster an inclusive and diverse workforce for the future.

But how do these biased choices come to be?

Early Socialization, Cultural Norms and Expectations.

From an early age, children are exposed to societal expectations regarding gender roles. Girls are often encouraged towards nurturing and caring professions, such as nursing or teaching, while boys are pushed towards careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These gendered messages shape their perceptions of suitable career paths, ultimately limiting their choices. Research has also shown, that families and career advisers reproduce those biases as well. So even if a young person wants to take up a career choice that is “unusual” for their gender identity, their parents might talk them out of it.

A reason for that is society’s cultural norms and expectations, that play a significant role in reinforcing gender stereotypes. Girls are often discouraged from pursuing careers in male-dominated fields due to perceptions of difficulty or lack of femininity. Conversely, boys may face ridicule or social pressure when expressing interest in traditionally female-dominated professions. These societal pressures push young people towards conforming to gendered expectations rather than pursuing their true passions. (And we have not even started talking about people who identify beyond the gender binary…)

Lack of Role Models.

The scarcity of visible role models in non-traditional careers further perpetuates gender stereotypes. Without relatable figures to look up to, young people may struggle to envision themselves succeeding in fields that challenge societal norms. That is why it is so important to encourage diverse representation and to highlight successful individuals who have broken gender barriers. That can inspire and empower young people to pursue their desired career paths.

Stereotype Threat.

Gender stereotypes can create a phenomenon known as stereotype threat, where individuals feel at risk of confirming negative stereotypes associated with their gender. This threat can result in self-doubt, decreased self-confidence, and reluctance to pursue certain careers. Young people may opt for fields where they feel their abilities are less likely to be questioned, inadvertently reinforcing gender disparities.

To counter the influence of gender stereotypes on career choices, we must take collective action. It is essential to provide young people with diverse opportunities for exploration, enabling them to discover and develop their unique talents and interests. Educational institutions and parents can play a crucial role by promoting inclusive environments, challenging gender biases, and encouraging young people to follow their passions irrespective of societal expectations. It is only through collective efforts that we can create a future where career choices are based on passion, talent, and individual aspirations rather than gendered expectations

To do that, we all must reflect on our own gender biases. And this is what the GUIDE project is here to do. Soon we will launch our first tool, that will allow young people and their career advisers to reflect on own believes when it comes to gender roles and career paths.


Stay tuned!