Questions about careers advice

Q: The careers adviser at our sixth form college seems to think that there are still 'girls' jobs and 'boys' jobs. When I asked her about becoming a plumber she told me that it would be very difficult for a girl to do it. Then she told a young male student that men shouldn't try to become midwives. What can we do about this kind of old-fashioned advice?

A: If your careers advisor makes assumptions based on old fashioned views of men and women's working roles, then you could be being discriminated against on the grounds of your gender particularly if you are being denied opportunities.

This could be termed 'direct discrimination' because you have been treated poorly on the grounds of assumptions about your gender.

Under the Sex discrimination Act, it is against the law for an education establishment or local authority offering careers advice to discriminate against you on the grounds of your gender.

Read more information about sex discrimination and careers advice.

See also questions about pay and employment.

Q: What are our rights if we want to go in for a different kind of job?

A: Whenever you apply for a job, you will be protected against unfair treatment on the grounds of your race, sexual orientation, gender/ transgender, disability, religion or belief and age.

It is important to remember that you are protected right from the point where a job is advertised, through the recruitment process and whilst you are in employment.

If an employer makes unfair assumptions about what type of work you can do and turns you down for a job or denies you an opportunity at work, this is often known as 'direct discrimination'.

If your employer operates a policy that has the effect of disadvantaging you because of your race, gender, transgender, disability, religion or belief or age, this could amount to what is termed 'indirect discrimination'.

Remember that if you are disabled, your employer has a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' where a work practice or a physical feature of the workplace puts you at a substantial disadvantage, eg doors that you can't get a wheelchair through.

Q: Are you protected from bullying and harassment if you go for work experience?

See the questions on bullying and harassment for the answer.

Read more information about finding a job and also questions about disability.

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Last Updated: 27 Jul 2009