Gender stereotypes still shaping career decisions of young women in Wales

12th October 2022

Research published today (12.10.22) reveals that careers advice and guidance services need to do more to ensure that young women are getting the best possible support at the right time.

The “Young Women’s Experiences of Careers Advice and Guidance in Wales” report from Chwarae Teg explores the current picture of career advice services for young women in Wales.

Frustratingly, too many career choices continue to be shaped by longstanding gender stereotypes. This trend is particularly marked in the choices of young women from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The influence gender stereotypes has over career choices is a major factor in gender segregation in the workplace and Wales’ persistent gender pay gap.

It is vital that we tackle gender stereotypes from an early age to ensure that young women feel supported in choosing the careers that they want, rather than what has traditionally been seen as “women’s work”.

Fortunately, Wales already has a strong network of career service providers and professionals who are passionate about providing good careers advice. However, the important work that these services do has become increasingly challenging because funding cuts have made it very difficult to provide the support that young women say they want and need.

When asked, 42% of young women stated that they felt that they had received what they needed from careers advice and guidance services compared to 26% of young women who felt that they did not get what they needed. It is clear that there is room for improvement to ensure that services deliver for young women.

There is no one-size fits all approach to careers advice and guidance that can meet the needs of all young women. It’s therefore vital that career support services and career advice professionals are given the tools to provide dynamic and flexible support that offers information about a broad variety of jobs.

Career advice and support services are vital to ensuring that underlying and persistent causes of gender inequality in society are tackled. Which is why action is needed to improve provision and take up of services amongst young women. Conclusions include the need for Welsh Government to increase investment into career education and guidance services, and for service providers to support their professionals by providing up to date information on new and emerging industries and making equality and unconscious bias training mandatory.

This research paints a mixed picture of how well career advice and guidance services are delivering for young women in Wales.

“While it is reassuring to see that a number of young women are getting what they need from careers advice and guidance, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

“It is particularly disappointing to see that gender stereotypes are still so influential over the career choices of young women, and especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Tackling these stereotypes is a job for all of society and we must redouble these efforts in order to create a more equal Wales.

“Despite the best effort of career advice providers, it is clear that funding cuts have made it increasingly hard for them to deliver the service young women want and need. That’s why we are calling on the Welsh Government to ensure that these vital services are adequately funded to deliver for everyone.

“Only by tackling to root causes of structural inequalities can we ensure that we create the fairer and more equal Wales we want to see.

Cerys Furlong
Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg

Young women deserve to have access to impactful careers conversations and experiences that meet their individual needs.

“Impartial, holistic and tailored careers support, provided by both careers specialists and a wider network of teachers, employers, support workers and family members can help young women to raise aspirations, identify opportunities and have the confidence to achieve their goals.

“At Careers Wales, we aim to work collaboratively with other organisations providing guidance and support, to increase access to services, challenge stereotypes and help individuals overcome barriers created by inequalities.

“We are looking forward to working together with Chwarae Teg and other organisations to continue to develop careers services for women in Wales.

Nikki Lawrence
Chief Executive at Careers Wales

As the professional body for career development, the Career Development Institute welcomes this insightful report. It is pleasing to see progress in challenging the outdated perception of the careers profession – with more young women recognising the valuable support of qualified careers practitioners. However, there is clearly more for us to do as a profession to ensure all young women receive high-quality careers education, information, advice and guidance, so they can fulfil their potential. The report identifies the need for careers support to start from an early age to avoid young women’s ambition being limited by prevailing gender stereotypes, as well as the need to engage parents and teachers, who are significant influences in young women’s career decision-making.

Carolyn Parry
CDI President and Wales Project Associate
12th Oct 2022
Young Women’s Experiences of Careers Advice and Guidance in Wales