Four years after its launch, the two-minute film ‘Redraw the Balance’ which provocatively captures how young children define career opportunities as male and female continues to generate interest.
A version has just been created in Denmark. Filmed in Helsingør near Copenhagen, a class of 6-year-old students is asked to draw a picture of a captain on a ship and an engineer, before being introduced to a real captain and engineer. Made for international container logistics company Maersk, the film shows gender stereotypes are ingrained from a very early age.
In China, the British Council made a version with Chinese children being asked to draw a surgeon, racing driving and naval officer.
Over in Canada, the Greater Victoria School District in British Columbia visited a Grade 3 classroom to find out what Canadian children think about gender stereotyping in the workplace.
As well as inspiring versions in Denmark, China and Canada, the exercise has been recreated by the United Nations and referenced by UN Women, OECD, UNESCO, World Economic Forum and many others.
Education and Employers launched the original Redraw the Balance film during International Women’s Day in March 2016.
66 children were asked to draw a picture of a firefighter, a surgeon and a fighter pilot. 61 drew men, five drew women. They were then asked if they would like to meet real-life versions of their drawings. Returning to the classroom in their uniforms, revealing themselves not to be teachers were Tamzin Cuming, NHS Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Homerton University Hospital, Lucy Masoud, Fire Fighter, London Fire Brigade and Flt Lt Lauren an active RAF pilot.
The film was shot on location at Whitstable Junior School in Kent with 20 children between the ages of 5 and 7. It was produced for the charity pro-bono by MullenLowe and the team included Richard Denney, Executive Creative Director, Kat Encanto and directed by Matt Huntley. They also produced individual pieces on the three women about their experience of working in roles traditionally dominated by men, the barriers they overcame and the challenges they still face.
Redraw the Balance with Mandarin subtitles
The film has now been viewed over 100 million times worldwide and shows how volunteers from the world of work visiting primary schools can help challenge ingrained social, ethnic and gender stereotypes, broaden horizon and raise aspirations. If you would like to volunteer or if you are a school looking for volunteers just visit Primary Futures.
The film has been shared extensively on social media including being retweeted by Emma Watson and Sir Ken Robinson and featured on Yang Lan’s TV show, Her Village which has over 200 million viewers in China. It won a silver award at the Campaign Big Award in Cannes and two Effie gold awards – the Effie awards are regarded by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the industry.
Drawing the Future
The level of interest in the film which showed the career aspiration of 66 children in one school led Education and Employers to undertake a major international study on the aspirations of primary aged children. With its partners TES Global, the NAHT, OECD Education and Skills, and UCL Institute of Education asked children aged 7-11 to draw pictures of what they to when they grew up.
20,000 children took part from 20 countries and their responses were used as the basis of the Drawing the Future report, published to coincide with the World Economic Forum in 2018.
Its key findings included that:
- Gender stereotyping about jobs is set from a young age and it is a global issue
- The patterns of jobs chosen by seven-year-olds are similar to those selected by 17-year olds
- Family, TV, radio and film have the biggest influence on children’s choices
- There is a need for greater access to career role models from a young age
- Children’s career aspirations have little in common with projected workforce needs, which could have serious economic implications
- Children in some developing countries often aspire to more professional jobs than those in some affluent countries.
The New Zealand Government has recently replicated the survey – the country didn’t take part in the original and was keen to better understand the career aspirations of their 7-13 year-olds. Based on Drawing the Futures’ research format and methodology the report, ‘Drawing the Future: Exploring the career aspirations of New Zealand children’, was formally launched at Parliament by the New Zealand Education Minister, Chris Hipkins. The survey, the first of its type conducted in New Zealand, found clear patterns of bias along ethnic, gender and socio-economic lines which limit children’s horizons and aspirations. And there were marked differences between the jobs girls and boys aspire to with 10 times more girls than boys wanting to become teachers and 4 times more boys than girls aspiring to become engineers (civil, mechanical or electrical).
At the launch event, children were asked to draw one of six jobs, selected for showing the most gender bias – builder, dancer, navy officer, teacher, doctor or games developer – before meeting people with those same jobs.
Education and Employer CEO Nick Chambers said, “It’s great to see the fantastic reach and sustained impact of Redraw the Balance and how the film continues to strike a chord around the world. Demonstrating in simple terms the power of ingrained assumptions helps tackle gender stereotypes in careers and inspire the next generation to fulfil its potential.”