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  Work Stereotypes
Updated 04 December 2001, 16.05
Billy Elliott
Do stereotypes affect children's career choices?

When young people get the chance to decide their career paths, they often have preconceived ideas based on their gender.

This activity looks at ways of challenging these traditional views through mime and role-play.

Learning objectives / outcomes

  • To introduce the words 'prejudice' and 'stereotype'
  • To develop thinking and discussion skills
  • To learn what could be done to break down barriers in career choices
Introduction / icebreaker
Explain that in this activity the students will be examining prejudices and stereotypes that reside in the workplace.

Fact File
Prejudice - an opinion formed beforehand
Stereotype - a conventional perception of something

Ask for definitions / examples of prejudice and stereotypes.

Point out how limiting these concepts can be when deciding which career path to follow.

Circle game: "Hello, what are you doing?"

One student stands in the middle of a circle arranged by the class and begins to mime an activity eg: digging a hole.

A volunteer then approaches the mimer, taps them on the shoulder and asks: "Hello, what are you doing?".

The mimer has to reply with an activity different from the one they are miming eg: skipping with a rope.

Read the story 'Big divide over school subjects'.

Bobbi Moore

Find and display pictures like this and discuss the intention behind them.

Click the link on the right for more stereotype-challenging images.

Is there anything unusual about them?

Main activity

Class game: "What's My Line?"
A role-play using non-traditional jobs.

Print and cut up the jobs below.

A student draws a job at random (boys and girls from their own list) and performs a short mime of that job.

The rest of the class ask questions that can only be answered with a 'Yes' or 'No'.

Decide on a set number of questions for the class to ask before they can guess what the mystery job is.


Builder...............Nurse / Midwife
Scientist............Ballet dancer
Bus driver..........Nursery teacher
Racing driver

Ask: How can employers encourage young people to try non-traditional work?
Work experience placements for pupils aged 14 or 15 are an area where traditional views of work may either be challenged or reinforced.

Ask: Why would these placements be important?
Young people frequently arrange their own placement through family contacts, often in stereotypical work areas.

Teachers' Background

  • Sex Discrimination Act (1975) - to challenge stereotypes
  • Children develop ideas about the roles of men and women even before they start school
  • Often reinforced by many different influences including parents, teachers and the media
  • Introduction of the National Curriculum (1980s) meant that all young people studied English, Maths and Science up to the age of 16. This removed many of the gender inequalities in subject take-up that previously existed
  • Findings show that few people study subjects or jobs that they associate with the opposite sex either at school or college or in the training and careers later in life
  • 12,000 young people have enrolled on GNVQs (England and Wales) and SCOTVECs (Scotland) in 2000
  • But the occupational choices are strongly stereotyped:
    • girls largely training to be hairdressers
    • boys to be car mechanics and computer specialists
  • Numbers opting out of parts of the National Curriculum are expected to increase as the scheme is extended

Turn this into an assembly

  • Introduce the concepts of prejudice and stereotypes
  • Ask for volunteers to mime their given jobs in "What's My Line?"

More InfoBORDER=0
TeachersWork Stereotypes images
UKBig divide over school subjects


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