Do children’s job aspirations differ by ethnicity?

A paper presented at the annual meeting of the European Academy of Sociology in Paris, 19-20 October 2018, explored whether there were ethnic differences in girls’ and boys’ occupational aspirations. Using the Millennium Cohort Study, linked to job characteristics derived from the Labour Force Survey, the paper explored how children’s responses to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” change across childhood, that is, between the ages of around 7 and around 14), and how the differ by ethnic group. It found that overall choices were highly gendered (i.e. girls wanting to do jobs dominated by women and boys wanting to do jobs dominated by men), though over time they became slightly less so. Differences by ethnic group were smaller; but while occupational aspirations were generally ambitious, minority groups, both boys and girls tended to be more ambitious. The paper is joint work with Sam Parsons, UCL, and has been carried out as part of the ESRC-funded Cross Cohort Research Programme.