Girls with a role model more likely to consider career in STEM
Girls in the UK are much more likely to consider a career in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) if they have a role model who inspires them, new research from Microsoft has found.
More than half (52%) of women aged 11-30 who looked up to either fictional or non-fictional people involved in STEM said they were interested in getting a job in the sector. Less than a third (32%) of women without a role model said they the same. A fifth more UK girls said they could imagine a career in STEM if they had a role model compared with those who do not.
However, Microsoft’s survey, which documented the views of 11,500 young women in 12 countries across Europe, also revealed that two in five UK females who revealed an interest in STEM did not end up working in the field. It chimes with Microsoft research last year that showed girls in the UK become interested in STEM subjects just before the age of 11 but this drops sharply when they turn 16.
“Providing more girls with access to female role models is just one step in the right direction on our mission to dispel stereotypes associated with the tech industry and get girls excited about a career path in technology,” said Cindy Rose, Microsoft UK chief executive. “In tangible terms, this needs to come from curriculum reform and investment in programmes to expose more girls and young women to positive female role models and mentors who have been successful in their field.”
The number of UK girls interested in STEM increases when they have role models compared to those who do not (30% of girls without a role model report an interest in STEM subjects, versus 41% with role models). The increase is slightly less than the European findings (almost doubling the number of girls interested in STEM), but still significant.
The reverse is also true, that having a role model significantly reduces the number of UK girls who say that they are less interested in STEM subjects (43% of girls without a role model are less interested in STEM subjects, versus 28% of girls with a role model).
More UK girls are interested in STEM in spite of not having a role model than the European average (30% in the UK vs. 26% Europe-wide).
The difference role models make (11%) on the number of British girls reportedly interested in STEM subjects is the same in France and Italy, but still below the European average (15%).
The number (41%) of British girls with a role model reportedly interested in STEM is the same in Germany, on par with the European average (26%).
The number (28%) of British girls with a role models reportedly not interested in STEM subjects is the same in the Belgium – above the European average (24%).
UK girls who have STEM role models report more passion for all STEM subjects. The rise in interest is not limited to a single subject. On average – across Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Computer Science – having a STEM role model results in a further 12% increase in interest for girls in the UK classroom (compared to those who do not have role model, and report themselves as interested in a subject). This increase is on par with the European average and is the same in Belgium and Poland.