Since Chwarae Teg was established in 1992, much progress has been made in the field of gender equality. Despite these efforts, gender inequality remains an issue in work and public life. Women are still underrepresented in STEM industries; women still earn less than men, and at current rates of progress, it will take 62 years to close the gender pay gap. Our own recent research into Men’s Perceptions of Gender Equality showed that women are still seen as the primary carers, and women predominate in the available part-time and low-paid jobs.
Wales cannot afford this inequality. Research has suggested that gender equality can drive economic growth, with McKinsey and Co estimating that closing gender gaps could add £150bn to the UK’s GDP by 2025. Tackling the barriers that women face and ensuring that young women are supported to enter and progress in successful careers must therefore be made a priority by government, educators and business.
The nature of work and the skills required from the workforce are evolving, and many sectors forecast to grow are already reporting skills gaps. Many of these sectors also report an under-representation of women within their workforces. Public policy must react to this shift and prepare for the needs of the future, ensuring that young people are equipped with the knowledge, skills and experience to thrive.
This research aims to look into these expectations and ideas held by young people, and provides a snapshot of how young women in Wales are approaching their career development. It outlines young women’s priorities for work and preferred sectors, it highlights their concerns about the challenges they may face in achieving their goals and it raises questions about the support currently available to young women to help shape and guide their career choices. It also identifies a number of actions that will be required to overcome the challenges young women are facing to ensure that they can go on to thrive in the rewarding careers they aspire to.