Girls in the UK and Ireland are more likely to associate careers in science and technology with negative stereotypes, research from Accenture has revealed.
A report, from Accenture, found that young people overall associate science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers with ‘doing research’ (52 percent),‘working in a laboratory’ (47 percent) and ‘wearing a white coat’ (33 percent).
Surveying more than 8,500 young people, parents and teachers the research found that over a third of young people overall (36 percent) are put off studying STEM because they are unclear about what careers these subjects support.
In addition, more than half of parents (51 percent) and 43 percent of teachers agreed that students lack understanding about career options related to STEM.
32 percent of young people think that more boys choose STEM subjects than girls because they match ‘male’ careers or jobs.
52 percent and teachers 57 percent admit to having themselves made subconscious stereotypes about girls and boys in relation to STEM. Furthermore, over half (54 percent) of teachers claim to have seen girls dropping STEM subjects at school due to pressure from parents.
Accenture has released its findings to coincide with several ‘Girls in STEM’ events taking place with coding not-for-profit Stemettes today. Over 2,000 girls aged 11-13 are expected to participate in the events, which will take place in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The events have been designed to encourage more girls to consider careers in STEM subjects.
“Girls’ engagement with STEM is clearly waning as they reach the age when they begin to consider their subject choices and future careers,” said Emma McGuigan, senior managing director for Accenture Technology in the UK & Ireland.
“We have to address this by doing more to spark and retain girls’ interest in STEM at an early age, while expanding perceptions and demonstrating what a career or a person who works in STEM looks like beyond the traditional stereotypes.
“Inspiring more girls to pursue STEM subjects and careers will not only help us to address the skills gap in science and technology, it will also help us to create a more diverse workforce that truly represents the world we live in.”
“The STEM talent pool is an important source of recruitment for Accenture as we strive to attract those bright, passionate individuals who can help our clients succeed in the digital economy,” said Olly Benzecry, chairman and managing director for Accenture in the UK and Ireland.
“We are committed to working with government and the education sector to boost girls’ interest in science and technology. Our Girls in STEM events showcase some of the exciting and transformative applications of STEM, with the aim of encouraging more young people to pursue the high-skilled jobs of the future.”
“These findings show the scope of work there is still to do”, said Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO at Stemettes.
“Our collaboration with fantastic companies like Accenture allows us to share the right messages to positively impact these young women across geographies. We’ll also be handling the follow-up to ensure these girls reach their potential despite wider attitudes.”