Work and Gender

I’ve been keeping on top of the gender pay gap discussions over the past weeks since the BBC announced the salaries of it’s top earners.  This has seemed to generate a massive amount of public debate. This morning, BBC Radio 4 hosted a discussion on gender stereotyping children and the impact this has on confidence, wellbeing, career choice and as a result, pay.

As a parent, I’m sure I’m not alone in daydreaming about what type of person my son is going to grow up to be and what he will do for work, based on what I think he is good at. At the grand age of 2 and a half I have noticed he is very dextrous with his hands and as a result I’ve already decided to buy him a BRIO builder construction set for Christmas this year. I can only wonder if I would do the same if I had a girl who showed similar traits.

After reading and hearing about people’s gendered experiences of skills, schooling and work, it’s hard to admit but I felt a sigh of relief that I am raising a boy, with another one on the way. The gender gap seems to predominantly disadvantage girls. However, boys aren’t completely off the hook. I don’t want to raise a boy who feels he has to fit in to a certain type of masculinity. want him to be able to express his feelings and not to feel he has to be brave all the time. I’ve made a mental note to tell my husband to let him see him cry.

Yesterday I caught myself encouraging my son to choose the blue gingerbread boys over the pink gingerbread girls at Waitrose. I just did it automatically. Despite my subtle comments he chose pink, and I’m glad. Who knows what he’ll end up doing for work. I just hope that I don’t subconsciously push him to do something because he is a boy.