An important driver behind the so-called gender pay gap is that teenage girls aspire to lower-paid careers than boys, according to a major new study.
Analysing data collected from nearly 8,000 teenagers in Britain, researchers at University College London (UCL)’s Institute for Education found that the careers 14-year-old girls highlighted as their ideal future jobs paid 27 per cent or £6.49 less per hour than those chosen by boys of the same age.
While both sexes named high-paying careers among their top jobs, researchers found that a significant pay gap between the choices of the two groups remained even after they excluded from calculations the aspirations of boys who wanted to become highly-paid professional sports stars.
The jobs most popular amongst teenage girls in the sample were careers in medicine and law, as well as a secondary school teacher, a singer, a vet, a nurse and a midwife.
The list for boys included a professional sportsman, a software developer, an engineer, the army, an architect and a secondary school teacher, according to the Telegraph.
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Professor Lucinda Platt said the study’s findings show the “importance of recognising the role of both boys’ and girls’ choices in perpetuating labour market inequalities”.
Platt, one of the co-authors of the research, added that young people should be “encouraged and supported to think beyond gender stereotypes” when they think about their job opportunities for the future.
Co-author Dr Sam Parsons said he was surprised to find such “gendered differences” in the aspirations of teenagers, stating: “Despite aiming high academically and professionally, girls still appear to be aiming for less well-paid jobs.”
Differences between male and female average earnings continue to be a hot topic in the West, with politicians urging new ways to close the “gender pay gap”, the cause of which they allege is sexism, despite increasing evidence that choices play a large role.