To respond to a request from the research center of studies and statistics, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in agreement with Paris X-Nanterre University financed a study on how careers and trades are portrayed in literature and their importance to teenage secondary school students. The goal of the study is to understand why girls and boys make such different professional projects. The objective of this article is to look into research and studies, written in French or English and carried out at the time – between 1984 to 2004 – and focus on the question of the importance of trades for teenagers. The analysis shows that the teenagers’ vision of trades and the professional world did not change much during the period studied and was always dominated by sex-stereotypes. Anglo-Saxon studies display the factors which contribute to the development of career choices (single or mixed schools, feeling of competence, family support). However the Anglo-Saxon literature showed that the girls are starting to express more interest in traditionally male professions and that a small number of them consider and start to take up scientific and technical careers. But this trend is still very small.
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