Kids These Days

SteelyKid's preschool "graduation" was today, and in addition to a certificate with her name on it, she got a CD of her class's favorite songs and a composite picture of her class. I'd include an image, but it wouldn't reproduce well, and anyway, I try not to post pictures of other people's kids. What I will do, however, is a rundown of what it says about Kids these Days, since the picture is made up of shots of the individual kids each holding a sign declaring what they want to be when they grow up.

The class featured six boys and seven girls, so here are the results by gender, boys first because the kid in the upper left is male:

  • Construction Worker
  • Scientist
  • Recycling Man
  • Construction Worker
  • Police Officer
  • Baseball Player

And the girls:

  • Ballerina
  • Doctor
  • Lifeguard
  • Astronaut
  • Police Officer
  • Dentist
  • Scientist

What conclusions can we draw from this? Well, clearly, this indicates that girls are way more ambitious than boys. At least two-thirds of boys plan to pursue professions requiring relatively little education (I'm not sure whether "Recycling Man" is a sanitation worker or a superhero). Meanwhile, nearly 60% of girls plan to pursue careers requiring many years of training and dedicated study (nearly 30% in the health professions), and an additional 15% plan to pursue the creative arts.

Now, I know what you're saying: "Dude, there are only a baker's dozen kids in her class. Can you really draw sweeping sociological conclusions from this?" And, sure, the statistical power of this sample is basically nil. But ask yourself this: Do you think that would stop CNN? Or the New York Post? Of course not. So why wouldn't I get a blog post out of it?

(Actually, it's a cute idea perfectly designed to make most parents say "Awwwww..." right now, and most of the kids cringe ten years from now when they run across it in a box of miscellaneous memorabilia. And the most "Awwwww..." moment for me? SteelyKid's the girl scientist.)

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Statistical power be d**ned. I think it's quite awesome that there were girls who wanted to be (a) a scientist, and (b) an astronaut.

The latter is rather interesting as well, since today the majority of astronauts are "mission specialists," which means they had to become a scientist *first*, then go off to astronaut training.

There may be a selection bias among the parents at your preschool, but the gender balance in those role choices is rather heartening.

By Michael Kelsey (not verified) on 20 Jun 2013 #permalink

Of course, if you asked these kids the same question the next day, half of them would have a different answer. Off the top of my head, I can remember wanting to be a farmer, fireman, paleontologist, construction worker, and astronaut. Somehow data entry technician was never on the list...

By Ori Vandewalle (not verified) on 21 Jun 2013 #permalink