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Issues for age at work start young – for girls

by on January 30, 2017

You may have spotted this story in the news last week as BBC reported on research published in Nature that “Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests“:

“The distribution of women and men across academic disciplines seems to be affected by perceptions of intellectual brilliance. Bian et al. studied young children to assess when those differential perceptions emerge. At age 5, children seemed not to differentiate between boys and girls in expectations of “really, really smart”—childhood’s version of adult brilliance. But by age 6, girls were prepared to lump more boys into the “really, really smart” category and to steer themselves away from games intended for the “really, really smart.”

Obviously 6 year olds are (thankfully) not part of the working population but two things occur to me:

  1. what is the cumulative impact of these perceptions about gender roles that impact young men and women as they start their working lives?
  2. how do these develop and change as both men and women age?

In particular are there other ‘cut off’ points in choronological age that relate to how we see the world, ourselves and others in it?  We have covered some of this in our research on visual images of gendered ageing but there is clearly more work to be done!

Pritchard, K and Whiting, R (2015) ‘Taking stock: a visual analysis of gendered ageing’ Gender, Work & Organization SI Problematizing Gendered Ageing in the New Economy, 22 (5) 510-528.



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