Sexist Stereotyping in the Workplace – we’ve still a long way to go…

When I was a child the idea of a woman driving a bus was unthinkable.(My Mum was a ‘clippie‘ before she had me so I had a vested interest in buses)

When I first heard about the possibility of a woman carrying out marriage services in a church I was shocked.

I grew up when becoming a police woman meant wearing a skirt and not doing anything dangerous.

I imbibed these stereotypes and, as a young child, accepted them. As are children of both sexes today. We’ve moved on a lot but not as much as we’d like to think as this research shows.

A survey undertaken at the end of last year shows that people in Britain are still very prone to stereotyping men and women based on their gender.

District nurseStrong opinions on which jobs are for men and which are for women still exist, as do beliefs that men are better in stereotypically masculine roles such as plumber and electrician, whilst women make better nurses and florists. These are the same attitudes that were prevalent when I was at school and I’m now 58! That means you’ve got to be a very strong minded woman to break the mould; you need a lot of confidence in yourself.

The survey from,  shows that both sexes are still being held back from pursuing occupations that might not be seen as suitable for their gender. 40% of the UK population believe men should not do jobs such as midwife, nurse, nanny or beautician. For women, it’s only slightly lower, with 38% saying women should not work in roles such as soldier, mechanic or surgeon.

Another hurdle on the way to equality appears to be trust, with almost a third (32%) of people saying they’re suspicious of men choosing to work as beauticians, and of women choosing to work as electricians. Between 16% and 19% would not trust a male nanny, male beautician or male midwife; whereas female pilots, female electricians and female mechanics would not be trusted by 8% – 10% of study participants. (I’d love a female mechanic or electrician – the electrician who kitted out my Mum’s new build insisted on talking to me as if I was a half wit)

Throughout the survey men expressed more dated opinions and attitudes than women, voicing a lack of trust in both men and women doing jobs not historically associated with their gender. Only 56% of men believe that women should be free to do any job they like. Similarly, only 52% of men think that men should be able to become beauticians, nannies or midwives.

Discriminatory and sexist views also vary across the British regions. Wales appears to have the most open-minded views on the career choices of men and women, as well as being the most trusting of people doing their jobs, no matter what gender they are. At the other end of the spectrum is London, which showed high levels of discrimination and sexism when questioned on their views of the jobs men and women should not do, and beliefs that each gender is inherently better at particular jobs than the opposite sex.

If you want to read the survey in its entirety paste this link into your browser and you can download it.

Picture via Queen’s Nursing Institute

Thinking of making some significant and positive changes to your life in 2014? Check out the RenewYou days happening across the UK. Click here for more information. RenewYou is a one day course written by a woman, delivered by women, for women.


Posted on January 24th, 2014 by

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