Challenging occupational stereotypes

Category: Young learners age 14-19 Provision: General FEdefinition College Region: London


Postcard Kingston



The aim of this project was to challenge the gender and sexual orientation occupational stereotypes that school leavers may hold about roles within the aviation and the hair industry.

Key achievements were:

  • Male role models from industry discussed their own experiences and career paths within industries typically seen as 'female'

  • Existing students led “speed-dating” sessions sharing their experiences and the qualifications and progression routes available


There is under representation of male learners on aviation (cabin crew) and hairdressing courses at Kingston College. There is also a lack of awareness by males of every sexual orientation of the opportunities that are available within these industries. . 

Kingston College wanted to present positive role models and recruit male learners to courses with opportunities for sustainable employment in the economic growth areas of aviation (cabin crew) and hairdressing.

The project aimed to raise awareness and maximise our appeal to males of every orientation to ensure the aviation industry has the diverse workforce necessary to provide the strength and skills to deliver customer service worldwide. In addition, that the hairdressing profession attracts a wide range of talent to ensure it has the skilled workforce it needs to succeed in today's diverse society.


  • The College worked with the Royal Borough of Kingston. They targeted local school groups and unemployed groups to raise awareness of the opportunities for males of different sexual orientations at Kingston College. After school workshop taster sessions were developed.

  • 30 learners attended from school groups and 10 unemployed people from Kingston upon Thames. All learners benefitted from the opportunity to take part in the hands-on taster sessions of the courses being offered at Kingston College for aviation (Cabin Crew) and hairdressing. The learners benefitted from the opportunity to talk to current (male) learners and also from role models from both industries.

  • Each taster session consisted of two classes and participants were expected to attend both classes.

  • 4 current Kingston College male learners (two from Cabin Crew and two from hairdressing) were involved and wrote about their own experiences on courses at the college and why they have chosen this career path. They were also involved in the actual workshops and spoke about their experiences to the learners.

  • "Next Generation" marketing materials were produced using learners as case studies.

  • We will analysis applications and recruitment numbers on both aviation (Cabin Crew) and hairdressing courses for male learners for academic year 13/14 and into 14/15. 

The findings from the project were disseminated at the annual self-assessment process which took place in July 2013. The project was also discussed with OFSTEDdefinition at our recent OFSTED inspection in February 2013.

Changes in Practice

The team at Kingston College have thoroughly welcomed the opportunity to become involved in a project and are passionate about their vocational areas and the opportunities these industries can provide. We will continue to strive to ensure we challenge the gender stereotypes not only in these two industries but also in other industries.

Advice to other Providers

The main barriers were engaging with schools and getting them to raise awareness of the workshops at the College. We engaged the help of the schools co-ordinator at the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and this enabled us to send our marketing materials to them who then disseminated to the local schools.

We have learnt that it is very difficult trying to coordinate across a range of organisations when dates conflicted with other activities taking place. However, the project would not have been feasible to offer to just one organisation as it would not have been a viable project.

It would make sense to run this at the start of an academic year and then the college could market these opportunities alongside its own "open events" allowing direct access to learners as opposed to relying on schools.

Support from senior management is paramount to ensure time and resources are provided to develop and run the project.


Participation in the workshops by school groups was positive. It was more difficult to engage the unemployed groups. Participants have expressed an interest in applying to the college in academic year 2013/14 or 14/15.

Next Steps

The project has a lasting legacy with teaching teams committed to continue to raise awareness and attract males of every sexual orientation onto their courses. We have made very good links with employers and will continue to use these in our marketing materials.


Julia  Hooson

email: [email protected] 

telephone: 0208 268 2801

Challenging Occupational Stereotypes (Industry Role Model).docx12.66 KB
Challenging Occupational Stereotypes Marketing Material Next Generation.pdf651.69 KB
Scheme of Work (Cabin Crew) Challenging Occupational Stereotypes.docx57.54 KB
Scheme of Work (Hairdressing) Challenging Occupational Stereotypes.docx53.34 KB