O2 challenges businesses to promote tech jobs to youngsters


Research from operator found one in four young people believe running the country is no job for a woman

O2 has announced a partnership with Speakers for Schools to try to encourage more women to seek jobs in tech after a study by the operator found almost half of 4-10 year olds felt men were better suited for tech roles.

The survey of more than 2,000 young people found that almost a quarter of youngsters felt women were unsuited to a job as prime minister.

47 per cent of 11-18 year olds felt a role in the tech sector was more suitable for men, while more than half of 4-10 year olds thought girls are better suited than boys to jobs such as nurses (64 per cent), nannies (79 per cent) or hairdressers (63 per cent).

O2 said the survey highlights how deeply engrained gender stereotypes are limiting the ambitions of young girls.

O2 HR director Ann Pickering said: “It’s worrying to see just how deeply engrained gender stereotypes still are, with many young people still impacted by the archaic ideals that may have held back their parents or grandparents from rewarding roles.

“Working in the tech sector, I see the impact that stereotyping has on our industry every day. But it’s not just male-dominated industries which are struggling. Boys are just as susceptible to outdated ideas about which jobs are appropriate for them.

“A diverse workforce is a prerequisite to doing good business. Whilst it’s right that businesses focus on the number of women in their boardrooms, our research shows the importance of focusing on the next generation too. Better collaboration between businesses, educators and parents is needed to level the playing field once and for all on young people’s career aspirations.”

Businesses should do more

84 per cent of young people said their parents are the biggest influence on their career choices. But O2 challenged businesses to step up and help influence the next generation.

While seven in ten secondary school pupils (73 per cent) agreed they would like to hear from local business leaders about jobs in their sector, more than half (53 per cent) don’t remember a local business person visiting their school in the last year.

In response to the survey, which was carried out online by ResearchBods in October and November 2015, O2 has partnered with Speakers for Schools to mobilise its most senior employees to go into schools and speak to children about the opportunities within the tech sector.

Speakers for Schools founder Robert Peston said: “These are shocking findings. It’s vital that gender should have no bearing on what our young people choose to do in life.

“Speakers for Schools, which has to date organised 2,500 free talks in state schools, aims in part to help and encourage students to fulfil their potential, whatever their sex, whatever their background – and it is brilliant that O2 has made an important commitment to work with us in our mission.”