Young women more likely to have traditional views on gender and jobs


Young women aged 18-30 have more traditional and stereotypical views about what jobs are suitable for men and women than those over 30, according to a survey commissioned by Young Women’s Trust (YWT).

The survey of over 1,000 young women found 29% of young women believe that the idea that it is irresponsible to want to work if you are a parent of young children is more applicable to young women, compared to only 2% who think it is more applicable to young men. This compares to another survey of 1,687 older women who split 17% to 2% on the question.

The survey also found around one in three young women think young men are better suited to being an IT technician than women compared to 10% of older women who think the same.  While 66% of older women think that being a plumber is equally suitable for young men and young women, only 40% of younger women agree with them.

According to the survey around one in three young women think nursing and caring are better roles for young women than young men, compared to only 13% of older women.

It also highlights young women’s concerns about hours and pay. Four out of 10 young women surveyed worry about not having enough paid working hours. One in five have been offered zero hours contracts or jobs paying less than the minimum wage. One in three feel that young women in Britain are limited in their choice of career and are worried about their job security. And one in five young women with caring responsibilities say their role as a parent or carer meant they were not able to go to university or college.

The YWT report argues that these views are a response to societal and institutional barriers that contribute to:

  • Almost half a million young women aged 16-24 not being in employment, education or training.
  • Twice as many young women being considered economically inactive compared to young men.
  • One-third of all zero hours contracts being filled by 16-24 year-olds.
  • Around three in 100 engineering and construction apprentices being women. Almost nine out of 10 apprentices in health, social services and childcare are women.

YWT, which supports and represents over one million women aged 16-30 trapped by low pay or no pay and facing a life of poverty, says finding stable work which pays enough to pay the bills is a huge challenge for hundreds of thousands of young women. The report shows that high numbers of young women are anxious about money (44%), housing (51%) and whether they have the abilities to do their job (54%)  They are more likely than young men to say that they are worn down (women: 36%, men: 24%), worried about their confidence (women: 53%, men 41%) and worried about their appearance (women: 50%, men 37%). Many are generally worried about the future and 38% have concerns about their mental health.

Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of the Young Women’s Trust, says: “This is not just Generation Austerity – for young women this is a generation where the clock is being turned back on the progress made for women’s equality of opportunity.

“Young women are struggling to get into the job market and too many are stuck on low pay or no pay. With their choices limited they are being forced back into traditional roles with few opportunities to enter and progress in the job market. Despite what they really want to do, staying at home may be their only option and they know it.

“YWT is calling for improved recruitment and employment practices to attract and retain young women in a broader range of employment opportunities.”

Other recommendations from the report include increasing enforcement of the National Minimum Wage and equal opportunities recruitment practice and increasing free childcare provision.

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