Published on January 22, 2014 | by Lucy Mercer

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Young Girls Lack Role Models

Have you ever dreamed of “saving the world” or “achieving world peace”? Well, dreams are one thing, but it turns out young girls are actually basing their career choices on fictional characters they’ve seen on-screen. The Employment and Education Taskforce say around 50,000 teenage girls are living in workless households, and this means they don’t have a real female role model to inspire them into work.

The question is whether it’s solely parents that should be the main influence of ambitions. Head of Careers Mariama Iforde, at Francis Holland School for Girls in London, says they have to ensure the school co-operates with parents to encourage girls to “follow theirs dreams”.  She also thinks peer influences should be “supported and managed” so that aspirational girls should be able to inspire their friends.

“We’ve had a major from the British army as a speaker…we’re hoping girls don’t feel there are certain careers just for women.” Mariama Iforde, teacher at Francis Holland School

On the other side of things, working mum Mandy Garner believes women are often forced to feel “guilty” if they’re in employment and have children as well. Although things are improving, attitudes towards working mothers remain fairly old-fashioned. But she regularly tells her children about her job, she says, as well as takes them to work events so they can really experience what she does.

Even after I asked students who inspired them in their ambitions, they told me their main influence is school and subject interests rather than parents. Few based their career choice on TV programmes, as, a girl studying Graphic Design said, “it seems a cool idea at the time, but then you just forget about it.”

It may be true that young girls need more female role models, but school plays as big a part in inspiration for careers as parents.

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