‘All boys’ careers advice sparks Twitter storm

It is not often I get really, properly angry at something I see on Twitter. But this week it happened. And I wasn’t the only one. At the time of writing, more than 1,200 people had commented on the tweet by Kelly, recounting her daughter’s experience at a careers event yesterday. Tes reports.

The teenager, who has just started Year 11, had signed up to an engineering talk, as part of a careers event with an apprenticeship provider about post-16 options. Apparently, when she arrived, the woman in charge told her she had been switched to attend a childcare talk instead because the engineering event was “all boys”.

The mother said she was “so effing angry”. Many of those commenting were as well. They questioned whether the careers event was taking place in the 1950s. The teenager, it was later revealed on Twitter, sought out the staff member responsible for engineering and got another chance to attend the talk.

I was angry that Kelly’s daughter had this experience. While I believe it is probably not a common occurrence, especially with many providers and employers aware that they need to boost the number of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers, I also don’t believe it hasn’t happened before. Or that it won’t happen again.

We are all too keen to make assumptions about what is right for our young people – especially for girls. I wonder how many boys were redirected to a different talk. There is nothing wrong with attending a talk on careers in childcare – and, of course, there is also nothing wrong with pursuing a career in that field. But we cannot simply assume we know what is right for a learner. We certainly cannot do so on the basis of gender.

There are also lots of initiatives and support schemes out there. For every outraged comment the Year 11 student’s mother received on Twitter, there was another with advice or contact details for an organisation to help her daughter pursue her dream career. It is one of the reasons I am sure she will be fine. She is clearly a determined young woman who is likely to be spurred on by this event rather than put off. She also, obviously, has family who are supportive and keen to help her burst through any barriers that arise.

Read the full article ‘All boys’ careers advice sparks Twitter storm

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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