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Girls unaware how to land Stem jobs

Category: Industry News, Women, STEM, Science, education, math

Girls unaware how to land Stem jobs

Many young girls are interested in science or maths-based careers but are unaware of how to get into these industries, research suggests.

It also argues that girls are less likely to be inspired to study science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects than their male classmates.

The study, based on surveys of 14-16-year-olds, female students and graduates and women working in Stem industries, claims that teachers may be more likely to encourage male students to take these subjects than young women.

In total, 70% of the teenage girls questioned said that they would be interested in working in a science or maths-based industry.

There were differences in interest - while nearly two thirds (62%) would consider studying information and communications technology (ICT), just 37% showed an inclination towards taking physics.

In comparison, 55% of boys wanted to pursue physics.

Girls were also more likely to recognise the benefits of a Stem career (48% compared with 34% of boys).

But nine in 10 of all the schoolchildren polled were unaware that an apprenticeship can lead to a career in these industries.

This indicates that youngsters do not know of the routes they could take to pursue a career in science and maths, the report claimed.

It said: "Our research shows that many school children are simply unaware of viable routes into Stem professions, with many believing university to be the only access point - meaning that more needs to be done to promote the value of apprenticeships to those who may be put off by the cost or academia associated with higher education."

The research, by Adecco Group UK and Ireland, goes on to say "teachers may be applying gender stereotypes to Stem subjects at school".

Around 60% of boys surveyed said they felt encouraged to take physics, compared with half of girls, while 70% of male pupils felt encouraged to take ICT, compared with 60% of their female classmates.

"If children are being driven to make decisions about different Stem subjects - consciously or otherwise - it is not surprising that they follow the same line of thinking when going on to choose what to study in university, or what job to take."

The report says that encouraging young women to take science is not just down to teachers, with the poll finding that 33% of children are most likely to turn to their parents for careers advice.

"Our research shows that parents are in the strongest position to encourage their children in their choice of career, but without first-hand knowledge of Stem roles, many parents are ill-equipped to furnish their children with meaningful advice about this particular professional avenue."

The research also found that female university students and graduates think that there is a lack of meaningful careers advice available to young women, while 43% of those already working in Stem industries believe that men have more opportunities than women.

Greet Brosens, of Adecco, said: "Thousands of women are excelling at their Stem jobs - and loving it. But the gender divide still poses a real threat. Whatever the growth figures, we simply can't afford to use just half of the nation's brains. We need girls and women in science, tech, engineering and maths."

The research comes amid a continuing drive to make these subjects more attractive to young women.

Commentators have previously suggested that girls often see subjects such as English as more feminine, and shun those that they perceive as masculine, like science or maths.

And university figures published last month showed that while women outnumber men on the majority of degree courses, the notable exception is many science and maths subjects.

:: The surveys questioned 1,001 14-16-year-olds, 1,003 female undergraduates and graduates and 1,003 female Stem employees between December 19 and January 19.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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