Fatherly’s Imagination Report is based on nearly 500 responses, by kids between the ages of one and 10 years old, who were asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a simple question that reveals a surprising amount about cultural influences, gender norms, and the conundrum of how kids still want to be doctors when most of them are terrified to visit one. It’s a snapshot of a generation that is just as susceptible to the draw of sports superstars as any that came before it, but also one that’s nearly as drawn to the new superstars of science and technology.
If nothing else, it’s a reminder of the guileless, fascinating way in which kids view the adult world. One thing it’s not? A benchmark by which parents should measure their own kid’s hopes and dreams. Remember, all these kids will change their minds about their favorite goldfish 6 times by Saturday — the Fatherly Imagination Report will probably look entirely different if we conduct it again next week.
The Most Popular Jobs
How about a collective “Aaaaww!” for the timeless altruism of kids? Doctors, teachers, firefighters, veterinarians, and cops dedicate their lives to the common good; that kids want to do the same bodes well for the world in your old age (just try to keep the concept of “malpractice insurance” away from them until after med school).
Despite the celebrity-saturated culture they live in, kids have little interest in acting or music, but their fascination with professional sports stars is intense — which may or may not have anything to do with your screaming at a TV screen once or twice a week. And, while kids don’t know enough about engineers to figure out which kind they want to be, they know enough to want to be one in the first place. So, if nothing else, maybe that college education will wind up paying for itself.
If you take as a given that kids are influenced in their career aspirations by the adults in their lives, the regional breakdown of answers suggests that the whole country might learn a thing or 2 from teachers in the Midwest.
Gender And Dream Job
It’s not particularly surprising that boys overwhelmingly dream of being professional athletes, given how pervasive male sports stars are in popular culture. But seeing girls declare “doctor” with fervor equal to boys declaring “athlete” is heartening considering that only one in 4 doctors in film and television is female. Still, the march of progress is only so strong — “Princess” ranked seventh on the list of dream jobs for girls.
Dream Jobs By Age
Well, that answers the question of what age the Industrial Entertainment Complex gets its mitts into your kid — sometime between 3 and 4, your kid is going to realize that being a superhero for a living would be totally awesome. The age breakdown suggests kids’ ambitions are influenced by what they’re most (most recently?) exposed to, so do them a favor and make sure to expose them to as much as possible.
At some point, your kid’s career aspirations will morph from being “adorable” to being “how I ensure they’re not living in my basement after college.” But identifying and encouraging a career path without turning them off is a delicate dance, according to professional guidance counselor Phyllis Fagell. Her first piece of advice? The guy from Fight Club was right.
Interest In STEM
Only 35 percent of all kids expressed interest in science, technology, engineering, and math careers, which might be disappointing for some parents, given the current obsession with STEM education. But for others, the fact that girls outpace boys in this category is way more important than the overall number. And who would those “others” be? Just the Chief Technology Officer Of The United States. Looks like STEM fields might want to get ready for some gender reassignment in the coming years …
Apparently, the worst way to inspire your kid toward a career in science, technology, engineering, or math, is to raise them in Silicon Valley.
It turns out, the Oracle Of Omaha actually was an oracle but, Warren Buffet aside, very few influencers — from Jeff Bezos to James Earl Jones — actually wound up doing what they swore they wanted to do when they grew up. And, for the most part, it’s a good thing.
Infographics turn large chunks of information into digestible insights, but if left unchecked can drain the humor from something as potentially hilarious as asking hundreds of kids what they want to be when they grow up. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to some of the answers that were too unique to be caught in the Imagination Report’s data dredge — like these:
“American Ninja Warrior”
“Hedge Fund Manager”
And the Fatherly Imagination Report’s Gold Medal winner for best answer to the question of What do you want to be when you grow up? …. “Taller.”