The Courier Mail has released a study that shows the top 10 ideal career choices by boys and girls, suggesting that we are on the right track to empowering young women but still have a long road ahead.
This four-year Australian study, consisting of almost 6,500 children, showed that boys have dreams of becoming sporting athletes almost three times more than being policemen or engineers. Whereas girls’ top choices were vets and teachers; choices that played into their daily routine.
Why is it that girls tend to struggle with engaging in new opportunities? What is the quality that boys have that enables them to make bold choices that some girls lack? Let’s have a look at our current social, political and economical positions in Australia that may have an influence on our next generation.
Not exposing our children to enough females in play imagination
Our society plays an integral role in shaping our children into the people they wish to become. For example, schools have been educating children about male scientists and inventors: Einstein, Edison, Bell, Franklin, da Vinci, Jobs and so many more that spring to mind. Children struggle to name just one female inventor, despite women inventing many relevant tools such as signal flares, windscreen wipers, laser eye surgery, first computer algorithm, among countless others. Children are attuned to their surroundings whether it is conscious or subconscious so it is important that we, as educators and parents, offer equal balance of male and female contribution to our evolving world.
Women are still not portrayed as equal in the workforce
Children gather their information about the world through real-life experience and pop culture such as movies, television shows, music and virtual games. What do you picture when we say ‘Doctor,’ ‘CEO,’ ‘Chair of the Board’? Children will be more likely to picture a man in a suit when they think of the term ‘business’ or ‘surgeon’ than a female because that has been stereotypically documented in pop culture. The current gender gap in Australia in the workforce is 20.8 percent, which is an improvement from the last six years, but still a long way to go to close the gap. This 20 percent means that men on average are pocketing an extra $25,000 per year than women. Females are also sitting at a static 17.1 percent of CEOs in Australia, suggesting the glass ceiling is well and truly apparent in the workplace compared to men who dominate both CEO roles and the boardroom. Despite statistics still not progressing as rapidly as we had anticipated, there is definitely change occurring, particularly in the domestic violence and discrimination space and in women’s promotion to managerial roles in the workplace. However, we need to do more for our future leaders to ensure we inspire them with good stead in making our world a better place.
Perceptions of women in professional sports
Tackling gender equality in the sporting arena is not an easy feat; it takes decades for positive change to ripple effect throughout the world. However in our own backyard, we have progressed rapidly and embraced female professional sport with open arms, despite the decades of work it took to reach that turning point. In Australia, we have a female ranked number one in Tennis, Ash Barty, who continues to ace everything she does on the court—but she had to be number one to prove her value. We introduced AFLW and boosted female participation in the sport to now be close to a third of the total number of participants worldwide. With this staggering number of females in sport, there needs to be consolidating pathways for young women to feel empowered to train and grow in an elite environment. The Australian Matildas soccer team is a great example of women rising from the ashes, gaining the popularity of both the country and the world after Football Federation Australia closed the pay gap between the Socceroos and Matildas. The new four-year CBA ensures the Socceroos and Matildas receive a 24 percent share of an agreed aggregate of national team generated revenues in 2019-20, rising by one percent each year. Though home matches now regularly attract crowds of 10,000-plus, it was only a few years ago those figures were more likely to be in the hundreds. What has changed? Our awareness of females in elite sport achieving exceptional results has increased and perceptions have shifted from many believing females were incapable of elite sport success to dominating the arena across many sports. The more pathways readily available to women in sport and the less discrimination against females regarding their talent, capability and strength, the sooner we can get our rising female stars on the field.
Darren Pateman/EPA, via Shutterstock
It is time for the whole world, not just our next generation of girls, to shift perceptions to be more open-minded, growth-oriented and imaginative in the way we live. Our next generations will be inspired by the work of many females and males across all industries that have not even been invented yet. We must ensure that every piece of information passed onto our future leaders is rooted in the values and ideologies of a progressive, equal and sustainable world. Let’s consider our own thinking before we unconsciously leave scars on our next generation so that our girls can feel completely uninhibited when it comes to choosing a career path that they are passionate about.
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