Girls still think STEM careers are best left to the boys

According to a study carried out by Accenture in 2013, young women believed that STEM careers were better suited to their male counterparts. Two years on, a refresh on this research titled Continuing to Power Economic Growth: Attracting more young women into Science and Technology 2.0 finds that, while some progress has been made, negative perceptions and gender stereotypes still remain.

With over 600 girls and young women, parents and teachers surveyed, the refreshed research has found that 80% recognised the career opportunities associated with science, technology, engineering and maths, nearly half of these; 48%, think that men are better suited to STEM careers, which is an increase from the previous study. 48% also think that maths and science are too difficult.

Teachers in particular identified gendered career paths, as 78% associated girls with nursing, beauty and hairdressing careers, while the same number said engineering appeals exclusively to boys.

They may not realise their influence on students when it comes to choosing a career path, as three-quarters of teachers did not consider themselves an influential factor.

With parents being the strongest influence on school subjects chosen by girls, many of them expressed feeling ill-informed on current career opportunities.

Another observation in Accenture’s previous report that is still relevant is the lack of female representation in STEM careers.

The ‘Inspirefest conference’ aims to eliminate the myth that STEM success is reserved for men only, it runs in Dublin until Saturday 20th June, and features a 75% female line-up, incorporating keynote presentations, panel discussions and an evening fringe festival with film screenings and music.