Boys Just Wanna Have Fun in Their Careers; Girls Just Wanna Help People

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It is a widely accepted belief that young adulthood is the time to make mistakes and find yourself.

Adulting is hard. It takes a moment to figure it all out.

I mean, who hasn’t changed their major once — or twice? Or made a career switch? Or done a little job-hopping?

Or was that just my circle of friends and colleagues?

A recent study by Junior Achievement and EY, formerly Ernst & Young, found that 91% of teens 13 to 17 already know what future field of study they want to pursue. So perhaps there’s hope that the next crop of kids will be more focused and stumble less in their early careers.

However, the teens surveyed don’t seem to be making strides toward shattering the traditional gender roles where men are the breadwinners and women are the caregivers.

How Career Priorities Differ by Gender

The study asked teens what their top priorities were when choosing a future career. For boys, it was having a job that’s fun, followed by a job they’d be good at and a job that’d bring in a lot of money.

The top priority for girls was having a job that helped people. Having a job they’d be good at and a job that was fun were the second and third concerns for girls.

Forty-five percent of girls wanted a career that has a meaningful impact on society or their community, compared to 33% of boys. On the other hand, 29% of boys wanted to pursue work where they’d be a leader or expert, while only 23% of girls had similar aspirations.

The fields of study teens gravitated toward also reflected the typical stereotypes. Over a quarter (26%) of girls planned to study the arts, which interested only 10% of boys. Over a third (36%) of boys planned to study a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), compared to 11% of girls — though girls (24%) did favor careers in the medical and dental fields over boys (6%).

For Those Who Want to Shatter Stereotypes

Luckily, for those who want to smash traditional gender roles, this study is not a cut-and-dry determination of all teens’ career interests. It’s important to note that the sample size for this study was 1,000 teens.

Girls interested in STEM careers can join Girls Who Code, and those interested in business can seek out a mentorship with a female leader.

Boys interested in caregiving careers can check out the American Association for Men in Nursing’s initiative to increase the amount of male nurses by 2020. There’s also nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home dad or stay-at-home spouse.

I’m not a career counselor, but I’d say following your true interests can yield a type of success statistics can’t measure.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. When she was a teen, she was planning a career in the medical field. She became a journalist instead.