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More than half of 12-year-old girls in the UK and Ireland believe science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects are hard to learn, according to research by Accenture.
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The study found 60% of girls this age thought Stem subjects were too difficult, with 47% of girls claiming these types of activities suited their male counterparts better.
“It’s important that girls understand that these subjects are as much for them as they are for boys,” said Tech Partnership CEO Karen Price.
“While a lot of fantastic work has been done to encourage women and girls to embrace Stem, females still only comprise a small percentage of the workforce in related industries.”
Half of teachers and 43% of parents claimed this idea of boys being better at Stem subjects than girls is the reason for low female uptake in these subjects.
But, although changes to the curriculum and government initiatives aim to encourage more girls into these areas, the research states parents and teachers need to do more for these efforts to be successful.
A lack of role models was highlighted as a problem for young girls, with 77% of girls saying Stem sectors do not have enough women that can be looked up to, and most girls saying parents and teachers were their biggest influencers for choice of study subjects.
Some 51% of parents claim they do not know what benefits Stem can offer their daughters; and only 14% of parents understand the career opportunities open to their daughters.
The industry calls on parents to work with Stem businesses to help ensure girls are more enthused about Stem subjects from a younger age.
“It’s worrying that girls’ interest in Stem subjects tails off so early in their time at secondary school. With such a small percentage of parents understanding what these subjects can offer their daughters, it is not surprising that girls become disconnected from Stem,” said Emma McGuigan, managing director for Accenture Technology in the UK & Ireland.
“Our research suggests that, while getting girls enthused about subjects like technology or engineering must start at home, encouragement needs to continue in early education, such as nursery and primary school, so that girls don’t conclude at a young age that math and science are too difficult.”