Why it matters OLD

There is a growing body of evidence that points to the limiting impact that gendered stereotypes have on children's aspirations, subject choices and behaviours.

The limiting impacts of gender stereotypes are apparent from an early age and are reflected in the careers children hope for, the school subjects they choose and think are ‘for them,’ and the ways in which they behave towards one another in school.   These powerful influences are reflected in the gendered inequalities of later life such as career choice, pay, mental health and violent behaviours.

Gendered inequalities in childhood


The gender divide is as strong at age 4 as it is at 14 when it comes to children’s career choices.

The tendency for boys to be attracted to technical and physical occupations, and girls to be attracted to caring and creative jobs, remains evident. These preferences (and later, choices) reflect the different life experiences according to gender to which children are still subject… many people are still having their ambition and potential capped by horizons that are narrowed by gender.

– Professor Becky Francis, Director UCL Institute of Education, Drawing the Future

‘masculine’, ‘brainy’ and ‘not nurturing’ – and therefore at odds with conventional femininity”



Girls account for only 22% of Physics and less than 12% of computing A-Levels – see chart


Boys account for only 23% of English Lit  A-Levels


Girls outperformed boys in English Lit GCSE by 15% at Grade 4 (pass level) in 2018


At key stage 2 SATS tests (aged 10-11), girls out performed boysby 12% at ‘expected’ levels in writing in 2018.

Even in schools, sexual harassment is normalised, accepted by young people as ‘just a ‘normal’ part of their everyday lives:

There’s no rules for like skirt lifting or anything. There’s rules for swearing at each other but not for like touching or skirt lifting.

– Female student, quoted in It’s Just Everywhere: A study on sexism in schools – and how we tackle it



of primary school teachers witness gender stereotyping on at least a weekly basis


of secondary school teachers hear sexist language on at least a weekly basis


female students at mixed sex schools who have personally experienced some form of sexual harassment at school


primary school teachers have witnessed sexual harassment in school
Source: It’s just everywhere report

Gendered inequalities in society

These figures show some stark differences in outcomes for women and men. Of course, many great initiatives already exist which tackle issues such as the gender pay gap and under-representation of women in engineering.  Other organisations work tirelessly to prevent and deal with the consequences of domestic violence and male suicide.  However, such work is often struggling against the effects of gender norms which have been learnt young – norms which can inhibit boys and men from expressing their emotions other than through anger, steer girls away from choosing subjects or careers seen as ‘male’ and give boys and girls differing expectations of their future domestic roles.


of the UK engineering workforce is female


of registered nurses are male


Proportion of women on FTSE 350 company Executive Committees


The gender pay gap remains around 14% for full time workers


of suicides in the UK are male

1 in 4

of women will suffer domestic violence in her lifetime

For all the papers and resources that are mentioned frequently throughout this website, please see our Sources and links page