The jobs market is no longer ‘pink’ and ‘blue’, as parents must show
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Are we guilty of conditioning our children to accept careers that fit their genders? Rachel Moore says we have to stop
London's fire chief Dany Cotton faced Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain yesterday to explain why Fireman Sam was having a detrimental effect on recruiting women firefighters.
Hasn't she got anything better to do than blame a children's cartoon character for shaping female career choices, the keyboard warriors sneered? They were sick of 'all this gender rubbish.'
Only a woman, eh?
These are the people who still say 'I saw a lady doctor today,' as if female doctors have inferior training to men. The people who feign joke nerves when a woman is behind the plane controls. 'A lady captain. Say your prayers now. A woman driver!'
The type who instantly doubt Commissioner Cotton's ability to command her service properly simply because she is a woman. The people who say: 'What do expect from a woman trying to be in charge?' about Cressida Dick's command of the Metropolitan Police.
These are people bringing up children; sending them to school conditioned by limitations.
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Girls are hearing statements like these at home, from fathers, grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers sometimes, reinforcing in homes everywhere the stereotypical roles and that traditionally male careers will somehow lessen their femininity.
The pink jobs and blue jobs concept is kept alive at dinner tables around the country, even if said in jest.
'A building site is no place for my daughter.' 'Why would any girl want to work on a gas platform in the North Sea?'
The 'jokes' about women working in a man's world.
That's exactly why Dany Cotton, Cressida Dick and any woman leader feels the need to put themselves on TV at 7am when girls are eating their Weetabix.
I'm sure Gary from Chester thinks they have better things to do.
But Commissioner Cotton knows there is no better way than to talk directly to girls about fulfilling their potential.
Like every woman in a leadership position, she's aware that showing girls that any career is possible is to stand in front of them doing it.
It should be a girls' world. Never have there been more opportunities for girls to be exactly what they want to be and live their lives just as they want.
The doors are open but they're not walking through.
Google 'more women are needed in…' and news stories appear appealing for more female applicants in construction, energy, engineering, cybersecurity, sciences, financial services…every sector other than hairdressing, care, beauty therapy, catering..
No wonder as we're still talking like it's 1955 – it's still a surprise and considered big news when a woman is appointed to a top job. A woman running a multinational business. Who'd have thought it?
Only yesterday it was deemed of note to remark that the departure of B & Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher boss, Veronique Laury, meant that the number of female chief executives of FTSE 100 businesses had dropped to five.
Why was Laury's gender even relevant? If a man had departed, would his gender have been reported?
To continue to treat women doing what men do as peculiar, especially if they do it well, simply perpetuates theattitude.
The media is guilty too, helping to perpetuate that women's achievements are worthy of note. A company appointing its first female CEO, a woman taking over a construction company, a woman
Questions are always asked about making it in a 'man's world.' How do they do it?
A rumpus erupted last week about a 'cute' photo of a boy in doctor's dress up scrubs and girl in pink 'nurse in training.' It couldn't have been more stereotypical.
Conditioning in the home is where the revolution (can you believe we're still considering this a revolution in 2019?) needs to happen.
So, yes Fireman Sam (now 25% of Fireman Sam firefighters are women now), Peppa Pig and Disney films where young women are rescued, where pretty counts for everything, and a male love is seen as a single goal are damaging to how girls view themselves and their potential.
Actor Keira Knightley banned her three-year-old daughter from watching Disney films Cinderella or Little Mermaid because of their portrayal of women.
Not because of any hardline feminist agenda, but because children's minds are conditioned at home and by what they see in their early years.
A study by the Fawcett Society claimed that being exposed to gender stereotypes in childhood has detrimental impact later in life.
No amount of effort strategising by businesses will work if children are conditioned by the time they're 10.
The UK's youngest pilot, 16-year-old Ellie Carter, is currently being mentored by an easyJet captain to help her choose between life as a stunt or commercial flier.
Only around 5% of airline pilots across the world are women.
'I hope that my story will encourage young girls to accomplish whatever they set their mind to, because if I can do it, so can they,' she said. Exactly. Talk to them Ellie. Put yourself out there. Inspire them.
For businesses to be able to fish in the biggest pool for recruits, they need to send role models into primary schools and show girls the possibilities (and teachers too, who are just as guilty as pedaling the pink and blue career division, however much they think they don't.)
But parents need to do it first.